A few weeks after speaking to him at Fox Tower, Genevieve takes Mr. Bickering up on his offer to visit. She calls and leaves a message for him from, “Your niece, Genni” and several minutes later, he returns the call.
“Wonderful to hear from you, Genevieve.”
They agree to meet in the lobby the following Friday.
When she arrives, he’s waiting for her and escorts her to the front desk.
“Officer Roberts,” he says. “This is my niece. Please give her a VIP name tag.”
“Yes, Mr. Bickering. Name?”
“Genni,” she says.
The guard lists her as “Jenny Bickering” on the tag. She shows it to Mr. Bickering, who winks and gives a thumbs up. As they’re moving away from the desk, he asks, “Have you had breakfast?”
“A little something.”
“Let’s start with the Egyptian cafeteria. Then I’ll give you the full tour.”
They spend around twenty minutes chatting in the cafeteria, during which, Mr. Bickering gives her an overview of his responsibilities.
“I’m not totally certain what my role is, exactly. Martin Devore actually runs things here. I think my duties are more ceremonial.”
“Like the STEM funding.”
“Exactly. I’m there if they need someone to shake hands or kiss babies and I’m very good at both.”
“Kind of sounds like the royal family in England.”
“Yes. I would agree with that analogy. But, they do give me a nice office.”
“Top floor?” He nods. “Bet that’s quite a view.”
“It is. And if you’re ready, we can head up.”
Mr. Bickering’s office has a 180 degree view of Atlanta. He points Eastward. “Right over there is Stone Mountain.” He turns and points Westward. “And that is Kennesaw Mountain.” He takes her toward the center and motions below. “From here, you can see all of Midtown and up Peachtree to Buckhead.”
“That’s L. J.’s building,” Genevieve says, pointing at Colony Square. “She doesn’t have nearly the view you have.”
“Few people do. It might interest you to know, my great-grandfather Wordsworth was here during the Battle of Atlanta. He was on Sherman’s staff.”
“I wondered about that,” she says. “I found where he came here after the War, but couldn’t find anything on his service.”
“The company has been rather tight-lipped about that, as you might imagine.”
He guides her toward the easy chairs to the left. Once there, he says, “Would you like something to drink?”
“Bottled water is fine.”
He presses some keys on a pad next to his chair. After a moment, there’s the sound of rushing wind, followed by a plunk. He opens a door below the table and takes out a water.
“That’s awesome,” Genevieve says. “What else can you do with that?”
“Well.” He leans toward her and says in a conspiratorial manner, “I’m not supposed to have access anymore, but I do still have the code to change the marquee downstairs.”
He nods, then types. “Is there anything you’d like to say to everyone?” He slides the keyboard over.
“Oh, yeah.” She types in, “All hope abandon ye who enter here.”
“Hit send,” he says.
Downstairs, the marquee updates. It stays that way for several hours until Martin Devore notices it on his way to an offsite meeting and angrily calls it in. “Change the code again. Do not let him have it anymore.”