I drove straight back to Abigail’s former address. Not that there was anything to see in her former apartment, but still, I figured it couldn’t hurt to drive around a little. And maybe I’ll run into a neighbor who knew her. And that’s about what happened. More or less.
The apartment was on the ground floor. As I was going through a pile-up of old mail, including a Penney’s catalog addressed to Abigail, a door opened to (and there’s no other word for it) reveal the boy next door.
He could have been about thirty going for something younger and yet more sophisticated: WKPR meets McMillan. From his blow-dried do to his high-waisted tight jeans he was giving the look his all. In one hand he held a glass of red wine. He fingered his mustache suggestively. Or maybe he was checking it for dribbles. In the dim light of the entry way I really couldn’t tell.
“You're back early,” he said, then stopped when he realized I wasn’t whoever he was expecting.
“Hi!” I squeeked.
“Looking for Patty?” he said. “I just saw her up at the model.”
I swallowed and smiled.
“No. I’m here to see Abigail.”
Secure about his mustache, he now leaned against the door jamb, giving me a peek into his living room, a temple of macramé and leather.
“Oh, he got rid of her months ago. Patty’s the squeeze these days.”
“He?” A man in Abigail’s life was something new. Could he have been the vodka drinker?
“The man himself. Here’s Patty pulling up right now.” He grinned. As grins go, it wasn’t bad. He might have been a beautiful baby.
The woman stomping up the cement path looked awfully familiar to me. “Holy crap,” I said, looking around frantically for a way out.
“Hold on, sweetheart, I’ll introduce you.”
“No, thanks,” I said, and slipped under his arm, into his apartment and through the kitchen where I stopped, confronted by a solid wall. Where the hell was the back door to this place?”
I could hear the sound of Patty opening the building’s front door and what must have been their ritualized and flirtatious greeting.
“Friend of Abigail’s just left,” I heard him say.
“Abigail? Really, who?”
“Didn’t say. Little Yankee girl with red hair, ‘bout your size.”
I held my breath to pray, please God, I’ll find a Catholic Church in Atlanta and come back just, oh what the fuck,” I thought, “What’s she gonna do to me anyway?” And with that brave thought, I swaggered out.
“Miss Appleton? I understand you’ll be moving to Buckhead?”
Jaws do drop. Hers, elongated by inbreeding, fell about a foot.
“Uh, what are you doing here?”
“Oh, just checking references,” I said. “That townhouse you were so interested in might be available sooner than you think, so I thought I’d buzz by after my day with Barbara and Tina to let you know.”
“Very funny. Ricky says you were looking for Abigail, not me.”Right.