Statue of Limitations
By Myers, Tamar
Avon Books ISBN: 0060535148
It is no secret that I am an S.O.B. I love living South of Broad, in the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina. Mine is one of the most coveted addresses in the nation, and it is rumored that God Himself lives here -- although I have yet to run into Him on my daily walks. I have, however, met several people who think they fit the bill.
My best friend, Wynnell Crawford, is not as lucky. She's merely a W.O.T.A. -- West of the Ashley. The Ashley, of course, is one of Charleston's two principal rivers. The other important river is the Cooper. They meet at Charleston's famous Battery, where together they form the Atlantic Ocean. Please don't misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with living west of the Ashley, but unless one lives on an honest-to-goodness plantation, being a W.O.T.A. is just not as good as being an S.O.B.
But in Charleston even geography takes second place to genetics. The really old families have bloodlines as tangled as the roots of an azalea in need of repotting. Through the bluest veins courses blood that has been recycling for over three hundred years. The redder the hemoglobin, the shorter the time the family has been in residence.
A growing number of folks are so inconsiderate that they weren't even born in Charleston County. These unfortunates occupy the bottom rung of the social ladder and are referred to as being "from off." The term has variously been interpreted to meaning "from off the peninsula" or "from off someplace far away." It doesn't really matter. If one is "from off," there is simply no getting on.
Although one can always hope. Does not hope spring eternal? Even in the smallest of breasts? And anyway, I had just come from lunch at Chopsticks Chinese restaurant on King Street, where I'd received a wonderful fortune in my cookie: "Big things are coming your way." I immediately thought of my husband, Greg, but when the phone rang at my shop a half hour later, minutes before closing time, and I heard the dulcet tones of one of the city's homegrown S.O.B.'s, my tiny heart began to pound.
"Yes, this is Abigail Timberlake," I said.
"Mrs. Timberlake, I was in your antique store the other day, and I must say, I really admire your taste."
"Thank you." I was so grateful for the compliment, I didn't even consider correcting her. Ms. Timberlake is my business name. My married name is Mrs.Washburn.
"And how clever of you to call it the Den of Antiquity. However did you think that one up?" She didn't wait for an answer. "Mrs. Timberlake, I waswondering if you did more than just sell your antiques."
Again I thought of Greg. "Uh -- well, what did you have in mind?"
"Fisher and I have a little project we're working on. A bed and breakfast is what I'd guess you'd call it. Anyway, I was wondering if you'd been interested in decorating for us."
Would I? Would Bill Clinton like an invitation to a sorority sleepover? I tried to play it cool.
"Where is this bed and breakfast, Miss, uh -- "
"Webbfingers. I'm Marina, and Fisher is my husband."
"I'm sorry, Marina, but I'm not sure where Webbfingers is."
I heard the soft, muffled laugh of gentility. "Darling, Webbfingers is our name, not our address. We live at double 0 Legare."
Of course she pronounced the street Legare to rhyme with "Brie." Only rubes, or recently arrived yokels "from off," pronounce the word as it is spelled. But double 0? Oh, why not! This is Charleston, after all, where many addresses begin with 0, and sometimes it seems as if there are more half than whole numbers.
"Double 0 Legare," I said, and jotted the address down on a notepad on my desk. As if I would forget. I could barely control my excitement. It was all I could do to keep from hanging up, calling the Post and Courier, and taking out a full page ad saying that I, little old Abigail from the Upstate, was now officially a decorator to one of Charleston's finest.
"If it's convenient for you," she purred, "I thought you might stop by this evening, and I'll show you around. Let you get a feel for the place."
"Say seven. Fisher and I have theater tickets, but we don't need to leave until almost eight."
"I'll be there with bells on," I said, and then immediately regretted both my excessive enthusiasm and my choice of words. A strap of sleigh bells hangs from a nail on the back of the door, and the bells had begun to jingle as if Santa himself was driving the sleigh.
"My, you are a clever woman," Marina said, but this time she didn't mean it as a compliment.
"A customer just walked in," I said. "The door does that."
"Yes, of course. See you this evening, then." She hung up first, a not so subtle reminder that she was a real S.O.B. and I merely a Johnny-come-lately. Continues...
Excerpted from Statue of Limitations by Myers, Tamar Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.