My Life A Bit South of Normal

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Save the Date and Japanese Gardens

With 2 weeks left until the wedding, Dixie had sent the invitations out without 'bothering' Kathleen about them. Unknown to Dixie, Kathleen was planning the wedding she and Jeb truly wanted, Kathleen had covertly copied the guest list from her mother's computer. Dixie's idea of a secret password was 'wedding'. She and Jeb had chosen the people from Dixie's list that they wanted to invite to their event. Then adding their friends and those Charlotte wanted to invite, Kathleen prepared a blast 'Save the Date' email. For those who may have already received Dixie's invitation, she explained their separate plans. Kathleen asked everyone to keep the alternative plans to themselves - proper invitations would soon follow.

Kathleen had selected an invitation that she felt better reflected her idea of her wedding. They were addressed and mailed forthwith. She told Jeb, "Well, we did it. There is no turning back now." To take care of her father's money, she called The Columns and explained her situation.

The Wedding coordinator, having heard many tales of war between Brides and their mothers, understood and assured Kathleen she would handle it. "I'll humor your mother along and ensure she does not make any more plans. If she requests anything, I'll tell her that the details have been taken care of.  Kathleen asked, "What about the contract?"

"When she comes in to sign the contract, I will give her a fairly long memo that means nothing for her to sign." Kathleen thanked her. The coordinator continued,"Also, I'll send your father's check back to you."

She paused and laughed, "Like I say, we are a full service organization. We will not lose anything, I have 2 other brides who want that date so badly, they will take it even at such short notice."

Kathleen could not believe how things were finally working out for her. Again, she told the coordinator how much she appreciated her assistance with her mother. They exchanged a few pleasantries and rung off.

Kathleen called Jeb with the good news. He was much relieved. Avoiding Dixie's wedding was not the issue as much as calming Kathleen's nerves. Besides, even if this alienated him from his future mother-in-law for life, it may be a victory.

Later that day Kathleen received the package from 'Marilyn We Rent it all' with her wedding gown. The dress fit her perfectly. She never dreamed she could have a $5000 designer gown, better yet for only $200. It was all falling into place. For the first time in months Kathleen took a deep breath with excitement for her wedding. Next, she had to share the "alternate plan" with her father.

By the time Della and Bunny got to the park, the Johnson brothers had left. Looking around and seeing them nowhere, they asked a few people they saw on the street, if they had seen them. No one had seen Johnson men. It was as if they had disappeared into thin air. Given it was 1 pm, Della assumed eventually they could be found at the bus stop .

"What are you going to tell them?" Bunny asked.

"That they are in the right place, and that the Eldridges need to give them another chance."

"But, they do not look anything like the photos Flora and Cora had."

Della stopped walking and turned to Bunny. "Do you seriously think that you were talking to the wrong older twin brothers, named John and Don, who happened to arrive on the same bus the Eldridge grooms were supposed to be on?"

"Guess not," said Bunny quietly.

As it was, John and Don found themselves at Cre Uisce Aer. While roaming the streets of Gallagher, waiting for the bus, they had run into Pearce Phinnigan. He approached them and asked if they needed help. Hearing their broken English and recognizing them as Japanese, Pearce spoke to them in their native language. During a summer as an intern with a Japanese Tech company, he had learned the language.

Needless to say, the men were relieved to find someone who spoke Japanese. During a very pleasant conversation, Pearce learned that 2 men were Japanese Gardeners, trained in the Ogawa Jihei VII's school of design. Hearing this, Pearce asked them what brought them to town. Not wanting to get into the details, John told him they were going across the country and somehow ended up in Gallagher, lost. 'What were the odds?' thought Pearce.

He explained to them that he was in the process of restoring the gardens at Cre Uisce Aer. The one most people were familiar with was a traditional English Garden, his grandmother used for cut flowers. However, there was another garden, in a Japanese style, behind the house. It was in poor condition. In the off chance they could help, Pearce asked them if they would consider looking at the garden and giving him some advice. He would pay them of course.

John said they would be most interested, however since they were waiting for the 2 pm bus, they would not have enough time. After some discussion, Pearce convinced them to go back to the estate with him. He had plenty of extra bedrooms they could stay in. He assured the 2 men that he would get them back to town to catch the early bus the following morning.

Back at the Rental Company, 'Miss' Ella dropped in to tell the girls what happened after the bus left. As she told her story, Della laughed and looked at Bunny with a 'knowing' look. "What?" asked 'Miss' Ella, "I don't find it funny. I find it tragic, what happened and the attention, or rather lack thereof, the Eldridge sisters paid to them."

Della assured 'Miss' Ella that they were not laughing about the situation. After Della filled her in with the details of Bunny's encounter, 'Miss' Ella was relieved. "Well, that was very nice of you, Bunny. I just feel so sorry for them." She sighed, "I just wish Flora and Cora would have at least spoken to them. Personally, I found them to be quite pleasant."

The more Ella thought about it, the more agitated she got. Knowing she did not have much time, she had a plan. "Girls, I have something I need to do. As always it was so nice to visit with you." She turned and walked out the door. Della and Bunny just looked at each other.

Ella quickly walked to Flora and Cora's house. Those sisters needed to remember they were not spring chickens. Chances like this didn't come along everyday. She stepped on the porch and rang the doorbell. No one answered. She looked in the windows. She could not see anyone. To be sure, Ella walked around to the backyard. No one was there. She knew what her next move had to be.

She pulled her phone from her purse and called the cafe. "Ed has the bus come yet?" He said it had not and, in fact,  he had gotten word it may be 10-15 minutes late. She thanked him and rang off. All during the call she had been making her way to the bus stop. Maybe she could catch the Johnsons there and work something out.

Ella was shocked when she turned the corner to see Flora and Cora waiting at the bus stop. 'What the heck?' thought Ella.

As she approached the women, she could tell they were in deep conversation. Flora spoke first when Ella reached the bus stop. "We were just not hospitable to the Johnsons."

Ella just thought,'You think?'

Flora continued,"Ella, you have to understand, we were upset they were not on the bus. Then when we learned they had in fact arrived, we were shocked at what we saw."

Cora spoke up, "Ella you know we were raised better than that. Mama would be after our tails for the way we acted."

"And, now we have lost a chance for a life we have never had," added Cora.

"Well, I don't think it is too late. They have to be here by 2 for the late bus. We'll just wait."

The women were bit anxious as 2 pm approached and the Johnsons had failed to show up. Ella assured them that they still had some time since, according to Ed,  the bus was going to be late.

10 or 15 minutes later, the bus pulled up, several people disembarked. A few minutes later they watched the door close and the bus slowly drive off. Flora and Cora were crestfallen. Flora turned to Ella, "This is our fault and I guess we deserve it, given how we acted."

"Oh, don't give up yet. The good news is that they were not on the bus. How far could they get?"

After some discussion, the 3 came up with a plan. They would ask everyone they could if they had seen the Johnsons. They split up and went separate ways in search of the missing grooms.

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