Shake! Shake! Shake!


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My new assistant seems to be working out pretty well–once I finally got him to stop calling me “Ms. James.”  I totally feel ages older than him.  I almost demanded that he call me Danni.  Not for pure reasons like wanting him to feel at home or anything noble like that.  With the age difference, and me training him, every time he added “Missus” in the front of my name, I felt like his 5th grade teacher and it went from fun flirting to creepy old lady talk in 0.2 seconds.  So, now, we have the perfect Roger- Danni relationship.  I must give him props.  I am pretty impressed with his office skills.  Not that I was completely prejudiced in thinking that, I was going to have to draw pictures for him; however, I was a bit concerned that I would occasionally hear him singing his alphabet in order to determine which letter comes first O or R.  With dimples that deep, it’s not odd for me to feel he may have a dent in his head somewhere.  Now, we will totally ignore the times I pat my feet to the tune of the alphabet song–we all KNOW I have an abyss created somewhere in the cavity of my brain.

Beep! “Ms. James”  Keith’s frustrated voice boomed through the intercom.  I closed my eyes and hoped he thought I was gone.  “Danni!  I know you are in the office and can hear me.  I didn’t hear you gallop out of the door yet.  Have you completely forgotten about me down here? Please don’t make me have to come…”

“I’m on my way!” I cut him off and say.  I promise you, one day, I will be able to shake myself so fast that I will morph into two different beings.  Perhaps then, I can get my stuff done while catering to everyone else’s needs of the world.  I get up from my desk and drag myself out of my door past Roger’s desk.  I look at him.

“I will be back as soon as I can.” I manage to assure him with a smile.

I’ll be here.

This boy’s momma better come get her child!  Here he is doing all this flirting and me here…fresh out of batteries.

I manage to trudge down the stairs.  By the time my foot hits the last stair at the bottom of the staircase, “Ms. James! I need you Ms. James”

Son-of-a “Coming, Mr. Howell.”  I manage to sing back, gleefully.  WHERE is his wife?  She knows I cannot accomplish anything while babysitting the Mister.

“UUUGGHHH!!” I hear Keith yell out in disgust.  I would, otherwise, put him in priority, but he knows the deal.  This isn’t his first day on the job.

I walk down the hall towards Mr. Howell’s office and I begin to hear the chuckle-like cackle of the two wise-men–Mr. Howell and Papa Amos.  Again, I go JUST up to the doorway and stop, pause and look, without emotion, at Mr. Howell who has tears in his eyes from obvious amusement at the current conversation.

Ms. James!  Ms. James! Tell Mr. Amos about the new guy.  How is he doing?”

IS HE KIDDING ME!!  Is this the EMERGENCY I was bellowed for?

I manage to unroll my eyes from under my eyelids, look at Papa Amos and smile.  “Hey, Papa.”  I say, dryly.  I wish I could be THAT person, but when Papa looks up at me, kee-keeing and coo-cooing, I can’t help the smile.

“I hear he’s a looker.” Papa Amos laughs out.

I look over at Papa and shake my head.  “He’s an attractive young man, but I could care less as long as he works.”  I’m lying, of course, but that statement will be part of my daily affirmation until it manifests or until I can at least get through it without concentrating on whether the dimples in his cheeks are the only dimples he has.  “I don’t have time for you clucking hens.” I change the subject and walk out.

“I bet you have him filing everything in the bottom cabinets first!!” Mr. Howell yells out and he and Papa Amos join chorus in uncontrollable, hysterical laughter.

I walk down the hall to Keith’s office and as I approach the door, Keith says, “Oh, you finally have time for me?  I should have written all my stuff down.  Who knows when such an opportunity will come again.

What is that?” I ask back as I walk in and take a seat. “Punk-girl, Pink Sarcasm?  Doesn’t look good on you.  Doesn’t go with your eyes.  What’s up, Keith?”  Keith’s office is as retro metro as it comes.  I swear he has stock in IKEA.  If it isn’t red or yellow or a bright color, it has unusual shapes or rusty-rugged color.  Keith’s oversized, leather office-chair is 3x bigger than Keith.  He is literally swallowed up in leather chair-dimples and folds.  The chair immediately in front of you, when you walk into his office, isn’t the sitting chair.  It is the decoration.  The chair that sits mildly in the corner–looking like decoration is the meeting chair.  Nothing is as it seems in Keith’s office–befitting for such a man as Keith.

“Have you taken anything that I mentioned to you into consideration?” 

Daggoneit!  I knew there was something I was supposed to be thinking about.  Gotta play this off the best way I can. So, I say what is natural. “Keith, you have to start believing in your ideas.  You see how I am around here.  I have strategic planning with everything.  Sometimes, if you wait on me for the fulfillment of your own ideas, you will miss your window of opportunity.  No one will believe in you unless you give them something to believe in.”

“I know.  You’re right.” Keith says in a defeated voice. “I just really feel that if we expand our marketing by 10 miles each way, we will reach an untapped potential of clientele.”

WAIT-A-MINUTE!  I think to myself.  This escargot is sitting up here trying to ask me to back him up to get ME more work to do.  BayBEH!!  I didn’t accidentally tune out.  Subconsciously, I heard this bull-OWNY, and I immediately zoned out to my happy place to prevent going off on him.  So, I say the best get-me-out phrase “Okay.  I hear you, but you know I have to weigh all the pros and cons.  Let me think about it.”  I stand up and walk to the door.  As I walk out, I turn around and look at Keith’s poor look of defeat on his face.  I have GOT to work on a backbone when it comes to people.  “Keith.” I say reassuringly.  “I know you feel lost and alone sometimes.  If you have an idea, write it down.  Buy me dinner and let’s talk.  Now.  I’m not going to do your leg work for you, but you won’t walk alone.

Keith looks up at me, mustering up a smile. “Thanks, Danni.”

I walk out Keith’s door, stop, close my eyes tight and begin to shake myself as fast as I can.  Once I feel the headache coming and my vertigo kick in, I stop shaking, open my eyes and squint-look to the right of me–DANG!

Still just one of me.  Gotta shake faster next time.



The Permanent Smile


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It didn’t take them long to find me an assistant.  Apparently, the new guy is the grand nephew of the sister of the aunt of an old client of ours.  Not completely sure how all that works out, but what I can tell you is that he is what amounts to a complete stranger to me.  He came in and met, indirectly, with Shondra by way of Larry Howell.  What is amazing to me is that the news traveled so fast.  I know this was Mr. Howell’s doing.  He must have called him in when I left early.  Oh, well.  Training comes with the territory.

I arrived to work about 30 minutes earlier than usual to prepare my mind and heart for the new assistant–Roger Carrington.  Although I arrive 30 minutes early for prep-time, Roger arrives 15 minutes earlier than his scheduled time so, I get about 15 minutes of official “me” time.  Oh well.  I hear the door to the office open and I stand up and head to the edge of the top stairs.  My welcome speech is interrupted by Mr. Howell, who is yelling from behind his desk, out of his office and down the hall at the open door.

Hello.”  Mr. Howell’s voice echos, ricocheting off the hard-wood floors.   “Mr. Carrington?”

“Hello?” A voice echos back.  I can’t really tell exactly what part of the United States the voice is native to, but it doesn’t sound like a Taliaferro Countybred.

I’m in here.  Come in, Mr. Carrington!  I’m in here.”  Mr. Howell sounds awfully excited about the new guy.  I wonder what he is up to.  I REALLY am not in the mood for this EITHER.  (Seems like a going trend right now.)  Oh well.  I have to make it down the stairs and save this poor guy.  So, here goes nothing.  Deep breath, smile painted on, cheery disposition in place and ACTION!  I bounce my way down the stairs and into Mr. Howell’s office–just to the door, that is.

“Good Morning, Mr. Howell” (I sing as I stand at Mr. Howell’s office door)  I look down and see a well-groomed, beautifully bronzed man sitting in Mr. Howell’s green chair.  “Well, Good Morning, Mr. Carrington, is it?  Am I saying it right?  I can totally mutilate a name.”  I manage to say all this with a smile.  I think I can actually feel my eyes lighting up.  I am really in character, today.  Bravo! Bravo!

“You couldn’t possibly mess up my name.  Even if you did, I probably wouldn’t tell you.”  Up stand this perfectly fit and trimmed, man with noticeably broad shoulders, v-cut waist and thick thighs–Clawd-A-Mercy!  Someone has dropped a masterpiece in front of me.  He stands about 5’11″ with the most gorgeous smile and…wait-a-minute!  Are those dimples!  MY GOD!  The man has dimples.  I size him up from head to toe and realize, this being stops at about 5’11.”  5″11″ is an alright height, but he just seems too gorgeous to just stop there!  I wonder exactly how long I have been standing here sizing this man up.  So, I speak “Aww.  A gentleman.”

“No” He smirks.  “I just know that even when a woman is wrong, she is still right.”

Wait!  Is he flirting with me?  I got this covered so I respond. “Smart man.  You must have graduated ahead of your class.  How old are you, anyways?” There was absolutely no other way for me to fit age into the conversation.

“I beat out 90% of the class.  I’m 22.”  He responds.

“22 you say?” Mr. Howell questions? “I remember when I was 22.  Now, I’m a lot WISER than I used to be.”  He says with a smile.  Sometimes, I really feel sorry for Mr. Howell.  He really is a good person.  I mean.  He has a good heart.  His heart just needs more attention than the average heart.  He needs the attention of newborn babies–newborn PUPPIES, even.

Well, Mr. Carrington, you have it partly correct.” I interject. “Not everyone woman is always right.  However, I am. When you are ready.” I motion towards the door and we walk out of Mr. Howell’s office and up the stairs.  I lead Mr. Carrington up the stairway and as I walk up the stairs I hear a yell coming from around the corner from Keith’s office.

“Ms. James! Ms James” Keith sings out.  “Can you stop by when you get a moment.”

I promise I will–WHEN I get a moment.”  

Mr. Carrington and I walk to my office.  No need for a painted smile.  I have a gorgeous assistant.  Bay-BEH!  My smile is a permanent facial tattoo.


That’s MISTER to you.


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The weekend went by in a blur.  Every since Salina dropped the bomb on me of her leaving, I have been kinda “out of it.”  I even left early on Friday, just because every time I passed by her desk (which was inevitable since of her direct proximity to me) I tried to beg her to stay.  The redundancy and the tears became overbearing–so I left.

Today, I arrived to work early.  I pull into my parking spot next to the custom-made, platinum, F-type R Series Jaquar already parked and cooling off–Ms. Howell is here.  I let out a sigh as I grab my bag, my purse, my water jug and my coffee mug and slowly drag out of my car.  I miss Salina, already.  As I muster up enough energy to get out of Goblin, I notice Keith’s Tundra is parked, too.  Is EVERYONE here?  WAIT.  Am I early?  I looked at my phone and the time read 8:53 am.  What the deuces is going on?  Why is everyone here so early?  Well, truth be told, everyone is simply on time, but in their defense, on time is…well…early.

I open the door and trudge my way up the stairs.

“Good Morning, Mr. Howell.” I yell out around the corner at Mr. Howell.  Interesting, no response.

“Good Morning, Keith.” I yell down the hall towards Smithson Keith’s office.  No answer.

I walk up the stairs and, as I approach the top step, I can faintly hear murmuring coming from the direction of my office.

“I knew she had something extra going on anyways.” Attorney Shondra Howell says.

“Did she say anything?  Was there any warning of this happening?” Keith questions.

“She was an ungrateful brat, anyways.  She was always late, leaving early, and ALWAYS had something going on.  Some people just have no idea how good they have it.  Nothing in her life should have been more important than her job.”  Mr. Howell belts out in his matter-of-fact tone. Leave it to Larry Howell to grow some AFTER the person leaves. His voice is the last voice I hear as I approach the empty vestibule to my office–once the office of Salina Chavez.  Well, kinda empty.  It’s now full of Howell, Howell and Keith and the files Salina was last working on.  As I slowly walk into the Open Fire of Salina Chavez , Mr. Howell, gives me a glaring look of harsh judgment.

Good Morning, Everyone.”  I say as I pass through the huddle and into my office.  I continue through as if today is just another Monday–nothing new, nothing special.  I place my personal affects down and, intentionally and desperately, look for something on my desk to quickly pick up and help me seem busy!  Everyone is quiet in the adjoining room.  I supposed they are waiting on a response from me.

As I begin clicking away on my keyboard, frantically typing Dear Mr. Soin So.  We appreciate you for being available during this difficult time.  I had no other option.  I had no letter that I was working on and all the files that I need are still in Salina’s office–and I am NOT going in there.  Mr. Soin So never lets me down.  I simply open a Microsoft Word document, squint my eyes and wrinkle my forehead in deep, or at least seemingly deep, thought.  Shondra Howell, who clearly knows me and my look of fake-a-busy oh too well, leans in.

Danni.  When you finish the letter to Mr. So, can you step in for a moment.”  She says as she gives me a smirk and peers over her glasses. DANGIT!  I think to myself.  She KNEW I didn’t want to deal with this situation right now–not with an audience. I drop my shoulders so low that, if I was a dog, my tail would be practically dragging the floor.  I sigh, look up towards Heaven, roll my eyes, and slowly push my chair back.  I never open my eyes until I sigh, again, as I stand.  I walk to Salina’s office even slower than I pushed back my chair to stand up.  I even added extra steps to approach the door.  I simply do NOT want to deal with this right now.  Nevertheless, I paint on my smile and stand to the doorway.

“Yes, Ma’am.” I ask in my I have no clue what’s going on voice.

“Your shady girl threw us shade!” Mr. Howell says with a grin of contentment.  You know, sometimes Mr. Howell’s southern drawl is not so much sexy gentleman as it is country hick–this is one of those times.

“Larry! That’s enough” Shondra interjects.  “As you know, Danni, Salina is no longer with us.

When I first began working for Howell and Knotch (the original name), Shondra insisted that we all become a family and call each other on a first-name basis.  We did until about three years ago when Larry Howell became a silent partner.  After Keith made partner but, suspiciously, before pending divorce papers mysteriously disappeared and the proceedings completely dropped, Mr. Larry Howell became the additional Howell added to the business association.  Something about twenty-four years of marriage, a family secret and connections to a radio station and bing-bang BOOM–we, instantly became Howell, Keith, Howell and Knotch.  Mr. Howell’s first order of business as partner was to move his name from behind Keith’s, making us Howell, Howell, Keith and Knotch.  This way, there is no question which Howell is first.  Mr. Howell’s second task was to ensure everyone called him MISTER Howell.  It was so bad that, if we missed the inter-office memo that only went to three people, he would not answer you without the salutation.  Lastly, he wanted to begin office cut-backs–namely me.  However, that lasted about as long as his vegetarian lifestyle–which was from post Memorial Day until the office 4th of July cookout.

I acknowledged the news with a head nod as Shondra continued.

“Danni, I’m so sorry.  That will mean more work for you.  I will try to get someone in on a temp-to-perm basis as soon as I can.  I have someone in mind.  We will see how soon she can begin. ”  When Ms. Howell–Shondra–is in her work mode, she is a force to be reckoned with.  No bull.  No drama. Strictly business.  That’s one of the things I admire most about her–the ability to decipher and discern timing for everything.

“I don’t mind helping her” Keith speaks up “Of course, that is until my workload and cases pick up.  But, in the interim, I will be more than happy to lend a helping hand.”

I look over at Keith and give him a kissing gesture with my full lips.  Keith and I once worked together.  The entire time he was in law school, I trained him.  He is diligent and knows how I like things.  This will work out wonderfully because I don’t have to train anyone  Keith also knows that my choice to be a Paralegal is my choice and not because I could not cut-it in law school.  I mean, Keith’s only civil suit is proof that a degree doesn’t bring in the money.  Truth told, I make more than him.  Shondra placed Keith back on payroll so that he could justify being in the office.  Periodically, the small cases that Keith received, they were bones Shondra threw him from time to time.

“Thanks, Luvy.  I will leave the basket here on Salin…” I stopped myself and sighed.  “I will leave everything here, in this basket, on this desk.  You can even take up residence here, if you want.”

“Thanks,” Keith said, open-ended.  I knew his gentle gesture was going to be short-lived.  “But this office is too small for my desk.  Perhaps when you need something, you can just call me on the intercom,”

We dismissed.  Well, I dismissed and tuned out the remainder of what was going on.  For the rest of the day, I amused myself by calling Keith on the intercom–ALL DAY LONG.

“Keith, I need help with the papers.  Keith, I have something else in the basket for you.  Keith, did you ever finish…Keith…Keith…Keith.” 

Lord, Take Care of Your Baby


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Well, Keith has officially got me off task.  Now, I’m supposed to be thinking about something.  I start to drift…again..and just as I begin to push the Google Chrome icon on my monitor I remember a couple of days ago, at this very moment, when I received a notification on my cell phone.  Every muscle in my heart hoped it is from this new guy that I met a half-year ago who just NOW has reached out, but I believe in keeping hope alive.  Instead it was my AJC news update notification:  “AJC Breaking News:  Celebrated Poet, novelist and civil-rights activist, Maya Angelou, has died at age 86.”  I know I had a reaction.  I mean, I know something happened, but I can’t remember what.  My heart stopped beating for what seemed like a lifetime.  I remember when I first felt phenomenal.  I would love to say that it was at a recital of some sort, but this isn’t that kind of story.  The first time I felt phenomenal was while watching Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur and Regina King.  What an AllStar cast that was.  I remember replaying the VHS over and over again so I could stand in the mirror with my box braids and listen to the quote as I admire who and what I am–Phenomenal.  I researched the poem and found I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings I was instantly smitten with this woman.  She became my grandmother.  I had two, but she became my honorary grandma.  Wow.  Grandma Maya is gone.  It seems as though all of my generation-changers are leaving quick and in a hurry.  I know it has been over two years since the loss of Whitney–my AUNT Whitney–but, I still cry whenever I think of her.  I wish I could have reached out to her and hugged her and told her how much of a difference she makes in MY life.  I could care less about what the tabloids say she is.  I know her soul is more than a tabloid post.  I want to hold so many famed people–except Miley Cyrus–she needs a mother’s whoopin’!

I look at the clock on my monitor that reads 11:45.  Generally, I like to wait for Ms. Howell to return to the office before I step foot out.  I like to ensure that everything is done and she has everything right where she wants them to be.  So, I grab the mail from this morning and begin finishing sorting everything out.  Nothing exciting or new except for a few envelopes from various surrounding Court systems.  I stand up and begin to walk out of my office, past Salina, to put the mail in the brown, plastic memo and mail holder on Ms. Howell’s closed, wooden door. Salina has been awfully quiet today.

Hey Luvy, you okay?”  I ask as I take one step out of the office, drop the mail in and step back inside.

I’m good, I may need to take a few weeks off to get some things straightened in my life.  Things are just going on from every side and I simply must take a me moment and work on it.”  Salina says with watery eyes.

I can really tell that she is going through a difficult time.  She always comes to me when the time is right.  If she isn’t speaking up, now, something is dreadfully wrong.

You know I can’t live without you.” I say as I open my arms for her to stand up and come hug me.  As she walks up, the tears begin to fall.  I hug her and tell her that it is going to be okay.  Whatever it is.  In my gift, I can sense this feeling of departure.  Who comes BACK to the past once they have cleared issues in their life?  I hug her as if it is the last hug I will ever get.  Now, I’m crying with her.

Is there anything I can do?  I mean, can I make you laugh?  I will hug you until I hug the hurt away, I promise.  What babygirl, can I do?   I softly ask as I hug her while rocking back and forth.  The hardwood floor making its squeak, squeak with each rock.

She steps away, looks at me mustering up a smile and say, “You have done all you can.  You have done so much and I will never forget you.  I want to come back, but I will need time and I need to get some things straight in my life.  I can’t focus on home and work.  But, for now, one more hug, okay?”  She hugs me tighter than she’s ever hugged me before.  I once again, realize that, although we spend thirty-three percent or more of our day together, this job, this environment, this time is not our life.  The majority of us are living and enduring hardships here just in the mere hopes that we may have a better life when we leave these four walls.  We try the cliche “Leave your work at work and your home at home,” but who can ACTUALLY do that?  When I go to work, all my family has the direct number to my desk.  And even if they can’t reach me there, they are texting and/or calling me on my cell phone.  There is no escape from your outside world.  Jobs have become so “dog-eat-dog” and “crabs in a bucket” that employees are self-conscious about what they will have to face tomorrow at work.  It seems to never be a day’s rest or peace.  And business owners-true successful business owners–put in more hours than any standard 9-5.  Then, at that level, the business owner has multiple customers to deal with–multiple personalities, multiple budgets, multiple issues–multiplicity rules.

And here.  My baby sister in Christ.  Going through so much that she has to walk away.

I rub her head, caressing her long beautiful hair, as the loving “big sister” I am and squeeze her back–knowing that there is nothing else left for me to do.  So, I close my eyes, look up to heaven, open and them and mutter, “Lord, take care of your baby.”

I have no clue what I’m supposed to be thinking about.


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I really have to take something for my attention deficit.  Keith really looks on a mission, with something really on his mind when he comes in.  I can really tell that he is in to what he is saying, by his directing the mass choir hand movements flaring out of my peripheral, that he is authentically talking about something REALLY serious.  I continue to type frantically on all the Disbursement Summaries, letters to clients and attorneys and “In My Absence” instructions I am leaving for Salina.  My weekend begins tomorrow and I need no hiccups.  As busy as I look, Keith has literally sunk so comfortably in the chair in my office that he has his head is leaned back and resting at the top of the chair.  Unfortunately still, I continue to type away.  Most of these letters have become so second nature that I sometimes catch myself daydreaming and yet able to complete each task. Unfortunately, these are one of those times–occasionally adding an “uh huh” in there at each perfectly calculated moment for Keith’s satisfaction–never looking away from my monitor or lifting my hands.

Keith has the most beautiful teeth.  His smile is awesome.  I wonder what he brushes his teeth with.  What is this obsession I have with teeth?  I seriously need to seek help about this.  “UH-HUH,” I nod at my monitor in agreement and understanding to Keith’s babbling–I mean good conversation.  I wonder does he realize how much he actually moves his hands when he speaks.  Do ALL men move their hands like that?  I don’t think it’s normal for all men to do that.  Wait!  My dad has big hands and he moves his hands when he is reiterating a point.  Be sure to READ before you file to check where, in the file, it goes…(clickity, clickity, clickity, my keyboard sounds as I type away.)  But, then again, my dad has huge baseball glove-sized hands, and when he moves, all five fingers are spread and you subconsciously flinch occasionally because you aren’t quite sure if he is going to land one of those against you.  I shouldn’t say that.  My dad is such a teddy bear.  If you can get past the gruff exterior, you just wanna take him and squeeze him–So Lovable, My daddy….I wonder if I could….

So I can count on you to back me up with this, right?” Keith says, interrupting my thought process.  I want to say yes, but I really have no idea what he was saying.  So, I say the only sure-fit, never miss response.

You obviously feel very passionate about this.  Why not just go for yourself?  You don’t need MY blessing.  Y’all are going to stop using me.”  I stop there because I don’t want to say anything that will give any indication that I have no clue what the topic is, of this conversation.

Keith pauses and lets out a sigh.  “Why is it such a big deal for you to back me.  If you say it, Shondra will at least consider it.  Otherwise…

Let me think about it.” I say–shaking my head, but still never looking up from my monitor.  Keith stands up with a sigh of relief and walks out.

Poor little, big fella.  I have NO clue what it is that I am supposed to be thinking about.

Technology, Like Women, Must be Rubbed Before They Turn On


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I finally trudge my way to Mr. Howell’s office and stand, intentionally, just at the door not budging inward.

“Yes, Sir.” I say with the most disgust and annoyance anyone can utter–but with a smile, of course.  Again, I’m not even post-positive that Mr. Howell understands the magnitude of the needy odor that exudes from his body.

I can’t seem to turn on my computer.” Mr. Howell looks so helpless as he continues to push the on and off power button of his new Dell XPS Desktop.  He is pushing buttons and rocking it and hitting it on the side.  He is so frantic.

“Wait-a-minute!” I step in to the rescue.  I touch his hand sincerely and step beside him.  I have to remind myself that things that come easily to me, and seem second nature, are not necessarily so for others.  My duty as a human being is not to remind others how smart I am, but to encourage them to see the greatness within themselves.

“I’ve done everything I know how to do.  I’ve unplugged it and plugged it back in.  I’ve held the on and off switch.  I can hear it running, but it just will NOT turn on.  It’s as if there is some sort of disconnect.”  I really get no joy in mocking him when he is like this.  I’m accustomed to him calling me for utter nonsense, but computers are something that just doesn’t click for everyone.

I hear the computer running and I look up at the monitor.  The light is not on.  I rub my hand along the bottom of the monitor as if I am looking for a loose cord or something.  I allow my thumb to slightly, but without detection, push the power button on the monitor.  I then ask Mr. Howell to push the power button on the desktop tower.  When it comes on, I simply look at him and say “Technology is like women.  Sometimes they have to be rubbed in order to turn them on.” I give him a smile and touch his shoulder as I walk away and out of the office.

As I walk up the stairs, I feel a vibrating sensation from my hip.  I look at my phone and see a text from one of my best friends, Travis Bryant.  The concert is sold out.

I run up the stairs, hurry to my office and dial his number in a frantic.  “What do you MEAN they are sold out? I thought we agreed that we would buy the lawn tickets!”  This is the concert of the decade scheduled to take place at the Taliaferro County Amphitheater.  The concert will have Boy George, Debbie Gibson, Paula Abdul, and so many more classic ’80s groups and singers.  We have waited ALL year to see this.  Travis is married and his wife, Denise, is such an endearing, sweetheart.  She’s an introvert.  So, concerts are just not her immediate cup of tea.

“Yes, Luv! Sold out!.”  Travis is from Riverside, California.  He has been in Taliaferro for about 10 years.  He is a Thespian and we met and connected on the set of The Man Who Came to Dinner.  He played the flamboyant and outspoken Beverly, and I played the giggly, meddling Ms. Dexter.  We instantly clicked.  It was a friendship made in Heaven, crafted, molded and placed here on earth, just for us.

“You mean the GRASS is sold out!  What you are telling me, is that there is NO more room….on the GRASS!” I say in sarcastic disbelief.

” Yes, Honey.  NO grass room!” He belts back at me while laughing.  It is awesome when friends actually get you.  I mean, really get you and who you are about.  I am making jokes and laughing, but kind of down about missing the concert.  I have just started going out and I’m trying to have some place to go on a regular basis.  I live vicariously through my relationship with Travis.  He is married, yes, but Denise is not at ALL threatened by our friendship.  As she shouldn’t be.  Travis ADORES his Denise and I admire and love the way they love each other–would break the kneecaps of anyone who dares try to intervene.  I have stayed the night with Travis and Denise and have crawled in the bed between the both of them.  They are like my brother and sister.  When you truly understand the dynamics of a relationship, and you truly cherish what God has put into your life, you understand how wonderful it is and never want THAT to end.  Travis and I have gone out to dinner, we’ve gone to movies, plays and so much more.  As a matter of fact, my first date of choice, presently, is Travis.   He gets me and I never have to put up the relationship wall.  Since the concert is sold out, we have to now find some other alternative.  Just as I’m about to speak a come-back, I hear footsteps approaching. Keith is on his way in.

“Hey, Beautiful.” Keith sings to Salina as he walks by her desk and peeks his head into my office.

Never looking away from my computer monitor, and continuing to type this last letter, I acknowledge his presence at my door. “Yes, Keith.  What can I do you for?”

“You know I hate when you do that.” He murmurs as he walks completely in and plops into the brown, leather, over-sized chair in my room next to the lamp and the coffee table–also, two items acquired from the handy, local thrift store.  Despite Keith’s seemingly pompous attitude, my heart really goes out to him.  He is sorta like the one-hit wonder band who is always looking for that next hit.  Sure, he does get the occasional small personal-injury claim or the misdemeanor criminal court cases, but he is still seeking for that Top 10 thrill.  The problem with these bands is that they always appear as though they think they are more than they really are.  I see past all of that.  I know that no one has to tell him that he hasn’t had a big case in years.  I don’t have to tell him that his budget does not give him the option to shop at Ross for less, but his budget REQUIRES he does so.  I have grown as a person enough to realize that, when people are down and are going through, no one around them has to beat the “dead horse when it is down.”

I guarantee you that personal failures personally remind you of their existence, daily.

One Day I’m Going to Write a Book


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Flush! Rattle, Rattle, Rattle.  Click-Squeak! 

My office sits directly above the men’s bathroom.  Therefore, I am the first point of contact whenever anyone is experiencing a bowel movement crisis.  In addition, because the smell instantly travels up through stainless steel pipes and seeps through the hardwood floors, I receive the first smell-ification that the crisis is over.  I swear the smells sometime come into my office like smoke signals.  From the adjoining room, I hear the Febreeze being sprayed.  Being that Salina’s office is attached to my office, she is also attached to the unpleasantries.  Beep!  My intercom sounds from an inter-office call.

Ms. James.  Can you please come down to my office?” Mr. Howell asks.

Because…” I beep in to his intercom and ask.

“Because (he rings back) I need for you to take a look at something.”

I get up from my desk.  Roll my eyes, shaking my head at Salina who is hovered over, holding her stomach, quietly laughing out loud as I drag by and walk out of the door to begin my walk of doom.

Mr.  Howell really is not a horrible man.  His main issue is that of insecurity between he and his wife and his dire desperation for attention. I’ve never wanted a man like that or any friend around like that for that matter.  I kind of understand.  Sure.  Ms. Howell is the most sought after attorney is South Georgia.  Sure.  Ms. Howell is the HOTTEST attorney and winner of Ms. Taliaferro 2003. But, to give Mr. Howell credit, HE was the one who fathered the now-illegitimate, secret-not-so-secret son.  They say a baby will sometimes save a marriage.  I suppose they meant when you have a baby WITHIN the marriage–with each other.  The child accomplished Mr. Howell’s goal, though.  Mr. Howell wanted more attention from Ms. Howell–he darn sure got her attention.  She watches him day and night.  And, since she makes the money and controls the money, and is paying the child support for the little bundle of joy, MISTER Howell makes no move without the prior consent and authorization of MISSUS Howell.

I day, I’m going to write a book about my life in this office.


She Been Drankin’


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Click! Click! Click! On my way up to my office, I hear the front door open.  As I look over the Victorian cherry oak balcony that curves from top to the bottom step like that of Gone with the Wind, I see a disarrayed, but beautifully familiar face.  She stood about 5’4,” slender, but not lanky.  She had dark features with honey-ombre hair.  I look at my Bulova watch my daddy got me years ago for Christmas.  I have had this watch for so long that the center diamondoid just above the 12 o’clock has fallen out.  I have yet to replace it and I don’t really think I ever will.

Good Morning, Sunshine!” I say in my chipper, energetic tone!

“Good Morning, Ms. James.”  Salina blurts back with a smile and just as much enthusiasm as I tossed her way.  Salina Chavez and I have an awesome relationship.  I really don’t hound her about punching her time card (although, today, she was there by 11 o’clock, which has to be a month’s best).  It is hard being a single mom of one–Salina is a single mother of two.  Her oldest child is a little boy just turning three years old.  Now, Salina has just had her second child–a little girl.  Both are my god-children.  Salina and I went down, together, to have birth control inserted.  Nothing is 100%, but at least we can increase the odds in our favor.  With her current situation in mind, I allow her schedule to be more flexible.  I refuse to punish her based upon her mistakes.  it is hard enough to get adults to run like clock-work.  It’s darn-near impossible to get babies to.  So, I trust her on her own honor to ensure that I get my 40-hour work week from her.  She has been faithful and true for the past 3 years.  I refuse to let her go now.

Salina runs up the stairs to catch up with me. “How’s everything going? Where’s the boss lady?” she asks in an out of breath voice.

Without looking up and still sorting mail on my way down the hall to my office, I reply “The boss lady isn’t here.  We know this because the boss man isn’t doing any work.

“You mean he actually WORKS when she is here?”  Salina said sarcastically.  We both let out a chuckle and continued to our respective offices.  Salina’s office is not so much an office as it is the vestibule of my office.  In order for me to enter, or leave, my office, I must venture by Salina’s desk.  Salina is still considered a new mom.  However, she loves her children.  Her office is decorated with family-of-three photos in collages all over the walls.  Periodically, you can pass by her desk and see a withered dandelion her son has picked for her and given to her.  She places it on her desk as if it was a bouquet of fresh-cut, long-stem roses.  I think that is why I adore her so.  We have the heart that cherishes the little things in life–the free, thought-gifts are far more priceless and valued than diamonds picked up along the way.

Ring! Ring!  

Howell, Howell, Keith and Knotch.”  Salina answered the phone. “Uh huh.  Yes.  Ms. Howell is unavailable at the..Yes..”  Whomever is calling is really giving Salina the what-for.  “I’m sorry, Ms. Miller, Ms. Howell is not in at the moment.  I will give her your message.  Can you please give me your number?” pause “Was it male or female? Okay, that was Ms. James.  Wait.  Let me check. (paper rustling) I have your message right here.  I will be sure she gets it as soon as she gets…Uh huh.  Yes, Ma’am.  I promise I will. Yes Ms. Miller.  Yes..okay.  Bye Bye.”  Salina places the phone on its base and sighs.  I can hear her chair move, so I know what is about to happen.

I stop typing and look up awaiting Salina to enter my office. Salina stands in the door and stares at me with a look of total bewilderment.  I look at her.

“Ms. Miller sounds like she’s been drankin’ don’t she?


I can’t miss my Soap Operas


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Ring! Ring! You’ve GOT to be kidding me.  It’s not like Mr. Howell is so busy as the most overpaid phone operator in the history of mankind, but the phone literally reverberates throughout the entire building.  So, I know he has to hear it in the office with him.  Ring!  Son of a..

Good Morning.  Howell, Howell, Keith and Knotch.  This is Dan….”  

This is your local Google listing” The automated voice recorder responds.  CLICK!  I hang up in such a disgust that I actually am kind of apologetic to Carol (or so I’ve named her) the local Google voice robotic operator.  By this time, I simply MUST go see what the urgency is going on downstairs that Mr. Howell, the next in line for phone duty after Salina, is not answering the phone.  I KNOW I didn’t miss the rapture, because I’m post-positive Mr. Howell won’t beat me there. How judgmental of me to think that.  That spider sure got me in a crappy mood this morning–Sneaky little bastard!  I click, click, click my way down the hall, clearly notifying everyone below that Atila the Hun is vastly approaching.  Now, I already make Boom-Boom, Pow music when I walk–thanks to the wonderful helping of junk in my trunk inherited from my mom, accompanied by the stallion-like thick, strong thighs–thanks to my dad.  So, when I walk–and I’m on a mission and I’m on these aged, old hardwood floors, I sound like an earthquake’s a’coming.

When I reach the bottom step, I hear two male voices–giggling and cackling like two hens in a hen house.  I lean my head back and let out a disgusted sigh.  I knew I shouldn’t have come down here.  I claim to have the “gift” of foresight.  Why didn’t my “gift” foresee me staying upstairs in my office.  Since I’m downstairs, I’m already committed.  So, I paint on my smile, accessorize it with “Sunshine” charm and prance my way into the office.

“Good Morning, Ms. Amoureaux!”  The voice is a high-pitched, scratchy squeal of a voice and that of our beloved neighborhood mailman, and the only person still allowed to call me by my former, married name, Nathaniel Amos, Sr.  Last year, Mr. Amos lost his wife of 46 years to colon cancer.  He hasn’t completely been right ever since.  He is such a sweetheart.  I simply adore him.  Mr. Amos stands about 6’1″ tall.  He has almond brown skin, more-salt than pepper hair–all of which is on his face and none on his head.  I’m assuming the remainder of the hair that fell from his head, and missed his face, ultimately landed on his chest.  I gathered this because of the massive bouquet of whiskers peeking out from the two loosened, top buttons of his blue, freshly dry-cleaner crisp mail shirt.  He has about ten teeth, total.  This includes top AND bottom, and when he laughs, the world can see all ten at once.  I’m sure, with his charm, in his yester-years, he had no problem reeling in the ladies.

“Good Morning, Papa Amos.” I say as I reach down to give him a hug.  He is seated in his usual, rugged, green leather chair, next to the door in Mr. Howell’s office. The chair doesn’t really go with anything, but it was a gift from Ms. Howell–odd gift, but a gift nonetheless.  I have affectionately called Mr. Amos “Papa” every since I have known him–which is since I was a child.  He delivered the mail to my mom’s consignment store located in the square.

“And how are you, today?”  He sounds JUST like how Santa Clause would sound and has a twinkle in his eye that gleams with loneliness, love and sincerity all at once.

“Why, MAH-velous, of course!”  I sing back to him.

Papa Amos has our mail in his hand and, as I look over at the floor to the right of his chair, I notice that he also still has his big blue bag,  full of mail that is yet to be delivered for the day.  Our office is the first delivery on his daily route.  Every day, Mr. Amos spends, on average, a minimum of 45 minutes sitting, chatting and laughing it up with Mr. Howell.  Thus, drastically delaying the remainder of the mail delivery.  This does not include the lunch-time soap, line-up of The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.  I have repeatedly tried to get Papa Amos to set his DVR to record, but he says watching the DVR is like watching reruns and it’s not as real as watching the same show.  Plus, he says he is scared of going in to make a delivery, they have the soaps on their television and he sees part of it, spoiling the rest of the show and therefore, the entire episode.

Papa. Any mail for me?”  I ask, knowing the answer.

I ALWAYS have something for you, Suga.” I love it when he flirts, it’s just so cute and creepy all at the same time.  He hands me the mail and I begin to sort through the mail.  Mail sorting was once Mr. Howell’s duty.  However, after opening a property tax statement that mentioned a beach house in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that Mr. Howell was not aware of, Ms. Howell placed mail assortment under my list of “things to do.”  I collect the mail and head out of Mr. Howell’s office and back up stairs.

Mr. Howell did not look at me the entire time I was in his office.  He knew I did not come down there for the mail.

Now, what’s that number again?


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Now that the spider fiasco of 2014 has subsided, I suppose it is time for me to actually do some work.  Time I lay my purse down, the phone rings.  Ring!  Now, I am the Paralegal.  The phone chain of command is my assistant, Salina Chavez.  Salina has been late so many times, with so many additional early check-outs, that we have stopped scheduling her by the hours and instead schedule her by the days.  So, as long as she gives me 6 hours a day, I could care less if she shows up before Dae-Dae’s bed time—I want my 6 hours.  She’s just so good.  I finally have someone trained who knows I like extra mayonnaise on my chicken salad sandwich.  I can’t let her go.  But, either way, Salina, then Mr. Howell, then me.  Ring! Not that I mind answering the phone, or that I am too good for phone-duty, my theory is that some of the calls need screening.  There is nothing Mr. Howell cannot handle on an average day-to-day basis.  I am the problem resolver.  That’s my lane.  I drive it daily, keeping my hands at 10-2 and watch my rearview and side mirrors for oncoming traffic.  Ring!  Now, it is almost like the phone is practically screaming my name. 

“Howell, Howell, Keith and Knotch, this is Danni, I can help you.”  I’m rolling my eyes with a smile in my voice. 

“Hallo,” the voice belts back.

“Good morning.  Howell, Howell, Keith and Knotch.  This is Danni, I can help you.”  By this time, I’m practically singing the lyrics to the one-hit wonder song “Howell, Howell, Keith and Knotch.”  By the “Hallo,” on the other end, I can already deem this conversation is not going to go as educated as I would like.

“Hallo! i’ Mi’ Hah’ll ther’?  the voice responds

OMG!  Amazing!  It has to be a gift to be able to speak without EVER ending any of your words.  Yet, I can vaguely decipher to whom the caller is referring.  I feel like a Facebook post—“if you can read this, you are brighter than 82% of the population.”

Um. Ms. (I stress the z in Ms.) How-well (and yes, I separated the two syllables) is not in at the moment, would you like to leave a message?” I know I could have spoken faster; Nope! Not today.

“Yeah, uhhhh…di’ Caretta Milla.  Can you tell ha to cawl me when she git een? Ma num’ fo oh fo…pause… se’n three fo…pause… nine eight sis fah.” 

I can tell she is really struggling trying to remember her phone number. Is she looking it up on her phone?  I can’t take it.  So, I help her.  My pleasure, doll.  So that’s Coretta Miller at four zero four, se-Ven, three fouR, nine eight siX fiVeh?” My voice and diction teacher would be so proud of me right now.  I was catching a cramp in my mouth trying to pronounce every consonant and every vowel that had a voice.

“Yeah. Dank’ya.” Click.  The phone hangs up. 

Interesting.  That didn’t sound like Coretta.


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