My Life A Bit South of Normal

Monday, July 31, 2017

Anna Belle Comes By

Friday morning when Bunny walked into her office, she was surprised to find her mother, Anna Belle, waiting for her.

Before she could say anything Anna Belle started, "Seriously Bunny, you really had no idea Parker Duiese is gay. Obviously you have never seen him dance. Just look at the way he dresses. And Bob Maybank can arrange flowers like no other."

Bunny was more concerned over the fact that her mother knew she had been at the bar with (or not) Parker than Parker and Bob's sexual orientation.

"Well since you have made a fool of yourself with Jeb. Did it ever dawn on you why he never took you to a local place to eat or drink. Or why he checked out every place you went before you entered? Everyone but you knew that Parker and Kathleen are a committed couple. That is unless she gets tired of his playing footsy when she is out of town."

"Mama, I thought at least you would be sympathetic. He used me. Yes, I am humiliated. How was I to know?"

"The same way everyone else in town does. And, now, let me guess you are stressed because you do not have a date for the Jaycees Auction tomorrow night?"

"That's not true. I'm going to ask Sam."

"Sam Peterson? That train left the station honey. He is going with Della."

"I don't believe that because, first Della never dates, and second, she would never have enough nerve to ask him."

"She didn't. He asked her. Why don't you just go to the auction with us?"

"With you? That would be humiliating?"

"Sweet pea, I have a date and another I turned down. I have not made a fool of myself in a small town. Come go with me and Henry."

"Henry Jameson? Of course, why am I not surprised. He's 20 years your junior!"

Anna Belle smiled, "I know, and that makes him delightful," she paused, "in many ways."

"That's enough. Spare me the rest."

"If you had just listened to me when you were younger and married Thad, think of where you would be now."

"Mama, first he never asked and besides, he was fairly fast in junior high. And think of the lectures you gave me not to act like Lucinda Joe. God forbid you have a daughter with a 'reputation'. "

"Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the things we really want."

"Stop. Just stop," Bunny said almost in tears.

"Honey I know things have been rough for you. All I'm saying is you got yourself into this and you need to find a way out. Look, you are nice looking, have taken fairly good care of yourself, what is the problem?"

"Well, that's damn by faint praise."

"A mother needs to be honest." 

Bunny looked at her mother standing there, a good 5 foot 10, still wearing a size 8. Nice looking long legs, silvery blond hair that she wore tied back (that alone made her look 10 years younger). Thanks to years of using every wrinkle remover that was made, her face showed few lines and little age. To make things worse, she always had some man in tow, usually a good looking well to-do old money gentleman, 10 to 20 years her junior.

"Well,  you haven't been a lot of help."

"Sweet heart that is hurtful."

"What mother who truly loved her daughter would have named her 'Brunilda'. Seriously? Thank God for Daddy, bless his soul, saving me from that life long humiliation. And speaking of Daddy, you trot around here like you don't even miss him."

"Oh Bunny dear, that is not true at all. Your father was my first love. Well, " she paused, "after Thomas, Davis, and Matt . .  well he was my first real love. She paused and smiled to herself. Then continued, "I have tried my best to struggle on since his untimely death. How did I know a heart condition was going to take him so early?"

"Or leave you so well off, thanks to a very generous life insurance policy."

"Well you know William, he was always a good planner."

"Mama, what do you want?"

"I just want the best for you. I just want you to be happy, settled into a healthy relationship, and feeling good."

"What you are saying is that I should take more care of myself, be married to old money, and, by some miracle, heal my body. Tell me, is this best for me or Anna Belle?"

"Well, let's just say, it's a small town and people do talk." With that she kissed Bunny on the cheek and walked out.

Bunny just stood there. She sighed and thought, "Dear God, I hope everyone does not have to deal with a mama like mine.

By this time Della had come back from the Post Office. "Bunny, I've seen it all. Seems Mr. Wade asked Maisy Ruth to the auction tomorrow night. Who knew? "

Bunny just muttered to herself, "Apparently everyone but me."

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bar Stool Confessions

-We last saw Bunny at the Do Drop In, making her way to the end of the bar, Mai Tai in hand, to talk to Parker.

Parker laughed, "You can usually find me at work, here talking to Ike, or at home."

"That doesn't sound like much of fun." The Mai Tai was giving Bunny a lot of courage. "Well maybe I should have been spending more time here."

Ike was drying glasses, giving a chuckle, and a little shake of his head. Oblivious, Bunny continued, "Seriously, I never see you around."

Looking at his glass, Parker said, "Well, like I said, I have a fairly busy life."

Bunny smiled and moved closer to him. Putting her hand of his knee, she said, "Well maybe we need to change that. What do you say?"

Parker was quiet.

Bunny continued,  "Oh come on, a good looking man like you should not be spending so much time alone."

Parker turned and looked at her. "I'm not."

Not to be deterred and feeling the effects of the Ike's Mai Tai, Bunny replied,"Parker, I'll tell you what. Why don't we go out Saturday night? It's the Jaycees Auction. That would be fun. She looked at Ike, "Hey, can I have another one of these," she held up her glass. "It is sooooo good."

Parker looked at her, "Bunny, I appreciate your offer. But I am going to have say no."

"Do you have a steady girl?"

"No", Parker said not looking at her.

"OK, do you have a date for Saturday night?"

"Well, kind of." He turned and looked at her. "Yes, I have a date."

"With who?" Bunny said as she sipped more of her second Mai Tai (in which Ike had gone very light on the liquor).

"Bob."

"Bobbie Carter?" (A girl Bunny was in school with many years ago.)

"No, Bob."

"Bob?" She stopped drinking and turned to him.

"Bob Maybank."

"OK," said Bunny tying to process this. Not only was one good looking eligible man off the market - now two were. Bob Maybank was dreamy good looking.

"Yeah, OK."

"I had no idea.

"Well it's not like we walk around with a sign around out necks saying, 'Hey Look, We're Gay'."

Bunny looked at him, "I know just how you feel. I can relate." With this Ike moved closer - knowing this should be most interesting. "I have this delicate system, If anyone around me is sick, I'm going to get it. My back always hurts. No one ever understands the silent pain I go through. Believe me I can relate."

Getting frustrated with her, Parker said, "Bunny are you serious?"

"Yes, usually I am very sick. but I didn't want to burden you with these issues. I mean if it rains it is hard for me to get to work because of the pain. But I just suffer in silence."

Bunny reached for his hand on the bar. Parker shook his head, "Yes, Bunny, I guess you can relate. I should be happy given all the ills you deal with, I am just trying to make my way as a homosexual in a small southern town. My daddy keeps asking when I'm going to get married so I can produce a male heir to carry on the Dueise name. My mother told me I was afflicted and she was humiliated by what people said behind her back. I may as walk around with a scarlet H on my chest. Lord help me if I was concerned about having a chronic cold." With that he put some bills on the bar and walked out.

Bunny turned to Ike. "Well that should have made him feel better. No one hurts the way I do with stomach cramps and arthritis. Not that I would ever want one to feel sorry for me. I just wanted him to know he does not suffer alone."

Bunny turned too fast and tumbled off the bar stool onto the floor. "Ike you seriously need to fix this bar stool. Someone is going to get hurt on it. Why I could have re-injured my hip that I had surgery on last spring. Think what may have happened if I has been tipsy."

She managed to get up off the floor, gather up her things, and head for the door to go home. Unfortunately it was the men's room door that she opened.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

I'll Have a Mai Tai

Bunny did have one companion she could always count on - Bootsy her champagne colored tea cup poodle. The pup had been through all the ups and downs of Bunny's life. This afternoon she was walking Bootsy on her afternoon constitutional. Bunny found the daily exercise cathartic. She could enjoy the lovely  streets of Gallagher with the moss draped oaks. The old homes gave her a sense of being. Even though her family never owned one of these once glamorous houses, she could still imagine life inside one.

But quickly reality hit when she saw a poster in the window of Heddie's Hat Shop and Accessories for Fine Ladies. It was advertising the upcoming Jaycees Auction. One of the the grand annual events in town. Anyone could go, but no lady would ever be caught there single. Although no one would dare say anything about it in public, but there would be talk.

Before Kathleen came back to town, Bunny had been convinced that Jeb was going to ask her to the Jaycees Auction this coming weekend. In fact she had told several of her friends that would be the case. Now she had to save face. 

Apparently, Jeb did not care for her as much as she thought. Or, maybe, when Kathleen returned,  he had no choice but to go back to her. Who knows, maybe she and Jeb could meet on the side. Whatever, she needed a date for the auction this Saturday night. She was not going to sit home.

As she turned on Elm, she caught a glimpse of Parker Deuise's Land-rover.  "Hum", she thought."I bet he's available."

Bunny remembered that Parker was a regular at Dot's Dew Drop In, a local watering hole downtown. Located off Oak Street, just one more fixture in the town of Gallagher. Putting her plan in place, at 6:15 that afternoon, she was perched on a bar stool at Dot's ordering a Mai Tai. Ike was the bartender, who had been serving several generations of the town. Everyone wanted to be in Ike's good graces, knowing his position gave him access to more scuttlebutt than the Thursday Afternoon Bridge Club.

He asked her what a "Mai Tai" was. Clueless, Bunny just said, "You know one of those fancy colorful drinks with a little umbrella in it." 

Not having the time, nor the patience, to consult his 1913 edition of Straud's Manual of Mixed Drinks,  his go-to bible of libations, he got creative. Old Jake, the bartender who worked in the establishment that occupied this space as far back as before prohibition had handed it down to him. Since 1945, Ike had been relying on this book to be his mentor, his resource, and his "Rabbit's Hat" from which he could pull fancy drinks no one in Gallagher had ever heard heard of. Besides his personality of a sweetheart hidden inside a curmudgeon, he was one Hell of a bartender.

At 88, Ike's memory wasn't as clear as it once was. He knew Bunny didn't have a clue what was in a Mai Tai, so he just made her one. He added vodka to cranberry juice, then carefully poured some pineapple juice over that to which he threw in a good dose of coconut rum, and a touch of Chartreuse. The effect was a tri-colored red, yellow, and green concoction with an umbrella in it.

Bunny was pleased. "Oh, Ike, this is the best Mai Tai I have ever had." Of course it was, given it was the only one she had ever had. She only ordered it to look sophisticated since she saw someone order one in a movie. Ike had already figured that much out.

Due to her fragile system and delicate constitution, Bunny did not drink a lot, especially hard liquor. However she did not want to be found by some gentleman at the bar with a Diet Coke. Parker walked in and Ike moved to the end of the bar to meet him. He took a seat at the bar and a sip from the cold daft beer Ike had waiting for him.

Bunny wasted no time taking herself and her Mai Tai to the end of the bar to be close to Parker. "Why hello Parker. I haven't seen you in ages. Where have you been hiding?"


Friday, July 28, 2017

Home of the Gnomes

Thursday morning Della was in the office alone just as she figured due to Bunny's illness. To her surprise, Bunny dragged in through the door.  "Well, I'm surprised to see you."

Bunny replied, "Well someone has to run this place. I feel like Hell, but I'm here."

Della just smiled and said to herself, "Great, and now the fun begins."

Buzz breezed in and spoke to Della. But before she could give him a heads up, he stuck his head into Bunny's office,"Mornin' Glory".

"Not so sure whats so glorious about it. I feel like Hell. My stomach is cramping. I have a fever. And, I . . ."

Buzz interrupted her, "Whoa, too much information. In my opinion, you need to go home. Just saying." He turned and quickly left her office before he had to endure her endless prostrations.

Della said, "I tried to warn you."

"Let's just say I'll pay more attention to you next time."

"Oh, and the Eldridge twins called. They say their water heater is out. Can you get over there this morning?"

Larry, who had just walked in, laughed and said, "We'll check on their gnome."

Buzz and Larry both chuckled. Della looked clueless. About that time Bunny called from her office, "Are y'all going to work today or just sit around and play cards."

Buzz winked at Della. "No mamm, we're getting ready to go gnome."  He stopped laughing long enough to ask,"Guess we never told you about the Eldridge sisters."

"No, is there some secret?"

"Don't think its a secret. Guess not many people have been in their home. They collect gnomes!"

"As in yard elves, Expedia gnomes?"

Larry looked Della straight in the eye, "Nope, not just in the yard. They are everywhere - on the floor, on the book shelves, shirts hanging on the walls, gnome lamps, gnome glasses, jars . . . You name it, they have a gnome for it."

"Well who knew?" laughed Della.

Before Bunny could get out of her office, Buzz and Larry were gone. She looked at Della, "What did he say?"

"Nothing, they are on their way to the Eldridge's house to check out the water heater."

"I'm hearing things, I thought y'all were talking about elves", said Bunny, "must be my stomach or my colon."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

It's Just the Mayonnaise

Monday morning Bunny was in the office early getting her paper work done when Della walked in. "Mornin' Bunny"

"Well good morning Della, and it is a good morning isn't it." Before Della could comment, ask, or escape to her desk Bunny had started. "Oh, Della, I think I'm in love."

"With Jeb?"

"Well who else could it be? He is such a gentleman. He opens my car door and tells me my hair sparkles. We go to these romantic out of the way places I never knew existed. You know the kind with the red checkered table cloths and wine bottles with candles in them on the table. He asks questions about me. He does not want to talk about himself. Why he is so serious, all his attention is on me. He is so careful everywhere we go, making sure I'm taken care of and no one is going to hurt me. He even checks out every place before we go in." She twirled like a teenager in love, which looked quite silly for a close to middle age woman.

She turned to Della who had gone back to her desk to finish some paperwork while Bunny shared every detail of her experiences with Jeb. "I swear I could marry him. And, I know he is going to ask me to the Jaycees Auction this coming weekend, probably today."

Della just smiled and kept working.

Meanwhile 'Miss' Ella came in. "Bunny... you have that look in your eyes. What in the world have you been up to?"

"Oh, 'Miss' Ella, I may be in love."

"Miss" Ella's eye brightened, "Well do tell!"

"I've been seeing Jeb."

"Jeb, as in Jeb Jackson?" 'Miss' Ella looked over at Della who just shrugged her shoulders.

"Yes mamm. He is such a dear". She went on to repeat the exact story, almost word for word, that she had told Della earlier.

Della was busy with her paper work when the phone rang with a call for Bunny. With that Bunny excused herself and went into her office to take the call.

"Della", 'Miss' Ella said quietly. "What about Kathleen?"

"Bunny says its over between them."

"Well if so, it had to happen late this morning after I saw Jeb and Kathleen leave his place. And they did not look like they had 'broken up' to me. In fact it looked as if they were on their way to the Star Light Cafe for lunch."

As soon as 'Miss' Ella finished her comment, Bunny came out of her office. "I'm starving. I think I'll run over to the Starlight and get a sandwich. Y'all want anything?"

Della spoke up first, "I was thinking about a burger from Ed's."

'Miss' Ella chimed in, "Oh, I think something from Ed's would be tasty. In fact - let's all go. My treat!"

But Bunny was opening the door, "Golly 'Miss' Ella I appreciate that, but I'll take a rain check." With that she walked out and closed the door.

"Oh well," sighed Della. "This ain't going to be pretty."

"Bunny all of people should know better. Why Kathleen and Jeb have been together forever. I hear tell from Frank at the jewelry store that Jeb's been in lately looking at rings. And I don't think he was considering Bunny's ring size. Dear me."

At the Starlight, Bunny got excited when she saw Jeb standing at the counter. She hurried in, "Oh honey, what a surprise."

Jeb turned and the look on his face was anything but endearing. In fact, it looked as if he was seeing his life flash before his eyes. He recovered, "What brings you in here?"

"Lunch, and you, she said as she got close enough for him to kiss her. However that was interrupted when a sweet voice from over Jeb's shoulder said, "Oh, Bunny, it's nice to see you."

Bunny, stunned, look see Kathleen come up beside Jeb. Bunny replied," Well, Kathleen, I had no idea you were back."

Jeb stood there nervously.

"Oh, I am and I am so glad to be home. I missed Jeb so much. I couldn't dare think that he was all alone while I was gone. Why just the idea that he had go to dinner and visit nightclubs alone tore my heart up, so I hurried home. Right sweetie pie". She slid her arm in his.

With fire in her eyes, it was all Bunny could do to be nice. She could not decide whether to run and strangle Kathleen or kill Jeb. "I'm sure Jeb is happy to have you back also since he has been so lonely with you being gone." With that she turned to Walter, who had been watching this all play out, along with everyone else in the diner. "Walter, can I get a grilled cheese sandwich . . . to go?"

"Coming right up."

Back in the office, she went straight to her office. After a while, Della walked in to check on her, "You're awfully quiet."

"Oh Della, I feel horrible. I may just have to go home for the day."

"What caused that?"

"Probably the mayonnaise."

"I thought you got a grill cheese. There is no mayonnaise on one of those."

"Well, I used to always ask Walter to put it on my grill cheese sandwiches."

". . .And now it makes you sick."

"Does it every time."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sam Signs On

Tuesday night Jeb took Bunny to dinner at a little restaurant she had never heard of on the outskirts of town. She wasn't very impressed, but it didn't matter because Jeb was so funny and made her feel so good. Wednesday evening they drove to mobile to see a movie. Soon they were spending much time together, but always after work and Jeb was always excited to take her to some place new and different, and usually out of town, that she had never been. Bunny was smitten.

Friday Sam came in the office to sign his lease. He had found a small bungalow cottage an old fisherman had owned at one time down by the river. It was quaint but Wade had a hard time renting it since it wasn't in middle of all the "excitement" of Gallagher. Wade had not completely redone this particular home with the most modern conveniences he had put in his newer properties. But Sam said it was perfect for him. The solitude was what he was looking for. Besides no one could just "happen by" on their way to anywhere.

Della showed Sam where to sign, made sure he had the proper keys, instructed him as to where he could find the power company. He thanked her. Before he left, he smiled at Della, "Has everyone ever told you that you have beautiful blue eyes?" He paused, "If not, then let me tell you." 

"Why thank you Sam. By the way Bunny is out of the office, I'll make sure you knows you stopped by. I'm sure she'll be disappointed she missed you."  

"Yeah, you do that. Have a nice day Miss Della with the pretty blue eyes." He winked at her and with that he was on his way.

Della just stood there. "Damn he is good looking," she thought as he walked out the door.

For the first time Della realized that maybe she was not invisible after all. Perhaps everyone was not Bunny's to claim. She made a mental note to start wearing makeup and spend more time on her hair.

It wasn't two minutes later before Sam stuck his head in the door. "Miss Della, what is this Jaycee Auction all about?"

Della gave him a brief explanation. 

He smiled. "Well I don't think I want to go to something like that alone seeing as I'm new in town. Do you have plans Saturday evening?"

Della hesitated, not believing what he may be asking. After all he could need a dog sitter or was just curious. "No, I don't have any plans."

"Good, cause you do now. I'll pick you up at 7:00." He smiled and winked one more time and closed the door.

Della was speechless. Bunny always had a date for a big occasion while Della rarely did, Now when she gave Della that,"Poor Della, not going to the auction Saturday, but you wouldn't know what to do if you did go anyway," - look that she was so want to do, Della would just mention that Sam had happened to ask her. That brought a smile her face. Della was going with the Marlboro Man.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

It's Only a Man in Her Life

The Monday morning skies were dark and menacing. For once the prediction of rain storms for the day looked to be accurate. When Bunny walked into the office, Della just said, "Want me to get you some coffee? I know this will be one of your days with the rain coming and all. Probably didn't sleep last night."

To Della's surprise Bunny smiled and said, "I don't know why you would think that. Why I had a wonderful night's sleep. In fact I had a wonderful night." With that she walked into her office.

Aware she had some business calls to make, Della did not know whether to start making the calls or jump off the bridge and ask Bunny why her evening was 'wonderful'. This could go into a 45 minute monologue, reciting every detail. But, being Della she went for it. "OK, what made your night last night so wonderful?"

"I spent it with Jeb. And it was fabulous."

"Jeb, as in ambulance chasing attorney Jeb? As in Johnson Edward Beauregard, Jr."

"Why that's not fair, he has a good law practice helping other people. He called me late yesterday afternoon and asked me to dinner. He even picked me up and we went to the Star Light Cafe. We just talked and talked. He is so funny. I had no idea." Bunny went behind her desk and sat down. 

Leaning up against the door post Della said,"You've known him all your life. What happened last night to make the bells and whistles go off?' Besides I thought he and Kathleen Quinton had been keeping rather tight company for some time?"

"Oh, I think he must have seen me around town and realized what he was missing."

Buzz walked in, "Bunny, we are going to have to replace those pipes at 43 Dock Street. I know you and Mr. Wade don't want to spend the money. But we can't wait much longer."

"Now Buzz you just do what you need to get those pipes fixed properly. I'll take care of Wade."

As Buzz passed Della's desk he asked, "What's up with her? She's acting crazy as a June Bug."

"Well let's just say there's a man in her life."

"If that's the case and it makes this much difference, we need make sure there is ALWAYS a man in her life. I've been begging to fix those pipes for months and both she and Mr. Wade have been putting me off, saying it wasn't that bad. So you're telling me a date does this to her."

"Buzz, just be happy and take advantage of it while we have it. It's raining and no one is complaining."

"Lord, this a damn miracle."

Monday, July 24, 2017

Bunny's Prize Possession

Bunny and Sam left the rental company in her 1978 white Ford Granada Coupe with its red Landau vinyl roof.  This was one of Bunny's prize possessions. Not that she considered it an antique or a collectors car, even though at age 39, the vehicle was eligible for Alabama state Antique car tags. No, this car was special because it looked just like the Lincoln Versailles of that same year. 

Her mother, Anna Belle,  always said the better families drove Lincolns. This was close enough for her. She found the car while she was in college and had kept it through 2 marriages and 2 divorces. It was in mint condition, less the right front hub cap that was  missing, the over head rear view mirror that was apt to fall off, and the small tear in the Landau roof. 

She had located a hub cap very similar to the other three, at least to her it looked the same. Never mind the "new" one came off a '84 Crown Victoria - who could tell? She purchased red duct tape, just a shade or two lighter than the red color of the vinyl and carefully repaired the rip. She had fixed the mirror with Crazy Glue, which worked fine except in July and August when the heat was more than the glue could hold. Then she just put the mirror in the glove box until cooler weather arrived.

So there they were, Bunny and Sam making their way down the grand oak lined Boulevard of Gallagher. Bunny pointed out the grander homes, most that seen their better days. "Look at these homes. This is where most of Gallagher's well heeled live. These families are members of the Assembly and have been for generations."

"Is that so?" replied Sam as he viewed the row of mansions, no doubt built by well to do farmers and the like over 100 years ago. 

"We were lucky. Sherman did not march through Alabama. So our homes and town were not burned to the ground."

Faulkner's description of Miss Grierson's house at the end of her life in A Rose for Emily came to Sam's mind. He was sure in its day this was a thriving town full of wealthy people. Now it seemed to be a town living in the past ignoring the conditions of their homes. But then, what was it they said about southerners?  'Tis best not to deal with it now. I'll worry about it tomorrow. Guess no one told them the ball was over and it is tomorrow.

By then they had arrived at 112 Oak, the crown jewel of Hampton Rentals. Wade had managed to take the Old Beauregard Hotel, gut it saving all the old wood beams, fixtures, and floors. He had transformed it into a wonderful apartment building with 4 units on each of the 4 main levels. On the top floor he had redone the terraces and built two large "pent house units". Even only the fifth floor, it was still the best view in town. Terse lived in one side and Wade lived in the other, when he was in town.

Bunny parked her car out front in the "No Parking" zone that was basically her private parking spot. Joe, the town cop, would never give her a ticket and Lord knows, he could not miss her car. As she pulled up her rear view mirror fell off. Quickly without missing a beat, she picked it up and put it in the back seat as they got out of the car.

"Now this is our best property. The units have exposed brick walls, hard wood floors, and the original oak beams. Wade is very peculiar about who lives in here. You know, we don't want the wrong kind. Folks that aren't our kind of people."

Sam was both amused and a little taken back. Now he knew the time warp did not get past the early 60's. 

Seeing the look on his face, Bunny quickly added, "Not that we would discriminate or not offer all our housing to anyone who came in. But I know a special person when I see one." She said with a wink.

"Well, it looks real nice, but what I had in mind something a little smaller, maybe in a lower price range."

Bunny had to rethink this. It was starting to look as if her Marlboro man, good looking as he was, was may be just a farm hand coming from the country to make something of his self in the city.

Back in the car Bunny said,"You know we have a lot of farmers 'round here. Big time farmers."

"Really?"

"Yes siree. Why the Jackson family alone farms 1500 acres. You look like you come from a farm, seeing the way you dress and all."

"Yes mamm in fact I do. I come from Texas and my family does have a farm."

"Really? If I may ask how much land do they own?"

"Well, I'd say right around 150 or so."

"Acres?"

"Yes, mamm, about 150,000 acres or so."

Trying not to look startled, Bunny asked, "What do they farm? Cattle?"

"Yes, mamm. Cattle, but really most of it is oil fields."

For once Bunny was speechless. This man was a keeper, if only she could figure out how to catch him.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Marlboro Man's Curative Effect

Friday morning Bunny walked stiffly into the office. "It's going to rain today. No doubt about it."

Della replied,"I didn't see the forecast this morning. It sure looks sunny to me."

"Every bone in my body hurts and that means no doubt it is going to rain," said Bunny as she slowly made her way into her office. "I didn't sleep at all last night. Just couldn't get comfortable. Ever since I had that hip surgery it just hasn't been the same."

Buzz stuck his head in her office. "I need to get some filters and drains for 112 Oak. Want me to get them from Smith and Wells and just have them bill the office?"

Bunny just sighed as she sat down in her chair very slowly. "That sounds fine."

"You OK? Looks like you are feeling poorly"

"It's going to rain."

"Don't think so. Not a cloud in the sky."

"Trust me, my bones do not lie."

With that Buzz left to get his supplies. Della stuck her head in the office,"Remember you have that tour at 11 this morning. That group of folks are going to meet you in the lobby of 112 Oak about 10:45."

"No way I can do that. I just hurt. It is all can do to walk. Della, do you think you could do the tour for me? Just this once?"

"Sure, no problem."

About 9:30 the door opened and Sam, the Marlboro man, came in. "Mornin' mamm."

"Good morning Mr. Peterson. What can I do for you this morning?"

"Well I drove around last night and I would like to look at the available units at 212 Broad and 112 Oak. I think I've narrowed it down to those two addresses."

About that time Bunny came into the room, "Good morning Sam. What brings you in?"

"Good morning Bunny. How are you this morning?"

"Well it is going to rain because every bone and joint in my body hurts. It's all I can do to stand up"

"Well I'm sorry to hear that. I was just telling Della that there are two addresses I was hoping to see today."

Bunny straightened up. "Give me a minute to return a phone call and I'll show you those places myself."

"Are you sure you have time. Of course, my morning is free. I'll drive."

"It's very sunny out here for a forecast of rain."

"Oh, it is a beautiful day. And now let's look at 212 Broad Street first." And off they drove. 

Della just watched from the window. "Well miracles do happen after all. I wonder if Mr. Peterson is aware of his curative powers."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A French King, a War Hero, and Idella Arnell

Perhaps a little background on the lovely hamlet of Gallagher, home of the Q.G. Hampton Rentals and Housing Company. Gallagher is a sleepy southern bedroom community just outside of Mobile. Entering this historic antebellum town of 5000 +/-, one would think once they had passed I-65 they had entered a time warp. Gallagher was a combination of Mayberry, Petty Coat Junction, and New Orleans wrapped up in Spanish moss, and old families where nothing moved quickly but gossip.

The town had managed to survive due to its close proximity to Mobile. Many folks who worked in Mobile wanted a slower pace of life than the city. They found the 27 minute commute (without traffic) a small price to pay for life in Gallagher. Meanwhile the townsfolk were more than happy to smile and take their money. 

The economy on Gallagher ran on tourists, out-of-towners who rented and kept the business coffers flush, and The Blue Point Pen Company with a very generous federal government contract. No one was quite sure what was so special about these pens, to the common eye they were simple blue ball point pens. However they were not available for sale to the public. The town was also known for its famous Museum of Confederate Uniforms, Hats, and Paraphernalia. 

Originally founded in the mid 1700's by the French. the town was first named Petit. Not that its namesake King Petit  VI, Par la grâce de Dieu, Roi de France et de Navarre (translated as King Petit,  by the Grace of God, King of France and of Navarre, Most Christian Majesty) ever set foot in the town, or on the continent for that matter.  

However in 1866, the town fathers voted to rename the little hamlet "Gallagher" in honor of their fellow townsman, Col. James B. Gallagher, Confederate war hero, aide, and personal spy for General Robert E. Lee. Unfortunately Col. Gallagher failed to see the outcome of the War between the States due to his untimely death of an affliction we do not speak of out of  respect to his family. Let's just say it was a consequence of his frequent dalliances at Idella Arnell's House of Pleasures for the Lonely Man in New Orleans.   

But I digress. Wade's mother, Jesslynn, was a direct descendant of Col. Gallagher. He found the colorful side of his infamous ancestor to be quite amusing, much to the dismay and embarrassment of  his mother, bless her heart. He always promised his mother he was going to name his first daughter "Idella Arnell". This inevitably brought on the vapors for his mother and she had to send for her smelling salts. Luckily Wade never married and never claimed any offspring, so his mother was spared any humiliation.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Q.G. Hampton Rentals and Housing Co.

As one can imagine, a rental housing office has a regular cast of characters coming in and out. And Q.G. Hampton Rentals and Housing Co. was no exception. The characters included an 80 year old widow, "Miss" Ella, who is still living in the house that she and her late husband, Howard, raised their family. Wade promised her he would never tear it down or make her move out. He keeps it livable and comfortable for her, biding his time knowing that the valuable piece of real estate will be available at some time in the future.


There is Terse (as is Reginald Beauregard Jackson III) who drives a late model BMW, dresses as if he is out of GQ, and lives in the penthouse of one of Wade's newer fancy high rises. He is a regular visitor to the office around the 2nd of the month to pay his rent that is usually in arrears. Even though he lives on a trust account funded by his Dad (ie Reginald Beauregard Jackson, Jr.), obviously it is not enough to get him to the end of the month to pay his rent.


On this particular morning, being the beginning of the month the office was fairly busy. Buzz and Larry, the two maintenance men, had stopped by to get the daily list of work and issues that need to be tended to. 


The Eldridge twins were in to pay their rent, which they always paid in cash - in ten dollar bills - $450. These ladies Flora and Cora were identical twin sisters who still dressed alike. They had lived together every day of their 70 years, never marrying. Rumor was, they never dated. Quite a curious pair.


"Miss" Ella walked in thrilled to see that Buzz and Larry were still there. "Boys, the screens in my front windows have fallen out once again. Do you think you can find time to drop by? Maybe around noon?" Buzz and Larry quickly assured her they would be there, knowing she would have plates of her famous chicken salad sandwiches and tomatoes from her garden waiting for them on the kitchen table. "Miss" Ella always got good service from the maintenance crew.


As "Miss" Ella walked out, a blond haired slight thing of a young girl entered, no more than 25 years old. Everyone in the office, stopped and turned toward the door. "Hi," she started in a very southern accent, "I'm Maisy Ruth Jackson and I'm looking for an apartment. My brother Terse recommended you. I hope you have something." Naturally, Bunny stepped forward, introduced herself and offered her a chair in her office.


Buzz looked over at Della, the lady who handled the front desk. "Lordly, Wade only has one Penthouse, where is Bunny going to put her?"


Della replied, "No sweat, you know Bunny always comes through."


It wasn't anytime before Maisy Ruth and Bunny walked out of the office. "Della will you pull out a rental packet, the keys, and a map for that unit on Spring Street. Maisy Ruth says that is where she would like to live."



Knowing they had Terse's habits in mind, Bunny just smiled before anyone could say anything, "We looked at everything available."



Maisy Ruth thanked Bunny, said good bye, and left the office on her way to the unit on Spring Street. Larry went to the window. "I've seen everything now. That there Jackson is driving what looks like a 7 or 8 year old Accord. What's wrong with this picture?" 



"Now y'all behave yourselves. You know families are made up of all sorts. I'm sure she will be a lovely tenant."



"Speaking of lovely tenants," Della said as the door opened and a gentlemen who only lacked a horse to look like the Marlboro man sauntered in. At the same time, Bunny and Della, both looking star struck said, "Why, what can I do for you sir?" 


"Well ladies, seems I need a place to live. And I was told this was the place to come."

"Yes sir we try our best to serve. Come in my office and let's find out what we might have that will suit your needs," Bunny said as she led the way. "Oh and I'm Bunny, I'm sorry where are my manners."

"Sam, mam, Sam Peters." Suddenly things were looking up. Why nothing this good ever came up as a match on her eHarmony.com profile.

"Well Mr. Peters. . ."

"Oh, its just Sam."

"Well then Sam, what are you looking for in particular?"

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I'm Back .....Again

After a six month hiatus for which I can neither explain myself nor justify the time spent, I am back to my blog. Y'all having heard enough about my insane life, I thought I would share the trials, travails, and drama of a sweet southern girl, bless her heart.  I can assure you any names will be changed to protect the innocent, the guilty and those who profess to be either.

Her name is Brunilda Ethel, one of those God awful southern names one's mother bestows upon a new born baby girl who is innocent until burdened with such a moniker she will have to live with  for life. All the while her mother, Anna Belle, bless her heart, thinks that in honoring her dear Great Aunt Brunilda Ethel by naming her first born after her, that her fate will rise in the eyes of Great Aunt Brunilda. So much so that her Great Aunt will see that the sterling silver tea set on the family buffet, that Anna Belle and her three sisters have been eyeing since they were just little ones should appropriately be bequeathed to Anna Belle to be passed on to Great Aunt Brunilda Ethel's namesake, her Great Great Niece, Little Brunilda.

But, I digress. Luckily, like all loving southern fathers are apt to do, Brunilda's daddy picked a sweet name to call his little girl - "Bunny". Thank God it stuck and "Brunilda" was "Bunny" from then on.

Bunny grew up rather quickly, married a cute guy she met in college, Buck. Upon the birth of her daughter, she spared the agony of a dreadful moniker and named her "Ethel Belle". (Possibly hoping that would ensure the inheritance of the prized tea set.) The family did well until Bunny learned of a few unfortunate indiscretions Buck had had with a young lady at the local pen factory. Buck and Bunny divorced. It was not pretty.

Several years later, they saw the error of their ways and remarried putting their family back together. Buck had a good job at that local pen factory. Meanwhile Bunny had established herself as a very valuable employee of Mr. Quinton Gallagher Hampton IV's (known as "Wade" to most of the locals) office. Mr. Hampton aka Wade was the local landlord of most rental property in the area. The office managed the billing, rent payments, and custodial crew for all his properties which were scattered all over town. They varied from small tenements that should have been torn down a decade or two ago to large modern multi-story buildings with everything from a concierge service  to dog walkers to a gym.

After proving herself as a reliable and trusty employee, Mr. Hampton, or rather Mr. Wade, made a very generous offer to promote her to manager, she would get a small cut of the rents collected and also, a chance to  possibly purchase some rental property along and along.

Bunny was beside herself. Now both she and Buck had good incomes coming in and they could enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle with their little family. They were living the life and it was good.

Oh, but not so fast. Seems Buck had gotten religion (unbeknownst to Bunny). He was convinced that the Lord would provide. His faith was so strong that he quit his job and dedicated his life to serving Jesus Christ, knowing that while the Lord was providing a lot, Bunny's new salary would certainly cover any expenses the Trinity overlooked.

Needless to say this caused some unpleasantness at home. It wasn't long before the Lord's provision's did not come through in a sufficient fiscal manner to cover the bills. Bunny made a good salary but not nearly enough to support their new lifestyle. Being a smart Bunny she left Buck before God's generosity faded. Just for good measure, she gave the sterling silver tea set to her daughter.

Once again they divorced and our Bunny found herself the mother of a daughter, who by this time was almost out of college. She was single again with a good job. Thanks to her position with Mr Wade, she found a cute apartment in town and avoided living with her mother. 

This is where I come in. I failed to mention a few details. Bunny is very good looking. She is smart and driven. Her fashion sense is a bit 'lacking'. Her bright red lipstick and bouffant hairdo, reckons backs several generations. Bunny sees the world through different eyes. True love has escaped her and she has always been a disappointment to her mother, not that Anna Belle was the best role model. Most importantly she has a good heart and good intentions. 

Stay tuned.