Clint called the Sheriff to let him know that they were able to collect some more the 'confetti'. The Sheriff sent Mike to pick up what they had found. They put the ID number from the pieces into the National AFID System. The result was a bit unexpected - the taser had been bought by the Montgomery, Alabama Police Department. The Sheriff was surprised. "I didn't see that one coming."
"Obviously, a policeman from Montgomery did not kill Madison," stated Mike.
"No, but let's find out what they have to say about this", the Sheriff said as he picked up the phone to call Montgomery. As it turned out, the taser had been stolen. "We thought maybe an officer who had been let go stole it, but we never had enough proof."
They spoke for a while. Sheriff Quitman asked if they would send him information on the officer they had 'let go'. Montgomery said they would be glad to. Both parties said they would stay in touch if either learned anything. They rang off.
The Sheriff called Hollis to let him know what they had learned.
"So where do you go from here?"
"We now have a murder versus just a death by natural causes."
"That may be the case. I don't think Madison died in his car. I enlarged the picture and all I could see were a few pieces of confetti. There was not enough taser confetti at the scene. "
They discussed a few things and rang off.
Meanwhile Bunny invited Barbara to join her at the Tea Room for the Apres Tea Hour. She explained to Barbara what this was and how it had come about.
As they walked to the Tea Room, Barbara asked, "Aren't there other bars in town?"
"Of course, we go to Dot's Do Drop In a lot."
"Do Drop In?"
"Ike the Bartender, is older than dirt, but a great bartender."
"And what is the name of the Tea Room, or is it just the Tea Room."
"No, that wouldn't say much. It is the 'Goodness Gracious Tea Room'."
'Of course it has a name like that,' Barbara thought as she took notes.
By this time they were at the Tea Room. Caroline greeted them. Bunny introduced Barbara to Caroline. "Ms. Birch is planning to make a movie here in Gallagher."
"Well that's special," said Caroline. "What kind of movie?"
"Oh, I think it will be a love story. Bunny is helping me get a feel for the town."
"Well, we are certainly glad to have you around. If I can help, just holler."
Bunny told Caroline they were sitting at Aunt Cordelia's table.
Looking at the women seated in the Tea Room, obviously enjoying some adult beverages, Barbara asked, "These women do not want to go to Dot's Do Drop In?"
"Of course some go there. But this a pretty fancy place and some women just like being in an elegant setting." Bunny continued as they walked toward Cordelia's table. "Besides, Dot's doesn't have fine crystal and china."
"Now which one is your aunt?"
"Oh, she's not really my aunt. She was Harrison's aunt. But I dearly love her."
"Who is Harrison, your husband?"
"No, but almost. We were engaged for a day or two then he died."
Matter of factually, Bunny added, "Something popped in his brain."
As they approached the table, Cordelia turned to greet them. "Bunny, dear who do we have here?"
"Aunt Cordelia, this Barbara Birch. She in town about making a movie."
"A movie, about what, if I may ask?"
"I think it is going to be a love story set in a small southern town."
The ladies at the table showed approval of that idea. Bunny introduced Barbara to Iris, Colleen, Dixie, Rayeanne and "Miss' Ella. They had a seat and Grace was quickly at the table to take their orders.
Bunny said, "I'd like a glass of white wine."
Grace looked at her and asked,"What type?"
"Oh, I don't care, as long as it is white."
Barbara ordered a martini straight up. Grace apologized and told her that they only served wine, cordials, port, cognac - things like that, no hard liquor. "Well, if that's the case, I would like a glass of Pinot Grigios." Grace left to get the ladies order.
It didn't take Barbara long to realize that group of old biddies were terribly tipsy. The ladies had several questions to ask Barbara, which she was happy to answer.
After 10 minutes or so, Barbara asked, "What do your husbands think about you being here so late in the afternoon?"
The ladies looked at each other. Finally Dixie spoke up. "Well if they have their place to go, why can't we? I'm not about to fix supper for Harrell tonight. He knows better."
"So he goes to the Do Drop In?"
Dixie giggled. "Of course not. This is the evening he goes to the Gentlemen's Cub."
"The country club?"
There was another giggle around the table. Barbara knew there was something here she needed know. Dixie replied,"No, the Gentlemen's Club is where the men go at night time."
It was obvious Barbara was a little confused. Finally, Cordelia, smiled. "My dear, the Gentleman's Club is where, as my mama would have said, there are 'ladies of the evening'."
Barbara had to grasp that. "And everyone knows about this?"
"Most everybody," Dixie said. There was more giggling.
By this time Grace had brought another round of drinks. Barbara took a big sip from her glass of wine. This was more interesting than she thought.
"I hope I do not offend anyone, but may I ask a question?"
"Certainly", said Cordelia.
"All of you here don't have a problem with the men frequenting a brothel?"
"Oh, my dear," Cordelia said as she took a small sip of her port."We do not refer to the Gentlemen's Club as a 'brothel'. Why, that sounds awfully crass."
"But, you said prostitutes are there?"
"No, we said that there were 'ladies of the evening" there."
By this time, Barbara had downed her glass of wine. And, Grace brought her another. The alcohol was getting to her head. She had not eaten anything that day. The only food she had seen was at the Starlight Cafe. Her stomach almost turned when she thought of all the grease and carbs that they served. So far, she had not found a salad bar - anywhere in town.
"But this isn't a problem with you?" asked Barbara in a slight slur.
Once again, Dixie spoke up. "Oh sweetheart, no. This is not a problem for us at all." She took a sip of her wine. "There are several advantages to us."
"Well, when we want something - a serious piece of jewelry, some expensive clothes, or even a trip out of town, the men are happy to oblige. Why, they think if they keep us happy, we will no protest about their club." She added. "More importantly, we don't have to . . .," Dixie paused again. "Well let's just say that their physical needs are taken care of and I no longer feel guilty when I politely deny his entreaties."
"Oh," said Barbara, realizing she was not taking notes. But, she doubted this was anything she would forget.
Before she realized it, Barbara asked, "Well, I assume there is a 'Madam' of the house."
"There is and she had fixed up the Old Hunnicutt home right nicely. Not that I have ever been there."
The table giggled. Rayeanne spoke up,"Oh honey, Anna Belle Vontese runs the club."
"So you know her?"
Cordelia smiled."Of course we know Anna Belle, she grew up here. She is a very enterprising woman."
Finally 'Miss' Ella added,"Why Anna Belle is Bunny's mother."
Barbara did not see this one coming. She felt sorry for Bunny. It must be awful having to live with this.
Bunny just smiled. Having had enough wine, she looked at Barbara and said,"Oh, my Mama knows what she is doing. She has lots of experience."