Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Gnarly Tree

Now, if every one is confused about the family tree, perhaps we should have a review. This is what we know so far (not that I am one to judge).

Just so everyone is clear, here is a snap shot of the siblings:




Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Hellions and a Love Child

Bunny could not remember the last time they had rented to a family with children, much less a single mother. The company had no issue what-so-ever, but Gallagher rarely had families moving in who were not kin to someone and had access to family owned housing.

Vivian showed up, albeit 20 minutes late. As soon as she managed to get herself and her 3 young children into the office, Bunny wandered how she got anywhere. Vivian was in her early 30's and fairly nice looking. The wear and tear of motherhood had taken its toll on her. Her mousy brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail. She wore a pair of jeans and light weight sweatshirt.

She introduced her children to Bunny and Della. "This is Ida," she said pointing to her daughter. "She is 7 and is on the beauty pageant circuit. Last weekend she won 'Little Miss Acorn' in the Old Oak festival up in Oconee. 356 more points and she can go to nationals."

"Ida what do you say to these nice ladies?

"Does this town have a donut shop or an ice cream place?"

Della answered, "No honey, I'm afraid not. But you can get a great milk shake at Ed's. And that's just up the street."

"I don't like milk shakes, Mama," Ida whined, "You promised ice cream."

Quietly, Vivian leaned down and said, "Sweetheart, we will talk about this later."

But Ida was having none of this. "I want ice cream now!"

Vivian ignored Ida's little fit and turned the older boy. "This is my son Roger. He is the reader in the family."

Roger stepped forward,"Why is the business named 'Q.G. Hampton Rentals and Housing Company'?"

Bunny answered,"Well Roger, that is a good question. Mr. Wade Gallagher  owns the business and it is named for him."

"Why are the parking spaces on the left side of the street instead of the right? Are those cobblestones original to the town?"

Vivian rubbed him on the head,"Roger, that's enough." Then she patted the toddler on the head. "This is Jimmy. He is 18 months old." With that Jimmy was under Della's desk looking in the trash can.

"Well, it's nice to meet all of  you. I've got 2  places we feel will best meet your needs. What do you say we get started?"

"That sounds good."

They all walked out of the door. Vivian's mini van was parked out front. It was missing 2 hub caps, the rear left panel had been replaced in a different color. Looking in the window, one would think they had been living in the van.

Bunny smiled,"Since you have a larger vehicle and the child seats, why don't you follow me. I'll be in that little gray car." She pointed toward her Mercedes.

Everyone got loaded up, Bunny pulled out, and Vivian followed her. Bunny drove a few blocks then turned right. She pulled up in front of a small cottage. Everyone piled out of the cars. Ida was the first to speak, "Mama, I'm not going to live here. This place is ugly."

Vivian said, "Ida, it is not."

They walked up to the porch. Bunny pointed out the features of the yard and the front porch. She opened the front door and held it for everyone to walk in. Vivian looked around and walked through the kitchen. She turned around and smiled,"This looks great."

"And there are 3 bedrooms, which is what you wanted." Bunny took her down the hall and showed her the bedroom and baths.

Roger started,"Mama, you realize this is after war construction, which is very inferior. The false stucco is prone to mold and mildew.  And, you better ask about the utilities, these windows don't look sealed."

"Roger that is enough." Then Vivian turned to Bunny, "You have to excuse him. He is just into these details."

Bunny laughed,"Well, he is smart."

Vivian started looking around,"Where is Jimmy? Have y'all seen Jimmy? Jimmy!"

"Here, here," Jimmy called from the cabinet under the sink. "Look mama, a hiding place."

Bunny just smiled, "Well there is one more place I want to show you."

Everyone loaded back up and Bunny led them to a neighborhood on the other side of town. They looked at the house. Vivian liked it but thought the first house was better. (Ida would not get out of the car.) They decided to go back to the office and complete the paperwork.

When they walked in, Bunny was not sure that when Della saw them walk back in, whether or not not she was going to call Mike for protection. Roger asked Bunny,"Shouldn't my mother have an attorney with her? I thought all legal documents needed an attorney?"

Bunny laughed,"Usually not a renter's lease."

Roger looked around, "I think Mama should be meeting with Mr. Gallagher since he owns the company. After all, you only work for him."

Vivian turned and looked at Bunny, as if agreeing with Roger.

Bunny took a deep breath, trying to decide if she was going to tell her she had checked and both properties had already been leased while they were out, but no, she was polite,"Roger, that is my job, and Della's. Mr. Gallagher is rarely in here. That is what he pays us to do." She smiled at Vivian,"Why don't we step into my office."

Roger continued,"Well, then why isn't your name on the company sign? And what kind of name is 'Bunny' anyway? I've never heard of a grown woman being called that."

Vivian looked at Roger,"Son, that's quite enough. Now sit out here and wait while I talk with Bunny. Read some of those magazines."

Then Ida started up,"Mama, you promised me ice cream and I want it now. And Jimmy has a dirty diaper. Look he is taking it off himself."

Vivian excused herself, took Jimmy out to the van, changed his diaper and returned with a happy toddler. She put him down and did not say another word to the children. She just followed Bunny into her office to complete the paperwork and left Della with the hellions.

When all the paperwork was done, the deposit paid, and the keys given to Vivian, Bunny stood up and welcomed her to Gallagher. She thanked her for her business.

Vivian smiled, shook her hand, thanked her, and asked if she knew of anyone who could help her with the children. "I will just need them when I take Ida to her pageants. Then someone who could take Roger to his violin lessons."

Bunny smiled,"Not off the top of my head, but if I do think of someone, I'll be sure to call you."

"Well, I do have family here, but I would hate to impose."

"Really? Whom, if may I ask?"

"Well my mama was a Wells. Are you familiar with the family?"

"Yes. Remember it is a small town," Bunny said stunned.

"Mama is Tula Vontese, well now she is Tula Vontese Lutrelle. I was her only child from her first marriage . . ."

Before Vivian could finish, Bunny added,"William Vontese, but how could that be? You cannot be more than 30, and William married Anna Belle shortly after he and Tula divorced. And, they were married at least 35 years and he died 10 years ago?"

Vivian blushed,"Well, I guess you could call me a 'Love Child".

Suddenly her family tree was more twisted than she thought.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Can a Family Tree Be More Twisted Than Was Thought

Bunny finally made it back to the office only to find Wade there with Della. Bunny had very little patience left. She said "Hello" to both of them and made her way into her office. She would have closed the door but she did not want to be rude. Thinking back on the last 35-40 minutes of her life, something dawned on her. Should this space ship arrive next Wednesday to pickup those souls who sought and found salvation, Buck would be among them. To go to Heaven with Buck would be her idea of Hell. The Fiery Gorges were looking more inviting than ever now.

Wade stuck his head in the door to tell Bunny he had made an appointment the following morning at 9  for Bunny to show a single mother 2 houses that he thought might be suitable for her. He put the file on her desk. He shook his head, "Bunny there are a lot worse problems than having an ex-husband in tune with the Lord. You could have married that gentleman, what was his name?"

Della yelled,"Pervis," from her desk.

"Yes, Pervis. You could have married him and realized his Mama was always right, you were always wrong, and there are no books to tell you how to get rid of your mother-in-law."

"Does everybody around here know everything?"

"Not everything, but most of it. We're a small town. Besides the weather, what else is there to talk about?" With that he left.

Bunny finished the work at her desk, locked up, and went home. Della had long been gone. What a day!

Della and Bunny had just opened the office when 'Miss' Ella literally came running in. "Girls, girls, did you see him on TV this morning? We should all be so proud. And, it's a best seller."

Della said, " 'Miss' Ella take a breath." She laughed,"No we did not, who are you talking about, and what is a best seller?"

"Terse, our Terse. His book, 'The Corporal's Secret' is number 2 on the New York Times Best Seller List."

Della and Bunny just looked at each other. Bunny laughed, "Our Terse. who knew."

"Well on his book he goes by 'Reginald Jackson', but it is our Terse," 'Miss' Ella said smiling. "Now I've got to go find the book. I just cannot wait to read it. I just know Beau and Blanche have to be so proud."

Bunny looked at Della and almost at the same time they said, " 'Reginald Jackson'?"

Bunny added, "Well I think that solves that mystery."

Miss Ella was not paying attention,"Girls, I've got to go. There are so many people I need to call." With that she turned and left.

But before she got out of the door, Bunny and Della were able to thank her.

The single mother called to cancel her appointment. Bunny rescheduled it for the following morning at 9.

About noon they started coming in. First one by one, then in groups, and by the afternoon there was a steady line of folks wanting to see 'Reginald Jackson'.

No longer denying it and, definitely, no longer taking names and numbers, Della and Bunny had a standard line: 'We just learned about the book this morning. However, we do not personally know of a 'Reginald Jackson'."

Around 4 that afternoon, Tim arrived from Lavenia's with the largest arrangement of lilies, roses, and other flowers Bunny had ever seen. "This is for both of you," he said as he put it on Della's desk.

Della signed for it and opened the card. She read it quietly.

Bunny asked,"Well? Who is it from?"

As another stranger walked in the door, Della handed the note to Bunny. In a whisper she said, "Do not read this out loud."

While Della dealt with the visitor, Bunny walked into her office and read the note. "I know it is wild there. I will explain when I get back to Gallagher. Thanks for covering for me. Love both of you, Terse".

Bunny smiled and walked back into the front office. The visitor had left. Bunny just smiled, "The mystery unwinds."

Buzz came in later. Della looked up, "Well if it isn't the famous author's brother."

Buzz just laughed, "Half brother and all I can say is thank God, my last name is not 'Jackson' ."

Della just said, "No doubt."

As Buzz stood there, another seeker walked through the door and asked the standard question. As Della started to talk to them, Buzz was a little taken aback. When the visitor left, disappointed like all the others, Buzz looked at Della, "What was that all about?"

Della told him about the stream of fans they had been dealing with for days. He just laughed.

Bunny looked at Della, "Well from now on, we will tell them we do not know where this 'Reginald Jackson' can be found, but we can tell them where they can find his brother."

"Half brother," Buzz said smiling. Then hee realized the two of them were not smiling.

"You wouldn't? Would you? Seriously?"

"No, I cannot do that to family," laughed Bunny.

"Wait", said Della. "Buzz, you are Terse's half brother and Bunny, you are Buzz's half brother?  Then Bunny, you have to be related to Terse, somehow?"

Buzz laughed, "No, that math doesn't work, even in Alabama."

Sarcastically, Bunny added, "Unless Beau is my father also."

Della just shook her head, "Bunny you know better than that."

Buzz looked at Bunny, "Stranger things have happened around here. Wait," Buzz paused, "that would make us full brother and sister, not just half."

As if by divine intervention, a few minutes later, Anna Belle walked in the office. All three turned and looked at her.

"I'm not sure what is going on, but all three of you look guilty," Anna Belle said as she looked from Buzz to Della to Bunny. "Come on now, share. We're practically family."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fire and Salvation Next Wednesday

"Do I want to?"

"Probably not", Mike said laughing.

She followed Mike outside and a piece down the block until the city park across the street came into view. There was a small crowd gathered around the edge of the park, Mike and Bunny edged their way through the crowd. Bunny wasn't sure if she wanted to commit suicide, commit homicide, or just go away . . . forever.

On the grass under the old oaks was Buck shouting,"Repent and yea shall be Free", "God can still save you before the end.", "He sent his only begotten son...."

In front of him was Winfred Walker in her period costume, bonnet and all, reading from Revelations, "Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."

Buck yelled "Confess your sins and you shall be saved."

Winfred then read,"For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

Then, when Bunny thought it could get no worse, Buck started,"We have seen the end and it is not pretty. It is near. I had a visit from an angel of the Lord who told me our Lord Jesus will return, just as prophesied, in Matthew 16. But this angel went on to foretell that the fateful day will benext Wednesday. Our Lord and Savior will call the roll and take those who have accepted him into their heart with him into the great spaceship and we shall soar through the mighty gates of heaven." He paused for effect, then continued, "And the rest of you will be burn in the fiery gorges of Hell."

Winfred quietly added,"We ask anyone who wishes to have their sins washed from their soul and accept Jesus into their heart..."

Buck interrupted her, "And be spared the fiery gorges of Hell."

Winfred quietly continued, "come forward as Brother Buck offers a prayer of thanksgiving to our Lord God Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit."

Bunny whispered to Mike,"This is all I can take." She turned to return to the office. Then she heard Buck's voice bellow out. "Look - there goes a sinful woman who left me not once, but twice as an unbeliever that the Lord shall provide. There is nothing in that empty soul. She is not waiting for the spaceship to heaven. No, she is preparing for the fiery gorges of Hell. This is your last chance for a ticket to soar on the spaceship through those heavenly gates."

Bunny just kept on walking. Mike followed her. "Bunny, you do realize that none of those people are from here. Well, no one but Mrs. Walker and Buck."

"Why should I always feel like Hester Prynne in a Hawthorne novel?"

Mike laughed, "Bunny, you have no reason to feel that way."

"Easy for you to say. Buck is like a 3 day old fish. I can never get the smell off me. Why won't he just go away? Can't you arrest him?"

"For what? Preaching in public?"

"Being a danger to society. You know he's nuts. Now he proclaiming to world that God's sending a spaceship to take everyone to heaven next Wednesday."

"Wait, not everyone," Mike said seriously.

"Oh, that's right. Heathens like me will burn in the gorges of Hell."

"Bunny don't take this seriously. No one else does. No one pays attention to him. Look, there is an older lady dressed in antebellum attire reading Revelations along with this unshaven man, wearing tattered clothes, carrying a giant wooden cross on his back, shouting that God is sending a spaceship next week to get the 'saved' and whisk them through the gates of heaven?"

She just looked at him.

"Bunny, this is wrong on so many levels. Just ignore it. I just wanted you to see what was going on in case you heard something about it. Personally, I find it entertaining. I need to make sure I'm on duty next Wednesday so I won't miss the send off."

"Mike. . . !"

"If you cannot laugh about it, then you'll just go nuts. Now go back to work. And do not think a thing about this, OK?"

"OK," Bunny said and turned to walk back to the office only to run right into an older lady who had been watching the show.

The lady, not embarrassed at all, asked, "Excuse me, but what is this all about."

"This is an example of the freedom of speech and freedom of religion being practiced in downtown Gallagher," Bunny said sarcastically. 

"Well, I understand that. But I was wondering if you knew where the spaceship was going to land on Wednesday. I want to be first in line."

"Mam, you need to ask that gentleman who was speaking to the crowd."

"Which man?"

"The one with the heavy cross."

The lady just turned and headed toward Buck in a fast pace, shouting,"Beam me Scotty!"

Next she ran into Buzz. Bunny shook her head,"Buzz, can your believe this?"

With a straight face, Buzz said,"I feel the spirit. Oh, this is the biggest one I ever [heard]. You hear that Elizabeth? I'm coming to join you honey."

Annoyed, Bunny just looked at him, "You watch too much TV!"

Once again she started toward her office

"Hey, where are you going?"

"To find some flame retardant clothing. After all, since I don't have a ticket on the spaceship, I better prepare for those fiery gorges."

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Black Pearls, Cross Dressing and Costume Jewelry

Over burgers at Ed's, Bunny pulled details out of Della about her relationship with Sam. As it was they were keeping constant company. Sam traveled out of town on assignments occasionaly, but other than that they spent most evenings together.

"Is he really as nice as he seems to be?"

"Oh, Bunny, I think he's even more so, the more I get to know him. We are going to Texas when I take some time off. He wants me to meet his family"

"Wow, that is serious."

Della just blushed,"I don't know."

"Well I do, after everything you have told me. I am so happy for you."

"Bunny, thank you. I am so sorry about what happened to Harrison. He was a true gentleman."

"He was and I miss him dearly, but my life has to go on."

"Good for you."

Bunny's phone beeped indicating she had a text. As she was checking that, Della looked at the TV on the wall over Bunny's shoulder. It was tuned to the local Mobile station. It got Della's attention. There was a film of Belva and her husband walking out of a courthouse with their attorneys, followed by a phalanx of press. Before she could ask Ed to turn up the volume, the newsman had moved on to a local charity race.

"Bunny, what's Belva Wells' married name?"

Bunny paying more attention to replying to her text mumbled, "I think Asbill." Then she stopped, "No Liza's name is Asbill, Belva is McCord, Belva McCord." And she went back to her text.

Della picked her phone to Google Belva's name to see if she could find out what going on.

Suddenly Bunny came out of her fog. "Why do need to know Belva's name?"

"Because I saw her, her husband, and their attorneys walking out of the courthouse flanked by the press."


"It was on the TV, the one behind you."

Bunny naturally turned around.

"The sound was down and I just caught the end of it, so I am Googling it."

"Howdy ladies", said Mike as he walked up to their table. "Boy, you two look pretty intense."

"Mike, you can help us," said Bunny.

"I'll certainly try."

Della filled him in on what little they knew. "Can you find out what's going on?"

"Sure, let me go to my car and I can search it on my computer. Give me a sec." And off he went.

"I still say he is cute as a bug," said Della.

Bunny blushed, "I know, I know."

It wasn't long before Mike came back in. "Well I didn't see this one coming. It seems Culler McCord had a private love of wearing women's clothes. Apparently, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Bunny interrupted him, "As..."

"As a transgender night club in Mobile that was busted for solicitation."

Della laughed, "Now, I've got to think about that. Who would be 'soliciting' whom."

Mike smiled,"You would think that way."

Bunny was puzzled by the whole thing.

Mike looked at her, "Culler likes to dress like a woman. Seems one night he went to a club where men and women cross dress, which is not a problem. Except that night the police raided the club for solicitation of sex."

"Buzz told me Culler had an issue a while back, but I didn't really take it seriously."

"How much trouble is he in?", asked Della.

"I don't know. He may have just got picked up in the melee and was totally innocent or he could have been guilty of what he is accused of."

"Thanks for checking on that," said Bunny. "Hey, sit down and have a burger with us," .

"I just came in to get a Diet Coke, but I'm always happy to see both of you." The radio on his shoulder went off. "Got to go ladies".

They said good bye and Mike walked out.

After lunch when they got back to the office. The phone was ringing. It was Mr. Sweeny. He needed Bunny to meet him at his office that afternoon at 3 to sign a release for Belva concerning the estate.

Bunny told Della she needed to run out to Ivy Lane to pick something up. She would be right back. Even though Belva had humiliated and been anything but nice, Bunny really felt sorry for her. Whatever Culler had done or not, it wasn't her fault. Belva was there to support her husband. She must really love him.

At the house, Bunny opened the safe and pulled out the box of jewelry. She found the bird broach and the ring she had selected for the girls. Maybe if Belva had something from her mother she could wear, she would feel better. Maybe, just maybe, it would warm up her relationship with Belva.

She went back to the office and showed the two pieces to Della. "I only have to give each girl one, but I'm going to give each of them several pieces each. I think I will give these 2 to Belva now. Maybe having something of her mother's will help her get through this mess with Culler."

"That's awfully generous of you."

"It's the least I can do. I just cannot imagine what she is going through."

"When are you going to give them to her?"

"Right now. I've got to meet her at Mr. Sweeny's office to sign some estate papers. I won't be gone long." Bunny then left for the office's of Marlboro, Winston, McGregor, and Sweeny.

When she walked in, Mr. Sweeny and Belva were waiting for her. Bunny spoke to both of them. Mr. Sweeny handed her the paper he needed her to sign. He explained what it was and why she would be signing it. Bunny was happy to sign the paper. When they were done she pulled a small box from her purse and handed it to Belva. "I have been thinking about you and thought maybe this would help a little."

Belva took the box and opened it. Bunny added, "They were your mother's."

Belva took the broach and the ring from the box. She turned them over. Bunny waited for her to say something.

"Seriously?" Belva said.

"Yes, those were two of your mother's pieces."

"Out of all the nice pieces she had, you give me two tacky pieces of costume jewelry that could have been bought at the dime store."

Bunny was astounded. "No, I selected those pieces because of the jewels that were in them. There were few pieces that had that many different colored gems in them. I spent time looking for something special for you."

"Oh, this is special OK,", Belva said as she threw the pieces on the table. "I'm through here." And she walked out.

Bunny had tears in her eyes when she turned to look at Mr. Sweeny. "I was just trying to be thoughtful."

"I know. She is just that way. You know things are difficult for her." He put his hand on her shoulder,"Bunny, I think what you did was very thoughtful. Don't worry about it."

Bunny thanked him, picked up the jewelry and left.

When she got back to the office, Della asked her how it went. Bunny told her all the sordid details. When Bunny finished Della said, "That was a little more than ungrateful of her."

"I know. I could have given her those dirty gray pearls."

"Gray pearls?" asked Della. "Mary had gray pearls?"

"Of all the beautiful things she had, I was astonished that she would have a strand of those."

"Bunny, I don't think they are 'dirty gray' pearls. Those probably what they call 'Black pearls' and those are some of the rarest and most expensive pearls you can have."

"Oh, I just thought they were dirty pearls. Guess not huh?"

Changing the subject, Della said, "Oh, I found out what the deal was with antebellum costume crew traveling in the bus."

"I cannot wait to hear this. I assume it has something to do with Col Walker?"

"Nope, they were on their way to a reenactment of the Battle of Fort Blakely. And they just stopped for lunch. But, apparently they fell in love with our little town and want to return."

"In costume?"

"Bunny, I'm not sure they thought they were in costume."

Just then the door opened and a nice gray haired lady walked in. Della spoke first,"Good afternoon, how can I help you?"

"My name is Ruby Rollins, and I hope you can help me? I am looking for 'Reginald Jackson'. Do you know where I can find him?"

"Mam, I don't. We get that question a lot but we have both lived here all our lives and we do not know any 'Reginald Jackson'. I'm sorry we cannot help."

"So am I."

"But, if want, you can leave your name and how we can get in touch with you. If we learn something, we will contact you."

Ruby said she would appreciate that. Della handed her a pen and paper. After she left, Della looked at Bunny, we've got to find out who 'Reginald Jackson' is."

The door opened, Mike stuck his head in, "Bunny, I think you need to see this."

Friday, September 22, 2017

No Incestuous Hanky-Panky Here

Buzz stopped by the next morning to say he had the safe. Bunny asked if he could meet her at Ivy Lane after work that afternoon to install it. As he walked out of the office, Buzz held the door for two middle age ladies who were walking in. When they reached Della's desk, one said, "Good Morning, my name is Eloise Ellerby and this is my friend Gale Grant."

Della responded with "Good morning ladies, how I can I help you?"

Gale spoke up,"We understand Reginald Jackson lives in Gallagher. Can you tell us where we can find him?"

Della did not look at Bunny. She just smiled and replied, "No mam, I do not know a 'Reginald Jackson'. Gallagher is a pretty small town and I've lived here all my life. Are you sure he lives here? Perhaps you have confused Gallagher with Balaguer. That is a little town just west of Montgomery. You would not believe the confusion people have with those two names."

"Oh, it is Gallagher, I'm sure," said Eloise, very disappointed.

"Well if you will leave your names and phone numbers, we will be happy to contact you if he should show up."

The ladies wrote their names and numbers on a piece of paper Della had handed them. They thanked Della and Bunny and left. Bunny watched them get in their car. "OK, what the Hell is going on here? Why is everyone looking for 'Reginald Jackson' and why are they always looking here?"

Della just shook her head, "I'm clueless."

That evening Buzz met Bunny at Ivy Lane with the new safe. He took it upstairs. Bunny took him into the bedroom. "I think the best place would be right here just inside the closet door," she said as she opened the door to the large walk in closet.

Buzz walked into the closet. "Bunny, my suggestion would be in that back corner." He said pointing to the far corner. "Under those hanging clothes. Even though it is a 'safe' you don't want folks to know it is here."

Bunny wasn't thrilled with the idea but she trusted Buzz. He asked her to move certain clothes and shoes so he could get into the corner with the small safe. Buzz had to lie flat on his stomach to be low enough to reach the corner for the installation. Bunny was helping by handing him tools from his tool box. He asked for a flat headed screw driver. Bunny got it but as she went to hand it to him, she tripped on the hem of one of Mary's formal gowns hanging on the rod. 

Bunny fell down flat, not on the floor, but on top of Buzz. Buzz started laughing and tried to turn over to get free from her. Meanwhile Bunny was trying to get up on her knees which caused her to fall again. By this time they were howling with laughter. "Bunny, I think you should keep your day job."

"I think I'll take your advice." 

They were lying on the closet floor next to each other. Bunny turned toward Buzz, "You know I always wanted an older brother. And I cannot think of a better one to have than you. It's odd how things just work out."

Buzz gave her a hug,"You're a pretty good little sis' too."

Both were shocked by sound of voice coming from the closet door, "Well, well, well, look what we have here. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. And in a bed of Mary's clothes, that makes it special."

Buzz and Bunny looked up to see Tula standing there. "If you are going to play incestuous hanky-panky, it is better to lock you doors."

"It's not what you think," said Bunny as she got up off the floor and straightened her hair.

"Oh honey, I know what I saw.

Buzz stood up and in a very firm voice said, "Tula, get over it. First you are trespassing and second, as Bunny said, nothing was going on."

"Well then explain to me what the two of you were doing canoodling on the closet floor?"

"We weren't and it is none of your business."

"Looks fairly simple to me."

Buzz looked Tula in her eyes, "You do whatever you want to. You are a miserable unhappy bitch, whose ambition is to make everyone else's life as miserable as yours." Then Buzz just stood there and did not not move until Tula turned around and left.

Bunny was about in tears,"It always happens to me. Lord knows what she will tell everybody."

"Bunny don't worry about Tula. She doesn't have a lot of friends around here. She will never get over Beau falling in love with Anna Belle, then spurning  her when his mother would not let him marry Anna Belle."

Bunny just sniffled.

"Besides, can you imagine how much dirty laundry she has?

Buzz finished installing the safe. Bunny pulled the box from under the bed. She opened it and explained what was in it. "Mr. Sweeny told me I needed to have a secure place to store it. Now, thanks to you, I have one."

He explained the lock to her. They walked down stairs. She offered him a drink but he said he needed to get home. She walked him to the door and thanked him again.

The following morning Bunny told Della about their misadventure with Tula the night before. Della was howling.

"You think this is funny?"

"It's hilarious!"

"What if she tells that all over town?"

"Like they are going to believe her or even give her their time. Bunny, no one around here likes Tula. She is referred to as 'Trouble with a capital T'."

Bunny felt a little better. She and Della reviewed some things that were going on in the office. She gave Della the maintenance list and asked that she get it to Larry. Bunny got up to go to her office, she stopped and turned around, "How long has it been since the 2 of us had lunch together?"

"I cannot remember the last time. We used to go to lunch together often."

"I miss it."

"So do I"

"Good, then we will close the office for lunch. Besides, I want to hear all about you and Sam." 

They locked the door and headed down to Ed's. It was a lovely day for a walk. They could not help but notice the large tour bus that was parking on the street. As it stopped, the air brakes hissed. Bunny looked at Della, "What the . . .?"

Della just shrugged her shoulders.

The door opened, the driver stepped out and put a small stool at the door.  What came out of that door would have baffled Bunny and Della just a week or two ago. A small white lace gloved hand reached out and the driver took it to help the person out. The hand was followed by yards and yards of pink satin and then a dainty foot stepped on the step. As the lady emerged from the bus, they saw not just a regular traveler, but a lady dressed in a very nice antebellum outfit, a lovely pink dress complete with hoop skirt and matching parasol and bows and bonnets. 

The lovely lady in pink was followed by a procession and ladies and gowns and parasols. Soon there was a rainbow of satin standing under the old oak trees in the city park across the street. Della giggled, "I guess our invitation to the picnic at Twelve Oaks got lost in the mail." Bunny laughed.

Then the gentlemen started coming off the bus, all in Confederate military uniforms. Della just laughed,"And,... the Calvary has arrived." 

A gentleman, one with a plethora of medals on his chest and freshly shined riding boots, walked across the street toward Bunny and Della. "Ladies," he said as he took off his hat. I am Major Harper Hampton Habersham, I was wondering, since it is around noon, if you could suggest a place for my friends and their ladies to have dinner. 

Bunny smiled, held out her hand,"Nice to meet you, Bunny, Bunny Vontese. And this is Della Lee." He nodded to Della, who just smiled. Bunny continued,"My suggestion would be a local restaurant just two blocks down on the right. It is called the Starlight Cafe. You cannot miss it."

He put his hat back on, "Thank you very much ladies." He turned and walked back to the group standing in the park. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Your Mother Must Be a Wonderful Person

It wasn't a week until Mrs. Walker came into the office looking as painful as ever. She asked Della if she could speak to Bunny. Della took her into Bunny's office. Mrs. Walker sat down and carefully spread her full floor length skirt and the required petticoats underneath so there was nary a wrinkle. 

Before Bunny could say anything, Mrs. Walked started, "Miss Vontese, I thought I would let you know that there is something going on in our neighbor that should not be. And before I get Col Walker to approach the law about it, I thought I would discuss it with you." She sat up even straighter and pulled out a fan from the small purse she had in her hand. "Yesterday, while I was walking through the neighborhood spreading the gospel of God, our Savior in Christ, I happened upon a house. Although I did not realize it was a business. I did not read the sign out front because of all the flowers around it."

Bunny knew where this was going but not exactly how she was going to handle it.

"When I rang the bell, this very nice looking lady dressed a little fancy and comfortable for that time of day answered the door. I introduced myself and she asked me in. At first I thought it was just a fancy house and she was just a lady of leisure. But then I saw she had bar serving alcohol in her living room. and games in her parlor. I just had to excuse myself." She took a breath and waved her fan.

"I have heard tell of places like that, but had no idea that there would be one right here, in what I thought was such a nice town. And just a block from where we are living. If we were to have company and they were to walk by, what would we say? I am assuming there were ladies of the evening there."

Bunny trying to look concerned and calm asked, "Did you see any?"

"Well, no. But I am sure they were there. It was one of those places."

"Mrs. Walker I cannot speak for you but I have never darkened the doorsteps of one," Bunny paused, "of those places. I would not know what to look for. Do you?"

"Oh, heavens no." Bunny was sure Mrs. Walker was going to pass out right there in her office.

"Well, I'm not trying to be difficult, but how do you know what it was, if you have never seen one and didn't see anyone doing anything wrong?" Bunny looked at Mrs. Walker, and came around her desk and sat in the chair next to her. She took Mrs. Walker's hands into her own.

"Mrs. Walker, no doubt you saw something that upset you. But I'm not sure what the police can do about it. If nothing was going on, you would have to testify that you knew what is was. And they would ask you how you knew. And I do not want you to have anyone ever think that you were ever near one of those houses of ill repute."

Mrs. Walker's countenance went from angry to scared to tearful, "Oh Miss Vontese, it just upset me so. I didn't know what else to do."

"Was the lady nice?"

"She was very nice, probably nicer than anyone else I have talked to."

"I think you need to go home and rest. And pray about this. I promise I will not tell anyone that this happened to you. Then no one will know and you will never be accused of having anything to do with that place."

"Would you dear? Would you do that for me?'

"Of course. Is there anything else I can do for you."

For the first time, she smiled. "Thank you dear. I don't know who your mother is, but she must be a fine Christian person to have raised a daughter as nice and kind as you." 

Bunny walked Mrs. Walker to the door and gave her a hug before the lady walked out.

"What was all that all about?" asked Della.

Bunny started to tell her but the phone rang. She let Della answer the phone and went back into her office. She could not believe she had just done that. What was she thinking? Mrs. Walker could have eaten her alive she was so mad when she first walked in. Then she left feeling like Bunny had saved her, and worse yet, her mother was a saint. This was the one chance Bunny could have finally gotten revenge on her mother. Which brought another question to mind: why hadn't Anna Belle come across the law yet?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pink Passion and Sparkly Things

The Col. and the wife were about as much as Bunny could handle for one day. When she returned to the office, she decided she would go online and order some make up since #1 on the list of the Secrets of Remaking Yourself was to "Throw out your old make up".  Maybe it was time to change the color of her lipstick (keeping #5 in mind). After looking through, what seemed like, 100's shades of red, she decided on "Perfect Red".

Next mascara, she needed black, but to Bunny, it wasn't so much the mascara, as it was the container. She wanted one that was "classy" not one that was plastic. Finally she found one by L'Oreal that was gold for 7.99. That was what she was looking for, not a plastic one. She next ordered blush in "Pink Passion".

Eye shadow was a little more difficult. After going through shade after shade of blue, she chose "Bonnie Blue". After that it was "Gold Bronze", "Irish Green", "Cold Smudge Gray", and "Copper". She  had already bought new powder and foundation. Now she would be set. She put in her credit card number and addressed it to the office.

She had just finished when Della said,"Call for you."

"This Bunny, how can I help you?"

"Bunny, this is Beau Jackson, how are this morning?"

"Just fine Mr. Jackson, and you?"

"Doing fine. Got a quick question for you. Did a Mr. Owen Davis come by your office earlier this week?"

"He did. He was asking for 'Reginald Jackson'. I always think if someone doesn't know the right name of who they are asking about, they're up to no good. So we told him we did not know any 'Reginald Jackson' ."

"Fair enough," he laughed. "I just wanted to check to see who all he talked to."

"Well besides us, he went to Smith and Wells, the Starlight, Parker Duiese's office, "Miss" Ella's, the Eldridges's," Bunny stopped and thought. "That's all I know about, I think." Then she remembered Sam. "Oh, we called Sam Peterson and had him do a search on Mr. Owens. He's some kind of powerful attorney from Atlanta."

"Really?" Beau said, not surprised."Well I appreciate that."

"Do you know him?"

"Mr. Owens? Never seen him in my life. Thanks for the information Bunny." With that he rung off.

Bunny walked into Della's office,"We may have had the wrong 'Reginald Jackson' after all. That was 'Mr.' Beau asking about Mr. Owens."

Mike walked in just to chat. They talked about Mr. Owens, which knew nothing else about. Then he looked at Bunny,"You got plans for dinner tonight?"

Bunny hesitated. Mike laughed,"Just as friends. We haven't talked in while."

"Maybe my life has been a little boring lately since I have not needed the cavalry to rescue me."

"That's scary," Mike laughed.

"Dinner would be nice."

"Great, I'll pick you up at 6:30. See you then."

After he walked out Della said,"He is such a great guy."

"He is, always has been. I remember in high school, I thought he was cute as a bug." 

"He still is," said Della with a smile.

With that Bunny went back to work.

When she drove up to Ivy Lane that afternoon she could just imagine the Col. and Mrs. Walker having lemonade on the front porch. She wondered if they always dressed like that or it was some type of special occasion. Who ever hired him to run the museum found the right person - where ever they found him.

As always Mike was in a good mood and funny as ever they went to Ed's and got a burger. They chit chatted about Mr. Owens, Della and Sam. He picked on her unmercifully about Sam Taylor. To which she defended herself saying that she got herself out of the situation and besides that they would have never caught him had it not been for her.

After dinner they went to Dot's for a drink. Few people were there. Mike ordered a  beer. "Mai Tai 'Miss' Bunny?", asked Ike.

"No," Bunny blushed, "I think I'd better stick with wine. Pink Chablis please."

"Going for the expensive stuff tonight, are you?" Mike said as they sat down at a table.

"It's not that expensive," Bunny said in defense.

"Actually, if all you need is Pink Chablis, you are a cheap date!" He realized he may have hurt her feelings. "You know I'm just kidding."

She just laughed.

Mike leaned back in his chair,"Now what is the story about this confederate general who was in town the other day. He stopped me to ask for a recommendation for lunch."

"Well first, he is a Colonel, as Colonel Wadsworth Washington Walker III, but they call him George."

"You're kidding me."

"No. I'm not making this up." She laughed along with him. She went on to tell him about why he was here, meeting his wife, and showing them places they may want to live.

When she started describing Winfred, Mike said, "OK, now you're making this up. The Temperance Union? In Gallagher?"

"Then he stopped me on the street and wanted to know where he could get a 'tipple'. It was all I could do not to laugh out loud. Then he asked if I would not share that with Mrs. Walker, because it was something that 'upset her dearly'."

"Well I guess so if she intends to rid our fair town of the evils of alcohol," Mike said as he took a swig of beer.

After he took her home that evening, Bunny had to rethink Mike. Although she had loved Harrison dearly. She always felt like she was never quite part of his life. He included her in everything and treated her like a queen, and Lord, he left her with Ivy Lane, but she was much more comfortable with Mike. He was a lot of fun, even though he picked on her all the time. Unlike everyone else, his picking on her didn't hurt her feelings.

Bunny remembered she needed to call Buzz for help with securing her 'new' jewelry. Buzz picked up on the second ring,"Hello."

"Buzz, it's Bunny. I need some help getting a small jewelry safe installed in the house. Is that something that Smith and Wells would have?"

"I'm pretty sure we do. I'll check tomorrow and call you." They discussed the size she would need and possible places it could go in the house.

"Thanks Buzz, I knew you could help." She rang off.

For the first time since the day of her 'kidnapping', she took the box of jewelry and put it on the bed. Bunny took each piece out and looked at it. Each seemed more beautiful than one she just put down. She really wasn't sure what some of the pieces were. Mary must have loved pearls. She had 3 strands of different lengths of white ones. A short string of pink pearls, something Bunny had never seen. 

But Bunny was quite flummoxed when she pulled a string of very dark gray colored pearls from the box. Who would want dirty gray colored pearls? She may just give them to Belva, out of spite. On second thought, she would not do that, there was no reason to be spiteful. 

She found a broach that was a bird with wide plumage that was decorated with many jewels of different colors. Bunny was stunned, there were red rubies, green emeralds, blue sapphires, and the eyes of the bird were 2 small diamonds. It was one of the prettiest pieces of jewelry she had ever seen. But, this was Belva and Liza's mother's jewelry. She wanted them to have something really nice, not gray pearls. She put the bird broach to the side. Now she just needed to find a second piece.

As she pulled out the myriad of rings, bracelets, broaches, and necklaces, the bed started looking like a jewelry store. I had idea how much she had, Bunny said to herself. Maybe this is jewelry Mary inherited from her mother and her grandmother. Geeze, how much is all this worth?

After much contemplation, she selected a large ring with several large different colored stones on it. The stones were marquis cut and in an exquisite ornate gold designed setting. The face of the ring was, maybe, an inch long. Once again this was one of the prettiest pieces she had ever seen. This would definitely go to the girls. She would decide later, which daughter got which piece. With all this jewelry, maybe it would be more thoughtful of her to select several pieces to give each of them, instead of just one. There was so much here. 

She finished going through the jewelry, then carefully put the pieces back into the box and slid the box back under her bed. Ever since Mr. Sweeny had given her the jewelry and the note from Harrison she felt it was cursed - like a box of trouble. After all, everything involved with it so far was not pleasant. Bunny felt a lot better now. The girls would think much more of her when she gave them more pieces of jewelry than just one apiece. Did they even know they were getting any? She would have to ask Mr. Sweeny tomorrow.