Aunt Cordelia had invited Vivian and Bunny to meet her at the Tea Room for tea around 4 that afternoon. Bunny told Vivian how much she adored Aunt Cordelia. Both were looking forward to the visit.
When Vivian and Bunny arrived at the Tea Room, Aunt Cordelia was already seated. She stood and each gave her a warm hug before they all sat. They chatted about light topics - the weather, 'Miss' Ella's garden, and who was ill. As always, Aunt Cordelia had a humorous take on each topic.
A waitress came to take their order. Aunt Cordelia said, "I'll have a cup of Rooibos - just plain. I've had enough caffeine today."
Vivian said that she would like a cup of Pu'erh. Then she laughed,"I've read it is an appetite suppressant."
The waitress asked,"Would you like sugar, cream, lemon, or perhaps an artificial sweetener with that?"
"No, just plain, please."
The Waitress turned to Bunny, who had been reading the list of teas. "I'll just have a glass of sweet iced tea."
The waitress paused,"Mam, we do not serve ice tea. The Tea Room serves the best teas from across the world, but they are served hot."
Bunny was not sure what to do. Cordelia came to her rescue,"I think she would enjoy a cup of green tea with sugar and lemon."
The waitress asked if there was anything else she could bring them. They replied no, but they may order some pastries later.
Bunny's request for ice tea was not the first such inquiry. The wait staff had let Caroline and Blanche know that this was a frequent order (that they could not fill). One of the ideas behind the Tea House was to provide, not just a lovely and comfortable environment, but the finest selection of teas from across the globe. These teas were always served hot, to bring out even the most delicate flavors. Caroline and Blanche decided from the beginning that adding ice tea to the menu would just keep the women of Gallagher from expanding their experience into the world of teas.
However, being good enterprising women, they were not going to sacrifice any business and leave money on the table. Caroline suggested to Blanche that she may have the answer to their dilemma. "What if we sell iced versions of these fine teas? Granted some of the more delicate flavors will be lost, but it will still offer our patrons the chance to tip toe into the world of different teas, just in a manner they are accustomed to."
Blanche was enthused,"We can offer sweeteners and lemon to be served with the tea. But, we will take Black Tea off the menu since that is what most common ice tea is made from, to make them venture forth into the world of exotic teas."
"Perhaps we should take Green Tea off the menu also?" asked Caroline.
Blanche thought,"No, but we can offer that only served hot and tell our patrons that the Green Tea we use is best served hot."
Caroline laughed, "We have a plan. I'll start working on a new menu right away."
"And, I'll start looking for the best method for making ice tea with these different varieties."
"One problem though," said Caroline," we are going to need ice tea glasses."
"Not a problem, I can deal with that."
Back at the table, Bunny was perplexed,"A Tea Room that does not serve ice tea?"
"Actually,"smiled Aunt Cordelia,"tea comes from India. The British embraced it when the conquered India. It is a staple over there, but only served hot."
Vivian laughed,"Bunny, I'm afraid ice tea is a very southern thing."
"But this is the south," questioned Bunny. "You would think it would be on the menu."
"Bunny, honey, expand your horizons. Try different things," said Aunt Cordelia.
"I'm not sure about that."
"Guess you are not into sushi then?" asked Vivian.
"Sushi? What is that?" asked Bunny
Vivian giggled,"Little rolls of raw fish and rice. It's Japanese."
"You are making that up?"
"No, I am not. You should try it. It is really good." Vivian said, then added,"I guess you would not be up for Steak Tartar either?"
"What's that?" asked Bunny.
"A wonderful dish made of raw beef."
Their tea had come by now. Aunt Cordelia was taking in their conversation. As she stirred her tea, she added,"Bunny, if you do not explore new things, you will never grow. True, you will not care for everything. Personally, I do not like Sushi, but I adore caviar and smoked salmon." She took a sip of her tea. "I have tried Steak Tartar and it wasn't my favorite, but I really enjoy Tuna Tartar." She laughed. "If someone had told me when I was in my 20's that I would enjoy eating raw tuna, why, I would have told them they had lost their minds."
Bunny just shook her head. She was finding it hard to even drink the tea.
Vivian noticing her reticence, said,"Just think of the tea as a different kind of coffee and I think you will enjoy it."
Aunt Cordelia smiled, "I am not one to give advice, however in this case, I will. Don't be afraid to try new things simply because you do not think you will like them. Life is full of unknowns, and not all of the unknowns are necessarily bad." She paused. "Think of all the new things Harrison introduced you to. And think what you would have tried, if Harrison were still with us. If nothing else, think of him. He would want you to experience life."
"Now you don't have to go overboard and start skydiving or swimming with sharks," Vivian laughed. "I think different types of teas is a good starting point."
They all laughed.
Caroline was in the kitchen telling Hattie about their plan to offer their tea varieties iced. Hattie agreed that was a good idea. "Especially in the summer. I don't see many folks in here want'n hot tea when it's 90 sumptm'n degrees outside."
"That's a good point. At least until we get them used to it."
Hattie stopped and looked around. "That ain't good."
"What Hattie? What are you talking about?"
"There is that evil wind coming through. That Voodoo woman from the Bayou is back. She ain't nutt'n but trouble. You mark my words."
"OK, but I don't think we have anything to worry about."
"No mam, we don't. But some other poh soul sure do."
Sure enough Reeza was at the Sheriff's station. The Sheriff's welcoming words were,"What card did you bring this time to foretell our next doom?"
Reeza ignored him. She gathered her deep purple colored velvet caftan around her and took a seat in the chair in front of his desk. "I told you he would come for her."
"Well in a round about way. I did not realize that I needed to interpret the Knight of Cups, as being a long lost nephew. And, I think the 3 of Wands came a little late."
"You have to listen," Reeza said sternly. "I am trying to help."
"Well don't talk in riddles," said the Sheriff in desperation.
"I will help, if you will calmly sit down. The boy is not the Widow's nephew. He will have the proper looking ID and some interesting childhood and family facts that will make him seem so. However he is from Pensacola."
"Well how did he get this information and why say he is the Widow's nephew?"
"Like all of us - greed - fortune and vice." The Sheriff smiled and kept quite. "The young man worked in the investment firm that happened to be the one that housed the Barkers account. When he learned of Reverend Barker's death, he started looking into the situation. He saw a minister's wife, no relatives, and a small fortune."
"But how did he know about her being insane and almost losing her mind? We kept those details out of the papers."
"Yes, you did, but he was the reason she was insane."
"It came to me. I saw blood on his hands, a wrecked truck, a knife, and dead deer. He learned that she had seen that Sayre prior to the Reverends death, so he ran with that story."
"I saw notes left for her, foretelling horrible things. There were stories of Mr. Barker having an affair with another woman, of his body being dragged somewhere. She was driven crazy by the thought that her husband had sinned and was possessed by daemons."
"And, her little trick of disappearing from the clinic?"
"You do not need to know everything."
"Where is she now?"
Reeza stood,"“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was." With that she was gone.
"What the Hell?" the Sheriff walked out of his office. "Mary Lou, did you hear that?"
"Yes sir, I did and I recognize it from somewhere," she said as she busily wrote it down. Then she read it several times."It doesn't tell us anything, she talks about visions and dreams."
Mike walked in. "What in the world has the 2 of you so stumped?"
"Reeza was here," said Mary Lou.
"The Widow Barker is missing," said the Sheriff.
"You've got to be kidding me!" Mike said in disgust.
The Sheriff filled him in on what he knew from the hospital in Montgomery.
The Sheriff filled him in on that, telling him about her visions of so-called Frederick.
"And these were her last words," said Mary Lou," 'I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.' "
"Why would she be reciting Shakespeare?"
"That's Shakespeare?, asked Mary Lou.
"Yes, if I'm correct it is from a Midsummer Night's Dream."
"Great," said the Sheriff,"we have moved from Tarot cards to Shakespeare. Personally, if you ask me, I would be happy with a crystal ball."
Mike stood there thinking, talking softly to himself for several minutes. Everyone else went back to whatever they were doing before Reeza turned them upside down.
Suddenly Mike said, "I've got it."
"Got what? said Mary Lou.
"The Bay Minette Midsummer Sanatorium."
"That's a reach," said the Sheriff.
"I'm pretty sure that is closed," said Mary Lou. "At least last I heard it was condemned."