My Life A Bit South of Normal

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Characters

Ella and Rayanne were finishing their tea when the door to the Tea Room opened. In walked a lady and gentleman. "Never seen them before," said Rayanne quietly.

Ella paused. "The lady looks familiar." Ella continued looking at the pair. "If I'm not mistaken, that is the movie producer lady who was in town several months ago."

"Oh, I remember. She wanted to make a movie based on one of Terse's books."

"No, she wanted Terse to write the movie script. But, it wasn't going to be about one of his books. She just wanted him to write something for her."

"Now, I remember. She was connected to that reporter who came down here to interview Terse." She started to pull out her wallet.

"No, no, not now," said Ella almost in a whisper.

"You paid last time, it's my turn today."

"No, not that. We need have some more tea. I'm not ready to leave."

"Does this have anything to do with those 2 who justed walked in?"

"Maybe."

"Art Nome, Art Nome was the reporter. I think he was impressed with Gallagher."

"And, why do you think that?" Ella asked watching the pair being seated at a table close to them.

"Because she talked to everyone and kept saying we were 'unbelievable'."

"Rayanne, I don't think she meant that as a compliment."

"I wonder who the man is? If he's a movie star, I don't recognize him. And, I read People every week."

At the next table Barbara Birch and her director, Jerry, were ordering tea. "See. I didn't make this up. Jerry, this place is in its own little world."

"So far, I don't see anything but a small sleepy southern town."

"You wait. I tell you when Art came down here to interview Terse . . ."

“Barbara, I hope you didn’t drag me down here for nothing. You have been known to embellish things a bit.”

“Seriously, this is the real deal.”

“Yes, but so were the parents with their sextuplets. Remember what that turned out to be.”

Grice brought their order to table. As she set the plates down, she asked, “Is there anything else I can get you?”

Jerry and Barbara said ‘No’ and thanked her. With that Grice walked over to Ella and Rayanne, “Y’all need anything?”

“Some more tea would be nice,” replied Ella. Grice turned and went back to the kitchen.

Since they had started eating, Ella couldn’t hear what Barbara and Jerry were saying. But, it seemed to be very serious. Barbara was talking a lot more than Jerry.

It wasn’t long before Jerry excused himself to find the men’s room. He had just opened the door and stepped in when Barbara saw the Eldridge twins walk in. Each wearing pink cropped pants, white sensible shoes, floral sweaters, and wide brimmed sun hats. She turned back to see if Jerry was out of the men’s room. He wasn’t.  If he could just meet these twin ladies, Barbara could show him a prime example of what she was trying to tell him. 

Unfortunately, the ladies turned to leave. Just then Jerry returned to the table.  Barbara was excited. “See up front. Those 2 old ladies are dressed exactly alike.”

Barbara heard the bells on the door jingle as she turned . Looking at the hostess table, they only saw Caroline standing there talking on the phone. “What 2 ladies?”

“Well they were in here. They were up front talking to the hostess. I guess they just walked out.”

They talked quietly as they finished their meal. It wasn’t long before Barbara and Jerry paid their bill, stood up, and left the Tea Room. Once they were on the street, Jerry looked at Barbara. “Now what?”

“Well, I cannot remember where Terse lives, but I know who to ask.” She turned to the right and walked toward the Rental Agency. "Oh, and you cannot believe the manager there. Her name is 'Bunny'. She has blonde 'Dolly Parton' hair, wears skin tight clothes - usually in animal prints." Jerry followed behind. As they passed Millie's Cut and Curl, Jerry commented,"Let me guess, Millie is the hairdresser?"

"Who else would it be?"

On a lark Jerry stopped, "With a name like 'Curt and Curl' I've got to meet Millie."

Annoyed, Barbara told him how to get to the Rental Agency. She continued on. She had not gotten  very far when she ran into Ada Mae, who was hard to miss. She was wearing white 'Go Go' boots, a psychedelic  mini skirt that barely covered her rear end, with a macramae vest loosley hanging over a purple tie died t-shirt.

"Good morning," said Ada Mae.

Taken aback with Ada Mae's wardrobe, Barbara couldn't resist. "And, where are you going?"

Ada Mae stopped, pulled down her white rimmed sunglasses. "Jerry Garcia is in town and invited me to his pad. He is so groovy."

"Jerry Garcia is in town? Here?"

"Yeah, kinda cool huh?" She put her sunglasses back on. "Gotta run. Jerry's writing a song. He can't decide whether to name it 'Dark Star' or 'Dark Moon'. That's kinda fab, don't you think?" With that Ada Mae walked off.

Barbara found herself running into Millie's to get Jerry. "You gotta see this. There's a girl out there who thinks she is on her way to see Jerry Garcia." Realizing she had just interupted Millie and Jerry's conversation, she apologized, grabbed Jerry by the elbow and dragged him out of the shop. But Ada Mae was no where to be seen.

"Seriously? Here? Barbara you have issues. For one thing, Jerry Garcia has been dead for years." He shook his head. "Where is this 'rental agency'?"

"Jerry, I'm not making this up..
"Oh, I doubt you are - in your own mind."

"Just wait, there is a man who thinks he is a Colonel in the Confederate Army. He wears the uniform everyday. And, the brothel . . ." 

By then they had arrived at the agency. Della greeted them as they walked in. "I remember you. You're the lady who was here sometime back looking at Gallagher for a movie."

"Yes, Barbara Birch." She turned to Jerry. "This is Jerry, we work together."

"Welcome to Gallagher. How can we help?"

Barbara asked her how she could get in contact with Terse. Della replied, "Oh, I'm sorry he is out of town."

Just then Bunny walked out of her office. Her hair waas pulled back in a pony tail. She was wearing flat shoes, and a nice dress. Barbara was speachless. Jerry stepped up, "You must be Bunny. Barbara told me all about you."

"Well wasn't that sweet of her. We hope you came back to talk more about the movie."

They talked for a while. Jerry finally said, "It is so nice to get to meet you. Barbara, I have a plane to catch."

They apologized and walked out of the office. "What plane? We don't leave until Thursday. Where are you going?"

"Back to reality." He started walking toward the General Taylor Imperial, where they were staying. "You should try creative writing. Seems your imagination is getting the best of you."

Barbara just stood there, very upset that Jerry was disapointed. She decided she was going to stay around for a few days. As she made her way back to the motel, the Colonel passed her on his white horse, uniform and all. He tipped his hat, " 'Morning mam. It's a great day in Gallagher."

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Expanding Your Horizons, Ernie Baxter, and the Show

'Miss' Ella was having her usual tea on Tuesday with Rayanne.  Grice took their order. "Rayanne, you always order the same thing. You need to expand your horizons."

"Ella, you're one to talk. I don't think black tea with lemon and 2 scones is very adventuresome."

"That is not true. I never know what type of scone they will be serving, so my order is different every time."  


Ella paused. "Oh seriously. Don't tell me you are still peeved about that night of our senior cotillion?" Ella stopped buttering her biscuit and looked at Rayanne, "Why do you bring that up anytime you are out sorts?"


" 'Out of sorts'? I'm not 'out of out of sorts'."

"You can't fool me."

Just then Grice brought their tea and pastries to table. Rayanne looked over at Ella's plate. "Oh, we are living on the edge. What could be more adventuress than Blue Berry scones?"

"Don't try to revise  history. You know good and darn well that Ernie Baxter never gave you the time of day. He had planned to ask me to the dance for weeks."

"Well, he hadn't done it yet, had he?" Rayanne said as she added sugar to her tea.

"Of course he hadn't. The invitations didn't go out until 2 weeks before the dance." Then just before she took her first bite of her scone, she added. "You never knew his mother, Dottie Baxter. She was the most proper lady, I ever met. Do you know she still had a silver tray in her entry way, where callers could leave their personal cards with the proper corner turned down."

"I never understood 'calling cards'. No one had used them since the beginning of the 20th century, must less when we were in school."

"Oh, I think we should still use them," Ella took a sip of her tea. "Think how nice it would be to just leave your card instead of having to visit everyone you were calling on."

"Well first, why would you be 'calling' on someone, when you never planned to see them." She paused and added, "Besides, how many people have service these days to answer the door and take the cards."

"Oh, Rayanne, it's very simple. If you wanted to congratulate one, the left upper corner would be folded. It would also indicate a visit in person (as opposed to being sent by a servant)."

"When was the last time you had 'servants'? And, no, Fanny, your family domestic does not count."

"Oh Rayanne, you get so caught up in the details."

"Pray tell what difference it makes to 'turn down the proper corner'?"

Ella poured some more tea into her cup. "It's fairly simple. To indicate you want to visit, the right hand upper corner is folded. To pay your respects, you would leave a card with the lower left hand hand corner folded. If you wanted to let them know you were taking a long trip, you would fold the right hand lower corner.' 

"I still say that is archaic."

"Well, archaic or not, it was the proper way to call on someone." She paused and gently wiped her lips with the corner of her napkin. "The only reason Ernie was paying attention to you was the amount of champagne punch you had had."  She paused again, "He felt sorry for you. He carried you back the dorm to keep from embarrassing yourself.  Then you told everyone he had asked you to the cotillion."

"Of course he did. I would never forget something like that."

"Do you remember how you got home?"


"Certainly not. That many years ago? You can't imagine I would remember that?"

"True. Rayanne we had to sneak you in past the Miss Ruby, that old bat. You think that was easy?" Ella laughed, "I had Mary Jane Magillycutty helping me. She was convinced she was going to get to thrown out of school."

"Well, what would expect, she always was a silly biddie."

"The truth is that I was trying to keep you from making a fool of yourself." Ella took another bite of her scone. "Besides, Matthew Murray asked you to the dance."

"What difference does that make?"

"Oh, come on, that was your first date with him."

Rayanne was quiet for a while. Then she laughed, "Okay, I will admit that it turned out  pretty well."

"Pretty well? 40 years of marriage!"

"But I still was furious with you over Ernie."

Ella was laughing by this time. "Well, I never have admitted it before, but Ernie Baxter was dull - absolutely no fun at all. So you came out ahead there."

Now that they had that 45 year old tift settled, they carried on with news and gossip. "Oh, Ella, at Colleen's funeral, you should have seen all her friends from Mobile. They were quite a crew."

"Oh, no doubt they were devastated. Colleen was so wonderful."

"She was, but, they were a little 'much' don't you think? It's just that I haven't seen a group ladies dressed like they were."

"Do tell?"

"Well they had on these high heel shoes. Most were wearing outrageous hats. One even had a veil over face." She took a sip of her tea. "Don't get me wrong, they were all wearing black."

"I imagine they were good friends, especially to come all the way from Mobile."

Rayanne buttered another biscuit. "I say wearing black - one had this wide magenta sash." She laughed, "And one had this chartreuse bow attached to the back of her black dress that trailed down to the floor."

"I'm really sorry I missed the show."

"Show? It was a funeral."

"Of course but anywhere these 'ladies' go, it is a show."

"What? I don't understand."

"Rayanne, those were drag queens."

"Drag queens? What are you talking about?"

"My guess is, those were Colleen's best friends -they are transvestites?"

"Trans - what?"

"Those were not ladies. Those were men dressed as ladies. I imagine some of them live like women. They were there to support Colleen."

"I don't understand?"

"Colleen was once a man. Surely you knew that?"

"A man? But she was so graceful, so proper, yet fun." She paused, "Oh dear, did Haynes know?"


"Yes, and it was not a problem with him. He loved her dearly."

Rayanne started to say something, but Ella stopped her, "That was between the 2 of them."

"Oh, of course, certainly not . . " Rayanne said very hesitantly. "I just wondered . . . ?"

"Rayanne!"

"Well, haven't you ever wondered . . ."

"That is living on the edge!"

Friday, June 22, 2018

Just Shut Up!

Seeing Cora and Don, John said, "I think it's time to go."


Flora protested, "Not yet."



Don was standing there holding Cora's hand. Cora added, "Do you really need to leave?"

In total frustration, John said, "Yes, I think we do.

Before they left, Don reached down and gave Cora a long kiss. Then he whispered something in her ear. Cora just smiled.

After they had left, Flora turned to Cora, "What was all that about?"

"What do you mean?

"The 2 of you on the sofa. Honestly!

"Oh Flora, you were right. I don't know why I ever questioned you. It was much easier than I thought it would be. Of course I read that book you gave me 3 times. And, I followed the instructions."

"Seriously?"

Cora smiled, "Well, all I can say it that Don said I was really good."

She paused "Oh it was wonderful, and when he . . ."

Flora interrupted her,"Just shut up!"

"Well, did you and John? You know?"

Flora was furious. 'How could this happen to me?' She held her tongue, "That's our business."

"I was just asking."

Flora turned to go clean up the kitchen. Sitting on the counter was the half bottle of  their 'finest'.  "Cora!", she yelled. "What is this doing here?"

Cora had followed her into kitchen. "Oh, honey, that is 'liquid courage'. Cora gave a big smile, "Works miracles. You should try it. sometime." With that Cora turned and walked out of the kitchen. As she left, she announced, "I'm going to take a nice bubble bath."

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Oh, It Unsnaps!

As soon as Flora saw her sister standing in the door way she was on her feet. "Flora what do I do now?" she said again in a loud whisper. 

Flora quietly responded, "I gave you 2 books."

"I know, but I don't remember how to work the teddy."

'What?' Flora thought. 'What in the world was she talking about?' Before she could ask, Cora was speaking.

"It's in the way. You know . . ."

Then Cora smiled, "Never mind I figured it out. It snaps, that's pretty smart." She looked around her sister at John sitting there taking this all in. "Haayy!" He smiled and waved. Cora turned to leave. Before she got through the door, Cora said, "You know you have to take your clothes off for this to work."

Flora was so confounded by the way Cora was acting, all she could do was sit there. John asked, "Are you alright?"

She didn't say anything because she didn't know what to say. Both of them could hear noises coming from the living room. "Come over here," John suggested indicating the seat next to him on the swing.

Flora hesitated, but then stood up and moved to the porch swing. John put his arm around her. Flora just froze. 'What do I do now,' she asked herself. Her mind was blank. The sounds emanating from the living room sofa were all she could hear.

John nuzzled her neck. "You smell so good." Flora was a lost cause. All she could think of was, 'How could this have happened? Cora is such a prude.'

Meanwhile John was about to give up. Finally he sat back. "Flora I am sorry. I thought you might be trying to seduce me, like Cora is doing. . . to Don, you know?" He paused, "I guess I was mistaken. Have I done something wrong?"

"Of course not," said Flora. 

"Well then move over here a bit closer to me." She did and he reached down to kiss her. But not before they heard, "Oh, baby do that again!" come from the living room. 

Flora and John fumbled around for a bit. Finally Flora unbuttoned a button or 2 or her blouse. John could see the pink lace. Enthusiastically, he started undoing the remaining buttons. All this was going well until the screen door opened and  Cora and Don walked out onto the porch.

It was quite obvious that both were drunk. Cora was wearing her blouse unbuttoned so you could see her teddy, with Don's neck tie hanging loosly around her neck. Don was wearing his shirt, boxer shorts, his brown dress socks, carrying his pants and shoes and a shit eating grin.

"Whatcha y'all doing?" Cora asked in a bit of a slur.

Flora sat up and tried to pull her blouse back on.

When Cora saw where Flora and John were, Cora said, "Oh, honey, you're not going to get any  like that." 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

That Way When Things get Romantic . . .

Flora had called Pearce earlier in the week to get the Johnsons' phone number. Later that morning, Flora called Don and John. Much to Cora's dismay, they gladly accepted the ladys' invitation to dinner. 

Flora and Cora prepared a meal of steaks, salad, and potatoes. For dessert, Cora made a dish of their mother's famous peach cobbler. As she took the cobbler out of the oven, Cora asked, "Now what?" 

"We get dressed. And don't forget to put on some perfume." 

"But what about the teddy thing?" 

"Wear that under your clothes." 

"Over my underwear?" 

"No, instead of your underwear, silly. That way when things get romantic, you can show it to him." 

Cora was still unsure about all this. Certainly women did not do these things at their age. But following her sister's lead, she put on the teddy and the perfume. 

When Cora walked back into the kitchen, she remembered the 2 bottles of their finest work they kept under the sink. She put ice in a glass and poured it half way up with the 180 proof moonshine. 'Courage in a bottle', she said to herself as she filled the rest of the glass with iced tea. She took a long swig. 

Don and John arrived right on time. They had brought each of the ladies a bouquet of roses. Flora suggested they sit on the front porch in the old glider and on the porch swing. It was going to be a short while before the steaks were done. 

As soon as the men were settled onto the porch, Cora asked Flora if she could help her in the kitchen. Flora had just gotten into the front door, when Cora started, "Flora, now you have really gone over the edge. You realize everyone who drives by will see we have company - men company." 

"Yes, and so?" 

"What if they think the men are spending the night here?" 

"What if they do? After all, that's the plan isn't it?" 

Flora walked back out onto the porch. Cora headed to the kitchen for the iced tea. All she could think of, as she pulled 4 glasses of their mother's best crystal from the China cabinet,  was, 'What had Flora gotten them into this time?' 

While she added ice and poured tea into the glasses, Cora continued to take big sips from her first glass. She poured the remainder of her first glass into a crystal one. She added mint and lemon to each then carried them out to the porch. 

Conversation was light among the 4 of them. Don and John entertained the ladies with stories about working at Cre Uisce Aer. By the time they were half way through their iced tea, Cora was feeling much better. Come to think about it, she could never remember feeling this good.

At one point, Don asked, "So, what do you ladies do?" 

Very enthusiastically, Cora blurted out, "Make moon shine." 

The expression on Don's face showed he did not understand. However, since the cat was out of the bag, Flora added, "You know home made liquor." 

Both men smiled widely. 

Quickly, Flora said, "But we don't have any right now." She looked at Cora and gave her a 'Don't you dare say anything more' stare. To the others she said, "I'm going to check on dinner." She headed for the kitchen. 

After she left, Cora moved over to sit next to Don on the porch swing. She giggled, "You know we are real happy y'all came over tonight."

Don smiled, "We are too."

Cora smiled, "Boy do we have a surprise for y'all tonight." She took another big swig of her 'tea'.

Flora opened the door, "Supper's ready." Cora showed them into the dining room. Flora served supper. Before she sat down, she asked, "Anyone need more tea?"

She picked up the mens' glasses, along with hers and went into the kitchen. She added ice to all the glasses. Once again she added a good 3 ounces of liquor to her glass, then filled all 3 up with tea. By the time she got back to the table she was starting to wobble a bit. She gave Don and John glasses of tea and sat down with hers. 

They started eating. When Cora picked up her glass, she realized with the first taste, that she just had regular tea in her glass. Maybe she didn't 'supplement' hers after all, she thought. While no one was noticing, she put her hand in her lap. Slowly she moved it to the top of Don's thigh. He turned and smiled at her.

'Good', she thought, 'the book was right.' She took another sip of tea, for courage. Trying to remember exactly what the book said to do next, she slowly moved her hand up even further on Don's thigh. He let out a sigh with a smile. She would have stopped but it didn't seem to bother him -- at all. 

Flora looked over, "Cora, can you help me in the kitchen."

When they got out of earshot, Flora turned to Cora. In a very low voice, she asked, "Are you sure you are OK? If you don't want to do anything I understand."

"I thought I was doing it," asked Cora. 

"No, we have to do more than just sit and talk at the table. After dessert, I'll suggest to John that he and I move out to the porch."

"And, what about me? Just sit at the table?" Cora asked, thinking she was doing pretty good so far.

"No silly, that will be your sign to take Don into the living room."

"Then what?"

"Just sit real close to him and see what happens."

Cora nodded and followed Flora back to the table with the peach cobbler. As soon as they sat down, she slowly moved her hand under the table back to Don's lap. It was only then that she noticed his chair had been moved much closer to hers. 

When they finished dessert, Flora suggested that she and John go onto the porch. Cora quickly stood up. "Don, let's go into the living room so we can . . ." she unbuttoned the top several buttons of her blouse, revealing a good portion of her pink lace teddy, "so we can do this!"

Don thought it terribly funny. Flora was aghast. It was then that Cora first realized Don had gotten the 'supplemented' tea refill. He stood up, "Oh, yeah!"

Flora hurried John out onto the front porch. Totally frustrated with her sister, all she could say was, "I don't know what has gotten into her. I think she has lost her mind."

Back in the living room, Don and Cora had moved to the sofa. A line of abandoned clothes were left in their wake from the dining room table to the sofa. She was down to her teddy and Don was buck naked. Suddenly Cora sat up. "Wait a minute. I'll be right back."

Flora heard the screen door open. She looked to see Cora standing there, wearing nothing but her teddy and her knee high stockings. In a slightly slurred voice, Cora asked, "Flora, what do I do now?"

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Liquid Courage

John and Don were busy working with Pearce redoing the Japanese gardens at Cre Uisce Aer. They had found a small house to rent from Wade, just outside Gallagher on the road that led to Pearce's estate. Soon they were just another addition to Pearce's rather eclectic group of international workers.


Flora and Cora had many conversations between the 2 of them about the brothers. They ranged from anger at them for not being honest to genuine curiosity as to why they stayed around. The ladies knew they were in town but, luckily, never ran into them. 

Finally one morning Flora said, "This is stupid. Here we are by ourselves and there are 2 men here who want our company." 

Cora, always being the more hesitant of the 2 was quiet. "You mean you think we should call them? Remember Mama always told us that nice ladies did not call men on the telephone." 

"Yes she did - in the 60's. The world has changed Cora, catch up." 

"So you want to call them, and then what." 

Flora laughed, "Yes, sister. I think we should call them and invite them over. I think they would enjoy our company." 

"But Flora, what if they want to . . . , you know? What would we do?" 

Flora shook her head. "Honestly Cora, why do you think we were looking for men in the first place." 

"Not to do that?" 

"Yes. I think it is time we lived a little." Flora walked back to her bedroom and returned with 2 books. "Here," she handed them to Cora. "Read these, they will answer any questions you may have." 

Cora looked at the 2 books, " 'Women, Sex, Power and Pleasure', where did you get this from?" 

"Amazon, of course." 

"And 'Drive Him Wild, 100 Sex Tips for Women'. What are these - instructions?" 

Flora just gave her sister a wicked smile. 

Cora held the books as if they were going to bite her. "These came in the mail? What if the postman knew what he was delivering?" 

Flora laughed, "If he did, I think he would have accepted my invitation to come in for some lemonade that afternoon." 

Finally at breakfast a morning or 2 later, Flora asked, "You ready?" 

"Ready for what?'' Cora asked as she poured her cup of coffee. Then she stopped. "Oh Flora, I just can't." 

"Oh, yes you can. And, yes, we are." 

"Where do we start?" 

"Cora, you can be such a ninny." Flora shook her head. "First, I'll call them and see if they can come to dinner tomorrow night." 

"Oh, Flora . . . I just don't know." 

"Don't worry. I bought us something." Flora went to the closet, opened the door and pulled out a small flat white box. "Look at this." She opened the box and pulled out what looked like a short pink lace slip. "This should do the trick." 

Cora looked stunned. "What is that?" 

"Cora, this is a 'teddy'. Men love them. Trust me, it will help get them 'in the mood'." Flora held the piece of pink lace up to her body. "See." 

"And just where did you learn this from?" 

"It is Tip #4 in that book I gave you ." 

"Oh, dear, you are really going through with this." 

"No," Flora laughed, "We are going through with this." 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Good Food Always Soothes the Soul

By the time they returned to the station, Mary Lou's first words were that Cordelia had called. "She didn't sound right to me. She asked you to call her as soon as you got back. Do you know anything about this?"


The Sheriff walked back to his office to call Cordelia. Mike explained to Mary Lou what had happened.



"That's horrible."



Mike turned and walked to his desk to see if there were any messages. There were none, so he sat down and started working on his never ending pile of paperwork.

The Sheriff called Cordelia. "Cordelia, I am so sorry."

"You never know what someone is thinking." She paused. "I wanted to let you know that I have Wells. Thankfully, he has been staying with me for the past 2 days or so. I'll keep him here. God knows the last thing he needs is whatever drama this will bring about." 

"You know if you ever need something, let me know. I was over there this morning. I think you should that they think it was a murder, not a suicide."

"That doesn't surprise me. I can't imagine her doing something like that. Especially with Wells. He was the light of her life." They discussed a few things and then rang off.

The following morning, the police officer from Mobile called. "We just picked up a Mr. Santos Garcia. "

"Where?"

"At the local pawn store. Seemed he was trying to sell some of Ms. McCord's jewelry."

"How did you know it was her jewelry?"

"When we were going through the house, we saw, what looked like a jewelry box open and empty. I spoke with Ms. McCord's aunt and she was able to describe to me several of the more significant pieces that should have been in there. I put out a description of the jewelry to all the local pawn shops."

"And, he tried to pawn it?"

"That would be correct. We were able to get to the shop before he left."

"Did he have anything to say?"

"You bet. Once we got him to the station, and started interrogating him, he was quick to talk. Apparently, Ms. Cantrell was not the intended victim at the dinner. He said it was supposed to be a Mr. Haynes Duiese."

"Really?" He paused,"The plan was to kill Haynes not Colleen."

"So the 2 knew each other?"

"Yes, you could say they were an 'item.' Colleen was Haynes' date that evening."

They discussed the situation. When the officer in Mobile learned what Cajo had told Pearce and the Sheriff, he was even more interested in Santos. "He must have heard your car pull up and made it out of the back door just in time." He was a quiet. "Why were you asking about poison?"

"Based on a blood test, we know that she was killed by ingesting cyanide." 

"So you think that Ms. McCord gave Santos the poison and he put it in Ms. Cantrell's food?"

"That's the thought."

"But why did he do that, if the plan was to kill Mr. Duiese?"

"That's what we need to find out."

They discussed a few more things and rang off.

Meanwhile, Cordelia had always been a very important part of Wells' life. In his mind she was better than any grandmother, she was 'Aunt Cordelia'. So it was natural that Cordelia take care of him. The only other option would have been his Aunt Liza.  She had enough problems raising her own children, there was no way Cordelia was going to let her attempt to take care of Wells.

Of course, in addition to Cordelia, there was Pearl. She was even more doting than Cordelia thought about being. She believed that good food could always soothe the soul, especially her biscuits and chocolate chip cookies. Between the 2 women, Wells was in good hands.

Belva's funeral had been delayed due to the on going investigation and the circumstances of her death. Colleen's service was Monday afternoon. She had a last will and testament in which she stated she wanted to be cremated. 

Her service was the first time Haynes had met Wells. He could see Colleen in him. This was a smart, nice looking young man who had watched his world crumble in a just a matter of a few years. His therapist had done a great job keeping the young man centered. Considering all he had gone through beyond the divorce - his father's change and now the death of both of his parents.

After the ceremony, Haynes had invited everyone back to his house for a luncheon. It was a full house. Despite the reason for the gathering, everyone had a good time. Haynes knew that was the way Colleen would have wanted it to be.  So far, Haynes had been able to get through Colleen's death without having a break down. As always Parker and Bob were his rock. Naturally, both of them were also devastated by her death. 

After everyone had gone home and the caterer had cleaned up and left, Haynes, Parker, and Bob found themselves on the patio with a bottle of wine. It was nice to enjoy the quiet after all the noise, laughter, and conversation of the day.

Parker asked, "Dad, what do you think of Wells?"

"I was most impressed. I know Colleen not being able to spend time with him must have been agonizing. And to have a parent change gender and leave, then to lose both parents within a week of each other, is hard on anyone, much less a 9 year old boy."

"Well, I think he is smart and thoughtful."

Haynes told Parker and Bob about Belva having found the therapists that specialized in children of transgender parents. Wells saw Dr. Haskell at least once a week. 

Bob laughed, "They have those?"

"Apparently so and Wells is proof of how well the therapy can work. Thanks to her, this young man has been able to cope with his situation."

"I guess he is the closest you have ever had to grandchild," laughed Parker.

"I hadn't thought of that. Colleen talked about him a lot, but today was the first time I met him. Colleen and I never discussed him meeting me. Not that she had an issue with it, I just think it would have complicated a situation that was taxed as it was. The whole thing was a bit strange." Haynes was quiet. "It would have been very special."

Bob spoke up, "Well, what's stopping you now? Just because Colleen is no longer here, nothing says you cannot be part of Wells' life."

"Colleen would be thrilled. Think about it," added Parker.

"Okay, let me get this straight. He would be the 'adopted' grandson of the man his father was seeing after he transgendered into a woman."

"Yep, that's about it," laughed Bob.

"Oh, Dad, it's just a matter of semantics," Parker said laughing. "And, we all know semantics are so overrated."

"If there was a time, he ever needed you and you needed him, this was be it. Just get to know him. It will take some time."

Haynes was quiet. "Well, it's not like you 2 are ever going to make me a grandfather."

Friday, June 15, 2018

It Symbolizes the End

Back at the station the Sheriff asked Mike to come into his office. He wanted to tell him what he had learned from his visit with Pearce.

Mike quickly added, "So the lady in the purple gown gave Santos an envelope, maybe containing the poison. Then he put it in Colleen's dessert making sure he served it."

"But who was wearing a purple dress?"

"I don't remember a purple gown. What about asking Reeza? She was there."

"Sure she there, but only on the edge of the lawn. Oh, we can ask, but she is incapable of giving a clear answer. I'm not up for her mumbo jumbo right now.

"Wait," Mike said, as if a light had gone on in his head. "Belva McCord was wearing a purple dress.

"You sure?"

"Remember, I spoke with her after Colleen's death. At the time I didn't recognize who she was. She never turned her face to look at me.  She was very upset. Later Sam told me who she was."

"You sure you don't remember another purple dress?" He paused. "Could she have been putting on?"

"No, she was distraught. She was crying so hard when I walked up that she was shaking. I don't think you can fake that."

"But she never looked at you?"

"No, but Sam knew who she was."

The Sheriff was quiet. Then he remembered the cards. "Reeza said there was 'deceit'. That could be her pain over Culler's second life. Maybe she felt he had deceived her."

Mike added slowly, "And, 'pain' when he left. She felt abandoned."

The Sheriff added, "And what could be more "revengeful" than death?"

Mike added, "Well, I would think eternal pain and suffering would be revenge. But death is very efficient."

"Pain, deceit, revenge, death . . ."


"'Regret'? Maybe at the time I approached her she was despondent due to regret."


"And, 'change in feelings', could that be her regret after it was done? Remember she was wearing a purple dress.  That fits with what Cajo said he saw."


"So the poison was in the dessert."


The Sheriff shook his head. "Belva, that really surprises me. I thought she had moved on."


"Should we call Cordelia?"


"Not yet. Let's just go pay Belva a visit."


"In Mobile?



"You know another place?"

They walked into the front office. The Sheriff told Mary Lou they were going to Mobile - but shared nothing else. Along the way, Mike and the Sheriff talked about current cases they were working on. To add some levity to the conversation, the Sheriff also shared with Mike the events with the Bean Counter.

They arrived at Belva's house. A car was in the drive. However there was no response when they knocked on the door. 

Mike said, "I'll walk around the house see if anything is amiss." He made his way down the left side, looking into each window. As he reached the last window on that side of the house, something caught his eye. He looked closer. He yelled, "Sheriff, we need to get into the house - the back room to your left."


From the tone of Mike's voice the Sheriff didn't hesitate to take a iron fern stand, that was sitting on the front porch, and crash in into the door. He reached in and unlocked the door. His first thought was, 'Thank God, they don't make doors like they used to.'


By this time Mike was on his heels. Sheriff opened the door to the back room. "Dear God."


Belva's still body was hanging from the closet door. Mike pulled out a knife and cut the scarf that was around her neck. The Sheriff slowly pulled her down and lay her on the floor. He felt her pulse. "She still has a pulse. Call 911."


In no time the Mobile City Police and Rescue Squad arrived. The EMT's hurried, as the Sheriff led them to the back room. They asked a few questions, as they tried to revive her. But they were not successful. One EMT looked at the Sheriff, "For someone to still have a pulse after hanging themselves, you were almost here in time to save her."


The Policeman walked up and introduced himself to the Sheriff and
Mike. "You found her?"

"Yes sir." Sheriff explained why they were there and how they found her.


"I don't think she tried to kill herself. How did she get high enough to reach the door frame? There would have been a stool or chair. And there wasn't. My guess is we are talking about murder." The Policeman asked a few questions. "Do you know her next of kin?"


Mike spoke up, "She has a sister and an aunt. I can get their contact numbers for you."



"I'd appreciate that. I always like to gauge their initial reaction and I can get some information." The policeman made some notes. "Any idea who would do this?"

"No, not all. But there are a lot of moving parts here."

"Didn't she learn lately, that her husband had a 'limp wrist'? Wonder what happened to him?"


Mike spoke first, "She was killed Monday evening - poisoned, cyanide. That is why we need to know if there is any cyanide is found."


"So she and her husband, whoever, were killed within the same week?"


"Looks like it."


"How did you put all these pieces together?"


The Sheriff smiled, "It was in the cards."


Not understanding the Sheriff's comment, the policeman asked,"Do you have any suspects in his, I mean her death?"


The Sheriff told him what they had learned from different sources.


"So who was the boy that someone saw take something from Ms. Cantrell?"


"Santos Garcia, but so far we do not know where he is." The Sheriff reached in his pocket and pulled out the piece of paper Pearce had given him. He handed it to the Policeman. "This is everything I know about him. Santos worked for Pearce Phinigan, back in Gallagher. But he has not been seen since Monday evening."


The Policeman took the paper, read it, and looked up. "I'll put out an APB on him. We need to know what he knows."


They spoke for a minute or 2. The Sheriff and Mike went back to their car. On the wind shield, under a wiper was a note. The Sheriff picked it up. He looked at Mike, "Seriously? A tarot card?"


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Senhora Morto

Ada Mae had no money. She had showed up in Gallagher with an old carpet bag that held all her worldly belongings. 

Her wardrobe was quiet unique. Her favorite 'outfit' of a tattered light green flapper style dress and matching parasol. Often she could be seen walking through the town with her parasol. She wore an opera length strand  of pearls. She would quickly tell anyone who asked, that they were a gift from her father. Usually she followed with a tale of the provenance. Supposedly they were given to her father by the King of Polynesia. 


The King made her father king over several hundred islands and atolls. When asked where these islands were on the map, she always laughed and said, "Oh they are all tee tiny islands, so they don't show up on a map." He had sent the pearls to Ada Mae as a little girl, promising he was on his way home.


Ada Mae had a fabulous life. She claimed to be a close friend of Zelda Fitzgerald. If someone asked, she would quickly tell that the character Daisy in 'The Great Gatsy' was written with her in mind. That was quite interesting, given Ada Mae was born in the 1970's and Fitzgerald's era was the Jazz Age in the 1920's.  However that was her story and she stuck with it.


She never strayed from her story that her uncle had left the house to her. When the bank tried to get some details of the title that she insisted she had, she would demure. She explained that her uncle had given it to her for safe keeping. 

Once she claimed the house, she settled into a small bedroom upstairs, totally oblivious to the Sheriff's office downstairs. She would come and go, always sharing her daily adventures. Time was always a relative thing to Ada Mae. It was as if she lived in her own personal time warp. 

She lunched with Queen Victoria and played cards with Teddy Roosevelt.  Ada Mae would stop random people on the street and tell them how she survived the sinking of the Titanic. Her story telling was so outrageous and descriptive, it was if she really did live this vicarious life.

Meanwhile the search for the murderer continued. Pearce called the Sheriff, "Can you come over? I may have something you would be interested in hearing." That was all the Sheriff needed to hear. He was on his way. Wraping up this case and finding who killed Colleen was his top priority. 


When he arrived at Cre Uisce Aer, he found Pearce in the library standing in the middle of the room. "Thanks for coming."


The Sheriff noticed a young man sitting in a chair. "Sheriff, this Cajo Haraque. He works here on the grounds. Monday evening he was a server at the gala." He turned to Cajo, "Tell the Sheriff what you told me." He looked back at the Sheriff, "Now, he is Portuguese, so he speaks broken English."


"I was serving the party. First I was working Tables 7 & 8. But before dessert was served, I was changed to Tables 4 & 5."


"Who wanted you to change tables?"


"Santos, he was another server."


"Sheriff, I would have Santos in here also, but I cannot find him. I'll get all the information I have on him."


"We'll find him." He turned to Cajo, "Then what happened."


"I saw a mulher," he looked at Pearce for help.


"Woman."


"I saw this woman talk to Santose. They told us not to speak to the guests unless they spoke to us. But she gave him something in a small envelope. Tips I thought."


"Do your remember the color of dress the lady was wearing?'


Santos looked confused. Pearce spoke, "Her vestido? Cor?"


"Iavender? Roxa?"


Pearce looked at the Sheriff, "Purple or maybe lavender."


"And, her hair color?"


Cajo, again, looked at Pearce for help. Pearce answered,"Cabelo? Cor?"


"Oh, marrom claro."


Pearce interpreted, "Light Brown."


Rascal looked at Pearce, "Do you speak Portuguese?"


"Not hardly, I picked up a few words here and there from the men working on the restoration."


"Do you remember what table the lady was sitting at?"


Pearce looked at Santos, "Mesa,  numero de mesa?"


"Oito"


Pearce looked at the Sheriff, "8, table 8."


"Did you notice anything else?"


"Sim . . . yes. When dessert was served, a server placed the dessert at Senhora morto."


Pearce offered, "The lady who died."


"Santos stopped him and put another plate in front of her."


 "So he swapped the plates."


Pearce said a few words. Cajo nodded yes and crossed his arms as if to indicate swapping the plates.


"Anything else?"


Cajo shook his head, saying no. Pearce thanked the young man and said he could leave. At the same time he handed the Sheriff a piece of paper. "This is what I have on Santos."


"Any idea who was wearing a purple dress?"


Pearce thought for a moment. "I don't remember right now. There were so many people."


They spoke for a while, the Sheriff thanked him, then he left.


On his way back to the station he remembered Reza's prediction: deceit, pain and revenge, death, and a change in feelings. There were still a few pieces of the puzzle missing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

You Know, He Wrote 'The Jungle Book'

Rascal walked over to the store, stepped up on the porch. He reached above the double screen doors and pulled down a key.

"Don't we need to call the landlord?"


"Nope."

"But this is trespassing."

"Nope."

They walked into the front office where everthing was covered with a good half inch of dirt. Larry walked around, opened doors, measured the size of the main room. With that he stood up, "This will do."

"Do for what?"

"For the new Sheriff's station."

"Seriously, I'd like to know what part of this is 'new'?"

"Well, I meant as a 'new' location."

"Until the new one is built."

Larry continued walking around measuring windows and door widths. Almost as an after thought he said,"Oh, I doubt they will ever build that new building."

"Well, why in the Hell are you here?"

"To find you a 'new' location."

"If you think I am going to move my office and my staff into this place, you are nuts. We are just fine where we are."

"But, sir . . ."

"But nothing, we have no more business here. I need to go to the bank. I'm sure you can find your way back to old station." He turned, and as if it were an after thought said," Don't worry about locking up. I'll do that later." The Sheriff walked out.

Larry followed him out, not saying a word. He turned and walked back toward the station. The Sheriff said loudly, "Don't waste my time coming here again unless you have our congressman with you carrying a check!"

The Sheriff had no business with the bank. He just knew if he spent 1 more minute with that Bean Counter, he would exploid. No doubt his blood pressure was out of the roof now.

Meanwhile, Larry made his way back to the station. He walked in and Mary Lou realized he was alone, she asked, "What did you do with the Sheriff?"

"Oh, he had to go to the bank."

He picked up the canvas bag he had left on a table in Mary Lou's office. He turned to see this rather eccentric lady come tripping down the stairs, dressed in a long black gown, black gloves and a black veil that dropped from her head to the tips of her fingers. Larry could not make out her face under the veil..

At the bottom of the staircase, she spoke to Mary Lou, "I'm off, don't wait up for me."

Mary Lou nodded, "Be careful."

Before Ada Mae got to the front door, Larry asked, "I hope a family or close friend did not die."

Before Mary Lou could answer, Ada Mae stuck her head in the door. "Not family, he was a dear friend."

Curious about who had died, Mary Lou looked at her, "I'm sorry, who died?"

"Rudyard, but he had a grand life."

"Rudyard?"

"Yes, Kipling, Rudyard Kipling. I'm afraid I'm late, toodle loo." With that she left.

Mary Lou offered no explanation.

"Kipling,?The writer's family lives around here."

"Goodness gracious no." She went back to her work, hoping Larry would leave. There was an uncomfortable silence as he stood there holding his canvas bag.

Finally he spoke,"May, I ask who she was referring to?"

Without looking up, Mary Lou kept typing and answered him. "Rudyard Kipling, surely you know the writer?"

"The only Rudyard Kipling was the man who wrote 'The Jungle Book"?"

Still looking down, Mary Lou answered, "The same one." Larry just stood there. Mary Lou could not help but add, "You know he won a Nobel Prize."

"Yes, but that was a while ago."

"I think 1907."

With that Larry walked quickly out of the office. He wasn't sure if the house was haunted and he had seen the ghost, or if he had had too much coffee.

As soon as the door closed, Mary Lou couldn't help but laugh. The Sheriff walked in, "What is so funny? Did I miss something?"

Mary Lou shared Larry's encounter with Ada Mae.

The Sheriff shook his head as he hung up his hat, "I only wish I had been here to see that."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Bean Counter

The  bank took notice that Ada Mae claimed the house, and decided not to intervene. Quietly they knew, worse case scenario, Ada Mae would live there quietly. If she decided to fix it up, the FHG&E Board would handle that. 

Ada Mae was not going anywhere. If her 'title papers' didn't prove authentic, she was a permanent resident by squatter's rights. Sheriff Quinton just took her as part of the 'station' when they first moved in. Her comings and goings at all times of the day and night just became the norm. Unless she engaged them, the Sheriff and his staff carried on as if she did not exist.

His reminiscing ended when Mary Lou knocked on his door. She told him 'Larry from the State' was there. He looked at his watch, "Of course, he is. Just in time for lunch. And I'm sure he thinks I'm going to treat him."  Mary Lou came back a minute or so later and brought Larry into the office. 

The Sheriff stood up and greeted him. "Please tell me we are finally ready to start construction."

"We will be eventually."

What else should the Sheriff expect from the geeky looking middle aged man standing in front of him. His white shirt was stained, from what looked like, coffee. No doubt he had a pocket protector and a slide rule in the overstuffed canvas bag he carried. 

Trying to be casual, Larry said, "Now Sheriff, I know I am here at lunch time. Don't let me stop you getting lunch. I can go on my own. That hamburger I had last time I came was one of the best I've ever had."

Larry was pulling Sheriff Quitman's last string. Very curtly he said, "I've already eaten," as he sat back down in his chair.

"Oh, oh good, I ate on the way over here." Larry just stood there, like a deer in a headlight.

The Sheriff remained quiet just to make him more nervous.

Finally, Larry spoke. "Sheriff Quitman, can we walk over to the proposed site. There is something I need to look at."

"No, problem."

The Sheriff got up from his desk, grabbed his hat, and asked,  "Exactly, what do you need to look at?"

"Well sir, the contractor has a question about the grade on the eastern slope of the property."

Rascal was excited about a new station. How many former Sheriffs in Gallagher had waited for this day to come. Meanwhile he was walking down the street with Larry, the Bean Counter, who looked as if he had slept in his ill fitting clothes.

The new site was a vacant area, once the location of an old cotton gin that mysteriously burned to the ground one Halloween night. Since the building was over insured and the cotton market had tanked, the family took the loss as 'serendipitous'. The Sheriff tried to make small talk, but he found it painful with the socially awkward guy. At the corner, Larry asked,"What is that building?"

"That's the old Peavy Feed & Seed. The Peavy family ran it for over 150 years until there were no more Peavys willing to carry on the family business."

"So they sold the business?"

"Oh, no, they just had a large sale to get rid of all the merchandise. They shut it up and moved to Florida."

"Is it for sale?"

"I doubt it. Someone tried to buy it years ago. Said they planned to start a chain store."

"What kind of chain?" The Sheriff just looked at him. Larry kept talking, "You know bicycle chains, roller chains, timing chains?"

"No, more like a K-Mart, a Piggly Wiggly, or a Wal-Mart."

"No, I meant like a store that sells chains. I think they were also going to stock rope and wire."

"So its available?"

"I don't know. Probably so."

"I want to see it. Can you get someone to show it to us?"