My Life A Bit South of Normal

Friday, July 20, 2018

Nieman Marcus and Feral Hogs

Della and Sam were two stepping to the band's fairly good rendition of Hank Williams' 'If Heaven Ain't Alot Like Dixie'. Everyone watching them was clueless as to what they were doing. They knew it wasn't a waltz or a fox trot. Obviously no one going around a large circle was doing the traditional southern 'shag' they had learned at Alabama and Ol' Miss. Many just stood there, entranced.

Della was clueless as to the dozens of eyes on her. She only had eyes for Sam, her Texas cowboy. She had been swept off her feet from the moment he first walked into the office. The 2 were planning their wedding, the only issue was Texas or Alabama. Sam's family was very well to do. They expected their only son's wedding to be one large enough to accommodate all their family, friends, business associates, and significant others. After all, nothing in Texas was small.

Della's family, on the other hand, could only imagine a simple church wedding for their daughter with a reception in the church hall. One big enough to handle their family and friends. No one needed anything else - just something proper and simple.

Della and Sam had 'danced' around their families for months. Neither wanting to hurt any one's feeling. There had been many discussions about elopement - some serious and others not so much. They just wanted to get married and not hurt any one's feelings in the process. Why did love have to be so difficult?

While they were visiting Sam's family in Dallas, his mother and sister, Cora Lee, had made an appointment with the head of the Bridal Department at Nieman Marcus. They made it a 'Girl's Day' of it to look at wedding gowns.  Della had never been treated to such. She quickly realized she was terribly under dressed in her simple skirt and blouse. However, being polite, no one said anything.

The ladies were served champagne and pastries as they sat and watched models parade before them displaying the gowns. The dresses were lovely. Della had only seen such in the few Bridal magazines she has looked through. She had been handed a printed sheet that gave the description, including the designer, of each gown as it was presented. The prices threw her into a state of panic.  'Any one these cost more than my used Honda Civic', Della thought. Never wanting to hurt Sam's mother's feelings, she smiled and commented pleasantly on each as it was presented. The glasses of champagne did not hurt.

Sam's younger sister complicated the situation. Being the debutante of the season the year she came out, a cheerleader for the University of Texas Longhorns while at college, and then having her wedding featured in 'Town and Country' as well as the social  column of the 'Texas Observer', Della knew she would never measure up to Cora Lee. But, she was able to politely handle Mrs. Peterson.

Sam and Della had returned from Texas, a little more confused than before. There was no middle ground. The Peterson's idea of a wedding was 500 guests, a full band, open bar, seated dinner, dancing, an affair guaranteed to make the society pages. While the Lees could not imagine anything more than a simple service in the local baptist church with a reception in the social hall complete with Lue Ellen's pecan sandies and pink punch.

Ima Jean, Della's mother, had been dreaming of her daughter's wedding since the day Della was born. Given Ima Jean and Tommy were married in the living room of the justice of the peace in the next county over, she could only dream of her daughter's wedding.

20 some years ago she had bought a Simplicity pattern for the wedding gown of her dreams. Unlike her simple wedding, she wanted her daughter to have the best. The least she could do was make her wedding gown. Ima Jean had even bought yards of white eyelet that she carefully kept wrapped in paper, stored in the bottom of her husband's freezer out back under the shed. Since Thomas only used the shed to clean his fish and the freezer for the deer meat, quail, dove, and feral hog he killed each year.

So there they were - Sam and Della, in love, lost in the music. They just wanted to get married and share their day with their family and friends. How difficult could that be?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hello Sunshine and Summer Dance

Bunny survived the rest of Thursday evening. She had no idea what happened to Pervis and, personally, she didn't care. Seeing him was like being visited by the ghost of Christmas past. Before they turned in for the night, Mike reminded her that the following evening was the town's summer dance in the town park.

The 'Summer Dance' was an annual event Gallagher had hosted every June since 1895. The original idea was to get everyone off their porches one summer evening in June. Even though the southern heat was often unbearable, no one was going to miss this event. Given there was usually nothing else going on in town, not attending was taking a good chance one would be talked about. That being the case, it was worth bearing the heat to preserve one's reputation. And while there, one may as well get the scoop on those poor souls who did not venture into the heat. 

Gallagher was so small there were no secrets. That said, it still had that southern civility - even though everyone knew your business, they politely acted as if they didn't. Of course, that did not stop anyone from asking leading questions.

By the time Mike and Bunny arrived there was quite a crowd. Kids were running about wild. A local band was tuning up on the band stand. Flora and Cora were there, Don and John following behind. Barbara had convinced Jerry to stay another night to get a better feeling of the town. 

Lue Ellen had a table serving slices of her famous sour cream pound cake. Ella and Rayanne were there serving the gallons of lemonade Walter had donated from the Cafe.  The Grand Gallagher Ladies Club had a cash bar. Proceeds from that went to their 'Charity' fund. (It was always questionable just what their 'charity' was, but it was not polite to ask.)

Mike walked to the bar to get a glass of wine and one for Bunny.  Ike was there poured the 2 glasses and handed them him. "Tell Miss Bunny I'm sorry. We don't have any rose or Chablis this morning. But, I think she may like this pinot grigios." 

"Thanks Ike, I'll tell her," Mike smiled.

He turned to see the Sheriff behind him. "You really missed it today."

"Really? What in the world could I have missed in one day?" Mike laughed, "Actually, I imagine anything I missed was more titillating than court."

"I was surprised you were tied up there all day."

"Well, I thought so too. That was until the Widow Dillworth's case came up on the docket." The Sheriff cocked an eye. Mike just finished, "Let's just say, she took issue with the Judge's ruling." 


"Wanted to call 'expert' witnesses."

"For what? She parked her car in the middle of the town green, after almost taking out a bench, and then missing Jefferson Davis' statute by a mere foot. If I remember correctly, she thought she was in front of Millie's." The Sheriff laughed, "She was only off by 2 blocks."

"Well, the Judge was going to have none of it. He reminded her that she was not Perry Mason. Then the Judge called Mercer to testify that Mrs. Dillworth had failed her last eye exam and should not have been driving in the first place."

"The fun just never ends."

Mike shook his head, "So what did I miss?"

"Early this morning, Buzz passed a man walking down the Old Wire Road. Said the man didn't look good, so Buzz stopped to offer him a ride. He said when he got to the man, he was acting like he was delirious. All the man would say was, 'I lost my hat and my mother is going to kill me'."

"Where on the Old Wire Road? Close to Ivy Lane?"

"He was about a half mile from Ivy Lane going towards town."

"No car? Did he say where he had been?"

The Sheriff shook his head, "Nope, no car that Buzz saw. All he talked about was his hat and his mother. Ask Buzz, he can tell you the whole story."

Mike excused himself and went to find Bunny. No doubt she was wondering where her glass of wine was.

Barbara saw Terse and Vivian across the lawn. Having to walk on her toes to keep her 4 inch heels from sinking into the park's grass. She dragged Jerry over to meet them. This was her last chance to get the 2 of them together. Before they reached them, Terse said under his voice, "Dear God, she's back."

"Mr. Jackson, I'm so glad you're here. I'd like you to meet Jerry, my producer."

Being polite, Terse offered his hand, "Reginald Jackson, nice to meet you." He turned and introduced Vivian, "This is Vivian Wells, my girl friend."

Not wasting any time, Barbara went straight to the point, "Reginald, I was hoping you had time to reconsider my proposal. We could make you famous," she smiled, "and rich."

Reginald smiled,"Miss Birch . . . it is Miss Birch?"

"Of course, but please call me Barbara."

"Well Barbara, I appreciate that very much. However, I already signed a deal."

"Reginald, I am sure you have a 'deal', but I can offer you so much more than a little local company. After all, we work with Hollywood. You know big names, big lights," she waved her hands wide in the air, the gold bands on her wrists jingling. "You're not going to find that here."

"No mam, probably not." Terse said hoping that would end the conversation. Unfortunately, it didn't.

"What kind of deal did you get?"

Terse politely smiled,"They were quite kind."

Jerry spoke up, "If I may ask, who did you sign with?"

Terse hesitated, "It's a company from LA - Pacific Standard/Hello Sunshine."

Barbara was shocked, "Witherspoon, you signed with Reese Witherspoon? How did you get her to take your script? She is big time."

"Actually, I didn't," Terse said quietly. He badly wanted to get out of this conversation. He never cared for Barbara from the first time he met her. As for Jerry, he questioned anyone who would keep her company. "Miss Birch it was nice seeing you again." He turned to Jerry and offered him his hand, "and nice to meet you, Jerry."

Barbara, not willing to give up. "Mr. Jackson, I hope they accept the script, if they don't, please call me."

Finally loosing all patience, Terse spoke up, "I think she'll produce it. After all, she contacted me. I didn't contact her." He smiled at Barbara and Jerry, "Y'all enjoy yourselves." He put his arm around Vivian's waist. They made their way to the bar.

As Mike walked through the crowd looking for Bunny, he saw a couple making out behind one of the big oak trees in the shadows. That brought back memories of his teenage years. 'A right of passage' he thought. But he then he stopped in his tracks.

The site of Cora Eldridge moving from behind the tree to the top of a picnic table, half naked, getting to 3rd base with an older man he didn't recognize was not a sight he wanted to see. Mike knew he needed to move on but he just stood there for a second or 2. Some things defied imagination. He shook his head and walked away still looking for Bunny.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Let's Recap

Gentle readers, having been gone for a week or 2, I have not given up on the tales and tribulations of the folks in Gallagher. I am back (to reality) and eager to see what is going on in our little town in Alabama. That said, I thought, perhaps we should recap where we are:

Bunny Vontese is now married to Mike Pace. Unbeknownest to her and everyone else, Mike is not just a Sheriff's Deputy, but a well educated young man. Come to find out he comes from a fairly well to do family that lives not too far away. They live happily at Ivy Lane, the former home and estate of Harrison Wells.  Remember Harrison met his sudden death  during his very short engagement to Bunny. He willed Ivy Lane to Bunny, along with a sizable trust to keep it (and Bunny) in good shape.

Anna Belle is now keeping company with Walter Pace, Mike's Grandfather, whom she met at Bunny's wedding. Her business, the Gallagher Gentlemen's Club, is fairing very well, despite the mysterious death of 2 of her patrons.

The Eldrige twins are in the midst of figuring out the rituals of courting - now that Don and John have arrived. (They are a set of identical twins the Eldridges found on an online dating site for older folks.) Of course Flora and Cora got in a bit of trouble when their liquor still was discovered in their back yard while the Colonel was searching for the body of General Holden James Kirby, a long deceased officer in the Confederate army. 

The final batch of their fine moonshine has found its way into Dot's Do Drop In, where Ike (the bartender) dispenses it in small doses to any patron who knows the secret phrase.

Colonel Wadsworth continues to dress in his Confederate uniform as well as ride around town on his horse. The Museum of Confederate Uniforms, Hats, and Paraphernalia does well under the Colonel's watchful eye. 

Winifred, the Colonel's wife who once dressed in a dowdy costume of the time of our most recent unpleasantness joined the 21st century. She now is one of now one of Anna Belle's 'girls'. While at the Club, where she goes by the name 'Sara', she generally keeps company with Clark Butler (of course his wife Blanche is totally unaware of the situation as is the Colonel).

Vivian, who showed up in town with a few unruly children has settled in. The children's uncle, brother of their late father, and his wife (Harvey and Laurelie Wells) have adopted the children. All is well there.

Of course, Vivian, was the love child of Tula and William Vontese (Bunny's father). She and her mother do not fair well together. Vivian has settled into a relationship with Terse who has become a nationally recognized novelist and town celebrity.

Vivian's estranged mother, Tula, continued to wreck havoc in may people lives until she was arrested for embezzlement, transporting an adult against his will, and Elder abuse. She has now found herself in prison.

Pearce has settled into his family estate, Cre Uisce Aer, that he bought and has lovingly restored. He has hired Don and John to restore one of the gardens on the property. Come to find out, they are experts in designing Japanese gardens.

Dr. Mercer Magill and Iris Barker are now an item. She went a little off the range for awhile there. After her husband met his untimely death, a young man pretending to be her husband's nephew showed up with a scheme to swindle all her money. However, he found her possessed. He was arrested. She was committed to the Midsummer Sanitarium that ended up being an undesirable place. After she was rescued, she got right in the head again, and is now seeing Mercer on a regular basis.

Reeza, the Voodoo priestess who livesdeep in the Bayou, regular appears with her tarot cards. Her interpretations, as bewildering as often as they are, usually proove true.

Sheriff Quitman is keeping law and order in the county, as best he can. Mary Lou is handling both the Sheriff's Station and the Sheriff fairly well.

Speaking of the Sheriff's Station, there is a percular lady living in a bedroom the second story of the building. Ada Mae claims to hold the deed to the building (which was once a fine home). She lives there as if she were claiming squatters rights. Of course Ada Mae also lives in her own little world which allows her to time travel (in her mind) and always dress in the costume of the period.

The Goodness Gracious Tea Room had become quite the popular place, especially among the ladies of the town. Blanche, Caroline, and Hattie are doing very well with the business.

Barbara Birch and her producer friend, Jerry, are back in town for a visit. Her first hope was that Terse would allow her to produce a movie based on one of his books. That did not happen. Now, Barbara is very eager to show Jerry the cast of the town's eccentric citizens, in hopes he will make a film about them. Unfortunately, their presence alludes him and he is convinced Barbara has made it up. 

Dr. Hollis Sadler is now seeing Stella Marlboro, the widow of Madison, an attorney in town. Madison was a well liked man with a predilection for the bottle. He was found one morning in his parked car in front of their home. The assumption being he died of natural causes. However, he met his untimely death at the Gentlemen's Club thanks to a woman who loathed men and a taser.

Belva, one of Harrison Wells' daughters, has divorced her husband, Culler, after she discovered he was much more partial to women's clothes than his Brooks Brothers suits. Culler became 'Colleen' and relocates in Gallagher. Haynes Duiese was smitten with Colleen from first sight. Their relationship was going very well until her inauspicious death at the Historical Society Gala at Cre Uisce Aer.

Cordelia Wells is still the matriarc of the family. Aunt Cordelia (as she is known) often can be found holding court at her table at the Tea Room during their 'Apres High Tea Time' (aka lady's happy hour.)

Quinton Gallagher Hampton IV (Wade), who owns the Q.G.Hampton Rentals and Housing Co. (where Bunny works) is doing well. He has had to occasionally offer 'aid' to Anna Belle at the Club  when the need arises. (Let's just say he has become very adept at removing the bodies of gentleman who have met their unfortunate deaths at Anna Belle's club.)

Kathleen and Jeb managed to get married despite Dixie's grand plans that they wanted nothing of. Harrell tried his best to keep Dixie in check, but even he wasn't a match for his wife's plans of a preposterous wedding cake, invitations sent in purple satin boxes, butterflies, and a haute couture wedding gown.

Meanwhile the lives of Sam, Della, Bob and Parker, Ada, Buck Beaver, Amy, Axson McDermott, Bates, Maisy Ruth, Liza, Roy, Hattie, Charlie, Chief Pyre, Cliff, Luigi, Doyle, Imogene and Joe, Irnis, Knox and Kirby, Larry, Luther, Theo, Manfield, Marcelle, Millie, Parnell, Pearl, Rayanne and 'Miss' Ella, Ed, Walter, Frank, and Grice, go on.

The tales continues.