My Life A Bit South of Normal

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Invitations Were Sent

On Thursday invitations arrived to a fundraising dinner for the Historical Society Pearce was hosting at Cre Uisce Aer. It was not a big guest list and everyone on the list had been informed a month earlier to 'save the date'. Bunny opened the invitation as soon as it came in the mail. She was reading it as she walked into the house. Mike was already home preparing steaks for the grille. "Mike, look at this." She held up the invitation.

"What's this?"

"It's the invitation to the Historical Society fundraiser next Monday. Remember, I told you that Pearce called weeks ago and asked us to save the date." She continued to peruse the engraved card she was holding. "Oh, it's formal, black tie for the men."

She handed the invitation to Mike. He read it and looked up at Bunny. "Hmh. I say the most impressive thing is the Phinnigan Coat of Arms embossed in color on the cards."

Bunny looked at Mike, "That? Oh, I thought that was just decoration."

Mike continued salting and peppering the steak."No, the Phinnigan family was an old family in Ireland." He flipped the steaks. "Of course, I am sure the Fitzgerald crest is as impressive."

Bunny, moving on, almost oblivious to what Mike was talking about, started pulling vegetables and greens from the refrigerator. Mike handed her a glass of wine he had poured earlier. "Let's go sit on the porch."

Together they took their glasses and walked out onto the front porch. As they were sitting down, Bunny asked,"I guess I need a long dress for dinner next week."

"A formal one? Yes. No doubt you have a closet full of gowns to wear."

"I do, but I never can figure out what looks good on me."

Mike reached over and gave her a kiss. "I think I can help with that."

"Will you?"

"Of course. But not now."

Together they talked about their days. It was Bunny's favorite time to be on the porch. The sun was setting on the river and cast a magical glow across the lawn at Ivy Lane.

Pearce was excited about hosting the dinner. His mother had taught him how to entertain on a grand scale as well as for an intimate meal, all with her southern style. He was also very proud of how Cre Uisce Aer looked. The restoration was finally finished. When he ran into the Colonel one day in town and found himself in an enjoyable conversation about Gallagher and the all the history of the area. That meeting gave Pearce the idea of hosting a fundraiser.

After setting a date, the Colonel suggested, since Pearce was hosting that he put together the guest list. Pearce offered to handle the guest list as well as the invitations.

When Haynes got his invitation, he immediately called Colleen to tell her about it. "I know you have something to wear. If you don't, let's go shopping."

"What I wear is not the problem. Attending is my issue."

"Colleen, we have already talked about this. I'll be right by your side. Remember, I told you this is when you learn who your true friends are. And, trust me, if there is any problem Bob and Parker are prepared to take care of it."

Colleen smiled to herself. "I never thought of Bob and Parker as my knights in shining armor."

"Oh, they are. I'll pick you up at 6:30 Monday evening. And don't forget we are going to Dot's tonight. I'll pick you up at 6."

They talked a few minutes more then rang off. Colleen took a deep breath. This was it - what she had dreaded for a while. She had to remember she was strong. She could do this. Then she remembered what Haynes had said. If there was a problem, Bob and Parker would take care of it.

The talk at the Tea House was the fundraiser and what everyone would wear. "Oh, I love going to a black tie event. I rarely get to dress up," commented Adair. She added, "I have a dress I got on sale that I have never worn." She took a sip of her tea. "God, I hope it still fits!"

The ladies laughed. "Maybe we should wear long white gloves. I always feel like Audrey Hepburn when I pull mine out of the drawer."

"I don't think long white gloves, a tiara, and loosing 30 pounds would make me feel like Audrey Hepburn," laughed Charlotte.

Dixie, being haughty as ever. "Has any one seen the guest list. I was told it was small - only a select few are invited." She paused and when no one replied, she added, "It is so sad. This is the kind of affair Hayne's late wife, Blair, would have enjoyed." She buttered a biscuit and gently placed the silver butter spreader on the edge of her bread plate. "I know Haynes will not attend. Who could imagine he could be tricked by that  'Colleen'." She paused, "Certainly she will not be there. How humiliating that would be for Haynes."

Charlotte was appalled, as were several other ladies at the table. She spoke up, "Dixie, if you are going to be so ugly about this, perhaps you should not attend to event."

Always wanting to have the last word, Dixie replied, "Well what else can you expect from Haynes. After all look how his son, Bob, turned out."

Stella had also had enough. "Dixie, I don't think I have ever met someone like you. Even if you feel that way, you can keep your thoughts to your self. Do I need remind you who's picture was on the front page of the Afternoon Daily Press."

Most of the other ladies murmured in agreement.

Dixie kept on, "Ella, certainly you agree with me. After all, you remember the days when everyone was proper and knew how to behave themselves."

Ella was offended that she was selected as Dixie's next victim. "Dixie, personally, I think Colleen is lovely. I enjoy her company. After all, it is so nice to see Haynes happy." She paused and laughed, "I just wish I could find someone that would make me that happy." Everyone at the table laughed out loud.

Charlotte spoke up, "My only issue with Colleen, is how regal she always looks. I have never seen anyone as stylish as she is."

Adair agreed,"And worse yet, she can wear anything and it will look elegant."

The conversation continued, although Dixie stayed quiet. 'Stylish?' she thought. What was happening to these ladies.  Most of whom had been raised in fine southern homes, were willing to even speak with Colleen, much less defend her. Why is she still here? Their entire culture was going to Hell, simply because of this Colleen. She wished the woman would just disappear.

Stella considered the conversation, especially 'Miss Ella's' remarks. True she enjoyed Hollis's company but how long would that last. If something happened between Colleen and Haynes - which single man would Colleen's dupe next. Something about her made men comment about her style every time she was around.

Later that afternoon at the Starlight Cafe, Bob and Parker were having lunch. 'Miss' Ella walked in and spoke to them. Both Bob and Parker stood up and asked if she would join them. Ella always enjoyed their company.

After she had ordered, she entertained Bob and Parker repeating the lively conversation from that morning at the Tea House. Needless to say they were both humored and surprised at Dixie's comments. The meal came and the conversation continued.

Parker offered, "I am most surprised at 'Miss' Dixie's comments. Even if she feels that way, why would discuss them with that group of ladies?"

Bob laughed, "Well, all I know is I am pea green with envy when it comes to Colleen's wardrobe. She makes the rest of us look like we are wearing seed sacks. I feel like the second fiddle every time I am around her and Dad. As long as she is around I cannot compete."

Parker added, "I guess so. Then you could regain your title of 'best dressed' in town."

At that time, Ella's cell phone rang. She looked at the screen, "Oh, boys this has been delightful but I have to leave now. As she answered her phone, she pulled a ten dollar bill from her purse. Placing it on the table, she mouthed 'for my lunch'.

Parker tried to give it back to her. "Let us get this."

Ella just waved him off, smiled, and walked away talking on her phone.

"She is a piece of work. It is sad she never found anyone after 'Mr. Howard' died, commented Bob.

"Well, there are only so many single men in town and most of those are taken."

They finished their lunch and stood to leave. As they walked out Bob told Walter, "Best burger in town!"

It was about 6:30 that evening when Haynes, Colleen, Bob, and Parker arrived at Dot's. As they greeted Ike, he asked, "Regulars?"

"Yes sir," answered Haynes. "I think we will sit at that table," he said pointing toward a table for 4 on the side of the room.

"Where ever you want," Ike answered as he busily prepared their drinks.

There were a few people in the bar when they arrived. Some they recognized, 1 or 2 they didn't. No one paid any attention to Haynes' group as they got settled at their table.

Ike brought the drinks over, white wine for Colleen, a red for Bob, bourbon and Coke for Parker, and a glass of scotch, neat, for Haynes. They chatted with him as he served their drinks. Bob looked at Ike, "Ike, let me tell you - you were the sharpest dressed at Kathleen's reception. You wear a dinner jacket well."

Ike thanked him and commented about how much fun it had been.

Parker followed up, "Personally, I found the suit you wore at Bunny's wedding very sharp."

Ike just smiled, "For an old man, I try."

He made his way back to the bar and the group took the first sips of their drinks and started chatting. "I think I am going to wear a dinner jacket to the party at Pearce's."

"That's a little much," laughed Parker.

"Well it is black tie."

"Whatever. Since when have I tried to give you fashion advice?"

Haynes shook his head. "Boys, you both know you are going to look sharp, whatever you wear."

"But Dad," Bob said, looking at Colleen,"the bar has been raised once 'Miss' Colleen here arrived. I've got to step up my game."

"Please Bob, really?" Colleen asked faking annoyance. "Okay, would it make you happy to come go through my closet to see if there is anything you want to wear."

"No, dear, that will not be necesary." Bob smiled. "I've got a plan."

Everyone at the table laughed at Bob who continually acted as if he was terribly concerned about Colleen usurping his long held place as most fashionable.

Several friends came in while the group was there. Most stopped by the table to talk. All in all it was a pleasant evening.

Pearce had selected a catering company, well known for their unique menus. He selected special wine from his wine cellar, as well as champagne and craft beer. The gardens were in full bloom, so he engaged Lavenia to come out and use the estate's flowers in arrangements for the dinner.

To make the evening more special, he had cleared all the furniture from the middle of the main hall and living room. In it's place were 7 or 8 round tables, covered in fine Irish linens and set with his mother's sterling flatware. Pearce had found a very good jazz trio, he had once he heard at a club in Mobile. At that time, he had asked them, if he ever needed them, would they come out to Cre Uisce Aer. Needless to say they were more than willing. After all, who could resist Pearce's Irish charm.

As he reviewed his lists and saw how good the house looked, he was pleased. It was going to be a success. Everyone would have an enjoyable evening. Being careful, he knew there must be something he overlooked. But that was not something he could worry about now. Nothing was going to go wrong.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Mary's Garden Redeux

"I didn't realize there were so many different kinds, or that they bloomed."

Mike just shook his head, "Neither did I. Where were they shipped from?"

"California. It has taken a week for them to get here."

"How did you ship them?"

"By truck - see the u-haul." She was so excited Mike just watched her as she started tearing the brown paper from the pots.

As more plants were revealed, Mike asked, "Honey, I don't think anyone would ship something, especially live plants, across the country in a u-haul." Mike looked over the hundred are so pots. "And, you paid for shipping?"

"Only the cross country part. The seller was so nice, he said he would pay for the part from Mobile."

"It's your money and I hate ask, but how much was the shipping?"

"Oh, a little over $1000."

"How much over $1000?"

"Oh, sweetheart, don't worry. You know I have good business sense. I thought the seller was very reasonable. The final bill was $1800 for the shipping. Bunny paused, "The seller set it up so they were shipped to a place in Mobile. Then these nice men picked them up and delivered them to me."

"And, the price for the plants?"

"That's the best part, these are all very rare species, and I got them for $40 each." She could tell Mike had more questions. "Don't worry, I did some research. These same rare types sell for over $60 other places."

"So the ones the seller had pictured matched the rare types you found while looking for prices?"

"Mike, this grower is so famous, that when I looked up the rare types on other web sites, they had used the picture from his site in the article. Now that tells you he knows what he is talking about, if they used a picture of his."

"So, he said the picture was from his garden?"

"Well, no, he didn't answer that question when I asked. But, he knew what he was talking about. He told me they were from a garden at an old house. He was very lucky, he bought them from the estate. I told you, he is an expert."

Mike looked over the plants that he could see.  Most of them were privet hedge - the same as the bushes behind the house that had to be cut down constantly to ensure they did not overtake the backyard. Bunny continued unwrapping the plants. One took a while due to the amount of paper around the plant. When she finally finished with the paper and could see the plant, she was a bit surprised. Instead of a small bush, it was a 6 inch seedling. Seeing Mike's reaction, she said, "Well, he said some were miniature."

"Miniature or immature?" asked Mike.

"Miniature, in fact he said most were a miniature variety."

From what he could see, most of the seedlings were English box woods. Mike remembered working with the gardener one summer at Belmont while he was planting new hedges. The gardener had taken time to teach Mike how to identify the different varieties among seedlings and the characteristics of each. The plants at Belmont were definitely English box woods, a variety that was very slow growing.

Before Mike could say anything, Bunny pointed to a corner in the garden, "And over here is where I am going to put the fish pond."

Mike looked toward the corner she was pointing to. "Fish pond?"

"Oh, I can't wait for you to see it. I didn't want a black pond, so the dealer found me a pink one. That will add color to the garden. Don't you think?"

"It definitely will.  No doubt it will be quite the conversation piece." He just smiled. "Where is the pond coming from?"

"Well to get the 'special' pink one, I had to order it from China."

"And. . . who sold this to you?"

"Another seller on eBay. He also just happened to have some rare Koi." She paused. "You know the fancy different colored fish you see in garden ponds."

Mike nodded his head as he envisioned a pink Koi pond in the corner of the garden.

"But these are a special type of Koi. They are gold - all of them are gold - gold over. The seller said the solid gold ones were rarer."

"And, more expensive."

"Mike," Bunny said exasperated, "He sent me pictures of the fish. They really looked orange to me, but he said as they grew, therir color would change. I've never seen gold Koi before. Why, my pond will look like something out of a James Bond movie, don't you think so?"

"Definitely. I imagine it will be much more 'special' than Mary's original garden." Mike put his arm around his wife's shoulders. "Honey, I feel certain your 'special rare' box wood garden and your pond will be quite unique."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Any Mother Would Totally Understand

It wasn't long after Charlotte's departure, that most of ladies at the table followed suit. That left only Adair Butler there with Dixie. Immediately Dixie reverted to her 'Motherzila of the Bride' persona. "What was that all about? Imagine Charlotte Beauregard lecturing me. Of all people - everyone has skeletons. Of course my only embarrassing moment was after I had way too many glasses of champagne. I was not responsible for my actions."  Dixie took a sip of her tea. "Everyone knew I had just learned my only daughter got married behind my back." She looked at Adair. "Any mother would totally understand."

Adair had had enough of Dixie. Before Adair said anything ugly, she excused herself. From Dixie's smug countenance, one would see that she assumed that Adair agreed with her. Either that or she acted as if Adair didn't know any better. Dixie followed a few minutes later. On her way out, Dixie noticed that both Blanch and Caroline were polite but not engaging.

Down at the courthouse, Mike and the Sheriff were at Tula's hearing. No surprise, Tula was dramatic as ever. However the Judge had little pity on her. Her attorney argued his best, but the Judge took little pity. He agreed to release her on bail with the stipulation that she would wear an ankle monitor. When Tula protested, the Judge looked over his reading glasses, "Miss Wells, I wouldn't push it if I were you. There is always the women's prison in the next county. I am sure they have room and I would think orange looks good on you."

Finally, reality hit Tula and she realized that she best stop while she was ahead. The Judge dismissed them and called the next case. Leaving the courtroom, her attorney told Tula, "I need to go arrange your bail." He paused as they walked down the courthouse hall. "This will have to be quite creative. Lucky for you, I know a bail bondsman who owes me a favor." He looked at Tula, "But our first stop is the Sheriff's Station so they can take care of the ankle monitor."

"Are you sure that you can't handle that? Of all people, you know I am not going anywhere."

"Of course I can," said her attorney sarcastically.

Tula was thrilled, "I knew you would take care of me."

"How do you like orange?"

"Seriously?"

"It's your choice Tula."

Reluctantly, Tula accompanied her attorney out of the courthouse to the Sheriff's Station.

Mike and the Sheriff returned to the Station. "You think an ankle bracelet will keep Tula at home?" asked Mike.

"Not a God damn chance," the Sheriff laughed.

Mike shook his head.

Later in the day, Cordelia called Collen to check on her.

"Cordelia, you were right. Haynes was as sweet and understanding as you said he would be."

"I told you."

"However, Belva was not. She informed me that she told Wells I had died in an accident."

"I called Belva. After, we had a little talk, I think she understands," Cordelia paused. "Oh, she is not thrilled but she understands that, just because the two of you are not on the best terms, Wells should be able to make his own decisions."

"Thank you so much."

"Oh, honey, this family is like herding wet cats, but someone has to do it." Cordelia said matter-of-factly.

They spoke for a few more minutes and then rang off.

That evening, Bob and Parker were having supper with Haynes. When they walked into the house, Parker gave his father a big hug before he even said hello. "How is Colleen? We have been thinking about her but were not sure whether to approach her or not." 

"She would appreciate any support she can get. She's a tenacious woman.  It won't be pretty, but we will get through this."

Bob laughed, as he poured 3 glasses of wine, "All I've got to say is that she is one of the strongest women I have ever met." He took a sip. "Not to mention the best dressed ever."

Haynes laughed, "Well there is that."

"I just remember the afternoon you saw her for the first time." Parker said with a big smile, "You were totally smitten."

"I was." Haynes accepted a glass of wine from Bob and continued, "I still am."

After a glass or 2 of wine, the men moved into the dining room for supper. Haynes had prepared quail and asparagus. There were even hot biscuits. Parker picked up a biscuit. "Now, I'm really concerned about you." He looked over at Haynes. "I was impressed with your new cooking skills but biscuits! Dad, as much as I pride myself as a skilled cook, I have never been able to make decent biscuits."

Bob added, "Damn, these are good," as he buttered one.

Haynes laughed, "I'm not about to take credit for the biscuits, you can thank Hattie"

Bob looked over at Parker, "Now, we have the family secret."

"I'm impressed you thought of getting biscuits from Hattie. I would never have considered that."

"Hey, I know my culinary limits."

They chatted over dinner about the recent weddings, sports, business, etc - anything but Colleen. As soon as dinner was over and the dishes were done, Haynes announced, "Let's go out on the patio. This weather is ideal. Scotch, either of you?"

Both accepted his offer. As soon as the drinks were poured, they walked out onto the patio. It was a beautiful southern night. They sat on the plush sofas and chairs Blanch had used to decorate the terrace.

"Okay Dad, I've had enough to drink. What are your plans with Colleen?"

"As far as I am concerned nothing has changed. I fell in love with the beguiling Colleen, not her past. Of course, it is not something I ever considered - getting to know a transsexual, much less fall in love with one." He laughed quietly and shook his head. "I don't care what people say. Well, I care when they hurt Colleen's feelings. And, unfortunately, I feel like the gathering storm will be pretty rough."

"Jeez, Dad. Remember I put you through more. You and Mama caught Hell when I came out."

Haynes laughed, "Well, let's just say we learned who our friends were."

"Hey, you would have never known me. And, that would truly been a loss," Bob could not help but offer.

Parker suggested that the 4 of them go out Friday night. Bob agreed, "We haven't been to Dot's lately."

Haynes said he and Dixie would meet the 2 of them there Friday evening around 6:30. It wasn't long before Parker and Bob had to leave. Haynes thanked them for their support. Parker's comment was, "Dad, did you think we would do anything else."

Bob gave Haynes a hug, "God, I only hope Parker grows up to be someone like you." 

Parker, shook his head, "Now I know it is time to go home."

Haynes watched the tail lights as they went down the driveway, slowly vanishing into the night. At least he knew he had Parker and Bob's support.

When Mike got home that evening, there was a u-haul truck pulled up next to the house, unloading dozens of plants. Each pot was wrapped in brown paper, so he couldn't tell exactly what they were. He was walking towards the truck when he heard Bunny. "Sweetie, they are here. I am so excited. Come look."

Mike followed her into a garden on the side of the house. "Harrison, loved this garden, but he couldn't bare to work in it after Mary died. So I decided to make it my next project," Bunny said with that innocent excitement Mike was so used to. As they walked through the gates, Mike was surprised to see an additional several dozen plant pots sitting there."

"Aren't they gorgeous? I'm so excited."

"Flower? This will look nice with something that blooms? It looks like it was a flower garden before."

"Oh no, it was a boxwood garden. And, the ones I bought are 'lush, green, rare boxwood like plants'. Just wait, it will be gorgeous."

Mike and Bunny had to step aside so the men could bring more plants into the garden. "Honey, just one question, where did you get all these from?"

"eBay, of course. I checked HSN first but they didn't sell them. I found a gardener who wanted to sell his entire collection. It was a deal - the price was very reasonable. I just paid for shipping." Bunny stooped down and removed the brown paper from one of the plants." She was silent.

Mike just said,"I'll agree, what you have here are 'rare boxwood like plants'. I've never seen any quite like these."

"See, I told you?"

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Babble and Gossip

Colleen knew her next move needed to be calling Belva. She dreaded it, but knew she had to do it. When she rang the number, Belva answered, realizing it was Colleen/Culler on the phone she just said,"As far as I am concerned you no longer exist. Do not contact me again - ever." Colleen asked to speak to Wells. "I told him yesterday that you were killed in an accident. And, he said 'good riddance'." With that, Belva rung off.

Colleen just sat there holding the phone. She told Haynes what Belva had said. "Sweetheart, I am so sorry."

"Cordelia said that Wells was in therapy, a specialist who deals with children of transsexual parents. And, he was doing well."

"If that's the case, then he will come around. Give it time." Haynes paused. "Cordelia told you that this morning?"

"No," Colleen sighed. "Cordelia figured this out several weeks ago. She sat me down, told me she knew, and was very supportive."

Haynes did not say anything.

"She was adamant that I tell you."

"And you didn't."

"Not yet, I was too scared." Colleen smiled weakly, "But, in her defense, she told me you would handle it well."

Haynes put his arms around Colleen, "Cordelia is a wise woman."

Tula was pacing in her cell like a caged animal. "I need my attorney. And, I need him now!" she shouted.

Mary Lou walked to the back of the Station and stood the doors to cells, "He is on his way." With that she closed the door so she did not have to listen to Tula's babble.

Mike asked, "I think I'll call the Judge and see what is going on with Tula's case." With that he picked up the call. Luckily, Mike was able to catch the Judge before he got on the bench.

"Your honor, it's Mike."

"'Morn'in, what can I do for you?"

"How do you know I am calling for you to do something for me?"

"Because you never call me just to have tea and crumpets."

They both laughed. "Well you have a point there," said Mike. "I'm calling about Tula Wells."

"Why am I not surprised?"

"She has a bail hearing this morning before you, right?"

"Yes, I am awaiting her drama with bated breath."

"You may not be able to tell me, but are you going to give her bail?"

"I'm afraid I don't have any choice."

Mike told explained her habit of disappearing and some of the details. He asked the Judge to take that into consideration. "Mike, glad you gave me heads up with that tidbit. Now I know what questions to ask. We may have a situation of perjury if she denies any of this. I assume Rascal is aware of this."

"Oh, yeah, just be glad that I called you and not him."

"No doubt he would be on some tirade" the Judge laughed. They rang off.

By the time Rayanne and Ella were through with their appointments, it was about noon. They decided to go to the Tea Room for lunch. When they walked in, it was obvious that the word of Colleen's past must have gotten out. "Oh, dear," said Ella. "I hope this settles down quickly."

As they were seated, Rayanne said, "Don't you want to sit over there," pointing toward a large table of ladies with several empty chairs. "I cannot hear what they are saying."

"Good", said Ella picking up her menu. "You don't need to."

Ella's look of exasperation made it clear to Rayanne that moving to the other table was not going to happen. She also realized she needed to be careful what she said. As if it mattered, no doubt everyone else was talking about it.

Ella and Rayanne could hear bits and pieces of the conversation at the other table. Luellen was saying," . . . I just don't understand, why would a man want to be a woman."

Dixie responded,"I don't know, but I do know the Bible says it is wrong."

Another lady added sarcastically, "Well, that tells you right now, that their relationship is platonic." she took a sip of tea and continued, "What else would you expect, look at his son?"

In a very calm but firm voice, Charlotte said, "Dixie, perhaps you need to reread the 10 Commandments. If I remember correctly,  the 3rd one says, 'Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.' I don't remember seeing you in church in several months."

 Everyone at the table was quiet. Charlotte looked around. "And, the 8th, pertains to all of us, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor'. Can each of you say that you honestly know  everything you have been gossiping about is the truth?" She paused, "So perhaps we should consider one of my Daddy's favorite sayings:' 'Tis better to be quiet and thought dumb, than to speak and leave no doubt.' "

With that, Charlotte stood to leave. "I have no desire to be part of this. Before today, you all were very fond of Colleen. Tell me, what has changed about Colleen to make you feel otherwise?" She looked around the table, "She is no different. Now you all act if she is an untouchable leper among us.  And this only because of what? The offensive article in the paper?  Honestly, consider the secrets each of us has that we would rather not see the light of day."

With that Charlotte turned, found Grice, paid her bill, and walked out.

Ella looked at Rayanne,"Good for Charlotte. I could not have said it better." 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

No, She is Bat Shit Crazy

"Was that Reeza I just passed in the parking lot?" Mike asked as he walked into the Station.

"You saw her?" asked  Mary Lou. "Sometimes I think she disappears into thin air."

The Sheriff walked up to Mary Lou's desk to hand her a form he needed filed. "Yes, that was Reeza," he said very annoyed. "She warned me that someone would lie, the truth would be told, and they would feel free."

"Huh," said Mike. "You just never know what she is going to tell you."

"She comes in here throwing down cards with cups and swords and knives on them. I think she is nuts." The Sheriff paused, "No, make that she is bat shit crazy."

Mary Lou added,"My old grandmother would say Reeza is 'touched'!"

"Touched? Hell, that's putting mildly."

"Haven't her predictions been true?" Mike asked.

"Yes, but only after the occurrence of the event. Before that, it is all smoke and mirrors."

"So, you don't take her prognosticating seriously?"

"Sure I do. Jesus, she talked in riddles. How the Hell am I supposed to know who is going to be deceitful, that we would be enlightened, and then which one will be free?"

"Okay, if you feel that way." Mike continued," Personally, I find her fascinating."

"Good then she can share her Voodoo riddles with you next time."

Mike laughed, "Moving on, what's the situation with Tula?"

"She's in jail, she has an attorney, and isn't talking."

"Here?"

"Yeah, she's back there."

"Maybe Tula was who Reeza was talking about?"

"I hope not. Sure she lies and I hope to find the truth but, God help me, if she is set free."

The phone rang on Della's desk. She answered it, put the call on hold, and told the Sheriff the call was for him. The Sheriff returned to his office to take the call.

"Mary Lou, what's your take on Reeza?"

"So far she has been right, so I kinda think we should pay attention to what she says."

"If we knew exactly what she is talking about."

Mary Lou and Mike shared a laugh as he made his way to his desk.

After leaving Ed's where they had had their morning coffee, Rayanne and Ella walked down Main street. Rayanne thought maybe she and Ella should go to Colleen's house. "You know, Ella, to show our support," said Rayanne.

"No, we promised we would not get involved."

"Well at least we can drive by her house."

"For what?" asked Ella. "To make sure it has not burned down? Honestly Rayanne, we have to wait and see what happens. It's not our business." Ella was serious and added, "Besides we both have hair appointments in about 10 minutes."

With that the 2 ladies turned toward Millie's Cut and Curl. When they walked into the salon, Luellen was under the hair dryer. Millie and Blanche were in an animated conversation while Millie cut Blanche's hair.  Millie looked up and spoke to the ladies.

"What's going on?" asked Rayanne.

Ella should have expected no less from Rayanne. Keeping a secret had always been her major weakness. Before anyone could answer Rayanne's question, Ella walked over to look at Blanche. "Oh, honey that new hairdo suits you well."

They all made small talk until Millie was finished with Blanche. "Okay ladies, who is first?" Millie asked as she swept the hair from under the chair. Ella suggested Rayanne go first. So Rayanne took the seat, Millie put a drape over Rayanne's dress, and clipped it in the back. As she started combing out Rayanne's hair, Millie asked,"Have y'all seen . . .?"

But she never finished her question because Rayanne blurted out, "Oh, God, isn't it horrible. And, poor Haynes, surely he didn't know." She looked at Millie in the large mirror in front of her, "And her family or his family . . ."

Millie stopped and looked at Rayanne in the mirror. "What, my dear, are you talking about? I was asking about that new movie with Candice Bergen in it. It is showing in Mobile and I want to go see it. I thought it may be fun to get a group together, drive to Mobile, and have dinner and a movie."

Hoping the topic had changed, Ella spoke up, "Oh, Millie that would be so much fun. I'm available any day this week. Wouldn't that be fun Rayanne?"

Realizing she had 'slipped' a bit, Rayanne followed Ella. "Oh, that would be grand. Count me in."

The remaining time of the ladys' appointments were filled with idle gossip, mainly about the weddings over the previous weekend. Ella was relieved the conversation never got back to Rayanne's comments.

At Colleen's house, Cordelia had left Haynes and Colleen standing at the front door. Colleen felt as if her world had ended. This was her greatest nightmare.

Haynes asked, "May I come in?"

"Oh, of course," Colleen said as she stepped inside. Haynes followed her.

Before she could say anything, Haynes started, "How could you keep this from me? I'm sure you had your reasons, but it really wasn't fair."

Colleen puddled up, "Oh, Haynes, it was never the right time. I never thought this would happen to me?"

"Have this published in a newspaper?"

"No, fall in love with someone as special as you. I know I should have told you, but I didn't want it to end." Colleen sat down on the sofa. "I don't think I have ever been so happy as I am with you."

Haynes sat down next to her and took her hand in his, "My dear, why should it end?"

"Because, I am sure you are humiliated? What could be worse than finding out someone you spent a lot of time with was not what she said she was?"

"I can only imagine the angst you have been going  through. Don't you understand, this doesn't make any difference to me. You have made me live again."

"But, what about everyone talking and what they will say?"

"Oh, some will talk. But, only until a scandal erupts and their attention turns elsewhere. The best lesson I ever learned was that love can overcome most obstacles. I remember when Parker sat Blair and me down to tell us he was gay. It took Blair a while to come to grips with it. Personally, she just saw it as the end of her dream of grandchildren." Haynes laughed.

"I was fine. Having a gay child was not something I had spent a great deal of time thinking about. But, there was Parker and he was still Parker. I still loved him. In some ways, he is my best friend." He paused. "Then he and Bob fell in love and every concern I had was gone. They were happy and that was what mattered. Besides, they can always adopt."

Colleen wiped her eyes with a tissue,"Have they ever talked about that?"

"No, but that doesn't mean a father cannot hope and pray." Haynes laughed again.

"But, that is different. Having a gay child is one thing, but having . . ."

"Having a transsexual, or whatever, as the love of my life, is not an issue. It may be everyone else's problem, but that is none of their business."

He looked at her, "Colleen, I love you for you. Together we can get past this." He smiled,"I still think you are one of the most striking and interesting women I had ever met."

Colleen was speechless. Then she spoke. "I moved here so I could get out of Mobile, but still be close enough to, hopefully, see Wells. This was my new life. No one knew the old me.  I was able to be me - for the first time. I was who I wanted to be. Literally, it was the first time I ever felt comfortable in my skin."

"I love you - the Colleen who has bewitched me since I first saw her. And you, Colleen Cantrell, are the only 'Colleen' I know."

Colleen just sat there. "Thank you, but I have to face everyone else now."

Haynes just said,"Trust me, now you will know who your true friends are. The rest can go to Hell as far as I'm concerned."

Sunday, May 13, 2018

I Fear it is Not Good

Cordelia, a voracious reader, had just sat down with her copy of the Afternoon Daily Register. The first thing she saw was the photograph of Dixie Quinton. 'Why would some one publish this in the paper, much less on the front page?' She asked herself. The paragraphs below the fold had to do with the merger of 2 banks in Mobile and a commentary on the stock market.

There was an article covering city council's open session concerning the razing of an old home so a new grocery store could be built on the location. The developers had touted how the quality of life in the area would be improved by the upscale organic grocer. The locals were protesting, stating that it was a historical  building that was to be razed. They admitted that it had never been granted 'Historical Status' but it was special to the area anyway. When pressed, no one could exactly give a good reason to support the historic relevance. However, nevertheless the group was determined that the home deserved the status and therefore the protection.

The article continued on page 2. When Cordelia turned the page, she did not look at page 2, the photographs on page 3 caught her eye. 'Oh, no', she said to herself as she read the accompanying article. 'I feared this would happen. I wonder if she is aware of this.' As she read the article, Pearl brought her a glass of ice tea.

"What in the world is wrong? Did someone die?" Pearl asked very seriously.

"No," Cordelia said as she folded the paper back and sat it on the table.

Pearl picked it up, looked at the pictures and read the captions. "Oh my, this is bad."

"Oh, it couldn't be worse."

"Why would someone do that? What do they have to gain?"

"I don't know, but I need to do what I can to mitigate any damage." With that, Cordelia got up from the table and walked over to the telephone.

She dialed a number. When someone answered, she cheerfully said, "Dear, this is Cordelia, how are you this morning?" Cordelia paused. "Wonderful. Are you busy?" She paused again. "Oh, that is wonderful." She paused, "Oh, no, I'll just drop by, I have some errands to run. We just haven't had a chance to talk in a while." "See you in a bit."

Cordelia looked at Pearl, "I dread doing this."

"She's lucky she has you there for support."

"I'll do whatever, I'm just not sure what that can be." Cordelia folded the 2 pages of the newspaper and put it in her purse. She told Pearl she had no idea when she would get back.

Cordelia knocked on the door and it opened. "Cordelia, it so nice to see you."

The 2 women exchanged air kisses. "Come in and have a seat, I just made some fresh ice tea."

"I think we need to talk first." They both took a seat on the sofa. "Obviously, you know nothing about why I am here."

"No, and I fear it is not good."

Cordelia opened her purse and handed over the newspaper. "It's not the photo of Dixie on the front. That was most unfortunate, but we all saw that."

She turned to the following page and just stopped, stunned as she saw the photographs and read the caption. "Oh, God, what do I tell Haynes?"

"Colleen, if Haynes loves you, you 2 will work through this. You knew this was going to happen."

"But, not like this. I never wanted to hurt Belva or Wells again. And, this is the worse way possible." Colleen just kept looking at the 2 pictures. The first one was of Culler McCord in a business suit. The second of Colleen and Haynes in an intimate moment at Kathleen and Jeb's reception. The article went into the details of Culler's life, his cross dressing and run in with the law. It went into the details of the divorce. 

The article then commented that it was as if Culler just dropped off the face of the world. That was until the reporter got a tip from an unidentified source. Then the article went into Colleen's life in Gallagher. To the reporter's credit, he did not make it a sleazy piece, it was more of the story of a transgender citizen making her way in society.

"What do I do?" Colleen asked, almost in tears. 

Cordelia moved across the sofa and put her arms around Colleen. "Look at it this way. It will now soon all be behind you." She paused. "First, I would call Belva and give her a heads up, if she doesn't already know about the piece. Next I would call Haynes."

Colleen just looked mortified. "And, I have been so happy with him. He is just such a gentleman. He did not deserve this."

"Don't sell him short." Cordelia stood up. "Okay, what can I do to help? I can stay here, which I am happy to do, or would you prefer I leave you alone and check on you later. But, you have to promise me, you will make those 2 calls."

"I'll be okay. Thank you so much for telling me. Only someone as kind and thoughtful as you would have done this. I guess, I need to move on. And, I really liked it here."

"Sweetheart, don't make any rash decisions. Call me."

"I will, thank you again."

Cordelia walked toward the front door with Colleen behind her. Before she reached the door it opened. The sound Cordelia heard come from Colleen was akin to all the air coming out of a balloon. Then she realized why - Haynes Dueise was standing in the doorway. Cordelia had to admit she had never seen him look like he did. The look on his face alone, was a bit scary. It was totally unlike Haynes. 

Cordelia turned to Colleen looking for some sign that she needed her to stay. But Haynes just said, "Cordelia, I think Colleen and I need to talk."

Cordelia smiled, turned to Colleen, and said, "I'll be in touch."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Disillusions, Illusions, and Independence

The Sheriff knew better than to ask questions, so he sat behind his desk quietly waiting for Reeza to speak. She gently placed 3 cards on the Sheriff's desk, all face down.

"Sheriff, something will occur soon."

She turned over the first card. "The 5 of Cups foretells deceit and disillusions. Someone is not honest and is hiding something. When revealed, it may hurt several people."


She turned over the second card. "The 7 of Swords, the unmasking of an illusion. This deceit will be revealed."


Reeza looked at the Sheriff, staring into his eyes. "You will listen to Reeza if you are wise." She turned the third and last card over. "The Queen of Swords - foretells independence, freedom of mind and soul." She paused. "This surprises me, for it foretells happiness that goes with freedom."


"Anything else I need to know?" the Sheriff asked. Ignoring his question, Reeza stood, turned to leave, and let out her blood curdling scream. By the time the Sheriff got to Mary Lou's desk there was no Reeza in sight.

"No one believes me but she gets to the door and is gone. The door never opens." said Mary Lou, looking toward the door.

"Oh, I believe you.  Trust me, I believe you. I've stopped doubting any of her nonsense a while back."

"What did she have to say?"

The Sheriff turned to walk back into his office. "That some deceitful person is going to hurt someone else. But, the illusion will pass and then someone will be free and happy." Before he got to his office door, he turned back to look at Mary Lou."Someone is going to get hurt by a lie, then there will be no lie and someone will be free and happy." He laughed. 

"Heck, that could refer to the weddings this past weekend. Think about it, Mike hid the wedding planning from Bunny. That was deceit. When she learned about the wedding - all was revealed. Then Mike felt better because he was no longer having to deceive Bunny."

Sheriff stucked his head out of his office. "You cannot be serious?"

"It works."

"Well what about Kathleen and Jeb making secretive wedding plans, keeping it all from Dixie. Then their marriage was revealed at Mike and Bunny's wedding."

"So where does the indepence come in?"

"Kathleen not living with Dixie anymore?"

"One problem,  all of our ideas are in the past. Reeza generally foretells the future."

"Maybe she was late and whatever she is foretelling only already partially started."

"I'm clueless. I have yet to figure out what her smoke and mirrors mean.  I think she just likes playing with my head."

Friday, May 11, 2018

Oh Dear, It Cannot be True

"What do we do?" asked Della.

"I wonder if she knows?" added Vivian.

"Y'all it's better for us to act as if we have not seen this, it never existed and hope no one else sees it," said Bunny.

"I would never want anyone to think I would spread idle gossip. I just had to show it to someone. I knew you girls would know what to do." said 'Miss' Ella still looking down at the paper.

"Maybe we can just contain it among us. And until we hear something else, just keep quite." Vivian suggested.

Bunny and Della agreed. "If we can keep this under wraps, hopefully it will go away." added Della.

She looked at Bunny who was just standing there as if she were in a trance. "Bunny, are you okay?"

Without looking up, Bunny just quietly said, "I just can't imagine this is true. It can't be."

Vivian added, "That's not anything for us to worry about."

The office door opened and the jingle of the bells, got everyone's attention. Della stepped forward, " 'Miss' Rayanne, what can we do for you?"

"Oh, dear, dear, it cannot be true."

"What cannot be true? That picture in the Afternoon Daily Press was just unfortunate. We all have done something we regretted after having too much to drink." Della said.

"Oh, I'm not talking about that picture of Dixie, we all saw that when it happened. That's no secret. I want to see the other picture Ella called me about." Rayanne quickly moved to the desk they were all standing around and looked at the paper. "Oh, dear it is worse than I thought."

"Now Rayanne, we are going to keep this quiet. Hopefully no one else will see the paper. and maybe it will go away." Della said firmly.

"Away? That just doesn't go away," Rayanne said almost in shock.

"Well I meant that hopefully the time will pass before anyone else learn's about this."

Everyone was quiet. Then the bells on door rang again as it was flung open. Luellen Wadsworth walked in. "Oh, Ella, I thought I would find you here, I came as fast as I could."

The girls turned and looked at 'Miss' Ella. "How many people did you tell?"

"Just these 2. They are my best friends. I couldn't know something like this and not share with my best friends."

"Well", said Della as she folded up the newspaper that was open on the desk. "Now that we have that behind us, I am going to shred this. The last thing we need is any evidence."

'Miss' Ella stammered, "Oh, don't do that. There are some articles and recipes in that paper I need to read."

"I'm sorry 'Miss' Ella but this is the only way we are going to keep this as contained as possible." With that Della took the paper into the work closet. They all could hear the grinding of the paper shredder. 

"Let's just not discuss this anymore. I have work to do." said Vivian. She added, "It was great seeing the 3 of you. Take care, and, please just forget about this."

The ladies releunctanly left. As they walked out Della asked Vivian and Bunny, "You think they can keep this to themselves?"

With no hesitation, they both said "No".

Della headed for the door, "I'll be back."

"Where are you going?"

"To buy every copy of the Afternoon Daily Press I can get my hands on."

Earlier, Bunny had emailed as many folks as she could remember to ask them to please share with her any wedding pictures they had from the Chateau on Saturday. Surprisingly, several folks had responded quickly with photo files. Bunny was thrilled. She texted Mike and let him know that she had some wedding pictures.

Bunny also made a list of things she needed to change since she was now 'Mrs. Bunny V. Pace'. This was going to take awhile. Funny, she never thought about changing her name. The name 'Bunny Wells' was not something she ever thought about. Each time she said 'Pace', she just smiled.

Meanwhile at the Station, Mary Lou laughed to herself as she saw Reeza walk through the door. "Ah, Reeza, haven't seen you in a while."

"Haven't had a reason to leave the woods until now. Is the Sheriff in?"

By this time, Mary Lou had already stuck her head into the Sheriff's office to tell him Reeza was here. The Sheriff came out to greet her. "Haven't seen you in a while. Come on in." He held the door as Reeza floated in with her purple caftan and black gele.