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In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) - Literature - Nairaland

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The Dog Attendant (T. D. A) [COUNTLESS Part 2]. A story By Darousmart Emmanuel. / The Enemy Within - A Tale Of Love, Lust And Betrayal / Adaobi (A Story Of Love, Romance And Adventure) (2) (3) (4)

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In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 2:31pm On Apr 27, 2017
Yes am here again. I won't be dropping it everyday it's as the spirits leads. So let's come along and enjoy the drive. Evajael,Stephengee12, creeza, missrelly,etc my brain is drained now sorry for not mentioning your name y'all are invitee for the thrills and twist of this story.


" In a sense we have come to our nation's capital
to cash a check. When the architects of our
republic wrote the magnificent words of the
Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,
they were signing a promissory note to which
every American was to fall heir. This note was a
promise that all men, yes, black men as well as
white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable
rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have a Dream"

Memphis, Tennessee, August 28, 1963
"Marcus, there's no place to sit," Rob grumbles,
peering into the dimly-lit elementary school

It is a sea of people, some talking excitedly,
some sitting quietly in metal folding chairs,
pensive, lost in thought. Waiting anxiously.

Rob scans the crowd, his eyes dancing
across the myriad shades of brown in their
faces, ranging from tawny sand to the deepest
mahogany. Here and there sit a few pale,
peachy-pink faces, but the crowd is largely

"So we stand," Marcus shrugs, looking casually
around. "Gareth said he was coming; I don't
see him… Wait, there's Aaron. I know him, come
on," Marcus tugs Rob's jacket sleeve and they
weave their way through the crowd towards
Marcus's friend.

"I don't understand why we can't just watch this
on TV at home," Rob mutters, and Marcus
shushes him.

As they make their way through the throng,
Rob is expecting to get strange looks, maybe
even accusatory stares. I was afraid that I would
feel like the enemy here, but everyone seems…
accepting. They're looking, but not staring.

"Aaron!" Marcus exclaims, tapping a very short,
very slender black man on the shoulder.

"Hey, Marcs, what's shakin', Irish?" Aaron says
brightly, holding his palm out flat.

Marcus slaps it, then clasps his hand briefly.

"Thought we'd come out and join the party," he
says. "This is my friend, Rob."

"Hey, Robbie, nice to meet ya," Aaron greets him,
and Marcus chuckles as he watches Rob try
not to bristle at being called "Robbie."

"Good to meet you, too, Aaron. I, um, prefer
Rob, though." He shakes the small man's
hand warmly and smiles equally warmly, to
soften the blow.

"Ain't no thing, man, just keepin' it loose," Aaron

"Have you seen Gareth?" Merlin asks.

"Naw, man, he ain't gon' be here. He won't
close up his place," Aaron laughs.

"He said he was coming," Marcus mumbles,
hugging the wall briefly as a young couple
squeezes past him, muttering their "excuse
me"s as they pass.

"Shut up, the lights are going down," Rob
prods Marcus, and they attempt to get
comfortable in the back corner of the crowded

NB:the more comment the more i post.

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Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 2:36pm On Apr 27, 2017
"He is so inspirational," Lori whispers to her brother in the dim, tears shining in her eyes as she watches the broadcast, Dr. King's face on the screen of a large television on a cart positioned at the front of the gym.

"Yeah," her brother agrees, glancing at her rapt face with its shining eyes. "I just hope important people are listening. Really listening."

"Me, too."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Elliot hears his sister's breathing hitch into a quiet sob. She is crying now, and she is not alone. Lori reaches into her purse and withdraws a handkerchief, nothing more than a small square of white linen with a L embroidered on the corner by her own hand, and dabs her eyes. Elliot puts his arm around his sister.

"I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."

"You're thinking about your students, ain't ya?"

Elliot leans over and whispers in her ear. Lori nods, dabbing both her eyes and nose now.

"That's all I want for any of them. To grow up knowing that they matter," she says, her voice shaky.

"They know they matter. You tell them they do," he reassures her. "You are the best kindergarten teacher at this school, Lori. At any school, black or white."

"Thanks," she sniffs.

They sit quietly for a bit, listening to the speech, punctuated from time to time with various outbursts from the crowd, ranging from quiet "Mmm-hmm"s to shouts of "Preach it, Dr. King!"

"And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"

The crowd erupts as one, rising to their feet, cheering, applauding, whistling, hugging everyone around them. TBC


Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by EvaJael(f): 4:16pm On Apr 27, 2017
Am here...following you bumper to bumper

1 Like

Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 9:17pm On Apr 27, 2017

"Wow," Rob says, walking out of the school.

"I know, it was brilliant, right?" Marcus says, bumping into his friend as someone brushes past him.

"You were right. It was better watching it that way than at home, alone."

"Told you."

"That was the best speech I've ever heard, Marcus. It wasn't even a speech. It was a…"

"A sermon," Marcus supplies.

"Yeah. Hell, if I could orate like that, I would never lose a case," Rob says.

" That's what hit you?" Marcus asks, incredulous.

He stops, looking right and left. "Where the bloody hell did I put my car?"

"I knew I shouldn't've let you drive," Rob mutters. He grabs Marcus's elbow and tugs left.

"And yes, I got the message he was layin' down.

I'm just sayin' he was a really powerful speaker and I wish I was that good."

"He's had more experience," Marcus laughs, dropping behind Rob as their path narrows again.

"Well, I was payin' attention to more than just his words, I tell you what," Rob says, turning and looking back over his shoulder at Marcus rather than looking forward. "I learned a lot more than you did, I guaran—oof!"

Rob stops short, feeling something small and soft collide with his chest and then disappear.

"Oh, Lord, I'm so sorry, miss, here, let me help you!" he exclaims, reaching his hand down to the petite woman whom he has just toppled. She had just come around the corner as Rob reached it, not paying the least bit of attention.

"Ow," she mutters, lifting her arm to inspect her elbow. There's a scrape that will very likely be joined by a bruise by morning. "Thanks," she looks up at the man she ran into, slightly surprised to see a handsome, blonde-haired, blue-eyed man looking down at her, his face a mask of worry and remorse. She puts her purse strap back up on her shoulder, places her small hand in his, and he helps her to her feet. She smoothes her skirt and tries to collect herself while he stammers on.

"I'm so sorry, I wasn't watching where I was walking at all, it's completely my fault," he says, apologies still falling from his lips. "How's your elbow?" he asks, turning his head to look at it, even reaching up with his hand a moment before thinking better of it and dropping it to his side.

She lifts her arm and pokes at it and then carefully picks a small piece of gravel out from where it stuck in her skin. Rob digs into his pocket for a handkerchief, his head down, when he feels someone shove his chest.

"Get away from my sister, cracka! What the hell do you think you're doin'?"

"Elliot!" Lori yells, pulling him away from Rob. "It was an accident! He hasn't done anything except apologize!" She pokes her brother hard on the shoulder.

Elliot glowers at Rob, and Lori puts her hands on her hips. "And that is no way to talk to a fellow human being, Elliot Thomas! Weren't you listening in there? Didn't any of his words get into your hard head?"

"Hey, I saw him knock you down!" Elliot defends himself, but he knows he's going to lose this battle. "Then he leaned over you, and…"

"He was helpin' me up, fool," she says, reaching out and snatching the proffered handkerchief, which has been dangling from the end of Rob's frozen hand as he stands there staring at the arguing siblings. "Thank you," she says softly to Rob, pressing the cloth to her elbow, dabbing the little spots of blood that have risen to the surface. She hisses, sucking air in between her teeth.

"I'm really sorry. I should know better than to not look where I'm walking."

Lori smiles at him. "It was an accident. I think I'll live, but I'm not sure about my brother." She narrows her eyes at Elliot again, who has the decency to look apprehensive as his sister glowers at him.

"Go easy on him. He's just lookin' out for you.

You're lucky to have a brother who loves you," Rob says.

"Yeah, real lucky," Lori rolls her eyes.

Elliot steps up again, peering at Marcus now.

"Hey, do I know you?"

"Well, you don't look familiar, but…" Marcus thinks, scratching his head.

"We all look alike to you, is that it?" Elliot starts, his tone accusatory again. Lori gives him a look.

"No! I have a terrible memory for anything except music," Marcus admits.

"Yeah, I'm his best friend and he forgets my name about every third day," Robert pipes up.

"Music… you play piano at Gareth's, don't you?"

Eliot asks, snapping his fingers as he thinks.


"You're really good. Gareth's is a great place, but I keep wonderin' how long they'll let him stay open. You know, because he lets in coloreds."

"That's why I keep working there. He pays lousy, but he's not a bigot," Marcus says.

"I like your accent. Where are you from?" Lori asks Marcus, handing Robert his handkerchief back.

"Keep it, I've got plenty," Rob says. "Or throw it away. I don't think that blood will come out anyway."

"Ireland," Marcus says. "Been here about a year."

"Welcome," Lori says, smiling at him. "Well, thank you for your help," she says to Rob, looking down at the cloth in her hand, absently rubbing the fabric between her thumb and index finger. She notices that the material is soft and fine, and that the little RC monogram in the corner is professionally done, not hand-stitched like hers is. So he has a bit of money. But he's kind…

"Least I could do, since I knocked you over," Rob says, smiling apologetically.

"Have a good day, and thanks again," she says, and starts walking, her brother following.

"Wait," Rob calls, stepping towards them.

"What's your name?"

"What's yours?" she asks, turning around and looking at him, hands on hips again.

"Rob" he says, "and this is Marcus" He holds his hand out.

"I'm Loretta," she says, stepping slowly over and clasping his hand. "But most people call me —"

"Lori!" Elliot calls, several yards away now, looking very impatient. "Come on! Dad's waitin'!"

"And my brother Elliot" she sighs. "He does mean well, just…"

"I understand, don't worry about it," Rob smirks. "It was nice to meet you, Loretta." He releases her hand gently.

"Nice to meet you, too, Rob," she smiles back at him, a twinkle in her eye that Marcus puzzles at.

"Enjoy your evening," Rob grins and tips an imaginary cap to her and saunters in the direction of Marcus's car, Marcus himself jogging to catch him up.

"What was that?" Marcus asks.

"She was really nice," Rob says casually.

"And?" Marcus prompts.

"Very pretty, too."

"Dangerous, Rob."

"I can't say a colored girl is pretty? Is that against the law?"

"No, but you didn't answer my question. What was that?"

"What was what? "

"That look that passed between you. You looked like you were sharing a secret about something."

"Oh. I maybe slipped her my card when she shook my hand," he admits.


"She might need legal assistance one day."

"If you expect me to believe that your only motive for slipping her your business card is professional, then…"

"She was pretty, wasn't she? And nice. Smart, too," Rob says, grinning again.

"Wonder why she didn't say anything about the card…" Marcus muses, unlocking his car door.

Rob just smiles.


Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by stephenGee12(m): 7:32am On Apr 28, 2017
Thanks for the mention dear. Know this one will be a bomb. All the way solidly behind you.
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 11:29am On Apr 28, 2017
**** Walking in the opposite direction, Lori peeks at the card Rob had palmed her. Carter Law Offices is across the top in block lettering.

Then, below, Robert Carter, Attorney at Law.

Below that is an address and phone number.

She slips it into her purse with his handkerchief, deciding that Elliot doesn't need to know. She turns to her brother now. "What in tar nation is your problem, anyway?"

"Huh?" Elliot looks at her, affronted.

"You were very rude to them, and they were only trying to help me."

"I don't trust 'em," he mutters.

"Robert and Marcus specifically, or all white people?" she snaps at him.

Elliot says nothing.

"You, yourself just said in there that you hoped that important people were listening to Dr. King's words. Sounds to me like you were too busy hoping that the rich white folks were listening to bother listening yourself," she scolds.

"I listened," he protests.

"But you didn't take it to heart. He was talking about treatin' everyone with fairness and kindness, not just colored folks. Equality for all races. Did you hear him once say, 'Don't trust whitey, he's only out to take your money and rape your womenfolk?' No," she presses on, not giving him a chance to answer, "you did not.

Rob and Marcus seemed to me like nice, trustworthy young men. You even said you recognized Marcus."

"I recognized him; doesn't mean I know him."

"Well you can't know someone until you give them a chance."

"I'm not sure about the other one. That blond Mr. Charlie seemed like a spoiled rich white boy if I ever seen one."

"Saw one," she automatically corrects him. "And so what if he does have money? He came out to hear the speech just like you and me, which tells me something about him, even if you don't see it."

"What's that?"

"He's trying. He doesn't agree with the way things are. He wants things to be different, too."

They walk quietly for a bit.

"You know I ain't got no love for white folks, and even more so after what happened with Mama."

"I know. But her dyin' wasn't the doctor's fault.

She had the cancer, Elliot. Yes, the doctor was a bit—"

"He was a jive-ass honky racist turkey," Elliot provides.

"I was going to say 'condescending,' but I suppose that'll do," she chuckles.

"Lori, you don't see what I see when I'm out on jobs," Elliot says, stopping now to turn and look at her. "I go to some big house to put in new kitchen cabinets or repair a bookcase, and I see them rich white folks with they pretty lil' colored maids, and most of the time, Mister is either – what was that word you used?

Condescending. Or downright mean. Or worse, tryin' to get more than the girl is gettin' paid for."

"Every time?" she asks.

"Not every time, no," he admits. "But enough to make me fret a bit when a pretty white boy is nice to us. And he sho'nuff had money, I could tell by the way he was dressed. I could see my face in his shoes!"

"Elliot, thank you for being concerned, but I can take care of myself. I'm sorry that you have to see what you've seen, but I still say that you can't judge every white man based on the actions of a few white men. That's just as unfair as what they do to us and you know it."

Elliot scowls and shoves his hands into his pockets.

"Don't let your grief paint every picture black, baby brother," she says, nudging him with her elbow. "Mama died five years ago. Things have changed some since then. Still got far to go, but it's gettin' better. And if she knew how you were behavin' now, she'd sure enough come down here and tan your hide but good!"

"Prob'ly," Elliot says, laughing a little now.

"'Sides, it's not likely we'll be seeing those two boys again anyway, right?"

"Right," Lori says, her mind drifting to the card in her purse and the handkerchief she has vowed to clean back to sparkling white. It also drifts, unbidden, to the peculiar wobble her stomach did when Rob said her name.

It was nice to meet you, Loretta.


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Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 12:48pm On Apr 30, 2017

Three weeks later.

" …When the Star-Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts, They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches. They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches. "

"Miss Thompson?" a voice interrupts Lori's class. School started two weeks ago, and Lori is seated on a colorful rug on the floor with twenty-two five-year-olds, reading Dr. Seuss.

Lori looks up to see one of the classroom aides standing in the doorway. "You have a phone call in the office," she says.

"Now?" Lori says, standing.

"They said it was an emergency. I'll stay here with them," she offers. Lori hands her the book.

"This your book?" the aide asks softly.

"Yeah, I bought it myself, so make sure it don't get sticky," she says. "Children, be good for Mrs. Arnold. I'll be back soon." They nod and watch her walk out the door.

Emergency? she thinks, walking quickly through the halls. I hope Elliot's not in trouble…

"Lori, there you are!" the school secretary says, thrusting the phone at her.

"Yes, here I am," she says, taking the phone. "Hello?"

"Loretta Thompson?" an unfamiliar Yankee male voice says in her ear.

"This is she," she answers.

"My name is Percy Andersen. I work with your father," he says, and the tone of his voice makes Lori's heart stop beating.

"Yes?" she whispers.

"There's been an accident, miss. I'm… I'm sorry… but Tom…"

"What happened?" she asks, grabbing the edge of the desk. The secretary pushes a chair over for her and she sits without realizing it.

"Forklift accident," he manages. "I… I don't know all the details; I'm still investigating… I'm the… warehouse manager…" he stammers, trying to string his thoughts together.

"Forklift accident?" she repeats.

"He… he was… oh, Lord, I don't want to have to tell you this… he was crushed against a wall, and…"

"Stop," Lori says. "I can't hear any more." She dabs her eyes with a tissue she doesn't know how she got in her hand.

"They're taking him to the hospital, but…"

"But he's already gone, ain't he?" Lori asks, her voice a whisper.

"Yes, miss. I'm… I'm really sorry. Tom was a good worker and a good man."

"Thank you," Lori says. Was.

"Mr. Andersen?"

"Percy," he corrects her.

"Percy. Did… did he suffer? Was he in pain?"

"I don't think so, miss. It was… pretty fast…"

Lori lets out a shuddery sigh. "Which hospital?"

"Baptist Memorial," he answers.

"Right, of course," she answers vaguely.

"Um, Duncan Matthews went with him… you know him?"

"Yes, I'll look for him," she says automatically.

"I'm sorry…" Percy says again, at a loss.

"Thank you." She hangs up on him.


Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by EvaJael(f): 3:35pm On Apr 30, 2017
Eya...Nnenna don't let the children suffer o(in ur voice)
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 5:06pm On Apr 30, 2017
Eya...Nnenna don't let the children suffer o(in ur voice)
i won't oooo. LOL. 😜.Inasmuch you don't allow those cute children to suffer.
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Creeza(m): 10:42pm On May 03, 2017
I'm here . Another wonder from Nnnena . I'll read before dropping any comments. But Until then , The folowing button is ticked .
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by rafindo(m): 11:07pm On May 03, 2017
On behalf of the general officer commanding the unnoticed reader brigade of nairaland .I humbly grabs a seat and wait for the unexpected.
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 7:00pm On May 04, 2017
Sorry for posting late.Creeza, Stephengee12,etc

Hey, Gareth, I'm just gonna borrow this snare for a couple hours, alright?" Aaron comes striding into Gareth's, talking a mile a minute.

"What's shakin', Irish?"

"Aaron," Marcus says, looking up from where he is plinking around on the piano, playing with some ideas.

"Just bring it back still workin'," Gareth drawls lazily from behind the bar.

"Thanks, man."

"What do you need the drum for?" Marcus asks, watching as Aaron attaches a strap to it so he can hang it around his neck.

"Funeral," he says, as if that explains everything.

"Funeral? You need a drum for a funeral?"

"The cat that died was originally from New Orleans. Wanted a jazz funeral."

"Okay… Aaron, I'm not from this country, you're going to have to elaborate," Marcus says.

"We follow the casket to the cemetery, playing music as we go. Slow stuff, dig? Then after, we play more upbeat things, to 'cut the body loose.'

It's a celebration, man."

"That is brilliant," Marcus declares. "I love it."

"Right on," Aaron says, noncommittally.

"Aaron?" Marcus asks after a moment.


"Can I come? I mean, would it be rude?"

"You can't march with a piano, man!"

"Well, give me a… a tambourine, then. I'd really like to come. If it won't be disrespectful, I mean."

"Sure, I guess," Aaron shrugs, passing a tambourine to Marcus. "You okay being the only white boy?"

"Aaron," Marcus sighs, "I'm always the only one of my kind wherever I go. Except at home, with me mum. If it bothered me, I'd never go anywhere."

"Alright, then. Gareth, catch you later, man."

"Have fun," Gareth calls.

"Fun?" Marcus asks.

"Oh, we have fun," Aaron says, shoving Marcus out the door. "He's goin' to be with the Lord, what's not to celebrate?"


Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 7:21pm On May 04, 2017
The parade of mourners is now dancing back up the street, having laid the body to rest. Aaron, Marcus, and a handful of other musicians are currently playing a rousing rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In," and most of the people are singing along.

Marcus is fascinated by his first jazz funeral. It's a celebration of life, not a morose, mind- numbingly dull affair, and neither is it the heart- wrenchingly painful experience that his father's funeral was a year and a half ago. If I'd known about this, maybe Da's funeral would have been tolerable.

He looks ahead through the crowd and sees someone that might be familiar. Is that… no, couldn't be. Could it?

"Aaron," Marcus sidles over to his friend, talking and playing at once, "you know that girl up there? The short one in dark blue?"

"Yeah, that's Lori. Her pop is the one we just buried. Why?"

"I think I met her last month…"

Oh, no. If I'd known that it was someone I knew, I never would have crashed the funeral. Now I feel a right pillock. I'll have to find her and apologize.

"You think? "

"Aaron, you know me mind is always a bit jumbled. But yeah, now that I see her and you put the name back in me head, yeah, that's her."

"You meet her brother, too?"

"Yeah," he chuckles. "He wasn't as nice as she was."

"That's Elliot," Aaron nods.

"Where're we goin', anyway?"

"Goin' to they house."

Moments later, they approach a small, two-story house, tidy but modest.

"We're not all going to fit inside," Marcus mutters, his feet stopping as he watches people file in, many stopping to hug Lori and Elliot or touch their elbows or shoulders consolingly.

Some people linger in the front yard, some head to the backyard; some don't stay and head to their own homes.

"Come on, we gonna have a smoke." Aaron grabs Marcus's elbow and pulls him to the backyard.

"I don't smoke," Marcus mumbles, but follows anyway.

Marcus observes the interactions of the mourners. He's surprised to hear much laughter as people reminisce about Lori's dad, sharing stories. This is the kind of funeral I want.

He thinks about going inside, but he doesn't feel right, since he wasn't invited.

"Marcs, you alright, man?" Aaron asks, noting Marcus's pensive demeanor.

"Yeah, I'm good. Just amazed at the difference between this funeral and the last one I was at.

Back home."

"Who's was it?"

"My father's," Marcus says, and something in his demeanor stops Aaron from asking any further questions.

Marcus turns and sees Lori come out the back door and sit on the steps of the back porch. She looks wrung-out, tired, and hot, waving a paper fan to make a breeze for herself from time to time. She probably wishes everyone would just go home and leave her alone. I know that's how I felt. He absently hands the tambourine still hanging from his hand to Aaron and walks over to her.

"Hey," he says quietly.

She looks up, surprised. "Marcus, right?"

"Yeah. Sorry about your da."

"Thanks. What are you doing here?" she asks, then realizes the question might be rude.


"No, it's me who should apologize. I crashed your father's funeral."

Lori giggles, taking Marcus by surprise.

"Can I sit?"

She nods, and he sits beside her on the step.

"It's all right," she says.

"Aaron told me he was going to a jazz funeral, and I had never heard of that before, and…"

"It's all right, Marcus," Lori says, interrupting him. "I don't mind. You were curious, and that's understandable. Thank you for coming and saying hello."

"Well, once I was sure that I did recognize you, I couldn't just hang out and pretend I'm not here.

Thought I'd at least say hi."

"Thank you."

"Was your father ill?"

"No. It was an accident. Don't really feel like talkin' about it, if you don't mind."

"No problem. I know how that feels. Me da died two years ago."

"Is that why you came here?"

"Part of. America's not the only place with problems."

"Ireland has problems, too, I know," Lori nods.

"I'm a teacher," she tells him. "I teach kindergarten, but I still keep up with the news, in case they have questions 'bout things they hear around."

Marcus nods. "Border Campaign. My father got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wasn't even involved."

"You don't need to tell me if you don't want," she whispers. "I'm not sure I want to hear right now, anyway."

"Okay," he says. "It's hard for me to talk about anyway. But the short version is, me mum decided that we should get out of there. Come to America. Land of opportunity, right?"

Lori chuckles a mirthless laugh.

"All we had left was each other. Packed what we could carry, and left."

"How did you land here, in Memphis?"

"Fortunate coincidences," Marcus says. "We were in New York for a couple months. Paperwork, you know. Medical tests, make sure we weren't bringin' in anything nasty."

"You didn't want to stay in New York?" Lori asks.

"Nah. Too busy, too crowded. Too dirty. The only jobs Mum would have been able to get would be scrubbing floors or washing clothes, and neither of us wanted that for her. We were released and me ma asked me where we should go. I told her I didn't much care, but if I could pick, I'd pick someplace that was warm." He smiles at her.

Lori notices for the first time that the peculiar Irishman doesn't seem bothered by the oppressive heat. "And you settled on Memphis?"

"That was the fortunate bit. There was a priest there, you know, doin' the Lord's work? He heard us talking, and told us he had two train tickets to Memphis that were going to go to waste because he could no longer go."

"Right," Lori nods knowingly.

"I know," Marcus nods. "I mean, he's not supposed to lie, being a priest, but it just seemed a little too convenient. Maybe he thought we wouldn't just take them. And we did offer to pay him for them, but he said no."

"Of course he did."

"Probably walks around with train tickets in his pockets all the time, him," Marcus chuckles. "So we took the tickets, he said a prayer for us, and we came here."

"Did your mama find something better than scrubbin' floors or doin' wash?"

"Yeah. We got a hotel and then… what was that phrase I learned? Oh. We hit the bricks," he grins, and his lopsided smile is the kind that cannot go unanswered.

"Me mum is tenacious. She's also smart, friendly, and can type. She hit six companies until she found one willing to take her on as a secretary."

"Good for her!" Lori nods approvingly.

"And I work there, too, part-time, as a courier and errand-boy. But really I'm a musician."

"I remember. Piano, right?"

He nods. "So I work a few days at Carter Law, and spend the rest of the time at Gareth's. That's where I was today."

"Carter Law?" she asks, quirking her head at him.

"You remember Rob? The bloke who knocked you over?"

"Of course." She holds up her arm, bending it up, flashing her elbow at him. "All healed, see?"

He grins and nods approvingly. "My mum is his father's personal secretary. He took her on even though he didn't even have a secretary before.

Now he can't live without her," Marcus smiles proudly.

"And that's where you met Robert?" she asks.

She had been curious about how these two strange white boys who appeared to be so different from each other had gotten to be friends.

"Yeah. We just got on right away, even though we have almost nothing in common," Marcus chuckles. "He started right in makin' fun of me accent, and all I could do was laugh and laugh…"

"I love your accent."

"Sometimes I try to practice, to try to get rid of it. You know, to blend in more."

"Don't do that, Marcus. That'd be denyin' who you are, turnin' your back on your kin, your heritage.

It's who you are, and don't you dare change who you are for anybody."

"Whoa. All right, I won't!" he chuckles, surprised at the passion behind her words. "I was pretty bad at it, anyway. Robert just laughs harder when I try, and no, I will not give you a demonstration."

She laughs. "I should give you his handkerchief back so you can give it to him. I got the blood out of it," Lori says.

"He told you to keep it," Marcus says.

"He only just said that 'cause he thought it was ruined," Lori argues.

"No, he didn't. Robert may be a rich white boy, but he doesn't say anything he doesn't mean."

Lori ponders this concept for a moment, still thinking she should run upstairs to her apartment and get the hanky.

"Marcs! If you want a ride back to Gareth's, we's leavin'!"

"Bugger," Marcus curses, looking at his watch.

"Didn't realize it was that late. I have to go or I'll be late picking up Mum," he says. "Yeah, just a minute!" he shouts back to Aaron.

"It was nice talking to you, Marcus. Don't feel bad about crashin'; I'm glad you came. Maybe we'll meet again under happier times," Lori says, standing with him.

"Hope so. Sorry again about your da."

"Thank you."

"Would it be all right if I gave you a hug?" Marcus asks carefully.

She shrugs. "Sure."

He steps down one step so she is more level with him and hugs her, holding her for just a few moments, as proper as if he his hugging his grandmother. "Keep your chin up," he tells her once he's released her.


"I'm coming, keep your trousers on!"


Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by EvaJael(f): 7:23pm On May 04, 2017
Another good update. Wehdone ma
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by stephenGee12(m): 7:25pm On May 04, 2017
Thanks for the mention dear and apology acceptd cos we all know all ur updates are regular and lengthy. So for u nt to update den u ave a reason.
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Creeza(m): 8:37pm On May 04, 2017
Aaron crashed the party for marcus even before it began grin Marcus and Lori, Am watching these two in 3d as it keeps getting interesting. . . Loris sorry about your pa.

Nnnena Oya continued bfor I vexation and post a short story on the thread. lol just kidding. . . Yu are doing great dear . kept it up.
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by queenitee(f): 10:55pm On May 04, 2017
Aaron crashed the party for marcus even before it began grin Marcus and Lori, Am watching these two in 3d as it keeps getting interesting. . . Loris sorry about your pa.

Nnnena Oya continued bfor I vexation and post a short story on the thread. lol just kidding. . . Yu are doing great dear . kept it up.
So you think you can enjoy the story alone abi? Issokay

Nnnena, You added sugar and honey to this story ni? Lol, I'm definitely following

1 Like

Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 11:07pm On May 04, 2017
Lori watches the musicians drive away and is about to turn back into the house when she sees a large, young, white man standing hesitantly at the edge of her yard, clutching a hat in his hands.

"Can I help you, sir?" she asks, stepping over.

"Are you Lori Thompson?" he asks. His northern-accented voice is vaguely familiar.

"Yes," she says carefully. The man is gigantic, six and a half feet tall, and he appears to be carved out of solid muscle. But his face is gentle and open. And sad.

"We spoke on the phone a few days ago, miss. I'm Percy Andersen. I just wanted to come and say I'm sorry in person."

"Oh… thank you," she says. "Would you like something to drink?"

"No, thank you. I'm just on my way home, and…" he turns, hearing voices approaching. "Guys," he nods at about a dozen men, mostly black, a few white, in work clothes, as they approach.

"Mr. Andersen," a few of them say. They stop near him. "See you had the same idea, boss."

Percy nods. "I wanted to come pay my respects, same as you."

"Please, come in, folks. I'm sure there's still some food left."

They file through, coming into the backyard, stopping to hug Lori or offer their condolences or both before a few of them go up into the back door of the house.

"Elliot inside?" one asks.

"I reckon so," Lori nods. She notices that Percy is still standing to the side, as if he wasn't finished with their conversation. Two others, Duncan and another man she think is named Ezra, hover nearby as well, talking to each other quietly. They glance at Percy questioningly, and he nods, his face tight.

"Lori," Duncan steps forward. "We got somethin' on our minds we wanna share with ya." He glances at the other two, and they nod encouragingly.

"Okay," she says, wondering what this is about.

The three men step fully into the yard now, even Percy, and they usher Lori a short distance from the house, away from other ears.

"Lori, this is Ezra Johnson," Duncan introduces the other man.

"Miss," he nods sadly. He looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.

"Ezra was…" Duncan starts, glancing at his friend.

"I was the one drivin' the truck," he says softly.

"I can't even say…"

"It's all right, Ezra. It was an accident," Lori says, touching the man's arm as he fights with tears.

"That's what we want to tell you, miss," Percy says quietly. "Your father's death was an accident that could have been prevented.

Should have been prevented."


"That fool truck was in no shape to be drove," Duncan states, his face clouding. "We tole all the right people. Mr. Andersen here put in the paperwork for the repairs."

Percy nods. "I did. I swear on my grandmother's life that I did."

"We knew it was in no shape to be drove. But we had to drive it 'cause we can't work with one fork truck," Duncan says. "The brakes was bad, the steering was off, the tires was old."

"Could hardly control the thing," Ezra adds quietly, wiping his haunted face.

Lori is dumbstruck, listening to all this. What do I do? Can I do anything? "What are y'all saying?"

"Lori, do you know any lawyers?" Percy asks.

Lori's mind drifts to her nightstand and its top drawer. Tucked inside is a pristine white handkerchief, pressed and folded carefully.

Sitting on top of it is a business card.

"Yes, I think I do," she answers quietly.



Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Creeza(m): 11:09pm On May 05, 2017
imagine the truck had nothing in good condition . the brakes were useless and the engine was less than biscuit. But they still used it .

If I'm Lori. I'll just sue their sorry asses. Mtcheww
Her father had to die because of another persons stupidity.

What will she do now. Oya continued Nnnena.

Queenitee I got up a seat here before nw.I don't have to call u before you answer, Nnnena is doing great . Drop a comment about this last event.
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 11:22pm On May 05, 2017
3 This update is specially for you creeza

"Carter Law Offices, this is Vivian, may I help you?" a bright voice answers the phone Monday morning.

Lori had two days to ponder calling Rob. Her father's funeral was on Friday, and she couldn't very well call him on Saturday or Sunday. She spent Saturday mostly alone, in her apartment on the second floor of their house, thinking about Percy and Duncan and Ezra and their words. She thought a lot about what her father would want her do to. She prayed about it in church on Sunday, asking for guidance to make the right decision and strength to follow it through.

Now, Monday morning, Lori finds herself with 45 minutes of prep time while her students are in music class. She chose to call Rob, not wanting to waste any more time.

"Robert Carter, please," she says.

"May I tell him who is calling?"

"Loretta Thompson."

"Please hold."

Lori waits, imagining the receptionist as some perky blonde, pretty, but probably useless for anything beyond answering a telephone.

"Robert Carter." His smooth voice snaps her out of her daydream.

"Oh, hello, Mr. Carter, I don't know if you remember me, but…"

"Of course I remember you, Loretta" he says.

"Only I thought your last name was Thomas, not Thompson."

"Beg pardon?"

"When you yelled at your brother," he says, and she can hear him grinning over the phone, "you called him 'Elliot Thomas,' so…"

"Thomas is his middle name," she says.

"Ah. Mystery solved, then. To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"Well, um, I'm sorry to say that I'm not calling for pleasurable reasons at all. I would like to hire you, Mr. Carter."

"Robert," he says. "Please call me Robert. Are you in some kind of trouble?"

"Not yet," she sighs. "It's… complicated. My father passed away recently, and—"

"Yes, Marcus told me. I am sorry, Loretta," he says.

"Thank you. Anyway, I'm being told that the accident that caused his death could have been prevented, and…"

"And you want recompense?"

"Yes and no," she says, furrowing her brows, twisting the phone cord around her finger. "I want his former coworkers to be safe. I want to know that the person responsible for ignoring the requests to service the forklift truck knows that we know and we won't sit idly by. I want…"

"You want justice," Rob says simply.

"Yes. Can you help me?"

"That is what I do," he says, and there's something in his tone, a confidence, almost a smugness, that reassures her, that tells her that Robert Carter is the Man for the Job.

"Loretta?" he asks when she doesn't say anything.

"Do you practice that in your mirror at home?"

she blurts. "Oh, I'm s…"

Robert's laughter cuts off her apology. "Guilty," he says, "you caught me."

"Sorry," she smiles. "You just sounded a bit like Superman there, is all."

"Been practicing enough, then," he says.

"Loretta, I'd like to meet with you so we can discuss your case. When would you be available?"

"I'm done here at school at 2:45. I can be to your office by 3:15, probably."

"You're in school?"

"I'm a teacher."

"Oh. Right. You just look very youthful, so…"

"I teach kindergarten at Lincoln."

"No confusing you with the students, then."

"So far, so good," she says.

"Oh, what's your father's name? I'd like to do a some research today before you arrive."

"Thomas Thompson."

"Middle name?"


"And where did he work?"

"Alined Paper Corporation. In the warehouse."

"They take him to Baptist Memorial?"


"Got it. 3:15, then. I'll be expecting you," he says.

"Thank you, Rob," she says, and hangs up the phone. She sits and stares at the shiny black telephone for a minute. That was either very smart or very stupid, Lori. Only the Lord knows which right now.

But when she walks back to her classroom, neither her feet nor her heart feel as heavy.



Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by queenitee(f): 11:32pm On May 05, 2017
imagine the truck had nothing in good condition . the brakes were useless and the engine was less than biscuit. But they still used it .

If I'm Lori. I'll just sue their sorry asses. Mtcheww
Her father had to die because of another persons stupidity.

What will she do now. Oya continued Nnnena.

Queenitee I got up a seat here before nw.I don't have to call u before you answer, Nnnena is doing great . Drop a comment about this last event.
What they did is bad, they killed Lori's pa, to me it's not an accident, it's like its what they wanted. They knew the truck wasn't in a good condition. They killed the man. They should be sued. But again, telling her means they are sorry, they realized their mistake so Lori should just let them be
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Creeza(m): 7:40am On May 06, 2017
She is on the right path I think.. So the lawyer promised her justice. My fingers crossed
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 8:35am On May 08, 2017
Rob stares into space, letting Lori's voice resonate through his head for a minute. "Thank you, Robert."

He stands, stretches, and heads out of his office, down the corridor, and knocks on his father's door.

May as well get this over with.

"Come," Shawn Carter's voice bids him enter.

"Hey, Pop."

"Robert, what can I do for you?" he asks, setting his pen down and leaning back in his chair. His voice is clipped and businesslike, but friendly enough; his years in Tennessee having done little to erase the hint of Boston in his accent.

"I have a case."

"Do you?" he asks, raising an eyebrow at his son.

"Yes, Pop, I do. I'm tired of being relegated to just traffic violations, and I just got a call from someone – someone who specifically requested me – and I want to take her case.

" Her case? I see now," he smirks.

"Pop, it's not like that. Her father was killed in an accident, and she has reason to believe that it could have been prevented. Wrongful death case."

" Young lady?"

"Pop, you know I'm not like that. Besides, she's colored," Ro sighs, knowing that while it doesn't make a difference to him, it will to other people.

"This is more than you can handle," Shawn says tersely.

"How do you know unless you let me try?" Rob says, raising his voice some. "All I've done since I graduated in May are traffic violations! Oh, and the one very exciting will." He rolls his eyes and continues. "I'd like to do something to help someone, really help them. Even if it's just once.

Even if I lose. I'm tired of being a walking encyclopedia of traffic laws."

"What kind of accident?" Shawn asks, leaning forward in his chair to rest his chin on his steepled fingers.

"Um, a work accident, I reckon. She mentioned somethin' about wanting his former coworkers to be safe."

"Where did he work?"

"Alined Paper."

Shwan inhales through his teeth. "That's a big company, Robert. Eugene Alined has deep pockets and is going to have high-powered help.

Alfred Boudreaux is his personal attorney, if I'm not mistaken."

"Alfred Boudreaux doesn't scare me. The man is an idiot, led around by his wallet and his pecker."

Shawn barks a surprised laugh. "I see you've been doing your homework."

"So can I do this?"

"You're going to do it even if I say no, Robert. I know you."

"I'd feel better about it if you were behind me.

And don't start in about that it's going to be hard because she's a colored girl going up against a powerful white man. I know this already. And don't tell me to refer her to Abe Jameson. He's got his hands plenty full with Civil Rights cases right now, anyway. I want this case."

Shawn sighs. "Very well. Just… be careful. You are young and idealistic and you were educated up north. People around here, people in power, don't think the way you think."

"You do. Mostly."

"Well, I'm not from here. You know that."

"You've been successful here."

"That's because I know how to play the game. You haven't fully learned yet. Robert" he sighs, "I have been a lawyer for thirty years. I've seen all manner of crime and wrongdoing during that time. I've seen enough to know that the actions of a human being are not driven by the color of his skin. In fact, some of the most horrific things I've seen done during my life have been perpetrated by white people, and often it's white people thinking that they are better than everyone else. Hitler. Stalin. Mussolini. Those twisted bastards in the Klan. Not to mention the ones that are just sick, like Ed Gein or Charles Starkweather. So, no, I do not have a problem with you defending this little black girl…"

"Father," Rob interrupts, "she's not a little girl, she's a grown woman with a good job and everything."

"Oh? What does she do?"

"She's a teacher. Teaches kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary."

"I see. She's educated. That will help. But as I was saying, just because I do not have a problem with your taking this case doesn't mean that you will not meet with opposition from others. I've been around here long enough to know that you should not underestimate Boudreaux. He's an idiot, yes, but he's also a snake in the grass who would sell his own granny to the highest bidder if he could make a couple dollars."

"I know. And thanks, Pop."

"Do me proud."

"I'll try. I will," he amends. "Marcus in today?"

"Ask Lisa. I never know where that boy is," Shawn says, picking up his pen and waving it in the direction of his secretary beyond the door.

"Will do. Need him to fetch copies of some reports for me, you know," he says, nodding at his father.

"When is your client coming?"


"Good luck," he calls as Rob leaves.

Rob strolls over to Lisa's desk a few feet away and leans against the side of it next to her.

"Marcus will be here in fifteen minutes," she says, answering his question before he even asks it.

"How do you do that?"

"I'm a leprechaun," she says, finally looking up at him. "Duckling, you're always looking for Marcus. It wasn't difficult to guess."

"Well, when you see him, I have an errand for him. Please."

"Of course, I'll send him over."

"Thanks, darlin'," he says.

1 Like

Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by EvaJael(f): 8:47am On May 08, 2017
Hmm nice. Nnenna Nnnena Nnenna o. How many times did I call you? You abandoned us abi. No worries o
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 9:15am On May 08, 2017
Lori steps through the doors to Carter Law Offices at 3:12 p.m. Her palms are sweating, and she knows it's not because of the humidity.

"May I help you?" It's the perky blonde from the phone. Lori's lips twitch a moment, biting back her smirk when she sees that her mental image of Vivian was quite accurate.

"Yes, hello, I'm Loretta Thompson. I have an appointment with Robert Carter." She steps forward.

"Oh! Oh, yes, I'll just let him know," she says, slightly flustered. She quickly picks up the phone. "Mr. Carter? Your 3:15 is here."

"What? No, I haven't seen him – oh, he's just coming back in now."

"Lori!" Marcus exclaims, seeing her in the lobby.

"Yes, sir." Vivian hangs up and looks at Marcus.

"Marcus, young Mr. Carter has asked that you escort Miss… Thompson? back to his office." She puzzles at them, wondering how Marcus seems to know this girl so well.

"I can do that," Marcus nods, shifting the parcel in his hands to offer Lori his elbow. "My lady?"

Lori looks sideways at him, clearly wanting to ask him if he's lost his damn mind. Marcus nudges her with his offered elbow. "Come on.

Let's go see Rob."

Lori sighs and takes his arm, ignoring the incredulous look Vivian is giving them as they walk past her and through another set of doors.

"What are you doing here?" Marcus asks her quietly, not wishing to disturb anyone.

"I've hired Robert," she says. "My father's death…"

"Was he killed?" Marcus gasps.

"Not… intentionally. But I now have reason to believe that it could have been prevented."

"Ah, that's what this," he indicates the large, thick envelope in his other hand, "must be about."

They reach a door and Marcus opens it without knocking.

"Loretta, nice to see you again," Robert stands immediately, reaching his hand out to shake hers. "Marcus, nice to see that you've learned how to knock." He smirks at his friend, who merely shrugs.

His hand is large and warm, squeezing hers gently but not too hard. Her hand feels soft and delicate within his, like a tame bird.

"I only wish it were under better circumstances," she says, smiling sadly.

"Please, sit," Rob indicates a chair and holds his hand out for the package from Marcus.

"Thank you, Marcus. Excellent timing," he says, raising an eyebrow at him.

"I thought so," Marcus replies. Robert's phone rings.

"Excuse me," he says, going to his phone and lifting the handset. "Yes? He just got back. All right, I'll send him."

He hangs up and looks at Marcus. "Pop needs you."

Marcus frowns. He'd been hoping he could stick around and hear about Lori's case. "Shouldn't keep him waiting, I guess," he sighs, heading out the door, closing it behind him.

"Can I offer you a drink?" Robert asks, sitting behind his desk. "Coffee, tea, water, lemonade?"

"No, thank you," Lori says, clutching her purse in her lap.

"Are you nervous?" he asks, leaning forward slightly.

"Yes. This is all new to me. Plus I don't know what I'm gettin' myself into."

"Me neither," Rob admits, smiling at her. She can't tell if he's kidding or if he's being honest.

"You pullin' my leg?"

"Um, not really. To be honest, this will be my first case that doesn't involve a traffic ticket."

"How long you been practicin' law, Mr. Carter?" she asks, narrowing her eyes at him.

"Rob," he reminds her. "Almost four whole months," he says, pointing to his diploma on the wall, dated May 1963. "So if you want to fire me, now's your chance."

"What? No, I… no. I don't want to fire you," she says, realizing that she wants Robert on this case. There is something about him that I find comforting. Reassuring. Like he'll… protect me.

"Good, 'cause I'd've hated to have had to go back to my dad and tell him I lost you after I had to convince him to let me have you in the first place," he says, then his eyes widen when her realizes how that might sound. "I mean, your case… o' course…"

Lori presses her lips together to keep from laughing at him, but suddenly she feels more relaxed. "What is all that?" she nods to the packet from Marcus.

"Ah, I did my homework today, Teacher," he says, opening the envelope and sliding out a stack of paper. "Hospital reports," he waves them at her. "I've also got information about your father, you, and Elliot." He holds up three sheets of paper in turn with each name.

"What kind of information? Where'd you get all that?"

"It's public record, Loretta. These," he motions to the personal reports, "I got from the Motor Vehicle Department. Nothing in here that ain't on your driver's license. Glad you have one, by the way."

"Oh." So he knows my weight, she finds herself thinking, and wonders why she cares.

"Still waiting on work records. I don't reckon Alined is going to make this very easy for us, I'm afraid."

"I can't say as I'm surprised," Lori says.

Robert peruses some of the papers. "Your mother has already passed away, I see," he says quietly, flipping through the papers.

"Yes, five years ago."

"My mama died ten years ago," he says.

"Cancer," Lori says.

"Heart attack. Didn't even know her heart was bad."

They ponder one another a moment, then Rob clears his throat and shuffles through his papers again.

"I brought a few names for you," Lori says, redirecting the conversation.


Lori pulls a slip of paper out of her purse and hands it to him.

"Percy Andersen, Duncan Matthews, and Ezra Johnson," Rob reads.

"Percy Andersen is the warehouse manager. He was my father's boss. Duncan was Daddy's friend. He went with his… body… to the hospital.

And Ezra was the man driving the forklift that…"

"I see," Rob nods, flipping to the hospital report, his sharp blue eyes scanning the report quickly. Lori watches as he tries not to wince at what he reads.

"Is it that bad?" she asks.

"You don't know?"

"I didn't want all the details. I wasn't ready to hear them. I don't know if I ever will be."

"Loretta, you likely will not have a choice but to hear them if we pursue this case. Probably more than once."

"Okay," she nods.

Robert sighs. "Are all these men colored?" he asks.

"Mr. Andersen – Percy – is white. Looks like he stepped off an Army Recruitment poster."

"He's willing to help us out?"

"I reckon he is. He came out to Daddy's funeral with the others from the warehouse to pay his respects. And that's when they told me about the repair requests."

"Repair requests?" Rob starts making notes in a notebook now.

She nods, going on to detail what the three men told her that day.

"I need to talk to Percy Andersen," Robert mutters, circling Percy's name. "I hope he has copies of those requests."

"I put the warehouse office number there for you," she points to the paper she gave him.

"Thank you, that's very helpful."

Robert turns his attention back to the personal forms, tucking the hospital report away, not wanting to look at it any more.

"Interesting," he says.

"What is it?" asks Lori.

"I guess I didn't realize that you were older than your brother," he says.

"Yes, I'm older by almost exactly one year. Our birthdays are within days of each other, in fact."

"Did your parents make you share parties?" he asks, setting the paper down, interested.

"Well, they didn't make us do anything," she says. "It was just what we did." Why does he care?

Rob nods, trying to understand.

"You see, you can't miss what you never had.

For years, all we knew was one cake with two names," she presses on.

"Oh," Rob answers dumbly.

"It doesn't bother me at all," she goes on. "The way I see it, Mama was being smart. When you're tryin' to make a dollar out of fifteen cents, you don't make two cakes when your children's birthdays are four days apart."

"What about blowing out your candles?" Robert asks.

"Ah," Lori says, smiling, "we did do that right."

"How so?"

"Well, we would do it twice. El would go first; we would sing 'Happy Birthday' to him and he would blow out the candles, and then Mama would put one more candle on the cake, light them all again, and then they would sing 'Happy Birthday' to me and I would get my turn to blow them out."

Robert smiles, picturing it in his head. "That's a long way to stretch," he says after a moment.

"What is?"

"Fifteen cents into a dollar."

"I don't expect you to understand," she says quietly.

"I'm trying," he says.

"I guess that's what's important."

"I'm glad you called me, Loretta," he says. "I really think we have a strong case against Alined. Especially if Percy Andersen is willing to be a man and stand up for what is right."

"I think he may be. Daddy always spoke highly of him, even though he's young and just showed up one day. Alined brought him in and told them that Percy was their boss now, and that was it."

"Is Percy Andersen related to Eugene Alined?"

Rob asks, narrowing his eyes shrewdly.

"Don't know. Could be. It'd sure make sense, but I hope not. He might not be willing to fight his own kin."

"That's what I was thinking," Robert scowls.

"On the other hand, why would he tell me what he did if he wasn't?" she muses.

"I'll find out," he promises.

"Um, Rob?" Lori says suddenly. "Is there a way we can work on this without taking these men away from their jobs? I mean, I don't want them to have to take time off and maybe lose money over this."

"I understand. I'll meet with them in the evenings if I have to. That's not a problem."

"I hate to ask you to take your personal time…"

"I don't have much of a social life," he shrugs.

"I mainly hang around with Marcus, and he plays at Gareth's most nights anyway."

"Do you go see him play?"

"Sometimes. You should… you should come see him sometime. He's really good."

"I might."

"Yeah, so if I'm not over there, I'm at home, usually doing somethin' work-related anyway."

"No… no girlfriend?" she asks, then immediately wishes she hadn't. Why did you ask that, Lori?

His love life is none of your damn business!

He smiles, seeing her flush slightly. "No girlfriend. Been too busy focusin' on my career.

So don't you worry about takin' up my personal time."

"Thank you," she says. "And, um…"


"I'm not sure how I'm gonna be able to pay you. I've got a good job and Daddy had some money squirreled away, but…"

"Loretta," Robert says, holding his hands up. "We don't need to worry about that now. But if it makes you feel better, I'll tell you what: if I can't win this case for you, you don't have to pay me."


"It's only fair, Loretta. You came to me for help. I'm gonna try and help you. But if I fail, I shouldn't get paid."

"Thank you," she whispers, looking at her hands. Even if you win, I probably won't charge you very much, he thinks, but says nothing. "What does Elliot think of this?"

"I… haven't told him yet," Lori admits.

"Ah," Rob says. "He'll be all right with it, you think?"

"I'm sure he'll be fine," she says. "He's always goin' on about takin' on 'The Man,' you know."

"O' course he is," Rob chuckles. "However, I think his involvement in this case should be limited to… a supporting role. He may be too…"

"Volatile?" Lori supplies, smirking.

"Right. We'll keep you in the forefront, use your pretty face to gain sympathy. Sorry if this all sounds callous," he apologizes.

"A little, but I… I think I understand," she says. My pretty face?

"Good," he smiles. "Plus you're educated and well-spoken. That will help, too. Loretta, this is going to be hard. But I think we can win. If the Lord is with us and I get all the pieces in place where I want them, I think we can do something to make things safer for your father's friends. And put Eugene Alined in his place as well."

"Thank you, Rob. You don't know what this means to me," she says, her eyes misting slightly. She opens her purse to pull out her handkerchief and sees his there as well. I forgot I brought it.

Lori dabs her eyes with her own handkerchief, then takes Rob's out and sets it on the desk.

"What's this?"

"Your handkerchief. I got the blood out."

"That's yours," he says, pushing it back over towards her. "I gave it to you."

"Robert, what am I going to do with a hanky that has someone else's initials on it?"

He just smiles. "Wipe your nose, I guess," he says with a shrug.


"I know I'm being ridiculous, but I gave it to you and so that means it's yours."

"You are ridiculous," she says, but she snatches the cloth off the desk and stuffs it back into her purse anyway.

"My pop gets me a box of those things every year for Christmas. I have so many of them that I have half a mind to… get them all stitched together and use 'em as a bedsheet."

Lori laughs now, covering her mouth with her hand.

"There now, that's a good sound." He looks at his watch. "But I should let you go home," he says, reaching for a few more papers he has on his desk.

Did he sound sad that I'm leaving? Do I feel sad to be leaving?

"I just need your autograph in a few places, and I'll start doing some digging. And I'll need your phone number. So I can contact you about the case," he says. Of course she knows it's so you can contact her about the case, dummy. Why else would you need her phone number?

Rob slides the forms across the desk to her and holds out a pen for her. As she takes the pen, her fingers brush his for a split second.

Why does my stomach feel like that every time I touch his hand? "Um, where?" she asks, pen poised over the page, her eyes quickly scanning the document.

He points, and she signs. He flips to the next page, points, and she signs. He slides his notebook over to her and she writes her phone number on it. He takes the pen back and writes "Loretta" beside it.

"Most people call me Lori," she says, noticing he's been calling her by her full name the entire time she's been there.

"I remember," he says. "You told me that when we met the first time."

She peers at him. "But you're going to keep calling me 'Loretta' aren't you?"

"I like it better."

1 Like

Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by rayvelez(m): 10:26am On May 08, 2017
More and more interesting.
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 12:23pm On May 08, 2017
"Lori, where have you been, girl?" Elliot asks when she walks up the steps to the front porch.

Elliot is sitting in a rocker, a glass of water in his hand.

"You out of sweet tea?" she asks, looking at his glass as she walks past him.

"Yeah. Make me some more?" He stands and follows her into the house.

"You can make your own. I showed you how."

"It's still better when you do it."

"Lazy. Right now all I wanna do is go up to my apartment and collapse onto my bed. But since I do need to talk to you, I'll stay down here with you and make your tea."

"You gon' tell me where you was?"

"That's what I need to talk to you about." She drops her purse on the kitchen table and takes her shoes off, setting them near the door.

"We're suin' Mr. Alined," she tells him, facing the sink.

"We's doin' what?"

"We are suing Eugene Alined." She turns around and faces him. "Daddy's death was a preventable accident. I was just havin' a meeting with Robert Carter. Remember those boys from after Dr. King's speech? Blonde Mr. Charlie is a lawyer."

"You didn't think you should tell me before you runned off to discuss this with your pretty white boy?"

"I think you just answered your own question, El," she snaps, turning back to the coffeemaker, dropping teabags into the receptacle where the coffee filter and ground coffee should go.


"You don't trust him. That's why I didn't tell you."

"You could have gone to the colored lawyer.


"I could have, but I didn't. I called Rob."

"How did you know he was a lawyer?"

"Marcus told me. You know, the other one? He was at Daddy's funeral."

"How'd you get his number?"

"Phone book!" she shoots back, getting flustered at Elliot's inquisition.

"And you knew his last name and all?"

Lori sighs and closes her eyes. "Fine. Rob gave me his business card when he shook my hand."

"Why would he do that?"

"I don't know, Elliot! But I'm glad he did. And he's already working on the case, and I've already signed the paperwork."

"I thought you say 'we' was suin' Mr. Alined."

"Fine. I am suin' Mr. Alined. You are involved because you're my brother, though. You been done wrong by this, too," she reminds him.

"Don't you think I know that? Don't you think I don't walk around down here with all o' his stuff and not feel the stab o' him bein' gone? You can at least go upstairs to your own place!"

"Sorry, El." She sits while the tea brews, pulling his hand in between hers. "Look. This is us going up against The Man, don't you see that? I got help. Even the warehouse manager is with us on this."

"Was he that huge white boy you was talkin' to with Duncan and Ezra?"

"Yes." Lori nods and squeezes his hand, and proceeds to tell him everything they told her Friday evening.

"So that's it. You gonna get us killed. No judge is gon' care about the death of some colored man in a warehouse," Elliot says. "Whitey thinks we's all just so much trash. One dies, so what?

Just get another'n."

"If that's your attitude, maybe I don't want you to be involved," Lori says. "Rob seems to think that we have a very strong case against Mr. Alined."

"Oh, Rob thinks," Elliot rolls his eyes.

The coffeemaker gurgles, signaling its completion, and Lori stands, shoving her chair back into the table roughly. "I am disappointed in you, Elliot," she says over her shoulder. "You want rights, but you're not willing to go out and ask for 'em. That warehouse ain't safe. For anyone. I thought about this all weekend.

Prayed about it Sunday. Think about what Daddy would want, Elliot, what he would do. And Mama, too. She always told us to hold our heads up high and proud, even if we was wearin' secondhand clothes and your belt was a bit o' rope. Don't let nobody take advantage of you.

Try to do what's right. I think this is what's right. If you don't want no part of this, tell me now, and I won't trouble you with any o' the details."

Lori is pouring sugar into the pitcher, stirring, yelling at Elliot by yelling at the sweet tea in front of her.


She slams the wooden spoon down on the counter. "I ain't finished yet, Elliot. If you don't want to help, then don't, but don't try and stop me and don't get in my way." She turns around and looks at him. "But if you want to do right by Daddy, if you want to poke The Man a little, let him know we's payin' attention, then help me with this."

"Your pretty way o' talkin' gets less pretty when you's mad," Elliot smirks at her.

"Shut up," she says, trying not to smile back.

"Mama and Daddy done raised you better than they did me," Elliot sighs. "You're right. It's time for me to be the man o' the family and do the right thing, even if we don't win…"

"Then we can hold our heads high knowin' we tried." Lori turns back to the sink to take the pitcher and put it in the fridge.

"I'm sorry, Lori"

"Elliot, Mama and Daddy didn't raise me better than you. I just paid closer attention," she says, going over and hugging him.

1 Like

Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by EvaJael(f): 12:40pm On May 08, 2017
My lady just dey knack update back to back. More grace dear
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 12:46pm On May 08, 2017
Hmm nice. Nnenna Nnnena Nnenna o. How many times did I call you? You abandoned us abi. No worries o
no baby i didn't ooo.
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 12:48pm On May 08, 2017
I'm walking in the mountains, the world lush and green around me. Appalachia. Dew drops on the kudzu. A slight mist in the air as the heat of the sun evaporates the morning moisture.

I walk, and the path narrows, gradually disappearing, and I'm falling, sliding down the hill, my fingers grasping at branches and vines and rocks, unable to find purchase on anything.

Suddenly a large, strong, warm hand clasps mine, stopping my descent. The hand pulls me up, setting me on solid ground again. I look at the hand holding mine. It is pale, peachy-gold, long- fingered and broad. My eyes follow his arm upward to a wide shoulder, then to a muscular neck attached to a strong jaw.

I know whose face I am going to see, but still I gasp.

Unusually full lips, dark dusty pink, and a straight nose lead to a pair of eyes, curiously tender, blue streaked with gray, all beneath a crown of golden hair.

"Didn't I tell you that this is what I do?"

Lori's eyes fly open and she sits up in bed.

She looks at her alarm clock. 2:15. Clutching her sheets to her chest, she blinks in the darkness.

"All right, Lord, if that wasn't a sign, I don't know what one is."
Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 1:20pm On May 08, 2017

"Andersen," Percy picks up his phone Tuesday morning, stretching his left leg out in front of him, rubbing his knee a moment before bending forward and yanking his pant leg up to adjust his prosthesis. Didn't get it quite right this morning, he thinks, replacing his pant leg over the false lower leg and foot.

"Mr. Andersen? My name is Robert Carter.

Do you have a moment?"

"Um, sure…" he says, puzzling for a moment.

"Carter? Like Carter Law Offices?"

"Well, that Carter is my father, but yes."

"Ah. If you're calling why I think you're calling, I don't want to talk on this line. Can I call you on my lunch hour? I'll go to a pay phone and call you."

"I am, and of course," Robert says, smiling. He's going to cooperate. He gives Percy the number and resolves to eat his own lunch in his office so he doesn't miss the call.

Rob hangs up the phone, sighs, and lifts it again. "Vivian, when is Marcus in today?"

"He should be here in half an hour, Mr. Carter," she says.

"Send him right to me as soon as you see him, please."

"Yes, sir."

In his office, Percy sits and stares another moment. She called Carter. Not Jameson.

Interesting. Percy had been in this half of the country long enough to be surprised that a colored person would call a white lawyer. Lori appeared to be a smart girl. I'm sure she had a good reason to choose this man.

He stands and walks to his filing cabinet, opening the top drawer. Far in the back is a file folder. He pulls it out and thumbs through the copies of the repair requests. Thank you, Captain Lee, he thinks, remembering his Captain's motto. CYA: Cover Your Ass.

"Boss?" a voice interrupts his thoughts. Percy looks up and sees Duncan's face peeking into his doorway.

"Duncan, what can I do for you?" he asks, casually closing the file drawer and setting the folder on his desk.

"New shipment just arrived. Need your signature," Duncan says.

"Right," Percy looks at the folder on his desk, picks it up again, and stashes it in his bottom desk drawer.

Duncan looks on curiously, wondering what is so secretive that he can't leave it sitting in the open but not so secretive that Percy allows him to see where he's hidden it.

Percy smirks slightly, and as he walks unevenly down the stairs from his office above the warehouse, he mutters to Duncan, "Copies of the repair requests."

"You got copies? How'd you get copies?"

"I made them before I submitted them."

"Damn, boss, you smart," Duncan says, looking up at the young man, his mouth agape.

"Not smart. Careful."

"Someone call you?"

"Yes. I'm going to the payphone on the corner at lunch to talk to him. I'd ask you and Ezra to come along, but that might look suspicious."


"I do have his phone number. I'll make sure a copy finds its way into your hands."

"Thanks, boss."

"I think Tom's daughter may be even smarter than we thought."

"She wa'n't the apple of his eye for nothin'," Duncan says.

"Shh," Percy says as they walk onto the main floor of the warehouse, among the rest of the workers.

A few hours later, Percy is out in the midday heat, crammed into a phone booth that is clearly built for someone who is not six-foot-five and 235 pounds of solid muscle. He drops a dime into the slot and dials the number.

"Carter Law Offices, this is Vivian, may I help you?"

"Hello, Robert Carter, please," Percy says, leaning on the side of the glass booth.

"One moment."

He waits his moment, and soon Rob's voice greets him. "Robert Carter."

"Mr. Carter, this is Percy Andersen. We spoke briefly this morning."

"Please, call me Rob or Robert. Thank you for calling me back."

"Thank you for understanding my not wanting to talk in my office this morning."

"Not a problem at all. So then you know what this is about?"

"Tom Thompson."

"Right. Loretta tells me that you and two others have some information that might help make things safer for your workers?"

"Well, I have some information that might help expose the fact that the current working conditions in the warehouse are unsafe… deadly, I'd say."

"So would I," Rob says. "Mr. Andersen, can I ask you a personal question?"

"Percy. And yes, you can."

"Are you related to Eugene Alined?"

Percy sighs, and when Rob hears it, he has his answer. "Yes. He's my uncle. No one here knows, though, and I prefer it that way."

"Because you don't want them to know that your uncle gave you the job because you are his nephew?"

"Because my uncle is a slimeball and I'm ashamed to be related to him. And what you said, too."

"Why did you take the job, then?"

"I needed a job. I'm… I'm a disabled Army vet, Rob. Lost part of my leg in 'Nam. Went home to Sioux Falls and no one would hire me. My mom talked to her older brother, even though she hates him, and he agreed to hire me. I need to work, so I took it."

"So you have no problem with helping Loretta with her case against your uncle?"

"None," Percy says decisively, so much so that Rob wonders what Alined did that makes Percy hate him so much.

Not the time for that question. "So… this information you have for me. Is it concrete?"

"If copies of repair requests for various pieces of equipment around the warehouse that have gone un-fulfilled is what you'd call concrete, then, yes."

Rob almost drops the phone. "You have copies?"

"Dated and signed."

"Percy, I think you just became my star witness."

The two men arrange a meeting time, and Percy tells him about Duncan and Ezra. "I'll give them your number. They'll call you."

"Let me give you my home number. I don't suppose you have somethin' to write with?"

"No, but I'll remember it. I remember numbers.

I'll write both numbers down for them."

"Tell them they can call me anytime. I promised Loretta that I would not take y'all away from your jobs unless I absolutely had to."

"That's very considerate of you," Percy says, his brows furrowing. This guy is unbelievable. Why is he willing to bend over backwards for this case, I wonder?

"Don't want anyone to lose their jobs," Rob says simply.

"No, I suppose not," Percy agrees.

"I'll see you tomorrow evening, then. Bring those copies."

"Yes, sir," Percy answers automatically, then wonders what prompted that response. "And I'll pass the message along to Duncan and Ezra that they can call you anytime."

"And try to impress on them that they should call me. I'm tryin' to help, here, and they shouldn't worry. I realize that they'll be expectin' that Loretta called Abe Jameson."

"I was wondering about that, myself, to be honest."

"Well, whatever her reasons, she called me, and I am completely committed to this case. Please try to convey that to them."

"I will. I… I think they trust me, even though I'm just some white boy that was suddenly made their boss," he chuckles.

"Good. I'll let you get back to work," Rob says, then gives Percy his home phone number.

"Thanks. See you tomorrow."

"Looking forward to it."

Percy walks back to the warehouse, his limp only slightly noticeable. He worked hard to develop a natural gait after he was fitted with the prosthetic, not wishing to attract any more attention than he normally does.

He goes up to his office and takes a slip of paper.

Robert Carter. 555-3474 office. 555-2033 home. Call him any time, even at home. Share this with E.J.

Percy folds the paper in half, then half again, palming it in his large hand. He finds Duncan near the loading dock and catches his eye.

Lifting his hand to scratch his neck, he makes sure to flash the slip of paper in his hand, and Duncan gives a very slight nod. Percy continues towards Duncan, who turns to the side, facing slightly away from his boss.

As Percy brushes past him, Duncan drops his hand down and behind, fingers outstretched, grasping the slip of paper Percy places in it.

1 Like

Re: In Search Of Dreams (a Story Of Love And Racism) by Nnnena(f): 12:06am On May 10, 2017
Robert is just getting ready to leave for the day when his phone rings. He grabs it immediately.

"Robert Carter."

"Mr. Carter? My name is Duncan Matthews.

I got Ezra Johnson with me, here, too."

"Mr. Matthews, thank you for calling!"

"Thank you for taking Lori's case, Mr. Carter," Duncan says. He sounds nervous, uneasy.

"Please, Rob. I ain't old enough to be called 'Mr.' anything yet," he says, chuckling. "Was Percy Andersen able to tell you anything?"

"Not really, Mr. Rob. He told me that he had copies. He give me your number. Can't really talk freely at work. Folks might be listenin'."

"I would like to meet with both of you if you're willin' to help out."

"I wouldn't be callin' you if I wasn't willin'."

"Good. I can meet any time. I promised Loretta that I wouldn't take you gentlemen away from your jobs unless I absolutely had to.

Weekend, evening, whatever works for you."

"We's free now, if you's free."

Rob looks at his watch. "I am. You know Gareth's?"

"O' course we do."

"Can you meet me there in fifteen minutes? I reckon we can talk pretty freely there."

"You… you don't want us to come to yo' office?"

"I'm hungry," Rob says by way of explanation.

"Gareth does do a mean barbecue," Duncan says.

"Well, if you boys care to join me for supper, I'll buy."

"Oh, now, I couldn't let you…"

"Business expense," Rob interrupts. "Don't make me eat alone, now."

"Fifteen minutes, then," Duncan says.

Thirteen minutes later, Rob heads inside Gareth's to find that Duncan and Ezra are already there. At least he presumes the two black men seated at a table glancing anxiously at the door are Duncan and Ezra.

"Gareth," Rob nods at the barman, owner, and cook.

"Robert," Gareth nods back. Duncan looks up, hearing Gareth address the well-dressed blonde man who just strode into the tavern. Gareth nods at Duncan. This is your man.

Duncan stands then, catching Robert's eye. "Mr. Robert?" Duncan appears to be slightly older than Shawn, but Rob guesses him to be about Shawn's age. He is thin with balding gray hair.

"Just Robert, no mister," Rob smiles, extending his hand. Duncan tentatively takes it, and Rob shakes his hand. "Nice to meet you in person, Mr. Matthews."

"If you's just Robert, I's just Duncan," he says, relaxing slightly. "This here's Ezra," he introduces the other man.

Ezra takes Rob's outstretched hand and stands as well. He looks like a skittish bird, nervous, haunted by something. He is older than Rob, but younger than Duncan, perhaps 40.

"Relax, Ezra, everything will be fine," Rob says in what he has now come to think of as his "Superman voice" thanks to Loretta and places his left hand over Ezra's hand, encapsulating the man's thin dry hand between both of his in a reassuring manner.

"Thank you, Mr… I mean Robert," Ezra says.

"Please," Robert motions for the two men to sit.

He pulls his own chair out when some soft piano music starts to play. He looks up. "Excuse me just one moment, gents."

Duncan and Ezra watch as Robert strides up to the piano, takes a very worn-looking dollar bill from his wallet, and places it in the glass on the top of the piano. Marcus mutters something they cannot hear, and then Robert laughs loudly, throwing his head back. He squeezes Marcus's shoulder in a friendly way and saunters back to the table.

"Sorry, Marcus and I have been passing that dollar back and forth for about ten months now," Rob says, chuckling as he sits.

"You know Marcus?" Ezra asks.

"He's my best friend," Rob nods. "Thanks, man," he says to Gareth, who has just brought them three bottles of Dr. Pepper. "I tried tipping him when he first started playin' here, you know, to encourage others to drop a coin or two in. He told me that a whole dollar was showin' off and tried givin' it back. I refused. Found it in my briefcase the next day when I got home from work. Now we keep passin' that bill back and forth. I've had it for three weeks now, bidin' my time."

"You white boys is strange," Duncan shakes his head.

"I know," Robert answers, chuckling again, much to their surprise. "But that's what keeps life interestin', right? Everyone's a little strange."

"You boys want some grub?" Gareth calls over.

"Darn right," Rob calls back. "Set us up, my good man. Three of your finest… whatever you got goin' back there," he waves. Then he turns to Duncan and Ezra. "So. Loretta gave me your names, so I presume there was a reason she chose you two special."

Duncan and Ezra look at each other. "What did the boss tell you?"

"Percy? Only that he has paperwork that proves that your equipment was faulty and that he was willing to take the stand and help us out."

Rob leaves out the nephew-of-the-big-boss detail, remembering that Percy didn't want that out. It may prove a key point later, though.

"I've worked in that warehouse for ten year," Duncan says. "Longer'n most. Only one there long as me was Tom."

"So you can vouch for Tom's character, then?"


"Sorry. You are willing and able to say that Tom was a good man, that he wasn't doin' anything that he shouldn't have been doin' that would have put him in danger?"

"Yeah, I can vouch that," Duncan nods. "You seem to know Lori pretty well," he says, looking sideways at Rob a moment.

"I met her by accident back in August and have met with her officially on this case once. But I would say I have a pretty good idea about what kind of person she is, yes," Rob says carefully.

"By accident?"

"I, um, bumped into her and knocked her down.

Accidentally. 'Cause I wasn't watchin' where I was goin'."

"Fair enough," Duncan says. "What I'm gettin' at is Lori is just like her Daddy. Never steppin' a toe out o' line. Not like that fool brother o' hers at all. At work, Tom was a… what do you white people say? He was a model employee."

Rob takes a small notebook out of his inside breast pocket and starts making notes. "What's your job at the warehouse, Duncan?"

"I run the loading dock. Most o' those repair requests were submitted by me. Well, Boss submitted them, but I tell him what needs fixin'."

"Very good," Rob nods, making notes. Gareth arrives with three plates containing pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw. "Thanks, Gareth," he says, nodding.

"Ezra, how about you?"

"I don't do nothin' special," he says. "But I was the one drivin' that cursed fork truck. The one that killed Tom."

"Oh, Lord, I am sorry," Rob sets his pen down.

Suddenly Ezra's strange demeanor comes into focus. "I'm sure Tom knows…"

"I know," Ezra says. "Lori don't hold me to blame. No one holds me to blame 'cept me."

"Seems to me that Mr. Alined is to blame," Rob says decisively. "You are as much a victim as Tom and Loretta and Elliot, Ezra."

"At least I has my life," Ezra says, the guilt plain in his voice.

"Well, yes, but what kind o' life are you livin' right now? You're beatin' yourself up every minute. I can see it on you, plain as the shirt on your back."

"Yessuh," he says, nodding in agreement, his eyes downcast.

"Ezra, I don't want to make this any harder for you. If you can tell me what you can, it'll help Loretta. It'll help all o' y'all."


"Well, yes. Lori isn't looking for money here. She wants things to be made safe for you, her father's friends and coworkers. She wants Mr. Alined to know that his negligence… um, lack of action will not go unnoticed. She wants something good to come out of her father's death."

"She tole you this?" Ezra says, looking up again. "She did."

"Does sound like Lori," Duncan says, smiling a little.

"The truck had bad brakes," Ezra suddenly starts talking, poking his coleslaw with his fork. "The steering was goin'. The tires was bald. It was startin' to make strange noises. The hydraulics needed tendin' to. We got a couple trucks, but we needs 'em both workin' else we get yelled at for not keepin' up. I lost the toss that day…"

"Lost the toss?"

"We was flippin' coins to see who had to drive the bad truck," he explains. Rob makes a note of this. "I lost that day. Mort called tails. I always call tails. So I's drivin' this fool truck, strugglin'. I turn the wheel left, it go straight. I hit the brakes, it don't stop. 'Fore I knew it, I was headin' down the wrong aisle with the forks stuck half up. Tom was trapped. I…"

"You don't have to go on, Ezra. I saw the hospital report; I know what happened," Rob says softly. He recalls some of the details and suddenly the pulled pork dripping with dark red barbecue sauce doesn't look so appetizing. He takes a bite of slaw instead.


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