Sheldon Kranz, Aesthetic Realism Consultant, Writer, Poet

Sheldon Kranz
Aesthetic Realism Consultant, Writer, Poet  (1919-1980)

Reprinted from New Short Stories-1944
Edited by John Singer, William Maclellan & Co., Glasgow

The Betrayal
by Sheldon Kranz

Joe found it difficult to concentrate on the sports section of the Sunday paper as he lay sprawled out on the sofa. Finally he put it down.

"What time did you say your friend was coming?" he called in to his wife.

Dorothy smiled as she came out of the bedroom. "At three o'clock," she said. She was fastening her belt.

"That's new, isn't it?" he observed, looking at the green dress she was wearing.

"Yes," she said.   "Do you like it?"

Joe pushed the newspaper aside with a sharp movement of his hand and sat up. "We were going over to the Franklin's this afternoon, you know."

"I know," Dorothy said. "But, gosh, Martha is only going to be in the city a few days. This is the one chance I'll have to see her." She sat down and lit a cigarette. "Besides, I want you to meet her."

Joe frowned. She was sitting across from him with an eager look on her face like a little girl waiting to be taken to a birthday party.

"All right," he said, and forced a smile. "But it's funny you two being such good friends. "He began rolling down his shirt sleeves.

Dorothy looked at him. "What's so funny about my being friends with Martha?"

Joe gave a little shrug. "Well, didn't people think it kind of strange?"

"Some people might have," she said, slowly. "Do you?"

"Oh, no." He finished buttoning his shirt cuffs. "I think it's fine."

She started to say something but the hall phone rang. She got quickly up and answered it.

"There's a Martha Reed down here, Mrs. Randolph," the doorman announced. "She says she's visiting you."

''Of course she is," Dorothy said. "Please send her right in."

She came back into the living room. "Martha is here," she said, and walked over to the window. The eager look had gone out of her face. Joe began silently to gather up the scattered parts of the newspaper. Then he put on his sports jacket.

"You'll see," she said. "You'll like her." When the doorbell buzzed, she almost ran to answer it. "Hello," she exclaimed.

"Hello, yourself," the young woman said, grinning, and for a moment they gripped each other's hands tightly.

"Gosh, you look well," Dorothy said. "North Carolina must agree with you."

"It's wonderful down there," the woman said. They walked into the living room. Joe was standing by the sofa, his face expressionless. "Well, Martha, this is Joe."

Martha put out her hand. "I'm awfully glad to know you, Joe," she said.

Joe put out his hand. "I'm glad to know you, too." Martha laughed softly in the back of her throat. "Is he clever?"

"Very," Dorothy said, and smiled at Joe. She could see he was embarrassed.

"Put these in the bedroom, will you." She handed him Martha's hat and coat. Then she led Martha over to the couch.

"I hope you didn't mind the doorman stopping you."

Martha shook her head. "I understand."

"Was he rude?" Dorothy's voice rose.

"He just stared," Martha said. "But, I guess, they don't have Negroes calling every day."

Dorothy looked up to find Joe in the room again. He was watching Martha who had lit a cigarette and was leaning back, her head dark against the pale blue pillows.

"How about some drinks?" Dorothy suggested. "If I remember this Reed woman, she was never one to refuse a highball."

Martha laughed. "The same old Dottie." They smiled affectionately at each other. Joe went into the kitchen and closed the door behind him.

"Now tell me about everything," Dorothy said. "Why are you rushing back to school before I have a chance to see you?"

"I only have a week," Martha said. "I'm doing a report on the Negro in education. So I've got to get back to work before Spring vacation ends."

"Two years," Dorothy said. "We'll never get everything said in one day. Tell me about your new job."

"Well, someone finally got married and they wrote saying I could have the position if I wanted it." Martha laughed softly in the back of her throat again. "If I wanted it. I had even taken to doing housework."

"Oh, Martha."

Martha smiled.

"I'm glad you got it," Dorothy said. "I'm awfully glad." Joe came into the room with the tray of drinks. "Let's drink to Martha's job," Dorothy said. She picked up her glass. "To Martha who will some day be dean of the university."

"Do you teach at a university?" Joe asked.

"Yes," she said. "I'm an instructor in history."

"That's pretty fine," he said. "I didn't know they had mixed faculties anywhere."  

"I teach at an all-Negro university," Martha said.

"Oh." Joe smiled. "That makes it a lot easier, doesn't it?"

"I suppose it does," she said, and took a sip of her drink.


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