He'd gotten all of his necessary work straightened out and was about twenty minutes early for the Board meeting, where he'd be introduced as the new co- director of the local food bank. It was a cooperative venture that was supported by most of the local churches, as well as some of the government entities.
He also knew, in advance, that his appointment wouldn't be the only announcement that they'd be making that day. He'd discovered almost by accident that they were also appointing a co-director to help him with the job. Her name was Lily Jefferson, a local business woman, and if her reputation was to be believed, quite a successful one.
He met Lily Jefferson in advance only because she called him on the phone and introduced herself to him. He suggested that they meet for a cup of coffee.
"What's your schedule," she asked.
"Oh, I'm flexible today," he said. "Have everything, for once, in order and no extra demands."
"Must be nice!" she said with a twinkle in her voice.
They made arrangements to meet at a local coffee house and get to know each other.
Clifford Aimes was a lawyer, and very successful in his profession. But he was at that point in his life, when he was looking farther ahead, both in terms of his personal life and in terms of his professional life.
After all, he'd been captive, as he thought of it, to the law since he could remember, and during the span of his career thus far, he'd about done it all. He'd spent some time as a public defender; he'd spent some time as a public prosecutor, and was the criminal trial expert at a major law firm. Right out of law school, he partnered with a friend to establish a law firm. It had grown and was a very successful one.
At his 'ripe old age' of 48 it didn't seem to be enough for him anymore. So he was backing off a little from some of the many, many demands of the practice. Of course that was only part of his thinking. Clifford Aimes was really a lonely man. It was like waking up one day, he thought, and realizing that you've taken time for nothing but your one thing: law.
Certainly, it had made him fairly well off, if not down right wealthy but apart from that it hadn't given him the answer to the way he was feeling at his present age.
It was this combination of impetuses, thoughts that got him involved initially in the running of the local food bank. He was first invited to be on the Board of Directors by a friend. He enjoyed doing it, meeting new people and did it for a while. After that, when the current director tendered his resignation, he decided to take some of his free time and do the job himself. He'd certainly made his decision to back off from practice a bit, becoming more of a mentor there, and the food bank seemed to fit in nicely with his new found determination about his life.
It was actually 'co-director' that he became. It was moreover a job with a stipend attached but Clifford simply indicated that he'd rather that the stipend be used for operating costs at the food bank.
He was also impressed with Lily Jefferson, when they met for coffee. He didn't really know what he had expected Lily Jefferson to be like but was surprised at her.
She turned out to be a rather good looking afro-american woman of, as far as Clifford could tell, indeterminate age--(truthfully 33 years). She was fairly tall, at 5'11" in flat shoes, wore her hair cut close to her scalp and though she possessed the legs and butt of a runner, an athlete, was also heavily developed across the breast.
These were the thoughts that went parading across Clifford's mind, as he finally had a chance to meet Lily, at the coffee place. The initial impression left him, at first, a bit speechless.
He stood as she came to his table, apparently able to pick him out of the crowd. She had a kind of amused look on her face, as she said:
"Clifford Aimes, it must be!"
He hesitated a bit, struggling out of the surprise of his initial impression.
"Clifford?" she asked again.
"Sorry," he said, "I'm just surprised by you and I don't even know why."
"But you are Clifford!" she said.
"Guilty!" he said standing and taking the hand that she offered.
"You're looking at me as though you were thinking 'statuesque'!" she said with a broad grin.
Clifford appreciated her immediate humor and answered quickly, with more honesty than he might have used, had he thought much first:
"I was really thinking more like 'beautiful'!" a bit flustered.
She smiled at him and said: "Well, your honesty and gentlemanly response certainly stopped me there!"
"Oops," he said, "Sorry."
"Don't you dare say it!" she quipped at him and sat.
They sat to coffee and really became almost fast friends right away.They spoke to one another about their respective backgrounds. Lily indicated that she had heard of Clifford and his reputation as a lawyer, especially trial lawyer in various circles.
"Yes," he responded, "It was for the longest time all that I did; it was kind of all that I've been. I'm trying to change that a bit."
Then she spoke about her life in business, and the struggle to get to the top, where she currently was. She expressed similar kinds of thoughts about the need to 'branch out' and become almost a different kind of person, one more well rounded.
Their talk took them a while, and Clifford was surprised at how comfortable he felt with her. That wasn't a usual response for him to women. He simply tended to be a reserved kind of individual.
He was also open enough with her that he told her that. Her answer was a kind of tinkling laugh.
"I've got you under my spell!" she said.
"Oh is that it!" he replied, "I knew it was something."
"Business?" she asked softly then.
"Sorry, business it is!" he said.
"You need to stop saying that word," she said, "You're such a treat Clifford and I'm not being fair to you. I'll stop my teasing!"
"Please don't," he said, "I've been so stuffy for so long that the teasing will do me good."
"Teasing it is then!" she said with that award winning laugh again. "And, yes, business."
They talked then about the up-coming task that they were taking on, neither of them having had any real experience at it, and they found quickly that they were able to share ideas and seemed to settle into a rather good working relationship.
After a while, he excused himself and said that he had to get home:
"Wifey will worry?" she said, grinning.
"No," he said simply, "She's been dead for almost ten years."
"Oh," she said, "How stupid of me to make such a remark!"
"Not at all!" he said, "You have no way of knowing. She was flighty, raised by very, very strict parents who left her always feeling inadequate and took her own life in a rash moment."
He stopped then and said: "Now I guess it's my turn to apologize for running on."
She put her hand over his and said: "No, really, but please accept my sympathy."
He smiled and said: "Thank you, such expressions are always well received. But the truth is that I have to get home to Churchill and Roosevelt. They'll be upset with me."
"Churchill and Roosevelt?" she asked, eyes going toward the ceiling.
"The two siamese cats who run my life!" he said.
She cooed: "Oh, I love cats! It's against the lease agreement at the apartment building where I live!"
"You'll have to meet them someday!" he said.
"Oh, I'd love that!" was her answer.
"I really do have to go, though I'd love to invite you to dinner," he said.
"Consider my answer 'yes' and we'll make it another time soon. The great men await you at home," she said with a smile.
"You must think me odd at least," he said with a bit of shame, "To be bound like this to two animals."
"I think you down right dear to be so concerned about them," was her reply. "And I insist on this."
With that, she went to him and pulled him into a substantial hug. It sent a jolt through him and he found himself terribly pleased by it. He ended smiling and gave her a cheek kiss just before leaving her, getting a beautiful grin from her.
They parted, after their brief meeting, as true friends.
The initial meeting, how successful it went and how comfortable it was, was certainly on both of their minds, as they left one another.
Clifford took time that evening to talk to Churchill and Roosevelt about this dynamic woman that he'd met and would be working with.
"She's black," he said to the two of them and hesitated, "I don't know if you say 'black' anymore or 'aftro-american' but she's gorgeous. So, what do I do?"
He was having a late night glass of white wine, as he talked to them. They sat next to him on his couch.
It was Churchill who made the first noise and Clifford shook his head, saying: "Yes, Mr Churchill, I agree, I will just let what happens happen! Thank you for your advice."
Roosevelt chimed in at that point and seemed to be agreeing with the conversation.
Lily, at home that evening, gave herself, during the luxury of a deep bath, time to think about their meeting. She was positively tingly about how it had gone. She too was drinking white wine.
"You just be careful, girl!" she said to herself. The answer that she gave herself was: "But two siamese cats! He can't be all bad!"
She giggled into her wine then and continued her answer: "No, he seemed to be pretty much good!"
Their work/partnership at the agency seemed blessed from the beginning. They dealt with the tension between them, which seemed to be pretty much in the air, when they were together, and they worked well together.
.... There is more of this story ...