Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Do You Have Experince in a House?

Bunny felt relieved when Belva, Tula, and Inez left. If looks could kill, she knew she would have been dead and bleeding on the Persian rug in Cordelia's dining room. Cordelia thanked her again for helping. "Now I know I am just a source of inheritance instead of a beloved relative." Luther and Mercer laughed.

Cordelia added,"Guess I no longer have to worry about dying a suspicious death."

"Great!" Bunny said, "Now I have a price on my head. "

Luther smiled,"Don't worry."

"Easy for you to say. I have yet to have a pleasant experience with any of them yet."

Cordelia just smiled, "I know dear. Every family has some pills, we just have 3."

Bunny gave Cordelia a hug. "I've got to go back to work or Wade may fire me."

"I seriously doubt that. And, if he does, you tell him to call me."

They all said their goodbyes and Bunny left.

As soon as the door closed behind Bunny, Cordelia looked at Luther and Mercer, "How Anna Belle managed to rear a child like that, I'll never know? Thank goodness, she is not like her mother . . . or her grandmother for that matter."

Luther shook his head. "I think the key word there is 'rear' - I don't think she did. Anna Belle was so consumed with her life and disappointed that Bunny wasn't up to her standards, that she wrote her off early."

"I only wish Harrison had lived. I honestly think she would have make him so happy," said Cordelia.

Pearl walked into the dining room with a tray of ice tea glasses and served a glass to Luther and Mercer. As she exchanged Cordelia's glass for a fresh one, she laughed. "Oh I agree, 'Mr.' Harrison loved her even with her Spam and Twinkies." Everyone laughed.

At the Gentleman's Club, Anna Belle was relieved that the talk of John Barker's death had died down. For the first time in weeks, she felt like the possibility of a scandal was in the past. It still amazed her that Wade and Henry were able to handle that without anyone in the club suspecting a thing.

Business was going well, in fact so well, she was having to manage memberships which was a sticky wicket. Politically, she felt she could not offend anyone, but there was only so much room in the house to run the business in a comfortable way. The thought of a 2nd house had crossed her mind. She also had to consider the thin line she was walking between the husbands and wives. So far, Anna Belle had managed to stay above any issues. The last thing she needed was to push too many wives too far.

That same morning, the doorbell rang at Anna Belle's. When she opened the door, she found a nice looking middle aged woman. "May I help you?" asked Anna Belle.

"Yes mam. I am looking for a job. A month or so ago, just after we first moved to Gallagher I spoke with you and you were so kind. I understand that you operate a club. It dawned on me this morning that you probably have some services I can offer you."

Anna Belle was not sure about the woman but curious enough to invite her in. They sat down in the drawing room. Given the time of day, no one was there, so she felt comfortable bringing someone she did not know inside the house. The woman just looked around the room. "This one of the most lovely rooms I have ever seen. It is so fancy."

Anna Belle thanked her. "Do you have experience working in a house?"

"I do, although it was several years ago." She smiled,"But, these are skills one never loses."

Anna Belle had never considered an older women, but maybe some of her members would feel more comfortable with someone more 'experienced'. She was attractive and spoke well. Her hands were clean and her makeup well done, but not too much so. Anna Belle looked over her. She was probably a size 12 and fairly buxom, always an asset.

"Do you need a place to stay?" Anna Belle asked, knowing most of her girls did not have a home and one thing that they appreciated was a safe place to live.

"No, I have a house here. Well, actually we rent a house."

" 'We'?," asked Anna Belle.

"Yes, my husband and I."

"And he has no issue with this?"

"Well," she looked down at hands,"I haven't exactly told him I wanted to go back to work. But he didn't have problem when I worked before."

Anna Belle had to think about this. "Is your husband a member of the club?"

"No, I don't think so. He is really involved in community activities and I am usually with him. He has never mentioned it."

Thinking she had nothing to lose, Anna Belle stood up. "Would you like to see the house?"

"Oh, please."

Anna Belle explained the games and comradery the members enjoyed in the drawing room. She moved into the bar room and explained about her bartender and how each member had his own tab and the bill was settled in house, where they paid monthly. Nothing was mailed to a home or office. Discretion was of the utmost importance.

They moved into the large dining room with its huge dining room table, side board, buffet, and other lovely pieces. Anna Belle waved her arm toward the buffet. We serve a full light supper buffet every night, in case any of the members have missed a meal or just want a snack. The menu varies nightly.

Anna Belle moved back into the hall and led her up the grand stair case. "My girls are out shopping this morning, so I know they would not mind me showing you their rooms." They walked from room to room, Anna Belle telling the name of the girl in each room.

"So this is where they live?"

Anna Belle was taken aback,"And work. Of course we are very respectful of the members' privacy and use the utmost discretion."

"So they work in their room?"

Anna Belle did not answer the question. She led her down the rear stair case to the morning room where the large kitchen table was. "We all eat here. Meals are provided. It is important to me that all my girls eat good nutritious meals. Naturally, they never eat with the members, that would be unprofessional."

"Oh, of course. In the last house I worked in, we never ate upstairs either. We knew our place."

Anna Belle looked at her. "Oh, it is not a matter of them 'knowing their place', I just feel it is better to separate business and everyday life. One doesn't want to blur that line."

They walked into the kitchen. Anna Belle explained that when she bought the house, she had to redo most of it. But the kitchen had to be completely gutted. There were 2 full time cooks so meals could be served any time 24 hours a day.

"Oh, and also, I have a doctor who takes care of everyone's medical needs and maintains total discretion. I require my girls to see him at least once a month. I pay for that."

"Wow, so you offer medical coverage as well as meals."

Suddenly Anna Belle realized there was an issue here, "Everyone who works with me has a special 'skill'. For example Amber handles younger members with very little experience, Molly and Elizabeth do anything members wish. Miranda is into bondage. What is your area?"

The lady smiled, "Oh, domicile upkeep, laundry, and some cooking - although that is not my strong suit. I am also a seamstress."

Anna Belle smiled,"You know. I have been so rude, please excuse my poor manners, I never asked your name."

"Oh, Winfred, Winfred Walker."

"Well, Winfred, I must say I did not recognize you."

Winfred blushed,"Well. I have made some changes."

"Right now I do not have any openings, but if you will leave me a number where I can reach, I will call you when something comes available. No doubt you would be an asset to any business."

"Oh, thank you."

"One thing that I do ask. Because this is a private club, the members are promised total protection of their privacy. I would appreciate it, if you would not share what you have learned this morning. I know you probably find that odd, but it is a business principal of mine. Hopefully, I will be able to call you soon." Anna Belle paused. "I also may know some other people who could use your services. Would you have issue with my inquiring for you?"

"Oh, no mam. I would appreciate any help I can get. And it was so nice for you to spend time with me. You have a beautiful house and you can count of my not saying anything."

Anna Belle walked Winfred to the door. They said their goodbyes. Winfred left and Anna Belle closed the door.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Musty Jail and the Walking Dead

The Sheriff finally realized that if he wanted Owen Davis out of his jail, he was going to have take matters into his own hands. He called Owen's attorney and told him to come bail Owen out of jail, whether Owen wanted to go or not.

The Sheriff called the Judge to see where the case stood. He also told the Judge that he had called Owen's attorney to bail him out of jail. The Judge was quiet for a moment, then he spoke,"Sheriff, I have a better idea. When Mr. Davis' attorney comes down, advise him that I need to see he and his client before they leave town."

"Judge, you don't understand, I'm not doing this out of the kindness of my heart." Then the Sheriff explained how Mr. Davis had made himself very much at home.

The Judge laughed,"Just make sure they know I want to see them before they leave town."

That afternoon, Mr. Davis' attorney showed up with the bail money. Needless to say Owen Davis was none too happy. He told his attorney,"This has been a pretty good gig. I don't think I've ever had such good care. But it will be nice to have WIFI again."

Just as Mr. Davis and his attorney were ready to leave, the Sheriff told them, "By the way, the Judge wants to see you before you leave town."

"What's that all about?"

"Don't know, he didn't say."

The attorney assured the Sheriff that he would take his client before the Judge forthwith. Afterall they needed to get on the road.

They had been gone 10 or 15 minutes when Sam walked into the Sheriff's station.

"Long time, no see," said Sam.

"What brings you here?"

"Got a call from the Judge that he needed me this afternoon. Something about court, he told me to stay close and he would call me if and when he needed me."

The Sheriff laughed,"All I know is that Mr. Davis was bailed out this afternoon. And I insisted his attorney drag his ass out of here."

Sam laughed and his phone rang,"Yes sir, well, if you need me, I'm close by."

Sam rang off. "Must not need me afterall."

Bunny was leaving Cordelia's home, not sure where to go. She needed to go back to the office, so she headed that way. She walked in with the large envelope. Della looked at her and quickly asked,"How is Cordelia?"

"Well, she's still with us."

"Bunny, I am so sorry. I know she is special to you."

"She is," Bunny said and walked into her office.

At Cordelia's house, after everyone left, Luther and Mercer went up stairs and spoke with Cordelia.

"How you doing?" said Luther with a grin.

"Oh, I'm fine. How did Bunny do after she went downstairs?"

"Like a pro", answered  Mercer. "She deserves a nomination for Best Actress."

Luther asked,"So you are coming down tomorrow around 12:15 to 12:30? Do you need me to do anything?"

"Well, if both of you could be here, I would appreciate it. And, make sure you both send me bills for your time. I know this has taken you away from your day-to-day work."

Mercer laughed, "Cordelia, I should be paying you for the entertainment."

They all laughed and had a short conversation before Luther and Mercer walked out.

At the courthouse, Mr. Davis and his attorney walked into the Judge's courtroom. They found the Judge already on the bench. However there were no other parties in room, only the standard Deputy standing quietly in the corner and the court reporter at the side of the Judge's bench.

As soon as they were standing behind the Defendant's table, the Judge pounded his gavel, called the court to order, and told them they could be seated. "Mr. Davis, as you know, I requested that you and your attorney come before me this afternoon after you were bailed out."

Owen Davis stood and said "Yes sir."

As the Judge looked down at something in front him on the bench, he asked,"Mr. Davis, did you enjoy your 'lodging?" and the Judge looked up.

Mr. Davis answered, "Yes sir, I did."

"And I'm sure you found the meals tasty and the fine linens comfortable at night?"

"Oh, yes sir." And before he could go on, his attorney grabbed his elbow to get his attention. His look at Owen made it very clear that Owen did not need make any more comments."

Owen was quiet. The Judge continued,"Well in addition to the arson charges brought by the county and a state charge, the city has filed charges on destruction of property, misuse of petroleum products, and breaking and entering."

Owen's attorney spoke up, "Your honor, as you said, my client has already been charged in this situation. We are now awaiting the trial."

"Yes sir, that is true - for the state and county charges. However, these are new and separate charges by the city."

The attorney spoke up, "Sir, I understand the charges and we will prepare to defend those as well."

"Not so fast young man. Due to the city's concern, I am not willing to set bail, so your client is remanded to the city jail until I talk with the city attorney about how to proceed."

"Sir, but my client was just let out of the jail.

"Yes, but that was the county jail. This will be the city jail. Also, your client is a flight risk."

"I object."

"I'm sure you do, however he is to be turned over to the city post haste." The Judge pounded his gavel. "Deputy, please take the prisoner." He looked at Mr. Davis' attorney,"We are through here."

The city jail was totally unlike the county jail. First it wasn't often used so it was bare and stark.  Each prisoner was issued a thin worn sheet, an old pillow, and a patched blanket. There were no gourmet meals served on fine China and cushy linens. The meals were MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). And no supplied reading materials. This was a moldy old place that the state should have condemned years ago. However, it was used so infrequently that the state had written it off.

The following morning Belva, Inez, and Tula arrived at Cordelia's home. Unlike the stylish clothes Belva and Inez usually wore, they were dressed in outfits of somber hues - almost as if they were already in mourning. Tula showed up in black from head to toe. Pearl just rolled her eyes as they came in.

Belva was the first to ask, "How is she?"

Pearl told Belva that she had just checked on Cordelia and she was still asleep. Pearl also told her that Dr. Magill would be by around noon to check on Cordelia and they would know more about her condition then.

With nothing else to do, Belva, Inez, and Tula spent the morning walking around the house as if they were inventorying everything. "This will look great in my main hall," Inez said as she ran her hand across a cherry sideboard.

"Well, I already have a place for these botanical prints," Belva said pointing to a set of four hanging on the wall in the living room."

The three of them spent an hour or two walking through the house, making notes and discussing where they could use many of the fine pieces of furniture and artwork. Also they pointed out pieces that would need to be sold. 

Dr. Magill and Luther Sweeney walked in around noon. Mercer asked Pearl where everyone was. "Oh they are inventorying the house, dividing up the goods."

About that time, they heard from the dining room, "Pearl, where does Aunt Cordelia keep her fine China?"

Pearl walked to the dining room door from the kitchen."It is in that China cabinet in the corner."

Inez walked over to the cabinet and tried to open it. The door was locked. "Pearl where is the key?"

By this time Pearl was standing in the dining room. " 'Miss' Cordelia has it. She always keeps it with her."

"Well get it. We want to look at the China?" said Tula curtly.

"I don't think that will necessary."

They all turned around to see Cordelia standing there, hair done, makeup perfect, and dressed.

"What are you doing? Why are you not in bed? We thought you were sick?"

"No, you hoped I was dead," Cordelia said as she walked across the room.  Her voice was strong and there was no hesitation in her step.

"I don't understand," stammered Belva as Inez just stood there. Tula was steaming.

Dr. Magill walked from the kitchen with Bunny.

"Y'all are like buzzards circling a dead opossum. However, you forgot sometimes the opossum is just playing dead."

Inez stepped forward and tried to give Cordelia a hug. Instead of a loving embrace, she received a gentle pat on her back. "Oh, Aunt Cordelia, it's a miracle. You cannot imagine how happy we are to see you like this." She paused and added,"So  . . . alive!"

Cordelia smiled and made her way past them. "Pearl, can I get a glass of iced tea?"

Cordelia turned back to face them, "Did you figure out how to divide the spoils?"

Tula recovered,"Oh, Aunt Cordelia, no, no, no. We are trying to make sure no one, she turned and glared at Bunny, was taking any of your possessions."

Cordelia took a sip of her tea,"Of course you were."

"I always knew you were selfish, unpleasant individuals. However, these past few days have unfortunately justified that and more."

The 3 just stood there. Cordelia continued,"I love you because you are family. However, even that thought I find that offensive." She paused. "Because of the way my Mama reared me, I'm not going to say I never want to see you again, but, "she paused, "I don't."

Tula started,"Oh, Cordelia, Aunt Cordelia. . . ."

"Don't even start. Now, if you don't mind, I'd appreciate it if you would leave - as in now. I have business to attend to with Mr. Sweeney, Dr. Magill, and Ms. Vontese."

"But . . .," stammered Belva.

"And, for God's sake, don't start calling me 'Aunt' Cordelia."

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Glass of Sherry, Opera Pearls, and a Large Envelope

Bunny did not know what to expect. Even though she had tried to steel herself for this moment, she found she was not prepared.

Cordelia had always been such a proud lady. She was proper but not stuffy. She was invariably dressed correctly for the occasion, always with her opera length pearls around her neck. Even though she wanted to see her, Bunny dreaded having the sight of Cordelia, gravely ill, lying in her bed as Bunny's last memory of this dear woman.

However that was not the case. Bunny found Cordelia sitting up in bed, hair done, nicely dressed, with makeup on. Bunny just stood there.

Cordelia laughed,"Sweetheart, don't just stand there. Come over here." She patted the side of her bed. Bunny walked over and gave Cordelia a hug.

"You look wonderful."

"I'm just tired of being in this room."

"Well, now that you feel better, you should be able to go downstairs, maybe even out of the house."

"Bunny," Cordelia smiled. "I love your innocence and your honesty." She laughed,"I'm not sick. I haven't been sick."

Bunny looked puzzled. "But why did Luther call me about your being ill and taking care of your affairs."

"Well, it was a bit of a stretch. I do have a small cold, but then I always have one this time of year. My affairs are a whole different matter."

Cordelia reached for a small glass of sherry she had on her bedside table. "Would you have some with me? It's good for what ails you."

"I'll pass, but thank you."

"Bunny, at my age with this family, I needed to see how bad the buzzards would be waiting for the announcement of my demise. This family is full of self serving, snobby people who don't have enough compassion to save a loss puppy."

"It isn't really that bad."

"Bunny, seriously, don't forget Belva and Inez are the two who tried to rob you. The ones who kept you from attending Harrison's funeral. You know, if I wasn't a lady I would call them miscreants. But I would not want to offend my dead Mama, bless her heart.  In truth they remind me of hyenas lingering in anticipation my last breath and then what they can get their hands on."

Cordelia played with pearls, "And I do not know where to start with Tula. I think she likes to makes peoples' lives miserable, simply because she is so miserable."

Cordelia poured another glass of sherry. Bunny laughed, "But why did you have Luther send me up here? I'm not really blood kin."

"You're not, but I can see why Harrison was so fond of you. I look at you as one of the family."

Bunny blushed, "Thank you, that is very sweet."

"Now," Cordelia said sitting up straighter in bed, "I want to know what those ingrates have been doing downstairs."

Bunny just shook her head, Cordelia was something else. "Well, Tula told Pearl she could leave because Tula could care for you better."

"There would have been arsenic in my tea no doubt."

"I think Mr. Sweeney and Dr. Magill were surprised that they all are now calling you 'Aunt' Cordelia."

"Oh, I am honored for the elevation in rank."

Bunny went on to share with her Belva's telling Pearl that she was skilled in elder care and why. Cordelia laughed out loud. "Oh dear, I wouldn't trust her with Band Aids and on my paper cut. Elder care! Belva is no Florence Nightingale. No telling how I would have met my maker under her care."

Bunny continued filling her in with details she had experienced, along with those Pearl, Mr. Sweeney and Luther had shared with her. She told about Inez coming only after she realized that Tula and Belva were already here. And that Inez had just walked in along with Bunny just a few minutes before Pearl brought her up to Cordelia's room.

Cordelia took another small sip of sherry, "Nothing motivates those 3 like money. Pearl told me about Tula's trip to see Luther. Apparently Luther was so entertained with Tula's trip to see him, he shared it with Pearl." 

"So I'm still not sure why I am here."

"Well because I like you and I knew it would piss the loving daylights out of the 3 of them."  Cordelia patted Bunny on the knee. "I hope you didn't mind being part of my little plan. When one gets to my age, one questions the motives of those around you. Especially when they have no morals and feel they deserve something that they truly have no right to."

Bunny just sat there. She was relieved that Cordelia was not dying and glad to see her, but she thought this was a bit much and dramatic just see how Cordelia's family would react to learning she was nigh unto dead.

"I really hoped that I would see a side of them I had not seen. For years, I have held out hope that maybe one of them would be nice. But, it seems not."

"So what are you going to do now?"

"Well, I'm going to stay up here until tomorrow, then I will venture downstairs and surprise them. I doubt they expect to me rising from my death bed." She paused and looked out of the window. "Bunny, I have had a wonderful life. Hubert, my husband, and I never had children so I always doted on my nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews. I inherited quite a bit of money of my own. And Hubert did very well."

Cordelia turned and looked at Bunny,"I'm not going to be here forever. But if I were to leave part of my fortune to these 3, I would be rewarding them for being horrible people."

"So you set all this up."

"Well Luther, Mercer, and Pearl helped. I had to have some conspirators otherwise it would not have been as much fun. I was discussing my guilt over not leaving them a penny. Luther just looked at me and said, 'Cordelia, just remember, it is your money.' So I asked him to help me plan a way to see how they would react should I die."

"Well you did that. They are not going to happy tomorrow."

"I know, and that is OK. It is time they grow up and take some responsibility."

Bunny just smiled, "What do you want me to do?"

There was a sparkle in Cordelia's blue eyes. "Well I want you to go downstairs, act upset but not dramatic. If and when they ask about me, just look at them, do not say a word, and just shake your head as if it were worse than you thought. Oh," Cordelia reached in the drawer of her beside table and pulled out a fairly thick legal size envelope with Marlboro and Sweeney's name on it.

She handed it to Bunny."And carry this with you, so they can see it."

Bunny took the envelope,"But then what do I do with the envelope?"

"Just keep it. It's full and blank sheets. I just want them to think I gave you some important papers."

"Like your will."

"Yes, like my will. Just don't let them get a hold of it." Cordelia grinned. "And tomorrow, can you please come back around noon? I plan to come downstairs at 12:15 or 12:30."

Bunny just shook her head and hugged Cordelia. "I have always been fond of you. But I had no idea you would do something like this."

"Desperate times call for desperate measures."

Bunny stood up, smiled at Cordelia and left the room. She paused in the hall to make sure she knew what she was going to do when she got downstairs. She only hoped she could pull this off. But if Cordelia had faith in her, she knew she could.

As she stepped off the bottom step Tula, Belva, and Inez stood up. Bunny just started walking through the room very solemnly, not making eye contact. Halfway, Belva asked,"Is it over?" Bunny stopped looked at her, and with out saying a word shook her head. Then Tula saw the envelope.

"What is that? Where did that come from? Is that for us?" Bunny just kept walking with the 3 of them following her. When she got to the kitchen, she gave Pearl a big long hug. Pearl had tears in her eyes and was holding a handkerchief. 

Then Bunny walked out to her car and drove off. All 3 of them were standing at the windows watching her. Belva said, "What does that mean?"

"I don't know." said Tula.

Inez just turned from the window. "I still find it disgusting that she is driving Daddy's car."

"And wearing Mama's jewelry," Belva added.

"Well I'm going up to see Cordelia." With that Tula turned on her heels and headed toward the stairway.

"Not so fast, no one is going up there right now. In fact, all 3 of you should go home."

Belva fussed, "But I want to be here."

Luther said, "You can come back tomorrow."

"Before I go," said Tula. "I want to know what is in that package she was carrying?"

Luther just shook his head,"Tula, for the last time. I'm not sure what Cordelia gave her. And even if I did, I wouldn't share it with you. Please go home."

The 3 of them reluctantly left. After Luther had seen the 3 get in their cars and drive away, he went to find Pearl. "I just wanted to make sure you are OK. Those 3 can be vicious."

"They can, but I've been dealing with them most of my life. They ain't killed me yet."

Luther laughed,"How is Cordelia?"

"Oh, she's doing well. I think she is a little disappointed that they are acting like this. Somewhere back in that mind of hers, I think she held out hope that at least 1 of those 3 would have changed and learned how to be compassionate and empathetic."

"Well, she always has been an optimistic. But now she knows."

"Yes sir, ain't no doubt about that." 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

I Think it is Time

In the meantime, Inez had sent a flower arrangement just short of something the size of a wedding display. Belva had called twice, just to check up on Cordelia - both times offering to have anything she needed delivered. And, she was emphatic, she meant anything.

Bunny stopped by Cordelia's to drop off a Spam cake she had made the night before and a box of Twinkies. Pearl told her that Cordelia had done well through the night. Bunny reminded her she was close, if she needed anything. "Pearl, please let me know what I can do. I'll feel better when I can see her, but I trust Dr. Magill. If he says she needs her rest, then so be it. Give her my love." Pearl thanked her and Bunny went to work.

Around 10 that morning, Tula was at Cordelia's ready to run the show. Pearl stood her ground and managed to keep Tula downstairs. However, she had to endure Tula's inquisition. Who had been by the house? Who had called? Did Pearl know who Cordelia had named as Power of Attorney? Did Pearl know anything about Cordelia's new Will? What banks did she use? Did she have any attorneys in addition to Marlboro & Sweeney? Who was her financial advisor?

Pearl, knowing it was none of Tula's business, told Tula that Cordelia had always kept her affairs to herself. Which was true. However, Cordelia did share them with Pearl.

About noon, Belva showed up. "I just could not stay away. Aunt Cordelia has always been my favorite. I will just be despondent when she dies."

Pearl laughed,"Well, I'm afraid you don't have to worry about that any time soon."

"Oh, I thought Aunt Cordelia was dying," Belva said surprised.

"Well at her age, any health issue can be fatal."

"But Mr. Sweeney has never called me before."

"Did he tell you she was dying?"

"Well, no, but he said she was getting her affairs in order." She paused, "And I heard Tula was here, so I knew it was serious."

Pearl just went back to the kitchen. Under her breath she said,"I'm surprised you could find the house, it's been so long since you have been here."

Belva followed Pearl into the kitchen,"Pearl, I think you can go now. This is serious, Aunt Cordelia needs better care. I took a First Aid class at college and have a Red Cross award (she had received attending a Donor's Gala). So you can see I am skilled at elder care."

"Well, I'm glad to know you are so qualified but I'm not going anywhere. You never darken 'Miss' Cordelia's doorway for years and now you show up, thinking she is on her death bed."

The house phone rang and Belva answered. It was Inez. "Belva, why are you at Cordelia's?"

"Because Mr. Sweeney called me and told me it looked like the end. Tula's here also"

"Dear God, well I'm on way. I knew she was sick and figured it wouldn't be long, but it never dawned on me to go to her house. I'll have to reschedule my tennis lesson and facial."

Pearl was taking all of this in. In an hour or so while Tula and Belva seemed to be preoccupied, Pearl went upstairs to check on Cordelia. After seeing her, she walked outside of the bedroom into hall, pulled her mobile phone from her pocket and made a call. "Mr. Sweeney, this is Pearl, I think it's time."

"Thanks for calling Pearl. I'll call Dr. Magill." They rang off. Pearl managed to get back downstairs before anyone saw her. Of course the fact they were bickering in the kitchen helped.

It wasn't long before Dr. Magill and Luther Sweeney walked in the house. The women in the kitchen all turned in surprise. Tula, acting upset, put her hand to her mouth,"Please, don't tell me this is it?"

Dr. Sadler said,"I'm afraid so."

"How did you know?"

"Pearl called."

Tula turned and started out of the kitchen. Luther said,"Where do you think you are going?"

Tula faking tears (unsuccessfully) said,"To see my dear Aunt before she dies."

Dr. Magill spoke up, "No you are not." He looked at Inez and Belva."Y'all will get a chance to see her but not now."

Just at that time Inez and Bunny walked in. At the same time, Tula and Belva looked at Bunny,"What are you doing here? You are not even family."

Luther smiled,"Bunny is here because Cordelia specifically requested her to come."

Dr. Magill looked at Bunny,"You can go up there now."

Pearl said,"I'll go with you."

Bunny was visibly shaken,"Would you Pearl?"

"Of course 'Miss' Bunny, I owe it to 'Miss' Cordelia and 'Mr.' Harrison, bless his soul, to be here for you."

Bunny looked at Dr. Magill and Luther and then followed Pearl up the stairs.

Tula was clearly miffed,"What the Hell is that about? Now I know Cordelia is not in her right mind. Why would she ask to see that harlot when she has family here?"

"That was her request. And I assure you that your Aunt Cordelia may be ill but she is of sound mind." Luther said matter of factly.

Pearl opened Cordelia's door and Bunny walked in. When she looked at Cordelia in her big four poster bed, she gasped. Pearl said,"It will be OK. I'll be downstairs if you need me."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Her Affairs are Now in Order

Luther Sweeny called Bunny. "I hate to be the barer of bad news, but I just left Cordelia Wells' house. She is fairly sick."

"Oh, no," said Bunny. "How bad is it?"

"Well, Dr. Magill is calling all the family. I know you are not technically family but I will always put you with Harrison, and he adored her."

"So do I. What Can I do?" Bunny asked, remembering how supportive Cordelia had been when Bunny did not know which way to turn.

"Nothing right now I'm afraid. She called me to get her affairs in order." He paused and Bunny did not say anything. "Mercer gave her a sedative for today after I left, so probably it will not be until tomorrow before she will be up for visitors."

"Who is staying with her? I imagine she will need lots of help."

"She's OK for now, of course Pearl is there."

"Oh, I didn't think about Pearl (Cordelia's domestic help who had been with her forever). Of course, I'm sure she has that all under control." She paused. "Luther, thank you so much for calling me." Bunny hesitated then asked,"If something changes, please let me know."

Going down his list, Luther called Inez, Belva, even Tula to let them know that Cordelia was ill and that she had called him in to get her affairs in order. He called Harvey and left a message so he and Vivian would be aware of the situation. Luther was surprised and pleased that both Inez and Belva sounded both interested and concerned. Neither of them was known for their warm feelings for anyone, even family.

However, his biggest surprise was Tula. As soon as he gave her the news, she sounded distraught. "Oh, Luther, I knew I should have come to visit her last week, but I didn't. Is there anything I can do?"

Luther shared with Tula that Cordelia would be sedated for the next 24 hours and assured her he would let her know if anything changed.

"Well, I'm her closest kin and the one who should be with her now. Thank you for letting me know."

As soon as she rang off, Tula went straight to Cordelia's house. Pearl answered the door and Tula, in her usual manner, walked past Pearl, as she stood in the doorway before Pearl could even speak. "Why is it so dark in here? You know Cordelia likes the place to look light and sunny."

"Yes mam, but Dr. Magill suggested keeping it dark and quiet for now. He said it would be better for "Miss' Cordelia."

"Well, I beg to differ," Tula said as she walked from window to window opening all the plantation blinds. "There, that's better." With that Tula walked toward the staircase in the front hall. "I assume she is in her room?"

"Yes mam, but you cannot go up there right now."

"Who says I cannot go up there? I have just learned that my dear Aunt Cordelia is not doing well and I will not be denied the chance to visit with her." She took a couple steps. "And, besides, I need to make sure she is being cared for properly."

Pearl stood there, hands on her hips, and firmly said," 'Miss' Tula, Dr. Magill was very serious when he said he did not want her to have any company whatsoever until tomorrow afternoon and then only if she wanted to."

"Pearl, I'm not company, I'm family." And with that Tula turned and resumed her way up the stairs only to be stopped by a man's voice.

"Tula, Pearl is right. Those were my orders. Cordelia needs her rest right now. The last thing she needs now is drama." The 2 ladies turned to see Dr. Magill walking into the main hallway.

"Drama, you think I would be dramatic at a time like this. I just want to make sure my Aunt Cordelia knows that I am to here to make sure she has the best care. Come to think of it, Pearl, you can leave. I think it would be better if someone like me was here to see to her needs."

Pearl just stood there. She had seen Tula's temper tantrums, fits, and fusses over the many years. She was not intimidated. But before she could speak, Dr. Magill spoke."Tula, I am sure you want to help in any way you can. But right now, your 'Aunt' Cordelia needs rest." Dr. Magill looked at Tula. He added,"And since when did you start addressing her as your 'Aunt'?"

"She is my aunt, you know that."

"Of course I do, I just find it nice for you to start addressing her with some respect. Now come down here."

Tula reluctantly came down the stairs.

Dr. Magill continued,"In a day or two, she'll be ready for visitors, but definitely not today - even family."

Tula said nothing. Dr. Magill just hoped Tula would be satisfied until the next day. "I'll be going. Tula if you come back tomorrow afternoon, we'll see what Cornelia is up to."

Tula finally left. Dr. Magill consoled Pearl that all was well and she needed to continue just as she always had. Cordelia was lucky to have such a dedicated person. Pearl and Cordelia had been together so long.

The following morning Pearl just waited for Tula to show up. Sure enough she was not disappointed. At 8:30 Tula showed up ready to help. However, Pearl had to stand her ground thatreminding her that Cordelia still needed her rest. Tula left but assured Pearl she would be back. As she walked to her car, she called Marlboro and Sweeney. She made an appointment to see Luther Sweeny.

She drove straight there and waited - impatiently. It wasn't long before Luther Sweeny walked out to get her. Tula started, "I am concerned about Aunt Cordelia. Now that she is by herself and not doing well. I need counsel about becoming her Power of Attorney."

Luther paused before he said anything. "First, Cordelia is not alone. She is in good hands with Pearl and only a phone call away from Dr. Magill 24/7. As for her affairs, as I told you, Cordelia has already taken care of that. Part of her doing so was a new will and appointing a Power of Attorney." He laughed, "And since when did she become your 'Aunt' Cordelia?"

"Funny, she has always been my Aunt. Who did she name as her Power of Attorney?"

"I'm not at liberty to say."

This irritated Tula to no end. She tried to think who would Cordellia want to handle her affairs? Seriously, she said,"But I'm sure if she were doing better she would have chosen me."

"Well, she was of clear and sound mind and she didn't."

"So you're saying that there is nothing I can do?"

"Not, unless Cordelia changes her Power of Attorney." He looked at Tula sternly. "Why are you so concerned anyway?"

"I just care about her. Appearently, more than anyone else." With that, Tula thanked Luther and left determined to get this changed and quickly. She did not have much time.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

As Long As I Enjoy Myself

Vivian and Harvey managed to leave town with the children without another run in with Tula. On the way to Biloxi, Vivian got to know Harvey better than she ever had growing up. At one point, Harvey asked her,"Do you have any problem going back to Biloxi?"

"No, not at all." Vivian smiled."After all it is all I have ever known as home."

"I always admired you for being so positive and giving considering your situation. I cannot imagine growing up being moved from home to home."

"They all loved me. I never felt alone. I just had so many questions, that everyone danced around even as I got older. But, in retrospect, I understand they were trying to protect me."

"Are you really OK with Laurelie and me raising these children?"

"Oh, they are so lucky to have you. I cannot imagine a better situation. James would be so happy. Just always be honest with them, if and when, they ask about their parents. I can assure you they will grow up stronger for it and probably love you and Lauralee even more."

"That's good advice."

About that time they arrived at Biloxi and soon pulled into Harvey's driveway. Needless to say the next hours were chaotic, emotional, and a time Ida, Roger, and Jimmy's lives started anew. Vivian knew this was the right thing. Also, she knew she had acquired 2 more close friends/cousins in Harvey and Lauralelie. Since the world of her family had always been very small, she was thrilled to welcome them into it.

Back in Gallagher, the Sheriff brought the Eldridge twins in to ask them about the gnomes. They were excited when they arrived at the station, thinking they would be getting another under cover assignment. Much to their dismay that was not the case. The Sheriff told them what had found been found in their yard. He asked what comments they had about this new revelation.

The ladies looked at each. Flora spoke up. "Sheriff, we are a little long in the tooth and our memory is not as good as it was years ago. Honestly, I forgot all about those bottles."

"Cora, what about you?" asked the Sheriff looking at the other sister.

"No sir, like Flora said, I can't remember anything about that."

The Sheriff and Mike discussed the situation with them. After some time, they came to the conclusion that it would be best to just add the newly found moonshine with the original raid. The twins were much appreciative and left the station. Mike asked the Sheriff,"You think this is the end of this?"

"Not a chance," the Sheriff laughed.

The following morning Bunny had stopped by Ed's for a  cup of coffee and decided the morning was so nice she would rather walk than drive the few blocks to the office. She passed several local folks on their way to work. Everyone seemed to be in a great mood. Fall weather did that for folks.

She noticed a middle aged lady walking toward her that she did not recognize, yet there was something familiar about her. As she got closer, the lady addressed her. "Oh, Bunny, I am so glad to see you this morning. I feel like a new person."

Bunny just stood there. Then it hit her. "Winfred! Winfred is that you?"

Winfred blushed a little. "What do you think?"

Bunny stood there and looked at this attractive lady dressed in a nice looking fashionable outfit. She was wearing stylist heels with a matching purse. "You look fabulous! I've never seen you dressed like this?"

"I haven't dressed like this since Col Walker and I got married. Yesterday afternoon, I started thinking about what you and I talked about.  I decided that I was my own person. After all this is the 21st century. So here is the new Winfred."

Bunny was almost scared to ask, but knew she had to, "What does the Colonel think about this?"

"Well, he was a little shocked at first. But then I explained that since I had started enjoying myself, well you know," Winfred blushed,"this would make me feel better." Then she giggled. "He said as long as I still 'enjoyed' myself that he was fine with my dressing like this."

Bunny just shook her head. Winfred continued, "Of course I told him I would still dress in costume when we were doing any reenactment or there was something going on at the museum." She looked at her watch. "Oh, dear I must go. I'm going to be late." She looked up at Bunny, "I'm meeting Lue Ellen Wadsworth at Ed's for coffee.She said she could help teach me how to play bridge so I could join the Thursday Afternoon Bridge Club."

Bunny just laughed,"Well don't let me hold you up. You look great." As she continued her way to the office, Bunny thought to herself, 'I wonder if Winfred knows that members of the Thursday Afternoon Bridge Club were notorious for enjoying many glasses of wine and a highball or 2.'

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

We All Know He Did It

Owen Davis had settled into the county jail. His attorney had met with him several times trying to arrange bail, but Owen would have none of it. "Here have one of these scones," Owen said as he handed his attorney one of Lue Ellen Wadsworth's blueberry scones. "Isn't that one of the best things you have ever had? Oh, and here," Owen passed him a linen napkin.

The attorney looked at the napkin. "Is this linen?"

"100% Irish linen. Comes from the Fitzgerald family, from Ireland."

"So why are you eating scones with linen?"

"Oh, that's breakfast. Lunch is served on china."

"Owen, is this a jail or a 3 star hotel? This is nuts."

"Oh, it gets better. The linens on my bed are fresh and the Ladies Club keeps me furnished with the latest newspapers, magazine, and bestsellers."

"No WIFI?" he asked sarcastically.

"Nope. But I did ask," said Owen.

Getting down to business, his attorney asked,"Why did they find your business card at the scene of the fire?"

"I guess I dropped it."

The attorney took a deep breath. Up until this time, it never dawned on him that his client may be guilty. "Do you know anything about the gas cans?"

"Of course, they were empty and I didn't want to put them back in my car."

"Owen, do you realize how much trouble you are in? You are accused of arson. They may very well add a charge of attempted homicide."

Owen just reached for another scone.

His attorney was irritated. "The Sheriff says that Reginald Jackson told him that you were mad at him about some issue having to do with an ancestor of yours. Is that true?"

"Maybe."

"Well, as your attorney, I need to hear what happened."

Owen hesitated then started. "This guy shows up at my office saying that if I didn't pay him, he would publish some malarkey about Bethune Bates Davis. He was going to impugn the reputation of my family."

"Bethune Bates Davis, as in the Confederate hero?"

"Yep. He told me some story that was totally untrue, a bold face lie."

"So, you are saying he threatened to black mail you?"

"Something like that?"

"Owen, it is or it isn't. We do not have a gray area here. If he threatened black mail, how much money was he demanding?"

"I don't remember the exact amount."

"I'll get back to that. If, and I am not saying you did, but if you burned the apartment, why?"

"Bethune Bates Davis was a Confederate hero. I am an ancestor of that fine man. What right does he have to impugn his reputation?  I am writing a book about LT Davis." Owen stared at the attorney. "I am an expert on him. I spend my time speaking about him, his story, his legend."

"For money? You make speeches about LT Davis for money?"

"Of course I do." Owen said defensively. "I get 1000's of dollars for each speech. The publisher has already paid me an advance on my book."

"So you wanted to stop him writing his book?"

"I wanted to destroy it"

"How did you know the draft was in his apartment?"

"Where else would it have been?"

"On the cloud, Owen, on the damn cloud. You know that. What were you thinking? I think you are in a lot of trouble and I do not think I can save you." With that the attorney called for someone to let him out of the cell.

The attorney decided he needed to know more, if he could find someone who would talk with him. He found the fire department and Chief Pyre. The attorney introduced himself and asked if the Chief would talk with him.

The Chief laughed,"I know I shouldn't, but this is a small town and I'm afraid your client is in way too deep." With that the Chief told the attorney the story Terse had told him.

When he finished, the attorney asked, "What is the story on this author  - Terse?"

"Great guy from an old Mobile family. Plenty of money, he has no need whatsoever to blackmail anyone. And, he has a bestseller now on the New Times list now. My guess is that he was doing his due diligence, checking up on what he had found on Private Davis."

The attorney asked him a couple questions about the fire and the results of his investigation. Before he left he said,"I've been to a lot of small towns down here. But I have never been to one as freindly as Gallagher. Let me guess, a trial here is going to be difficult at best?"

"I'm wouldn't say that. But our folks know the difference between right and wrong." The attorney thanked Chief Pyre and walked out. On his way out of town, he stopped by Ed's for a cup of coffee. While Mae was serving him she asked, "And where are you from?"

The attorney said, "Atlanta."

Mae replied,"There's a fellow in jail right now from Atlanta. They say he burned down Terse's place. Terse is our home town celebrity. Such a nice guy from an old rich family. Of course that fellow says he didn't do it, but we all know he did."

"Why's that?", asked the attorney casually as he sipped his coffee.

"They brought him all the way back from Atlanta to put him in jail. The Sheriff would not have done that unless he was guilty. Besides, no one local would ever do anything like that to Terse." Mae poured some more coffee into his cup. "But we're past that. Now the big thing in town is a girl who showed up here a month or so ago. Come to find out she is the daughter of a woman who abandoned her. It was a big scandal years ago. Not that I was here when it happened, but Lue Ellen Wadsworth told me all about it one day. And everybody knows Lou Ellen would never make anything up."

When Mae took a breath, the attorney pulled some money from his pocket and put it on the counter. He thanked her for the coffeee and wished her a good day. As he drove out of town he wasn't sure if he was leaving Mayberry, Mayfield, or Cabot Cove.