by Emma Redmer
Disclaimer: Betty Roberts and Scott Sherwood belong to Rupert Holmes. The story is mine.
Betty walked through radio station WENN at the end of the broadcast day, making sure all the lights were off and all the equipment was shut down. Most of the staff already went home for Thanksgiving. The dark station seemed so peaceful and quiet at that time of night. It was as if the strange goings-on of the last year or so never happened. Everything was as normal as it was ever going to getÖexcept for the light in the green room.
Betty cautiously opened the door and looked around. Much to her surprise, Scott sat on the couch, staring at a glass of something-or-other. It was half-full. His mind didnít seem to be on the liquid, though. "Scotty?" she asked. "What are you doing here? I assumed you went home."
Scott looked up at her. His large brown eyes were sad and lonely, but he smiled his usual smile. "Hello there, Betty Betty Betty. I thought you had a bus to catch."
"I do, tomorrow," Betty reminded him. "I was on my way out." She frowned. "You didnít answer my question. What are you still doing here? Shouldnít you be home for Thanksgiving?"
"What, in Nantucket?" Scott asked. "Nahh, no oneís there. Dad and Doris are in Boston, supposedly visiting old cronies of his, though I think he just wants to set them up for a fleecing. Aunt Aggieís in Detroit with her daughter and her family."
"Then why not go to Detroit?" She stepped into the otherwise quiet room. "You shouldnít be alone for the holidays."
He swallowed the rest of the liquid before continuing. "Aunt Aggieís son-in-law and I donít get along. Bruce thinks Iím a bad influence and a general pain in the rear. Heís not all that fond of Aunt Aggie, either, but sheís hard to turn down." He nodded at the couch. "Why donít you sit down, Betty? I donít bite."
She gingerly went to the refrigerator, poured herself a glass of milk, and joined him. "What about your father?"
He shook his head. "If I go to Boston, heíll just try to get me involved with one of his crazy business deals. I donít care what Dad says. Iíve had enough of that." He shrugged. "Besides, Iím not Dorisí favorite person. Sheís something of a snob, and worse than Hildy in the age denial department. All she cares about is money and the fancy things Dad can provide her."
"What about your mother?"
Scottís eyes turned cold. "My mother died the day after I was born. I never knew her. Dad doesnít even have any pictures of her. All her stuff was lost in a fire."
Betty gulped her milk. She couldnít imagine not having her parents there for her, especially her mother. Laura Richards Roberts was a traveling vaudeville actress from Madison, Wisconsin, who got as far as South Bend before she fell in love with a young cub reporter for the South Bend Herald. Mom acted after she married Dad, up until she became pregnant with her older brother Daniel. She gave up her career to raise her children, and Dad moved to the Elkheart Daily Bugle, finally making enough money farming on his fatherís land to buy it.
Christmas in her family was a major event, but Thanksgiving was always smaller. It was just her, her parents, her siblings, and their families. Mom would roast a huge fresh turkey bought from Gaissí Meat Market the day before. There would be carrots and green beans straight from Momís garden, peas with tiny pearl onions, sweet potatoes with marshmallow, cranberry sauce, wheat rolls with newly churned butter, thick giblet gravy, stuffing, and home-made apple and pumpkin pies. Even when Dad was late coming home the night before, he never missed Thanksgiving dinner.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Betty was so involved with her memories that she hadnít heard Scott speaking.
"Huh?" Betty sighed. "I was just thinking about Thanksgiving at my familyís house. Mom always tried to get me to help, but Iíd rather be reading or playing outside with my brothers."
"Betty, donít tell me you were a tomboy," Scott teased.
"Not really. I didnít mind wearing a nice dress every now and then, but I wasnít interested in all the things Mom and my sister talked about while they made dinner. My brothers and my dad talked about farming, politics, books, and who would win the big high school football game. Mom and Pam talked about men, sewing, clothes, and local gossip. I hated it when Mom would drag me inside to peel potatoes or break bread for stuffing."
She finished her milk. "Scott, what are you going to do tomorrow?"
Scott stared at the wall. "Catch up on work at the station, I guess. Help Mackie and Lester run records and read your Thanksgiving poetry and stories."
She leaned back. "What did you and your father do for Thanksgiving? Did you get together with Aunt Aggie?"
He shook his head. "No. She and Uncle Ollie traveled around a lot then. Dad was usually too involved with one deal or the other to take the time to make dinner. When I was little, Iíd go with him to whomever he was trying to snow this week and eat dinner there. Sometimes, theyíd have kids Iíd play with, but they were usually rich folks whose offspring were at boarding or finishing school. After I was about twelve or so, I started staying home alone on Thanksgiving. Iíd eat something out of the icebox, then spend the rest of the night playing poker with the guys." He grinned. "I usually made my Christmas present money Thanksgiving night. There were years when I racked up as much as twenty dollars on those games."
She looked at her watch. "Iíd better be going. I have an early train to catch."
Scott joined her as she stood and stretched. He smiled. "Walk you to the trolley?"
She was going to say no, but changed her mind. This was a holiday. "Iíd like that very much. Thank you, Scott."
He laughed. "Thatís what this holiday is all about, Betty Roberts."
They walked to the elevator in silence. Betty couldnít stop thinking of Scottís previous Thanksgivings. It wasnít right for him to be alone. Thanksgiving should be a holiday spent with people. She saw the loneliness in his eyes when she came in. She wondered....
"Scott," she blurted out, "would you like to come to Elkheart for Thanksgiving with me?"
Scott opened his mouth, closed it, and then opened it again. "I wish I could, Betty, but I donít have the money for the train ticket."
Betty let out a sigh of relief. She made the offer on the spur of the moment, and wasnít sure if she wanted him to accept it. She knew that heíd have no problem charming her family, but she wasnít sure how she was going to explain his presence, especially when she wasnít sure about their relationship
"Why were you at the station so late? Tell me the truth."
Scott shrugged as they walked off the elevator arm in arm. "I just wanted to spend some quiet time at home." He opened the door for her as they walked outside. "This crazy station is one of the things Iím thankful for this year."
Betty raised her eyebrows. "One of the things?"
He grinned. "Happy Thanksgiving, Betty Roberts."
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