My Life a Bit South of Normal

My Life a Bit South of Normal

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Need of Professional Help to Deal with the Evil and the Good

Friday night was busy at Dot's. Jeb, Kathleen, Bob, and Parker were at a table sharing tales of their past week. Terse and Vivian walked in and sat at the bar. Terse ordered a bourbon and ginger ale. Vivian ordered a Pinot Grigio, to which Terse commented "Seriously? I bring you to Gallagher's finest bar and you order wine. Look at the choices you have?" He pointed to the dozens of liquor bottles lining the shelves behind Ike.

"Right now, I'll stick to wine, thank you. The last time I drank liquor with someone on a first date, let's just say it didn't end well."

"Well technically this isn't our first date."

"Given this is the first time you called me up, asked me out on Friday, told me what time you would pick me up and where we were going - it's our first date." Vivian looked at Ike, "Right Ike?"

Ike continued wiping the bar, "Generally I don't get involved in such discussions, but in this case I think Miss Vivian has a point."

Terse laughed, took a sip of his drink and said,"In that case, I look forward to our 2nd date."

"If there is one," Vivian said with a wry smile.

Meanwhile Wade walked up to the bar and spoke to everyone. "Ike, I need a drink. It's just what the doctor ordered."

"Coming right up 'Mr. Wade'," Ike said as he reached under the bar and poured Wade 3 fingers of a clear liquid. "Ice?"

"No, I'll take it neat. Thanks Ike. He smiled, "Put it on my tab."

"Yes sir," Ike said knowing that Wade would tip him handsomely before the night was over.

Wade left the bar and moved over to a table where Sam and Della were sitting. They chatted for a while. Then Sam looked at Wade's drink,"What are you drinking? Something clear and neat, I've never seen you drink anything but single malt Scotch."

Wade laughed,"I'm venturing out in my old age. This is straight Vodka, good ol' Stoli."

"Maybe I should try that. I need to get out of my rut. I've been drinking beer for a while now. My poison of choice was gin, gin martinis."

Della laughed,"Shaken or stirred?"

"I didn't give a damn as long as it was good gin with just a smidge of vermouth."

Everyone at the table got a good laugh out of that one. They continued exchanging stories about their drinking experiences. Sam entertained them with raucous tales about stakeouts he had  been on for bootleggers and searching for stills, while fighting coyotes, snakes, and mosquitoes.

A bit later Mike and Bunny walked in. Bunny was wearing stilettos, tight black pants, a leopard design camiesolle under a black sweater with a fluffy pink collar that resembled a small pink boa. 

Needless to say she stood out among the patrons who were dressed in cotton sweaters, khaki pants, tweed, and wrinkled cotton shirts. By now, nothing Bunny wore surprised or offended most of the towns people.  Oh, the old Gallagher folks may have wanted to shun her, however since she owned one of the nicest plantations around along with a trust to keep it up and her life taken care of, they could hardly be rude. Most of them were barely holding on to their homes. Those who were, found themselves  struggling to keep it up without a house staff - which was long gone.


As they sat at the bar, Ike put a Mai Tai before Bunny before she even said anything. She smiled and thanked him. Mike ordered a draft bear. Terse reached over and shook his hand,"Damn, you look like you've seen a ghost."

They all laughed. By now everyone in town knew the details of what happened to Mike at Widow Barker's that day. "Don't even get me started on that. I never thought I'd get the blood off me."

Vivian looked serious. "It's a good thing you didn't get shot."

Mike laughed, "I'm still not sure why I was spared."

Bunny looked at everyone."Can we talk about something else? I just live that afternoon over and over on my head?"

Mike looked at her, "You weren't even there."

"I know, but still...."

Hollis and Mercer walked in, spoke to everyone and went to the bar. Hollis ordered for both of them, "This has been one Hell of a week. Ike, I need just what the doctor ordered. And, Mercer here will have the same thing."

Ike reached under the bar. Poured 2 drinks neat and set them before the men. They thanked him and went to sit down at a table. "You know I thought Mike might have been seeing things when he talked about "the floating white figure". However, after hearing the same thing from the guys in the wild game truck, there may be something to it," said Mercer.

Hollis sat there, leaned back in his chair, and took a sip of his drink,"Mercer, sounds like you got knocked in the head. I'm the one who deals with the dead folks. Don't you think if anyone were to see ghosts, it would be me?"

"Well you got a point there."

"What's the status on the Widow Barker?" inquired Hollis.

"Physically, I think she is fine. Her mental and emotional states are another issue. I need to call in professionals to help there. I am out of my league there." Mercer took a sip of his drink. "I would like to know about the ash on her night gown and the rips in it? Now, I'm not sure who can answer that."

"By 'professionals', do you mean board certified doctors of medicine specializing in mental health or someone having  special powers and a crystal ball."


"I'm leaning toward the later."

Jeb walked past the doctor's table  on the way to the bar. "Well, if it isn't Joseph Edward Beauregard the 3rd!", exclaimed Hollis. Jeb held his hand out to Hollis to shake it, and acknowledged Dr Magill. Hollis stood and shook Jeb's hand. "How's the family?"

"Doing well sir."

"You still haven't married that pretty little Kathleen?"

"No, sir. Not yet?"

Mercer added, "Son, don't tally 'round. Someone might just snatch her up?"

Jeb laughed laughed, and  looked back at his table with Kathleen, Parker, and Bob sitting there.

"Not too worried about that right now."

The 3 men laughed and Jeb left them for the bar. There he found Mike, Bunny, Terse, and Vivian. He spoke to each of them and shook hands with Terse. "Back from the dead ol' boy. Glad you made it," Jeb said as he shook Mike's hand.

Bunny then introduced Vivian to Jeb. She just kept it simple telling him she was working as an accountant in the rental office and was a distant relative of the Wells family. Jeb nodded at Vivian, "Nice to meet you."

"Seriously Mike," Jeb continued, "I heard you about got shot."

Mike blushed a little. "The Widow Barker just pointed her gun at me, she didn't shoot me."

"And the blood, where did that come from?"

"We are not really sure. Seriously guys, I don't think we need to talk about this any more."

Jeb ordered his drinks and returned to his table. He told them about his conversation with Mike. He's pretty shaken up?"

Kathleen added,"Well wouldn't you be if a bat shit crazy women aimed a shot gun at you, you saw a floating figure in white, then awake covered in blood with no idea how that happened."

Bob laughed, "And, just how do you know so much about the incident Miss Kathleen?"

"Well, my Mama heard it from Marybell, our house keeper, who heard it from Jesse, the yard man for the Sheriff and his wife," explained Kathleen.

"Wow, that's amazing, I'm impressed," said Parker.

"But just how did the yard man hear it?" asked Bob.

"Seems the Sheriff and his wife were having lunch and he was telling her all about what happened?" answered Kathleen. "There's more if you want to hear it?"

"Do tell!" asked Bob.

"Well there was something  said about blood everywhere and bodies of dead deer."

"Whoa", exclaimed Parker. "I had no idea!"

"And the Widow screaming like a raging witch."

"You're making this up," said Jeb.

"Trust me, I'm not. I failed creative writing in college."

"You know, no kidding, this sounds like the Sheriff needs someone who practices Voodoo and can rid the evil of this situation and see back into the past and into the future," said Parker.

"And who exactly would that be?" asked Bob.

"My mother's sister. Everyone thinks she is bat shit crazy, but I have always been amazed at some things she has done," Parker took a sip of his drink."Not that I get to see her that often. Put it this way, I would not want to piss her off."

Everyone at the table laughed. "It's your turn to get the drinks," Jeb said to Parker. "My glass is empty." With that Jeb turned his glass upside down to make his case.

Parker stopped by the doctors table on his way to the bar, obviously, a bit tipsy from 3 drinks. "Dr. McGill, I've been thinking. Maybe you need  special help with your case dealing with the Widow Barker. We've been discussing it back there," he pointed toward his table,  "I know just the person."

 Mercer laughed, "and just who would that be?"

"My Aunt Reeza, she works with good and evil."

"And where does Aunt Reeza live?"

"Back in the Bayou?"

"You're serious?"

"Yes sir."

"Well son, that may be just what the doctor ordered."

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Floating Body in White

At the Widow Barker's house the Sheriff looked slowly and carefully across the back yard and the back porch. He did not see anyone. Knowing the last gun shot came from the other side of the house he proceeded one step at a time. He had seen many crime scenes but never this much blood.

As he came around the corner of the house, his heart sank. Mike was lying on the ground with blood on his head and chest. Before he could do anything, there was another gun shot. This one was over his head and the Sheriff instinctively ducked. Before he could move he saw something run cross the back yard. It moved so quickly, he could not identify it.

The Sheriff pulled his phone out of his pocket and called for back up. Then he ran to Mike. To his relief, Mike was still breathing. As he tried to evaluate Mike's state, he noticed Mike's eyes open. Before he could react, Mike raised up on his elbows. "What the Hell?"

"You tell me. I still haven't seen anything. Obviously you have."

Mike replied, "Yeah, the Widow Barker with a shot gun."

"Seriously? So she shot you?"

"No, I didn't get shot."

"Then what's all the blood?"

"Blood?" Mike said as he looked at his shirt. "Oh, my God. I don't know."

"If you're OK, I'm going to see what the Hell is going on. You stay here, I've called for help."

The Sheriff returned to the backyard. Where did all the blood come from he thought? It was everywhere - splattered on the side of the house, on the porch, across the lawn, on the lawn furniture. He knelt down to see if a different perspective would help. Then he saw it - or rather them. Strewn across the back of the lawn were a dozen carcasses of deer. From where he stood it looked like they had been gutted. Suddenly there was a ghastly scream. He turned to see the Widow Barker standing on the back porch, her clothes drenched in blood, her hair a mess, and holding a shot gun.

The Sheriff heard someone yell "Drop the gun". He turned to see Joe standing with his gun drawn. The Widow Barker gave one more blood curdling scream then threw the gun down. "Put your hands in the air," Joe said. She did as she was told. Joe walked up to her and cuffed her. By this time the Sheriff was beside him.

As they took the Widow Barker to the Sheriff's car, Mike walked into the backyard. He was amazed at the sight of the blood and the carcasses. For the first time he noticed the amount of blood that was splattered all over him.

After all was said and done, it came out that the Widow Barker had a mental breakdown after the death of her husband. She started seeing visions and hearing voices. For some reason one of the voices told her that covering herself and the yard with fresh blood would keep the daemons away. Then paranoia set in. She feared that the souls of the butchered deer would return to haunt her. The shotgun was her husband's.

Mike's memory began to slowly come back. He remembered being hit in the head, but the last thing he remembered seeing was this floating body in white throwing a bucket of blood on him. The next thing he knew the Sheriff was with him. Mike could only assume the hit to his head made him think he saw some 'floating' figure. At home, he was quick to take a hot shower with lots of soap and dispose of his clothes in a dumpster on the other side of town.

No one could figure out how who slaughtered and gutted the deer or where they came from. The mystery continued when Chief Pyre called the Sheriff at 2 the following morning to say that the Barker's house was on fire and he feared his men could not save it. Luckily, Dr. Magill had taken the Widow Barker into his clinic, prescribed medicated for her, and admitted her for observation. Just to ensure nothing happened, he had his night time nurse stay in front of the door to make sure she did not wander off. The window in the Widow's room was old, painted shut, and locked.

The following morning the Sheriff came to check on her. The nurse told him that Dr. Magill had examined her and prescribed some medication to make her sleep. The nurse added that given the Widow's clothes were soaked with blood and it seemed she had not bathed in a while. The nurse assisted the Widow with a good bath, gave her a clean hospital gown, and the prescribed medication. Then the nurse put her into bed and stayed in the room until she knew the Widow was sound asleep.

"Is she up yet?" asked the Sheriff.

"I haven't heard any stirring in there yet. But, let's check on her," suggested the nurse.

The nurse knocked lightly on the door and stuck her head in to make sure the Widow was sufficiently dressed, in bed, and ready for a visitor. She turned to the Sheriff, "Just remember she has gone through some traumatic time, she may not be responsive."

The nurse and the Sheriff walked in the room. The Widow turned to face them. Her face was streaked with black ash and the gown, at least the part they could see, was ripped and also smeared with black ash. The nurse turned to the Sheriff with a look of dismay. The Sheriff just started a very friendly conversation with the Widow as to not upset her.  The Widow had no idea why her gown and face were dirtied with ash.

Before he walked out of the room, the Sheriff went over as if he were looking out of the window. He wanted to check the paint and the lock. The paint seal was undisturbed, no part of the window was broken, and the lock was secure. By this he knew little more than he did when he first entered the room.

He asked the nurse,"I know you were out here all night. But you didn't see or hear anything?"

"No sir, for the remainder of the night, I stayed outside the Widow's door finishing my paperwork and reading up on some medical journals I had no time to read earlier.  I have been working the night shift for years. I never went to sleep. Just to make sure, I placed an alarm on the outside of the Widow's door. If she decided to come out of her room, the alarm would sound before she even knew it was on the door."

The Sheriff did not look convinced.

"Sheriff, most of the night I was working on my college courses. I'm trying to get my BS online. The courses are interactive. I just don't log on. I have to respond to questions asked by the moderator and present my homework to the class. You can check with the college. I am sure they have a record of my participation."

"Oh, I don't doubt you. The Widow Barker is the mystery."

With that he thanked her and walked out. On his way back to the station, he called Chief Pyre,"Chief, have you been to the Widow Barkers' home this morning?"

"Can't say I have. The fire was put out last night. I'll probably get over there later today to see what I can find."

The Sheriff shared the condition he found the Widow in the that morning. "I am stumped as to how she got out of the room. And we searched to see if there was anything in the room that would put that type of ash or dirt on her gown. There was nothing - the room was clean."

The Chief and the Sheriff exchanged some other information then rang off.

At the station, he was surprised to find Mike in. "I expected you to stay home today."

"Why?"

"Well, do you remember yesterday or did that knock to your head cause more mental stress than we first thought," the Sheriff laughed.

Mike assured him he felt fine and was better at work than at home. Besides, he was seeing Dr. Magill later in the day.

The Sheriff shared with him his visit with the Widow earlier that morning.

"Wow," said Mike "there really must be Voodoo or witchcraft involved here. We have copious quantities of blood, a Widow off her rocker, dead carcasses, whatever 'vision' I had, and now the mystery of the ash smudged nightgown. You just cannot make this stuff up."

"Yeah," said the Sheriff not seeing the humor,"but we need to find out what the Hell is going on. Halloween was last month."

The station phone rang and Mary Lou answered, "Sheriff's office, Mary Lou here, how can I help you." She paused. "And, when did this happen." Pause. "Was anyone hurt?" Pause. "And no one could identify it?" Pause. "Really. Well they returned what happened?" Paused. "Empty, completely empty? Exactly what was taken?" Mary Lou said a few words as she made notes. She got the phone number and other information. She rang off.

"Well", said Mary Lou. "This is interesting. That was Axson McDermott of Liggett's Wild Game Company. Seems day before yesterday 2 of his guys were driving the company's large refrigerated truck down Rt 4. Something went across the road and to avoid it the driver went off the road over a ditch and hit a tree."

Mike asked,"Was anyone hurt?"

"He said not. He said that neither guy had a cell phone with them so they left the truck and walked up the road to Grice's Gas and Go to call for help. When they got back to the truck they found the back door open and all the contents gone."

"What was the truck carrying?" asked the Sheriff.

"A dozen large freshly killed deer."

"What ran in front of the truck to cause the incident?"

"Well, that's the interesting part. They could only describe it as a floating body in white. At first they thought it was a large bird, however as they got closer they said they could see through the thing."

"All they are missing is a bucket of blood," laughed Mike.

"Well, I think we now know where the deer came from."

"Quick question Sheriff," asked Mike."Did anyone find a knife or anything in the backyard someone could use to gut those deer?"

"No, no one found anything like that. Struck us as odd also. Those deer probably weighed 150 to 160 pounds each. There is no way the Widow could moved them. She had to have help."

Mary Lou spoke up,"Perhaps the 'floating body in white'?"

"The last thing I need now is a comedian," said  the Sheriff.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The General Kirby Display, an Aging Workplace, and a Good Business Decision

The evening before Winfred was cooking supper for Col Walker. He was telling Winfred that he had 22 visitors to the museum that day - an all time high under his management. He had started a Facebook page and had posted play by play photos of the exhumation of the General Kirby. All this along with the Kirby exhibit itself in the museum, should bring an increase in visitors.

When they sat down to eat and had said grace, Winfred passed the Colonel the potato salad. "Well I have some good news."

"Really, do tell?" the Colonel said as he put 2 rather large spoonfuls of the potato salad on his plate.

"I've decided to go back to work."

The Colonel looked up from his plate.

"Now before you can say anything, if you need me for anything, I am sure I can get time off. I know we do not necessarily need the money, but I would like to have some of my own. And, it would give me a chance to meet more folks in the community."

Between bites of chicken fried steak, the Colonel asked, "And where would you be working?"

"At the Gallagher Gentleman's Club."

The Colonel put his knife and fork down on his plate. Very calmly he asked, "Winfred, I think you have gone too far now."

"No, according to Mrs. Vontese, I am qualified."

Waiting to hear this explanation, the Colonel just sat there.

"I went to see her. She asked if I had experience in a house. Of course I worked for the Buffords for 12 years, so I told her I did and I could provide references. When she learned I was married, she asked if you would mind and I took the liberty to say 'no' because I knew you wouldn't."

The Colonel did not know where to start.

"Colonel, I toured the entire club. It is one of the fanciest places I have ever seen. She showed me the rooms upstairs where girls who live there work. She never told me what they did, but she said they worked in their rooms." She paused.

"Did you know she provides meals and health care for everyone who works for her?"

The Colonel just shook his head. "I'm sure she does."

"So you won't be upset if I go to work for Mrs. Vontese?"

"Exactly what would you be doing?

"Well we didn't discuss anything specific. After she showed me the house, she asked if I had a specialty."

"And you said?" asked the Colonel most curiously.

"Oh, I told her I could clean and cook and sew."

"And what did she say then?"

"That she would get back to me?"

The Colonel took a breath. It was all he could do not to laugh. "Winfred, my dear. The Gallagher Gentleman's Club is a place where men can seek their pleasures?"

"Oh, I know. Mrs. Vontese showed me - the bar, the game room, the buffet. She has everything a gentleman could want."

"And more?"

"More, what more could a man want?"

"Well, Winfred, some wives do not satisfy their husband's needs. So those men seek pleasure of the flesh elsewhere." He paused to see if she was following. "And find that pleasure at establishments like the Gallagher Gentlman's Club."

"Like Mrs. Vontese's?" Winfred thought for a moment. "So that is why she talked so much about discretion and privacy?"

"Yes mam."

Then the light came on. "And, that is why the girls work in their rooms."

"Yes."

"Well, then I need to talk with Mrs. Vontese tomorrow."

"Yes, I think you should. Make sure she understands the confusion you had."

The following morning Winfred dropped by Anna Belle's. Anna Belle was surprised to see her. "Winfred, what a surprise. Why come in?"

"Ms. Vontese..."

Anna Belle interrupted her, "Please call me Anna Belle."

"Well, Anna Belle, when I was here yesterday, I think there was some confusion."

"Dear, do not worry about that. I was a little confused at first but then I realized what type of work you were looking for. In fact, I was going to call you later this morning and tell you that I could use a lady to handle our sewing needs as well as back up cook in the kitchen. I am not sure, but I also fear that my chef may soon be leaving. If that does happen, you would be first in line for the position. Of course that would be dependent on your employment being satisfactory with both you and me." 

Winfred took a small breath. "Anna Belle, I appreciate your kind offer, but it is not what I want."

"Oh, what do you want?"

"I realize I am older than most, but I want to be one of your 'girls'. I can the offer services of an older woman. And just because I am older, that doesn't mean I am dull and boring. Trust me, I can be very exciting and nothing gives me more satisfaction than knowing I have physically pleased someone as well as myself."

Anna Belle did not see that one coming. She thought for a minute. "What about your husband, how would he feel about this?"

"Well you said you stressed discretion and privacy. I will just tell him that you hired me. I am sure he will assume I am working as a seamstress and cook for you. He would never question me." She paused,"And you said all the gentlemen are very discrete since they have a lot to lose."

"Winfred, you have made a proposal I have never seriously considered. Yes, I think it may work. But, are you sure you understand what you position will entail."

"I do. I am sure the other girls can teach me details and how everything is handled."

Anna Belle sat there for moment and then smiled. "OK, then you have a job. We can give you earlier hours so you will not be going home late at night."

"Oh, that would be great if you could."

Then Anna Belle explained the salary structure. Basically, everyone was paid a very generous base salary. Any gifts or tips they received was theirs to keep. Anna Belle would help with wardrobes, etc. Anna Belle suggested Winfred come back after lunch so she could meet with one of her girls. She would help her with choosing clothes and makeup. This would also be a good time for Winfred to learn more about the responsibilities and expectations of the job. 

Anna Belle asked again,"Are you sure about this?"

"More than ever. I'll be back after lunch." Winfred stood up to leave. When Anna Belle stood up Winfred gave her a hug, "Thank you so much for this."

"Winfred, you are welcome."

They said their goodbyes and Winfred left. Anna Belle stood there. Yes, this was a good business decision she thought. There were many older members who were a bit uncomfortable with the younger girls. And Anna Belle knew her girls would get Winfred up to speed quickly.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

What the Doctor Ordered

Wade received a call from Hollis Sadler, "Wade, you thirsty?"

"Yeah, but I thought we were dry?"

"Not anymore, I managed to find some?"

"Really, where from?"

"Questions will get you in trouble. I'll call you later with details."

"Hollis, you have made my day!"

"Just between the 2 of us for now."

"You and me and the door post."

"Later", and they rang off.

After some thought of how to handle distribution of his stash, Hollis had come up with up a brilliant plan. About 10 am that morning, Hollis walked in Dot's. The bar was not officially open, but Ike always kept the front door unlocked when he first came in just in case a local had an emergency need of solace or nerve. 

" 'Morning Ike."

"Dr. Hollis, want can I do for you?" Ike asked as he dried some wet glasses sitting on the bar.

"Well, Ike, I have a proposition for you."

"I'm all ears," said Ike as he sat a small glass of the Doctor's favorite single malt Scotch in front of him.

"Ike, we're old friends, right?" Hollis took a swig of the Scotch, "If you are not cotton to my proposal, it will not got any further."

"Haven't seen you in a while and if I did, all we talked about was the weather."

"OK, here is proposition."

Hollis' idea was that he would deliver the moon shine to Ike one case at the time. Ike could keep all the profits from the sale - a carrying fee.

"So I just add 'Moon Shine' to my list of libations."

"No, only a few folks will know about this. When they come in, they'll just ask you for 'What the Dr. ordered'. When you hear that you know they have access."

"How do they want it? Straight up, neat, with a mixer?"

"Well, you'll learn that perty quickly. You're smart Ike. That's what makes you our favorite bartender."

"How much do I charge?"

"I'll leave that up to you or Dot or whomever. Personally this is between me and you. If you want, I'll be glad to talk with Dot about it."

Ike continued drying the glasses and thinking. "Sounds like a plan. Don't worry about Dot. But I need something else?"

"Shoot?"

"I need a back up phrase - in case someone comes in I don't recognize. 'What the Dr. ordered', is not sumpem' I hear everyday, but I have heard it before."

"OK, If you're not sure when they give you the phrase, just ask  'Bad Day?' If they reply 'You know, women and money' (or 'men and money'), you'll know they are legit. And if they don't know the right response but give you a look like they know what they asking for, just call me."

"I do not want to know where the elixir came from. I can just assume, it wasn't made in a radiator somewhere back in the swamp."

"No, this is prime, smooth as silk." Hollis took another sip of Scotch. "Know the 'Cookies that are made by little elves in a hollow tree'?"

"Yes, sir," said Ike not knowing where this was going.

"Let's just this was made by little gnomes in a wooden shed."

Knowing exactly what Dr. Sadler was referring to, Ike started laughing,"Say no more."

"I'll drop a case off tomorrow morning before you open."

"When you get low, just call me and in the conversation drop the line,'The hollow tree is about to fall down".

Ike just shook his head and smiled.

Hollis pulled out some cash to pay for his drink. Ike said, "No, sir. This is on the house, business you know."

Hollis reached his hand across the bar,"Thanks Ike, you're good man."

"An old man," Ike said as he shook the doctor's hand.

With that Hollis got off the bar stool and walked out the door. When he got back to his office, he started making calls. He had a list of everyone who's supply of home brew had been cut off thanks' to the Eldridge's unfortunate run in with the law. Needless to say, everyone Hollis called was thrilled. He made sure they knew the magic words and that it would not be available until the following day.

Several asked where he got it from. He told them it was a long story and they did not need to know the details. However, he assured them this was first class stuff, as good as the Eldridge sisters'. No one questioned anything else.

While Dr. Sadler was taking care of his business, the Sheriff received a frantic call from the Haney's, Mrs. Barker's neighbors. "There has been a shooting."

"Where?"

"Next door at Widow Barker's?"

"Have you seen anyone?"

"No."

"Stay in place, avoid windows, we are on our way."

Mike and the Sheriff made their way over to Mrs. Barker's home. When they arrived nothing looked askew. As they approached the front door, they heard another shot. "That's a shot gun," said Mike.

The Sheriff motioned for Mike to go around the right side of the house and he would go around the left. Silently they made their way slowly toward the backyard. It wasn't 30 seconds before they heard this blood curdling scream. This was followed by another shot.

Mike and the Sheriff had dealt with some bad situations, but a shooter with a shotgun in a backyard, was not one of them. What if they had some serial killer on their hands? What if the shooter was waiting for the two of them to show up?

Mike took one more step and the shooter, covered with blood, stepped out from the backyard aimed the gun at Mike and fired. When the Sheriff heard the shot, he knew it came from the other side of the house. He moved quickly into the backyard. The first thing that he saw was blood everywhere.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Do You Have Experince in a House?

Bunny felt relieved when Belva, Tula, and Inez left. If looks could kill, she knew she would have been dead and bleeding on the Persian rug in Cordelia's dining room. Cordelia thanked her again for helping. "Now I know I am just a source of inheritance instead of a beloved relative." Luther and Mercer laughed.

Cordelia added,"Guess I no longer have to worry about dying a suspicious death."

"Great!" Bunny said, "Now I have a price on my head. "

Luther smiled,"Don't worry."

"Easy for you to say. I have yet to have a pleasant experience with any of them yet."

Cordelia just smiled, "I know dear. Every family has some pills, we just have 3."

Bunny gave Cordelia a hug. "I've got to go back to work or Wade may fire me."

"I seriously doubt that. And, if he does, you tell him to call me."

They all said their goodbyes and Bunny left.

As soon as the door closed behind Bunny, Cordelia looked at Luther and Mercer, "How Anna Belle managed to rear a child like that, I'll never know? Thank goodness, she is not like her mother . . . or her grandmother for that matter."

Luther shook his head. "I think the key word there is 'rear' - I don't think she did. Anna Belle was so consumed with her life and disappointed that Bunny wasn't up to her standards, that she wrote her off early."

"I only wish Harrison had lived. I honestly think she would have make him so happy," said Cordelia.

Pearl walked into the dining room with a tray of ice tea glasses and served a glass to Luther and Mercer. As she exchanged Cordelia's glass for a fresh one, she laughed. "Oh I agree, 'Mr.' Harrison loved her even with her Spam and Twinkies." Everyone laughed.

At the Gentleman's Club, Anna Belle was relieved that the talk of John Barker's death had died down. For the first time in weeks, she felt like the possibility of a scandal was in the past. It still amazed her that Wade and Henry were able to handle that without anyone in the club suspecting a thing.

Business was going well, in fact so well, she was having to manage memberships which was a sticky wicket. Politically, she felt she could not offend anyone, but there was only so much room in the house to run the business in a comfortable way. The thought of a 2nd house had crossed her mind. She also had to consider the thin line she was walking between the husbands and wives. So far, Anna Belle had managed to stay above any issues. The last thing she needed was to push too many wives too far.

That same morning, the doorbell rang at Anna Belle's. When she opened the door, she found a nice looking middle aged woman. "May I help you?" asked Anna Belle.

"Yes mam. I am looking for a job. A month or so ago, just after we first moved to Gallagher I spoke with you and you were so kind. I understand that you operate a club. It dawned on me this morning that I probably have some services I can offer you."

Anna Belle was not sure about the woman but curious enough to invite her in. They sat down in the drawing room. Given the time of day, no one was there, so she felt comfortable bringing someone she did not know inside the house. The woman just looked around the room. "This one of the most lovely rooms I have ever seen. It is so fancy."

Anna Belle thanked her. "Do you have experience working in a house?"

"I do, although it was several years ago." She smiled,"But, these are skills one never loses."

Anna Belle had never considered an older women, but maybe some of her members would feel more comfortable with someone more 'experienced'. She was attractive and spoke well. Her hands were clean and her makeup well done, but not too much so. Anna Belle looked over her. She was probably a size 12 and fairly buxom, always an asset.

"Do you need a place to stay?" Anna Belle asked, knowing most of her girls did not have a home and one thing that they appreciated was a safe place to live.

"No, I have a house here. Well, actually we rent a house."

" 'We'?," asked Anna Belle.

"Yes, my husband and I."

"And he has no issue with this?"

"Well," she looked down at hands,"I haven't exactly told him I wanted to go back to work. But he didn't have problem when I worked before."

Anna Belle had to think about this. "Is your husband a member of the club?"

"No, I don't think so. He is really involved in community activities and I am usually with him. He has never mentioned it."

Thinking she had nothing to lose, Anna Belle stood up. "Would you like to see the house?"

"Oh, please."

Anna Belle explained the games and comradery the members enjoyed in the drawing room. She moved into the bar room and explained about her bartender and how each member had his own tab and the bill was settled in house, where they paid monthly. Nothing was mailed to a home or office. Discretion was of the utmost importance.

They moved into the large dining room with its huge dining room table, side board, buffet, and other lovely pieces. Anna Belle waved her arm toward the buffet. We serve a full light supper buffet every night, in case any of the members have missed a meal or just want a snack. The menu varies nightly.

Anna Belle moved back into the hall and led her up the grand stair case. "My girls are out shopping this morning, so I know they would not mind me showing you their rooms." They walked from room to room, Anna Belle telling the name of the girl in each room.

"So this is where they live?"

Anna Belle was taken aback,"And work. Of course we are very respectful of the members' privacy and use the utmost discretion."

"So they work in their room?"

Anna Belle did not answer the question. She led her down the rear stair case to the morning room where there was a large kitchen table. "We all eat here. Meals are provided. It is important to me that all my girls eat good nutritious meals. Naturally, they never eat with the members, that would be unprofessional."

"Oh, of course. In the last house I worked in, we never ate upstairs either. We knew our place."

Anna Belle looked at her. "Oh, it is not a matter of them 'knowing their place', I just feel it is better to separate business and everyday life. One doesn't want to blur that line."

They walked into the kitchen. Anna Belle explained that when she bought the house, she had to redo most of it. But the kitchen had to be completely gutted. There were 2 full time cooks so meals could be served any time 24 hours a day.

"Oh, and also, I have a doctor who takes care of everyone's medical needs and maintains total discretion. I require my girls to see him at least once a month. I pay for that."

"Wow, so you offer medical coverage as well as meals."

Suddenly Anna Belle realized there was an issue here, "Everyone who works with me has a special 'skill'. For example Amber handles younger members with very little experience, Molly and Elizabeth do anything members wish. Miranda is into bondage. What is your area?"

The lady smiled, "Oh, domicile upkeep, laundry, and some cooking - although that is not my strong suit. I am also a seamstress."

Anna Belle smiled,"You know. I have been so rude, please excuse my poor manners, I never asked your name."

"Oh, Winfred, Winfred Walker."

"Winfred! Well, I must say I did not recognize you."

Winfred blushed,"Well. I have made some changes."

"Right now I do not have any openings, but if you will leave me a number where I can reach, I will call you when something comes available. No doubt you would be an asset to any business."

"Oh, thank you."

"One thing that I do ask. Because this is a private club, the members are promised total protection of their privacy. I would appreciate it, if you would not share what you have learned this morning. I know you probably find that odd, but it is a business principal of mine. Hopefully, I will be able to call you soon." Anna Belle paused. "I also may know some other people who could use your services. Would you have issue with my inquiring for you?"

"Oh, no mam. I would appreciate any help I can get. And it was so nice for you to spend time with me. You have a beautiful house and you can count of my not saying anything."

Anna Belle walked Winfred to the door. They said their goodbyes. Winfred left and Anna Belle closed the door.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Musty Jail and the Walking Dead

The Sheriff finally realized that if he wanted Owen Davis out of his jail, he was going to have take matters into his own hands. He called Owen's attorney and told him to come bail Owen out of jail, whether Owen wanted to go or not.

The Sheriff called the Judge to see where the case stood. He also told the Judge that he had called Owen's attorney to bail him out of jail. The Judge was quiet for a moment, then he spoke,"Sheriff, I have a better idea. When Mr. Davis' attorney comes down, advise him that I need to see he and his client before they leave town."

"Judge, you don't understand, I'm not doing this out of the kindness of my heart." Then the Sheriff explained how Mr. Davis had made himself very much at home.

The Judge laughed,"Just make sure they know I want to see them before they leave town."

That afternoon, Mr. Davis' attorney showed up with the bail money. Needless to say Owen Davis was none too happy. He told his attorney,"This has been a pretty good gig. I don't think I've ever had such good care. But it will be nice to have WIFI again."

Just as Mr. Davis and his attorney were ready to leave, the Sheriff told them, "By the way, the Judge wants to see you before you leave town."

"What's that all about?"

"Don't know, he didn't say."

The attorney assured the Sheriff that he would take his client before the Judge forthwith. Afterall they needed to get on the road.

They had been gone 10 or 15 minutes when Sam walked into the Sheriff's station.

"Long time, no see," said Sam.

"What brings you here?"

"Got a call from the Judge that he needed me this afternoon. Something about court, he told me to stay close and he would call me if and when he needed me."

The Sheriff laughed,"All I know is that Mr. Davis was bailed out this afternoon. And I insisted his attorney drag his ass out of here."

Sam laughed and his phone rang,"Yes sir, well, if you need me, I'm close by."

Sam rang off. "Must not need me afterall."

Bunny was leaving Cordelia's home, not sure where to go. She needed to go back to the office, so she headed that way. She walked in with the large envelope. Della looked at her and quickly asked,"How is Cordelia?"

"Well, she's still with us."

"Bunny, I am so sorry. I know she is special to you."

"She is," Bunny said and walked into her office.

At Cordelia's house, after everyone left, Luther and Mercer went up stairs and spoke with Cordelia.

"How you doing?" said Luther with a grin.

"Oh, I'm fine. How did Bunny do after she went downstairs?"

"Like a pro", answered  Mercer. "She deserves a nomination for Best Actress."

Luther asked,"So you are coming down tomorrow around 12:15 to 12:30? Do you need me to do anything?"

"Well, if both of you could be here, I would appreciate it. And, make sure you both send me bills for your time. I know this has taken you away from your day-to-day work."

Mercer laughed, "Cordelia, I should be paying you for the entertainment."

They all laughed and had a short conversation before Luther and Mercer walked out.

At the courthouse, Mr. Davis and his attorney walked into the Judge's courtroom. They found the Judge already on the bench. However there were no other parties in room, only the standard Deputy standing quietly in the corner and the court reporter at the side of the Judge's bench.

As soon as they were standing behind the Defendant's table, the Judge pounded his gavel, called the court to order, and told them they could be seated. "Mr. Davis, as you know, I requested that you and your attorney come before me this afternoon after you were bailed out."

Owen Davis stood and said "Yes sir."

As the Judge looked down at something in front him on the bench, he asked,"Mr. Davis, did you enjoy your 'lodging?" and the Judge looked up.

Mr. Davis answered, "Yes sir, I did."

"And I'm sure you found the meals tasty and the fine linens comfortable at night?"

"Oh, yes sir." And before he could go on, his attorney grabbed his elbow to get his attention. His look at Owen made it very clear that Owen did not need make any more comments."

Owen was quiet. The Judge continued,"Well in addition to the arson charges brought by the county and a state charge, the city has filed charges on destruction of property, misuse of petroleum products, and breaking and entering."

Owen's attorney spoke up, "Your honor, as you said, my client has already been charged in this situation. We are now awaiting the trial."

"Yes sir, that is true - for the state and county charges. However, these are new and separate charges by the city."

The attorney spoke up, "Sir, I understand the charges and we will prepare to defend those as well."

"Not so fast young man. Due to the city's concern, I am not willing to set bail, so your client is remanded to the city jail until I talk with the city attorney about how to proceed."

"Sir, but my client was just let out of the jail.

"Yes, but that was the county jail. This will be the city jail. Also, your client is a flight risk."

"I object."

"I'm sure you do, however he is to be turned over to the city post haste." The Judge pounded his gavel. "Deputy, please take the prisoner." He looked at Mr. Davis' attorney,"We are through here."

The city jail was totally unlike the county jail. First it wasn't often used so it was bare and stark.  Each prisoner was issued a thin worn sheet, an old pillow, and a patched blanket. There were no gourmet meals served on fine China and cushy linens. The meals were MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). And no supplied reading materials. This was a moldy old place that the state should have condemned years ago. However, it was used so infrequently that the state had written it off.

The following morning Belva, Inez, and Tula arrived at Cordelia's home. Unlike the stylish clothes Belva and Inez usually wore, they were dressed in outfits of somber hues - almost as if they were already in mourning. Tula showed up in black from head to toe. Pearl just rolled her eyes as they came in.

Belva was the first to ask, "How is she?"

Pearl told Belva that she had just checked on Cordelia and she was still asleep. Pearl also told her that Dr. Magill would be by around noon to check on Cordelia and they would know more about her condition then.

With nothing else to do, Belva, Inez, and Tula spent the morning walking around the house as if they were inventorying everything. "This will look great in my main hall," Inez said as she ran her hand across a cherry sideboard.

"Well, I already have a place for these botanical prints," Belva said pointing to a set of four hanging on the wall in the living room."

The three of them spent an hour or two walking through the house, making notes and discussing where they could use many of the fine pieces of furniture and artwork. Also they pointed out pieces that would need to be sold. 

Dr. Magill and Luther Sweeney walked in around noon. Mercer asked Pearl where everyone was. "Oh they are inventorying the house, dividing up the goods."

About that time, they heard from the dining room, "Pearl, where does Aunt Cordelia keep her fine China?"

Pearl walked to the dining room door from the kitchen."It is in that China cabinet in the corner."

Inez walked over to the cabinet and tried to open it. The door was locked. "Pearl where is the key?"

By this time Pearl was standing in the dining room. " 'Miss' Cordelia has it. She always keeps it with her."

"Well get it. We want to look at the China?" said Tula curtly.

"I don't think that will necessary."

They all turned around to see Cordelia standing there, hair done, makeup perfect, and dressed.

"What are you doing? Why are you not in bed? We thought you were sick?"

"No, you hoped I was dead," Cordelia said as she walked across the room.  Her voice was strong and there was no hesitation in her step.

"I don't understand," stammered Belva as Inez just stood there. Tula was steaming.

Dr. Magill walked from the kitchen with Bunny.

"Y'all are like buzzards circling a dead opossum. However, you forgot sometimes the opossum is just playing dead."

Inez stepped forward and tried to give Cordelia a hug. Instead of a loving embrace, she received a gentle pat on her back. "Oh, Aunt Cordelia, it's a miracle. You cannot imagine how happy we are to see you like this." She paused and added,"So  . . . alive!"

Cordelia smiled and made her way past them. "Pearl, can I get a glass of iced tea?"

Cordelia turned back to face them, "Did you figure out how to divide the spoils?"

Tula recovered,"Oh, Aunt Cordelia, no, no, no. We are trying to make sure no one, she turned and glared at Bunny, was taking any of your possessions."

Cordelia took a sip of her tea,"Of course you were."

"I always knew you were selfish, unpleasant individuals. However, these past few days have unfortunately justified that and more."

The 3 just stood there. Cordelia continued,"I love you because you are family. However, even that thought I find that offensive." She paused. "Because of the way my Mama reared me, I'm not going to say I never want to see you again, but, "she paused, "I don't."

Tula started,"Oh, Cordelia, Aunt Cordelia. . . ."

"Don't even start. Now, if you don't mind, I'd appreciate it if you would leave - as in now. I have business to attend to with Mr. Sweeney, Dr. Magill, and Ms. Vontese."

"But . . .," stammered Belva.

"And, for God's sake, don't start calling me 'Aunt' Cordelia."