NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 124

“You notice I’m not wearing my ear buds, right? Well, it’s because, you know I like to listen to my music, but after a while, even when I wasn’t wearing it, I was hearing…I know I’m not crazy, but — is that my cellphone or yours? Gotta take this, man. I’ll get back to you this weekend, or after you get back from d.c.” I spent two days in d.c. in talks with Dolan Felton, my boss’s boss, about my future in the company. Dolan was big bear of a guy from Detroit, with bushy ginger hair that made him look like a hippy writer or one of his favorite hockey players. He perpetually kept his sleeves rolled up and his tie loosened. He put his feet up on his desk and his hands behind his head. “Your supervisor tells me you’re a people person, but I can see that for myself. You have “skills, my man.” You’re not afraid to get in there and roll up your sleeves. We need people like you to get our products out there, especially after that panic about Prexylin’s antecent, Protosinal. I still think those ten who committed suicide out of one hundred and fifty in the study had simply not read the contraindications, which came in the packet, but which says plain as day — well, there’s no use going over that. We’re going to create a great campaign for this product, and we want you to lead it, to push Prexylin to all markets, not just the, ahem… the mainstream. That’s why we want you in —” 122 “Comity Grove?” “er…Cleveland to head things up.” “Yes, dear.” “Sir?” I retreated to my spot on the porch steps, seeing and not seeing the Trojan Horse, while I smoked the two cigarettes I had penitently rationed myself. I’d taken my Prexylin five hours earlier, so it was time for another dose. I popped a gold triangle. What did I know about Cleveland, except snowy winters, good fishing, the Warehouse District, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and an estimable black population. Carl Stokes. Wasn’t he Cleveland’s first black mayor of Cleveland? What mattered was the fifteen thousand dollar pay raise, plus stock options, a nice severance package, moving expenses and a company car. I heard through the grapevine that I was the only black being considered for the promotion “An opportunity to grow,” Dolan had called it, an opportunity to “move ahead.” Of whom? What about the black reps in Cleveland who were probably salivating for the position? And did he think I wasn’t aware that there was an opening for associate vp right here in Comity Grove? Even in this depressed economy, the job came with a twenty-five thousand dollar raise, a housing allowance, all the perks I was going to get with the Cleveland job, plus the opportunity to travel abroad to the home office in Nantes, in the Loire Valley, and all the muscadet I could swallow. Did he think I couldn’t handle the executive position? I gripped the beer can. “Yes, as Senior Manager.” On the long drive home, I thought about the fierce wind coming off Lake Erie, compared to the milder weather on the peninsula. Dolan said I’d receive a fifteen thousand dollar raise, benefits, including six weeks vacation annually. All of a sudden — Couldn’t be! I knew the window needed washing, but for a moment, I thought I saw a giant silver rabbit bounding across the highway, but when I got closer, it was the tail of a disappearing buck. Back home, I didn’t mention the silver rabbit, but I did tell Janice about the job offer. “Billy, I know you were expecting to get the vp job here, but senior manager sounds good. I mean, a $15,000 raise and an opportunity to be in charge of a big project. Then again, what about your sister and mom and my parents? We’ve built a life here,” she said, stro