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“Come on in, and take a seat.” “The booklets you see in front of you are to remain faced down until I say that it is time.” Ms. Jones said as the class settled into their seats to take their final test of the semester. 

 

“First, let me say, before I forget, that I have enjoyed each of you, and that your marketing projects were great.” “Enjoy your winter break, and have a safe, happy holiday.” “Okay, now, you will have two hours to complete the test and you may leave quietly when you are finished. Bring your tests up, and place it face down in the tray on my desk.”  “Does anyone have any questions about anything, before we begin?” She paused. “Last chance”, she said looking around again.” “Okay, your time begins…Ms. Jones looks down at her watch…now, good luck class.” 

 

Jamal knew it wouldn’t take him two hours to finish the test. He turned it over and read the instructions for part one. Then he scanned over parts two and three and ultimately decided to start with part three first. Its three essay questions and one bonus question. 

An hour and 15 minutes later, Jamal was finished. He looked around at his peers and was wondering if they thought the test is a little difficult. Jamal studied, no doubt, but Ms. Jones threw a few questions in from the beginning of the semester, which makes the test a bit cumulative, and he wasn’t expecting it to be. He is confident enough from his past tests in her class, that even if he got some of these wrong, his overall average in her class would still be an A. As he looked around the class, he made eye contact with Jimmie Raines, his rival. Jamal nodded his chin up and Jimmie nodded his down, and then he quickly went back to taking his test. Jamal sort of chuckled and thought, “I hope we don’t ever have another class together.” “And that’s my word, Son!”

 

Jamal already had his books packed since they didn’t need to take them out. He stood up, trying to be quiet and what does he do? Knock over a textbook, so much for being quiet. The textbook hit the floor with a loud thud, which made few students jump. And then he heard…  “Dumb A**” in between coughs. He knew it was Jimmie.

 

Jamal didn’t look back. He made his way to the front of the room where Ms. Jones was sitting. She gave him a warm smile. When Jamal was putting his paper down in the tray, Ms. Jones touched his hand. Jamal looked up at her and she nudged her head toward the door and made the gesture with her thumb to meet him outside.

 She got up and went to the door and Jamal was behind, but before he went out, he looked back at Jimmie and they shared some unpleasant words, and then Jamal was gone.

 “Forget that dude man, Jamal thought again, he will always hate on a brotha. From here on out, there is no need to continue to be cordial, he’s cut!” “I stooped to his level just now, but it was warranted, and as long as I am black, no man is going to disrespect me.”

 “Jamal, I wanted to talk to you in private for a minute, if that is okay?” Ms. Jones asked, sounding apprehensive.

“Awe, it’s cool.” “Plus I had to give you something anyway, so now I can do it private and it works out for both of us.” He said nervously. She smiled sweetly.

His mother made him write her out a Holiday card, thanking him for the meeting between him and Leslie Smith, and whatever he wanted to add.

“Oh, you have something for me?” Ms. Jones teased.

“Oh, it’s nothing but a card, just a little token to say thanks for what you did by hooking me up with Ms. Smith.” “Here”, he said reaching up from the ground, as he reshuffled his book bag.

“Cards are good.” She said. “That just means my students think of me as someone, hmmm, she was looking for the right word, “special”; however, I have heard of a teacher who did get a nasty gram in card form.” She laughed slightly. “Can I read this now?”

“Sure.” He said.

When he stood up, Ms. Jones extended her hand to Jamal and said, “I have enjoyed having you in my class as well, Jamal.” “I hope meeting Leslie will help your career.” “She’s connected, and knows a lot of people and oh, we can’t forget; a great mentor.” “Listen to her, Jamal.” “She likes to lead anyways”, she said smirking, “but seriously, listen to her, and take good notes.” 

 “Yes, thank you very much.” “The meeting went good, from my perspective.” “She listened and liked my ideas, but we haven’t spoken much since our meeting.” “As a matter-of-fact, when I leave here, I’m going to her office to pick up an internship application.”

 “That’s wonderful, Jamal.” “How do you feel about it?”

 “Thanks.” “Pretty good, I guess.” “Its just happening all so fast, and I haven’t had much time to digest it all yet.”

 “I understand.” “Well, I have to go, honey”, and then she opened her arms for a hug. Jamal being 6 feet, had to bend down to hug her 5’4” frame.

 She held his hand a moment as if she wanted to say more, but didn’t. The mood changed. 

 “Well, again best of luck and happy holidays, she said giving one last sincere smile, and then she was gone.

 “You too”, he said pretty much to himself. “That was a bit strange”, he said wrinkling up his face, “women.”

 Jamal wasn’t saying that he knew women all like that, but he did read people well and he could feel when something wasn’t right. Had she and Ms. Smith spoke, and maybe Ms. Smith wasn’t feeling his ideas after all. He wasn’t the kind of person who cared what others thought, but he was beginning to doubt himself.

 He walked across the campus to where Lela’s class is. This is her last class and final test of the day as well. They planned to hang out this afternoon before he had to stop by to pick up his application.

 Jamal passed Lela’s class and the door was open, she saw him and proceeded to pack her book bag. She walked up on him showing all 32 teeth.

 “Dang girl, I know you have to see a brotha and all that, but why you cheezing so hard?” Jamal joked.

 “Because, I was looking at my teacher grade some of my test and so far I had only two wrong, and he was almost finished.” 

 “He can’t do that!” Jamal stated.

 “He’s cool.” “He was just looking it over for me.” “I should make out pretty good in this class, Lela said. I had a B at mid term, so no worries.”

 “You always trip out when it comes to finals, under estimating your skillz girl, and then you always end up with a good grade.”

 “Not always, remember Physics?” “I almost failed that class if it was for this girl in my class who tutored me.” “I passed with a C-, a very low (she made her voice go deep) almost D, C, she went on.

 “Well c’mon, you ready?” “Because I’m starving”, Jamal said walking toward the stairs.

 “Yea,” she said catching up. 

 Jamal put his arm around his girl and felt a break of release. It is winter break. Three and a half weeks of nothing. He was looking forward to spending more time with Lela and maybe hanging out with his boy KaeRee for New Year’s Eve.  He and Lela walked out the school doors, straight into a bright sunshine. The temperature is still a cold 35 degrees, but the sun made it not seem so cold.

 They spent the remainder of the day downtown. Ate lunch and went to a few shops in the bargain shopping district and then ended up Macy’s. What is the fascination with this store and women? 

 “We need to move it, Babe.” “It’s almost

and I still need to make to Ms. Smith’s office to pick up an application.”

 “Oh?”, so you decided to go for it, huh?” “I really think you should, plus you need to leave that job anyway; it is dead end, and you are better than that.”

 “Hey now, thanks for the compliments, but my job is pretty decent for college pay AND I like the hours.” “Speaking of hours, if I get in this “job joint”, I’ll definitely have to change my schedule to later, since I’ll maybe working days.”

 “Well, at least it will only be for one last semester and then we are outta that blicky!” “On to bigger and better things!” She said grabbing his arm and holding it tight, as they walked through the revolving door at Macy’s back into the cold, brisk air.

 They arrived at Leslie’s office building, Adams and Clark Law Firm at a quarter after

 When they made it to the 35th floor, almost 20 minutes later, Jamal knew right then, if he got the job, he would arrive early enough to take the elevator and escalators up, which stopped at every floor.

 When they walked through the double glass stained doors, to their surprise, the lobby was crowded with other candidates, dressed to impress. One guy had on a Hugo Boss suit. Now he really doubted himself. Was he supposed to dress up? Leslie didn’t mention that part, or was he just supposed to know, “Be Professional At Times” applies in Business.  He felt like a fool. Maybe he could take the application home, and return it Monday. 

 Jamal waited behind an Asian boy in line and looked around at the other prospects again. Not many women are here, which is really surprising. When it was his turn, he started to speak when Linda, the Receptionist put her finger up as the phone rang.

 “Adams and Clark, how may I direct your call?” Sure Mr. Applegate, please hold.” “Sorry honey, Linda said, and you were saying your name is?”

 “Jamal, Jamal Washington.” “I am here to pick up an internship application.”

 “Oh, so you’re the infamous Washington?”

  “The Who? What!” He interjected. 

 She stood up and looked over the desk, “Okay-okay, not bad, she ended.”

 “Well now that I have met your approval, can I have an application, PLEASE?” He said clearly annoyed. “Thank you”, he said in gritted teeth as he snatched the application from her hands.

 “Feisty too”, Linda said laughing. “Next in line.”

 Jamal walked back to where Lela had found them some seats. He turned to Lela and said, “Maybe you should go home before the rush hour begins, I’ll call you tonight, when he heard her voice…

 “Is there anyone else who hasn’t gotten an interview number yet?” She asked the remaining students in the lobby. “Linda, has everyone checked in?” “It’s getting late and we still have all these folks to interview.” Leslie said. 

 “I know that there is at least one person who doesn’t have a number yet.” Linda said sorta sing-song; just instigating.  

 “Well, who is it?” “Don’t they HEAR me calling for interviews?” “Last call, people!” She turned towards Linda to say something when she heard his voice and her heart stopped.

 “I believe I need an interview number, Ms. Smith.” Jamal said smoothly.

 “Oh God!” He’s here. Today. Now. I look a mess, shoot!  Something told me to wear that low- cut wrap sweater today.” “Always follow your first instincts.” 

 She turned slowly around. “Well, hel-lo there Mr. Wa…shing-ton,” she was looking him up and down. “What do you have on? She asked suddenly? “Don’t you know that this is an interview, too?” “Is this your first intern job?” “Never mind.” Disgusted, she turned around…”Linda, get me a number.” “Here!” she said handing him a number.

 “Well, I was hoping to take this home and return it on Monday?” he said hesitantly.

 Monday?” “No Sir.” “Today is deadline, and I told you that the other day. Leslie said firmly. “I thought you were going to show up earlier in the week, but I guess you had other plans.” She ended snidely.

 Jamal felt a chill come from Leslie. Luckily, her voice was muted enough her to bomb me out, so only me, her and Linda could hear. Had he messed up?  Was Ms. Jones trying to warn him earlier, but it was too late? He wished now that he hadn’t spent that afternoon with Lela.

 Leslie turned to say something to Linda again, when she saw her. From the corner of her eye…SHE was heading Jamal’s way, and then she stopped.

 “Excuse me, Jamal.” Lela winced. “Sorry, but do you want me to take your bags home with me?” Lela sorta whispered.

 “Umm, yea.” “That’ll be good, Ba, I mean Lela.” “I’ll call you tonight, okay.” Jamal said a little embarrassed.

 “Cute”. “Well, well.” “Who do we have here?” Leslie thought. “This must be ‘Wifey-Boo’.” “Get Out!” “Did he bring her to an interview?” “How tacky.” Disgusted she looked away.

 “Sorry, Miss Smith.” Lela said and she turned to leave.

 “Huh?” Leslie turned around.

 “Miss Smith?” “He told her my name.” “So he has her thinking I’m just a mentor.”  “To think I was ‘trippin’ when he didn’t show up earlier this week-no way.” “I don’t want him.” “He’s still immature, but sexy.” “Tacky, but sexy as Hell.”  “Ummm, well maybe a little more flirting won’t hurt me….”

 “You, Sir are disappointing me right now little by little but I want the Team to meet you.” “Come follow me to my office for a minute.” 

 They walked down the bright hallways, which are surrounded by glass. You could see all of New York from up here. Man, it is beautiful. They seemed to have passed many offices before they came to her to serene haven of an office. Her office was huge, no doubt. She has an awesome view of the Hudson River. If it wasn’t for the large window in her office, her office would appear just dark and masculine. The furniture consisted of two big, bulky brown leather, executive style sofas with an oval bear feet pedestal coffee table between them, underneath warmed the hardwood floors with an oriental rug with colors in mostly burgundy, navy and gold. Her L-shaped Mahogany desk sat up on a 1 foot riser with a nice wet bar in the corner of the room with the bar fully stocked. 

 “Dang, this is the life” Jamal’s eyes all big, trying to take it all in.

 “Here, put this on.” Leslie said, handing him a wool blazer with cocoa brown suede on the elbows and collar. It was nice and it complimented him with his jeans, cream, round neck sweater and Timerberland boots. It wasn’t a suit but he knew with the blazer on, he would pimp it out. And plus, he was here now, and he had to give it his all in the interview, or it was now or never.

 “Whose jacket am I commandeering?” Jamal said sounding a bit like a proper Englishman, but he could never quite get it.

 “An old friend, who won’t be coming back for his jacket.” “Now get back out there and wait for your number to be called, and we will chat later.” 

 “You won’t be doing the interview?”  Jamal said sounding disappointed. Why did he feel so comfortable with Leslie all of a sudden?

 …she broke his train of thought. “I’ll be in and out of the room just in case the Lawyers have any questions.” AND it would be a conflict of interest.” “You already have an advantage just being in my office, now get.” she said pretending to kick him in the butt.

 Jamal went back out front and could feel eyes on him. He knew what they were thinking, but, so what. They were there to make a first impression and he is too.

 Jamal sat there which seem like forever. He was going over his application, when he heard a deep male voice call his number. There were still a few interviewees after him and it was already after

 He stood up and went toward the voice and gave him a firm handshake. Well, this is do or die. He had to give it his all from here on forward.