CHAPTER ELEVEN: COUNSELORS, CONFESSIONS, AND COMFORT
The next afternoon, after helping Mark and Va’Shawn out with opening up the bar and grill for lunch (and avoiding all questions from them- someone has to remain professional around here), I was accompanied by Shadie and Natasha to the contemporary office of Dr. Zoe Renee DuSable, one of LA’s top counselors to young people of color and the LGBT community.
From what Salim had told me, Dr. DuSable was definitely not your typical therapist and counselor. She came from an ultra-conservative family that disowned her after she decided to go to Howard instead of being an old-fashioned housewife who waited on an absentee husband hand and foot. She was even disliked more when she married a white man who supported her dream of being a therapist/counselor as well as an aspiring fiction writer. She also supported her late little brother, who was beaten to death by her homophobic father and football-hungry older brothers. All in all, Dr. DuSable was her own woman ready to get down and dirty when need be.
And as my two friends and I stepped into her office. I felt her aura of light red, copper brown, corn yellow, and light blue mixed with the Serengeti theme of her office that had me thinking of a Masai-themed evening gown in shades of copper brown with a V-line bodice and a petal-type skirt resembling the Cherokee rose.
“And I assume that you must be Isaiah,” I heard the crisp yet friendly voice of the therapist, her perfume of Estee Lauder complimenting her mahogany brown and gold business ensemble. “You’re one lucky boy to have met Salim.”
Thank you,” I replied as Shadie escorted me to a nearby chair. “And that perfume that you’re wearing really suits you, ma’am. Goes well with the Masai-warrior in your spirit. Really shows.”
She gasped in surprise. “Aria told me that you got one killer nose,” she purred happily as she sat down behind her desk. “So, Van Blackwell, tell me what makes you the person that you are.”
I felt Natasha squeeze my right hand for support as I took a deep breath and dove in, going on into a monologue of how I was born blind and without parents; being shuffled around into complacent and money-hungry foster homes who all saw me as used furniture but never abused me; being told that my future would either be a beggar living homeless, living in an assisted-care facility and forced to make mosaics or baskets for the greedy caretakers to sell and claim credit for while swindling me out of my pay, or to be some pathetic janitor sweeping floors and cleaning toilets for a company that saw me as dead weight and would be killed off; and how my luck has changed so far- from attending boarding school to hone my skills in cooking, cleaning, typing and reading Braille, and other things by teachers who didn’t let me feel sorry for myself to attending college and meeting my new friends who helped me through schoolwork and finals while working as a waiter at Mariah’s to keep myself afloat while paying the bills and rent at our old apartment to the road on how I went from applying to work at Vibe to being engaged to Salim. And I even went on how I was threatened by Caylee Amerson and being dumped and humiliated by Ryan, which I bet made Ms. DuSable frown. “All the same, I’m just a young blind man with a lot of talent and promise, yet somehow can’t seem to escape from the uncertainty that’s been trying to haunt my mind,” I finished. “My main fear is being dumped and humiliated by Salim in the same way that Ryan did to me back in college. I don’t want to keep my heart on my sleeve because a small part of me keeps telling me that this is all a ploy to leave me jaded. I got my friends by my side, but they don’t even see the tears in my eyes that I cry at night sometimes.”
I felt the comforting arms of Shadie wrap me in a tearful hug.
“Wow,” I heard Ms. DuSable say, breathing deeply. “That’s the most intense confession that I heard so far in my life as a therapist. “Let me ask you, do you wish that your mother and father were here in your life had they not died?”
I nodded as I hear footsteps and smelled ginger in the air. “I brought fresh ginger-chocolate cookies from Firenze Bakery,” I heard a faint female voice said. That must be the friendly receptionist known as Emily reply. “And that was very deep, Mr. Van Blackwell. I can definitely relate to what you’re going though. I was nearly sexually abused by my uncle when I was only in sixth grade. He would’ve succeeded had I not bit him to let me go and my father walking in on us coming from the store. I still get nightmares at times, but Zoe and her friends keep me grounded and sane. You got great friends among you, cutie. And thank you for sharing your story. It helps to know that I’m not alone. And you shouldn’t feel that way, either.” I heard her leave the room.
“Word,” Shadie added.
“Do you sometimes dream of your mom and what she might look like?” Natasha wanted to know.
I nodded. “Sometimes, when she reminds me to not let anyone make me a cripple or to give me a piece of advice or make a suggestion,” I replied softly as I accepted a cookie, taking a small bite before continuing. “To me, she usually wears this all-white sundress that fits her petite and tall frame with her long hair flowing in the summer wind, her eyes glimmering like diamonds and her beautiful skin a proud representation of her family’s background. From what my late social worker told me, she came from a mixed background, her father’s family being white and from the Ozarks and her mother’s Afro-French Creole background from Louisiana and Mississippi.”
“Wow,” Natasha gushed. That’s why you usually speak French very well.”
I shook my head no. “My multi-foreign language made me improve my French-speaking down to a point where I can easily pass as a native,” I explained. “Same for my expertise in Spanish, Italian, and even Arabic and Chinese. He’s soon to visit to hone my skills in Russian, Japanese, Scandinavian, and even Danish and Thai since I’ll be working with diplomats from across the globe.”
“And like his other teachers back in boarding school, they showed no mercy at all,” Shadie added. “If he wanted to be taken seriously as an independent, then he had to go through the teaching perfectly.”
“Hence him knowing his fabrics and senses of smell, taste, and hearing,” Zoe deduced. “Uncanny and amazing. My Cameron has to see you in action in the kitchen. He’s hopeless and I usually have to take over.”
“Gladly,” I replied. “Bring him over to our place sometimes. I’ll let Salim know as soon as you say when.”
“Got it, but let’s stop for today. Isaiah, it sounds like you’re on the path to greatness,, but you lack some balance for yourself in your personal world. Sadly, your friends can’t help you out there so it’s up to you and you alone to find your own balance. And as for Amerson and her threats against you, Clarissa, and Natasha, there’s no need to worry because everyone’s keeping a close watch on her as of now. Last time I checked, the LAPD is on high alert and that Jarvis’ uncle- er, I mean stepfather- has plainclothesmen on the watch.”
“And you know that Evita and Saigon have their intel teams on standby should anything go wrong,” Natasha added. “Now, I better make sure that you stop for lunch before heading back to Mariah’s. The old bird will kill me if she thinks you haven’t had a full meal. Time for some diner-realness at Mama Sophie’s Diner off Burdine and Crenshaw.”
“I’ll join you,” Ms. DuSable offered. “I’m craving for some of Papa Nick’s jambalaya.”
“Sounds good to me,” the girls said in unison.
“I heard that,” I assented. “Let’s go.”
THIRD PERSON POINT OF VIEW
Caylee Amerson was a Hollywood diva in her right mind, but to the rest of her college classmates and her family, she’s nothing more than a Valley Girl who’s more racist than her maternal grandfather, and he was too extremist for his own good until he mellowed out after his third-born son married a Black-American salesman from Ohio with connections to the Senate. Still, she vies on money and power to make her way to the top, just like her idols Bernice Frazier and the mother/daughter Reece duo who were currently serving life in prison- three consecutive life sentences, to be exact.
She was gifted with the looks of Reese Witherspoon and the killer mind of Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer combined. And she was slated to marry into one of the richest financial families of all of LA. And right now, she was being chewed out by her father, who was a raging bull after learning the news of her brutal attack on her fiancé’s ex-boyfriend as she was a dress fitting.
“Young lady, do you know that all eyes are on us because of what you’ve done?!” he screamed over the phone as she stifled a yawn while standing still, one of the Saint Laurent couturiers fussing over the Victorian-themed wedding gown she was wearing. “That kid was lucky to get out alive thanks to the CO on standby, but you’ve gone too far this time.”
She rolled her eyes. “Please,” she replied flatly as she slapped the Asian woman that was working on her veil away. “The freak basically deserved it, him being chosen to stay at Vibe, then being picked to design for the Saint Croix family’s company. I’m way more talented than he is and-“
“Your designs are horse shit,” her father grumbled. “And you wouldn’t have made it anyhow since everyone knows that you hate gays as much as those three whores did after hurting that Frazier boy. He and Ryan’s ex are true gems for putting up with the drama and the way you’re acting would make my father look like a saint. And he even said that you’re really pushing it this time. One more act like that and-“
Caylee hung up the phone, tossing it to the side as she turned to her fiancé, who was giving her scathing looks. “What?” she hissed.
“Nothing, just wondering why the hell did I listen to you and humiliated Isaiah like that,” he snarled. “I have half a mind to call this off and just leave you alone. And for the record, the drag queens were right. You keep acting like this and I might end up back out of the closet and you’ll end up having a lot of cats.”
“Not if I can help it,” she retorted, “and it’s time to turn things up a notch. That blind bat’s job is having a send-off party and I plan to send him a nice gift.”
Ryan hissed a slow and angry breath. “I don’t like the sound of that,” he warned. “What are you going to do?”
She gave him a wicked smile, her eyes lighting up. “Just going to send him off with a bang,” she purred, “and then I’ll be the one to design for the company and then take over the fashion world. Now you be a good fiancé and fetch me some carrot shavings. I feel snackish.”
Eyes widening in realization, Ryan raced out of the bridal shop as he pulled out his cell phone number and dialing a familiar number. “Hello, LAPD?” he said as he hailed a taxi and waited for it to stop. “This is Ryan Callaway and I need to speak with Daniel Frazier immediately. I think my fiancée is planning to send a bomb to Mariah’s Bar and Grill to send a message to Isaiah Van Blackwell and possibly kill him. I’m on my way over right now to warn my cousin and her friends.”
The car slowed to a stop and he got in, fastening his seatbelt before handing the driver a hundred-dollar bill. “Where you goin’, pal?” the driver- a gruff Black woman said.
“Take me to Mariah’s Bar and Grill at once,” he breathed. “And step on it. This is an emergency! My fiancée is planning something nasty against my ex who works there and I need to warn him and his friends.”
The woman’s eyes went wild. “Dead-ass?!” she exclaimed. “You got it!”