Friday, October 6, 2017

Leopard Outfits and Van Cliff and Arthur

This particular morning when she got dressed, Bunny decided that she needed to wear something that would perk her up. Going through the closet of Mary's clothes, she found a lovely leopard print suit with a matching black pill box hat. Once again it was a bit tight, but in the mirror it enhanced her figure. The jacket was cut very low in the front. So low, she could not imagine someone like Mary wearing a top that revealed so much cleavage. She looked around and did not see a coordinating blouse so this must be the entire outfit. She selected her black patent open toed stiletto heels to go with the outfit.

To make her feel even more special, Bunny decided she would wear some of the jewelry in the safe. She opened the box and went through the different pieces. After much angst trying to make a decision, she found a lovely ruby and diamond necklace, matching bracelet, and earnings. When she put it on and looked in the mirror, Bunny never thought she would ever wear jewelry like this. Yet here she was.  She really looked like a professional woman going to the office. Bunny made a mental note to take time each morning and carefully select her outfit. Making a statement and good impression was very important.

When she finally arrived at the Rental Company, she went straight to her office. First she Googled the Mobile Historical and Land Trust Society to see who their officers were. Sure enough, Tula Latrelle was their President. Then she Googled Mobile Dig and Dump Company. She was surprised to learn that it just was a little mom and pop business on the outskirts of Mobile with a dump truck and and one ancient back hoe.

She called Mike about filing charges. His response was,"Honey, it's not a matter of whether I am filing charges, it is a matter of when the charges are filed. I witnessed the crime, so by law, I have to report it. I'll let you know what happens."

"Will that be before or after my house burns down?"

He laughed and told her she had nothing to worry about. The Sheriff's office would take care of it. They rung off.

Bunny was so put out about the entire mess at Ivy Lane the previous evening, she did not bother to share it with Della. Besides, in this town, it would only be some hours before the story was making its way around. She only hoped Vivian would not take offense to what happened and blame her for having her mother arrested. Of course Vivian did not know the whole story. In this case, ignorance was bliss.

Just when things were settling down, Bunny looked up to see Tula standing in the door to her office. Della was right behind Tula asking if there was anything she could do to help her. Obviously, Tula blew in through the front office like a brisk breeze. Bunny could imagine papers flying off of Della's desk as Tula whisked by, not even giving Della the time of day.

"Darling," said Tula, as she took a seat in one of the chairs in front of Bunny's desk. "As I said, we are practically family and I am sure you are not going to get the law involved over a little misunderstanding between the 2 of us." Her smile made Della think of a devious cat.

"Tula, I'm not going to file charges."

Much relieved, Tula interrupted her. "I knew you would do the right thing."

"Oh, I'm not going to file charges, but the Deputy Sheriff you spoke with last night is going to see that justice is served. How dare you just send a crew of men and equipment to dig up my front yard?"

Bunny's use of 'my front yard' irritated Tula to no end. What was her cousin Harrison thinking when he started seeing her? But Tula held her thoughts. "It was just a little joke. This town has gone so nuts lately over the Confederacy that I thought the idea of a general buried in your yard would be fitting."

"Just leave Tula. I have nothing to say to you." Bunny stared at her. But before she turned back to her computer screen, she added,"Why don't you go visit your daughter and grandchildren. They will be thrilled to see you. Unless you do not have time."

Tula looked confused.

Bunny got some satisfaction,"Vivian, Vivian and her children moved into a small house on Magnolia Street."

Tula caught herself, "I don't know what you are talking about."

"Well, put it this way, I was surprised myself to learn I had a half-sister."

"Someone is making this up. Our name is popular, there are many other 'Wells' families around."

Bunny smiled,"But very few 'Vonteses'."

Tula was both furious and scared. She stood up to leave. "By the way, if I didn't tell you earlier, only you can wear Mary's lovely clothes and still look like a tart. But then you are your mother's child. You cannot help it." With that she turned and walked out.

Della stuck her head in Bunny's office,"Can I guess, she is not happy with you?"

"Is she ever?"

Della laughed, then hesitated, "Bunny, is there a reason you are so dressed up today?"

"Dressed up? This is part of my new office attire. I want everyone to take me seriously." Bunny stood up and turned around, as if to make sure Della saw how proud she was.

Della's voice turned serious,"Bunny, as a friend, that is not appropriate attire for any daytime activity. And that jewelry is only fit for the Grand Assembly ball."

Bunny smiled and put her hand on the necklace,"I know, isn't it gorgeous. I never thought I would have diamonds and rubies to wear."

Della replied,"Bunny, that outfit is not what you need to wear at work. Especially, that jewelry. I'm saying this as a friend."

There were tears in Bunny's eyes. Della continued,"Bunny there is nothing wrong with the way you normally dress. You come to work every morning dressed . . . ," she paused, "well like Bunny - the Bunny we all love."

Bunny wiped her tears. "If you think so, maybe I should go change."

"Sure, take your time. I'm fine here."

Bunny gathered her things and walked out. Naturally, just as she turned on the sidewalk toward her car, she saw Inez walking toward her. Inez stopped. "Oh . . .my . . .God! You have on my mama's clothes. And her jewelry," she shouted. "You have the worse taste. You don't even realize you are the laughing stock of this town. Living in that big house, driving my daddy's car, wearing my mama's jewelry."

Bunny was shocked and just stood there. She knew Inez and Bella could be rude but this was worse than usual. She reached behind her neck, un-clipped the necklace, took the earrings off, and the bracelet. Bunny threw the pieces at Inez's face. "Here is your jewelry. I hope it came from a dime store like the pieces I tried to give Belva."

Inez caught the jewelry. She was shocked. She did not expect that from Bunny. Inez did not know what to do.

With tears in her eyes, Bunny continued,"You and your sister are evil." And she walked away.

Having to have the last word, Inez just said,"By the way, the jewelry came from Van Cleef and Arpels, not a dime store, and is worth more than you will ever earn in your lifetime. You don't even have enough sense or brains to know what you have." With that Inez took the jewelry and walked off.

Bunny was confused. She asked herself, "What does Van Cliff and Arthur have to do with the jewelry? And how much does she think I earn? I make a lot more money than she thinks I do." She reached her car, got in, and drove home.

She changed clothes and returned to work. By this time, she was OK. That Wells family was not going to be the end of her. Why did they care so much about this jewelry. She was better off without it. After all, she would never be invited to the Grand Assembly ball.

Della was sitting at her desk when Bunny walked in. "Della, I'm tired of dealing with this. Everybody talks about how much this jewelry is worth. It can't be worth that much." Handing Della a plastic bag, she added, I brought you this. Maybe you can wear it sometime. I'm taking the rest to Good Will."

Della opened the plastic grocery bag. She gasped as she pulled out a gorgeous emerald ring and matching bracelet and earrings." She looked at Bunny. "I cannot take this?"

"Why not?"

"Bunny, do you realize what this is worth?"

"Yes, I know that Inez and Belva say it is all worth a lot. I know diamonds are expensive. I remember when I pawned the diamond ring that Buck had given me. The jeweler said it was worth $600, but I only got $300 when I sold it. I guess that stuff," she pointed to the diamonds and emeralds Della was holding. "I guess it may be worth a $1,000, may $1,500. You can always sell it and maybe get $700 or a little more."

"Bunny, you don't understand," Della said as she turned the pieces over. "These pieces look like they are from Van Cleef and Arpels."

"Oh, they are," Bunny said surprised. "That was the name Inez used. All I could think of was that now Avon was selling jewelry, so maybe this Van Cliff and Arthur is a little more fancy than Avon jewelry."

Della just shook her head. She guessed she was holding a half million dollars, maybe more, in her hands. "Bunny, promise me you will not give this jewelry to Good Will, or anyone, right now. Take it back home, put it in the safe. You have no idea how much this is worth. Trust me."

Bunny just looked at her, "You means thousands of dollars?"

Della laughed, "I think a little more."

Bunny was confused,"Why would someone pay $3,000 or $4,000 for a piece of jewelry?"

Della just looked at her,"Because they can."

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