Chapter 4: A Monday meeting like any other

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Stories by Christian Filostrat

Reads: 78

Chapter 4

 

 

A Monday meeting like any other

 

 

Lindley still wasn’t sure all the promises he made and threats he proffered had gotten him the Mosley vote when Monday came around.  His heart was like a brass drum in his chest.

Two members of the board were waiting for him at the elevator on his way to the nine o’clock meeting.  Coming closely, one of them whispered, “We know how to take care of Mosley.”

“Not this time,” Lindley said, in an exasperated tone of voice. “There is nobody else for this one.”

“Not even Barbara?”

“No.”

In a small nondescript government conference room with bare light beige walls, six members holding cups of coffee stood in a cluster at the far corner from the door, chatting in excited low voices. Usually members murmured boringly among themselves, sitting at the table in the center of the room, waiting for the meeting to start and end. The coordinator took his seat at the head of the table and opened his folder. The members joined him and Mattie Tierney, at the table already. She was leafing through the latest edition of Jet magazine. The two members, who had ridden down the elevator with the coordinator, walked in a minute later.  One of them shook his head “no” to a member across the table from him.  That member looked at his other colleagues and lowered his head.  Lindley called the meeting to order.

“We have five assignments to hand out today,” he said easily. “I’ll read the names and the assignments.” When he had finished reading, William Jeffries, as he had agreed to do, said, “Mr. Chairman, may I suggest we get the most onerous one, Kinshasa, out of the way first?”

“Any objections,” the coordinator asked.

No one spoke.

“Of the names I read for Kinshasa, Judd Mosley is the Bureau’s candidate.” And looking from left to right at the members, Lindley added, “I have no objection to going along with the Bureau’s recommendation.”  That was usually the indication to the members to turn to the next candidate in their folder.  But not this time.

“The Bureau’s choice?” one member asked, distrustfully. “This is one handshake that demands a discussion.”

“I agree,” said another.

“We can’t just be ruberstamps for these people.”

“That’s right! I resent being here just to give official cover to such a handshake,” echoed another member.  Lindley heard his brass drum of a heart beat louder.

“ALL RIGHT,” he shouted. What is your point of order? Remember, the rule gives the board fifteen minutes of discussion time per assignment,” he said, looking at the member who had spoken first, his displeasure apparent.

“I think Judd is too immature for such a prestigious post, Mr. Chairman”

“Immature? He is 42,” Lindley said in correction.

“He means, he is not qualified,” Mattie Tierney said, sarcasm giving her voice a metallic resonance.

“All right, he is not qualified either,” the member said.

“He will not be qualified until he turns white,” Mattie Tierney retorted confrontationally. “What’s the chance of that?”

“Please, ladies and gentlemen,” the coordinator said loudly, wishing he had a gavel to bang the table with.  “There is no need for provocation.”

“I apologize, Mr. Chairman,” Mattie Tierney said. But I am tired of hearing excuses to bar minorities from their due.”

“Due?” one member asked. “Color should not be a ticket to any due.”

“Unless it’s white,” Mattie Tierney countered. “But this is for Africa, for Christ’s sake, the place where you send ninety-five percent of African Americans, remember?”

“What’s wrong with sending blacks to Africa?” the member asked. “Their voice is bound to resonate more effectively over there!”

“That’s news to me,” Tierney replied. “I thought there was but one voice: American.”

“Kinshasa is not just any place in Africa,” another member announced, importantly; the United States has strategic interests there. After all, it’s an A-list designated country; and this board should be judicious whom it sends there.”

Lindley was tempted to tell the member that the Department had downgraded Kinshasa, and the administration needed to send an African American there; but not wanting to alienate Mattie Tierney then, he interrupted to say only, “We have to make some changes.”

“We certainly do, Mr. Chairman,” Mattie Tierney interjected. “Just because a country has more significance as far as our interests are concerned is no defensible justification to keep it off-limits to minorities. We tell the people in this building they’re to serve anywhere in the world.  But it’s uppity for some to ask that. Long past is the time, to show we mean what we say. As you so well noted Mr. Chairman, we have to make a change.”

“Well, yes, Miss Tierney,” the coordinator mumbled, surprised and glad she had not, as was her habit, quoted Martin Luther King whose words disturbed him every time he heard them.

The discussion continued, but with less vehemence as the members paused to read between the surreptitious winks Lindley had flashed in rapid succession at William Jeffries, who stood up to request formally that the coordinator call for a vote.

“The fifteen minutes have expired,” he said, holding his watch. “Any more objections to sending Judd Mosley to Kinshasa?”

The silence of assent hung over the room; then Mattie Tierney said triumphantly, “There seems to be no objection, Mr. Chairman.”


Submitted: October 08, 2018

© Copyright 2020 Christian Filostrat. All rights reserved.

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