Following the events of Thursday night the citizens of Lowndes County were able to sleep much easier. Life returned to normal in the Southern town, people walked their dogs and cleaned up after them, young women jogged the paths at night and Blanche Delaney manned the desk at the Valdosta Public Library. In the days, and years that followed the events of that fateful month, the lives of several of the local residents were changed forever.

Ms. Beverly Davis, did indeed, become a millionaire by Christmas, the courts allowed her to sell her half of the estate while Jeremy Marshall awaited trial on charges of conspiracy and attempted murder. It had been Felix’s grand idea of an additional alibi that put Jeremy behind bars and Bev in the driver’s seat. The days following the frightful night at Beverly’s and the death of Felix were filled with speculation and finger pointing. Jeremy laid low anticipating that most would suspect he was involved but with no proof he would escape unscathed. How wrong he would be.

Marge, the curvy receptionist at the Land and Trust Office, had watched the news and noted that it was the good looking man that took her number, only the day before, that wound up shot on the bedroom floor of the local realtor. Her boss, Mr. Ignatius Savard, was to have been with Felix Unger at the time of his tragic death, she had checked her planner to confirm that her estimation was correct. Iggy missed work the few days following the shooting and she became increasingly uneasy with the information she alone knew. On the Monday morning after the revelation hit her she phoned an old friend at the Sheriff’s Department, Angelo Lupo. He had been more than interested in the information that Marge was able to provide, as well as the DA and other law enforcement agencies. It had taken almost no pressure to get Iggy to roll over on Jeremy. A deal was forged and Mr. Savard was offered a plea deal and freedom from prosecution if he could provide enough information to put Jeremy away for the conspiracy and attempted murder charges. The balding little man had been happy to do so. A miniature pocket recorder, just like Jeremy’s, was all he needed to set his ‘friend’ up and keep himself out of prison.

Otis and Seymour survived their injuries, both staying for a week in the local hospitals. The fearless dog was awarded the K-9 Medal of Valor from the Sheriff’s Department and retired with honor. The injury was severe enough to hamper his ability to serve with the department but not enough to slow the shepherd down, at least not under the loving care of Seymour Wood, who adopted his savior and most trusted friend.

Seymour went on in the following year to finish his associate degree from the University and started his own business, Seymour Clues Detective Agency, where he and his bride, Blanche Delaney spent countless hours assisting the people of Lowndes County, as they solved their most unique and baffling cases. In all reality, he took a lot of pictures of husbands with girlfriends and chased down petty criminals, but it was a life they loved. Blanche continued through those years to work at the library as well. It was her love and her passion away from the arms of her husband and the perfect place to work as the research branch of Seymour’s business.

Jasper Jackson recovered fully from the gunshot wound to his butt. He went on to win the title of Mr. Georgia and competed in Mr. USA, coming in a disappointing second place, but Rufus could not have been more proud. Seymour had taken a liking to Jasper and brought him on as his first full time employee at the agency. Jasper was the muscle and intimidation side of the business with Rufus providing the eyes and ears into the black community.

Deputy Natalie Guest was awarded The Sheriff’s Commendation Certificate and was promoted to Corporal, the youngest to attain such an honor on the Sheriff Department’s active roster of officers.

Prior to pinning her Commendation on her chest and presenting the officer with the Corporal Chevrons, Sheriff Angelo Lupo, ‘The Wolf’, read the following statement, “Deputy Natalie Guest’s actions displayed courage, resolve and commitment to her job, community and partner. Although she was in grave danger she confronted an armed suspect, saving the life of her K-9 partner, Otis, and protecting the life of a Lowndes County Citizen. For her acts of heroism we honor her this day.”

Corporal Guest missed her companion terribly but enjoyed Sunday dinners at the Wood home. She never failed to bring her new K-9 buddy, Hannah, with her to pester and torment the older Otis. A bond, beyond the understanding of most who knew them, had been formed that horrific night that would endure the months and years to come as they lived and served in the same community.

Yes, for Blanche D. Delaney the move to Georgia had been a roller coaster of adventure and newfound love. The man she’d envisioned in her mind all those years, had swept into her heart, fulfilled all of her dreams, and saved her life in the process. No surprise to her, the charming young man that took her to the altar also had a dimple in his left cheek. Their wedding, on the sandy shores of the Georgia coast, was the culmination of years of hoping, wanting and wishing. It had all come true in a small town, hundreds of miles from family and friends, under the watchful eye of a power much greater than her own, and she knew it. Blanche’s parents had attended the ceremony, as well as, Holly. Mr. Marcus acted as the Best Man, hugging the bride closely when the “I do’s” were done. Their friendship, a unique father-daughter relationship, would stand the test of time. Blanche could not have been happier. Mrs. Wood was convinced that for her, life truly did start at 33.

Holly had stayed a few days longer than Blanche’s parents and enjoyed the time with her oldest and dearest friend. The goodbye at the airport reminded Blanche of the goodbye from a few years before in Arizona, the hugs and kisses sincere and the knowledge that a phone call would see them through until the next time. As the new bride’s best friend departed and made her way to the gate, she handed Blanche a going away present, a token of their lifelong friendship and told her not to open it until she got home.

That night, with Seymour at her side and Otis at their feet, the librarian opened the gift and was not the least bit surprised to see the phallus shaped ashtray she’d given her friend not so many years before. Yup, some things never change!