108 Getting the Drift

By Sunday evening, Mrs. James sensed a return to normal, or a new normal. Greg had brought the girls back for the night. He wanted some quiet time to review the comps that R.M. had sent before he had to get back to the office and think about something else; something besides Georgia, if truth be told.

He’d told Mrs. James that Bert and Gina were coming back to town tonight. Tomorrow Gina would be taking Poppy and Pansy to school at the usual time. It was the last week of classes but Monday’s schedule would be the same. Gertie had invited Georgia to stay overnight at Asphodel. They intended to brainstorm on some concept and layout ideas for the cookbook. Gertie would tell her all about it when she came back to town. Tonight, Mrs. James turned her attention to the girls.

Chapter 108 Getting the Drift

“That place is so amazing!” Poppy bubbled her delight at the day’s adventures.

“Totally!” Pansy echoed. “Gertie helped us learn to ride her horses. She has a whole stable full, and she picked out one for me, and one for Poppy. She was really nice to us this time.”

“I’m sure she’s always been very nice to you. I hoped you remembered to say thank you.”

“Oh, hundreds of times, at least,” Poppy answered for both of them.

“‘Cause we hope she’ll ask us to come back.” Pansy was self-serving but honest.

“Mrs. James, are there books at the library about riding horses?” Mrs. James assured Poppy that there were a great many books not only about horses and riding them but about girls and horses, too. She smiled at her memories of neighborhood girls who tirelessly ‘rode’ their imaginary horses across the lawns, oblivious to the derision of neighborhood boys. She hoped Poppy and Pansy wouldn’t begin to gallop around her condo and that Gertie might issue other invitations, including one to her. She admitted to curiosity, and not only about horses.

“I have some news for you two, too.” Mrs. James, anticipating their exhaustion, had waited until tucking them in for the night to impart this now that she was sure that Kitty had moved. It would serve as a good-night story. “It’s about the Sphinx’s nose.”

“Is this a new book?” Poppy thought to ask.

“No. This is about Miss Doyle.”

“Does she have one of those Sph… one of those noses? Is she dead?” This hope, once again from the honest Pansy, emerged.

“The Sphinx is in Egypt. It’s a monument built of desert sand a very long time ago by a great many people.” Mrs. James adjusted their blankets, even though they weren’t required on a warm evening. This ritual summoned up the angels of sleep. “Over many years the cat, for you see, the Sphinx is a cat-like creature, has lost its nose.”

“Her nose is gone?” Pansy pulled the kicked away blanket up over her own nose.

“There are strong winds in the desert and the nose made of sand just blew away, never to return. Miss Doyle, whatever the state of her nose, has moved away from our building, and that’s the news.”

“What? She’s not here?”

“Sold her condo. You won’t need to even think about seeing her here.”

“Does Dad know?”

“I’m sure he’ll find out, just like you have. So, off you go to sleep. Morning comes early, even if it’s your last Monday at school.”

Mrs. James, though weary of the early Monday morning -now swimless- routine of sending off her charges, alert, prepared with whatever was special for the day, clothed, and breakfasted, was eager to catch a few moments with Gervase after Gina had departed with her nieces. Gina pulled up right on time outside the door, and the familiar ritual farewells occurred. Mrs. James noticed that Bert was not out walking Pocano, as was his want of late, not arriving just in time to see Gina. She mentioned this to Gervase.

“I probably shouldn’t say,” he said in a manner that made her certain that he would, “but I’ve been down in the garage earlier on another matter and Gina’s car was parked down there.”

“What? But she came up the drive.” The nickel dropped. “Oh, you mean she stayed here…” How was one to ferret out whether with the ex-brother-in-law, or with the paramour? How delicious. The life of a gossip was a new one to her. She felt that she might develop certain talents, should she make the effort. But on to other matters.

“We’re a bit behind, aren’t we?” They hadn’t seen each other much during the past week, what with the holiday and his dental woes.

“Funny how an irregular work week throws you off your routine.” Gervase felt that he’d been days behind, all last week.

“Yes, you’ve been dealing with teeth, and I’ve been trying to help mend bones.” Lee had requested Mrs. James’ company a few times last week while she was studying for exams and to oblige, Mrs. James had taken along her workbag to the Karons’ instead of the lobby. “Have you met our new penthouse man?”

“Yes, Mr. Thuss. He made an odd request the other day. Wanted to know if I could loan him a pair of scissors.”

“Perhaps he hadn’t completely unpacked or didn’t know what box a pair might be in. Imagine having so few, though. I have so many pairs, one would be bound to turn up sooner rather than later.” Mrs. James recalled from her brief visit the extent of unopened boxes in the penthouse. But that was a week ago; surely he’d have unpacked by now. “Did he return them?”

“Not yet. I expect he’s just forgotten.”

“Speaking of moving, it’s official now that Kitty Doyle has left the building,” and here she paused as if resisting the urge to make some celebratory gesture to mark the occasion, prudently waiting instead as a couple of residents passed through the lobby, “and that Hans has bought and moved into her unit.”

“Another mystery cleared up.” Gervase didn’t like to think that something like this could happen right under his nose and blamed it on the meds he was still taking for his tooth. “What else goes on when I’m not here?”

“There’s more. Sebastian and Matthew Cabot have bought his and are in the process of moving down their things.”

“All in-house, eh? Musical units.” Gervase let out a deep sigh. “I’m relieved that the Doyle woman is gone. Won’t have to be always checking my back.”

“I think I told you how the girls feel. They actually call her a witch, unlike you.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about what I call her.”

“I told them last night not to worry about seeing her any more.Ā  No more figuring out why she’s the way she is. Oh, do you have to go, Gervase? So much more to tell…”

From the exterior, it's not easy to differentiate a condo from an apartment building. Some were constructed to be used either way, depending on market conditions.

From the exterior, it’s not easy to differentiate a condo from an apartment building. Some were constructed to be used either way, depending on market conditions.

“I’ll have to catch you later. After I catch up with myself.”

“Quickly then, do you remember meeting the Thornes’, when we were all out walking Rosie some time back?”

“They had a little boy…on a trike?”

“Yes. Keki. They rent across the street but are thinking of buying. R.M. had them in here last weekend, looking at the Cabots’ unit. Wouldn’t that be a fine thing?”

“Good for R.M., and for you. Some new cuisines in your cookbook mix.”