As I look out over Jackson Square and marvel at the early morning silence, it is almost impossible to believe this is home now…my home…a dream home.
The gulls rise from their marsh across the river, but not a sound is heard. Riverboats are doing their early morning thing, gilding down river, no whistles…just the peaceful sloshing sound of the paddlewheel making their way to the Mall docks. There they will ready themselves for a rush of European tourists who will ride up and down the river trying to get a feel for what plantation life along the river in the Old South had been like on a daily basis.
It is amazing how life goes on. At every turn there is a subtle reminder of Katrina, yet the people of New Orleans are a sturdy bunch…picking up the pieces, rebuilding, and revitalizing all the while praying they will NEVER have to experience that kind of fear, devastation and even hatred again.
Three years ago, with a coin flip, packed car and a no turning back attitude, I had driven all day and into the night to arrive a my dream life. A dear friend unexpectedly died and just as unexpectedly left me his condo overlooking Jackson Square…my very favorite place in New Orleans.
Other than my dream to move to the Scottish countryside, a condo-overlooking Jackson Square had been my heart’s desire since the mid 90s when I was in New Orleans for a two-week convention. My then boss was the president of a nationwide education organization, and we were there to assist.
I had just retired and was at loose ends when Gerald left us all. My tearoom had become really successful the year before and was self-sufficient. I had an amazing chef, partner and manager making magic in the kitchen and keeping us booked and a daily waiting list for cancellations. We also invested in a local winery, expanded our offerings…breakfast, lunch and afternoon dessert Monday thru Friday. With brunch, lunch, afternoon dessert and dinner on the weekend to give options for people not wanting barbeque and fast food. The tearoom also did a good amount of private catering as well as parties. Suzie provided “personal chef” appearances for some of the local weekend land squires (as we called them) who had bought up parcels of the countryside as getaways from Dallas and Houston.
I felt more than secure leaving things in Suzie’s hands. She had assembled and trained a young team of budding chefs that were soon making a name for themselves far and wide in Central Texas. She encouraged me to go live my dream, knowing we were just a quick phone call or face-to-face on our iPad’s away. Also, a short flight could have me home in a matter of hours if need be. My new home city would provide excuses for both of use to eat to our heart’s content and add a little Cajun flair to Central Texas on the tea room’s ever changing and expanding menu when she would visit…often I hoped!
Turning away from my balcony view, the in-house phone rang. That was unusual for so early in the morning…my heart beat faster and landed in the pit of my stomach…something was horribly wrong. With a shaking hand, I picked up the receiver. Frank was there with a smile in his voice.
“Miss Annie, I have a rather large delivery for you,” he said laughing. I thought one of my friends must have been pulling another of their famous pranks.
“Well, bring it on up Frank!” I told him
“You don’t understand Miss Annie. There isn’t any “bringing” this delivery to you. Look out your balcony to the right.” He said again breaking into a new deep belly laugh.
I did as Frank asked…parked at the condo front entrance was a Brinks security vehicle…what on Earth!
Back to the phone, “Frank what is that Brink’s truck doing down there?” “Miss Annie, the rest of your inheritance from Mr. Gerald just arrived!” he sputtered barely able to breath he was laughing so hard.
What in the world? This is crazy…so downstairs I went. Arriving at the lobby level, there was Mr. Sylvester, Gerald’s attorney. “Do you want to explain all of this?’ I asked.
Mr. Sylvester just laughed along with Frank and handed me an envelope. Inside was a check with more zeros than I could count. I nearly fainted at the amount. Mr. Sylvester told me that all I had to do was endorse the check because Gerald had left explicit instructions for how to handle the money and we would talk later.
Shaking my head, I slowly walked back upstairs, looked out my balcony and realized that I could own everything I saw before me and still not spend all of that money. What else had Gerald hidden from me? This was the five-year anniversary of his death. Mr. Sylvester hinted this wasn’t the last of Gerald’s inheritance. I wonder how long things would be spaced out until everything was revealed?
That man…what a mystery! As I stood looking over Jackson Square, the day was waking, people were moving around, wonderful smells were wafting in the door from Cafe` duMonde, and I swear I heard Gerald whisper, “Be at peace my Baby. I told you I would always be here to take care of you.” My hair moved slightly off my neck and I felt his lips on that freckle just behind my left ear. That place, his favorite spot to nuzzle and express his love.
Copyright © 2016 Annie Original Fiction
Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
As Ever, Annie