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." 


"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.

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