Chapter Four

Iris and Jackie cont…

Iris opened the heavy oak door and spoke to Jackie from behind the screen door.

“What can I do for you?” Iris asked with a strained smile. Jackie was the last person she expected to see.

“I wanted to apologize for my behavior earlier today. You seem like a very sweet girl. We are both fairly new at St. Andrew. We could be good friends.” She said smiling sweetly.

Iris was speechless. She wanted to tell the woman to get the hell off of her porch, but she needed to know if what Locke believed about her was true.

“Would you like some tea? We can sit on the porch.” There was no way that woman was coming into her granny’s house.

“Oh! I’d be delighted.” She said moving to sit on the porch swing.  Moments later Iris reappeared on the porch carrying two tall glasses of sweet tea.

“So how long have you been at St. Andrew?” Iris asked feigning interest.

“I moved here almost a year ago and opened a dance studio downtown. I became a member of St. Andrew, after my former pastor wrote me an excellent reference, and I joined the Deaconess Board right away.” She sighed and took a sip of her tea. Her eyes never left Iris.

“Wow. You jumped right in, didn’t you?”

“Well,” she gushed “I also started the praise dance troupe. And I plan to work very closely on the St. Andrew Daycare project. Pastor Prentiss and I will be meeting this week to select the committee members. Would you like to be on the committee?  I can make that happen since I am committee chair.”  Jackie tilted her head upward and stretched her neck slightly on the words, committee chair.

Horrified, Iris stopped the gentle swaying of the porch swing. “No. Absolutely not. I have way too much to do as it is.”

“Oh, come on. What do you have to do? You’re an heiress…twice over! You have nothing but time and money.” She laughed loudly, touching Iris lightly on her arm. Apparently, she had heard the gossip. Iris figured everyone would know soon enough, but she did not appreciate Jackie’s laughter. She did not like the sound of it; it was throaty. Stretched. Vulgar.

“Well, Jackie, speaking of time, I have to get back inside. I will think about the committee. When is your meeting with Reverend?”

“We’re meeting Wednesday afternoon at 4pm. I tried to have a dinner meeting, but he insisted we meet before bible study.”

“Well, I need to think about it. If I decide to join your efforts, I will meet you at the church.”

Iris watched Jackie smile and glide from her porch slowly. Jackie folded herself into her Thunderbird and drove away.

Iris had to tell Locke what happened. She dialed Locke’s number and pleaded aloud for her to pick up. She picked up on the third ring.

“What has happened, Iris?” Locke asked without so much as a greeting.

“Jackie Black just left my house. We had tea.” Iris said excitedly. There was no response on the other end of the line for a while. Finally Locke spoke.

“How soon can you get here?” Locke’s question came fast, like one word.

“Five minutes, I guess. You’re what about 2, 3 blocks away?”

“One street behind you and three blocks down. Come around to the back gate.  I don’t want Harry seeing me accept company. He’ll be dragging his sad sack of bones over to be nosy, and we have work to do. Well, come on!” And then she hung up.

Iris wasn’t sure why she was excited, but she was. She grabbed her keys and ran out the back door. She unlocked the gate that led to the backyard and looked up to see Locke standing on a massive enclosed deck watching her from above. As Iris climbed the stairs to the deck, she thought of the stairs in Lloyd’s Nob Hill mansion. She smiled. She looked through the glass and saw that Locke’s eyes remained fixed on her with her mouth drawn into a tight line. Iris opened the glass door, and immediately Locke asked, “did she touch you?”

“What? Touch me? Who?” Iris asked closing the door behind her.

“Did that Jackie creature touch you? Whilst you two were having tea?”

“As a matter of fact, she did. She touched me lightly on the arm.” Iris touched her own arm lightly, as she followed Locke into a massive French country style kitchen.

Locke whipped around and faced Iris, “No. You wait here.”   Locke moved silently around the large island, pulled open a drawer, and gave a small bottle to Iris.

“Here. Put this on your hands and arms.” It was a vial of sanitizer.   “That’s right.  On up to your elbows.”  Iris did as she was told and waited for Locke to provide instruction. “Come over here. Let’s get this thing together.”

They settled around the round kitchen table where a crystal decanter and sherry glasses waited for them. A large wrought iron French-styled pendant light hung overhead. Locke slid over a small platter of tea cakes and noticed how Iris stared at them.  Locke also noticed that Iris gave the slightest sniff, taking in the fragrance of the lemon and lavender flavored delights.

“Tell me what happened,” Locke said quietly as she sipped from the dainty glass.

Iris relayed the details of Jackie’s visit and waited for a response.  Locke twirled her glass in her hand and turned the corners of her lips downward.

“Prentiss is planning a fundraiser for the daycare. This will be a gathering of who’s who in Parish county. Everyone who is anyone of importance with more than a few dollars will be there. There will be some very influential people there from Atlanta too. We’ve got to make sure this event goes off without a hitch. I’ve got my people working on it to make sure it is the most glamorous event since the mayor’s daughter got married back in ‘99.” Locke smiled and poured herself another glass of wine.

“You will join her committee and go to the meetings and report everything to me,” she said after a long sip. “I need you to tell me every single thing that woman says and does,” Locke said rising from the table.  “I have some calls to make. I’ll call you later.”

Iris walked back home teeming with excitement. This reminded her of the days and nights she spent with Lloyd plotting the schemes of characters. This time, though, it wasn’t in a book–it was real.



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