It wasn't until 9 on Friday morning that Madison Marlboro was found. His wife, Stella, called the Sheriff's office. The Sheriff and Mike drove over to the Marlboro house. They found a few friends and neighbors gathered around Madison's BMW. The Sheriff walked up to the car. He looked in at Madison's body slumped over the steering wheel. He opened the driver's side door and touched the body.
The Sheriff turned to Mike who was right behind him, "This didn't happen last night. You better call Hollis. "
After talking with Stella, the Sheriff learned that Madison had been out Wednesday night. "I left Wednesday morning to go see my sister in Mobile. Madison said he had plans that evening. I didn't get back to town until last night." She looked at the car.
"Did you expect him home last night?"
"Rascal, I never count on him being home on any night." She paused and gave the Sheriff a hurt look. "You know he has," Stella paused and wiped away a tear, "had a drinking problem. He always wanted to be with friends at a party or a bar. There is no doubt in my mind that almost every evening he was drinking somewhere." "She held back tears.
"Did you smell alcohol?"
"I didn't need to smell the liquor. Sometimes he could not even make it up the steps. Several times he passed out in our bed before he could even change clothes." Stella paused as finally tears came down her face. "And, yes, he always smelled of alcohol."
Taking this all in, the Sheriff looked at her and put his hand on her shoulder. "I am so sorry Stella. We will find out what happened."
"Don't you think it is obvious! He was drunk! He died before he could get out of his car."
"He had a problem, but I don't know that had anything to with this. In my opinion, I would say it was a heart attack, a stroke, or some aneurysm."
Hollis Sadler approached Stella. He gave her a big hug. "I am so sorry. If I can do anything, please let me know. Madison was a great guy - always a lot of fun to be around." He looked into the BMW, then turned back to look back at Stella. "We'll find out what happened."
Stella looked at Hollis,"He died, God damn it!" She motioned to the car, "It doesn't matter. He is dead."
Hollis looked at her. "Stella, we have been friends for many years. You trust me don't you?"
She stood there, wiping her tears, "Of course I trust you."
"OK", said Hollis. Noticing Irnis, one of Stella's neighbors, standing behind her. Hollis suggested,"Why don't go with Irnis."
Irnis put her arms around Stella. "Let's get a cup of coffee. I've got a fresh pot in my kitchen."
Hollis reassured her, "I'll talk with you a little later."
He walked over to the Sheriff and Mike to see what they knew so far. "Not, much," said the Sheriff shaking his head. "Whatever it was, it didn't happen last night. But, she didn't find him in his car until this morning."
"Well, the amazing thing is that he didn't killed himself in some drunken car crash and take some innocent people with him." Hollis looked at the car, "Damn it, I always thought that would be the call I would get."
Hollis and Mike took pictures of the scene, the car, and the body. Searching the car, they found nothing but a pack of gum, bottle of mouthwash, and bottle opener in the glove box. Having asked Stella earlier about the arrangements. She told Hollis they would be using Clint's Home of the Dear and Departed Deceased for the arrangements. Finally, the coroner told the EMTs they could move him. The body was stiff with rigamortis, but knowing what they were doing, the EMTs were able to get him out of the car. Once he was extracted, they removed him from the car, and took him to the funeral home.
The Sheriff and Mike returned to the station. Mary Lou had some questions about the situation. "I'll bake her a casserole tonight and get it over there. When those boys get here, they will need a lot of food," referring to Madison's sons who would be coming home from college. Mary Lou added, "In times like this everyone needs some good comfort food."
Back in town, Cordelia called Caroline to set-up the Tea she was having for Kathleen. "We'll probably have 15 - 20 ladies. Dixie is getting the list together."
"Don't worry, we can discuss the details later," said Caroline.
Cordelia told Caroline she would get back with her about the menu. They rang off. It wasn't 5 - 10 minutes before Cordelia's phone rang. It was Dixie.
"Cordelia, I've been thinking about the tea you have offered to host for Kathleen. I can get you the guest list tomorrow. Have you thought of a menu?"
"I was thinking maybe a chicken salad or Hattie's wonderful Monte Cristo sandwiches."
"Chicken salad would be delightful. Just make sure there is no chicken in it, just tofu."
"That is not even food. Why in the world would we want that?"
"Luigi, my trainer says it is much better for us."
Cordelia just decided to leave that one alone. "Well, I was also going to have Hattie's biscuits, everyone loves those."
Dixie hesitated, "I would prefer Blue Bunny Sandwich bread."
"Dixie, that is just plain white bread. I'm not going to serve that."
"Maybe whole grain rolls would be better. You seriously should consider it." She paused. "But, on second thought, those whole wheat and grain bran breads leave seeds between your teeth. That would be most embarrassing for my friends." She went on, "Do you know what is in Hattie's biscuit recipe?"
Cordelia paused,"Everything good for you." She continued, "I know you will not take issue with one of their incredibly fresh garden salads."
"Well, you could serve a spinach smoothie. We could add vitamins and supplements to them. Luigi says everyone needs more of those." She paused, "And please don't even consider a dessert."
"Let me guess, Luigi frowns on those also."
"He does. Cordelia, you should start seeing him. It is never too late. He can work wonders."
"Are you saying I need help?"
"Certainly not. My days are just so wonderful when I start them with Luigi."
"Dixie, where is Luigi from?"
"Italy, and his accent is heavenly. . ."
Cordelia interrupted,"Dixie, no one named 'Luigi' knows a damn thing about good southern food. If I served tofu and spinach smoothies from someone named 'Luigi', my family would surely have me commit me. Honestly!"
Dixie stuttered a bit,"Cordelia, I was just trying to offer ideas for better food. You know southern food is so, so . . ."
"Delicious," Cordelia finished Dixie's sentence. In her mind she could only hope, for Kathleen and Jeb's sake, that 'Luigi' was not planning the reception food for the wedding.