Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Flora had called Pearce earlier in the week to get the Johnsons' phone number. Later that morning, Flora called Don and John. Much to Cora's dismay, they gladly accepted the ladys' invitation to dinner.
Flora and Cora prepared a meal of steaks, salad, and potatoes. For dessert, Cora made a dish of their mother's famous peach cobbler. As she took the cobbler out of the oven, Cora asked, "Now what?"
"We get dressed. And don't forget to put on some perfume."
"But what about the teddy thing?"
"Wear that under your clothes."
"Over my underwear?"
"No, instead of your underwear, silly. That way when things get romantic, you can show it to him."
Cora was still unsure about all this. Certainly women did not do these things at their age. But following her sister's lead, she put on the teddy and the perfume.
When Cora walked back into the kitchen, she remembered the 2 bottles of their finest work they kept under the sink. She put ice in a glass and poured it half way up with the 180 proof moonshine. 'Courage in a bottle', she said to herself as she filled the rest of the glass with iced tea. She took a long swig.
Don and John arrived right on time. They had brought each of the ladies a bouquet of roses. Flora suggested they sit on the front porch in the old glider and on the porch swing. It was going to be a short while before the steaks were done.
As soon as the men were settled onto the porch, Cora asked Flora if she could help her in the kitchen. Flora had just gotten into the front door, when Cora started, "Flora, now you have really gone over the edge. You realize everyone who drives by will see we have company - men company."
"Yes, and so?"
"What if they think the men are spending the night here?"
"What if they do? After all, that's the plan isn't it?"
Flora walked back out onto the porch. Cora headed to the kitchen for the iced tea. All she could think of, as she pulled 4 glasses of their mother's best crystal from the China cabinet, was, 'What had Flora gotten them into this time?'
While she added ice and poured tea into the glasses, Cora continued to take big sips from her first glass. She poured the remainder of her first glass into a crystal one. She added mint and lemon to each then carried them out to the porch.
Conversation was light among the 4 of them. Don and John entertained the ladies with stories about working at Cre Uisce Aer. By the time they were half way through their iced tea, Cora was feeling much better. Come to think about it, she could never remember feeling this good.
At one point, Don asked, "So, what do you ladies do?"
Very enthusiastically, Cora blurted out, "Make moon shine."
The expression on Don's face showed he did not understand. However, since the cat was out of the bag, Flora added, "You know home made liquor."
Both men smiled widely.
Quickly, Flora said, "But we don't have any right now." She looked at Cora and gave her a 'Don't you dare say anything more' stare. To the others she said, "I'm going to check on dinner." She headed for the kitchen.
After she left, Cora moved over to sit next to Don on the porch swing. She giggled, "You know we are real happy y'all came over tonight."
Don smiled, "We are too."
Cora smiled, "Boy do we have a surprise for y'all tonight." She took another big swig of her 'tea'.
Flora opened the door, "Supper's ready." Cora showed them into the dining room. Flora served supper. Before she sat down, she asked, "Anyone need more tea?"
She picked up the mens' glasses, along with hers and went into the kitchen. She added ice to all the glasses. Once again she added a good 3 ounces of liquor to her glass, then filled all 3 up with tea. By the time she got back to the table she was starting to wobble a bit. She gave Don and John glasses of tea and sat down with hers.
They started eating. When Cora picked up her glass, she realized with the first taste, that she just had regular tea in her glass. Maybe she didn't 'supplement' hers after all, she thought. While no one was noticing, she put her hand in her lap. Slowly she moved it to the top of Don's thigh. He turned and smiled at her.
'Good', she thought, 'the book was right.' She took another sip of tea, for courage. Trying to remember exactly what the book said to do next, she slowly moved her hand up even further on Don's thigh. He let out a sigh with a smile. She would have stopped but it didn't seem to bother him -- at all.
Flora looked over, "Cora, can you help me in the kitchen."
When they got out of earshot, Flora turned to Cora. In a very low voice, she asked, "Are you sure you are OK? If you don't want to do anything I understand."
"I thought I was doing it," asked Cora.
"No, we have to do more than just sit and talk at the table. After dessert, I'll suggest to John that he and I move out to the porch."
"And, what about me? Just sit at the table?" Cora asked, thinking she was doing pretty good so far.
"No silly, that will be your sign to take Don into the living room."
"Just sit real close to him and see what happens."
Cora nodded and followed Flora back to the table with the peach cobbler. As soon as they sat down, she slowly moved her hand under the table back to Don's lap. It was only then that she noticed his chair had been moved much closer to hers.
When they finished dessert, Flora suggested that she and John go onto the porch. Cora quickly stood up. "Don, let's go into the living room so we can . . ." she unbuttoned the top several buttons of her blouse, revealing a good portion of her pink lace teddy, "so we can do this!"
Don thought it terribly funny. Flora was aghast. It was then that Cora first realized Don had gotten the 'supplemented' tea refill. He stood up, "Oh, yeah!"
Flora hurried John out onto the front porch. Totally frustrated with her sister, all she could say was, "I don't know what has gotten into her. I think she has lost her mind."
Back in the living room, Don and Cora had moved to the sofa. A line of abandoned clothes were left in their wake from the dining room table to the sofa. She was down to her teddy and Don was buck naked. Suddenly Cora sat up. "Wait a minute. I'll be right back."
Flora heard the screen door open. She looked to see Cora standing there, wearing nothing but her teddy and her knee high stockings. In a slightly slurred voice, Cora asked, "Flora, what do I do now?"
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
John and Don were busy working with Pearce redoing the Japanese gardens at Cre Uisce Aer. They had found a small house to rent from Wade, just outside Gallagher on the road that led to Pearce's estate. Soon they were just another addition to Pearce's rather eclectic group of international workers.
Flora and Cora had many conversations between the 2 of them about the brothers. They ranged from anger at them for not being honest to genuine curiosity as to why they stayed around. The ladies knew they were in town but, luckily, never ran into them.
Finally one morning Flora said, "This is stupid. Here we are by ourselves and there are 2 men here who want our company."
Cora, always being the more hesitant of the 2 was quiet. "You mean you think we should call them? Remember Mama always told us that nice ladies did not call men on the telephone."
"Yes she did - in the 60's. The world has changed Cora, catch up."
"So you want to call them, and then what."
Flora laughed, "Yes, sister. I think we should call them and invite them over. I think they would enjoy our company."
"But Flora, what if they want to . . . , you know? What would we do?"
Flora shook her head. "Honestly Cora, why do you think we were looking for men in the first place."
"Not to do that?"
"Yes. I think it is time we lived a little." Flora walked back to her bedroom and returned with 2 books. "Here," she handed them to Cora. "Read these, they will answer any questions you may have."
Cora looked at the 2 books, " 'Women, Sex, Power and Pleasure', where did you get this from?"
"Amazon, of course."
"And 'Drive Him Wild, 100 Sex Tips for Women'. What are these - instructions?"
Flora just gave her sister a wicked smile.
Cora held the books as if they were going to bite her. "These came in the mail? What if the postman knew what he was delivering?"
Flora laughed, "If he did, I think he would have accepted my invitation to come in for some lemonade that afternoon."
Finally at breakfast a morning or 2 later, Flora asked, "You ready?"
"Ready for what?'' Cora asked as she poured her cup of coffee. Then she stopped. "Oh Flora, I just can't."
"Oh, yes you can. And, yes, we are."
"Where do we start?"
"Cora, you can be such a ninny." Flora shook her head. "First, I'll call them and see if they can come to dinner tomorrow night."
"Oh, Flora . . . I just don't know."
"Don't worry. I bought us something." Flora went to the closet, opened the door and pulled out a small flat white box. "Look at this." She opened the box and pulled out what looked like a short pink lace slip. "This should do the trick."
Cora looked stunned. "What is that?"
"Cora, this is a 'teddy'. Men love them. Trust me, it will help get them 'in the mood'." Flora held the piece of pink lace up to her body. "See."
"And just where did you learn this from?"
"It is Tip #4 in that book I gave you ."
"Oh, dear, you are really going through with this."
"No," Flora laughed, "We are going through with this."
Sunday, June 17, 2018
By the time they returned to the station, Mary Lou's first words were that Cordelia had called. "She didn't sound right to me. She asked you to call her as soon as you got back. Do you know anything about this?"
The Sheriff walked back to his office to call Cordelia. Mike explained to Mary Lou what had happened.
Mike turned and walked to his desk to see if there were any messages. There were none, so he sat down and started working on his never ending pile of paperwork.
The Sheriff called Cordelia. "Cordelia, I am so sorry."
"You never know what someone is thinking." She paused. "I wanted to let you know that I have Wells. Thankfully, he has been staying with me for the past 2 days or so. I'll keep him here. God knows the last thing he needs is whatever drama this will bring about."
"You know if you ever need something, let me know. I was over there this morning. I think you should that they think it was a murder, not a suicide."
"That doesn't surprise me. I can't imagine her doing something like that. Especially with Wells. He was the light of her life." They discussed a few things and then rang off.
The following morning, the police officer from Mobile called. "We just picked up a Mr. Santos Garcia. "
"At the local pawn store. Seemed he was trying to sell some of Ms. McCord's jewelry."
"How did you know it was her jewelry?"
"When we were going through the house, we saw, what looked like a jewelry box open and empty. I spoke with Ms. McCord's aunt and she was able to describe to me several of the more significant pieces that should have been in there. I put out a description of the jewelry to all the local pawn shops."
"And, he tried to pawn it?"
"That would be correct. We were able to get to the shop before he left."
"Did he have anything to say?"
"You bet. Once we got him to the station, and started interrogating him, he was quick to talk. Apparently, Ms. Cantrell was not the intended victim at the dinner. He said it was supposed to be a Mr. Haynes Duiese."
"Really?" He paused,"The plan was to kill Haynes not Colleen."
"So the 2 knew each other?"
"Yes, you could say they were an 'item.' Colleen was Haynes' date that evening."
They discussed the situation. When the officer in Mobile learned what Cajo had told Pearce and the Sheriff, he was even more interested in Santos. "He must have heard your car pull up and made it out of the back door just in time." He was a quiet. "Why were you asking about poison?"
"Based on a blood test, we know that she was killed by ingesting cyanide."
"So you think that Ms. McCord gave Santos the poison and he put it in Ms. Cantrell's food?"
"That's the thought."
"But why did he do that, if the plan was to kill Mr. Duiese?"
"That's what we need to find out."
They discussed a few more things and rang off.
Meanwhile, Cordelia had always been a very important part of Wells' life. In his mind she was better than any grandmother, she was 'Aunt Cordelia'. So it was natural that Cordelia take care of him. The only other option would have been his Aunt Liza. She had enough problems raising her own children, there was no way Cordelia was going to let her attempt to take care of Wells.
Of course, in addition to Cordelia, there was Pearl. She was even more doting than Cordelia thought about being. She believed that good food could always soothe the soul, especially her biscuits and chocolate chip cookies. Between the 2 women, Wells was in good hands.
Belva's funeral had been delayed due to the on going investigation and the circumstances of her death. Colleen's service was Monday afternoon. She had a last will and testament in which she stated she wanted to be cremated.
Her service was the first time Haynes had met Wells. He could see Colleen in him. This was a smart, nice looking young man who had watched his world crumble in a just a matter of a few years. His therapist had done a great job keeping the young man centered. Considering all he had gone through beyond the divorce - his father's change and now the death of both of his parents.
After the ceremony, Haynes had invited everyone back to his house for a luncheon. It was a full house. Despite the reason for the gathering, everyone had a good time. Haynes knew that was the way Colleen would have wanted it to be. So far, Haynes had been able to get through Colleen's death without having a break down. As always Parker and Bob were his rock. Naturally, both of them were also devastated by her death.
After everyone had gone home and the caterer had cleaned up and left, Haynes, Parker, and Bob found themselves on the patio with a bottle of wine. It was nice to enjoy the quiet after all the noise, laughter, and conversation of the day.
Parker asked, "Dad, what do you think of Wells?"
"I was most impressed. I know Colleen not being able to spend time with him must have been agonizing. And to have a parent change gender and leave, then to lose both parents within a week of each other, is hard on anyone, much less a 9 year old boy."
"Well, I think he is smart and thoughtful."
Haynes told Parker and Bob about Belva having found the therapists that specialized in children of transgender parents. Wells saw Dr. Haskell at least once a week.
Bob laughed, "They have those?"
"Apparently so and Wells is proof of how well the therapy can work. Thanks to her, this young man has been able to cope with his situation."
"I guess he is the closest you have ever had to grandchild," laughed Parker.
"I hadn't thought of that. Colleen talked about him a lot, but today was the first time I met him. Colleen and I never discussed him meeting me. Not that she had an issue with it, I just think it would have complicated a situation that was taxed as it was. The whole thing was a bit strange." Haynes was quiet. "It would have been very special."
Bob spoke up, "Well, what's stopping you now? Just because Colleen is no longer here, nothing says you cannot be part of Wells' life."
"Colleen would be thrilled. Think about it," added Parker.
"Okay, let me get this straight. He would be the 'adopted' grandson of the man his father was seeing after he transgendered into a woman."
"Yep, that's about it," laughed Bob.
"Oh, Dad, it's just a matter of semantics," Parker said laughing. "And, we all know semantics are so overrated."
"If there was a time, he ever needed you and you needed him, this was be it. Just get to know him. It will take some time."
Haynes was quiet. "Well, it's not like you 2 are ever going to make me a grandfather."