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Posts tagged ‘professor’

Teacher Warrior Mother Friend

imgresWhen I was a young man (about two hundred years ago), I was lucky enough to discover a martial arts school in my hometown that taught Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. The head teacher (Sensei) was a woman named Professor Jane Carr. The reason I say “lucky” is because I could have innocently become involved with a so-called teacher who had not been well trained, whose only concern was fighting or winning competitions and/or making money. A teacher, who cared more about power, control and prestige then self-control, honor and respect.

Professor Carr was different. She was a teacher, warrior, mother, counselor, non-violent activist and friend all rolled up into one. She expected all her students to work hard to improve themselves in all aspects of their lives, in and out of the dojo (practice hall). She commanded respect, not because of her fighting skills (which are formidable), but because she showed respect for others and would settle for nothing less in herself. Her presence demonstrated and invited those around her to discover their own inner strengths and character. Professor Carr is still teaching (after 55 years), and her daughter is head instructor at the academy. Sensei Carr was recently awarded her 10th degree black belt, making her one of only three people in the American Judo & Jiu-Jitsu Federation to have this degree, and the only woman.

Books With Brainy Heroines

Good Minds Suggest—Deborah Harkness’s Favorite Books with Brainy Heroines
From Goodreads – July, 2014

16054217Who better to mold a brainy heroine of paranormal fantasy novels than a devoted academic herself? Professor Deborah Harkness teaches history at the University of Southern California, although you may know her better as the author of the wildly popular All Souls Trilogy, which includes A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and the final installment out this month, The Book of Life. Harkness’s intellectual passion is the history of science—encompassing the history of magic and alchemy. At the heart of her madcap epic is a similarly erudite historian, Diana Bishop, a researcher (and witch, whose magical powers have been suppressed) who uncovers a powerful manuscript at Oxford’s Bodleian Library and falls in love with an aristocratic 1,500-year-old vampire (who is, appropriately, also a bookworm with a penchant for genetics). Harkness shares five books featuring women who can out-reason or out-research any adversary.

Read all of Professor Harkness’s recommendations and more at GOODREADS.

Goddess of Cancer – Scene 6

Excerpt from Goddess of Cancer and Other Plays by Gabriel Constans.

Goddess of Cancer – Scene 6

Plays Conclusion

Characters

GODDESS: Multi-cultural woman of no particular age. Face painted a variety of flesh tones. Hair a mixture of blond, brown, red, black and gray. Long rainbow-colored robe. Changes persona frequently.

VICKI: Asian-American woman in her twenties. Casual dress. Animated. Angry. Anxious. Scared.

WENDY: European-American woman in her thirties. Conservative dress. Quiet. Shy. Fearful.

JENNIFER: African-American woman in her forties. Business suit (beeper). Intellectual. In control. Avoids emotion.

LENNIE: Mexican-American woman in her fifties. Flowing skirt, flowery blouse. Insightful. Compassionate.

BARBARA: Arab-American woman in her sixties. Gray skirt and sweater (wearing a cross). Strong. Survivor. Dogmatic. Angry. Tired.

CHANTALL: Jewish-American woman in her seventies. Slacks and blouse (gray wig, in wheelchair). Humerous. Matter of fact. Sarcastic. Worried.

Setting

Living room. White couch center stage facing audience. White chair next to couch, stage left and black coffee table in front of couch. Large green plant on floor between couch and chair. Flowers in a vase on table. White door stage left. Three large pictures with red frames on wall behind couch. One picture is of the Grim Reaper, one is of an angel and the other an hourglass. Black bar facing audience stage right, with potted plant on its corner. A light switch is on the wall by the bar. Closed cupboard behind bar is full of cigarettes.

A slide-projector (with a color slide of each actor’s face shown at beginning of each scene) is placed on one end of the bar for the Goddess to operate or in front of the stage and controlled by a stage member.

Time: Afternoon or early evening. Present.

ACT I

SCENE 6 – FINAL SCENE

(Chantall’s picture appears on screen/wall.)

GODDESS: Chantall. Seventy-six. Retired professor.

(There is the sound of the door opening and closing.)

GODDESS: (Continued) Husband died twenty years ago. Children and grandchildren. Present partner, Audrey.

CHANTALL: Partner and best friend.

GODDESS: Who’s there?

(Silence)

GODDESS: (Continues) Metastatic bone cancer. Chemotherapy unsuccessful. I’m spreading to her major organs. Death is lurking nearby.

CHANTALL: It’s always lurking, what’s new?

GODDESS: (turns on lights and sees Chantall in a wheelchair in front of the couch.) Chantall! You sneak you. You weren’t supposed to know yet.

CHANTALL: What part? That my body is failing or who my friends are?

GODDESS: (Grins and goes to couch to sit by Chantall.) You know which part. Don’t play games with me professor.

CHANTALL: No need. You play enough already.

GODDESS: How did you get in here?

CHANTALL: Same as you, through the front door. Your hearing must be slipping. You look tired. Maybe you should lay down and rest.

GODDESS: That’s my line! Don’t confuse me.

CHANTALL: You’ve been confused for years. You never did know how to divide properly without rearranging everyone’s DNA.

GODDESS: I’m a slow learner.

CHANTALL: You can say that again.

GODDESS: I’m a slow . . .

CHANTALL: (Overlapping) Don’t you dare!

(Both of them laugh. Goddess goes over to bar.)

GODDESS: Like some tea?

CHANTALL: Tea?! You call that a drink? Give me a margarita or a whiskey, straight.

GODDESS: Coming up.

(Goddess pours drink, brings it back to Chantall and sits. Chantall takes drink and downs it.)

CHANTALL: That’s better.

GODDESS: You didn’t just stop by for a drink. What’s up?

CHANTALL: What’s up? Can’t a girl just make a friendly visit to see her killer face to face?

GODDESS: (Suspiciously) What do you want?

CHANTALL: There’s something I have to ask you. It’s very serious.

(Goddess leans closer.)

GODDESS: Yes?

CHANTALL: Does this gray wig make me look too old?

(Chantall pulls off wig, reaches into her bag on side of wheelchair and pulls out a long, dark-haired wig.)

CHANTALL: (Grinning ear to ear.) How about this . . . the Cher look?

(She puts that one back and takes out a short brown wig.)

CHANTALL: (Continued) This is Audrey’s favorite. She says I look like K. D. Lang with wrinkles. Sort of sexy, isn’t it?

GODDESS: Which one do you like best?

CHANTALL: (She pulls off last wig and remains bald.)
This one. My Sinead O’Conner look. No fuss. No bother. Don’t even have to shave, since my hair fell out. (Pause) Think of all the time I wasted in my life washing, drying, brushing and styling; worrying about how I looked and what others thought. Good grief . . . what a waste of energy.
(Pause.) Say, we could market this and make a fortune. ‘New. ChemoDo! Hair treatment for men and women. Take intravenously or by capsule and in just two weeks you too can look like this!’

(She shows off her head proudly.)

CHANTALL: (Continued) ‘No fuss. No bother. Twenty-one day guarantee or your money back. Only nineteen ninety-five, plus eighteen dollars for shipping and handling! Call now and receive free anti-nausea pills at no extra charge. That’s ChemoDo. 1(800) FYU-CHEM. Operators are lying nearby.’

(Both of them laugh loudly until Chantall starts coughing.)

CHANTALL: (Continued) By the way. You don’t have a cigarette lying around do you?

GODDESS: Do I have a cigarette?! That’s like asking John Wayne if he has a horse.

(Goddess gets up and looks around.)

GODDESS: (Continued) I should have one around here somewhere.

(Goddess goes to cupboard, opens it and hundreds of
cigarettes fall out. She picks one up, gets a lighter, goes back to Chantall and lights it for her. Chantall takes a long drag and slowly exhales.)

CHANTALL: Thanks. You better sit back a little. You don’t want to catch any second-hand smoke.

GODDESS: Of course not. It can kill you, you know.

CHANTALL: Really. Oh my. Give me some more!

(They both crack up, then Chantall suddenly stops.)

CHANTALL: (Continued) Seriously. There’s something I have to tell you.

GODDESS: Really? What?

CHANTALL: You’ve gotten a rotten reputation.

GODDESS: (Feigned surprise.) Why, I never!

CHANTALL: Folks blame you for everything. They act like you’re the plague.

GODDESS: The nerve. Well, as Gilda Radner used to say, ‘It’s always something, isn’t it?’

(They both laugh. Chantall takes another drag and looks down at the floor.)

CHANTALL: (Matter of factly.) I’m not afraid of dying you know. I’m even looking forward to it a little. The only thing that’s holding me back is Audrey. She’s the sensitive type. You know, weeps like a faucet. (Pause) She tries not to cry in front of me. She knows I can’t stand such dribble, but I see it in her eyes. (Pause) What can I do to help her understand?

GODDESS: She is understanding, in her own way. (Pause) Let her be. You do it your way, let her do it hers.

(Goddess puts her hand on Chantall’s leg.)

GODDESS: (Continued) It’s OK to grieve, you know. I hear it’s even a healthy thing to do now and then.

CHANTALL: Perhaps, but it seems so asinine.

GODDESS: To you.

CHANTALL: Why can’t she just enjoy the moment . . . roll with the punches? We’re dying the day we’re born anyway.

GODDESS: Some laugh, some cry.

(Chantall abruptly changes subject.)

CHANTALL: Hey, did you hear the joke about the old guy who believed in reincarnation?

GODDESS: No, but you’re going to tell me, right?

CHANTALL: This guy believed so strongly in reincarnation that he had them hang a sign on his tombstone that said, ‘Back in five minutes.’

(They both laugh. A car horn honks off stage.)

CHANTALL: Gotta go Goddess. Audrey’s giving me a ride home.

(Chantall heads towards the door, then stops and turns her chair towards The Goddess.)

CHANTALL: (Continued) You’re a riot. You know that?

GODDESS: Not so bad yourself, for a vibrant, bald-headed, elderly professor. Now, don’t go being foolish with your time, OK?

CHANTALL: Time? Don’t be silly. There is no such thing.

(Goddess opens the door as Chantall exits waving
goodbye. Goddess closes door, turns back towards front of living room.

GODDESS: (Out loud to herself.) Leave ‘em laughing Honey. Leave ‘em laughing.

(Goddess goes to turn off lights.)

GODDESS: (Continued) Let’s see. Who is our next lucky winner?

(Blackout)

THE END

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A Good Book

Excerpt from short story collection Saint Catherine’s Baby.

A GOOD BOOK – PART 1

“Hurry up Sy! We’ll be late, Ruthie hollered from the hallway, as she threw on her wool coat.

The last time they arrived late at a book signing at Sophie’s Choice, to hear Isabel Allende read from her latest release, they’d ended up by the front door with biting cold wind attacking the back of their necks every time someone entered or left the building. Sophie’s was there favorite literary hangout among the plethora of bookstores in their academically diverse college town. It was named after the owner, Sophie Thompson, who had taken her sister’s advice and appropriated the familiar title.

“Sy!” she yelled again, just as he turned the corner from the upstairs bedroom and descended the aging wooden stairs, which squeaked like asthmatic mice with every step.

“I’m coming. I’m coming,” he grinned, still tucking in his shirt. “You’d rather I go naked?!”

Ruthie’s lips parted slightly as she watched her husband of thirty-four years. He walked with a slight limp from his hip surgery the previous summer.

“Damn,” she thought. He looks good.”

She waited until he reached the last step, stood on her toes and shared her thoughts by planting a kiss on his familiar weathered lips and giving him a squeeze around his hips. When their mouths parted he kissed her slightly rouged cheeks and put his large fingers through her shoulder-length wavy gray hair.

As he snapped his tan parka, he asked, “Who is this we’re seeing again?”

“Alice Hooks.”

“Hooks?” he rolled questionably across his tongue, while holding the screen door open for Ruthie to lock the door. She put her arm in his as they walked towards there eighties Plymouth. “Isn’t she that environmental fiction writer you like so much?”

“No,” Ruthie said, waiting for him to unlock the car door. “You’re thinking of Barbara Kingsolver.”

Sy opened her door.

“Thanks Hon,” she said, as she sat on the old torn leather seat.

Sy went around the front, climbed in, patted the dashboard for good luck and turned the ignition.

“Still purrs like a kitten,” he said sweetly for the ten-thousandth time.

They drove out of the gravel driveway, down Chestnut Street, towards town on the straight and narrow two-lane road they had driven their kids and step-kids to school and themselves to and from work for thirty years. This was Sy’s second marriage. He had two children from his previous marriage and he and Ruthie had purposefully created one of their own.

The next in kin had all flown the coup long ago and kept in touch with their “old folks” with fluctuating degrees of attention, based on their needs and/or personality. The one constant connection with their offspring was their children’s children. They had three of these grandchildren, two by birth and one adopted, to whom they were severely devoted and unashamedly tethered.

“Alice Hooks is a writer of romantic feminist fiction,” Ruthie explained. “The book she’s reading from tonight is Close Encounters. It was nominated for The National Book Award last year.”

“Sort of like Gloria Steinem falling in love with Steven Spielberg?”

“I knew you’d say something like that,” Ruthie sighed. “I just knew it.”

“Well,” Sy replied, still grinning at his own joke, “I had to say it then didn’t I? I don’t want to destroy your expectations or diminish your superior powers of Elementary Spiritual Perceptions.”

Ruthie gently slapped his leg with the back of her hand.

“Far from it,” she smiled. “Close Encounters is about a woman called Maya. She’s an anthropologist and professor, who circumnavigates the globe on research expeditions. While studying antiquities and cultures she also searches for a man who is willing to practice feminism in bed, as well as at work. Every time she thinks she’s found her mate, he starts to subtly or blatantly manipulate her and splits when he doesn’t get what he thinks he wants.” Ruthie sighed noticeably.

Sy’s smile had vanished. He gazed straight ahead, as if he was a student driver concentrating on not making a mistake. As they reached the city limits he said, “Well?”

“Well what?”

“Does she ever find the man of her dreams?”

Ruthie’s left hand rested gently on Sy’s thigh. She could feel his hamstrings tighten with each step on the gas peddle. “I don’t know,” she said. “I haven’t finished it yet.” She smiled and squeezed Sy’s leg. “But I’ve found mine.”

Sy was flooded with relief by Ruthie’s re-assuring words. He had always helped raise the kids, cleaned and cooked at home and believed that women and men should be respected for their character not their gender. He was beginning to look forward to hearing this Hook’s lady.

The parking lot at Sophie’s Choice was full.

“I knew it,” Ruthie admonished. “Will have to park on the street.”

Sy found a spot a block away. They walked briskly to the entrance and to their surprise, saw two empty chairs in the far back. They made their way to the metal folding chairs, used their coats as cushions to sit on and caught their breath. Sy took in the crowd and noticed that only two other men were in attendance, re-confirming his enlightened attitude.

Their timing was impeccable. Just as they had taken their seats the introductions were completed and the author, to much applause and a few jubilant trills of sisterly welcome, stepped up to the podium.

Sy was mortified. Not only did Alice Hooks not look like the radical feminist he had envisioned, but she was not Alice Hooks. The woman he saw standing before the crowd, waiting respectfully for the applause to subside, was Alice Hawkins, the woman he’d been in love with in college.

“I can’t believe this,” he proclaimed, while his eyes remained riveted to the wet lips and long neck he had once kissed so passionately.

“She must have changed her name,” he whispered to Ruthie. “I knew her when she was Alice Hawkins.”

“Shhhh,” she replied.

Sy was eternally grateful that they were late and ended up in the back row. “I wonder if she would still recognize me?”He pondered. “I doubt it,” he answered himself. “I was nothing to her.”

As Alice began reading from her book Sy couldn’t push aside the gut feeling that her personal life and thus his own, was being laid bare for public consumption. He was undoubtedly one of the men she had based her story on.

“He raised his sweaty head from the pillow,” Alice read, “and practically spit in Refina’s face.” Alice glanced at the audience over the top of her designer glasses, then returned to the words on the page. “’You aren’t worth it,” he said coldly and turned away. You don’t understand.’

‘Understand what?’ she pleaded.

‘Me. You’ll never understand me.’

Rafina replied, ‘I understand you all to well.’

‘See!’ he yelled, with a trembling voice, as he got out from under the rumpled bedsheets and put on his bathrobe. ‘You’ve never liked me!’ He pouted, retreating to the bathroom. She slipped on her nightshirt and followed.

‘There’s no pleasing you,’ she said, standing in the doorway as he pissed away his anger. ‘Whatever I do isn’t enough. You always want me to be different.’

He shook off the last drops, tied his bathrobe and walked past her as if she were part of the door frame.

‘Lies,’ he whispered. ‘All lies.’ She watched him zip up his pants. ‘How often have I told you I love you?!’ he said accusingly.

‘Yeah,’ she agreed. ‘How often and when?’ He stopped tucking in his shirt and stared blankly. ‘Whenever I get physical, is when,’ she stated. ‘When I act like your sexual puppet, is when. Whenever I do things I don’t really want to do out of fear I’ll lose you. And you know what?’ He put on his watch and started towards the door. ‘I’m going to lose you anyway.’ She wiped her fingers on her nightshirt, as if she was trying to rub out the memory of his touch. ‘I don’t need that kind of love.’

‘See ya Refina,’ he said, turning. ‘I hope you enjoy being alone. You’re so damn controlling and manipulating nobody could ever put up with you.’

‘Don’t project your crap on me!’ she shouted, as the door careened open and he disappeared down the hall of the old city hotel.

Refina stared through the door at the empty hallway and concluded, ‘I’d rather screw myself then let that fool think he’s loving me.’”

***

After the reading Ruthie wanted to get her book autographed, but Sy lied and said, “It’s late honey. I’m a little tired.”

She looked at the long line and the clock, hesitated, then reluctantly agreed.

Sy deftly guided them towards the door, along the far side of the exuberant crowd that had cheered Ms. Hooks with a robust standing ovation.

CONTINUED TOMORROW

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The Sweetest Man – Part 1

Excerpt from short story collection Saint Catherine’s Baby.

Joshua Johnson stopped hauling the garbage can towards the bins and watched the Kindergarten children laughing, jumping and skipping on the playground.

“What a sweetie,” he thought, looking at a child with ribbon tied pigtails flopping on the side of her head like rabbit ears, as she ran playing freeze tag with another girl. “She’s just too cute.” He smiled to himself, picked up the can of discarded lunch plates and food and walked without haste towards the trash receptacle.

Joshua and smiles went together like popcorn and warm butter. He was one of those folks that could drive you nuts with his pleasant disposition. It could be the coldest, wettest, dreariest day of the year and he’d find something nice about it.

Just as you ran into the hallway, pulling your child in out of the storm, drenched and shivering, he’d walk by and say, “Good morning.” If you looked at him frowning, wondering what was good about it, he’d nod out the window and add, “Sure is a God- send for the trees.” As you forced a crooked smile, he’d be off, whistling some cheerful tune that sounded familiar, but he’d made to be quite his own.

Mr. Johnson, who was fairly good looking at fifty-one years of age, with short, curly gray-black hair, skin like rich dark earth and a prominent dimpled chin, had a gift for remembering names. He knew almost every child in the school. On his way to dumping the trash, Joshua realized he didn’t know the name of the little girl he’d seen playing tag and resolved to find out first thing in the morning.

***

As the bell rang, announcing the end of the school day, Leslie King made her way through the swarming hallways and met her son, Sevon, outside his fifth grade classroom.

It was only the second week of school and she and Sevon had hastily moved to the area a month ago. Though she’d known about the move ahead of time and prepared all summer, it had taken them much longer than she’d anticipated to find a decent place to live and a school district she found acceptable. It had just been their luck to move to an area of the country that had one of the highest costs of living and the lowest vacancy rates.

As a marketing manager for a major software company, she was required to relocate when needed. She was fine with the traveling, but didn’t like the impact it had on Sevon. She’d decided that this would be their last move. She was already looking into starting her own consulting firm and had some good leads on a few venture capitalists who might be interested.

Her mother, a professor of literature at the University of Texas in Austin, said she’d pitch in a couple grand if she needed it. She’d been able to keep her head when her mother had offered and simply said, “Thanks Mom. I’ll let you know.”

Yeah, her mother would give her some dough alright, but she’d have to pay some painful penance, hearing about how she was an idiot for dropping out of graduate school in her final year. And knowing herself, as she did, she knew that that sickening childhood shame, of never being good enough in her mother’s eyes, would once again creep under the door of her watchful radar and infect the healthy self-esteem she’d struggled to develop and protect.

Since Sevon’s father had left, over four years ago, Leslie had been too busy simply surviving to concern herself much with dating or meeting anyone new. he’d gone out a few times, usually with executives or colleagues, but found them to be conceited or consumed with accumulating material goods. She didn’t see herself as knocking guys out with her looks, but knew that for someone thirty-seven years old, she could easily strike a pose with her high chestnut cheekbones, accentuate her firm hips and legs and still turn some heads.

A few years ago she’d straightened her kinky black hair and had liked it so much she’d continued to torture herself with the weekly process to keep it that way, though it had now become more habit than enhancement.

She didn’t really care about how she looked anymore, just enough to keep appearances and have Sevon be proud of his mom. He was all that mattered. Any men in her life were a sideshow, at best a momentary pleasure, at worst a nuisance.

“Hey little man,” she said, carefully restraining herself from giving him a big luscious hug, knowing that would embarrass him beyond comprehension in front of his classmates. “How goes it?”

“OK,” he replied, smiling.

As they walked towards the exit, Leslie bent down slightly and whispered, “I missed you today.”

Sevon glanced up, frowned and looked around quickly to make sure nobody had heard her. “Mom!” he hissed.

He’d grown so much in the last two years that he came up to his mother’s chest.

“It won’t be long until you’re a big man and I’ll be looking up at you,” she would tell him fondly, when they were in the privacy of their own home. He would try to act like he didn’t hear her, but she could see his pride burst like fresh seeds from a pod and would have had to take sandpaper to wipe the grin off his face.

One of two women, standing in front of the school office, talking loudly, glanced at Leslie as she and Sevon started to walk by. The woman, wearing shorts and a bright yellow-orange jogging sweater, stopped mid-sentence and said, “Hello. I’m Eloise, Eloise Jacobs. Alex’s mom.”

Leslie stopped, shook Eloise’s pinkish-white outstretched hand and wondered if she was supposed to know this woman.

“Our sons’ are in the same class with Mrs. Rios,” she explained. “Your son’s name is Devon or Givon . . . I’m sorry I don’t remember.”

Leslie turned to her son. “This is Sevon,” she pronounced clearly, accentuating the short e.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Eloise exclaimed, reaching out her hand to Sevon. “Glad to meet you.”

Sevon shook hands quickly and he and Alex, who had just appeared, both scurried down the hall.

Leslie called, with a little anxiety in her voice, “Where are you going?”

Sevon yelled, “We’ll be outside Mom, by the basketball court.”

Before Leslie could say another word Eloise started talking. “Alex has gone here all his life. It’s a great school. Sure, there’s a few teachers that are so so, but most of them are good. And the parents really help out.”

Leslie noticed the other woman Eloise had been talking to start to leave, as did Eloise.

“I’m sorry,” Eloise said quickly, grabbing the other woman by the sleeve. “This is Linda Chang. Her daughter’s in the other fifth grade class. She helps out with the tutoring program in the library.”

Linda shook Leslie’s hand. “Is this your son’s first year?” she asked, a solid silver necklace around her throat and an aqua blue suit adorning her medium frame. “I don’t remember seeing him before.”

“Yes,” Leslie said hesitantly, still looking for Sevon out the window. She saw him playing with Alex, relaxed a little and turned back towards Linda. “We just moved here last month. Is it always so hard to find a place?”

Both women gave knowing nods.

“Where were you living before Mrs. um . . .?” Eloise inquired. “You do have a name besides Sevon’s Mom I presume.” All three women smiled, understanding how they often were referred to as someone’s mother instead of by their own names.

“It’s Ms. King, but please call me Leslie,” she replied. “We were living on the East Coast until I got transferred.”

“Transferred?” Linda inquired. “What do you do?”

“Well,” Leslie explained, “I have been working as a marketing consultant but I’m looking into . . .”

“Hey! What’s up?” yelled a short woman with long braided hair, high heels and bright red lipstick. A little girl that looked like her miniature was pulling her by the hand.

“Go play with Stacey,” she told the little girl. “She’s right out there.” She pointed to the playground. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

The little girl looked outside and took off running.

“Don’t run in the hallway!” the woman said and joined Eloise, Linda and Leslie.

“She’s such a doll,” Eloise told the woman.

“Yeah,” the lady replied, “a wind-up doll that never stops.”

They all laughed.

Eloise made the introduction. “Mrs. King, I mean Leslie or better known as Sevon’s Mom.” They all chuckled. “This is Marina. Marina Higuera.” They shook hands.

“Marina is the queen of the PTA,” Eloise continued.

“And about everything else,” Linda said satirically.

Marina lifted her chin and sauntered a few steps.

“It’s a good thing our husbands don’t attend PTA meetings,” Eloise smirked, “or Marina would have hijacked them all.”

They all laughed, as Marina batted her eyelashes playfully.

“Welcome,” Marina said sincerely.

“Thanks,” Leslie exclaimed.

Joshua entered the hallway, pushing the empty garbage can on a handcart and walked past the front desk whistling. He was reminding himself to find out the name of the new kid he just saw playing outside with Alex Jacobs.

Leslie, in the midst of explaining once again what she did for a living, stopped mid-sentence and watched the handsome, seemingly distracted older gentleman walk past whistling. The other women saw her eyes wander.

Suddenly, Marina called out, “Hey! Mr. Johnson!”

Joshua tipped the handcart forward, so it stood by itself and turned around to see Eloise Jacobs, Linda Chang, Marina Higuera and a lovely woman he didn’t know. With his easy, “I’ve got all morning” attitude, he walked over and nodded hello.

“Good afternoon,” he said, trying to keep from staring at Leslie. “Beautiful day out today, isn’t it?”

“Yes, indeed,” Marina exclaimed, and without much hesitation introduced Leslie.

“Pleasure to meet you Ma’m,” he said with pleasure, unable to hide his admiration.

Leslie shook his hand gently and felt a warm strength returned.

Nodding his head towards the basketball court he said, “And that must be your boy out there?”

“Yes.” She smiled. “Sevon.”

“Well well,” he said, not sure what else to say with all the ladies staring at him. “I ah, better get back to work.” He nodded over at the can in the middle of the hallway. “I can’t leave that standing there now, can I?”

“Take care Mr..Johnson,” Marina cooed.

“You all have a good night now,” he replied.

As he turned, he flashed a quick smile towards Leslie, but not enough for anyone to notice. He started whistling as he walked away from the desk and through the door to the cafeteria.

“Now wasn’t she something,” he told himself, as he replaced the trash can and put in a new liner. “Whoever she’s fixed up with is one lucky man.”

It had been a couple of years since Joshua had even considered getting involved with another woman. He enjoyed their company and was just as drawn to the opposite sex as most men, but things never really worked out and he’d decided it was better to leave things alone, considering his circumstances at home and all.

CONTINUED TOMORROW

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One Hill At A Time

RWANDA – Professor Krishna K. Govender is not your typical rector or university dean, if there is such a thing, nor did his path lead him to the often sought after academic post of a European or North American elite institution. After 15 years working in a “cushy job” at a small university in South Africa, Prof. Govender donned his robe and velvet hat and accepted a position as the head of the Kigali School of Finance and Banking (SFB) in the capital of Rwanda.

He says the hills and weather reminded him of his country and the mix of students struggling with tuition and school fees were reminiscent of his days growing up in a poor family. “I see the students, faculty and emerging economy,” he says, “and have great hope for their future”.

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