Thursday, June 27, 2019

Luke Warm Evian and a Small Glass

Tara then spoke up, "Well if that was his father, what happened to his mother."

Ima Jean started, "Well, I don't rightly feel its my place to discuss this in company, but she came to a tragic end."

Ada was intrigued, "Do tell."

"I don't like to gossip about such but it is not a secret."

Della interrupted her, "Mama, seriously, it's no secret. You act like there was some conspiracy." She turned to the other ladies,"Unfortunately, Belva took her own life."

There was an audible gasp from the ladies from Texas. Tara asked, "She must have been despondent over the situation with her former husband."

Della reached for one of Hatties' biscuits."Maybe so. But she was the one who killed him." She paused, "Or her, I should say 'killed her'."

"And, all this happened in Gallagher?" asked Marigold.

"'Fraid so," said Della.

"This could be a little Peyton Place," laughed Ada.

Ima Jean spoke up, "Oh, there is more."

Not wanting her mother to wax on about mysterious situations, Della added, 'Well, let's see, there are twin sisters in their 80's who got caught making moonshine in their back yard." She paused and took a bite of her biscuit. "Then there is Colonel Wadsworth. He's hard to miss, since he is always dressed in his Confederate uniform riding his horse.

"In the country?" asked Tara.

"No, in town. You'll know him when you see him." She thought for a moment,  "Then we have Bucky Beever who proselytizes about town. He's easy to recognize with his dirty loin cloth and large wooden cross slung across his shoulder."

"Della, seriously, you are making this up," laughed Marigold.

"I'm creative, but I couldn't make this up if I tried."

The subject changed and the ladies discussed the wedding, the reception, and their invitation to Cre Uisce Aer that evening. Then the door opened and in walked Bryson Lee and Sam.

"You made it," exclaimed Marigold. "How was your trip?"

"I'm here," said Bryson Lee, as she looked around the Tea House. This was not what she expected with the gorgeous decor, lovely table settings, and sterling silver. She kissed her mother's cheek, then took her seat."I'm exhausted. The puddle jumper on my last leg did not have first class or even a beverage service. And, I was seated next to this obnoxious fat woman who droned on about her diet."

Grice approached the table, "Can I get something for you?"

"Yes," Bryson Lee said, without looking at Grice. "I would like a bottle of Evian, luke warm, and a small glass." Then she stopped, "I don't know why I even asked for that. I'll just have a glass of unsweetened ice tea."

Grice smiled, "We have Evian, but I think it is cold. Generally we serve it chilled. Would you rather have that or the tea?" Before Bryson Lee could answer, Grice continued," But you know what? I think our Perrier is room temperature."

Bryson Lee was a bit taken back. For the first time, she looked at Grice and smiled, "The chilled Evian will do nicely."

Looking around the table, Grice asked, "Anyone need anything else?" Seeing the ladies smile and shake their heads, she left to get Bryson Lee a bottle of Evian. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

What About Arlene?

The following morning, Della had arranged for Marigold and her friends to meet Ima Jean for brunch at the Tea House. Della picked Marigold, Tara, and Ada up and drove them to the Tea House.

When they walked in the door, Caroline was there to meet them. "Welcome to Gallagher. We are thrilled to have you." She turned to Della, "Della, your mother is over there." She pointed toward the table where Ima Jean was seated. 

Della thanked her and made her way to her mother's table with Marigold, Tara, and Ada in tow. She made introductions and they all were seated.

"Marigold, it is so good to meet you, finally."

Marigold laughed, "Well, speaking for the 3 of us, we are thrilled to be here." She turned to Della, "We just adore Della."

The ladies sat and continued their conversation. Grice came and they placed their orders. As she left the table, Della's phone rang.

It was Sam, "Honey, I just got a all from Pierce. He has invited all of us to Cre Uisce Aer for drinks this evening. Can you check with everyone and make sure it suits."

"That is so sweet of him."

"Oh, and he said it is casual, so no one need get all dressed up."

After checking with everyone, Della got back to Sam, "They would love to, we can discuss the details later." They rang off.

Della gave them a bit of the history of Cre Uisce Aer. "Pierce is so nice and has done an incredible job restoring his family's estate."

Ima Jean added, "It was just unfortunate what happened at the Historical Society Gala."

"Oh," said Tara, "This sounds interesting."

Della looked at Ima Jean. Before Ima Jean could continue, Della told the ladies about that fateful night. When she finished, she could tell they had questions.

Ada commented, "I've never heard of such in real life, only on TV. "Who was the lady, the one who was," she paused, "killed"? 

"Colleen Cantrell, a lovely lady."

Ima Jean spoke up, "And, that is why Cordelia now has custody of Wells."

"He is such a nice young man. Cordelia told us he was an orphan. So Colleen was his mother?"

Ima Jean looked at Della, the turned to the others. "Not exactly." She paused,"Colleen was Wells' father."

Taken aback, Ada asked," Father?"

"Yes, Well's father, Culler, had transgendered into a woman named 'Colleen'."

"Really?" asked Tara. "I've read about such but never knew anyone."

"Well, not exactly," said Marigold. Ada and Tara looked at her. Marigold continued, "Arlene, Arlene Kieser."

"What about Arlene?" asked Tara.

"Well, seems Arlene was the former Richard Johnson."

"Richard Johnson! I thought he moved away."

"I did too, until his, or rather her, mother slipped up at bridge last month and referred to her daughter Arlene."

Ada shook her head,"That will happen when you drink too much wine at bridge."

This lightened the air at the table as the ladies all giggled at the thought of the tispy bridge player.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Wall Mannered Young Man

Meanwhile, Della was getting Ada and Fred Barnes settled in with 'Miss' Cordelia. Pearl had already offered them lemonade and showed them their rooms. 

Della looked at their hostess,"'Miss' Cordelia, thank you again so much for opening your home up for Sam's parents' friends."

"Oh, sweetheart, I'm excited. I don't get to entertain as much as I used to. They'll be in good hands."

Della reached over and gave 'Miss' Cordelia a hug. "I know that."

By this time, Ada and Fred Barnes were back in the living room. "You have such a lovely home."

From the dining room came a young voice,"Pearl, I'm home." Wells McCord rounded the corner and stopped. "I'm sorry Granny Cordelia, I didn't realize you had company."

"Wells, this is Mr. and Mrs. Barnes. They are staying with us this week." She turned to the Barnes, "This is my great grandson Wells."

Wells walked into the room and shook the Barnes' hands. "Nice to meet you." He turned to his Great Grandmother, "I'm going to find Pearl, and then I have homework to do." Looking at Ada and Fred, he said,"See you later." With that Wells went back to the kitchen in search of Pearl.

"What a well mannered young man. Is he visiting?"

"No," 'Miss' Ella sighed. "He lives with me. Unfortunately, he is an orphan. He lost both his parents recently, and I felt it was my place to rear him." She smiled, "Well, me and Pearl." Pivoting, she looked at Della. "We just love this young lady. Why, I have watched her grow up. And, Sam, what a dear."

Della blushed, "'Miss' Cordelia, you know you are one of my favorites. Once she was sure they were settled, she excused herself to find Sam. 

"Oh, dear that is tragic. The poor young thing. He is lucky to have someone as caring as you."

"That is kind for you to say. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Drama, Dallas, and Rayanne's Imagination

Next, it was on to 'Miss' Ella's with the Marcuses. When she came to the door, Sam introduced them, "'Miss' Ella, this is Tara and John Marcus, Sam's parent's best friends." "'Miss' Ella stood back and welcomed them into her living room. 

Tara was quick to thank her. "This is so nice of you to open your home to us." 

"Oh, it's nothing. I'm excited to get to know Sam's people. We just love Sam and Della. Please have a seat." She pointed to the sofa and wing chairs in her living room. Sitting on the coffee table was a silver tray laden with a large crystal pitcher of lemonade, 6 matching glasses, and a small plate of scones. 'Miss' Ella picked up the pitcher, "Can I offer you a glass of lemonade?"

"I would love some," said Tara with a smile.

"Mr. Marcus?"

"Oh, please, it's John, and yes, I would love some also."

She looked at Sam, "Sam?"

"No thank you, I just finished a glass and a half of Ed's tea." He looked at the tray, "Are those Hattie's scones?"

"They certainly are", said 'Miss' Ella as she poured the lemonade. She offered a glass with a small linen napkin to both Tara and John. 

Sam laughed,"You may not want to turn down those scones. They are Hattie's world famous scones."

'Miss" Ella smiled, "Hattie is the baker at the Goodness Gracious Tea House. If you think those are good, wait until you try her cheese straws and biscuits." Realizing her guests were full, she added. "Now, don't you worry, they are all in a tin on the kitchen counter. My home is your home, I want you to make yourself comfortable. If need something and cannot put your hands on it, just let me know."

They discussed the wedding and Sam's family. Soon, Sam knew he could safely leave without offending 'Miss" Ella or making his parents' best friends feel abandoned. He thanked 'Miss' Ella once again for her hospitality, reminded John and Tara he was only a phone call away, and excused himself.

"Miss" Ella made sure her guests were settled in. "There are towels in the bathroom and I hope anything else you need. I have left a key to the house on the dresser."  There is a coffee maker in the kitchen, as well as drinks and snacks on the counter. Please feel free to come and go as you wish. There is piece of paper under the key with my cell phone number." She paused, "If I have left anything out, please let me know. I'm never far away."

John laughed, "And the tin of goodies is on the kitchen  counter?"

"Of course. And if you find it empty, I'll have Hattie fill it up."

Tara and John thanked her and excused themselves. It had been a long day.

It wasn't long before Rayanne called, "Oh, Ella, I heard you have company. Are the Barnes staying with you."

"No, I think they are staying with Cordelia. John and Tara Marcus are staying here. And, I must say they are delightful."

"Oh," said Rayanne crestfallen. "I was hoping it was the Barnes. You know I've been thinking and thinking, and I just cannot place them."

"You've met them?"

"Oh, no. But I know they are somehow kin to Pamela Ewing, remember she was a Barnes. Then there was her brother Cliff and her daddy, Digger."

"Rayanne, this is not a TV show."

"Oh, I know that. But they are from Dallas. And, how many Barnes do you think there are in Dallas?"

"Rayanne, your imagination amazes me." They talked for a while and then rang off.

It wasn't a few minutes later before Rayanne called back. "Ella, you said they were the Marcuses?"

"Yes, Tara and John Marcus. They are Sam parents' best friends."

"I knew it. I just knew it."

"Knew what?"

"Neiman Marcus - they have to be those Marcuses. They are from Dallas."

"Rayanne, I do not think these are the 'Marcus' of Neiman and Marcus. Honestly. Good night." With that Ella rang off. She just shook her head at the thought of Rayanne's imagination.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Checking In

Marigold walked into the General Taylor followed by Tooley, Sam, and many pieces of luggage - hanging bags, suitcases, hat boxes, and other sundry pieces. Seeing that no one was in sight, Marigold rang the bell on the desk. 

Bobbie Mae came out of the door behind the desk. "Why you must be Mr. and Mrs. Peterson."

"We are and are very happy to be here."

Bobbie Mae pulled a piece of paper from the desk and handed it to Marigold. "If you can just sign this and we'll get you folks checked in."

Marigold took a pen from her purse, quickly read the terms, and signed her name. She pulled out her check book. "Now how much do we owe you for 6 nights."

"Well, 7 rooms for 6 nights," Bobbie Mae punched some numbers into the old adding machine that sat on the desk top. With each entry she pulled the handle, and the machine made a loud 'Che Ching' sound.  She pulled the paper from the machine, looked at it and said, "OK, with tax that will be $1056.17."

Marigold started writing her check. "So for 6 nights that will be $7,000.00 and how much?"

Bobbie Mae was a little confused. "No mam, $1056.17."

"Per room, correct?"

"No mam, the rate is $23.95 per night, but we have to charge that stupid room tax. So the total is $25.14."

"Are you sure?" asked Marigold holding up her pen before she wrote the check.

Afraid she had offended Marigold, Bobbie Mae said, "Well, I guess we could give you a discount, since it's for Sam's wedding and all."

Marigold laughed, "No, dear, that just sounds very low for 7 hotel rooms for 6 nights." She smiled, wrote the check and handed it to Bobbie Mae.

She glanced down at the check, it was made out for $2000.00. "But mam," she protested.

Marigold smiled, "No buts about it. I know you will take very good care of us. The others will be straggling in. It's just us for now."

Bobbie Mae thanked her, got the room keys, and came from behind the desk. "I'll show you to your room." Looking at Sam and Tooley burdened with the pile of luggage. "Just leave that there. I'll get Bubba to bring those to your room."

They followed her down the hall. Marigold asked along the way, "Now isn't Bubba your award winning chef? The one who makes those opossum pancakes?"

Bobbie Mae, turned around and laughed, "Yes mam. He makes his ramp pancakes every morning and serves them with his opossum sausage."

Sam shook his head, "And, all the time I have been living in Gallagher and no one ever told me of such."

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Texas Comes to Town

Sunday afternoon, Sam and Della picked up Sam's parents from the airport. Sam had arranged for them to have a rental car. After the luggage was loaded, Sam's parents and the Barnes followed Sam, Della, and the Marcuses to Gallagher.

Knowing they were famished, their first stop was the Ed's Cafe. As they were seated, Sam said, "Ed makes the best burger."

"Better than Rogers back home?" Tooley asked.

"Yep, better than Rogers." He turned and looked at  Marigold and the other 2 ladies, "And the chicken and the egg salad are both freshly made in house."

Soon, Mae came over to take their orders. "Why you must be Sam's daddy, he looks just like you."

"My dear, I will take that as a compliment. Yes, I am Tooley Peterson and this is Sam's mother, Marigold." He introduced the other 2 couples to her and they exchanged pleasantries.

"Sam says the burger is the best here," said Tooley.

"Yes sir they are, known county wide," answered Mae.

"Well, I want one all the way with cheese, cooked medium rare." He paused, "and a glass of sweet iced tea."

"Yes, sir." She turned to the other guests and took their orders. After she walked away, the conversation got back to the plans for the week.

Sam told them where they would be staying. "Aunt Ada and Uncle Fred, y'all will be staying with 'Miss' Cordelia Wells. I promise you will be in good hands."

Della piped up,"Mr. and Mrs. Marcus . . ."

Tara Marcus interrupted her, "Della, dear, please call us John and Tara."

Della smiled and continued, "You will be staying with 'Miss' Ella Osbourne. She is just a delight."

Quickly, the food came. Sam wasn't sure if it was the quality of the food or just hunger from the trip, but everyone seemed to be enjoying their lunches.

"Mama remind me when Bryson Lee arrives."

"Oh, it will be tomorrow,  I think her flight comes in around 10 in the morning. "

 "Good. I'll pick her up."

"You sure? Aren't you busy?"

"Maybe, but I always have time for her. Besides we need some 'sibling bonding time' before the wedding."

After lunch, Sam dropped his parents off at the General Taylor and he and Della took the Barnes to 'Miss' Ella's and the Marcuses to 'Miss' Cordelia's.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

So You Must Know the Ewings?

All Marigold could say was, "That does sound like quite the gourmet meal." She went on to ask Bobbie Mae whether she needed her credit card to reserve the rooms.

"No, mam. You sound quite nice on the phone, we can trust you. Bring your check book when you come. I just need your name." She paused. "If I may ask, just why are you coming the Gallagher and why do you need so many rooms." 

"Our son is getting married. You may know him, Sam Peterson."

"Oh, lordy, he is one good looking man. And, we just love Della. Why we are all so excited about the wedding."

"Well, we are also. We've never been to Gallagher."

"Really? So where are you from?"

"Dallas, Texas."

Bobbie Mae was very excited, "Dallas, Texas! I bet you know the Ewings, you know that family that owns South Fork. Oh I just loved them, especially Sue Ellen. My girl friend, Dee Dee, loved Pam, but I just loved to see Sue Ellen and JR fight."

Marigold interrupted, "No, I'm afraid, we do not know the Ewings, but they are quite famous." She was quickly realizing that this town equated Dallas to the Ewings, never mind the other 7.5 million residents of the city. She thanked Bobbie Mae for her time and they rang off.

Later she called Sam. "Sweetheart, I finally got reservations for the family, but they only have 7 rooms. What am I going to do with the others coming from Texas?"

"Mama, I can handle that. Just send a list of the guests who will need accommodations. And, don't worry about that any more. What else can I help with?" 

"Well, I finally found a venue for the rehearsal dinner."

"Really? Here in Gallagher?"

"You didn't tell me there was a 'Gentleman's Club' in town? I know it won't be as big as the Dallas City Club, but it should do. Do you know who I should speak with there."

Sam took a silent breath. "Well, I don't think that will do."

"Why not? You are not giving me credit. I know Gallagher is a small town and maybe not as," she paused. "as sophisticated as Dallas. But, we an make this work."

"Mama, the Gentleman's Club, is just that - a gentleman's club. It is not a venue for anything. And, it is private."

"Well, certainly you are a member."

Sam couldn't help but laugh. "No, I'm not a member." Then he remembered, "Besides they had a fire there and I'm pretty sure it is closed for a while. And, I told you, we will take care of that. No need to worry."

Realizing there was no sense protesting, she moved on. "After speaking with a few folks there, I fear they will be disappointed when we arrive and they learn we are not in fact Ellie and Jock Ewing."

Sam laughed, "I never heard that before."

"Have you ever spoken to Bobbie Mae at the General Tyler? And, what in the heck is 'Opossum Sausage'?"

Sam laughed, "Mama, all I can is welcome to Gallagher. I love it here. It may be a bit quirky, but it is now home to me." He paused, "I promise we will take care of the rehearsal dinner. Don't you worry about that."

"Oh, I know you will. I just hate not to be doing our part."

"Well, if it makes you feel any better, I'll send you the bill. And, we'll make sure it is a gourmet meal. Heck, I bet I can find some chicken gizzards and livers for the meal."

"Sam!" Marigold protested.

"Mama, I promise, you will not be embarrassed. You're going to really like here. Now, ____, not so much, but that's her problem."

With that they rang off.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Award Winning Reservations

Back in Texas, Marigold was trying to make room reservations in Gallagher for the wedding. No one had answered the telephone the following evening when she attempted to call the General Taylor Imperial Inn. Also, concerned about the rehearsal dinner, Marigold had been online searching for some nice restaurant or country club. She found there were few choices. Then she saw a listing for the 'Gallagher Gentleman's Club.'

'There we go,' she said to herself. 'I knew there would be some nice club there.' She wrote the number down and planned to call later to inquire about using the club as a venue for the rehearsal dinner. 

Once again she tried to call the General Taylor. She was almost surprised when someone answered the phone. "The General Taylor Imperial Motel, best place to stay in Gallagher."

Marigold introduced herself and asked about availability for rooms the week of the wedding. "And, you need how many rooms?"

"Probably 15, maybe 20."

"15 or 20?" There was silence.

"Oh dear, I feared that - you are booked up for the week. I knew I should have called earlier."

"No mam, in fact we don't have nary a room booked for that time."

"So what is the problem?"

"Well mam, we only have 7 rooms."

"7 rooms? In the entire motel?"

"Yes, mam. Oh, we may be small but we are award winning."

'OK', said Marigold to herself. 'This must be a small boutique hotel.' Although she was surprised, she was pleased. Thank God, there is some sophistication in this little town.

Bobbie Mae, at the General Taylor, continued, "Yes, mam. We won the Golden Spatula award for Bubba's pancakes."

"Is he your chef?"

"Oh, no mam, he is our handy man but he likes to experiment in the kitchen." She laughed. "His ramp pancakes with opossum sausage are known county wide."

Monday, June 17, 2019

It's the Least We Can Do

Yes, Anna Belle knew who the mystery man was. He had been in the club earlier. Standing in the crowd was Mr. Johnny Ricardo. Still staring at the man with the jet black hair, red carnation and all, she said quietly. "That is Mr. Johnny Ricardo, he says he works for The Advocate in New Orleans."

"You know him?" asked the Chief.

"Not really. He showed up at the club last night. He got obnoxious and I had to get him escorted out."

"Any idea why he was there?"

"Said he was doing some research."


Anna Belle was still focused on Mr. Ricardo when she answered, "Research on my family."

As if he had been recognized, Mr. Ricardo turned and left, walking down the sidewalk. 

Meanwhile at Ivy Lane, Bunny and Mike were discussing Sam and Della's wedding. "Why don't we host their reception here?" suggested Bunny.

"Sounds good to me, if you don't think it will stress you out."

Bunny laughed, "After Kathleen's reception I feel like an expert."

"An expert, huh?" said Mike with a smile.

"Well, I know who to call."

"Then I guess that does make you an expert. You want to call Della."

Bunny picked up her phone and smiled. "I just love making people happy."

Della was thrilled, "Are you sure Bunny? That is asking a lot."

"No it's not. Mike and I want to do something. It's the least we can do."

Della sighed, "Oh, Bunny, I was dreading having to deal with my mother. And Mike's family . . . well, I wanted something nice."

They discussed a few details, said they would talk more at work the following morning, and rang off.

"Well, that's done," said Bunny.

"Oh, I beg to differ - that is just the beginning." Mike laughed.

Friday, June 14, 2019

We Lost Luther

Clark could only pray that everyone was going to accept the tale they just told about Luther. One of the firemen knelt down beside the body. After checking him, he looked up, "I'm afraid he is dead." 

Wade sighed,"I was afraid of that. I was just hoping he had maybe just passed out."

"No, Mr. Sweeney is dead." 

Not surprised the fireman recognized the attorney, Clark spoke up. "Do we need to get Dr. Sadler, since he is the coroner."

The fireman stood up, put his gloves back on, preparing to go help the others, "If you could take care of that, I would appreciate it."

Wade pulled his cell phone from his pocket. "While I'm at it, I'll call Cliff to come get the body." The fireman thanked him again, turned, and went back into house.

Anna Belle walked up the stairs to the front porch. She didn't have to pretend to be alarmed to see Luther's body on the floor. But she was concerned about how this was going to play out.

Continuing the charade, Clark spoke up, "Anna Belle, I'm afraid he is dead."

She looked shocked. "Has anyone called Hollis?" She paused, then added,"And, I guess we should also call Cliff."

"Wade's handling all that now," referring to Wade standing in the yard on his cell phone. 

"What can I do?" asked Anna Belle.

"Can you get a sheet or something to cover the body? At least we can do that. No telling how long it will take them to get here."

Chief Pyre walked up, "Understand we lost Luther?"

"Yes, but we're not sure how." Wade said, then added,"Hollis is on his way.

The Chief shook his head and walked away.

It wasn't long before Hollis Sadler arrived. And only five minutes or so followed by Cliff, from Clint's Home of the Dearly Departed and Deceased.

Hollis spoke to Wade and Clark. Wade, sticking with the story, told the Doctor about Clark and he finding him on the floor in the hall upstairs.

"Was he breathing?"

"Not that I could tell but I was more concerned about getting him out of the house. It was getting very smoky up there."

Hollis looked over the body, took his temperature, and turned to Wade. "Looks like he's been dead maybe an hour or so." He looked up, "When did you find him?"

"Maybe 30 minutes or so ago."

Hollis continued looking over the body. "I don't see any evidence of trauma.  My guess is it's not smoke inhalation." He smiled, "Could have been stress. It wouldn't be the first time, someone found the Club 'stressful."

Clark and Wade just stood there. Hollis continued, "Due to the circumstances, I need to do an autopsy." He turned to Cliff, "You can take him now. I'll be down tomorrow to look at him." (Gallagher was so small that the coroner used the facilities at the funeral home when performing autopsies.)

Rascal was the last to arrive. Wade filled him on what they knew.  Rascal shook his head, "I don't recall Luther having any relatives. He never married. Nice guy but kind of an odd sort." 

"Well there must be someone we need to notify." Rascal shook his head. I'll start with the law office. They'll know." With that Rascal turned to find Chief Pyre.

Once he was out of ear shot, Wade turned to Clark, "Think we dodged a close one."

"No kidding."

Even though, there was considerable smoke and water damage to the building, overall it wasn't as bad as it appeared. It would still take some time and resources to restore everything. Once Anna Belle had an accounting of all her employees and staff, she went through the ruined kitchen with Chief Pyre. "It could have been so much worse," said Chief Pyre as he stood with Anna Belle looking at the damage.

"I assume it was grease fire?" Anna Belle asked.

"That would be my first guess. But when I spoke with Bates he said the stove was off. He had finished cooking and was cleaning up. He said he smelled smoke and turned to see the stove on fire."

He looked at Anna Belle, "But, don't worry, if it was anything else, we'll figure it out." They walked back to the front yard where Wade and Clark were still standing.

Wade asked Chief Pyre about the fire. "Not quite sure, but it looks like it started in the kitchen."

Wade said something but Chief Pyre wasn't paying attention. He was looking over Anna Belle's shoulder. He noticed a small crowd gathering across the street under the street light. No surprise there. However, there was  a face in the crowd he didn't recognize. Still looking at the crowd, he asked, "Any idea who that man is?"

Anna Belle turned and followed his gaze, "Which man?"

"The one in front. I recognize everyone else."

Thursday, June 13, 2019

For the Record, He was Out Cold

She left to find Andrew. As she did, she felt like a salmon swimming up stream against the current. Members and girls were trying to make their way down the hall and out the back door. She tried to tell them to exit out the front, but it was of no use. Anna Belle returned up stairs.

She told Clark and Wade what was going on. "And now everyone is running out the back door."

"Great how are we going to get the body down the back stairs with everyone in the hall?" asked Clark.

Wade smiled. "We're not. We're going down the main staircase. We'll take him out the front door."

Clark didn't question him, just picked up Luther Sweeney by the shoulders and followed Wade, who had the dead man by his feet. They made their way down the hall. The smoke was thick, Wade told Anna Belle to get out.

"Let me check all the rooms, then I'll get out. I'll be out back."

Wade and Clark started down the steps with Luther, just as the first firemen came through the door. The smoke was so thick he could barely make them out. Wade yelled, "The fire's in  kitchen in the back." Without a word the men pulled the heavy hose down the hall toward the kitchen. "That was close." He stopped and turned back to Clark. Wade had an idea.

"Clark for the record, we found Luther in the hall as we were checking the rooms. He was out cold." 

"Whatever you say."

The two men moved the body down the stairs. As they got him out to the front porch, there were more fireman arriving. Wade yelled, "We need help. We found this man in the hall. He's unconscious."

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

We are Going to be Family Now

"Mrs. Lee, this is Marigold Peterson, Sam's Mother," Ima jean heard when she answered the phone.

"Oh, I am so glad you called. We just love Sam. And, please it's Ima Jean, after all we are going to be family now."

"Well, we just adore Della. I'm just calling about the wedding."

"Oh, I am so excited. Della's our only daughter so I have been looking forward to this since she was born. I've already reserved the church and the church hall. They redid the hall last year. It's really nice now. The walls are a pale shade of blue. The women of the church wanted to use a wall color that would compliment any dress. That peachy cream they had just clashed with everything, especially red dresses."

As Ima Jean took a breath, Marigold interjected, "Well that sounds just wonderful. I'm glad those details have been taken care of. Tooley and I are trying to get our part of the guest list finished. I must say with a large extended family, not to mention all of Tooley's business friends, it has been a chore to limit the list."

"Well, I could see if the Church of the Seven Wells and Three Stones, that's our Episcopal church here in town, is available, but I don't think so. Those Episcopalians are pretty funny about Baptists and such. And if I remember correctly, the Warren's daughter's wedding is that weekend. Personally I was surprised that Elizabeth wanted to marry that Collins boy. But, if her parents were OK with it, who am I to say."

Once again, Marigold took advantage of Ima Jean's pause, "I'm sure your church will be just wonderful. I'm pretty sure the kids are determined to have a small wedding."

"Oh, and for the reception I've been working on the menu. I thought we could have pigs in blankets, you know those little wieners wrapped in biscuit dough. And then chicken nuggets, a vegetable tray, and some sweets. Of course, there will be the wedding cake. But, we can make those decisions later."

Trying to imagine this 'gourmet' spread, all Marigold could say was, "What can we do to help?"

"Not a thing, just show up. We're so excited about meeting you."

"Speaking of that, we will need a place to stay. If I can get a list of the hotels in town, I can go ahead and make reservations. I hope we are not too late."

"Hotels? Oh my, we only have one motel, the General Taylor Imperial Motel."

"Is there someone particular we should ask for. We will need to reserve a block of rooms."

A bit confused about a 'block of rooms', Ima Jean said, "Oh, don't worry, Mary Alice will answer the phone. She is the only one there. And, speak slowly, she is hard of hearing."

"I'll keep that in mind."

They discussed some more details, said they would talk later, and rang off.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Here We Go Again

Lying there was Luther Sweeney, local attorney, former partner of Madison Marlboro. All that aside, Anna Belle needed to get this handled. She went downstairs and found Wade. After they had walked to the back steps, and she filled him in. 

"Jesus, God, and Mary! Again?"

Anna Belle looked at him, "It's not like I'm enjoying this."

"OK, let me go get Clark and see if he can help me." He turned and went back to the game room.

Anna Belle went back upstairs to check on Allessandra. Wade returned with Clark. In his dry sense of gallows humor, Wade said,"Well Clark, here we go again." He turned to Anna Belle, "Do you know how he arrived? Did he drive? God help us if he came with a friend."

"I'm not sure, but I'll find out." Anna Belle left to find Andrew, he would know. She learned from him that Luther had arrived alone. If he drove, Andrew said he did not know what kind of car he had. 

She returned to Allessandra's room to tell Wade, "Andrew says he was alone. . . and he thinks he drove himself."

"Does he know which car?"

"No, he doesn't."

Wade turned to Clark who was looking over Luther's body to see if his death was from anything more than natural causes. "Does he have car keys on him?"

Clark checked his pockets, "No". Then he looked on the side table. "Here they are." He picked them up. " 'Fraid this is not going to be too much help."

Wade looked at the key Clark was holding - a black GMC fob. It  probably could fit any of a majority cars in town. He shook his head. "Well, that's not going to make it easy. At least with John and Madison, we were able to use their cars. Let me think."

While he was thinking, Anna Belle said, "Let me get Andrew. He can help."

"Sure you want to get someone else involved?"

"Wade I trust Andrew with my life. Besides, he already knows something is up."

As Anna Belle said that an alarm went off. "Oh, God, that's the fire alarm, I think from the kitchen." She ran downstairs to see what the situation was. Bates met her at the kitchen door, "Now, Miss Anna Belle don't you worry, I already called the fire department. They are on their way and bringing Sheriff Quitman with them."

Monday, June 10, 2019

Sara's Looking for you

After dealing with Rici Ricarda, Anna Belle smiled, shook her head, and walked back to the kitchen .'Thank God,' she thought. 'I do have a good team behind me.' She always feared that her family 'heritage' would arise from the past and haunt her. 'What would Idella do now?' 

Having no idea what Bates had planned for that evening, she wanted to check with him. After looking over the menu, she felt assured that all was well. She went to her office and gathered her things to go home. That was when Andrew found her. "Sara is looking for you, seems to a bit upset."

"Thank you Andrew, I'll find her. I'm sure it is nothing serious." Anna Belle made her way through the dining room, checking the buffet as she did, making sure it was replenished. Moving into the game room, she took in the sweet smell of cigars, the dark wood paneling, and oriental carpets. It always gave her a feeling of peace. Although, she had a feeling that 'peace' was about to be broken. 

She made her way through the game room, speaking with members on her way to the hall. This was Anna Belle's MO when moving through the house. She was very good at keeping a demeanor of calm, especially when there may be an 'issue' she needed to handle. No need to give the members any idea something was amiss. She accepted a glass of Sherry from Wilbur, an older gentleman who was no doubt sweet on her, excused herself, and quietly made her way up the back stairs. 

Sara was standing at the top of the stairs. Seeing the countenance on her face, Anna Belle knew this may be serious after all. 

"Pray tell."

But Sara shook her head. "I'm afraid we have a small issue."

"Issue? Like what kind of 'issue'?" She paused. "Sara, please don't tell me something has happened."

"I'm afraid so."

"Where? Who?"

"In Alessandra's room," Sara said as she moved down the hall, Anna Belle following a few steps behind. She opened the door. Alessandra was standing there, wearing silk a dressing gown loosely tied at the waist. 

Her face said it all. Anna Belle's eyes moved to the bed where a man was lying there - very still. Before she could say anything, Alessandra started crying. "Anna Belle, I don't know what happened. I excused myself for just a minute or 2 and returned to find him . . ." She whimpered a bit, "Like this."

Anna Belle walked over to the bed to get a closer look. The man was definitely dead, no doubt about it. She took a deep breath to calm herself, and turned to the girls. "Sara, take Alessandra to your room, get her calmed down, and dressed."

She gave Alessandra a reassuring hug, "It will be OK, I promise. Now run along."

"But what are you . . ."

Anna Belle gently smiled, "We are going to take care of it. Now don't you worry."

The  girls left the room and Anna Belle walked over to the body on the bed. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Well, It's a Surprise

Della and Sam were sitting at Ed's trying finish the guest list for the wedding. “Are you sure that's it?” asked Sam as he picked up another French fry from Della's plate. They had spent the better part of two evenings trying to pare the list down.

“Well, if I'm not, it doesn't matter now. We don't have any more time to mess with this.” She took another bite of her burger. Sam reached for another French fry. Della swatted his hand and smiled, “Don't eat my fries.”

“Well, you're not eating them.”

“I'm not yet. Just because I have promised myself no more fries until after the wedding, I still want to hold my options open.”

Ignoring Della and taking another fry from her plate, Sam smiled,”Well, all we need now is Mama's list.” Before Della could even say anything, Sam added, “And, yes, I'll deal with that.”

“You are such a dear. Thank you.”

They weren't the only ones working on the wedding. Della's mother was beside herself with the wedding. Her only daughter was getting married. Trying keep her mother from getting all worked up,  Della had been very vague about the details. The last thing she needed was to have to handle her mother when she was trying get everything else done.

However, knowing her daughter was occupied with the wedding plans, as well as her regular job,  Ima Jean decided it would be best not to tell Della that she was making the wedding dress. It was the least she could do.

Ima Jean laid the thin pattern pieces of the Simplicity pattern she had purchased for the wedding dress out on the table in the spare bedroom. She started trimming the pattern, being very careful not to tear the sheets. As she cut down the lines, she realized that she was in Della's old room. All of her daughter's old high school posters and pictures were still on the wall. There was a cork board where torn ticket pieces, old photos, and dried corsages were still pinned to. All this just made Ima Jean even more determined to make the best wedding dress possible.

As a young girl, Della loved lacy dresses and dotted Swiss. Her favorite colors were pink and purple. 'She is going to be thrilled with this dress', her mother thought.

She retrieved the package of eyelet from the bottom of the freezer, under her husband's bags of frozen opossum, squirrel and deer he had shot last year. She was surprised to find that each piece of the lace was still bright white and crisp, as if new.

At supper that evening, Thomas asked,"What have you been doing in Della's room?”

Ima Jean passed her husband the dish of butter beans. “Well it's a surprise.”

“For me?” he asked as he picked a hot biscuit from the basket in front of him and started buttering it. He looked up, “A surprise huh?”

“Yes, and that is all I am saying.”

“A surprise for the wedding?”

Trying to remain coy, Ima Jean got up, walked to the stove, and put some more fried chicken on the platter. “And, why would you say that?”

“Because ever since Sam and Della set their date, you have been 'giddy' as a school girl before the spring dance.”

Doing her best not to look hurt, she quickly responded, “Thomas, I am not 'giddy'. I may be excited, but not 'giddy'.”

“Could have fooled me,” he said with a wry smile, as he took another fork full of butter beans.”

“We only have one daughter and I hope this is her only wedding. Can't a mother of the bride enjoy the moment?”

“Enjoy, yes. Meddle, not so much.” He smiled. “Just remember when we got married all the fussing that went on between you and your mother. Both of you got your feelings hurt before finally coming to your senses.”

“Of course I remember. That's why I'm not going to bother her.”

Taking another piece of fried chicken, without looking up, Thomas added, “Or surprise her, right?”

“Oh Thomas, it is going to be so beautiful.”

“Oh, I'm sure our little Della will have a lovely wedding and make a beautiful bride. Why, I remember her sitting on the den floor setting up a wedding for her Barbie dolls.” He paused, “Just like it was yesterday. And now she is planning her own wedding. Where does the time go?”

Ima Jean quietly buttered a biscuit. Thomas continued, “It is the wedding you are referring to, right?”

“Well, something to do with the wedding. But I told you it's a surprise. I'm not telling anyone until I'm finished.” She looked at him and smiled, “Especially you!”

Thomas raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, I won't ask about it any more.”

Hurt, Ima Jean replied, “So you really don't want to know?”

“You said it was a secret.” He wiped his lips with his napkin and placed it on the table next to his plate. “I'll be as surprised as anyone.”

Ima Jean picked up their plates and put them in the sink. “She is going to be thrilled.”

Shaking his head, Thomas answered, “No doubt she will.” He leaned back in his chair. “Have you talked with Sam's mother yet?”

“No, but I will. I'm sure she is a nice person.” Wiping her hands on her apron, she continued, "Della says they own a farm in Texas. No doubt they are good people.”

“Honey, I don't think I would call Sam's family 'Texas Farmers'. From what I understand their farm, is more of a ranch and is about the size of this county.”

“Thomas, seriously, you make it sound like they are rich or something.”

“My dear, do you remember the TV show, 'Dallas'?”

“Of course, I loved Miss Ellie.”

“Well keep that in mind when you meet Mrs. Peterson”

“You are so silly talking like that. If Sam came from such a family, why would he be an FBI agent. And, why he be living here in Gallagher?”

“I imagine because he could and he wants to.”

“Well, I'm still not telling you about my surprise.”

“I got that.”

“Not even though I'm sure you want to know.”

“Sweetheart, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I can wait.”

“You sure?”

“You're the one who said it was a secret.”

She put her hands on her hips. “Okay, okay, if you are going to beg,” Ima Jean smiled with pride. She turned and left the room returning with, what looked like, a large bundle of white cloth.

“I thought only brides wore white. Certainly you are not going to wear a white frock to your daughter's wedding.”

“This isn't for me, this is for Della.” With that she laid the dress out on the back of a chair. “It's her wedding dress.” Ima Jean was so excited looking at the dress. She just stood there with her hands over her mouth.

A bit concerned, Thomas said,”Now, I'm just the father. And I don't know anything about dresses, but I do know enough about my own daughter to know she is going to pick out her own wedding dress.”

“You don't think that she'll like it?” she said crestfallen.

“I'm not saying that, I'm just saying that I don't want to see the 2 of you getting all fussed up before the wedding.”

Ima Jean picked up the dress and carefully folded the bottom over her arm to keep it off the floor. “Fiddle dee dee, I know my daughter.” She took the dress back to the bedroom. Thomas moved into the den to watch the evening news, shaking his head.

Later that night, Sam called his mother to discuss the guest list.

“I told you I would email it you.”

“I know, I wanted to tell you that I have not included any of my family on our list. If you want family there, you will need to include them on your list”

“Oh, dear. No cousins? Not even Ed or Mark or Beau.”

"No, mam, 'fraid not."

“Well then, I'll review my list. When y'all said 'small', y'all really meant small.”

“Mama, just remember this is a small town in Alabama, not Dallas, Texas.”

“Oh, I'm getting the idea.” She paused as if she were going over the list. “Honey, can you send me the Della's mother's name and her phone number. I haven't heard from her and think maybe I should reach out. You know, kind of a 'get to know you' call.”

“If you have a pen and paper I can give that to you now.”

Sam gave her the information. She thanked him and asked, “Now, about the rehearsal dinner. Where should we have it? Is there a country club, or a very nice restaurant - just someplace that would appropriate. If you could just get me some menus and maybe some websites so I can start planning that. Honestly, I have tried Googling Gallagher. I must be spelling something wrong because I cannot find any place around there that would work.”

“Mama, don't worry about that, Della and I have something in mind.”

“That's ridiculous. I'll have no such thing. Just send me some information.”

They spoke for a while then rang off. The more Sam thought about it, this wedding may not be such a good idea after all. Elopement was looking better and better. There were some worlds that did not need to meet and he feared his parents and Gallagher may be just be two of those. 'Oh boy,' Sam thought. 'Here we go'.