Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Want to Live Here Episode 36

“Are you okay?” she asked. “Did your battery die again?”

“No, it’s fine. Mr. Eberhard jumped it.” 

Judith grows her eyes wide. My own are big but while I work them to show off how smart I am (or want to be), Judith does just the opposite. She's a disarmer. 

“Because I thought you’d be right behind him,” she said .

“Really? I just needed to drive around, charge the battery.” She nodded, letting the subject drop.

“That land yacht of yours die?” said Tim, looking up from a handshake with Nicholas, who Judith was training to be as polished as herself.

“Just the battery,” I said, giving him a look that said I wouldn’t be busting him in front of the boss but wanted to know where he’d been while I was here fending off EMT workers and curious policemen. “Have a good Christmas?” I asked, unable to keep the acid from my voice. He scowled. “It was okay,” he said.

“You took Wednesday off to pick up your mother, didn’t you?” said Judith, her own tone twice as coy. 

“You knew he was gone? Why didn’t you tell me?” 

“I forgot,” she shrugged. Tim grinned at her. 

Judith wasn’t a divide and conquer boss and she didn’t take sides, either. I’d come to appreciate that quality but still find it annoying when I wasn’t getting the respect I wanted from the handyman. Judith would say Tim was the most important person on the complex and I knew she was right but he never seemed to be around when I needed him. And what was he doing in Abigail’s townhouse?

“What’s going on at Abigail’s?” I asked.

“Got a call her fire alarm was going off,” he said. “It was just the battery giving out.” 

Very plausible, but Tim was glib, I’d give him that. Probably no one knew the units like he did. He wasn’t above spending more time than he needed in apartments where single women lived. And he knew where everyone kept their stash and what they liked to drink. He’d spent a lot of time at Abigail’s. In fact, I think he’d just fixed her fire alarm not two weeks ago.

“Again?” I asked. Of course what he was really doing, I would bet a month’s rent, was returning Abigail’s car keys. The little MG was back in its usual parking space.

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