I enjoyed my walk home through a nearly empty Arborgate. The strange weather in Atlanta, one day sunny and cold, the next all warm rain, continues to delight me. Delight? Such an unfamiliar word coming from my mouth, but that’s exactly how I felt bopping down Biscayne Drive to the keyhole-shaped swimming pool where my little row of townhouses began. Because Mr. Eberhard’s gift basket was so heavy, I should have unwrapped it in the office ,and put everything into my tote bag. But the basket, a Longaberger, was too Little Women to leave behind. It made me think of Chapter One of that wonderful old book. Not the first breakfast, when they trudged through the snow to the Hummels (how did Meg keep the coffee hot?), but the Christmas tea that Laurie’s grandfather provided. The richer meal. Tonight, instead of the short ribs and rice that were my speciality and which I had intended to cook for myself, I would nibble from the boxes and cans I carried.
And then I would open my presents. But first I would plug in the silly Christmas lights the Bakers had given me and sort myself out. Then I would open the wine and see what there was and finally I would open the box from Mommy and Daddy.
I had reached the bottom of the drive when Mr. Invalid, (123-G) greeted me. He was stooping near the pool, staring into the murky water. I hoped he wasn’t going to try and fish out all the dead magnolia leaves. It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t his job.
“Hello, young lady and a Merry Christmas to you,” he said. I think he may have seen me coming and waited here. “What have you got there?” he asked. When I told him, he sighed. “I have something for you, too,” he said and promised to bring it to me.
I thanked him, but I didn’t mean it. I didn’t want a gift from him. His name is not really Invalid, but it suits him as he is ill and in-valid. He is Richard Henry Lowe and he used to own this apartment complex. It was his bad luck and bad management that put the place into foreclosure. I would have thought he’d have moved away, wouldn’t you? But he never has. Instead, he convinced Judith, who lives across the hall from him, to take over bits and pieces of the management until she had taken it all over, convincing Trust Company Bank that the complex was worth restoring. Buckhead, even as far south as Biscayne Drive, was a desirable place to live, even in these depressing, or recessionary times. The smart money buys here and lives here.