My Life a Bit South of Normal

My Life a Bit South of Normal

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Happy Days are Here Again

The following morning, Dixie and Kathleen went to visit The Columns. Kathleen had to admit it was an impressive place. To be a new facility, the designers had paid close attention to details. The Corinthian columns on the front porch were intricately carved. The main house was made of traditional old style bricks. All the plantings in the yard, as well as in the garden, were heirloom varieties dating back to the early 1800's.

Their meeting with the wedding coordinator was very cordial. All was copacetic until the coordinator pulled out the list of services Dixie had requested and approved.

Kathleen found the wedding cake policy a little much, but then who wants to offend the pastry chef and take a chance on the other food he prepares for the wedding being off menu. Worse yet, that the chef 'absentmindedly' forget to prepare the steamship round or substitute chicken nuggets in lieu of the boiled shrimp. Then she was shown the $48,900 tab for everything from chairs to the parking valets, outrageous. 

In Kathleen's mind, her father's offer of $40,000 more than generous. Besides, she knew that this was only part of the bill. She was certain Dixie had costs in addition to this. The list did not include the 'designer' flowers, the fancy cake, and God knows what else. Keeping with her promise to her father, she did not let her exasperation get the best of her. She could hold it until they got home.

After they finished the contract discussion, the coordinator took them through 1 of the 3 large French doors that opened onto a tremendous flagstone terrace. With the house providing a lovely back drop for the terrace, in the other direction, it overlooked the sloping lawn, which was large enough for a fairly good size wedding or nice reception.

Kathleen and Dixie were commenting on the lovely site, as the coordinator walked them down a large stone staircase to the lawn.  They stood on the thick carpet of green grass, surrounded by flowering scrubs and beds filled with rich colored blossoms. Then  a loud roar interrupted the beauty of the moment.

As Kathleen and her mother turned toward the sound, they heard a deep voice through a loud speaker announce, "Gentleman, start your engines." There was a starter's gun followed by the racing of engines, and the yells of a boisterous crowd. Kathleen turned toward the wedding coordinator.

"What is that?" Kathleen asked.

The wedding coordinator quickly answered in a nervous voice. "That is the local race track."

"Racetrack?" asked Dixie.

"Yes, not professional, just local drag strip."

"How often do they race?" asked Kathleen, fascinated in a way, since she had never seen such.

"Oh, once or twice a week," the wedding coordinator said dismissively. She turned to the 2 Quinton ladies, motioned toward the house, and suggested they go back in, as if to say, 'Move along, nothing to see here'.

But not before Dixie asked the obvious question, "And what days would that be?"

The wedding coordinator was very uneasy with her answer, "Wednesdays and Saturdays."

"Every Saturday?" asked Kathleen.

"Yes", answered the coordinator in total dejection.

Dixie, not wanting to dwell on this, looked at Kathleen. "Sweetheart, do you have any more questions?"

Kathleen said she did not, turned to the coordinator, and complimented her on the lovely place. "Mama and I have a meeting back in Gallagher, so I am afraid we need to leave."

The wedding coordinator shook both lady's hands and thanked them for coming. "If you have any questions, please let me know. You are a lovely Bride, Kathleen and I think you would be most satisfied to have your wedding here."

The 3 ladies exchanged some pleasantries and the Quintons left.

While Kathleen and her mother had been touring The Columns, Gallagher was preparing to warmly welcome the Elderidge's future husbands. Word traveled fast around the town. It seemed a majority of the citizens had showed up, some to share in the joyous moment and others simply due to idle curiosity. 

Ella and Rayanne had tied dozens of balloons, in large bunches on the street lights in front of Ed's. A large banner strung across the street read, "Welcome John and Don." The marching band was standing in formation waiting their cue to play. Col Wadsworth was present astride his horse in full Confederate regalia just for the occasion. 

Ella and Rayanne were standing up front with Flora and Cora. All 4 ladies were dressed in their Sunday best. The twins were wearing matching floral print dresses. Their wardrobe was complete with hats, white gloves, and the large pink and white corsages they had been presented.  Even the Mayor was there. While Flora and Cora appreciated the support, they were just a bit anxious.

The previous night the 2 women had shared a serious discussion about their decision. Flora asked, "Are we ready for this? What are we doing? How are we going continue making our firewater?"

"Flora, I think at our age we can handle this."

"Cora, there are other things, I'm concerned about. What if they . . .,"she paused. "What if they have certain 'expectations'?

"Flora! That is not something a decent woman considers at our age."

"I don't know. I have read books about it."

Cora quickly told Flora that she was never to mention that again. Cora went out back to check the still and Flora finished ironing their dresses.

So here they were, very excited but anxious as the time went on. The bus was running late which only raised their angst. Then a not so quiet comment could be heard in the crowd, "I told you this was a hoax. These 2 old biddies are bat shit crazy. They must have been drinking their own stuff when they dreamt this up." 

Ella immediately found the source and gave him the choice to either hold his thoughts to himself or leave. As she was making her way through the crowd to take her place beside Rayanne, the rumble of the bus could be heard turning into town. The murmur of the crowd got a bit louder as everyone waited for the bus to arrive. 

The bus approached the crowd, stopped, and its air brakes hissed. The driver opened the door and stepped out to get the luggage for anyone disembarking there. The crowd held their breath. The marching band started playing 'Happy Days are Here Again." The majorettes, twirling their batons, led the musicians to the front of the bus. The Mayor stepped forward holding the Key to the City decorated with a huge red bow.

Several travelers exited the bus, a bit confused with the crowd, the balloons, and the band. In a few minutes, the driver got back on the bus, closed the door, and slowly pulled away. Suddenly the crowd fell quiet. The band stopped playing. The Mayor, obviously perturbed, approached Ella and Rayanne. "Seriously! What was all this about anyway?"

Ella quickly replied that she was sure there was an explanation. Flora and Cora were not known to make things like this up. "Maybe the men missed that bus and will be on the next one."

Ed called from the crowd. "The next bus doesn't arrive until 2 this afternoon."

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Coveted Invitation to the Bridal Shower

Cordelia's Bridal Shower for Kathleen was held at the Tea Room as scheduled.  She had reserved the additional dining room off the main dining room. Knowing the size of the room, Cordelia had asked Dixie to give her a list of 15-20 ladies, she and Kathleen would like to invite. Dixie had come back saying that she needed to invite more.

2 weeks before the shower, Dixie finally got her list to Cordelia. Irritated by her delay in getting the names to her, Cordelia was even more aggravated after reading through the list. Cordelia called Dixie.

"Good morning Dixie, do you have a moment?"

"Yes, but just a moment. I'm expecting Luigi anytime now. For some reason he'll only work with me for an hour, so want to make sure I am ready for him."

"I'll try to be brief. You may need to call me back later."

Dixie asked,"You did get my list didn't you?"

"Yes, and that is why I'm calling. Going over the it I was surprised. There were a few ladies not listed whom I was certain, you would have included. Perhaps it was an oversight?"

A bit bewildered, Dixie looked at her watch. "Like whom? I had to invite Blanche Jackson since I invited Ada Mae Magillicully."

"I didn't realize you were so close to Ada Mae."

"Only socially, but her husband is a state senator. You know, one of the Mobile elite."

"And, Stella Marlboro is not on the list, nor is Ella Osborne? You know Ella will be hurt if she isn't included. She thinks the world of Kathleen" Cordelia held her frustration but added,"If I am correct, Ella taught Kathleen how to bake."

"But you know, I needed to invite my college roommate, Amy. She writes for the Mobile Press Register. I'm sure she will want to write an article about the Shower for the Register's social column."

"Yes," Cordelia paused. "I'm sure she will do that." Knowing full well as sweet and accomplished Kathleen was, this little soiree was not going to mentioned on the Sunday social page of the Mobile Press Register. She would just let Dixie live in her dream world. Cordelia continued, "And Charlotte Beauregard? Certainly that was an error."

"I had to cut somewhere. As much as I know this is a coveted invitation, the wedding invitations will be even more prized. I thought we would add her there."

Cordelia was short, "Dixie, I think we need to invite Charlotte. Remember she is the Mother of the Groom."

"Oh dear, I guess that does make a difference." Dixie paused and thought. "I'm sure you can add her to your guest list."

'Guess?' Cordelia thought. However before Cordelia could answer, she heard Dixie's doorbell ring. 

"Oh, that must Luigi." Dixie looked at her watch, "He is always on time. Cordelia, can we finish this later?"

"Dear, I'm afraid not. The invitations are already a week late being mailed. And, you have the entire list. I gave you the number of people we could accommodate at the Tea Room." She paused, then added, "Also, I do not recognize any of the guests as Kathleen's friends. Are they all from out of town? I'm sure you included some of them." Cordelia changed her tone to a bit excited. "That will be  so nice to meet her friends."

Dixie was getting aggravated. Cordelia had given her the number of guests for her to invite. Certainly, Kathleen had her own number. These women, Dixie mentioned, had to be included. After all they were the 'elite' of Mobile.

"Dixie, why are you inviting people Kathleen doesn't even know and not including her friends." Cordelia started laughing. "One would think you are the Bride!"

"Can't we just add a few more ladies. I don't even have Joan Monroe, Loretta Buchanan, or, Lord, we have to invite Lucinda Shackelford."

"Shackelford? As in the Lieutenant Governor Shackelford's wife?"

"Oh, of course. I would not want to hurt her feelings, since  . . ."

Cordelia had lost patience. "Dixie you gave me a list of 35 ladies. The room will only seat 25 at most. We certainly don't want the guests to be uncomfortable. Surely 'we' can work on the list. At least the Mother of the Groom has to be invited."

"Of course, of course," Dixie laughed nervously. "You know I just assumed she would be invited."

"I am not 'assuming' anything. Can you get back to me this afternoon with a manageable number. And, please let Kathleen invite some of her friends. Dixie," Cordelia paused, "she is the Bride. The party is for her."

They rang off and Dixie hurried down to the den where she knew Luigi was waiting. She had already lost 15 minutes of her time with him. 'Honestly', Dixie thought to herself. 'Cordelia can fit a few more women in for the Shower.'

Cordelia had something else in mind. She called Kathleen. "Dear, your mother and I are trying to put the guest list together for your Bridal Shower. I'm sure you understand that side room in the Tea House, is only so big."

"Oh, 'Miss' Cordelia. I am so excited about the shower. A smaller group is much more intimate." She paused. "To be honest, the larger the room, the more people my mother will invite."

"Probably so." Cordelia laughed. "Well, looking over the guest list, I don't recognize any of your friends."

"Well, that would be because I did not make up the list. In fact, I was not even consulted about the list. It wasn't worth the fight."

"Well, we are going to do something about this. The Shower is for you and I think you should invite whomever you wish. Do you think you can get me the names and addresses by this evening."

"Of course, they are all in my contacts list. I'll drop it by as soon as I get it written out. Thank you."

"One other thing."

"Yes mam, anything you want."

"Let's just not tell your mother about this."

"No, mam, I can promise you that will not happen."

Cordelia and Kathleen discussed other details about the shower and numbers of guests. Then they rang off.

Monday, March 19, 2018

We Have to Welcome Them to Town

After much unpleasant discussion between Kathleen and Dixie, Harrell intervened. "Kathleen just to bring peace in our house, please go with your mother to see this place - whatever it is called."

Kathleen was in her father's office. She had come to plead her case. But, he had had enough."You don't have to like it."

Kathleen just stared at him.

"Just go to visit the place."

"OK," said Kathleen dejected.

As she turned to walk out of his office, Harrell added,"And, for God's sake, if you don't like it, don't say anything to your mother until you get home."

"Yes, sir," Kathleen said as she walked out of the office.

At the rental office, 'Miss' Ella and Rayanne walked in together. That was always the sure sign of something amiss.

Della just shook her head,"Why do I think you are up to something?"

Rayanne smiled, "Now Della, you know us, we are always good." 

'Miss' Ella looked at Rayanne. "Good at what?"

Both the older women giggled. Della stopped what she was doing and gave them her attention, if nothing else out of curiosity, "OK, what's up ladies?"

"We just got back from visiting the Eldridge twins."

Della interrupted,"I didn't realize y'all were good friends."

"We're not," added 'Miss' Ella.

"Any way," said Rayanne continuing, "we took them some of Ella's special banana bread." 

"You know, we just thought we would be neighborly." Ella looked at Rayanne. "And, congratulate them on their upcoming nuptials."

Before Della could say anything, Rayanne continued the story, "I really did not believe Ella, until they showed us pictures of the lucky men. I swear one of them, looks just like Donald Sutherland."

"And, the other one, like I said," 'Miss' Ella added excitedly, "The other one looks just like Sam Elliott."

"So, I've heard," said Della, waiting for the rest of the story to stumble from the 2 of them.

"But, they do look just like those 2 men. But, that's not why we are here." Rayanne smiled widely, "They told us that their gentlemen friends are arriving tomorrow."

"Wow!, That's earlier than I thought," said Della.

"We were thinking that some of us should be there when they arrive. You know, to show support." said 'Miss' Ella.

Rayanne added, "You know, to welcome them to town.?

"And, they are OK with this?"

"Not exactly," said Rayanne. Without taking a breath, she continued, "But we know they will be overjoyed when the see us there."

"Are they flying into Mobile or Montgomery and renting a car?"

"No, we'll meet them in front of Ed's."

Della looked confused. Rayanne continued,"That's where their bus will come. You are probably too young to know that Ed's is also the bus station."

Della shook her head. Once again 'Miss' Ellie, didn't let her start. "But that doesn't matter. We'll have balloons and a big banner welcoming them to Gallagher."

Sarcastically, Della added, "Why not have a marching band?"

Rayanne was thrilled. "We didn't think of that. That's a great idea. Ella don't you know Mike Gee's mother? Remember she is the one who does everything with the high school band. I bet you could ask her."

'Miss' Ellie pulled a small pad and pencil from her coordinating purse. As she jotted a quick note, without looking up, she said, "I'll do that this afternoon."

Della, getting tired of this show, laughed and said, "Well that's that. Looks like you 2 have it all under control."

Rayanne looked at Ella,"Let's go. We need to find the balloons."

As they walked out, Della heard one of them say, "Oh, we have to have flowers, you know a corsage for Flora and Cora. The other one replied, "Then we have to get 2 boutonnieres. Finally the door closed.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Personally, I Think He is Dreamy

The Sheriff had just gotten his first cup of coffee, when he was surprised by a phone call from the FBI. Apparently the agency had been following up on the Midsummer Sanatorium case. They had nabbed the main players, thanks to Hugh McKissick's help. It was easy to establish a case of mail fraud to hold them until the Attorney General filed other charges. What the Sheriff did not expect was to hear that John Dean aka Frederick Barker, was also indicted. His attempt to embezzle Iris Barker's funds was not his only problem. The Feds found he was in collusion with the parent corporation of the Sanatorium.

The Sheriff inquired about Hugh, "I'd really like to talk to him."

"Well, that's another situation. He was beat up pretty badly and is in a hospital."

"No life threatening wounds, I hope?" the Sheriff asked concerned.

"No, he will recover, but it may take some time. As soon as Hugh was able to give us what we needed some goons came, found him and beat the living daylights out of him. Apparently, the company decided to seek retribution. They left him with a concussion, lacerations on his face, a broken nose, several broken ribs, and a broken leg."

"Whoa, that's pretty bad." The Sheriff asked for the hospital Hugh was in so he could contact him. "I want to tell him how much I appreciate what he did."

"Yes and no? He definitely deserves credit. However to keep the goons from finding him again until the trial, we have put Mr. McKissick in the Witness Protection Program. Even if I knew where he was, I couldn't tell you."

"I appreciate the call. Keep me in the loop."

"We will. We'll probably be in Gallagher some time soon to talk with Mrs. Barker. You may want to tell her."

"I'll do that. Thanks again." They rang off.

In town, Wade came into the Rental Office. His first words were,"You can't make this up - only in Gallagher."

By this time his booming voice had called Bunny and Vivian out from their offices. "I've got to tell y'all something." He smiled, "And for once I bet you don't know anything about it."

Della laughed, "You've got my attention."

Wade continued, "You know how the Eldridge twins are in their mid to late 70's and have never married?"

Della added,"I always wondered about that."

Bunny looked at her, "Della!"

"Well, guess who is getting married?"

"One of them?" Vivian guessed.

"No - both of them,"

Della just looked at Wade with a large smile,"See, I told you so!"

"To whom?" asked Vivian ignoring Della.

"A set of twin brothers, also in there 70's."

"From where?" asked Bunny trying to wrap her head around this news.

"That's what is so funny. They went online."

"Like" asked Della.

"Sorta, but they found a dating web site setup to help seniors in their 70's find companionship."

Bunny just remembered her experience with the online dating service It was both disappointing and dreadful, leading to her kidnapping. Still puzzled, Bunny asked Wade,"Have you met them?"

"The grooms? Wade asked, "No, I don't think they are in town yet."

Della gave a wry smile, "And, just where did you get this news?"

"Mae, at the Starlight."

Della just shook her head, "And, you believe her?"

"Well, let's put it this way - if she just made this up, she can go into creative writing."

They all laughed and discussed the matter for a while before everyone decided they needed to get back to work. Wade turned to Bunny, "You got a minute?"

"Sure", she said walking back into her office. Wade followed her. As she was taking a seat behind her desk, Bunny said, "I think that is so sweet, at their ages, to get married."

"I can see it now, they'll have the 7 elves in their wedding," Wade said as he sat in the chair in front of Bunny's desk.

"You mean gnomes?"

"Whatever," Wade said in a dismissing tone.

She and Wade discussed some business. Bunny printed off the account sheets he requested.

Wade sat back in the chair, "How often do you see your mother?"

Surprised at the question, Bunny replied, "Not often, but that is our relationship. Why do you ask?"

"Well, sometimes I wonder about her. She seems to work all the time."

"Oh, I don't think that's the case. I see her out and about." Bunny laughed, "and personally, that suits me just fine."

"Well, that's good to hear."

"Wade! Are you interested in her?" Bunny giggled

"Of course not," Wade said as he stood up to walk out. However, Bunny could tell there was something there. Over these past years she had become pretty good at reading him. Come to think about it, in all the years she had known him, she had never seen him act quite like that before.

Della stuck her head in Bunny's office, "Any problem with my taking next week off?"

"Of course not. What's up?"

Della asked, "Remember that trip to Texas Sam and I were going to take?  We had to cancel due to Sam's mystery assignment. Now that he's back, he wants us to go next week."

"Great. You think he's going to ask you to marry him?" an excited Bunny asked.

"Bunny! Don't start that. Remember what happened last time you got that idea."

The image of the premature wedding shower party she had decided to host for Della and Sam, was fairly embarrassing.

'Miss Ella' came in to pay her rent. Della commented, "You know this is not due for 2 weeks."

"Oh, I know, but I happened to be walking this way and figured I may as well stop." She pulled out her checkbook. "Have y'all heard about Flora and Cora?"

Della answered, "Yes mam, Wade told us this morning."

"I'm so excited for them. I always wondered why they didn't marry earlier."

"Really?" asked Della.

"Well, they are nice looking patrician ladies. They are tall and slim and have aged well, if I say so myself."

"We'll see." Della paused, "How long have they been seeing these men?"

"Oh," said 'Miss' Ella distressed. "That's the only thing that bothers me. Flora and Cora have never seen them. So far everything has been done online." She finished writing her check and handed it to Della. "But they showed me pictures." She blushed. "Even at my age, I would accept a marriage proposal from either of them."

Della looked at 'Miss' Ella. This was not something she expected to ever hear her say. "Why so?"

"Well one of them looks like Sam Elliot and the other is the spitting image of," She paused. "Oh, who was that very handsome actor who played the president in that picture show about the girl who was selected to represent her city in those horrible games?"

"The 'Hunger Games'?"

"Yes, that show."

"Are you talking about 'President Snow'?" Della asked.

"Yes that one, 'President Snow'."

"Donald Sutherland?"

"Yes, Donald Sutherland. Personally I think he is dreamy." 'Miss' Ella had this misty look in her eyes. "Oh, I remember when he was in 'Kelly's Heros'. I saw that show twice just to see him."

"Really?"  Della laughed, "Well, this should be interesting."  Della answered her phone and 'Miss' Ella waived goodbye and walked out. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Little Much, Don't You Think!

"Cordelia took another sip of her tea. Then she continued. "Other than being concerned about Belva, I totally understand. If you had just been up front with her earlier."

"Do you know how hard that would have been? She is more concerned about her social standing and the Country Club. And, Wells - how do you tell a child that his father wants to be a woman?"

"You would be very proud of him. Belva has him seeing a counselor who specializes in children of transgender parents." Cordelia watched tears come to Colleen's eyes. She continued, "At supper the other night he told us that your leaving didn't mean you didn't love them. He told us you left them to figure out your life." She smiled. "Then he said, 'You know some people are born as boys but when they grow up they realize they are really girls inside.' " 

Colleen dotted her face with her napkin and tried to hold it together. "I know I put myself above them but I didn't know what else to do. I was tired of sneaking around. Our marriage was on shaky grounds anyway. Belva was so into her social life," she paused. "But then, I was so involved in my life. I stayed as long as I could for Wells' sake. Finally I realized I wasn't helping anyone. Gallagher was far enough away from Mobile but close enough that I felt I hadn't gone that far."

"You knew I was here." 

"I did, but by that time I thought I was no longer 'Culler'. I was Colleen."

"Does Haynes know?"

Colleen sighed, "No, and that is something I am wrestling with." They looked up to see Grice approaching the table.

"Are y'all OK? Can I get you anything?"

"No thank you Grice, we are just fine," Cordelia said as she looked at Colleen and smiled.

Grice walked away and Colleen continued. "I always knew, or at least I hoped, that I would find someone. But I never thought it would be someone as nice as Haynes."

"Well, you are a knock out, if I must say so myself." Cordelia gave a little chuckle as she took a sip of her tea.

Colleen wasn't sure what to say. But Cordelia continued, "Seriously, Haynes is a wonderful man. No one thought he would ever start seeing someone after his wife died. You have brought joy back into his life. Be careful there." She paused. "And, I understand Parker is very fond of you also."

"I know, I know."

"I want you to know that I am here if you need me. Your secret is safe with me. However, I do not envy you figuring out how to handle Haynes."

Colleen smiled,"This means so much to me. I truly did not expect this reaction from you."

"Oh, I can surprise people." She smiled, "Now, I do not want to keep you from your appointment."

Colleen looked around for Grice, "At least let me pay."

"Honey, it is already on my account."

"Why am I not surprised?"

The ladies stood up and walked out of the Tea Room. On the sidewalk, Colleen gave Cordelia a warm hug. "You have no idea how much this means to me."

"Like I said, family is so important to me." Cordelia smiled, "Besides, I hoped you would share where you get your incredible wardrobe. Not that I could wear it as well as you do, but they might  even have something striking for an old lady."

They both laughed and went their separate ways.

At the Quinton house, Dixie and Kathleen were having breakfast that morning, Dixie handed Kathleen a small cardboard box. It was 5 x 7 and about an inch deep. "What's this?" Kathleen asked as she opened the box.

"A surprise, I know you will love it. I am so excited they finally came in."

"They?" Kathleen stopped opening the box.

"Mama, what have you done?"

"Oh, it's just one more necessary thing for the wedding. It was on your list."

Kathleen continued opening the box with a sense of dread. So far, no 'surprise' about the wedding from her mother had been something she 'loved'. Inside the cardboard box was a lovely white satin covered box tied with a wide lavender gross grain bow. Kathleen looked up.

Dixie was standing there holding both her hands to her mouth, as if in prayer. "Honey, I am so excited!"

Kathleen untied the ribbon and opened the box. Inside was very thin lavender rice paper sealed with a gold sticker on which the letters J and K were embossed in large script.  She carefully broke the seal and unfolded the paper. In it she found an engraved invitation with an elegant white ribbon tied at the top in another bow. She took the invitation out of the box and looked up at her mother. "A little much don't you think? You could have just handed me the invitation."

"That is the invitation."

Kathleen held up the card. "This, right?"

"No dear, the whole box. Isn't it fabulous!"

"This?" she held up the satin box. "This is the invitation?"

"Well of course they will be sent in an outer box, just like the one you opened."

"Fabulous? No Mama, this is ridiculous." Kathleen would have started crying except it was so outrageous - it was almost funny. She read the invitation which, thank God, had the traditional script. But something struck her as off. Then she saw it.

"Mama you realize you have Daddy's name wrong. 'Dawson' is not his middle name. In fact he doesn't have a middle name. Where did that come from?"

"Oh, honey, we couldn't have a father of the bride on a formal wedding invitation with no middle name. That is unheard of."

Kathleen shook her head. "So you just made up a name?"

"Never mind that, isn't it the most elegant thing you have ever  seen?"

Kathleen dropped the invitation, box and all, on the kitchen table. "This is disgusting."

"Sweetheart, we have made so many plans . . ."

"No, you have made the plans, you picked out the cake, the floral 'designer', and now these things." She pointed to the box on the table. She picked up the invitation and read through it again. "This says the wedding will be at The Columns. I've never been to that place. How can I get married someplace I've never seen." She looked at Dixie. "This is not your wedding, it's mine." She paused. "Anyone paying attention to what you are doing would think it is your wedding."

Ignoring what Kathleen had just said. "We need to go visit The Columns. You will love it."

"Why do I need to go see it?"

"Honey, it is the wedding venue."

"Mama, I don't care about The Columns or a 'destination'."

"But it's already engraved on the invitation."

"Invitations? I still haven't gone through the guest list. Last time I looked, I recognized very few names." She paused. "That's it. We're eloping."

Kathleen walked out leaving Dixie with boxes, bows, and paper of the invitation piled on the kitchen table. Dixie picked the invitation up and put it back together. Quietly to herself, Dixie said, "I've always heard that young brides are emotional and temperamental, but Kathleen was being impossible. She didn't even appreciate all the work she had put into her daughter's wedding. These young people just did not understand the importance of the wedding itself."

The phone rang and Dixie found herself talking to the wedding coordinator at The Columns. "Mrs. Quinton, I hope I am not interrupting anything."

"No, not all." Suddenly Dixie had the worst thought - had The Columns double booked the venue? 

The coordinator continued, "I was hoping you had had time to talk with Kathleen, the bride, about scheduling a visit to The Columns."

"Oh, I am working on it. I feel certain that I can call you later today with a date."

"Well, I hope so. I hesitate to say, but we have had several inquiries about that same day. If you are going to use the venue, the bride needs come visit." She paused,"Otherwise I will have to release the date to another wedding party where the Bride came with her mother to look at the venue."

Dixie, once again, assured the coordinator that she would call her promptly with a date and time.

She and the wedding coordinator rang off.

As she hung up, the coordinator did not have a good feeling about this. Once again it seemed as if she had a Mother of a Bride planning her dream wedding despite the desires of the Bride. From experience, she knew this was not going to end up well.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Good God Woman

The conversation at Dot's was lively. Kathleen shared her mother's reaction when she told her that her wedding gown was coming from a rental shop in Rochester, NY called 'Marilyn's We Rent it All'.

Vivian asked, "You are renting a wedding gown? That is brilliant."

Terse looked at Kathleen, then at Vivian,"Renting a wedding gown? Why do that?"

Della laughed,"To be able to wear a designer gown for almost nothing."

Mike asked, "Why not buy it?"

"Because I have no desire to spend 1,000's of dollars on a dress I only plan to wear once."

Trying to be practical, Bunny suggested,"Well, you can always save it for your daughter."

Kathleen laughed,"Should I be so lucky that my mother's wedding gown be something desirable, much less fit. She is, what, 5'3"? and I'm 5'10"."

Vivian looked at Bunny,"She's got a good point there."

After some other subjects were discussed, Bob asked the group, "Has anyone else met Colleen Cantrell? She's the knock out Hayne's is dating these days."

Parker laughed, "Yeah, I never thought I would have a step-mother, much less one that sexy."

Several had met her, a few had not. Bob told them about Haynes falling head over heals at first site.

Bunny said,"I met her when she came in to rent her house. She is beautiful. And, for some reason, I feel like I have seen her some where."

Parker laughed, "Probably in an issue of Vogue Magazine."

"No, not in a magazine," said Bunny trying to think and failing to realize that Parker wasn't being serious.

As Sam had predicted, after hours of conversation and adult beverages, the group paid their tabs, bid Ike goodbye, and made their way to Ed's. Few could have missed the crew as they walked up the street. Between the laughs and the off-key version of the University of the South's fight song, they were an animated group.

Mercer had invited Iris, Haynes, and Colleen over for dinner. The 4 had gotten in the habit of eating together. Mercer and Haynes loved to cook. Iris and Colleen were happy to clean up after their sumptuous meals. Haynes just watched Colleen in the kitchen, she was almost bewitching. Mercer was thrilled at Iris' progress. She was making her own life in Gallagher - and his life very happy.

When the kitchen was clean and they were in Hayne's large comfortable den in front of a warm fire, Iris asked, to no one in particular, "What is the story on Hollis Sadler?"

Mercer laughed, "Hollis, the coroner?"

"Yes, Dr. Sadler."

Haynes started,"Well, down here, he is what we call a good ol' boy. He goes around in rumpled clothes, boat shoes, and no socks. Don't be deceived. Hollis is the last of the Sadlers, an old family from 'round here."

"And, don't let him fool you. He is one of the brightest folks I know," Mercer added. "He finished the University of Alabama with honors, then got his MD at Duke. When he got bored of practicing medicine, he went to GW, in Georgetown and got a Masters in Anatomic Pathology."

"Well, I'm very impressed. I would like to get to know him. But that is not why I am inquiring." Iris looked over at Colleen. "We think he may be good company for Stella."

"Good God, women!" Haynes laughed.

Mercer shook his head,"When was Madison's funeral, just a week or so ago?"

Iris took another sip of her wine, "I was just thinking and Colleen agrees. But, what would we know, after all, we're only women."

The following morning Cordelia happened to see Colleen at the post office. "Good morning, you are just the one I am looking for."

"Me?" laughed Colleen, surprised.

"Yes, I was going to call you when I got back to the house."

"Well, what can I do for you?"

"Do you have time for some tea, or maybe coffee?"

Colleen hesitated. "Well, I suppose I could take some time. I have a conference call with 2 clients later this morning."

"Oh, I don't want to interrupt your work, but if you have time this morning, let's walk over to the Tea Room."

"That would be nice. Come to think of it I think I skipped my coffee this morning."

The two lady's walked into The Tea Room. Caroline greeted them and seated them at a table for 2. Since 'Miss' Cordelia hadn't told her more would be joining them, Caroline assumed there was no need for Cordelia's larger table.

Grice came over and took their order. Cordelia asked Colleen how she liked it in Gallagher.

"Honestly, I have been able to make more friends here than anywhere else I have lived. Everyone is so friendly."

Grice served them their tea and coffee and asked if they would like something else. Cordelia asked Colleen, who declined. Cordelia thanked Grice and the waitress left the table.

"Oh, that is why I never wanted to leave." Cordelia took a sip of he tea. "And family - family is so important to me."

Colleen took a sip of her coffee and didn't say anything.

"Colleen, Belva and Wells came over for dinner night before last."

Colleen didn't say anything.

"Wells is doing surprisingly well. But then children have such uncluttered minds. Belva is OK but still finding her footing."

Before Colleen could answer, Cordelia reached across the table and put her hand on top of Colleen's. "It's OK. I would never say anything. You are a brave."

"How long have you known?"

"The first time I saw you, I knew there was something familiar about you." Cordelia took a sip of her tea. "Then I noticed the scar on your left arm." She paused, "I was there that night when you were trying to slice that beef roast and the knife slipped and cut your arm. Belva just knew you were going to die." 

Colleen remained quiet.

Cordelia took another sip of her tea. Then she continued. "Other than being concerned about Belva, I totally understand. If you had just been up front with her earlier."