Authors: Neicey Ford
“DJ! Where are your business cards?”
“Look in my office on the second shelf,” he replied.
I found them. Are you ready? We have thirty minutes to get you to the airport.”
“I’m waiting on you.”
Denise ran down one side of the split staircase.
“You’re wearing that to the office?”
“What’s wrong with it?” She asked surveying her attire.
“Nothing’s wrong with it. I just don’t see you wearing jeans and
polos to work that often.”
“Well, today is a special day. I’m actually having an employee appreciation cookout.”
“Denise, you don’t know how to handle a grill.”
“Ugh! I’m insulted,” she said placing her hand over her heart.
“Whatever. You want me to call dad and have him come thru and grill? You know he’ll do it.”
“I can’t believe you don’t have faith in me and my grill skills.”
“I’m calling dad,” he laughed.
“You suck all the fun out of life. I’ma hurry up and get you to the airport,” she joked.
“It’s okay because you’ll be the first one missing me while I’m gone.”
“Oh, hush! Come on here!
We have to be on the 112 by 12!” She yelled as she playfully slapped him on the forearm.
“We could’ve taken my car.”
“You must have gas today.”
“The same gas you put in it the other day.”
“Figures.” Denise shook her head. “So, how you feel about your meeting today?”
“I feel really good. I have everything I need in my bag and briefcase.”
“I’m so excited for you and I can’t wait to hear all about it when you get home tomorrow.”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“I forgot to pick up my tux for the party.”
“Don’t worry about it.
Either myself or Helen will pick it up for you. I gotcha’ covered.”
“Thank you,” DJ sighed.
Denise pulled over to the curbside.
“I love you, have a safe flight and I’ll see you when you get back.”
“I love you, too.”
He leaned over and gave her a sensual kiss before grabbing his bags from the back seat.
DJ waved as the automatic doors opened then closed behind him.
pulled off, merging onto the interstate and into traffic, she smiled.
We are truly living out our dreams. This is freakin’ amazing!
later her phone rang. She answered via speaker phone.
“You miss me already?” She questioned.
“I missed you once I got out of the car. You almost at the office?”
“No, I have to stop at Publix’s first and pick up
“You’re really serious about this grilling thing aren’t you?”
“Why wouldn’t I be? You really don’t think I know how to grill, do you?”
“I know you can, baby. I was playing with you;
, I also know there are some articles that need to be finished.”
“I’m going to finish them, DJ.”
She didn’t answer
“That’s what I thought. We have the
party tomorrow, then next week’s schedule is as busy as this week’s. So, I’ve called dad. He’s going to meet you at the office.”
“DJ!” Denise whined.
“DJ nothing. He’s already in route. I’ll call him and let him know you’re stopping at the store first, but you’ll be there shortly. Okay?”
“Okay,” she sighed.
“I’m only doing it because I love you and I need you to finish those articles.”
“You’re welcome. Okay, well they’re boarding my flight. I’ll talk with you later. Be careful.”
“You too, baby.”
After leaving Publix, Denise headed to the office. When she arrived she noticed DJ’s dad on the side of the building in the courtyard. She parked in the garage and carried the bags inside.
“Good morning baby.”
“Good morning, daddy. You know you didn’t have to come down.”
“Well, D called and asked if I’d do him a favor and I said yes. So, here I am,” he responded, taking the bags from her hands.
Keisha pressed the buzzer
as Denise and Mr. Chatman approached the glass door.
“Good morning,” Keisha said.
“Good morning,” they replied.
“What brings you to South Beach, Mr. Chatman?”
“My daughter needed me so I had to come,” he laughed.
“Oh, my! What have you done this time, Mrs. Chatman?”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“It’s not what she’s done, it’s what she was about to do
“Oh, so what were you
about to do
“I wanted to surprise you guys by showing you my appreciation for all of your hard work. So, I stopped by Publix and grabbed a few things to throw on the grill.”
“You were going to grill?”
Mr. Chatman snickered before placing his hand over his mouth to contain the rest of his laughter.
“You know what!” Denise exclaimed. “I don’t have to take this treatment. I can grill.”
“Baby, nobody said you couldn’t grill.
D wanted you to work on some kind of articles. He said you had some deadlines to meet. That’s all,” Mr. Chatman said while heading toward the break room.
“Come on now. You need to show me what all’s going on the grill and where the seasonings and stuff are.”
Denise shook her head.
“You have a good husband, Mrs. Chatman. He was looking out for your best interest.”
“I know. I just don’t want anybody down playing my skills. I’m not new to this, Keisha.”
“I believe you, Mrs. Chatman.”
“Baby, come on now! The grill is ready to go.”
“Hold all my calls for the next hour
This is pure comedy.
Denise walked into the break room. Mr. Chatman stood at the table, removing the contents from the bags.
“Are you cooking all of this?”
“Yes, sir. I have
fourteen employees and every last one of them can eat.”
“Well, this is definitely enough to feed a tribe or two.”
“So, the seasonings are in this cabinet here,” she said, pulling open a door above the countertop. “Then I brought some aluminum pans last week and they’re down here,” she pointed.
Thank you. I think I got it now. You go finish your articles. I should be finished by lunch time.”
Denise sighed. “Thanks, daddy.”
“You’re welcome, baby. Go on now! Get out of the kitchen.”
Denise left the room and headed towards her office.
“Keisha, there’s a catering service that should be here around noon to deliver the sides. I’ve already paid for it. Will you make sure they leave me a receipt?”
“I’ll be in my office if you need me.”
Denise sat down at her desk and opened the article she had begun for Essence,
When Love Doesn’t Love You Back
. As thoughts became words and words developed into sentences, Denise pecked away at the keyboard. A few hours later she had finished all of her submissions. She opened Outlook and began to compose an email which read:
Good morning Rosemarie,
I hope this email reaches you in good health and good spirit.
I have to admit that these were some of the most difficult submissions ever! I truly hope you and the readers enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Blessings & love,
She attached the Word.doc then hit send.
Thank You, Jesus
, she thought as she exhaled.
Denise scanned through her inbox deciding to
read and respond to any emails that required her attention. As she was reading, the phone rang.
Enterprises, Denise speaking.”
od morning, Denise this is Ted.”
“Hey, Ted. How’s it going?”
“All is well on my end. I wanted to touch base with you to let you know that I’ve set up those interviews. I spoke with Keisha and she confirmed the dates.”
“Good! I’m excited and can’t wait. Thank you for
setting them up so quickly.”
“It wasn’t a problem. I know you’re trying to get this project
off the ground.”
“Well, I appreciate it. I’m sure Keisha will
forward me the information soon. I’ll take a look at it and get back with you if there’s anything else I need.”
“You’re more than welcome and thank you, Ted. Talk with you soon.”
Denise looked at the clock display on her monitor.
DJ should be touching down in New York soon.
A smile encompassed her face.
She swiveled back and forth in the chair with her hands clasped underneath her chin.
Picking up the phone she asked, “How are things looking?”
r dad is amazing. I believe he’s almost finished. He came up and got the last tray about thirty minutes ago,” Keisha replied.
Has the caterer been here yet?”
am, I had them place the food in the break room. They’re sitting on the countertop in chaffing dishes.”
“Good. Okay, I guess if you want to make an announcement to meet in the break room, I’ll run downstairs and check on daddy, and then we can eat.”
Denise stood up from her chair and headed for the courtyard. Daddy was reclined back in a chair and drinking a bottled water.
“You look comfortable.”
“I am. I’m just about finished. I have the last of the meat on the grill now. Did you get your articles done?”
Yep. They’re done and emailed. Thank you. Thank you for everything,” Denise said bending down and kissing him on the cheek.
“You’re welcome. Anytime you need me, you know all you have to do is ask.”
“I know daddy. Well, I’m going back up here because everyone should be in the break room waiting. You are staying to eat, right?”
“No, I can’t stay, but I’ll take a plate to go.
Your uncle and I are supposed to finish up a painting job today. So, if you have enough maybe I can take him a plate too.”
. That’s the least I can do.”
“Thanks baby. Have you heard from
D yet? Has he made it to New York?”
“His flight should’ve landed about twenty minutes ago. I
figured he’d call when he got settled.”
“Yea, I’m sure he will. Well, you go on up and I’ll see you in a minute.”
“Thanks again, daddy. You’re a lifesaver.”
Denise wrapped her arms around his neck before going inside.
“Happy Friday all!”
“Happy Friday!” They all yelled back.
“I’m not going to take up too much of your time, but I do have a few words I’d like to say to you. First, I’d like to start by telling you guy’s thanks for all of your hard work. You have gone above and beyond the call of faithful employees. Without murmuring or complaining, at least not to me,” she
winked, “you do anything I ask you to do and I appreciate it. This cookout is a simple token of my appreciation and I hope you enjoy it. Also, if you would be so kind as to thank my father-in-law when he comes up I’d greatly appreciate it. He has been slaving over those hot coals all morning.”
“The food smells delicious. Thank you, Mrs. Chatman,” Sarah said.
“You are more than welcome. Keisha also has one more thing for you guys and she’ll give it to you by the end of the day. Enjoy your lunch and thank you again.”
DJ grabbed his carryon bag and briefcase then departed the plane. He turned on his phone as he took the escalator down to the baggage claim area of LaGuardia airport. A muscular built man wearing all black, standing about 6”9 stood holding a sign which read: MR. DJ CHATMAN. DJ made eye contact with the man as he got closer. His shoes had a shine that you could literally see your reflection in.
“Good morning, Mr. Chatman. Right this way,” the driver said as he lowered the sign and turned to exit out the revolving doors. “How was your flight?”
The driver opened the door
, took DJ’s bag and placed it in the trunk.
“The flight was
a breeze. I slept right through it. I’m so used to flying now that they rarely bother me anymore.”
replied before getting in the car.
“I’m sorry, but what is your name?”
“Pardon me. I’m Stephen.” He turned around with his hand extended.
“Well, thank you so much Stephen for picking me up this aft
ernoon. I really appreciate it,” he said with a firm shake.
Stephen pulled off and into traffic as they headed up the Deegan.
“You’re more than welcome sir. Do you visit New York often?”
“Actually, I do. I d
o a lot of work out of New York so I have a little spot in the city.”
“Oh, really? What kind of work do you do, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I’m a music producer.”
Gotcha. That explains my reason for taking you to Quest Records.”
DJ unlocked his iPhone. “Call Denise,” he spoke.
“Hi beautiful. How’s your day going?”
“It’s great! Daddy grilled and everything was perfect. Thank you.”
“You’re more than welcome. Did you finish your articles?”
“Yep. I finished and emailed
them to Rosemarie. Now, I can finish up this book.”
“What about the speaking engagement?”
“I’m going to work on something in case I’m able to take it; however, the book is my first priority.”
“I thought I was your first priority.”
“Awe, you are sweetheart.”
Well, I’m glad to hear that. Well, I’m in the car on my way to the label. I just wanted to call and check on you before things got too hectic.”
“I appreciate that. I’m so excited. Make sure you call me when you get in tonight and call daddy, too. He asked me had I heard from you yet.”
“I’ll call him when I finish.”
“I’m proud of you and I pray everything goes well.”
“Thank you, baby. Talk to you soon.”
“Okay. I love you.”
“Love you too.” DJ smiled then exhaled as he ended the call. He looked out the window at the high rise buildings.
This is it
“Mr. Chatman,” Stephen stated before opening the door.
“Thanks Stephen,” DJ replied handing him a folded bill.
sir. They’ll call me when you’re ready to be picked up.”
as he grabbed his briefcase. “See you in a few.”
Oh, and good luck again.”
DJ took a deep breath, exhaled and then walked up the steps and through the glass door.
“Pardon me. I have a
3 o’clock appointment with Mrs. Scott.”
The receptionist looked down at her book.
“Right this way, Mr. Chatman.”
DJ followed the receptionist down a long corridor. She knocked on a cherry oak door before being instructed to enter.
“Mr. Chatman,” she presented.
“Good. Let him in and thank you, Regina.”
She nodded, stepped aside and allowed DJ to enter.
“Thank you,” he said.
“You’re more than welcome,” she replied before shutting the door behind him.
“Have a seat Mr. Chatman.”
DJ sat in the chair located in front Mrs. Scott’s desk. She was a thin lady with long, straight, black hair. She sat confidently in her ruby colored suit. Her fingernails were freshly manicured and she wore a faint amount of makeup. He placed his briefcase on the floor beside him.
“So, tell me a little bit about yourself, your project and what you can offer Quest Records.”
With confidence, but not sounding cocky, DJ began. “Mrs. Scott, I’ve been in the business for over ten years. I started as a deejay then maneuvered into radio. I deejay independently, and currently work for a very highly respected hip hop pioneer. I’m a producer; managing several artists and looking to step out on faith to launch my own record label. Now, what I have to offer Quest is experience coupled with the ability to market and sell a product and/or artist that has the right amount of appeal, uniqueness and talent.”
Mrs. Scott nodded.
“I have an ear for what’ll sell and the ability to create what the industry wants to hear. Though the industry is updating their business techniques some things are still 101…basic. I don’t make promises that I can’t keep and I work as hard for my artists as they work to achieve success. Here’s my resume,” DJ said pulling a folder from his briefcase. “Now, that I’ve introduced myself and explained what I can do for Quest; I’d like to tell you what I want Quest to do for me.”
squinted, folded her arms across her chest and sat back in the chair. “You have my attention, Mr. Chatman.”
Stephen stood at the passenger door as DJ walked out with a pleasant smile on his face.
“I take it the meeting went well,
DJ nodded. “It
couldn’t have gone any better if I wanted it to.”
Forty minutes later t
hey pulled up in front of the apartment and Stephen popped the trunk.
“Well, Mr. Chatman
, enjoy your stay.”
“Thank you. You take care and be careful.” He shook Stephen’s hand, placing another folded bill inside
“You don’t have to do this, Mr. Chatman. The one time was enough.”
“I do,” DJ insisted. “God willing I’ll see you soon.”
carried his bag up the steps and into the apartment. He locked the door and then walked over to the couch, falling backward and looking up at the ceiling.
Thank You, Jesus
DJ reached inside of his pocket and pulled out his cell phone.
“Hey D!” Mr. Chatman said excitedly.
“Hey dad. Just wanted to call to let you know I made it to the apartment.”
“Okay, good. So, how’d the meeting go?”
“It went rather well. I was quite pleased. I don’t think she was expecting everything I gave her, but that’s cool. The element of surprise,” he laughed.
“Okay, okay,” Mr. Chatman laughed. “I’m sure it’s going to work out for you.”
“I’ve prayed about it and
let it go. I know God won’t finish what we don’t start. My part is done.”
“I hear ya’
“So, how’d the bar-b-que turn out?”
“It was good. Denise had it arranged nicely. She really goes all out when it comes to her employees.”
“Yeah, that’s my baby. She loves her job and the people she has working for her.
Thanks for going over there on such short notice. I really appreciate it.”
man. I got me and your uncle a plate. We’re over here at Mr. Chisolm’s painting, afterwards we’re gonna head over to the house and drink a few beers.”
Well, I’m gonna let you go and I’ll talk to you later. Fatigue is setting in and I feel my eyes getting heavy.”
“Get you some rest and I’ll talk to you later. Love you, son.”
“Love you too, dad. In a minute.”
DJ closed his eyes for a quick second before the phone began to ring again. Without looking at
the display, he answered.
“D, it’s Kane. I’m in trouble man and I need your help,” he said frantically.
DJ sat up quickly.
“Kane, calm down. What’s going on?”
“I should’ve listened to you man, but I needed
Man, what happened?”
“I took the money that I had and bought a
pie. When I was pulling off the narcs cornered me at the light.”
“What! Where are you?”
“I’m at the crib.”
“At the crib? How are you at the crib if you got caught with a
“That’s the thing.
You know Lo is like my brother, but I had this feeling that something wasn’t right. I paid for it then told him I’d be back later ‘cause I had a few corners to turn. He kept insisting that I take it then, but I was like, ‘yo, I’ma come back in a couple hours.’ That’s when I left and the narcs hemmed me up.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, man. I think dude tried to get me on. Narcs were mad as hell because they had to let me go. Damn!”
Kane, do you realize how blessed you are right now? You could be sitting in a jail cell waiting to be seen before a judge. I told you. Everybody who’s with you ain’t always for you.”
“I know I was lucky.”
“There’s a difference between luck and a blessing. You were blessed!”
“Blessed? I was blessed? I lost all the money I had to my name!”
“Dishonest money disappears, Kane. You know that.”
He snickered. “I called you thinking you’d be willing to help, but I see this is about to turn into a sermon.”
“I can’t help if you aren’t willing to be patient and trust in God. I told you not to do it, but you did anyways. You’re not my child, Kane. I can’t hold your hand through life and I won’t babysit you to make sure you stay on the straight and narrow. You made your own decision and therefore have to deal with the consequences of your own actions. You’re not getting any pity from me because at some point in life you have to start taking responsibility for
and your choices. When you know better you do better and when you want something different you’ll do something different. In a minute.”
DJ disconnected the call, closed his eyes and went to sleep.
Several hours later he awoke to banging at the front door. He jumped up from the couch.
“Who is it?”
“Yo, D! It’s Roe. Open the door man!”
DJ looked through the peephole then slowly opened the door. “Why are you banging on the door like the police, Roe?” He asked calmly.
“Man, I gotta use your bathroom, real bad.”
DJ stepped aside. Roe ran down the hallway, tossing his backpack to the floor.
up my toilet, courtesy flush and SPRAY!”
DJ picked up his cell phone, scrolling through text messages and missed calls.
Man, I’ve been sleep for awhile
He listened to a couple of voice messages then called Denise.
“I thought you ran away and forgot all about me,” she said after answering the phone.
“I couldn’t forget about you even if I tried. I called myself taking a quick nap, but slept longer than I
anticipated. Roe woke me up banging on the door.”
“Roe? I thought he was in Florida.”
“Whatever he was working on must not have fallen through so he came back to New York. How was the rest of your day?”
“It was well. Everyone was appreciative of the gift cards and lunch. I left a lot of food at the office and told facilities they could either take it home or I’d have
Keith take it to the shelter.”
“That’s a good idea. Well, I can’t wait to get home to you tomorrow. I miss you.”
“Awe, I miss you, too. When you get home we need to meet. We need to discuss our next moves
we still have to reschedule with the producer.”
“Okay, love. As soon as I get home we can sit down and go over all of that.”
“Ugh,” Roe grunted.
run the water!” DJ yelled.
“Who are you talking to?” Denise asked.
“Roe’s in there tearing up my bathroom. Dang!”
Denise laughed. “Well, I’m going to let you go. I’m looking over the menu and invoices for the party and I was on a roll. Will you call me when you and Roe finish?”