Bunny could not remember the last time they had rented to a family with children, much less a single mother. The company had no issue what-so-ever, but Gallagher rarely had families moving in who were not kin to someone and had access to family owned housing.
Vivian showed up, albeit 20 minutes late. As soon as she managed to get herself and her 3 young children into the office, Bunny wandered how she got anywhere. Vivian was in her early 30's and fairly nice looking. The wear and tear of motherhood had taken its toll on her. Her mousy brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail. She wore a pair of jeans and light weight sweatshirt.
She introduced her children to Bunny and Della. "This is Ida," she said pointing to her daughter. "She is 7 and is on the beauty pageant circuit. Last weekend she won 'Little Miss Acorn' in the Old Oak festival up in Oconee. 356 more points and she can go to nationals."
"Ida what do you say to these nice ladies?
"Does this town have a donut shop or an ice cream place?"
Della answered, "No honey, I'm afraid not. But you can get a great milk shake at Ed's. And that's just up the street."
"I don't like milk shakes, Mama," Ida whined, "You promised ice cream."
Quietly, Vivian leaned down and said, "Sweetheart, we will talk about this later."
But Ida was having none of this. "I want ice cream now!"
Vivian ignored Ida's little fit and turned the older boy. "This is my son Roger. He is the reader in the family."
Roger stepped forward,"Why is the business named 'Q.G. Hampton Rentals and Housing Company'?"
Bunny answered,"Well Roger, that is a good question. Mr. Wade Gallagher owns the business and it is named for him."
"Why are the parking spaces on the left side of the street instead of the right? Are those cobblestones original to the town?"
Vivian rubbed him on the head,"Roger, that's enough." Then she patted the toddler on the head. "This is Jimmy. He is 18 months old." With that Jimmy was under Della's desk looking in the trash can.
"Well, it's nice to meet all of you. I've got 2 places we feel will best meet your needs. What do you say we get started?"
"That sounds good."
They all walked out of the door. Vivian's mini van was parked out front. It was missing 2 hub caps, the rear left panel had been replaced in a different color. Looking in the window, one would think they had been living in the van.
Bunny smiled,"Since you have a larger vehicle and the child seats, why don't you follow me. I'll be in that little gray car." She pointed toward her Mercedes.
Everyone got loaded up, Bunny pulled out, and Vivian followed her. Bunny drove a few blocks then turned right. She pulled up in front of a small cottage. Everyone piled out of the cars. Ida was the first to speak, "Mama, I'm not going to live here. This place is ugly."
Vivian said, "Ida, it is not."
They walked up to the porch. Bunny pointed out the features of the yard and the front porch. She opened the front door and held it for everyone to walk in. Vivian looked around and walked through the kitchen. She turned around and smiled,"This looks great."
"And there are 3 bedrooms, which is what you wanted." Bunny took her down the hall and showed her the bedroom and baths.
Roger started,"Mama, you realize this is after war construction, which is very inferior. The false stucco is prone to mold and mildew. And, you better ask about the utilities, these windows don't look sealed."
"Roger that is enough." Then Vivian turned to Bunny, "You have to excuse him. He is just into these details."
Bunny laughed,"Well, he is smart."
Vivian started looking around,"Where is Jimmy? Have y'all seen Jimmy? Jimmy!"
"Here, here," Jimmy called from the cabinet under the sink. "Look mama, a hiding place."
Bunny just smiled, "Well there is one more place I want to show you."
Everyone loaded back up and Bunny led them to a neighborhood on the other side of town. They looked at the house. Vivian liked it but thought the first house was better. (Ida would not get out of the car.) They decided to go back to the office and complete the paperwork.
When they walked in, Bunny was not sure that when Della saw them walk back in, whether or not not she was going to call Mike for protection. Roger asked Bunny,"Shouldn't my mother have an attorney with her? I thought all legal documents needed an attorney?"
Bunny laughed,"Usually not a renter's lease."
Roger looked around, "I think Mama should be meeting with Mr. Gallagher since he owns the company. After all, you only work for him."
Vivian turned and looked at Bunny, as if agreeing with Roger.
Bunny took a deep breath, trying to decide if she was going to tell her she had checked and both properties had already been leased while they were out, but no, she was polite,"Roger, that is my job, and Della's. Mr. Gallagher is rarely in here. That is what he pays us to do." She smiled at Vivian,"Why don't we step into my office."
Roger continued,"Well, then why isn't your name on the company sign? And what kind of name is 'Bunny' anyway? I've never heard of a grown woman being called that."
Vivian looked at Roger,"Son, that's quite enough. Now sit out here and wait while I talk with Bunny. Read some of those magazines."
Then Ida started up,"Mama, you promised me ice cream and I want it now. And Jimmy has a dirty diaper. Look he is taking it off himself."
Vivian excused herself, took Jimmy out to the van, changed his diaper and returned with a happy toddler. She put him down and did not say another word to the children. She just followed Bunny into her office to complete the paperwork and left Della with the hellions.
When all the paperwork was done, the deposit paid, and the keys given to Vivian, Bunny stood up and welcomed her to Gallagher. She thanked her for her business.
Vivian smiled, shook her hand, thanked her, and asked if she knew of anyone who could help her with the children. "I will just need them when I take Ida to her pageants. Then someone who could take Roger to his violin lessons."
Bunny smiled,"Not off the top of my head, but if I do think of someone, I'll be sure to call you."
"Well, I do have family here, but I would hate to impose."
"Really? Whom, if may I ask?"
"Well my mama was a Wells. Are you familiar with the family?"
"Yes. Remember it is a small town," Bunny said stunned.
"Mama is Tula Vontese, well now she is Tula Vontese Lutrelle. I was her only child from her first marriage . . ."
Before Vivian could finish, Bunny added,"William Vontese, but how could that be? You cannot be more than 30, and William married Anna Belle shortly after he and Tula divorced. And, they were married at least 35 years and he died 10 years ago?"
Vivian blushed,"Well, I guess you could call me a 'Love Child".
Suddenly her family tree was more twisted than she thought.