F.R.I.E.N.D.S. & The Choices That We Make
By Valerie A. Withers
F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is a moving story about seven women that experience various challenges in their lives; infidelity, abusive relationships, family drama, death, and many other life adversities. It is a powerful testimony to the power & beauty of true friendship and a tribute for essence of woman truly blossoming through the turbulent moments of reality.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has activated the ‘fasten your seat belt’ light. If you have not already done so, please fasten your seat belts as we prepare the cabin for landing. Please remain seated while the aircraft is making its final decent. The weather in sunny California is a beautiful eighty-five degrees. We hope that your ride was a pleasant one. We have enjoyed being your hosts for this flight. Please remain seated until the aircraft has taxied up to the gate, and has come to a complete stop. Once the captain has turned off the seat belt light, you will be safe to move about the aircraft. Items stored in the overhead compartments may have shifted during flight, so please be careful when opening the doors. When exiting the aircraft, please allow the handicapped, elderly, and any passengers with small children to exit first. Thank you for your cooperation. On behalf of our flight staff, we want to thank you for flying Air-T Trans, and you have a wonderful day.”
I am so glad this plane has landed. That was the worst flight I have ever been on in my life. There was turbulence the whole time. But thank God we made it in one piece. Here I am in Los Angeles for a high profile case that involves a double murder of two well-known priests. The two guys, who are being tried, are of course minorities. One is African American, and the other is Latino. I’m excited about covering this case because I think the exposure will do me good. I‘m planning on going back to school in the fall to further my studies on becoming a trial lawyer.
The case that I am going to be covering has been highly publicized over the last couple of months, and has drawn the attention of several influential civil rights activists. The judge presiding over the case, Judge Harrison, is an old college buddy of my boss, Judge McGraw. The District Attorney arguing the case is Clyde Morrison.
Side bar: He is a fyne looking brother. I read about him in the L.A. Times on the plane. Apparently, Judge Harrison’s regularly appointed court stenographer is out on maternity leave, and he does not have a replacement lined up. So my boss sent me to help him out. Hopefully I will get an opportunity to discuss my desire to become a trial lawyer with Mr. Morrison, a.k.a. Mr. Fyne, before the case is over.
3 ½ weeks later
My goodness Midway airport is extremely busy for a Wednesday morning. But even all of the hustle and bustle of this airport is not going to get me down. The trial has been postponed due to some new developments. So the proceedings have been delayed for approximately one month. Both parties need to go over these new developments.
I got an opportunity to watch Mr. Fyne, or shall I say Clyde, the District Attorney, in action. He insisted that I call him by his first name after the first couple of days. Truth be told, I think it was my long legs, and those short business suits that worked in my favor. He practically broke his neck giving me advice, and offering to take me out to dinner to further discuss my desire to become a trial lawyer. I’m learning a lot from him, so much so that I can’t wait to get back to hunting for a school. I think I’ll check my machine to see if Julian, that’s my man, got my message to pick me up at the airport.
“You have no messages”, the unknown Sprint lady announced. That’s strange. I called before I left LAX to tell him I was on my way home. He’s generally good about picking me up; maybe I should wait around a few more minutes just in case he’s on his way.
An hour later…
Ok, I guess I have no choice but to take a taxi to Julian’s place. He’s still not answering his cell phone, nor has he responded to any of my pages.
“Where to miss?” asks the taxi driver.
“I’m going to the south side, to Riverdale.”
I gave the driver the address, and then I laid my head back on the seat to rest my eyes. The traffic was heavy on I-55 as usual, and the ride took too long for my tastes. When the cab finally pulled up in front of Julian’s house, I was exhausted.
“Here we are miss, that’ll be $47.50,” the driver says. $47.50? That’s highway robbery!
“Thanks a lot. Keep the change.”
“Thank you miss. You have a nice day!”
I guess he will have a nice day since I gave him three twenty dollar bills. Now where is that key? As I opened the door, the quiet inside was deafening.
“Julian honey, are you home?”
No answer. Well, I think I’ll take a hot shower, and then slip into something a little more comfortable. Then think about what I can cook for a nice romantic dinner.
As I’m on my way to the bedroom, the phone rings. Should I answer it? No, I promised to respect my man’s privacy. Besides, he has an answering machine; it’ll catch the call.
The machine kicks in, “Hi, this is Julian, I’m not home. You know what to do at the tone. Peace.” Beep…
“Hi sweetie, it’s me. I was just calling to confirm our dinner date for tonight. I’ll be in and out of meetings for the rest of the afternoon, so leave me a message to let me know what time to meet you at the restaurant. Smooches.”
Clearly I must be hearing things. I know damn well I didn’t just hear another woman confirming plans with my man for dinner tonight. Maybe I should rewind that tape just to make sure I got my *bleep* straight. Beep….
“Hi sweetie, it’s me…”
Well I’ll be damned. That low down dirty…. Here I am breaking my neck to get back to Chicago, and he’s two timing me with another woman. Wait till I tell Synthia this *Bleep*. She won’t believe it. She has been on the ‘Julian band wagon’ ever since we got together. I’ve got to get out of here. No…. wait a minute. What the hell am I running for? I’m going to pour myself a nice cold glass of Chardonnay, and wait for his ass. I know it’s only ten o’clock in the freaking morning, but if I were out of the country, it would be 7:00 p.m. some damn where. Mr. Washington has some explaining to do.
Several hours later, I’m awakened by Julian’s keys in the door. “Ok girl, that’s him. Just stay calm Nina, and don’t go off. Be cool and try not to snap.”
“Nina baby, what a surprise! I thought you weren’t due back till tomorrow.”
“I got in this morning Julian. As a matter of fact, I called you from LAX to let you know when I was due in so you could pick me up from the airport.”
“Oh, baby I’m sorry. I don’t have my cell phone or pager. Jr. (that’s his son) and his friends decided to play cops and robbers, and now I can’t find them. I’m sorry baby, come here. I’ve missed you.” He tried to reach for my hand, but I was too fast for him.
“Is that right?” I asked rather sarcastically.
“Yeah baby, you say that like you don’t believe me. Is something wrong?”
“I don’t know Julian. Listen to your messages on your machine, then you tell me if something’s wrong.”
He pressed the message button on his machine, and the tape starts playing. Then the world stopped turning.
“Hi Sweetie, it’s me…”
“Baby let me explain. It’s not what you think.”
“Not what I think? Do you take me for some kind of fool or what?”
“Then don’t bull*bleep* me Julian. Who the hell was that?”
“Baby, come over to the couch so we can sit down and talk, ok?”
“No I don’t want to go sit on no damn couch and talk! I want to stand right here, and listen to what you have to say.”
“That was my sister, Marilyn. We haven’t seen each other in a while, and I promised her that I would take her to dinner to catch up. And since you weren’t due back till tomorrow…”
“Then why did she refer to you as sweetie?”
“Because she’s older than I am Nina, and that’s the way she talks. She’s called me sweetie ever since we were kids. If you don’t believe me feel free to call her yourself. You’re the only woman I want to be with Nina. You know that.”
“I sure hope so. I’m sorry I over reacted, but that message didn’t sound like a sister leaving a message for her brother to me.”
“Listen, I don’t have *bleep* to hide Nina, and I don’t like the fact that my own woman doesn’t trust me!”
Here we go with the ‘lack of trust’ thing he always throws back in my face. Now the guilt is starting to set in.
“Look Julian, I’m sorry. It’s just that I had a long flight, and I was really looking forward to spending some quality time with you tonight. It’s not necessary for you to call your sister. Besides, I don’t want to look like a jealous girlfriend, seeing as I’ve never met your sister before.”
That’s my fault. I never pressed the issue of meeting his sister. I always knew he had one. She’s a half sister, but a sister none-the-less.
“You just misunderstood the message that’s all. And to tell you the truth, it’s kind of cool you can get so worked up. I was beginning to wonder if you still cared.”
“Julian you know that I care about you, and I love you baby. It’s just that when a woman has been away from her man for several weeks, and she comes home and hears another woman’s voice on her man’s machine, the first reaction is to hit the roof. You know if the shoe were on the other foot, you would have done the same thing.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Listen, why don’t you join us. I have reservations at Lawry’s Steakhouse, and I’m sure it won’t be a problem getting an extra place setting.”
“No, I’m cool. I need to unpack, wash some clothes, and repack again. By that time, I will be ready for bed. You go on and have a good time with your sister. We can get together another time.”
“Ok, well give me a minute to get some papers out of my office, and then I’ll take you home. We cool?”
“Yeah, baby, we’re cool. I’m just a little jet lagged, that’s all.”
He gave me a kiss just to re-confirm everything was ok. I guess when my lips responded back that eased some of the tension. He must think I’m a basket case. It was an honest mistake, right? Girl, you need to get a grip and stop tripping. You have nothing to worry about. Your man loves you. I’ve really got to work on that paranoia *bleep*, or one of these days my relationship with my man is going to blow up in my face.