What the hell? said Bunny to herself looking at the calling card she was holding. 'Vontese'? Where did that come from. She did not remember her father talking about having a sister-in-law named Tula. She would have to ask her mother about the Vontese family. Why did everyone refer to Tula as 'Tula Wells'?
Harrison called that evening to see if Bunny was free for dinner the following night. While she had him on the phone, she asked, "Seriously, what is the story about Tula, this mystery woman?"
He paused. "Don't worry about Tula. She has a habit of stirring up stuff every where she goes. But she is harmless - unhappy, but harmless."
"But tell me why, and tell me why she is so interested in my Mama, short of that mess with Beau - Mr. Jackson, so many years ago."
"So Aunt Cordelia filled you in did she."
"Yes, so far, she has been the only honest one around here."
"Let's talk about this later," Harrison gave in.
They decided he would pick her up at 6 the following evening.
Maybe now, Bunny thought, I will finally hear the truth. Question is - do I really want to?
Thursday morning, things were very quiet at the office. Bunny's highlight was the arrival of her gown for the ball. It was prettier than she imagined. She could not help but show it to Della.
"So he asked you after all," said Della very excitedly.
"Well not yet, but there is still time. I'm sure he has been busy and just forgot about it. But . . .," Bunny smiled,"we are going out tonight. This could be it." She twirled around, went back in her office and put the dress back in the box.
She heard Sam's Texas drawl in the front, " 'Morning sweet pea," he said as he kissed Della lightly on the lips. Bunny just shook her head, she still thought this was against the rules of nature. As much as she loved Della, she was just not in Sam's league. Bunny just hoped he was a true gentleman and let Della down gently. At least she was of the caliber a man of Harrison's status deserved. She walked out to speak to Sam.
Sam spoke first. " 'Mornin Bunny, how are you doing?"
"Very well, Sam. And you?"
Sam laughed, "I'm gonna tell you, this town is quiet entertaining and full of surprises."
"What have you found now?"
"Well on my way over here, I passed some man dressed in rags, with this huge wooden cross strapped to his back. And get this - he was holding a rattle snake in his hands."
"No!" said Della not knowing whether to be amused or scared.
"Oh, yes. And he was reciting the Bible and yelling that only those with faith can deal with the serpents because the Lord would protect them."
Bunny added, "Please tell me he was not asking folks to hold the snake?"
"Oh, yes. 'Hold the snake and find the Lord'."
Bunny and Della laughed. Bunny looked at Sam,"These people are like gypsies going from town to town. I wish the sheriff would just move them along."
The three of them talked for a while then Sam left. Just as he left Mike came in. "Bunny you need to go outside and see who is on the sidewalk proselytizing."
She laughed,"Sam just told us about that character. Can you believe we have people like that on our streets. Can't you do something about this?"
"Well no, he has first amendment rights. No one has complained yet. But Bunny you really need to go see."
"Mike, as entertaining as it may be, I have no interest in having my soul saved this morning. Seriously, can't you get him to move along?"
"Well that's why I came in here. Bunny, that's Buck, your ex-husband out there."
Bunny was stunned. She looked at Della, then back at Mike, she stammered, "The one carrying the cross and the snake. The one proselytizing on the street - in front of God and everybody."
Mike laughed, "Yes, I think that is the point."
Bunny walked out the door. Sure enough in front of Wells and Smith (of all places) Buck stood there with a week old beard, clothes that looked like torn dirty sheets, with a large wooden cross strapped to his back, holding a snake. She wasn't sure what to do. She took a deep breath and approached him.
In a very low voice she asked, "Buck, what in the Hell are you doing out here? You are making a fool of yourself."
"I'm spreading the word of God and sharing the true meaning of faith." With that he lifted the snake toward her face.
Bunny stepped back several steps. As she did she noticed a small crowd gathering. She could see Kathleen and Jeb standing out front. This was going from bad to worse.
She heard Kathleen ask Jeb, "Why is she talking to that lunatic?"
Jeb slowly said, "Because that is her ex-husband Buck."
Kathleen just giggled. Jeb gave her a look telling her to stop.
Buck looked at the crowd."If Jesus is not in your heart you need to accept him. To see how faith will save you, then hold this serpent - the Lord will protect you."
Jeb walked up to Buck, "I think you need to move along. This is not the best place for you. Maybe along Spring Street would be a more rewarding place for your ministry. Are you familiar with that part of town?" With that he guided Buck back on the sidewalk.
Mike walked up and offered to give him a ride. As he put Buck, his cross, and his snake in his squad car, Mike looked at the crowd, "Move along. Nothing to see here."
Bunny slunk back to her office. Her phone rang, yes it was Anna Belle. "Please tell me that was not your God forsaken low rent x-husband making a scene on main street."
"Mama how did you know about that?"
"Bad news travels fast. Especially when it is humiliating for the family. Can you not control him? Honestly. And a cross and a snake.....hopefully no one recognized him."
"Mama I have to go," Bunny said as she hung up the phone. quickly, just as she saw a very well dressed lady walk into the office. She had a large red hat that sat fashionably on the side of her head wearing black gloves and a sleeveless black and white dress.