Kenton, the scanned negative looks fine. It may even be a bit flat. I believe you are misinterpreting the printing results. I don't know why you are trying to tie in exposure with contrast. If the negative has some extra density, print it down. There is no set relationship between negative density and print density. Forget the just black test. You are confusing yourself. Take a step back. Now, just do a test strip. See how the image changes with exposure. Pick what appears closest to what you think is natural, then make a print at that setting.
I've inverted the negative and darkened the image some. You have a very usable negative.