The sound of a car horn blowing brought me outside where I found Mr. Eberhard at the wheel of a banana yellow Datsun 280z. My goodness, we all drive such particular cars, don’t we?
“Get in, I’ll take you to your car,” he said.
“Is the office closed already?” I asked
“Barbara’s finishing up some stuff. The girls have left.”
“Because I didn’t come close to finishing the filing.”
“There’s always a backlog. This complex stays busy with move outs. Unlike Arborgate. Do you know why that is?”
Trick question, I thought, feeling quizzed. “Probably because no one wants to settle on Buford Highway. It’s a pause along the way. Arborgate’s in Buckhead, where people want to live.”
“That’s exactly right. Can you tell me why I won’t be raising the rents at Arborgate anytime soon?”
“Because you’re such a nice guy?”
He laughed. “Guess again?”
“Because the units need work? You might raise the rent gradually, though. As we move from the green shag to the beige and add those mini-blinds?”
“–And frost-free refrigerators. Yes, I could do that. Microwaves are going to get much cheaper too.”
“What’s a microwave?”
He laughed. “You’ll find out.”
We drove in silence listening to Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Love Me,” our heads bobbing companionably.
“So, how’d you like the new Xerox machine,” asked Mr. Eberhard just as we were pulling into the lot at the Atlanta Flea Market.
“You do know what a Xerox machine is?”
“Yeah, it’s a copier. Is that what you’ve got? I thought it was a Canon.”
“Did you use it?”
“Why would I use it? I was filing.”
He looked thoughtful. I looked away.
He had my battery going within minutes. When he pulled the cables loose, he handed them to me.
“If you’re going to drive a vintage car, you need to own a pair of these,” he said. “Jesus, you could fit a body in here,” he said.
“I fit two,” I said. He laughed and ruffled the hair on my head.
“Be good, kid. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Fuck, I thought, clinging to the chill of my steering wheel. Had my coolness convinced him? I could lie. It was a gift I knew I had from high school. Not that I cultivated the talent and frankly, I probably just didn’t look like the type to do anything wrong. But I did have that Irish flatness of feature that could transform itself into an immobility that had (or so I imagined) kept British soldiers at bay for hundreds of years. Or at least make them think they couldn’t touch me. Had it worked with the nice Jewish man from Boston? Who knew. He’d looked thoughtful and then as if he’d had an idea, like maybe there was someone else interested in a browse through Abigail’s archives.
I couldn’t wait to get home and lay things out. Maybe slip into the townhouse after dinner at Nancy and Stephen’s. I wanted to discuss my findings with them because I didn’t understand what the hell was going on and maybe, just maybe, Abigail had said something about living at Belle View to them. On the other hand, with Mr. Eberhard visiting Judith, I’d better wait.
Yeah, Mr. Eberhard would be almost to Arborgate by now. I guess that’s why I turned the wheel left on Piedmont and headed back to Buford Highway. Now might be a good time to check out Abigail’s old apartment and see if any of her neighbors were home.