“I’m not an idiot!” I spluttered. “Someone saw you in her apartment the day she died. I was trying-” “You did call the police?” asked Judith, her voice soft. “No. I called the operator for an ambulance. They came here. Detective Boker came here the day after. He said he was following up. That’s the only time I talked to the police.” Mr. Eberhard leaned over the coffee table, as if to extract the truth from me. “And you told him I had been in her apartment?” “No! I don’t know. I don’t think so.” Did I know he’d been with her then? I couldn’t have. “I couldn’t have. I didn’t know then. Mrs. M-, Mrs. Mason! She told me. She told me later on the 24th when she came to get her vodka back.” “That was her vodka?”
“Yes. Well, that’s what she said.”
There was silence for several moments. Beside me, Judith stiffened. She glanced toward the kitchen and stood. There’s a mirror in the dining room we could both see from the couch. It reflects a section of the kitchen in which I could Tim’s reflection hovering nervously on the threshold, listening and unwilling to enter. Can’t blame him.
“Were you trying to help her?” she asked.
“Who?” he asked. “Abigail?”
“Yes. I’m assuming you met her on your tour of the property.”
Ken snapped his fingers. “That’s right! I remember now. I went into a lot of apartments that day. More than I expected, frankly. A lot of people were in and happy to meet me, frankly.”
He turned to me. “So that’s what you meant. Jesus, Nora, I was fixing her mini-blinds.” He laughed. “And probably promising new carpets.” Judith and Patty laughed obligingly. I tried but no sound would come.
“Did she recognize you from Belle Vue?” asked Judith.
“I don’t think so. She didn’t say anything. Nice girl. She was making Bloody Marys and asked me to join her. I had a quick drink and left when I saw George drive up. No wonder I didn’t remember. I hadn’t been in there ten minutes.”
He gazed at me for a few minutes. I could see he was trying to work out how angry he still was and whether I should be spared or fired. Judith used the moment to slip into the kitchen and hustle Tim out the back door.
“Why did you spent your time at Belle Vue looking up files on Abigail?” asked Patty. “I just found them when I was filing.” I said, looking her dead in the eye, willing her to go no further. Had I shown her the work order? So what if I had? “You left her files out with the others. I was just surprised at the coincidence.”
Georgia, if anyone doesn't know this, is a "right to work" state. I didn't know that but Judith, much later in the day, explained it to me. "He can fire you any time and for any reason," she said. "Really?" "Really." "But he's not my boss. I mean, he didn't hire me. You hired me." "Then I guess I'll have to fire you." "But I didn't do anything." "Even you don't believe that." "But I live here. What am I going to do?" I'd never been fired before. "Go home. I'll give you a couple of weeks to find a new job. If you can pay rent, you can live here. I won't make you file an application. That's as fair as it gets, Nora." I guess I was an idiot.