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Janet's Quest
In one sentence, what's the story?
A nosy teenage dance prodigy,
connects with a mysterious doctor,
romantically involved with her sister.

In three paragraphs, who are these people?

The dance prodigy is Janet Robertson; she's a spoiled, little, rich girl. Her passion is to become a Radio City Music Hall Rockette. Since Janet is the main character, her goal drives the story.

The mysterious doctor is William Lloyd, a recent WW2 veteran. Against his will, he becomes our hero.

Janet's sister Betty Robertson becomes our romantic heroine...against her will. She connects Janet to William. The other characters link to this "trio of trouble".

The Cast of Characters

I. The Robertson family
    Florida residents since 1919
    A. Harry (Born 1893, New Jersey)
         1. Married to Lois
         2. Father to Betty, Paul, and Janet
         3. Father figure to Doris
    B. Lois (Born 1896, Pennsylvania)
1. Married to Harry
         2. Mother to Betty, Paul, a…

Scene 2

Scene Two...Big Sister
Time:Evening, Friday, November 9, 1945
Place: Viridian Community Hospital, emergency entrance
Storyteller: Janet

"There she is. Betty. White coat. Standing outside, next to the bed with wheels," I say.

"Great. She's on the ball...and pretty." William puts on the brakes in front of the emergency room.

Two men lift the patient onto the stretcher.

Betty grabs Mom's limp hand. As if on cue, her brown eyes pop open. "Mother! Can you talk?"

"Yes, dear. I'm fine."

"Like heck. You were unconscious. Stop trying to sit up. I'll call Doc Sasser. He'll be here soon."

"Why? You're a doctor and so is he." I motion to the ex-Army man. His eyes are definitely blue. Deep blue. "He thinks Mom fainted from hypo-something."

"Hypoglycemia?" Betty asks the stranger.

William nods. "Tests will tell, but she hit her head, too. Needs an x-ray."

I don't know when Doris arr…

Scene 3

Scene Three...Family Dynamics
Time: Same evening, Friday, November 9, 1945
Place: Emergency room and Lois's hospital room
Storyteller: Janet

I suffer through Mom's tests. Those needles make me queasy. Good thing my stomach is empty.

Dad arrives, out of breath and bickering with my brother. He demands a private room for his wife.

Alas, Dad gets his way and Mom is settled for the night. Her color is pink again.

I'm sitting on the bed. "You look back to normal. Propped up with pillows. Smiling. Mind if Paul and I get a coke since Dad's here with you?" He's pacing back and forth, wearing out the floor.

"Please go, Janet. Your non stop chatter is driving me crazy. Those test results are taking long enough," grumbles Dad.

"Harry, be patient. What would I have done without her today?" Mom sticks up for me.

"Paul, how did you get here so soon?" I ask.

"Betty called the shop. Then I picked up Dad at the Rotary Club."


Scene 4

Scene Four...Matchmaker
Time: Late evening, Friday, November 9, 1945
Place: Hospital hall and cafeteria
Storyteller: Janet

"Thank goodness we escaped." As I skip down the hall, my ballet bun flies apart, into a ponytail.

"What about me, stuck in the truck with Dad? He was almost crying." Paul says.

"Really? That's unlike him."

"No kidding."

"Please, buy me food now or I'll be on the floor like Mom in the restaurant."

"I haven't eaten either. It will have to be the cafeteria," he replies.

"Let's walk and talk...about Doris's birthday...are you taking her out to dinner?"

"I'll ask her, but you come with us."


"Because we're just friends. I don't want to give her the wrong idea."

"Okay, but it will have to be after dance class and you'll owe me."

"What's your price?" Paul shoots me a dirty look.

"Teach me to drive. A st…

Scene 5

Scene Five...Armistice Day
Time: Lunch, Sunday, November 11, 1945
Place: William's boat
Storyteller: Janet
Betty is coasting by Sal's. His flag is at half-mast for Armistice Day. The restaurant is closed; plenty of parking spaces. William jogs out to help carry food. I hold the Monopoly game and warm rolls.
"There's that cat again...the pelican chaser. Is it yours, William?"
"Was here when I arrived. Sal thinks he's a friendly stray. Pretty color, black with gold spots. I've been calling him Tom."
Betty is busy in the small kitchen. William says it's a galley.
I might as well chat. "Speaking of pets, Lucy has been following Mom around."
"Cat or dog?"
"Golden retriever. My tenth birthday present."
William's eyebrows go up with interest. "Lucy's monitoring your mother's blood sugar! Dogs can tell when people don't smell right."
"Some bark and growl to warn their owners of dangerous g…

Scene 6

Scene Six...Doc Sasser
Time: Mid morning, Wednesday, November 14, 1945
Place: William's sailboat
Storyteller: William
I'm lying on the sofa, reading, and yawning. 
There's a voice outside; southern accent. He's talking to Tom. "Nice Kitty. What happened to your ear? Get into a fight?"
I peek through a small, round window. The man appears about sixty. Medium height, medium weight. Gray hair, gray slacks, gray bow tie. White, long sleeved shirt. Carrying a grocery bag.
Might as well say hello. I step outside. He looks up. Gray eyes! They twinkle as he smiles.
"William Lloyd?" His hand reaches out. We shake. I feel a slight tremor.
"Yes. You must be Betty's Doc Sasser. Please come in."
He hands me the bag. "Grapefruit from my yard."
I thank him as he steps down and gets right to the point. "I want to hire you, son."
"Goodness. Sit down, sir. Iced tea?"
"Water is fine; no ice."
"Sir, I've pat…

Scene 7

Scene Seven...Doris's Birthday
Time: Dinner, Saturday, November 17, 1945
Place: Sal's Seafood
Storyteller: Janet
Paul and I rush through Sal's entry, scanning the main dining room for Doris. "Darn, she's already here. Thanks for being late, Janet."
"It wasn't my fault. Jazz class ran over time."
Paul reaches the table first. Doris is looking out the window. He says, "Happy birthday. Sorry we're late." She jumps as if startled.
"No problem. The golden moon just came up over the water. It should be full in a few days." She always makes people feel at ease.
A very prompt waitress appears, wearing a crisp pink uniform. She is prepared with pencil and tablet. "What would you like to drink?"
"Hi, Gail. A Budweiser, Shirley Temple and...and for you, Doris?"
"White wine, please."
"Make that Chablis...and an order of onion rings for starters," he says.
"Sure. Need menus?"

Scene 8

Scene Eight...Thanksgiving, 1945
Time: 2:00 PM, Thursday, November 22, 1945
Place: Robertson's home
Storyteller: Janet
That sounds like a motorcycle. I race Betty to the front door. William's in the driveway, holding a colorful bouquet.
Dad strides by us, reaching our guest first. "Are those flowers for me, young man?"
Nervous laugh. "No sir; your wife."
"She's in the kitchen with Lucy. You haven't met our golden yet. Come in."
The French doors are open to the back porch and pool. Maybe I'll take a swim later. Paul's outside, behind the bar. I scurry his direction and hop onto a stool. "Sloe gin and coke, please."
"Nope." He puts a cherry coke on my coaster.
We're no longer alone. The boss tells Paul to make Mom a Whisky Sour.
"No, Harry. Club soda. I'd rather eat my calories than drink them, especially today."
"Make that two club sodas." William places his order.
"Where's Dor…

Scene 9

Scene Nine...The Vet
Time: Late morning, Saturday, December 15, 1945
Place: Viridian Veterinary Clinic
Storyteller: Janet
My sister holds the vet clinic door open for Lucy and me. William is slouched in a chair, reading a magazine.
"Tom is okay isn't he? No more fights?" Betty asks.
He replies, "Couldn't be better. Time for booster shots. For a while there, I was afraid we'd have to change his name to Van Gogh."
Betty seems to understand that comment, but I don't. "What do you mean?"
"Vincent Van Gogh was a depressed artist who cut off his ear."
"That's sick. You better be kidding."
Doris appears out of nowhere and hands the cat to William. "Ear healing nicely; only a scar. It's Lucy's turn." She walks off with my precious dog.
"What's wrong with Lucy?" William asks.
"I found a lump." A tear falls over my cheek bone.
"Don't worry. Goldens get benign fatty lumps. How…

Scene 10

Scene Ten...Sailing Party
Time: Afternoon-evening, Monday, December 31, 1945
Place: William's boat
Storyteller: Janet
Betty thanks William for grilling the mackerel steaks. In return, he bends over backwards to compliment her on the broccoli and rice casserole.
Then, he notices me. "Why are you so down in the dumps, Squirt?"
"Dad will make me quit all dance classes if I make a 'C' in math."
"Math was my favorite subject. Couldn't do research without it. Want some help?"
"Yes, yes, yes."
"Next problem?" he asks. 
"Dad likes Doris better than me."
Betty laughs, "Don't be ridiculous. She's just more like him, only quieter and less controlling. You scare Daddy with all your 'I'm not going to college' talk." 
"I'm not. They don't teach dance at U.M. Without ballet, the Rockettes won't hire me."
William asks if I'm taking ballet.
"Yes, but my teacher...she…

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Scene Eleven...Sneaking Around
Time: 7:00 PM, Saturday, January 12, 1946
Place: Outside Joe's Stone Crab, South Beach
Storyteller: Janet
My date and I are strolling South Beach, near Joe's Stone Crab. Lots of tourist milling around. Is that a tap on my shoulder? Turning around, I'm face to face with my sister. I cough cigarette smoke. William pats me on the back.
Betty swipes the Lucky Strike out of my hand, throws it on the sidewalk, and stamps it out. "Who's he?" she demands.
"Ah, ah...Don, this is my sister..."
She interrupts, "Goodnight, Don. Janet is only fifteen, and coming with us."
Don grabs my arm and says, "We're going to a party downtown. I'll have her home by 2:00."
William grabs my other arm, "Not tonight."
Don releases me, laughs, and turns his back on us. "Good, he's leaving," I assume. 
Wrong! He swirls around and takes a swing at William who ducks.
Betty screams.
The two men size e…

Scene 12

Scene Twelve...Love Letters
Time: Morning, Saturday, January 19, 1946
Place: Robertson's attic
Storyteller: Janet

I'm in the attic rummaging through our largest cedar chest. Some of these beautiful dresses look so old, they might have been Grandma Allen's. This pink one...Mom's Dogwood Queen gown...her waist was so small.
I try it on. Nice fit, except too short. Needs a little Kleenex, too. Maybe she'll let me get it altered for the prom?

What will work for my dance recital? I try on the aqua blue satin; it's a bit big in the bust. I'll borrow Betty's bra and stuff it with toilet paper.

Digging deeper...on the very bottom is a silver box tied with a gold silk ribbon. Probably costume jewelry. Let's find out. I pull the ribbon and remove the lid. Hummm. Letters. Non-of-my-business letters. It won't hurt to look at the postmarks. The top envelope is the oldest. May 1917. I thumb through them. They're in order. The bottom date is September 1918.

Scene 13

Scene thirteen...Coach
Time: Morning, Saturday, January 26, 1946
Place: Viridian Library
Storyteller: Janet

He's not on his boat, not at the gym. I ride my bike over to the library. His motorcycle is in the parking lot.
There's William, in the medical section. "Be quiet, Squirt," he says.
Miss Thompson is already giving us the evil eye...witch.
I whisper in his ear, "Emergency. Let's get out of here."

He slides the heavy book back on the shelf.
William holds the door open for me. We're outside. He says, "Thanks. I better get to the hospital."
"You said emergency."
"Wait, it's not a medical emergency."
"Don't ever use that term again, if it isn't a medical emergency!"
"Okay, it's a problem. My problem."
"Let's sit on that bench in the shade. What is it?"
"You can never tell anybody, even Betty...especially not Betty."
"Stop. I don't lik…

Scene 14

Scene fourteen...Counseling
Time: 1:30 PM, Wednesday, January 30, 1946
Place: William's boat
Storyteller: William

Clip clop, clip clop, the sound of ladies high heels. Here she is. Right on time. I jump off the boat to greet Lois. She carefully steps aboard, with my guidance.
"Iced tea, Mrs. Robertson?"
"Yes, that would be nice. No sugar. And please call me Lois."
"I'll try, ma'am"
"You're probably wondering why I asked to see you at your boat-home instead of the hospital. It was Harry's idea."
"Are you feeling okay? You look wonderful. Maybe a few pounds lighter?"
"Thank you. Four pounds. But I need to speak with you about my head, not my diabetes."
"That bump?"
"No, something worse. For thirteen years I've been afraid to leave the house. Of course I have to go to the corner grocer and meat market. Thank heavens for the milk man and bread truck deliveries. I chauffeur Janet around Virid…