The door to Stephen and Nancy’s townhouse opened to reveal Nan with a wine glass in one hand and a bottle in the other.
“Are you coming over, or not?” she called. “The pizza’s getting cold.”
“On my way,” I said, turning to Judith, who was already following Nick, now coasting toward the pool. “See you guys in the morning.” Tim nodded at Nancy, swiveled his hips and headed toward his apartment, a sub-level unit impossible to rent. He had a wife in Mableton, where he’d presumably spent Christmas. Mrs. Tim was supposed to be living in the apartment, but hated the city and kept herself and their two children in the house she grew up in near Six Flags Over Georgia.
“He finally bring home Abigail’s car?” asked Nan, closing the door behind me. The aroma of a much better pizza than Patty and Ricky had eaten competed with the elusive fragrance of cardboard boxes and household cleaners. Trust Nancy to ensure her damage deposit. Theirs would be one less bathroom I’d have to clean next week.
“Said he picked it up from the mechanic.”
“Not today, he didn’t. I saw him driving it last week.”
“Both. He took it up on Monday and was driving it back on Wednesday. Well, he drove past, parked it, knocked on her door and then left without going in. Then he set off again.”
Wednesday. December 23.
“What time of day?”
“Sometime in the afternoon. I was packing and getting ready for Christmas at the same time, you know? I had a lot of calls from the office too. People saying goodbye and inviting us to parties.”
Their living room was a warehouse of boxes, taped, labeled and stacked along the living room wall.
We picked our way through it into the dining room where Nancy, an efficient mover, had created an oasis of sanity. Here, she had tucked a Victorian sofa picked up the Flea Market and reupholstered in red velvet and a coffee table from the Roosevelt administration. “Are you taking the sofa?” I asked.
“Oh, yes. It’s going in my new office.
"Rats. I could use a sofa. A bureau, too."
“Have you talked to Abigail’s sister about her stuff?” asked Nancy.
“Haven’t had a chance,” I said, accepting a glass of wine from Stephen.
“That living room is all rented,” he said. “But the upstairs looked all right.”
“Not that bedroom! Mirrored naugahyde.”
“At least she didn’t have a water bed.”
“Actually, I’m hoping Susan will sell me this little desk I think her husband picked out. It’s really cute, and I miss my antiques,” I said, thinking of the furniture I’d sold to fund my trip down here. “I miss having drawers.”
And I would miss these almost friends. They were, I realized, the only people near my age and education that I’d met since moving to Georgia and now they were leaving. I would have to make new friends who would, I couldn’t help thinking, leave as well. Or I would leave and that would be life.
“I saw a great neighborhood in Midtown the other day,” I said.
“We know some people there,” said Stephen, handing me a full glass. “You’d like it. It’s very eclectic. Lot’s of old ladies, gays, hookers, students. A real mix. It’s cheap, too.”
“Lot’s of creatives from McCann live there,” offered Nancy. “Are you thinking of leaving Arborgate?”
“No, I want to live here,” I said. “But I liked it and I liked Kevin.”
“Ooh, who’s Kevin?”
“Ex-husband,” said Stephen.
“Not quite, they weren’t actually divorced.”
“So now he’s a widower,” said Nancy. “Something more respectable about that.”
I laughed. Stephen snickered.
“He took me to a place called The Pleasant Peasant.”
“Now that I’ll miss,” said Nan. “It’s really gay, but it’s great.”
“What do you mean,? I asked.
“Gay,” she said. “Homosexual? The owners are gay.”
Mnnnn. I took another sip of wine and re-thought Christmas dinner. “I wonder if Kevin knows that.”
“He does if he lives in Midtown.”