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Chapter 3: A Chance Encounter

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Chapter 3: A Chance Encounter

Champagne Braswell

“I just don’t understand why she needs to dress like a whore. It’s work not a Rachel’s gentleman’s lounge!

Shanna was always a riot at work.  She was my type of lady. She hated people and was messy. That’s all I needed.   We would sit at our desk sending instant messages and making eye contact when we would see someone dressing tacky. Every now and then we would meet outside of work for happy hour and talk about family, dating and everything else in between.  A divorced mother of 2, Shanna worked as the treasury manager while I worked as a compliance manager.  We griped about how boring work was and wished we could hit the lottery and just travel the world.

It had been a week since I had failed at dying. I didn't take much time to recoup. That's just how I am. I don't need time to cry, I accepted what I tried to do and I move on.  It happened on a Friday and I was back to work on Monday, just like a good little peon.

“So how’s sweet ass Cotton? When are ya’ll going to jump the broom?” She laughed so hard and so did I.

“You know how I feel Shan. He’s a great guy, I’m just having fun and so is he.”

She rolled her eyes in disbelief, but it was actually true. Regardless of the passion that we felt for each other, Cotton isn’t interested in marriage. There was one point during the relationship when my biological clock was ticking pretty loudly and I blurted out to Cotton that maybe we should get married.  You would have thought I said I slaughtered babies for a living. When I saw that response my feelings were hurt a little bit but I was able to infer that maybe it’s not his thing. I quickly got past that emotion and moved on like it never happened. 

Well that fine little Caramel Frappucino will not be on the market long. You better quit playing around and become Mrs. Doctor Hart.” She waived her hand around as if she was swinging an imaginary flag. 

“That’s not even how that works. I wouldn’t be Mrs. Doctor Hart. Maybe, Mrs. Doctor Beard ma’am.” We laughed so loud that people shushed us.

“Awww shush your damn selves!” Shanna responded flipping her dirty blonde hair at the complainants. 

She was truly the life of the party.


I left my job at about 7pm.  It was still sunny outside and the weather was just perfect. Warm enough to knock off the frost I had earned sitting in our building for an 8 hour day. I’m assuming because we have so many computers that they need to put the AC on the 'North Pole' setting.

I stood still with my arms stretched out wide in what I thought was an empty parking lot, letting the sun thaw my body. I felt like Superman being rejuvenated by the sun. It was then that I felt this presence. Something small and light, but warm and non-threatening. Something was disturbing my force as I was able to feel their presence without looking at them. I lowered my arms, raised my head to its normal position, and opened my eyes. It was a young boy.


He had this big Kool-Aide smile.

“Why are you doing that” he asked, still smiling.

I looked at the boy in disgust. His clothes were ratty. Torn around the edges of the shirt and shorts. His shirt said “We’re Dealin!’ the old slogan from the Ricart car dealership, but was missing parts of the blue letters. His once bright yellow cargo shorts were more of a tan due to being covered in dirt and grass stains. His shoes strings were unkempt and long. They looked like they were in one of those knots that someone accidentally uses and can never be taken out. They use those knots because they get tired tying shoes and instead of being cool about the situation, they create a mega knot that no one can get out and always look super stretched out from times when the kid has to squeeze their foot into their shoe.

He looked like a boy who loved the outdoors and smelled definitely like he loved the outdoors.

“Why do you stink like that?” I asked annoyed that this tiny presence had disrupted my morning. 

He laughed really hard,as if I told the most amazing joke ever.

Uh because I didn’t take a shower! Duh!” He made this silly face as if that answer was so simple, while smacking his forehead with the palm of his hand.

I’m not the biggest fan of kids, so I walked off. Obviously he was on some kid shit and I had no time for it.

He didn’t understand that me walking off was the end of the conversation, so he walked with me.  

“I like cars and I’m Carmelo, I’m 8.My mom named me Carmelo because I like Carmels."

You can tell he was trying to say caramel.  I won't be that person, though it was annoying that he couldn't say it right. 

“Is Carmelo your real name?”


“and it’s Carmelo because you like caramel?”


“If she named you Carmelo before you were out her stomach, how would your mom know  you would like caramel?”

I got his little butt, I thought.

“I dunno. Probably because she’s Psycho!”

“Psycho!?!” I asked

“Yep! She can tell the future!”

Now this kid is just being a dumbass.

“It’s psychic kid. Psychic. If your mom is a psycho, then you would be living in a group home with other kids whose mom’s are psychos.”



I had finally made it to my car. I hurried in, turning on the car and rolling down my windows to allow the heat to escape. I tried to hurry up and get settled so I could pull off and escape this useless conversation. I buckled my seat belt as the kid kept yammering on. He wasn't bothered by my lack of attention. He was just happy to have someone to talk to.  I went back to the little boy who was now standing by my driver’s side window, continuing what seemed like an interesting conversation to him.

“.and I said no one likes boogers!” and then he laughed. 

“So I’m going to go now. But you have a good day.” I put my car in reverse.

“You should move out the way or I’ll hit you and you’ll just be stuck in the parking lot. I’ve had a long day and I’m not taking any kids to the hospital.”

“But, you didn’t tell me your name!” He seemed sad. I didn’t care.

I stared at him waiting for him to move back so I wouldn’t smash his raggedy little toes. I realized he wasn’t budging.

“Marlee. Marlee Rogers. Can I go now?”

“Hi Marlee! I will see you later!” he then skipped out excited.

I watched him as he disappeared out of the parking lot into the residential neighborhood.They need to tighten up our security here, I thought. I pulled out the parking spot, turned on my radio and drove off the lot.