Bunny did not know what to expect. Even though she had tried to steel herself for this moment, she found she was not prepared.
Cordelia had always been such a proud lady. She was proper but not stuffy. She was invariably dressed correctly for the occasion, always with her opera length pearls around her neck. Even though she wanted to see her, Bunny dreaded having the sight of Cordelia, gravely ill, lying in her bed as Bunny's last memory of this dear woman.
However that was not the case. Bunny found Cordelia sitting up in bed, hair done, nicely dressed, with makeup on. Bunny just stood there.
Cordelia laughed,"Sweetheart, don't just stand there. Come over here." She patted the side of her bed. Bunny walked over and gave Cordelia a hug.
"You look wonderful."
"I'm just tired of being in this room."
"Well, now that you feel better, you should be able to go downstairs, maybe even out of the house."
"Bunny," Cordelia smiled. "I love your innocence and your honesty." She laughed,"I'm not sick. I haven't been sick."
Bunny looked puzzled. "But why did Luther call me about your being ill and taking care of your affairs."
"Well, it was a bit of a stretch. I do have a small cold, but then I always have one this time of year. My affairs are a whole different matter."
Cordelia reached for a small glass of sherry she had on her bedside table. "Would you have some with me? It's good for what ails you."
"I'll pass, but thank you."
"Bunny, at my age with this family, I needed to see how bad the buzzards would be waiting for the announcement of my demise. This family is full of self serving, snobby people who don't have enough compassion to save a loss puppy."
"It isn't really that bad."
"Bunny, seriously, don't forget Belva and Inez are the two who tried to rob you. The ones who kept you from attending Harrison's funeral. You know, if I wasn't a lady I would call them miscreants. But I would not want to offend my dead Mama, bless her heart. In truth they remind me of hyenas lingering in anticipation my last breath and then what they can get their hands on."
Cordelia played with pearls, "And I do not know where to start with Tula. I think she likes to makes peoples' lives miserable, simply because she is so miserable."
Cordelia poured another glass of sherry. Bunny laughed, "But why did you have Luther send me up here? I'm not really blood kin."
"You're not, but I can see why Harrison was so fond of you. I look at you as one of the family."
Bunny blushed, "Thank you, that is very sweet."
"Now," Cordelia said sitting up straighter in bed, "I want to know what those ingrates have been doing downstairs."
Bunny just shook her head, Cordelia was something else. "Well, Tula told Pearl she could leave because Tula could care for you better."
"There would have been arsenic in my tea no doubt."
"I think Mr. Sweeney and Dr. Magill were surprised that they all are now calling you 'Aunt' Cordelia."
"Oh, I am honored for the elevation in rank."
Bunny went on to share with her Belva's telling Pearl that she was skilled in elder care and why. Cordelia laughed out loud. "Oh dear, I wouldn't trust her with Band Aids and on my paper cut. Elder care! Belva is no Florence Nightingale. No telling how I would have met my maker under her care."
Bunny continued filling her in with details she had experienced, along with those Pearl, Mr. Sweeney and Luther had shared with her. She told about Inez coming only after she realized that Tula and Belva were already here. And that Inez had just walked in along with Bunny just a few minutes before Pearl brought her up to Cordelia's room.
Cordelia took another small sip of sherry, "Nothing motivates those 3 like money. Pearl told me about Tula's trip to see Luther. Apparently Luther was so entertained with Tula's trip to see him, he shared it with Pearl."
"So I'm still not sure why I am here."
"Well because I like you and I knew it would piss the loving daylights out of the 3 of them." Cordelia patted Bunny on the knee. "I hope you didn't mind being part of my little plan. When one gets to my age, one questions the motives of those around you. Especially when they have no morals and feel they deserve something that they truly have no right to."
Bunny just sat there. She was relieved that Cordelia was not dying and glad to see her, but she thought this was a bit much and dramatic just see how Cordelia's family would react to learning she was nigh unto dead.
"I really hoped that I would see a side of them I had not seen. For years, I have held out hope that maybe one of them would be nice. But, it seems not."
"So what are you going to do now?"
"Well, I'm going to stay up here until tomorrow, then I will venture downstairs and surprise them. I doubt they expect to me rising from my death bed." She paused and looked out of the window. "Bunny, I have had a wonderful life. Hubert, my husband, and I never had children so I always doted on my nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews. I inherited quite a bit of money of my own. And Hubert did very well."
Cordelia turned and looked at Bunny,"I'm not going to be here forever. But if I were to leave part of my fortune to these 3, I would be rewarding them for being horrible people."
"So you set all this up."
"Well Luther, Mercer, and Pearl helped. I had to have some conspirators otherwise it would not have been as much fun. I was discussing my guilt over not leaving them a penny. Luther just looked at me and said, 'Cordelia, just remember, it is your money.' So I asked him to help me plan a way to see how they would react should I die."
"Well you did that. They are not going to happy tomorrow."
"I know, and that is OK. It is time they grow up and take some responsibility."
Bunny just smiled, "What do you want me to do?"
There was a sparkle in Cordelia's blue eyes. "Well I want you to go downstairs, act upset but not dramatic. If and when they ask about me, just look at them, do not say a word, and just shake your head as if it were worse than you thought. Oh," Cordelia reached in the drawer of her beside table and pulled out a fairly thick legal size envelope with Marlboro and Sweeney's name on it.
She handed it to Bunny."And carry this with you, so they can see it."
Bunny took the envelope,"But then what do I do with the envelope?"
"Just keep it. It's full and blank sheets. I just want them to think I gave you some important papers."
"Like your will."
"Yes, like my will. Just don't let them get a hold of it." Cordelia grinned. "And tomorrow, can you please come back around noon? I plan to come downstairs at 12:15 or 12:30."
Bunny just shook her head and hugged Cordelia. "I have always been fond of you. But I had no idea you would do something like this."
"Desperate times call for desperate measures."
Bunny stood up, smiled at Cordelia and left the room. She paused in the hall to make sure she knew what she was going to do when she got downstairs. She only hoped she could pull this off. But if Cordelia had faith in her, she knew she could.
As she stepped off the bottom step Tula, Belva, and Inez stood up. Bunny just started walking through the room very solemnly, not making eye contact. Halfway, Belva asked,"Is it over?" Bunny stopped looked at her, and with out saying a word shook her head. Then Tula saw the envelope.
"What is that? Where did that come from? Is that for us?" Bunny just kept walking with the 3 of them following her. When she got to the kitchen, she gave Pearl a big long hug. Pearl had tears in her eyes and was holding a handkerchief.
Then Bunny walked out to her car and drove off. All 3 of them were standing at the windows watching her. Belva said, "What does that mean?"
"I don't know." said Tula.
Inez just turned from the window. "I still find it disgusting that she is driving Daddy's car."
"And wearing Mama's jewelry," Belva added.
"Well I'm going up to see Cordelia." With that Tula turned on her heels and headed toward the stairway.
"Not so fast, no one is going up there right now. In fact, all 3 of you should go home."
Belva fussed, "But I want to be here."
Luther said, "You can come back tomorrow."
"Before I go," said Tula. "I want to know what is in that package she was carrying?"
Luther just shook his head,"Tula, for the last time. I'm not sure what Cordelia gave her. And even if I did, I wouldn't share it with you. Please go home."
The 3 of them reluctantly left. After Luther had seen the 3 get in their cars and drive away, he went to find Pearl. "I just wanted to make sure you are OK. Those 3 can be vicious."
"They can, but I've been dealing with them most of my life. They ain't killed me yet."
Luther laughed,"How is Cordelia?"
"Oh, she's doing well. I think she is a little disappointed that they are acting like this. Somewhere back in that mind of hers, I think she held out hope that at least 1 of those 3 would have changed and learned how to be compassionate and empathetic."
"Well, she always has been an optimistic. But now she knows."
"Yes sir, ain't no doubt about that."