Lily started to relax when Mary Lou settled into the center chair. From her position she watched everything inside. Mary Lou’s husband, Gunter, was on outside duty with the folks who wanted to be at the live event and maybe ask questions that would be aired. He wouldn’t stick around when the show ended unless Mary Lou told him to stay.
As the former leader of the Crimson Hat Society, now head of the community podcasters, Mary Lou sat perfectly still with shoulders back, chest up. She patted her styled, grayish hair gently, knowing nothing was amiss, and smiled as she fired orders to her team. “Valerie, you’re in this segment with me, so git over here and sit. LouEllen, move that light up a little but make certain not to add wrinkle shadows. We’re live in four minutes. Caroline, you’re doing the live questions if they call in on the meeting line. Lily, let the watch-party know. Remind them no shout-outs unless I say so.”
Lily scampered to the front door, opened it, and delivered her message. She returned to her catbird seat and saw the signal from Mary Lou. She sat at the operations set-up and cued the introduction video. She murmured, “I’m so glad I asked Father Gorman to do the voice-over for our intro. His voice is like fine whiskey—smooth and warm. He’s the reason more folks attended Christ of the King on Sundays.”
The music dissolved into the background, and the collective sigh from the ladies punctuated the warm baritone voice of Lee Gorman. “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining the podcast. During today’s discussion, Mary Lou may open it up for questions and comments. Our sponsor of this show is Lily Greenly, owner of Flower Bed and Breakfast. Lily is offering a special this week: buy two breakfasts and get a free lunch any time this month, during work hours, of course. Now here’s What’s Happening in Magnolia Bluff.”
Mary Lou started, “Good afternoon, friends, followers, and neighbors. My, um…our podcast spotlights events in and around Magnolia Bluff. Our latest promotion plan features our show at various businesses every other day. This is show number four today. Joining me are Valerie and LouEllen for our discussion.
“Ladies, let me ask a question to start us off. Why do you think people like Mateo Hernandez come into our community, buy up property, then don’t introduce themselves? The county records show Superior Import and Export, represented by Wiley E. Purloin of the Cheatham, Pilferus, and Pocketum Law Firm. The good people of this community need to know who is moving into our community and why, but we’re not getting any of that. Ladies, help me out here.”
Valerie piped up. “We’re on these unsociable people coming into our community. They’re strange. Mr. Hernandez keeps his distance and uses outside contractors to work on his property. Has anyone in these parts ever erected a privacy screen eight feet high, and posted a rent-a-cop at the gate before starting construction? I even went as far as making inquiries with a government contact to see if this is part of a Homeland Security initiative with all the immigrants pushing through the border illegally.”
Mary Lou’s eyes widened. “Oh my! I hadn’t thought of that! What did they say, Valerie?”
“After they stopped laughing, they told me to mind my own business.”
LouEllen giggled then cleared her throat. “Didn’t you tell them we’re on a mission to unearth material for our community? Our podcast is designed to dig for the truth no matter how many folks get upset. You should have broken into the lyrics from that famous Lonnie Lupnerder tune:
♫ We Be Reporting on the various sundries! People’s love your dirty undies! ♫”
Mary Lou regained control. “Ladies, y’all know that in this country, folks have a right to their privacy even if it does rankle us. Codswallop. We’ll open a Freedom of Information request and demand answers for strange goings on. We might try the same with old Wiley E. Purloin. He needs to respond. Our community has a right to know the type of neighbors buying property. Y’all remember that developer from last year. He tried to sweet talk the mayor and city council into letting him build a bunch of low rent, substandard, apartment complexes so they could house a bunch of Syrian refugees. Then the braggart claimed the government was going to subsidize the whole project. Remember how that turned out?”
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