27 If Wishes Were Horses

Mrs. James, in her now accustomed spot in the lobby, was crocheting a black and gray beanie, popular colors for snowboarders. She longed for something a little more colorful. Maybe the next order would be for a white one, to break up the monotony. She heard R.M. rapping at the door, and went over to let him in. Chapter27 If Wishes Were Horses

“Afternoon, Mrs. James, and thank you. Are you the new Gervase?”

“He’s just gone upstairs. Come and sit with me while you’re waiting. I’m working on a hat.”

“I’m here to meet my buyers. So yes, I will join you.”

“Unfortunately, we may have another listing in here very soon. Not one we want. Have you heard the dreadful news about the Cabots?”

“I’m not sure I know what you mean.”

“Well, of course. We’ve only just heard, ourselves. Our residents, John and Cathy Cabot, who own the Cathay Imports shop, went on a routine buying trip to the Orient and apparently they were on the plane that crashed there, yesterday. All passengers are reported killed.”

“I did hear about the crash. And they were both passengers, you say?”

“So I understand. Gervase tells me that their son Sebastian will be here to handle their affairs. Their other son, Matthew, is also traveling. He’s in the business, too. Such nice people. And such good neighbors to me. That’s where Gervase is at the moment, up taking care of their two cats.” Just then, Gervase emerged from the elevator.

“Bon jour, Gervase. Well, perhaps not so good. Mrs. James has just been telling me the news.”

“Very sobering news, yes. You don’t realize what a community we have here until something like this happens. Like losing family. Why is it always the good ones, eh? By the way, I’ve been wanting to tell you that a man claiming to be a Realtor tried to get in the building to ‘pre-view a listing’ or so he claimed. I said there were no listings for him to see.”

“Odd. Any name?’

“I didn’t ask, and he didn’t say. No card or anything. Reddish hair, though.”

“Well, I’m here to meet my buyers. Second showing. Usually a good sign.” Gervase returned to his desk to answer his ringing phone.

“Do people often keep you waiting?” Mrs. James asked, pulling out lengths of yarn from the depths of her work bag.

“Oh, this is nothing. I often have to wait outside in the car and watch for them, especially where the parking is tricky. This is a more comfortable wait than I usually have. If they don’t show up, at least I’m warm, dry, and in good company.”

Sebastian Cabot, younger son of John and Cathy Cabot, bother of Matthew, cartographer

Sebastian Cabot, younger son of John and Cathy Cabot, cartographer and brother of Matthew

“What? People don’t come to an appointment they made with you?”

“It happens. I call it ‘getting stiffed.’ So I always confirm  the day before. Occasionally, they still don’t show up, or call either.”

“But that’s so rude!”

“I always turn up, living in hope. Ah, here they are now. I’m off and running.” R.M. signaled to the Shells through the expanse of foyer glass. “Sorry about your news.”

R.M opened the outside door to his clients and to Hans, who arrived at the same time. Hans stopped to visit with Mrs. James and he too, was told the sad news. He had not personally known the Cabots, not as well as Mrs. James had, but it was shocking. It seemed as though their association was in for some rocky times what with this loss, and the proposed building next door. He was glad he was only the treasurer and not solely responsible for shoring up morale amongst the residents.

*   *   *   *   *

When one of those glossy magazines to which Hans regularly contributed articles offered him a trip to cover a convention, ‘Accounting Then and Now,’ he readily agreed, happy to get away from the POPS, even though he suspected he was a last minute substitute or alternate. A change of pace was way overdue, even if it was only with a bunch of accountants and a weekend in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Maybe just to make the point, he would call Peter before he went, mention that he was still in circulation and going to a ‘high-powered’ convention. Invite him to come over after his return and hear about the trip, have one of Peter’s ‘delicious’ suppers. He might then contrive to open a cupboard and ask Peter about the missing items. He’d have time while he was away to think of a good way to handle this problem. When he rang Peter’s number he got voice mail. Surprise, surprise.

“Listen, Peter.  I’ll be out of town for a few days. Going to a convention next weekend. Home Monday afternoon. Wondering if you’d come over to see me, after. How about Monday night? Got something I’d like to talk with you about. Let me know. Bye…” he trailed off, reluctant to say any more, worried that he’d said too much, already.

*   *   *   *   *

“I’ve got some news for you, Rusty.” Peter bent his head close to the perspiring Rusty, who was laboring above his chosen instrument of exercise torture.

“Whaa?” Rusty panted, not even looking up.

“We can go over to that building next weekend,” Peter crooned.

“Yeah?” Rusty’s head came up this time and his pace slowed. He gasped his reply. “Sunday. Five.”

“I’ll meet you here and drive us over there,” Peter drawled. “It’s a date.” Rusty looked a bit peculiar. Peter figured he was  pushing Rusty too hard, too fast.

“Take it easy, Rusty,” Peter advised. “Don’t overdo it, all at once. Save some of your energy for other things. A nice swim and a soak, maybe.” He turned away, wagging his finger. “I’ll be waiting for you on Sunday.”

Knowing that Hans was going to be away inspired Peter’s overactive imagination to play out some desirable scenarios. At first, he’d been planning to offer Rusty a whole weekend together but that, he concluded, would be taking too much of a risk. They might be seen in the building. He didn’t want to be seen; some resident snoop who remembered him would likely squeal back to Hans. And besides, he wouldn’t have much time to clean up after an entire weekend there anyway, not with Hans back so soon afterward on Monday afternoon. So when Rusty chose Sunday that would be cutting it fine, too. His hopes dimmed but he’d make the most of it, yes he would, with a chance like this.