"As I live and breathe, I thought I'd never see you again," said the man on the elevator. "How nice to see you."
She smiled and extended her hand to Mr. King, the head security guard from her former work address. They shook hands warmly.
"What brings you to this part of town, Mr. King?" she asked.
"I've been given a transfer. I am now in charge of this address and the one across the street," he replied.
"More work?" she inquired.
"Less, in fact," he said. "That other building had stuff going on all day every day. If someone wasn't shooting up in the restroom then someone else decided it was a good idea to beat his wife in the lobby. I've been blessed with less work, a little more money, and get to see some new faces. And some favorite old faces."
"But I am not saying you're old," he said.
They had reached the lobby and exited the elevator.
"I didn't think you had, Mr. King," she said.
"It is always good to see your face," he said. "Oh, say, remember that White man with the cold eyes? The one who is friends with the giant?"
"Yes," she said warily.
"He has an office across the street. I was wrong about him. He's a nice, honest fella. A jeweler," he said. "His office is like Fort Knox."
She smiled at Mr. King.
"We've been reacquainted," she said. "I've come to know him slightly."
"Slightly? The man's a total open book. You know he's in Africa, right? Some diamond became available and he went to buy it," said Mr. King.
"He didn't tell me where he was going," she said, her mouth suddenly dry.
"It's an uncut diamond, and not in a good neighborhood, I gathered. He said he wasn't even telling his lady love where he was going. Just said he had to go out of town," advised Mr. King. "He said he didn't want to worry her. He said his best friend would guess where he'd gone."
"His lady love?" she said.
"He said he'd finally connected with someone he'd met briefly but who was ready to get to know him. He said she works in this building." Mr. King looked into her eyes. "Is that you?"
She nodded her head. She wasn't going to be able to make words.
"He said it should be fine. He was hiring a team of guards to help with the purchase. It's some big, rough diamond that he'd been negotiating for. He said it was not quite the right time to go but he was sure she'd wait for him. Is that right? Is that you?" asked Mr. King.
She nodded again.
"I think so, Mr. King," she said with a huge unmoist tongue.
"You've been blessed with love, then. So different from how things used to be," said Mr. King. "I don't want you to be worrying about him. It sounds like everything would be under control."
She nodded, a single tear coming from her left eye.
"Oh, now, I didn't want to make you cry. You're one of my favorite tenants," said Mr. King.
She quickly took a tissue from her left pocket, wiped the tear, and blew her nose. It was a little too loud. She had to get it together. She needed to be in a good mental place when she saw her aunt.
"It will be fine," Mr. King said. "He said things would be great for years if everything went well."
She nodded again.
"Connie," said Mr. King. "A man has to be secure to let himself be called Connie."
"I think he is," she said. "Secure, that is."
"He's a fine looking White man," said Mr. King. "Even sisters tell me he's fine."
She grinned and smiled and couldn't help but let another tear escape.
"But after you know him for a while, you see that he's not just fine looking. You see a decent man who's trying to make a good life," said Mr. King. "He hooked me up with some lovely pearl earrings for my daughters."
"Mr. King, it's so good to see you and I guess we will see each other again," she said.
"Yes, we will," he said.
"My aunt's quite ill and I need to see her while she still knows me," she told him.
"Awww, that's too bad about your aunt. You go be with her," he said and then asked, "Was she a kind person?"
"She had her moments but was mostly she was not the nicest," she said.
"Well, that's not going to change," said Mr. King. "My Aunt Gladys was a hard woman and she became demented and she was hard times three. She tried to bite my mom. Once I came to her door -- my mom wanted me to fix a pipe -- and she started screaming that a black man was trying to break in. She used the N word to describe me. The police came and when they got to the door, she told them they were white abusers. One was Latino and the other was a light-skinned lady officer. She tried to stab one with a fork, saying she had to stand up for the black man. By the way, Aunt Gladys was a very dark-skinned lady."
"That sounds terrible," she said.
"After that she was blessed with admission to a very fancy assisted-living facility," said Mr. King.
"How long was she there?" she asked.
"Four years," said Mr. King. "I felt sorry for the employees every single day. She still tried to bite my mom every time she visited, which was almost every day."
"That still sounds terrible," she said.
"My mom was blessed with a hide like leather, a sweet disposition, and the patience of saints. She would say, 'I understand that she's not herself but I just want her to not sink her fangs into my arm.'"
"How's your mom doing?" she asked.
"She's fine, god bless her," he said. "With her church group on a trip to Michigan at the moment. Thanks for asking."
She extended her hand to Mr. King and they shook warmly.
"Sorry about you auntie," he said, "and I think your boyfriend will be okay."
"Thanks, Mr. King," she said and turned and walked out the door.
When she got outside she let loose a melancholy smile. While she worried because this man she was getting to know might be in a dangerous situation, she was his lady love. Another tear leaked out of her left eye.