You’re thinking I steamed the envelope open, aren’t you? Wrong. I made a pot of tea and let it steep to an inky brown while I showered off the accumulated scum and dander of a two-day blues binge. Numbed by too many voices, I’d escaped to sleep and silence. I think today is Wednesday, December 29, but I’m not entirely sure. If Stephen hadn’t left me with hard evidence of his appearance in my living room, I think I’d have dreamed seeing him again and his kiss goodbye. It may have been the elixir I needed to get moving again. One thing was for sure, however Abigail had met her fate, whoever she had loved, I had a life to figure out.
Rinsing my hair, enjoying the squeak of cleanliness as the shampoo drained under my feet, I knew I’d been wrong about many things in the last week and that my behavior had indeed exposed me as little more than a troublemaking post-adolescent. I’d blundered around as if I were invisible to the grownups whose lives mattered to them, while I was little more than the feather from my own wing, not even the adventurous bird flown from her suburban cage. When I left New York, I’d placed myself in the wind oh so willing to flutter and fly. But it had been currents holding me aloft, not the power of real flight. Well, if I couldn’t fly I could at least walk. In any event, I needed exercise and a change of scene. Stuffing the envelope into a large shoulder bag and dressing for the crisp afternoon air, I stalked my way up Biscayne Drive and headed south on Peachtree Road.
Arborgate lies just south of Buckhead proper and north of Brookwood where the remains of a lovely railroad station (Embark here for the Southern Crescent), a high-rise apartment building whose sign kept track of Atlanta’s growing population (in millions) and a decaying grand hotel are the significant landmarks.
Not many people walked on Peachtree in those days, at least not in late December, no matter how inviting the sunny cold. At 16th Street, I stopped to examine the facade of a Carnegie library branch and, next door, the Memorial Arts Center. After that, the neighborhood turned sour with unfulfilled promises. Colony Square, a turn-of-the-century mansion with a placard reading “Atlanta Women’s Club,” Matthew’s Super Market, a gas station and the kinds of facades I’d been raised to scurry by, eyes in front. I passed them all feeling better and better. But also hungry.
I hurried through what Kevin had told me was “the Strip.” Vestiges of the Atlanta hippie scene when The Allman Brothers played in Piedmont Park and copies of The Great Speckled Bird replaced broken windows in drafty but large apartments had been overlaid by an uneven layer of grunge. It was the kind of neighborhood that always seemed rained on.
The Bird had printed its last issue two months ago, which left me with Creative Loafing to read. I picked up a copy at the site of the Fox Theater and tucked it in my bag. I needed an apartment and a job. The little weekly would be my guide. At The Pleasant Peasant, I stopped, checked myself in the plate glass window and entered. Minutes later I was using a clean knife to slice into Abigail’s secret stash.