Thursday, May 31, 2018

What's All This About?

On Sunday, Belva had called Cordelia. She was most upbeat. "You know I have always been interested in the Historical Society.  I understand that there is a fund raising dinner tomorrow night."

"There is. Pearce Phinnigan is hosting it at Cre Uisce Aer. I'm looking forward to seeing the estate, as much as the dinner."

"Aunt Cordelia, I have a favor to ask."

"What my dear?"

"If you are going alone, can I go with you. I know they are charging $1000 per person. I can either get a check to you or the Historical Society by tomorrow."

"I would love for you to go with me. After all I rarely get to spend time with you." She paused and added, "Now you know Colleen will most likely be there."

"I figured as much. I can handle that."

Cordelia told her what time the dinner was and they discussed logistics. After that they rang off. Cordelia then called the Colonel to tell him she was bringing Belva.

Monday evening Belva met Cordelia at Cre Uisce Aer. Cordelia complimented her on her gown. "You are such a lovely girl. Well, I guess I mean 'lady'. You and Liza will always by 'girls' to me."

As they moved through the small crowd, Belva asked, "Where is Colleen?"

Cordelia looked around, and saw Colleen and Haynes standing in the garden speaking with Mercer and Iris. "Over there?"

"In the green gown?"

"Well, I must say he, I mean she, knows how to dress."

Cordelia took a sip of her wine, "Belva, be nice. This is no time to air family issues."

Belva laughed, "Aunt Cordelia, I did not come to this dinner to see Culler. I wanted to contribute to the cause."

Now having doubts about her niece's motivation to come that evening, Cordelia corrected her, "Colleen, her name is Colleen Cantrell."

Belva still looking across the garden said, "I would never have recognized him, I mean her."

Is was at that time, that Pearce stood up, to welcome his guests suggest that they move into the house.

Looking at the seating chart, Cordelia said, "We are at table 7."

"Where is Colleen sitting?"

Cordelia gave her a questioning look, "Did you expect to be seated at her table?"

Belva laughed, "No, of course not. But it would have been interesting."

With that they moved into the dining room and found their table. Sitting with them were Mercer, Iris, Hollis, Stella, Betty Jean Winston and her husband Finch. Cordelia introduced Belva to everyone. When she got to Betty Jean, Stella interrupted, in a slightly sarcastic tone, "And Betty Jean and Finch Winston." Stella realized Cordelia was looking at her. Stella gave a smirky smile and added, "Betty Jean was a partner in my late husband's law firm."

Belva, detecting an issue, spoke to everyone and took her seat next to her Aunt. As Cordelia placed her napkin in her lap, quietly she said to Belva. "Well, I'm not sure what, But there's some issue there."

"No doubt," Belva quietly responded.

Over the wine served before the appetizer, everyone at the table enjoyed a pleasant conversation. Stella looked over at Betty Jean. "What have you been doing with your time these days?"

"Just working. We are fairly busy at the firm."

Stella looked her squarely in eyes and firmly said, "Since you have more personal time, I thought you might travel or something."

Betty Jean smiled, "No, no trips."

Hollis looked at Stella. Quietly he asked, "What is that all about?"

"Nothing, it's just between Madison, me, and Betty Jean."

Hollis stood up, "Excuse me, I'm going to get a Scotch from the bar. This wine is good, but it is not Scotch." Looking at Stella, he added," My dear, why don't you come with me."

Recognizing the look on his face, Stella knew she needed to go with Hollis. And, no doubt explain her comments to Betty Jean.

They out onto the patio. "Now, would you like to explain what is going on? I have never seen you act so rude."

"She is not my favorite person."

As they made their way to the bar, Hollis replied, "Hell, everyone at the table knows that now, if they didn't before. What is this all about?"

Stella stopped and looked at Hollis. "She caused me much pain. She and Madison were having an affair. They had been seeing each other for years."

"I'm sorry."

"I blame her for Madison's death."

Remembering the morning Madison was found in his car, Hollis asked, "How is that? I'm the coroner, I was there. I told you, either he had a massive stroke or heart attack. No one killed him."

"Oh, I don't mean murder. She spent enough time with him, she was aware of his drinking, but she didn't do anything to stop it. If anything, she enabled him."

"You don't know that?"

"Oh, I do. And for the record the affair did not bother me. Our marriage had been over years before Betty Jean came along. I just hold her responsible for his death. If she really loved him, why didn't she save him."

"Sweetheart, you need to get past that. Yes, according to you, they an affair. But you cannot hold her responsible for his death."

Hollis could tell Stella was furious, "Hollis, because of her, my boys have no father. She did that to our family."

"You need to get a hold of yourself."

Stella interrupted him, "Maybe so, but I've been so mad at her, I've considered killing her many times."

"And what good would that do? It's not going to bring Madison back." He paused, "Think about it, then your sons would have neither a mother nor a father."

Stella calmed down and wiped the tears from her face. "I know what I said was ugly. But I don't think I can ever forgive her. Just being around her makes my blood boil."

"Stella, we have a choice here. You can calm down, get past this, and we will continue with the dinner. Or, I can go back and make our apologies and we can go home."

She smiled, "I'll be okay. I'm sorry. I will change my attitude at dinner. Get your drink and let's get back. It is an interesting table and I can only imagine the food, after reading the menu."

"That's my girl," Hollis kissed her on her forehead. "You had me worried there for a moment."

Hollis got his glass of Scotch and returned to the dinner. When they sat down, their table mates didn't even acknowledge they had left. Soon, Stella and Hollis were involved the conversation as well.

"Stella, we need to toast you for a great job," said Iris as she raised her glass.

"What job?"

"Picking our table mates. This is a great group.  I am meeting people I did not know before this evening."

The table toasted her. Hollis smiled and asked Iris, "I didn't realize one could choose their table."

"Well, technically no one could. But Stella, being Stella, called Pearce and requested that the 7 of us sit together." Iris paused, "Well 8 now since Belva has joined us." Iris raised her glass to Belva.

Hollis took a sip of his Scotch. Given their conversation in the garden, this made little sense. Instead of making a big deal, Hollis decided he would wait until he was alone with Stella. Then he would find out what this was this was all about.

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