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Roger Coleridge:
Is the Leopard Changing His Spots?
Soap Opera Serials Magazine, July 1977
J.M. Fitzmartin
Article Provided By Wanda

"Roger and no one else brought Edmund through," Jill Coleridge declared. "He's forgiven for all past behavior."  Dr. Seneca Beaulac and Dr. Clem Moultrie nodded their agreement and again detailed to Jill the skill with which her brother had performed the delicate brain surgery that had saved her tiny baby's life.

Just a few short hours before, Roger had been sitting in a waiting room at Riverside Hospital, listening anxiously as Seneca described with alarm his premature son's latest illness. The Hyline Membrane syndrome had subsided, but while his lungs had healed his brain had shown signs of swelling. Roger had a gnawing feeling that he alone had the ability to save the child. He felt suddenly imbued with a certain lifesaving power and had quickly asked Seneca to let him perform the operation and not the already overworked Dr. Moultrie.

Seneca hesitated. This was, after all, his own son that he would entrust to the hand of a man who just a few short moments ago had never done anything to win his confidence. Only a year ago Seneca had fired Roger from the hospital staff and awarded the prize neuro-surgery position to Clem.  It was such a bitter disappointment that Roger rejoiced a few months later when Seneca was suspended for the euthanasia death of his wife.  But it was Roger, now who was begging, and Seneca mulled past events over.

True, Roger was a brilliant surgeon, but his character weaknesses had earned him the well-deserved reputation as  an unscrupulous spendthrift.  His father Ed had long ago grown inpatient with him and his dislike for his only son made him almost sneer when Roger promised he'd settle down and become responsible.

But try as he might, Roger couldn't change. His gambling became compulsive and after he quickly ran through an inheritance left by his mother, his father refused to advance him another cent. Desperate, Roger turned to Mob loan sharks and quickly ran afoul of Nick Szabo, their local representative. Trying to beat the gang out of six thousands dollars was too tricky a task for Roger, who lacked any shrewdness, so he blackmailed Frank Ryan for the money instead. Roger was the only one to know that Frank and Jill were having an affair and family loyalty was thrown to the wind when faced with the prospect of a broken leg. Szabo style.

After his father died in a fall from the hospital roof, and Seneca canceled his contract when Frank revealed the blackmail attempt, Roger had nothing to do but sit around dreaming of revenge. Frank was his first target and he decided to punish the newly elected city councilman by seducing his wife. For years, in fact, Roger had been eyeing Delia with nothing less than lust. Her dizzy ways and blonde emptyheadedness, excited Roger as fast as they turned Frank off. He couldn't believe his luck when Delia responded to his come-on.  Of course, Dee had her own reasons for cuddling up to Roger, she wanted to pay Frank back for his infidelity with Jill and an affair with the loathed Dr. Coleridge would do the trick.

Sipping expensive champagne on Roger's opulent bed, Dee lounged around like a pampered princess and Roger, at last, felt like a big deal, something he'd been longing for for years. Dee made him feel like a hero instead of a villain and the more she demanded the more he willingly gave. Like two spoiled children, they cooked up plots to deceive Frank and hurt Jill.

But eventually the Ryans found out it was Roger whom Dee had been carrying on with and forbade her to ever see him again. Stung, Roger bitterly demanded Dee return to him. They would be married, and he would buy her anything she wanted with his late father's millions, he vowed.

But while Roger talked on and on of their future together, Dee had other plans. After deciding Frank was a lost cause, she zeroed in on his brother Pat and drove him into jealous tantrums with tales of her trysts with Roger.

Deceived into thinking Delia would go to Europe with him, Roger bought her thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes with jewelry to match. With two steamship tickets in his pocket they set off for Boston and the sailing, never knowing of course that the trip was Dee's trump card in the game to trap Pat.  She had left behind a note  saying how sorry she was for being so much trouble and now the Ryan's were well rid of her. Of course, she also revealed their exact destination as well, and as she expected, Pat came and saved her, leaving Roger behind on the ship hopelessly searching for Delia as the liner sailed from the dock.  After flying home from England, Roger was left alone to lick his wounds, humiliated and disgraced.

As the weeks passed, Roger began to change. As callous as he was, he had come to truly love Delia and the relationship. He was merely a pawn in her game and it shocked him into coming to terms with his life.

Quietly remorseful, he made careful overtures to his sister Faith and Jill, trying to restore some semblance of family unity. But it was the emergency surgery on his tiny nephew that revealed just how much he had changed. With complete competence, he tackled the job with an assurance that surprised Clem and astonished Seneca. Something about the confidence Jill had invested in him made him feel more than capable and he displayed his surgical talent with a flair.

Basking in the rewards heaped on him after his success, Roger may wonder if there is again a place for him in medicine and in his family.  But old habits die hard and Roger may not be able to resist one last stab at those who hurt him in the past.

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