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."
"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."
"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.