My Life A Bit South of Normal

Friday, July 27, 2018

Walter's Special and the Dalai Lama

By the time Jerry reached the Starlight Cafe, he needed more than coffee. He grabbed a copy of the Mobile Press Register and found a table in the far corner. A friendly waitress, wearing a name tag that read 'Lucille', came over with a cup and pot of coffee. "Cream and sugar?" she asked as she placed the cup on the table in front of him and filled it with coffee. To Jerry, she sounded as if she was asking 'creem and shugah'. 

"I guess you don't have raw sugar and soy milk?"

The waitress laughed, " 'Fraid not."

"Coconut milk?"

"No, but I've seen folks on TV shows order that kind of fancy coffee with half this, half that, and a dash of whatever. All we have is regular milk and sugar."

"Well, no thank you, black will do."

As she put the coffee pot back on her tray, she asked, "Breakfast? Walter's fix'n a special omelette this morning with cheese, bologna, peppers, and ramps."

"I'll pass."

"You, sure? It's real good. Harry McRae raises the best Ramps around and he rarely shares. Walter was able to get some from him yesterday." 

Jerry tried to be polite and dismissive at the same time, "I'm fine,"

"Well, if you change your mind, just holler."

"Oh, I will."

Lucille turned and left Jerry in peace. The coffee was surprisingly good. But then anything in this bazaar place that was half way decent passed as exceptional. He opened the paper. Above the fold was an article about the upcoming University of Alabama football season and a column concerning a bill before the state legislature concerning the extension of hunting season for squirrels and feral hogs.

Below the fold was mention of the US Senate's passing of the omnibus appropriations bill and the story of an attack on the US Embassy in Brazil, copied from an AP lead. It was quite obvious down here that Nick Saban and feral hogs trumped any international crisis.

Mike walked in for his morning cup of joe and saw Jerry in the corner. After he getting his coffee, Mike walked over to Jerry's table. "Mind if I have a seat?"

Of course Jerry minded, but did that really matter? "Of course not," he said as he folded his paper and placed it on the table. 

"I get the feeling you're not quite sure about Gallagher."

"Well, it's not that."

"Oh, I'm sure it is."

"I don't mean to offend you, but there is a whole world out there. This place is in a bubble." Jerry took a sip of coffee. He thought, 'I am so totally finished with this God forsaken place'. Out loud, he continued, "If you could just get out of here, you know, see more of the world. This place is its own little microcosm - a closed place. There is so much more."

Lucille brought an omelet and placed it on the table in front of Mike. "Anything else sweetheart?"

"Not now, but thanks."

"You got it!" Lucille smiled and walked away.

Mike picked up the pepper shaker. As he seasoned his breakfast, he continued, "So you're saying there is so much more than evangelizing cross carrying loin draped homeless men and Voodoo priestesses?"

"Well, yes, something like that."

"But what if we like it like that?"

Jerry was quiet. He took a sip of coffee. 'Talk about living in a bubble ', he thought. 'This is worse than I thought.'

Mike continued, "Well, you may think that, but a wise man once told me, 'Home is where you feel at home and are treated well'."

"Really, and who was that?"

"The Dalai Lama."

Totally frustrated with Mike, Jerry sarcastically asked, "The Dalai Lama, and you read that where?"

"I didn't read it. He told me when I had the pleasure of meeting with him several years ago in Tibet."

"In Tibet?"

Mike took a sip from his cup, put it down and added some more sugar. As he stirred his coffee, he continued, "Yes, that 'autonomous' region of western China, bit north east of India, the same one where I was working on my PHD."

"PHD?"

"In history."

"History?" Jerry did not expect this.

"Yes, the 'History of Far Eastern Religions that have Faced Persecution'." 

Jerry shook his head. "And, then you came here?"

"No, then I went to law school. After that I came here. Basically, I came home, or close to it."

"To be a deputy sheriff?"

"That would be correct." Mike took a sip of his coffee. 

Jerry was more confused than ever. "Why?"

"Because I wanted to."

Jerry wasn't quite sure what to say or what to think.

"Jerry, you are the one who makes movies - stories of an imaginary world." Mike laughed, "You have to make it up. Here in Gallagher, we don't have to imagine anything, we live it."

Jerry thought a minute. "But you live here with men who dress in Confederate uniforms, witches who read cards, and men who carry crosses professing bible verses. Hell, this place has its own whore house."

"Yep, when you put it that way, sure sounds like the back lot of Twentieth Century Fox to me." Mike took a bite of his omelette. "You really should try this." 

"I'll pass." Jerry paused. "What the Hell are 'ramps' anyway?"

Mike looked up and smiled, "Wild onions. Could be the next arugula, edamame, or rolled ice cream." He took another bite. "You could be on the cutting edge."

"I'll pass."

"Suit yourself."

He cut another piece of the omelette and put it on his fork. "As for the Gentlemen's Club, my mother-in-law would take offense that you referred to it as that."

Realizing he may have gone a bit far, Jerry caught himself. "You're obviously well educated." He wiped his mouth with his paper napkin, crumpled it, and put in on the table. "Look, it's been fun. But, I've had enough fun. Who knows what would happen if I stayed any longer."

"Not sure, but I can tell you one thing."

Jerry looked at him, waiting Mike to finish his comment.

"It's all in the cards." Mike smiled and finished his omelette.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Secret Life of a Chef

Sam and Della continued trying to please everyone with their wedding plans. Finally they realized it wasn't going to happen. As they sat on Sam's porch enjoying cold beer late one afternoon watching the river, Sam said, "Della I think, no, I know, the thing to do is have the wedding here. My Mama means well, but as we say, 'Everything's bigger in Texas.' But, I don't want 'big' and I know you don't want 'big'."

Della laughed, "Well, it's not that I don't like the idea of a big wedding, it's just since I was a little girl I have dreamed of a wedding where my husband and I can spend time together and with our family and close friends." She turned to Sam, "Honey, I really like your mother, and I am sure, with enough time, I can get Bryson Lee to accept me for more than a country bumpkin. I just don't want to stand in some receiving line my for my entire reception shaking hands with folks I don't know and will probably never meet again. It's our wedding."

"Then it's decided. I'll handle my Mama. You just let your mother know what our plans are."

"Are you sure? Aren't you worried about that?"

"Of course I am. Mama was beside herself with Bryson Lee's wedding, all 3 rings and 4 acres of it. I fear she just got a taste of it."

"And, what about the rest of your family?"

"Oh, they'll be fine. They'll just fly in for the wedding. Besides, I want them to see where we live."

Della gave Sam a big hug, "Oh, I love you!"

Sam laughed,"You better if I'm going to call my Mama and give her the news."

Della pulled back, "But, you just said. . ."

"Just wanted to make sure you were listening!"

She laughed. They sat back and watched the sun go behind the oaks over the river.

That same evening Mike and Bunny had been invited over to Vivian's for dinner with her and Terse. "I'm so glad you came," Vivian said when she opened the door. "I feel like we are always your guests for dinner. It's time we entertained."

Mike and Bunny walked in. Terse came out of the kitchen wearing an apron. Mike laughed, "Now that would be the start of a good book."

"Um, let's see, "said Terse, " 'The Secret Life of the Chef'."

"More like the 'Mystery Chef and His Mystery Meat', said Vivian with a smile.

"Now, in my defense, the meat was not burned. It was 'seared' just like you read about in all those fancy cookbooks."

Vivian looked back at Mike and Bunny, "Lucky for you, his trial run was last night. I cooked tonight."

"You never were very adventurous," said Terse, as he handed Mike and Bunny glasses of wine. "Let's move into the den while Julia Childs finishes the souffle."

"What's up?" asked Mike, as he and Bunny sat down on the sofa. "Seems like it is never the 4 of us anymore."

From the kitchen Vivian suggested, "Tell them about our trip."

"Oh, yeah," Terse smiled. "Viv and I are going to France."

"France, as in  the France across the ocean, where they speak French?" asked Bunny sincerely.

Mike just shook his head, "I'm pretty sure the same."

Terse continued, "We never get away so I planned a 2 week trip, with one week through the wine region of France then another week on the Cote d'azur."

Vivian was putting a plate of cheese and crackers on the coffee table. Before Bunny could ask, Vivian added "That's the French coast."

Terse continued, "Mama and Daddy went last year. They loved some of the places they stayed. So, I figured if they were good enough for Blanche Jackson, they would meet Vivian's needs."

"Seriously? Says the man who requires fresh towels, a hotel robe, a spa, and room service in any place he stays."

"Now wait a minute . . ."

Mike jumped in, "That is way too much information." He laughed, "A spa? Seriously? You know Bunny and I never had a honeymoon, maybe we could go later this year."

"Ooh, I'd love that", said Bunny getting a cracker and piece of cheese from the plate in front of her. "Can we?"

"Of course we can. We'll just let Terse and Vivian do the research for us. After all, with Terses' accommodation requirements, how can we go wrong." Everyone laughed.

"Dinner's ready," announced Vivian as she placed a platter of meat on the table. With that Bunny, Terse, and Mike moved to the table.

"This looks wonderful," said Bunny. "My meals never quite look like this."

Vivian and Terse looked at Mike, "Don't look at me, I'm not saying a word. I don't want to sleep on the sofa tonight."

"I wouldn't do that. This smells wonderful and I'm starved." Vivian served everyones plates. Things got very quiet as the 4 of them enjoyed the dinner. 

Terse raised his glass, "Like Mike said, we need to spend more time together. To good friends." They all toasted.

Mike added, "And to the travel planners for the grand tour."

After dinner, Terse announced, "What if Mike and I do the dishes and you 2 just sit down and enjoy yourselves."

Vivian looked at Bunny, "Not a problem with me." Bunny thanked the guys and followed Vivian into the den. The 2 women talked about Vivian and Terse's up coming trip.

"I'm so excited. You have to send us post cards from every where you go."

"Oh, we'll send pictures  by email."

By this time the men were done and came back to the den to join the ladies. They had just sat down when Terse looked at Vivian, "I don't feel so good." With that he left the room. He was gone a while.

Finally Vivian stood and said, "Let me go check on him."

"Oh, I hope he's okay. I've got some Tums in my purse. My Great Aunt Brunilda said I always needed to carry those with me." 

Vivian thanked her but said she did not think that would be unnecessary. She left the den and headed down the hall.

Bunny just continued, "You know, Aunt Brunilda also said I should carry Nabs, Kleenex, and peppermints with me." Bunny rattled on about her Aunt and stories of going places with her as a child. Finally Vivian returned.

"Is Terse okay?" asked Mike.

"Not really, I think it was something he ate." Vivian smiled as sat down. "Naturally, he says it is my fault." She laughed. 

"Well we feel fine, so I doubt it was the dinner," Vivian said in support of her friend.

Mike stood, "I think we need to go. The last thing you need is us here when Terse needs nursing."

"Oh, he'll be fine."

"Seriously, I can only imagine the care Terse requires at this time, given the accomodations he requires traveling."

"Isn't that a scream!" 

"Who knew," said Mike. "Seriously, if we can do anything, just call. I hope he is going to be okay."

"I feel certain he will. In case you haven't figured it out yet, Terse is a little high maintenance."

Vivian went back to check on Terse. Bunny and Mike let them selves out. On the way home, Bunny commented, "That was just horrible about Terse. I wonder what made him sick? Everything tasted fine to me."

"No telling what it was. I think if we were going to get sick, we would already be sick. Terse is in pretty good health. It he got sick that fast, I'm pretty sure we would be dead if it had anything to do with the meal."

"You got a point there."

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Blot of Mustard and a Crumb Cheese

The following morning Jerry decided to get a fresh cup of coffee. Making sure he avoided Mae, he headed for the Starlight Cafe. As he walked down the main street he felt as if he were somewhere between Mayberry RFD and some place created in Tim Burton's mind. True, Gallagher was quaint. He would give it that. And, no doubt, every little southern town had its share of characters.

The wide streets shaded by the large old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, gave one the feeling of walking under a canopy of green and gray. Few people were out and about. The shops were just starting to open. Then something caught his eye, something moving through the park to his left. He stopped. Whatever it was, had disappeared. He continued walking toward Ed's. It was then he saw it, or rather him.

Standing on the sidewalk in his path was a man looking as if he had not bathed in weeks. His hair was long hair and stringy. To add to this vision, the man was wearing nothing more than a simple loin cloth. But, it was not the man's clothing, stringy hair, or dirty face that caught his eye. It was the huge wooden cross strapped to his back that was hard to miss.

'What the Hell?' Jerry thought.

The silence was broken by Buck's voice shouting, "If Jesus is not in your heart you need to accept him. Only faith in the Lord will save you now. Repent and the Lord will protect you."

Jerry was entranced, speechless, and a bit taken back all at the same time. 'This really is not happening,' went through his mind.

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," Buck shouted as he walked in Jerry's direction. Not sure what to do or where to go, Jerry just stood there. 

Once again Tim Burton came to Jerry's mind, 'One person's craziness is another person's reality' .

As if a savior from heaven, the Sheriff showed up. He walked up to the cross bearing evangelist, "Buck, I've told you before, you need to move along. Yes, you have First Amendment rights, but that doesn't allow you to pester folks around here. Last time I checked with Mary Lou, you did not have a permit to march, so move along."

Buck knew better than to protest. He hoisted his cross onto his back, and slowly moved down the side walk. Jerry could hear him sing as he walked away, "Jesus! the name that charms our fears, That bids our sorrows cease, ’Tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’Tis life, and health, and peace, He breaks the pow’r of canceled sin,  He sets the pris’ner free; His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me."

The Sheriff seeing the puzzled look on Jerry's face. "Oh, For a 1000 Tongues to Sing."

"What?"

"Obviously, you never got dragged to a Southern Baptist Church as a child," said the Sheriff.

"Can't say I have."

"Then it will be lost on you. Anything else I can do for you?"

"No, Sheriff, but I appreciate your saving me here?"

"I appreciate the thought but, I am no competition for God."

Jerry looked at him, but the Sheriff just winked at him and laughed.

The Sheriff went on his way and Jerry proceeded to Ed's for that cup of coffee. 'Maybe Barbara was right, this is place is nuts. But,' he thought as he walked along, 'this is the south. Everyone knows about their reputation.' He shook his head.

Once again something caught his eye. He looked to his right. Sitting on the park bench was a woman dressed in a long black robe. The purple gele on her head was hard to miss. She was dealing cards onto the bench beside her. It was then she looked up. Their eyes met. Reeza's green eyes were piercing. 'Okay', he thought this is enough. 

Once more he turned toward the cafe. As he made his way, he ran into Mike. "You look like you have seen a ghost. You okay?"

Jerry told him about his run in with Buck. "And then, did you know there is a woman dressed like a witch sitting on a bench in the park playing cards."

Mike laughed, "Do remember a 'Christmas Carol'?"

"Of course, we all had to read Dickens in school. What does Charles Dickens have to do with being here?"

"Oh, it's not being here, it's more like what you think you see when you are here. Perhaps 'You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato'."

"It was a man lugging a wooden cross trying to save my soul and a witch playing with cards."

Mike laughed and shook his head. He was loving this. "Are you sure?" 

Monday, July 23, 2018

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

Barbara suggested that she and Jerry get a drink, so they walked toward the bar. They were about there when the Colonel approached them dressed in full regalia. In his courteous fashion, he  doffed his hat. Looking at Barbara he said, "Evening, mam." Looking at Jerry, he smiled, "Sir." With that he donned his hat and walked off, Jerry's eyes trailing him.

"Okay, okay, okay, so you didn't make it all up," Jerry said shaking his head.

"Oh, there is more," Barbara added.

"Why am I not surprised?"

Barbara pointed toward the bar as they approached it. "That is Ike, the bartender."

"How old is he? The age of Methuselah?"

"Maybe, but he is the bartender at Dot's Do Drop In."

"You're making that up!"

"I couldn't if I tried." She took a breath, "Oh, boy. Prepare yourself."

Jerry turned to see a young lady quickly walking toward them. Without taking a breath the young lady started, "Oh, Ms. Burch, you are back. I knew you would come back to make a movie about Gallagher. Why I told Walter when you walked out that day that we would see more of you. I just knew it."

Not being able to remember her name, Barbara turned to Jerry,  "This young lady works at the 'Half Moon Coffee House'."

Mae stuck out her hand, "Mae, well Mary Margaret Macaulay, but everyone calls me Mae. See my Mama's name was Margaret Nadine McFadden, everyone called her Margaret McFadden. Well that was until she married Daddy. Then Margaret McFadden Macaulay was a bit much. My grandmama, on my Daddy's side, was named Lillian Mae McDougal. Of course after she married my granddaddy she was Lillian Mae McDougal Macaulay. But we called her Granny Lily. Anyway,  I was named after my Mama and Granny Lily, but the family thought it would be confusing to call me Margaret Mae, so they just call me 'Mae."

Jerry, having lost interest before Mae got to her mother, offered his hand, "Jerry Moore, just Jerry."

She turned to Barbara, "And it's the 'Starlight Cafe'." Barbara seemed lost. "Where I work is the Starlight Cafe, not the whatever coffee house. We don't have a coffee house here, but we do have a Tea Room - the Goodness Gracious Tea Room. These 2 ladies got together . . ."

Interrupting Mae, to save her and Jerry more pain from her rattling on, Barbara just said, "Mae, great seeing you."

"Y'all come by the Starlight Cafe before you leave." She smiled. "And, Miss Burch, remember I have acting experience and would love a part in your movie."

"Oh yes, I haven't forgotten."

Jerry looked at Barbara quizzically, "Acting experience? And what films have you been in?"

Mae blushed,"Oh, I've never been in a real movie, but I played the second witch in our middle school year end play, 'The Wizard of Oz.' I was quite good if I must say so myself. In fact Mr. Fielding, the teacher who was directing the play, told me  . . ."

"Oh Jerry," Barbara said in mock distress, "I think I left my cell phone at the hotel. We need to go back and get it."

Mae brightened up, "Oh, I've done that plenty of times. But, it wasn't in a hotel. See I haven't been in many hotels. Well there was that summer . . ."

"Mae it was great seeing you, but I'm afraid we need to go get my phone."

She and Jerry smiled, not saying another word for fear it would lead into another one of Mae's monologues.

Walter walked up just as Barbara and Jerry had left. "Was that the Hollywood producer?"

"Oh, it was," said Mae, not taking her eyes off the 2 as they walked off. "Oh, Walter, I'm so excited. I know she came back to make the movie and I'm going to be a star."

"She said that huh?"

"Well, not exactly. But, I have that feeling . . . you know that woman's intuition." She was giddy. Then she put her hand on Walter's arm. "Oh, you know I'll stay with you until you can find a replacement."

"Mae, I'm not worried about that. If all this comes to past, we'll work it out." He paused. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, he added,"Trust me, you are truly one of a kind."

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Fireworks Under the Oaks

Della and Sam's romantic moment was interrupted by a woman screaming "Cora! What are you doing? Seriously? And on a picnic table of all places?"

The attention of the crowd turned toward the ruckas. Flora continued, "What would Mama say? And Daddy? He would've killed you."

In the shadows of the grand oaks, lit only by the white lights strung around the area, Cora was trying, although very clumsily, to put her shirt back on. Don was pulling his pants up. Meanwhile John was trying his best to calm Flora down. The mumurs from the crowd were more of being entertained than being aghast. The reality of the situation had mothers quickly gathering their children, trying to shield their innocent eyes. 

Ella stepped forward, "Folks, there is free pound cake over here for everyone," pointing in the opposite direction, trying her best to get the crowd's attention. A few turned and moved, but a majority stood there, hoping the show would go on.

Realizing most of the town was watching her, Cora gave a demure smile and giggled. Don just stood there with a shit eating grin on his face. Walter, who was standing in the back of the crowd, shook his head. To no one in particular, he said, "Guess there is hope for us old geezers after all." Ike laughed, turned with Walter, and the 2 walked back to the bar.

Barbara Birch tugged on Jerry's shirt sleeve. "See, I told you this place is a bit 'odd' at best." Even for Gallagher this site was a bit unreal. Jerry took it all in. Here was this seventy or so year old half dressed lady, who had been caught with an older man, canoodling on a picnic table. The most interesting part was that this lady seemed nonplussed by the 'exposure'.

As the crowd finally started dispersing, Ella walked up to John. "Maybe you should take Flora home."

"Me?" said Flora is disgust, "What about that floozy of a sister I have?"

Ella put her arm around Flora and looked at John. "I think Cora can take care of herself." She looked at John, "Call me if you need me. Ella handed him one of her calling cards with her number on it. 

Ella paused went back to the cake table to see if Lue Ellen needed help. On her way she heard Vinia Mae McNissis ask, "Mommy, what were they doing? Why was that lady just getting dressed?" When her mother did not reply, the little one continued, "And, why was everyone looking at them?"

Thinking quickly, her mother, Corina, replied, "Oh dear, they were not looking at Miss Eldridge", she paused and added, "and her friend. Didn't you hear them announce it was time for the fireworks. Who do you know who wants to miss fireworks?"

The little girl shook her head, "Seriously Mama? No one can see fireworks standing under the trees." She shook her head and declared, "I'm going to get some cake."

Corina turned and followed her child, thinking, 'Oh, there were fireworks alright!'

Friday, July 20, 2018

Nieman Marcus and Feral Hogs

Della and Sam were two stepping to the band's fairly good rendition of Hank Williams' 'If Heaven Ain't Alot Like Dixie'. Everyone watching them was clueless as to what they were doing. They knew it wasn't a waltz or a fox trot. Obviously no one going around a large circle was doing the traditional southern 'shag' they had learned at Alabama and Ol' Miss. Many just stood there, entranced.

Della was clueless as to the dozens of eyes on her. She only had eyes for Sam, her Texas cowboy. She had been swept off her feet from the moment he first walked into the office. The 2 were planning their wedding, the only issue was Texas or Alabama. Sam's family was very well to do. They expected their only son's wedding to be one large enough to accommodate all their family, friends, business associates, and significant others. After all, nothing in Texas was small.

Della's family, on the other hand, could only imagine a simple church wedding for their daughter with a reception in the church hall. One big enough to handle their family and friends. No one needed anything else - just something proper and simple.

Della and Sam had 'danced' around their families for months. Neither wanting to hurt any one's feeling. There had been many discussions about elopement - some serious and others not so much. They just wanted to get married and not hurt any one's feelings in the process. Why did love have to be so difficult?

While they were visiting Sam's family in Dallas, his mother and sister, Bryson Lee, had made an appointment with the head of the Bridal Department at Nieman Marcus. They made it a 'Girl's Day' of it to look at wedding gowns.  Della had never been treated to such. She quickly realized she was terribly under dressed in her simple skirt and blouse. However, being polite, no one said anything.

The ladies were served champagne and pastries as they sat and watched models parade before them displaying the gowns. The dresses were lovely. Della had only seen such in the few Bridal magazines she has looked through. She had been handed a printed sheet that gave the description, including the designer, of each gown as it was presented. The prices threw her into a state of panic.  'Any one these cost more than my used Honda Civic', Della thought. Never wanting to hurt Sam's mother's feelings, she smiled and commented pleasantly on each as it was presented. The glasses of champagne did not hurt.

Sam's younger sister complicated the situation. Being the debutante of the season the year she came out, a cheerleader for the University of Texas Longhorns while at college, and then having her wedding featured in 'Town and Country' as well as the social  column of the 'Texas Observer', Della knew she would never measure up to Bryson Lee. But, she was able to politely handle Mrs. Peterson.

Sam and Della had returned from Texas, a little more confused than before. There was no middle ground. The Peterson's idea of a wedding was 500 guests, a full band, open bar, seated dinner, dancing, an affair guaranteed to make the society pages. While the Lees could not imagine anything more than a simple service in the local baptist church with a reception in the social hall complete with Lue Ellen's pecan sandies and pink punch.

Ima Jean, Della's mother, had been dreaming of her daughter's wedding since the day Della was born. Given Ima Jean and Tommy were married in the living room of the justice of the peace in the next county over, she could only dream of her daughter's wedding.

20 some years ago she had bought a Simplicity pattern for the wedding gown of her dreams. Unlike her simple wedding, she wanted her daughter to have the best. The least she could do was make her wedding gown. Ima Jean had even bought yards of white eyelet that she carefully kept wrapped in paper, stored in the bottom of her husband's freezer out back under the shed. Since Thomas only used the shed to clean his fish and the freezer for the deer meat, quail, dove, and feral hog he killed each year.

So there they were - Sam and Della, in love, lost in the music. They just wanted to get married and share their day with their family and friends. How difficult could that be?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hello Sunshine and Summer Dance

Bunny survived the rest of Thursday evening. She had no idea what happened to Pervis and, personally, she didn't care. Seeing him was like being visited by the ghost of Christmas past. Before they turned in for the night, Mike reminded her that the following evening was the town's summer dance in the town park.

The 'Summer Dance' was an annual event Gallagher had hosted every June since 1895. The original idea was to get everyone off their porches one summer evening in June. Even though the southern heat was often unbearable, no one was going to miss this event. Given there was usually nothing else going on in town, not attending was taking a good chance one would be talked about. That being the case, it was worth bearing the heat to preserve one's reputation. And while there, one may as well get the scoop on those poor souls who did not venture into the heat. 

Gallagher was so small there were no secrets. That said, it still had that southern civility - even though everyone knew your business, they politely acted as if they didn't. Of course, that did not stop anyone from asking leading questions.

By the time Mike and Bunny arrived there was quite a crowd. Kids were running about wild. A local band was tuning up on the band stand. Flora and Cora were there, Don and John following behind. Barbara had convinced Jerry to stay another night to get a better feeling of the town. 

Lue Ellen had a table serving slices of her famous sour cream pound cake. Ella and Rayanne were there serving the gallons of lemonade Walter had donated from the Cafe.  The Grand Gallagher Ladies Club had a cash bar. Proceeds from that went to their 'Charity' fund. (It was always questionable just what their 'charity' was, but it was not polite to ask.)

Mike walked to the bar to get a glass of wine and one for Bunny.  Ike was there poured the 2 glasses and handed them him. "Tell Miss Bunny I'm sorry. We don't have any rose or Chablis this morning. But, I think she may like this pinot grigios." 

"Thanks Ike, I'll tell her," Mike smiled.

He turned to see the Sheriff behind him. "You really missed it today."

"Really? What in the world could I have missed in one day?" Mike laughed, "Actually, I imagine anything I missed was more titillating than court."

"I was surprised you were tied up there all day."

"Well, I thought so too. That was until the Widow Dillworth's case came up on the docket." The Sheriff cocked an eye. Mike just finished, "Let's just say, she took issue with the Judge's ruling." 

"Really?"

"Wanted to call 'expert' witnesses."

"For what? She parked her car in the middle of the town green, after almost taking out a bench, and then missing Jefferson Davis' statute by a mere foot. If I remember correctly, she thought she was in front of Millie's." The Sheriff laughed, "She was only off by 2 blocks."

"Well, the Judge was going to have none of it. He reminded her that she was not Perry Mason. Then the Judge called Mercer to testify that Mrs. Dillworth had failed her last eye exam and should not have been driving in the first place."

"The fun just never ends."

Mike shook his head, "So what did I miss?"

"Early this morning, Buzz passed a man walking down the Old Wire Road. Said the man didn't look good, so Buzz stopped to offer him a ride. He said when he got to the man, he was acting like he was delirious. All the man would say was, 'I lost my hat and my mother is going to kill me'."

"Where on the Old Wire Road? Close to Ivy Lane?"

"He was about a half mile from Ivy Lane going towards town."

"No car? Did he say where he had been?"

The Sheriff shook his head, "Nope, no car that Buzz saw. All he talked about was his hat and his mother. Ask Buzz, he can tell you the whole story."

Mike excused himself and went to find Bunny. No doubt she was wondering where her glass of wine was.


Barbara saw Terse and Vivian across the lawn. Having to walk on her toes to keep her 4 inch heels from sinking into the park's grass. She dragged Jerry over to meet them. This was her last chance to get the 2 of them together. Before they reached them, Terse said under his voice, "Dear God, she's back."


"Mr. Jackson, I'm so glad you're here. I'd like you to meet Jerry, my producer."

Being polite, Terse offered his hand, "Reginald Jackson, nice to meet you." He turned and introduced Vivian, "This is Vivian Wells, my girl friend."

Not wasting any time, Barbara went straight to the point, "Reginald, I was hoping you had time to reconsider my proposal. We could make you famous," she smiled, "and rich."

Reginald smiled,"Miss Birch . . . it is Miss Birch?"

"Of course, but please call me Barbara."

"Well Barbara, I appreciate that very much. However, I already signed a deal."

"Reginald, I am sure you have a 'deal', but I can offer you so much more than a little local company. After all, we work with Hollywood. You know big names, big lights," she waved her hands wide in the air, the gold bands on her wrists jingling. "You're not going to find that here."

"No mam, probably not." Terse said hoping that would end the conversation. Unfortunately, it didn't.

"What kind of deal did you get?"

Terse politely smiled,"They were quite kind."

Jerry spoke up, "If I may ask, who did you sign with?"

Terse hesitated, "It's a company from LA - Pacific Standard/Hello Sunshine."

Barbara was shocked, "Witherspoon, you signed with Reese Witherspoon? How did you get her to take your script? She is big time."

"Actually, I didn't," Terse said quietly. He badly wanted to get out of this conversation. He never cared for Barbara from the first time he met her. As for Jerry, he questioned anyone who would keep her company. "Miss Birch it was nice seeing you again." He turned to Jerry and offered him his hand, "and nice to meet you, Jerry."

Barbara, not willing to give up. "Mr. Jackson, I hope they accept the script, if they don't, please call me."

Finally loosing all patience, Terse spoke up, "I think she'll produce it. After all, she contacted me. I didn't contact her." He smiled at Barbara and Jerry, "Y'all enjoy yourselves." He put his arm around Vivian's waist. They made their way to the bar.

As Mike walked through the crowd looking for Bunny, he saw a couple making out behind one of the big oak trees in the shadows. That brought back memories of his teenage years. 'A right of passage' he thought. But he then he stopped in his tracks.

The site of Cora Eldridge moving from behind the tree to the top of a picnic table, half naked, getting to 3rd base with an older man he didn't recognize was not a sight he wanted to see. Mike knew he needed to move on but he just stood there for a second or 2. Some things defied imagination. He shook his head and walked away still looking for Bunny.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Let's Recap

Gentle readers, having been gone for a week or 2, I have not given up on the tales and tribulations of the folks in Gallagher. I am back (to reality) and eager to see what is going on in our little town in Alabama. That said, I thought, perhaps we should recap where we are:

Bunny Vontese is now married to Mike Pace. Unbeknownest to her and everyone else, Mike is not just a Sheriff's Deputy, but a well educated young man. Come to find out he comes from a fairly well to do family that lives not too far away. They live happily at Ivy Lane, the former home and estate of Harrison Wells.  Remember Harrison met his sudden death  during his very short engagement to Bunny. He willed Ivy Lane to Bunny, along with a sizable trust to keep it (and Bunny) in good shape.

Anna Belle is now keeping company with Walter Pace, Mike's Grandfather, whom she met at Bunny's wedding. Her business, the Gallagher Gentlemen's Club, is fairing very well, despite the mysterious death of 2 of her patrons.

The Eldrige twins are in the midst of figuring out the rituals of courting - now that Don and John have arrived. (They are a set of identical twins the Eldridges found on an online dating site for older folks.) Of course Flora and Cora got in a bit of trouble when their liquor still was discovered in their back yard while the Colonel was searching for the body of General Holden James Kirby, a long deceased officer in the Confederate army. 

The final batch of their fine moonshine has found its way into Dot's Do Drop In, where Ike (the bartender) dispenses it in small doses to any patron who knows the secret phrase.

Colonel Wadsworth continues to dress in his Confederate uniform as well as ride around town on his horse. The Museum of Confederate Uniforms, Hats, and Paraphernalia does well under the Colonel's watchful eye. 

Winifred, the Colonel's wife who once dressed in a dowdy costume of the time of our most recent unpleasantness joined the 21st century. She now is one of now one of Anna Belle's 'girls'. While at the Club, where she goes by the name 'Sara', she generally keeps company with Clark Butler (of course his wife Blanche is totally unaware of the situation as is the Colonel).

Vivian, who showed up in town with a few unruly children has settled in. The children's uncle, brother of their late father, and his wife (Harvey and Laurelie Wells) have adopted the children. All is well there.

Of course, Vivian, was the love child of Tula and William Vontese (Bunny's father). She and her mother do not fair well together. Vivian has settled into a relationship with Terse who has become a nationally recognized novelist and town celebrity.


Vivian's estranged mother, Tula, continued to wreck havoc in may people lives until she was arrested for embezzlement, transporting an adult against his will, and Elder abuse. She has now found herself in prison.

Pearce has settled into his family estate, Cre Uisce Aer, that he bought and has lovingly restored. He has hired Don and John to restore one of the gardens on the property. Come to find out, they are experts in designing Japanese gardens.

Dr. Mercer Magill and Iris Barker are now an item. She went a little off the range for awhile there. After her husband met his untimely death, a young man pretending to be her husband's nephew showed up with a scheme to swindle all her money. However, he found her possessed. He was arrested. She was committed to the Midsummer Sanitarium that ended up being an undesirable place. After she was rescued, she got right in the head again, and is now seeing Mercer on a regular basis.

Reeza, the Voodoo priestess who livesdeep in the Bayou, regular appears with her tarot cards. Her interpretations, as bewildering as often as they are, usually proove true.

Sheriff Quitman is keeping law and order in the county, as best he can. Mary Lou is handling both the Sheriff's Station and the Sheriff fairly well.

Speaking of the Sheriff's Station, there is a percular lady living in a bedroom the second story of the building. Ada Mae claims to hold the deed to the building (which was once a fine home). She lives there as if she were claiming squatters rights. Of course Ada Mae also lives in her own little world which allows her to time travel (in her mind) and always dress in the costume of the period.

The Goodness Gracious Tea Room had become quite the popular place, especially among the ladies of the town. Blanche, Caroline, and Hattie are doing very well with the business.

Barbara Birch and her producer friend, Jerry, are back in town for a visit. Her first hope was that Terse would allow her to produce a movie based on one of his books. That did not happen. Now, Barbara is very eager to show Jerry the cast of the town's eccentric citizens, in hopes he will make a film about them. Unfortunately, their presence alludes him and he is convinced Barbara has made it up. 

Dr. Hollis Sadler is now seeing Stella Marlboro, the widow of Madison, an attorney in town. Madison was a well liked man with a predilection for the bottle. He was found one morning in his parked car in front of their home. The assumption being he died of natural causes. However, he met his untimely death at the Gentlemen's Club thanks to a woman who loathed men and a taser.

Belva, one of Harrison Wells' daughters, has divorced her husband, Culler, after she discovered he was much more partial to women's clothes than his Brooks Brothers suits. Culler became 'Colleen' and relocates in Gallagher. Haynes Duiese was smitten with Colleen from first sight. Their relationship was going very well until her inauspicious death at the Historical Society Gala at Cre Uisce Aer.

Cordelia Wells is still the matriarc of the family. Aunt Cordelia (as she is known) often can be found holding court at her table at the Tea Room during their 'Apres High Tea Time' (aka lady's happy hour.)

Quinton Gallagher Hampton IV (Wade), who owns the Q.G.Hampton Rentals and Housing Co. (where Bunny works) is doing well. He has had to occasionally offer 'aid' to Anna Belle at the Club  when the need arises. (Let's just say he has become very adept at removing the bodies of gentleman who have met their unfortunate deaths at Anna Belle's club.)

Kathleen and Jeb managed to get married despite Dixie's grand plans that they wanted nothing of. Harrell tried his best to keep Dixie in check, but even he wasn't a match for his wife's plans of a preposterous wedding cake, invitations sent in purple satin boxes, butterflies, and a haute couture wedding gown.

Meanwhile the lives of Sam, Della, Bob and Parker, Ada, Buck Beaver, Amy, Axson McDermott, Bates, Maisy Ruth, Liza, Roy, Hattie, Charlie, Chief Pyre, Cliff, Luigi, Doyle, Imogene and Joe, Irnis, Knox and Kirby, Larry, Luther, Theo, Manfield, Marcelle, Millie, Parnell, Pearl, Rayanne and 'Miss' Ella, Ed, Walter, Frank, and Grice, go on.

The tales continues.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Boone's Farm and a Bowler

Bunny was in the kitchen when she stopped running. Mike had reached the butler's pantry and opened the door. There was no point her going any further. Bunny stood back, waiting for the shit to hit the fan. 

"Here they are," Mike said calmly. "Mary Wells had the best selection of wine glasses - all fine thin crystal. Can you please carry these 2 and I'll take the other 2."

Before she knew it, Mike and Walter were in the kitchen. "You okay honey?" asked Mike. 

Trying to think quickly, she just said, "I thought I may have left the oven on and wanted to check." Since she had just prepared a green mixed salad and cold macaroni, hopefully no one would pay attention to those details.

As soon as she knew Mike and Walter were back on the porch, she opened the door to the butler's pantry. Standing there was Pervis. "Did they see you?"

"No, I didn't want to get shot. Mother would be most disappointed."

The last thing Bunny was worried about was 'Mother'. Looking around the small room she saw no where for him to hide. However, that was not the issue at the time. "I need you to leave - very quietly. You are lucky my husband didn't find you."

Bunny walked out of the pantry with Pervis behind her. She looked both ways. Not seeing anyone, she quietly said, "Now scoot." She pointed toward the kitchen.

Bunny took a deep breath and made it back to the table on the porch. As she sat down Walter asked, "Bunny, please explain to me how I am drinking a 2016 Chateau Margaux. This is some of the finest wine I have ever had." He sipped it very slowly knowing Mike had just opened a bottle of wine that retailed for over $500.

"Well, all I know is that it is red. I really like a sweet pink Chablis, not the reds everyone else wants. Heck, I still like Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill. Now that is some good stuff." 

Mike just shook his head. He poured more wine into Walter's goblet and added, "To answer your question Pops - 2 words: Harrison Wells." He put the bottle down. "Bunny inherited it."

"Well, do tell, there must be a story here."

Bunny explained her relationship with Harrison. 

"So this," Walter said, waving his hand around, "was all his?"

"It was."

"He didn't have any family?"

"Oh, he did. And I'm not very popular with them."

"I guess not."

"Pops you want to see Harrison's wine cellar?" asked Mike.

"Do you mind Bunny?"

"Of course not, it is Mike's as much as mine." She laughed. "Harrison had been building his wine collection for years. The first time he mentioned his collection, and said he wanted to show me his cellar, I thought he was talking about a 'root' cellar.  Then when we went down there, it looked fancy, but I couldn't read most the labels. I do know something though - whoever Mr. Rothschild is, he must sure make good wine." 

They all laughed. Walter added, "Yes, my dear, he did make fine wine."

"But none before its time, I can add," Mike said.

Everyone laughed at Mike's take on Orson Wells' infamous comment about Paul Mason. Every one but Bunny.

"So true it is." laughed Walter.

They finished their dinner. Afterwards Bunny was in the kitchen cleaning up. Walter brought the dirty plates in from the porch. "Bunny, I just want to tell you how happy you make Mike. And, that means the world to me. He had a rough shake as a little boy."

"Oh Walter, I adore him. After Harrison's death I thought I would never find true love. But then came Mike. I'm just like a puppy in spring time - falling all over my feet and not knowing what to do with myself."

"My dear, no doubt you made Harrison very happy from everything I hear. Mike said he was an excellent businessman. I know he would not have left Ivy Lane to you on a lark." He paused. "We are so lucky to have you." He reached over and kissed her on the cheek. "God bless you."

"Well, I'm not my Mama."

"You may think that, but you are better in your own ways."

As Walter made his last comment, Bunny saw Pervis walking very carefully through the grand hall toward the back door. Trying to distract Walter, she said, "Let's go see that wine cellar."

"After you my dear." Walter indicated she go before him - toward the grand hall. 

She turned back toward him, "Let's go through the dining room, there is something I want to show you."

"Sounds wonderful. I have seen so many lovely pieces in this house."

As they started that way, Bunny saw Pervis walking down the hall to the kitchen. He must have circled around from the hall through the dining room. Thankfully, he ducked back into the butler's pantry. "Oh, I don't know what I was thinking," Bunny turned around quickly. It is in the hall after all." The 2 turned around once more and walked back through the kitchen into the hall.

Bunny noticed some portraits of Harrison's grandparents. She pointed them out and told Walter they had been painted by a well known artist. He was most impressed. After that they joined Mike and Anna Belle in the library where the stairway down to the wine cellar was. 

They made their way down the steps. When they rounded the last turn in the staircase, Walter just stopped. "Well, I've never." He continued down into the wine cellar. "This is incredible." He walked around looking at the different bottles and commenting on many of the labels.

Seeing he was so happy, Bunny said, "Walter, you are welcome to have anything in here. There is no way Mike and I will ever be able to drink it all."

Mike walked over to the far wall and opened a cabinet that revealed a glass cigar humidor. "Another thing Harrison enjoyed."

"My kind of man." Walter walked over to get a better look at the cigars. Just then there was a large thump upstairs followed by someone yelling "Yow". 

"What the heck?" asked Mike. 

"I didn't hear anything," said Bunny trying to make light of it.

"How could you have not? It sounds as if someone fell down."

Bunny quickly suggested, "Maybe something fell off a shelf, I'll run up and see," she said as she headed for the stairs.

Mike followed, "I don't think anything that falls off a shelf yells 'yow'."

They reached the top of the steps and carefully walked through the libary. Seeing nothing, they quietly made their way through the living room. Mike turned and whispered to Bunny, "Stay here, I'm going to check the hall."

Mike carefully walked out of the living room into the grand hall, trying not to make any noise. There he didn't see anyone. He made his way toward the kitchen. It was then, on the floor of the hall, he saw the bowler hat. 'What the hell', he thought as he picked the hat up.

By this time Bunny was right behind him. She saw the hat. Worse case scenarios went through her mind. 'Was Pervis still in the house? Was he gone?' 

Seeing the look of mild terror on Bunny's face, Mike gave her a hug. "It will be okay, I promise." He looked at the hat. Then he laughed. "How dangerous can someone be who wears a bowler. Only dandies wear bowlers."

"Yeah, like someone who lives with their mother," said Bunny. 

"What?"

Realizing what she said, Bunny laughed weakly. "Oh, I read it in a book."

Mike put the bowler on the hall table. "Whatever. Let's get back to Pops and Anna Belle." They made their way back to the wine cellar.

"Everything okay," asked Walter.

Mike shook his head and laughed. "The weirdest thing - we didn't see anyone but there was a bowler hat on the floor in the hall. Pops, I assume that was not yours."

"No, not quite my style." He laughed, "But no body?"

Mike just smiled and looked at him. "Didn't see one. But if this was a board game, we could rule out the dinner guests in the wine celler. Maybe it was an intruder hiding in the butler's pantry." They all laughed, except for Bunny.