Home > Savannah Blues (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #1)(4)

Savannah Blues (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #1)(4)
Mary Kay Andrews

“It’s worth more than that, Mr. Greenaway,” I said. “Those green dishes are jadeite. Really trendy. The plates alone go for thirty-five dollars apiece in Atlanta.”

Mr. Greenaway pushed his sweat-stained baseball cap to the back of his head. “That right?” he said, picking up one of the diner dishes, looking at it with new respect.

I took the roll of twenty-dollar bills out of the black leather fanny pack I wear strapped around my waist, peeled off seven bills, and handed them to him. “I’m kind of strapped this week,” I said. “How about I take everything but the dishes for one hundred forty dollars. If you don’t sell them, maybe I can come back next week, after I turn this stuff around.”

Mr. Greenaway took the money and tucked it into the bib pocket of his overalls. “Go on ahead and take the dishes, Weezie,” he said. “You good for it. Think I don’t know that?”

By the time we got everything loaded in my truck, it was already eleven-thirty. I’d have to rush to my parents’ to get showered, dressed, and over to Beaulieu.

I whizzed in the kitchen door, past Mama, who was at the sink peeling tomatoes for my father’s lunch. Daddy always has the same lunch during the summer; a tomato sandwich on white bread with Blue Plate mayonnaise, Lay’s potato chips, and a Diet Pepsi.

My father was taking his midmorning nap, I knew. Since he retired from the post office, he has a regular routine; breakfast, newspaper, coupon clipping, nap, lunch. Then, yardwork, nap, television game shows, dinner.

“OK if I take a shower?” I asked, not waiting for an answer.

“Weezie?” Mama said, looking up. “What are you up to?”

“In a hurry,” I said, grabbing a handful of potato chips as I passed.

My hair was still damp from the shower when I came back into the kitchen, wearing my yellow Zelda dress.

Mama put the plate of sandwiches on the kitchen table and eyed me with suspicion.

“You goin’ to a dress-up party in July?”

“No, ma’am,” I said. “I’m going out to Beaulieu. To Miss Anna Ruby Mullinax’s memorial service.”

As soon as I’d said it, I knew it was a mistake.

“Jean Eloise Foley, don’t you dare,” Mama said, setting her iced tea glass down on the table with a thud. Her thin, blue-veined nostrils flared from the outrage of it all. “That’s the most sacrilegious thing I have ever heard. I won’t have it, you hear?”

When she’s drinking Four Roses watered down to look like iced tea, something she usually does 1 to 4 P.M. year-round, Mama thinks everything is either outrageous or sacrilegious.

“The paper said family and friends would be received for the memorial service at Beaulieu starting at one P.M. today,” I pointed out. “She doesn’t have any family left. Who’s to say I’m not a friend?”

“You’re not,” Mama said. “We don’t know any of those people. People like the Mullinaxes don’t know people like the Foleys.” She leaned in closer to me, sniffed my dress, and made a face. “People like the Mullinaxes don’t know people who pick through other people’s garbage for their clothes.”

I ran my hand down the front of the dress, which I’d spent hours hand-washing, mending, and pressing. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like a Zelda. I felt like a zero. Mama has a talent for that.

“This dress has the original Hattie Carnegie label,” I said quietly. “If I decided to sell it, I could get at least two hundred dollars from one of my vintage dealers in New York. Maybe more if I auctioned it on eBay.”

“You can’t go out to that woman’s house,” Mama insisted.

“She’s dead,” I said. “She won’t mind a bit.”

Mama sipped her bourbon/tea. “It’s disgraceful,” she said. “What if one of the Evanses is there? Tal’s mother and daddy run around in that crowd. What if one of them sees you there?”

I forced a smile and dipped a phony little curtsy. “I’ll say ‘Hello, Genevieve. Hello, Big Tal. So nice to see you again. I’m just here to see how the other half lives, now that your son left me and ripped me off for most everything I own. Please give my regards to Little Tal, and tell him I hope he and his darling Caroline rot in hell.”

Mama got up abruptly, went to the refrigerator, pulled out an aluminum tray of ice cubes, and clinked more cubes into the tall glass already standing on the kitchen counter.

“I still can’t believe you’ve ended up like this,” she said accusingly. “Tal was perfect for you. You had the perfect life.” Her nearly nonexistent upper lip quivered, the fine downy hairs rippling like a miniature crop of wheat. “Now look at you. You live in a garage. No job, no husband, no prospects. What kind of life is that?”

Daddy walked into the kitchen as Mama was launching into her “no prospects” spiel. He had the television listings folded into a neat square, his afternoon viewing plans all mapped out. He stared down at Mama’s drink on the countertop, frowned, then looked over at me.

“If you’d just get a job and then quit, I could tell people what kind of work it is that you’re out of,” Daddy said, chuckling as he always did when he pulled this line on me.

He reached around to his back pocket, took out his black leather billfold and extracted two ten-dollar bills. “Here,” he said, giving me a wink. “To tide you over.”

I pushed the money away. “I’m fine, Daddy. Really.”

He looked at my dress, grabbed my hand, folded my fingers over the bills. “Buy yourself something nice. A new dress.”

Like twenty bucks could buy a new dress. Daddy still thought Cokes cost a dime. I tucked the bills in the breast pocket of his short-sleeved dress shirt. “Keep your money,” I said. Be sweet, Weezie, I thought. Even if it kills you. “Tell you what, Daddy. Play my numbers in the lottery. It’s up to eleven million this week. If you win, you can give me half.”

He was getting annoyed now. He did that when I showed signs of having outgrown my training bra and my pink princess telephone—both of which were still ensconced in my old bedroom at the back of the house.

“Just keep it ’til you get a job and move out of that garage,” he said, shoving the money back into my hand.

“I’m self-employed, not unemployed. And it’s a carriage house, not a garage,” I said, my voice tight. “My carriage house is a historically significant structure on the most beautiful street in the historic district.”

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