Dr. Hollis and Dr. Sadler were intrigued with Parker's Aunt. What could it hurt? The next step would be an exorcism. And the doctors doubted that would work, given the Widow Barker was a Baptist
Parker stood there. Hollis spoke,"Parker, weren't you on your way to the bar?"
"Oh yeah," Parker turned and headed toward the bar. When he got there, Ike came over. "Who's driving tonight?"
"We are walking and Kathleen is our designated walker, so we are in good hands."
Ike just shook his head. He had been serving this crew since the first day they could legally drink. "What do you need?"
Parker ordered for the other 3, then he paused. "I'm not sure. Wait, I want just what the doctor ordered?"
"You sure?" asked Ike.
"Yep, that's what the doctor said."
Ike, not sure what to do, but knowing Parker had just stopped and spoke with Dr. Sadler and Dr. Magill, reached under the bar and poured a small glass and served it to Parker. He didn't ask Parker if he had had a bad day.
The next morning Bunny walked into the office while Della was on the phone. As Bunny put her things on her desk, she heard Della's part of the phone conversation. "I know, I'm so excited."
Della paused to listen, then responded, "My dress should be in any day now."
Della paused,"OK, we can talk about those details tonight." Then she rang off.
"You sound very happy," commented Bunny.
"Oh, that was just Sam."
Then Della and Bunny discussed some paperwork that needed to be handled that morning.Vivian came out of her office with a spreadsheet of figures Bunny had asked for. Bunny thanked her and asked,"How was the trip with the children?"
"Very sad for me. But, the children seem to be happy and Harvey and Laurelie are over the moon. The kids settled in fairly quickly. It is a good situation for everyone," Vivian laughed. "And it was so quiet at home when I got back it was scary."
They all returned to their offices. Bunny had received some notes on email she wanted to discuss with Della. She printed them off. As she reached her office door, she heard Della on the phone. Bunny just stood there listening to Della's part of the conversation.
"Well since I have very little family, it will be nice having your big family." She paused.
"Yes, I called the florist and got those details handled. It is going to be beautiful." She paused again.
"I will admit, I'm a little scared of the whole deal, but excited." She laughed."After all I'm only doing this once." She paused.
"Love you too." She rang off.
Bunny walked up to Della's desk and showed her the messages she had received. " 'Miss' Ella's son is a little concerned about his mother."
"She seemed fine to me last time I saw her, Della commented.
"Oh, I know. He is just a concerned son. I think I'll get Larry to check on her more often. Hopefully that will make her son feel better."
"Sounds good to me,"said Della. "And, I doubt Larry will not have a problem with that, given 'Miss' Ella dotes on him with her jam and fresh biscuits." They both laughed.
Bunny asked,"I'll reply to him and tell we will keep him posted."
Bunny tried to figure out how she could find out what was going on with Della without being noisy. "Sam doing OK?"
"He is, I don't know what I would do without him." And that was all she said.
Later that morning Bunny heard part of another conversation between Della and Sam. "Now you did get all the travel details handled?" Della paused. Then she laughed,"No, I would never doubt you." She paused. "Talk to you later." Pause. "Love you,too." And she rang off.
For Bunny that just answered her question - Della and Sam were getting married. But why was she keeping it a secret? She went back and checked the office calendar and was reminded that Della was taking a week of vacation - the following week.
At the Sheriff's station, Mike had followed up with Parker about his aunt. He got her address, oddly she did not have a telephone or email address. The Sheriff did not want to waste any time making his trip to bayou. Following Parker's directions, he found himself turning off the main road onto a dirt road that led to the water. At that point he almost missed the next turn. There was a narrow one lane dirt road that followed the water for several miles.
The road ended at a house that could barely be seen behind a grown up privet hedge. The Sheriff got out of his car and walked up to an unpainted gate in the hedges. As he pushed on the gate, the hinges squeaked as if they had not opened in years. Not that the Sheriff was superstitious, but this had all the sights and sounds of an old Stanley Kubrick movie.
The weedy walkway led to an old small cottage that had not seen a lick of paint in years . . .if ever. There was nothing on the porch except a single obelisk. As his foot touched the bottom step, the wood creaked. The front door opened.
A middle aged woman dressed in a black and purple paisley caftan with a red gili on her head smiled. "Well Sheriff, I'm glad you found me. Come on in." She waved him in with her thin hand tipped with long red nails.
"Thank you. I did not know Parker told you I was coming."
Reeza paused,"He didn't. He did not need to." She offered him a chair and a cup tea. He took the chair she offered and declined the tea. The room was painted a dark color and decorated with paintings by well known Renaissance artists. There was little light - just enough for one to be able to see. On the table sitting before him, was a large crystal ball. 'Of course', thought the Sheriff, 'what else should I expect.'
Reeza settled into her chair across the table from the Sheriff with great flourish, adjusting her long gown as she sat down. "Now, I understand the issue here in the Widow Barker."
The Sheriff laughed,"Guess that magic crystal ball works after all."
Reeza gave an eerie sounding laugh,"No, the ball is to hold the table cloth down, when the devil blows." She looked the Sheriff in the eyes. "I do not trust a crystal ball, but the cards," her hands patted a stack of aged cards in front of her, "never lie."
"I see," said the Sheriff wondering if this was all for real.
"Let's ask the cards what is going on." With that she counted cards, 1,2, and turned the 3rd card over. "Ah, the Wheel of Fortune - the sign of change, good and bad." Reeza stopped. "The Widow was unsettled about her husband's death. She felt the devil was involved."
She counted again 4, 5, and turned over the 6th card - "The Devil card - seduction by the material world and physical pleasures. She felt that he died as a result of pleasures of the flesh."
Then 7,8, and she overturned the 9th card - "The Chariot card, this signals determination and a willingness to take the reins. The Widow took matters into her own hands."
10,11, and the 12th card - "The Justice card. She seeks the truth of her husband's death."
13,14, and the 15th card - "The Hermit card - very interesting. His lantern is the Lamp of Truth, used to guide the unknowing navigate the narrow paths while seeking enlightenment.
16,17, and the 18th card "The Devil card - typically it implies an end, possibly of a relationship or interest, and therefore implies an increased sense of self-awareness. The Widow now sees the world from a different light."
19, 20 and the 21st card "The Tower card - commonly interpreted as meaning danger, crisis, sudden change, destruction, higher learning, and liberation. She was willing to take chances."
"And the last card," Reeza turned one card over. Her countenance changed. She looked at the Sheriff and paused before she spoke,"The card of the 8 Swords."
She sat still. The Sheriff broke the silence,"And, . . what about the 8 swords?"
"The card of the 8 swords represents bondage, sadomasochism, sexual pain, gratification."
The Sheriff replied, "Sooooo, you're saying that the Widow is into S&M?"
"No," Reeza looked up at him. "Her husband was."
"So where does this leave us?"
"With an angry Widow, desperate to learn the truth of her husband's death."
"Enough to enlist witchcraft voodoo?"
"This is a lady who felt deserted by her God, who sought the truth, and came close to learning it. But the truth did not set her free, her soul was possessed."
"Did she seek advice or help from you?"
Reeza let out a crackling laugh,"No. I have never met her."
"I need help." The Sheriff told Reeza about the Widow in the clinic and the ashes and the ripped gown. He went on about her disappearing.
"I would look for a lady of the night who specializes in S&M. I see the minister dying a pleasurable death." She looked the Sheriff in his eyes. "There is no guilty party here, just a man seeking love, a woman doing her job, and 2 men trying to make the situation better . . . for everyone."
"So you are saying . . ."
"I am saying that there is nothing here to investigate."
"And the Widow?"
"We will rely on the Hermit."