SOUL- THE SERIES
Episode #0- “Pilot Episode”
Series Log Line: The lives and loves, triumphs, trials and tribulations of a group of twenty and thirty something Black American men and women living in the city of Philadelphia are explored.
Concept: “It’s a chocolate covered Melrose Place, dipped in Dynasty and reminiscent of the short-lived predominantly Black Soap-Opera Generations!”
Setting: Philadelphia, PA; Present Day
Time: Spring 2008/ One Year Earlier
Series Through-Line: Our series focuses on a small group of young, Black professionals in urban Philadelphia, PA.
The weight of SOUL is carried by an ensemble group of core characters, aged 25-30. There is also a smaller group of characters connected to our core characters – specifically co-workers, love interests, teachers/professors, classmates, children and several sets of parents.
EXTERIOR: PHILADELPHIA/ART MUSEUM AREA
TIME: DAY/LATE AFTERNOON
Garrett Kelly was ready. He had his briefcase full of materials which included a strong business plan, financial charts, and pictorials. He hoped that his presentation would convince his best friends Jamel Dorsey, and Micah Reeves to become his new business partners. They were meeting at the main branch of the Philadelphia library which was just a few blocks away from Garrett’s condo near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As he passed the Benjamin Franklin Parkway he reminded himself to stop into all of the surrounding museums to collect some membership information. He had recently become a Big Brother to a young boy named Braheem who had moved to the city with his mother from Atlanta. Feeling that her son was being improperly influenced by an urban environment, Lisa Myers reached out for him to have a mentorship and was lucky enough to have Garrett connect with him. Garrett intended on keeping Braheem busy with things that some saw as fun like concerts and sporting events, but he also planned to educate him as well.
As he passed through Logan Square Park he saw a homeless man sleeping on one of the park benches. The Chicago native really enjoyed Philadelphia’s abundance of culture and history but the homeless problem was getting out of hand. It was getting to the point where the homeless were bold enough to start grabbing you when they wanted your attention and requesting specific amounts of dollars that they felt you should give them. He wondered if this was a problem back home. Maybe Garrett had been sheltered from the realities of urban life for too long. He thought back to his private school education, his family full of lawyers, doctors, businessmen and women, his membership into the Jack and Jill Club, and his North Chicago upbringing in which he was surrounded by the elite but sheltered him from everything else. Luckily he had always had a sense of self and a strong need to help others and care for others, so none of this affected his ideologies regarding interactions with people who didn’t grow up in such an environment. And yes, he did get the discrimination that most affluent Blacks receive which is probably the root of any conflict between him and Jamel.
Many assumed that Garrett, who probably stood about 6’1”, in a muscular, athletic frame, caramel skin and goatee, would be arrogant and bourgeois based on his lighter skinned complexion and his upbringing, but he was not. The half Haitian, half African-American did have two business degrees from two of the top business schools in the country, a healthy bank account, and an impressive wardrobe. He was fluent in both Haitian Creole and Louisiana based Creole languages, as well as Spanish, Italian and French. Tennis, golf, and swimming, interested him more than basketball, football or baseball but he was such an avid fan of athletics that you would probably catch him playing any sport. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Garrett approached the library where both Jamel and Micah were waiting. Here goes nothing! He greeted his college buddies warmly especially Micah whom he had not seen much of since they all graduated from Temple University back in 2000. Micah had chosen to move back to New York where lots of job opportunities awaited him. His friends thought he was living the fabulous life…Micah knew different. Jamel was another story. He and Garrett have a very hot and cold relationship and although both still lived in Philadelphia, they’ve also drifted apart over the years.
JAMEL: Well well well! We actually arrived before Mr. Kelly!
GARRETT: For once in your lives!
JAMEL (Laughing): It’s a first time for everything. Wassup man? How you?
GARRETT: Busy and blessed man and you?
JAMEL: Trying to get busy and stay blessed.
GARRETT: Alright then step into my world real quick so I can help you out with that!
They entered into the library and found a quiet spot with a table and a few chairs.
INTERIOR: PHILADELPHIA LIBRARY MAIN BRANCH
JAMEL: Now G, why didn’t you just tell us to head over to your condo for this meeting?
MICAH: Now you know he likes to keep things business Mel. House meetings are too informal.
GARRETT: Yeah plus my place looks like a tornado hit it. I haven’t had any real time to myself lately.
JAMEL: Oh Trisha got you on lock hunh?
GARRETT (Grinning): Now you know I don’t kiss and tell my brotha’!
JAMEL: Pimp daddy! Still hittin’ that after all these years!
MICAH: Yeah man you didn’t major in business you majored in Trisha Gilbert.
GARRETT (Laughing): Changing the subject! Micah Reeves! Young Harlem! Thanks for coming down on such short notice.
MICAH: No problem G! I heard business opportunity and profitable and I caught the first bus down to Philly.
GARRETT: Bus? What your high scale ass doing taking a bus?
MICAH: It’s cheaper.
GARRETT: Aww come on man! All those parties and events you hosting up in Manhattan! Things can’t be that bad.
MICAH: Well they are man. So come on and tell us what’s brewing in that brain of yours.
JAMEL: Yeah and make it short and sweet. I got a couple jumps to check out today.
MICAH: As in jump-offs. You know Mel and his derogatory colloquialisms.
JAMEL: Whatever. I just call em’ how I see em’.
GARRETT: Aight you better make sure Monica don’t hear you talking like that!
JAMEL (Laughing): Whatever man. Monica a jump too!
MICAH: Yeah aight. Call her up right now and tell her that.
GARRETT: Yeah man, call her up.
JAMEL: Come on man I ain’t crazy.
GARRETT (Laughing): I didn’t think so.
GARRETT: Gentleman. I’d like to introduce you to the opportunity of a lifetime.
And he began. Jamel and Micah listened as Garrett presented them with a very convincing idea. He proposed that they partner up and invest in some property and turn it into a restaurant/lounge geared towards the urban young professional market. They went through the business plan which seemed airtight and weighed the pros and cons. Garrett then allowed them a chance to ask questions before discussing the financials with his two friends.
MICAH: So you’re suggesting we avoid applying for any business loans and invest the money ourselves?
MICAH: Isn’t that kind of’ risky G?
JAMEL: And stupid?
GARRETT: Listen guys, this idea is fool proof. Most business owners can’t make quick profits because they are stuck trying to pay off business loans. If we raise enough money to cover the start up costs ourselves, all we would need to find is the money to actually open for business. If we invest our own money then we get more back when the restaurant actually begins making a profit.
JAMEL: IF it actually makes a profit you mean.
GARRETT: It will!
JAMEL: How can you be so sure man? I mean, you are acting as if millions of business ventures similar to this one don’t fail every year. The restaurant, lounge, bar, nightclub business industry is the most risky of them all.
MICAH: Yeah man, most of those types of places don’t even see a profit until at least two years.
GARRETT: You are both right. There are many risks involved. But there are just as many good reasons why we should do this than there are bad. Mel you’ve wanted to do something like this since I’ve met you man.
JAMEL: Since before that.
GARRETT: And Micah man, you can make any venue hot. You know your marketing skills are more than on point. Come on guys, what have we got to lose?
JAMEL: Our life savings?
MICAH: I was just about to say that. But I blew all my savings so I guess I don’t have to worry about that.
MICAH: Listen guys, my finances are really not in order right now. I just made arrangements to move back in with moms so I could figure everything out.
JAMEL: What happened man?
MICAH: Man, I got back to NY and went crazy. I picked up clients at so many posh spots in Manhattan it was ridiculous. But I failed to realize that a Manhattan work base means a Manhattan lifestyle means a Manhattan budget. The work I was getting wasn’t enough to sustain my way of living.
GARRETT: Come on man, I doubt things are that bad. You’ve always been responsible with your money. That’s one of the many things I’ve always respected about ya’ll two. You guys have both been good with saving your money.
JAMEL: Well I don’t know what this joker been doing, but I got a few stacks in the bank so I’m still good. G, I’m definitely interested. You know your business skills have always been on point. But I don’t feel comfortable gambling with my savings like that man.
MICAH: Look I don’t have anything to lose but I’m just not in the best financial situation right now to focus on starting a business. Maybe we can come back to it in a couple years when all of us have our swagger back up.
JAMEL: Yeah man, that’s a good idea.
GARRETT: What difference will it make in a couple of years? The idea will still be the same great idea it is now.
JAMEL: G you aren’t listening man. This isn’t about you.
GARRETT: I don’t understand. You don’t want to invest in this idea because it is financially risky for you now, because you don’t have the funds to support it. But you will wait a couple more years when you get your finances in order to invest in this idea that still will be financially risky?
MICAH: Well we’ll have more money to play around with and at least we won’t be adding potential debt on top of actual debt.
GARRETT: Oh please don’t co-sign with him, Mel. You just said you had a few stacks in the bank and you were interested. You could pursue this and still be okay in the long run. You’ve been talking about having your own restaurant all this time but when I try to make it happen you suddenly have a change of heart.
JAMEL: It’s different if I was doing this myself man. At least I know my failure is my failure and my success is my success.
GARRETT: Don’t give me that bull man.
JAMEL: Look, Garrett, you don’t want to listen to reason. I’m done with this. Thanks for including us in your idea but I can’t do it right now.
MICAH: G, like I said I just need some more time. But I’m definitely down.
GARRETT: You guys aren’t even going to think about it some more? It’s just no? Just like that?
JAMEL: G come on man, put yourself in our positions for a minute. You could take this risk and be fine if it fails. You come from money, we don’t.
GARRETT (Gathering his things): Oh so it’s back to that again? You know Jamel, when are you going to grow up and stop throwing that in my face? I never made my background an issue but you always have found a way to do so. I’ve never compared our financial situations and I’ve never thrown my career accomplishments into my friends’ faces. I used to make sure that I refrained from discussing such matters because it was not only rude but you have always seemed to find some way to make me feel guilty about it. But you know what? I’m not doing that anymore. That’s your hang up not mine, and if money is going to stand in the way of us working together then that’s fine. We don’t need to work together. But I’m going for mine and I’m no longer going to keep that to myself and I will be proud of that. If you choose to let that stand between our friendship like you’ve always done then we no longer need to be friends. I’m done with this and I’m excusing myself. Thanks for meeting with me gentleman.
And with that he left.
JAMEL: Let him go man. I’m sick of him bitchin’.
MICAH: He’s not bitchin’ and you know it. You know he has a point. So tell me Mel, what is the real reason you don’t want to invest in Garrett’s idea.
Jamel had no words.
MICAH: Silence. The usual response from Jamel when he knows he’s being an intentional jerk.
Micah began to gather up the materials Garrett left.
MICAH: Hmmm, Micah Reeves, Co-Owner and Director of Marketing. Sounds appealing.
Jamel rolled his eyes.
MICAH: And look at this! Our friend Mr. Kelly seems to recognize greatness in anybody.
JAMEL: What the hell are you talking about Micah?
MICAH: Well according to this document. Mr. Jamel Dorsey is set to be Co-Owner and Executive Chef of this restaurant. Looks like Garrett believes in you more than you ever believed in him. I think I’m going to look over these documents again and reconsider Garrett’s offer. Maybe you should do the same.
Executive Chef…damn that sounds kinda’ hot. Jamel didn’t need to look over the materials to know that he needed to consider this opportunity. He was just upset that Garrett thought of it first. They gathered the documents and left the library.
INTERIOR: TRISHA GILBERT/ PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM OFFICES
Trisha had been through six interviews but none of the applicants had potential to be her new intern. She was waiting for someone exactly like her to walk through the door. Someone that she could mentor and guide into becoming the next PR mogul. She wanted a project and a trophy. She needed someone that she could groom and show off at events. Three more applicants to go. It was time for more coffee.
TRISHA (ON INTERCOM): April can you bring me in some coffee please? April?
Trisha rose from her desk and placed her Chanel slippers on her feet and headed out of her office.
TRISHA: April did you not hear me?
But April was not at her desk…again…as usual.
TRISHA: Somebody’s getting fired.
Trisha walked back to her desk and grabbed her mug and headed out of her office to the coffee machine. She noticed a young, petite woman in a skirt and blazer and blouse with a fresh pair of Christian Louboutin’s on her feet. She held a portfolio and a purse and she looked nervous yet confident. After grabbing her coffee and walking back towards her office she noticed the young woman with her eyes closed.
TRISHA: Are you okay?
YOUNG WOMAN: Yes I am. I’m sorry I have this interview and I was just saying a little prayer real quick.
TRISHA (Smiling): You must really want the position.
YOUNG WOMAN: Oh yes I do. I even came an hour earlier than my scheduled time so I could try to calm myself down. Have you been working here long?
TRISHA: I sure have. Why do you ask?
YOUNG WOMAN: I was just going to see if you spent any time working directly with Trisha Gilbert. Maybe you could give me a few pointers?
TRISHA: Well she’s a hard working bitch who doesn’t take anyone’s bull.
YOUNG WOMAN: Really? Well that seems to work well for her. I’ve done some research and she’s accomplished so much. She started this firm when she was younger than me at TU.
TRISHA: TU? Are you a Temple University graduate?
YOUNG WOMAN: Almost. I have one more year left. It took me awhile to figure out exactly what I wanted to do but I know I’ve finally figured it out.
TRISHA: And what is it that you want to do exactly?
YOUNG WOMAN: I want to someday own my own Public Relations firm like Ms. Gilbert. But I want to start from the bottom up. I think I’d learn to appreciate things more that way.
TRISHA: I see. Well you seem to be starting in the right place. But you know Public Relations can be very draining, very time consuming and very fast paced. Are you sure you are ready for such a career path?
YOUNG WOMAN: I know I’m not ready. I’m not ready at all and that’s exactly why I know I am ready.
TRISHA: I don’t follow you.
YOUNG WOMAN: Well think about it. If I was ready I would think I had all of the answers. I’d be so arrogant that I would just start applying for PR jobs. But the reality of it is I have partial training, limited experience and no connections in the field. This internship would change all of that and anyone applying for an internship should be willing to learn and hopefully is smart enough to realize that wanting to learn is exactly why they are applying for an internship.
TRISHA: I see. That makes sense. It makes a lot of sense.
YOUNG WOMAN: I just have the passion for PR and I’m hoping that my passion is enough to get some type of start in this industry. I know I’m still in school and I didn’t gain an interest in a PR career until much later than Ms. Gilbert probably did, but I am still young enough to pursue it. Oh look at me talking your ear off. I’m sure you have a lot of work to do.
TRISHA: I do but I don’t mind. Talking to you reminded me why I wanted to be a part of this industry.
YOUNG WOMAN: Well hey if I don’t get the internship I’d love to keep in contact with you.
TRISHA: Oh I see we are networking!
YOUNG WOMAN (Laughing): Of course! One of the main focuses of PR. So what’s your name? I’m Lorene Cole. Everyone calls me Lo.
TRISHA: Nice to meet you. If you don’t mind I think I’ll call you Lorene. It sounds better.
LORENE: Yeah you know I’ve always thought so too.
TRISHA: Well Lorene, I’m Trisha Gilbert. Go grab yourself some coffee and head back into my office in ten minutes.
LORENE (Rising out of her seat): Oh my God, I had no idea!
TRISHA: That’s a good thing because if you did, I would’ve thought you were kissing my ass and I don’t like anyone doing that unless I tell them to.
TRISHA: Okay you have nine minutes left. You do drink coffee don’t you?
LORENE: I don’t to be honest.
TRISHA: Well get used to it. By the way…nice shoes.
And with that Trisha walked into her office and closed the door. Lorene wanted to pass out but she didn’t have the time. She grabbed her purse and portfolio and headed over to the coffee machine. She likes my shoes! She thought to herself. I hope she likes my resume and portfolio. She figured that the ten minute ETA was a test so instead of waiting a few minutes to finish her coffee she walked back towards Trisha’s door and knocked.
LORENE: Hello again.
TRISHA: Good job. You passed my test. Have a seat.
Trisha already knew that she wasn’t going to give Lorene the open internship. But she was going offer her something better, a chance to shadow her and be her mentee until she was ready to actually become an intern. Trisha could eat Lorene alive but she didn’t want to…yet. Lorene was very green but she wasn’t wet behind the ears. She had brains, beauty, passion, intelligence, and drive. But she had one year left of school and most of her portfolio and resume were full of collegiate activities. Still, she had potential and with the proper grooming she’d be ready for the chaos of PR. There was no better place to do it than here and no better person to do it than Trisha Gilbert. Trisha proposed that Lorene use her free time to spend time around the offices volunteering, sitting in on meetings, attending company events, and shadowing everyone at the firm on a rotating basis. She would do this throughout her last year of school and then be placed into a summer internship. Meanwhile, Trisha would be preparing her for a paid internship which would differ from a normal one, but would not begin until fall 2009. By that time, Trisha thought Lorene would be more available to focus and handle work in Public Relations. After her one year was up, Lorene would be evaluated and given the opportunity to apply for an open position within the firm. It was a win-win situation.
TRISHA: So what do you think Lorene? Are you interested?
LORENE: Very much so Ms. Gilbert.
TRISHA: Please call me Trisha.
LORENE: Okay. Trisha I’m very much interested in this opportunity. I mean who wouldn’t be.
LORENE: But…and I hope I’m not shooting myself in the foot by saying this. Well, would it be too much to ask you to put that in writing?
TRISHA (Grinning): Oh you have trust issues hunh?
LORENE (Giggling): Yeah I do. But it’s not really about that. I wanted it in writing for my own reference and clarity but also to prove to my parents that I’m serious about this career path.
TRISHA: They don’t support you?
LORENE: Oh no, they do. It’s just that I did a lot of partying when I first got to college and their concern has been whether or not I was pursuing Public Relations for another excuse to party.
TRISHA: I completely understand.
LORENE: Parents can be so annoying sometimes right?
Trisha just smiled and sipped her coffee. She of course knew nothing about that.
TRISHA: I’ll have paperwork prepared for you by the end of business today. Does email suffice?
LORENE: Yes sure! I can also stop by before your offices close and pick things up.
TRISHA: You are really persistent aren’t you?
Lorene just smiled shyly.
LORENE: I’m just practicing being a go-getter.
TRISHA: I’ll email you the paperwork. You can stop by the front desk around five this evening to pick up hard copies.
LORENE: Thank you Trisha. Thank you so much.
TRISHA: No problem. Now unless you have any other questions, I’m going to excuse myself and get back to work.
LORENE: No I’m good. I promise I won’t let you down.
TRISHA: Good, let me get that in writing.
LORENE (Laughing): That’s fair.
Trisha walked Lorene out of the office. They shook hands and Lorene went on her way. Trisha noticed April walking back towards her desk, carefree and unsuspecting and with shopping bags in her hand.
TRISHA: April, can I see you in my office?
APRIL: Sure Ms. Gilbert. Let me just grab my memo pad.
TRISHA: Oh that won’t be necessary. In my office now.
It always felt good to fire the unsuspecting.
INTERIOR: KELBY GREER and SABRINA DAY’S MANSION
TIME: EARLY EVENING
Sabrina heard the doorbell ring from the kitchen. She expected Kelby to answer it but she should’ve known better. She wiped her hands on her apron and headed to the door. Kelby was on the couch watching a game.
SABRINA: Oh so you were just going to let the doorbell ring?
KELBY: Oh naw babe I figured you would get it.
SABRINA: Who’s playing?
KELBY: No one I’m studying my game tapes.
Sabrina just shook her head and headed to the door. Neither she nor Kelby were expecting company.
SABRINA (Opening the door): Hey Garrett. What a surprise!
GARRETT: Hey Babygirl. I’m sorry I would’ve called first but I really needed to talk to Kelby.
SABRINA: Sure no problem he’s in the living room. And you know you are always welcome over here.
GARRETT: Thanks Brina.
SABRINA: You came just in time too. Dinner’s almost ready.
GARRETT: Alright that’s what I’m talking about! Some southern style home cooking!
Garrett had gone back to his condo after the library incident and then headed back out to his car. He found himself driving just to clear his head and ended up in Gladwyne at Kelby and Sabrina’s new mansion. Kelby Greer was Garrett’s college roommate and frat brother. He and Sabrina Day hailed from Virginia and had been together ever since high school. Kelby was the Philadelphia 76ers’ star player. The endorsements and the media attention came fast and the two southern high school sweethearts soon found themselves thrown into a whole new lifestyle. A lifestyle that Kelby was quickly adapting to, but Sabrina was still struggling with.
GARRETT: Now man how many times are you going to watch yourself on TV?
KELBY: It’s a tape man. I’m trying to improve my game.
GARRETT (Laughing): Ain’t nothing wrong with your game and you know it.
KELBY: Well a certain wise young man once told me that even when you think you are great you should still work hard to be greater.
GARRETT: Oh so you were listening to all of my rants back in Undergrad?
KELBY: I didn’t really have a choice.
GARRETT (Laughing): Sup brother, how you?
KELBY (Giving him a hug): I’m great man! Have a seat.
KELBY: So what brings you all the way out here?
GARRETT: That answer is going to need a beer or two, man.
KELBY: Aww here we go. Aye Brina can you…
But Brina already had the beers in her hand and in the living room. She sat them on coasters.
KELBY: Thanks Babe.
SABRINA: Mmmhmm. Dinner will be ready in a minute.
GARRETT: How ya’ll two doing?
GARRETT: Come on now man.
KELBY: I’m serious. We’re good. No lie. Now tell me what’s going on.
Garrett explained to Kelby the entire situation from beginning to end. Starting with the idea of the investment and ending with him walking out of the library after Jamel and Micah shut him down.
GARRETT: I mean can you believe those two, man?
KELBY: Yeah I can. But what I can’t believe is you.
KELBY: How the hell you going to get the fellas together for a business deal and not include me?
GARRETT: Whoa Kelby! It’s not even like that. I didn’t think you’d be interested in something like that or have the time to invest in it.
KELBY: But you know I have the money to invest in it. I should’ve been the first person you contacted.
GARRETT: Look man, I wasn’t trying to exclude you. Like I said, I really didn’t even think about it at the time. But you are right. I should’ve at least asked you first. Damn I can’t have all of my boys mad at me today.
KELBY: Now the difference between myself and Micah and Jamel is that I don’t sit around like a little bitch and let opportunities pass me by. Another difference is that I spent four years of dorm life smelling your crap and I’m the first to admit that it doesn’t stink. Jamel has never been able to handle you having your business in order. Micah on the other hand, he’s just scared. He needs a little push and some guidance. Trust and believe that if Jamel had agreed right there on the spot, Micah would’ve done the same- whether his personal finances were in order or not.
GARRETT: You know you’re right. But man I know this is a great idea.
KELBY: Every idea you come up with is great man.
GARRETT: Kelby do I really come off as flawless?
KELBY: Yeah, but you aren’t perfect.
GARRETT: No one is.
KELBY: Exactly, and the fact that you know that makes you a good dude.
GARRETT: I just don’t like my friends thinking I’m against them or thinking that I think I’m above them.
KELBY: Your real friends don’t think any of that. Remember that. Now let’s eat. And you’re gonna’ tell me more about this idea.
GARRETT: Thanks bruh.
They headed into the dining room where Sabrina had boneless, fried chicken breasts, baked macaroni and cheese, fresh string beans, candied yams, buttermilk biscuits and homemade sweet tea. They all enjoyed their meals while Garrett clued them in on his idea.
KELBY: Man I’m sold. I’m in!
SABRINA: Baby you don’t have time to start a huge business venture like that. Besides you’re always on the road.
KELBY: Well can’t I be like some type of silent partner or something?
GARRETT: Yeah that’s always an option. But how silent do you want to be?
KELBY (Laughing): Silent enough to stand back and help my brother, my best friend, reach his dreams. Come on G, let me do this.
GARRETT: Let’s do this bruh!
SABRINA: I’ll get it. It really is a great idea G.
Garrett could only smile. It felt good to be supported.
SABRINA (Answering the phone): Hello?
TRISHA: Hey Bree-Bree!
SABRINA: Hey Trisha I was just thinking about you.
TRISHA: Really? Why?
SABRINA: Oh well Garrett stopped by. We were just eating dinner.
TRISHA: Why is it that every time that man comes around everybody always feels the need to think of me?
SABRINA (Giggling): Cuz ya’ll are one in the same.
TRISHA: Whatever. Well I didn’t mean to interrupt. I just wanted to call and check on you. And make sure Kelby was acting right.
SABRINA: He’s been okay. We haven’t argued too much lately.
TRISHA: Okay just making sure. So what does Mr. Kelly have to say for himself this evening?
SABRINA: Ooooh he has this great investment opportunity he was sharing with us. Seems like it’s going to be a good deal.
TRISHA: Investment opportunity? He hasn’t mentioned anything about that to me.
SABRINA: When was the last time you spoke with him?
TRISHA: Last night!
SABRINA (Giggling): I’m going to leave that one alone.
TRISHA: So what type of investment op is it?
SABRINA: Oh no Trisha, you aren’t getting me in the middle of anything between you and Garrett.
TRISHA: Come on Bree-Bree. I’m going to find out anyway.
SABRINA: You’re right. So find out from Garrett when he’s ready to tell you.
TRISHA: You know you can be a real bitch sometimes.
SABRINA (Smiling): I learn from the best.
TRISHA (Laughing): Bye girl! Tell Dumb and Dumber I said hi.
SABRINA: Will do. Love you.
TRISHA: Love you too.
She walked back into the dining room and began clearing the table.
KELBY: Hey who was that on the phone babe?
SABRINA: Trisha. She says hello to both of you.
GARRETT: Oh God Brina, you didn’t tell her about my idea did you?
SABRINA: No I didn’t tell her what it was, but I did tell her you had one.
KELBY: What’s the problem G?
GARRETT: Trisha always feels the need to compete with me every time I try to do something.
Kelby and Sabrina looked at each other and smiled.
KELBY (Laughing): You and Trisha are one in the same.
INTERIOR: TRISHA’S CAR
Trisha could not believe that Garrett was sitting at Kelby and Sabrina’s dinner table talking business deals. She figured that she would give him one day to contact her and if he didn’t then she would let him have it. She pulled into her parking space and decided just then, that she would not give him any for two weeks. As she got out of her car she noticed a young couple across the street kissing and getting physical. Okay one week…no sex for one week…that’ll teach him a lesson! She walked into her building and remembered that she ran out of batteries last night. Damn, back in the car. She refused to be in heat tonight!
By this time, Micah had stayed in the library after Jamel left and did some research on the restaurant and nightclub industries. He went over all of the documentation and opened his Macbook and began working up a marketing strategy for Garrett. He was ready for a change, and he couldn’t progress if he was living in his mother’s house in the same bedroom he grew up in. This is going to change my life for the better, he thought to himself. I love New York but Philly is looking better and better.
Jamel was sitting in a chair at Cuttin’ Up, Monica Howard’s beauty salon. As she counted receipts and emptied out the register, Monica listened to Jamel complain about how he thought Garrett was acting. She had begun to get tired of it. It’s been years and he’s still on this envious stuff. Was Jamel really that weak? It secretly turned her off but she let him go on and on and on until finally…
JAMEL: So what you think Mo?
MONICA: What do I think about what?
JAMEL: Everything I just told you. You weren’t even listening.
MONICA: Well what do you expect me to say Mel? Don’t you think this thing you have against Garrett is getting a little redundant? I mean please! You’ve been talking and talking and talking about what you were going to do with your life for years, and now you have this opportunity and you are going to let it pass you by because of some envious bull?
JAMEL: Ain’t nobody envious of nothing or nobody.
MONICA: Then what’s the problem Mel? All of us spent so much time at Temple crying on each other’s shoulders, worrying and stressing about what life was going to be like after college. It’s been eight years and you still sitting around doing the same thing. All of us have moved on and you still sitting around complaining and street dreaming. You need to grow up.
JAMEL: I can’t believe you trying to play me like that.
MONICA: Well believe it Mel. I have other things to worry about than something this stupid. I have a shop to run, bills out the behind and a daughter to raise. And I’m doing it all by myself! You need to grow up and be a man because time has been wasted and you are long overdue. None of us want to hear it anymore. Put some action behind your words. It’s more attractive that way.
JAMEL: Who you talking to though Mo?
MONICA: I’m talking to you! Now take the broom and sweep up this hair. I have to go in the back and do some work on the computer.
JAMEL: How you just going to put me to work?
MONICA: Get the broom and sweep up the hair or you’ll find yourself Monica-less for a couple weeks.
JAMEL: Why do girls always do stuff like that? Threaten you with that so you can act right.
MONICA: Cuz that’s all that works. And I don’t know what girls you been messing with but I’m a woman head to toe, past a quarter of a century and definitely not playing any little girl games. Think about what I said Mel. Really think about it.
And with that she walked towards the back office.
JAMEL: Hey Mo?
JAMEL: Thanks babe.
Jamel sat in the chair for a few moments and thought about Garrett and Micah and Monica. Maybe they were right. Maybe it was time to show and prove. Executive Chef still sounded hot. Garrett was right, the plan was fool proof.
MONICA: I don’t hear any sweep sweep out there!
JAMEL (Mumbling): Damn what you got dog ears or something?
MONICA: What you say smart?
JAMEL: Nothing boo.
And he hopped up and grabbed the broom. He loved when Monica was aggressive with him. Must be that North Philly in her.
INTERIOR: GARRETT’S CAR
Garrett and Kelby arranged some time to meet up and discuss things further and Sabrina sent him on his way with heavy plates of food. His Blackberry began to buzz but one thing he refused to do was talk on the Blackberry while driving even with his Bluetooth. When he got to a red light, he noticed that it was just an email…from Micah. When he finally got home, his cat was meowing at the door.
GARRETT: Sup Buddy? You miss me? You hungry?
He scooped Smokey up into his arms and carried him into the kitchen to feed him. He put the plates of food in the refrigerator and after Smokey was settled, Garrett hopped into the shower. If he hurried he could catch the eleven-o-clock news.
Back on his couch with a beer and his Macbook he began responding to emails before he headed to bed. He remembered that Micah emailed him but wondered why when he opened it there were so many PDF files attached.
What can I say man? I can be a punk sometimes. I got scared but I decided to go back over your documentation and reconsider. Man you have some great ideas and if the position is still open, I’d love to make arrangements to discuss things further. I’m eating crow right now but hopefully you can ignore my actions from earlier today and allow me to be a part of this project.
I stayed in the library and did some research and began strengthening the marketing plan you created and also created one for each part of the venue: restaurant, lounge, and nightclub. When you get a chance look everything over and get back to me. Thanks for considering me man! Let’s make history!
All Garrett could say is wow. With a little smile, he marked the email as unopened, closed his Macbook and took a swig of his beer. He was headed to bed when his landline began to ring.
JAMEL: Sup man its Mel.
JAMEL: Look man, I’m not good with apologizing.
GARRETT: Good cuz I’m not good with accepting them.
JAMEL: You know what? I deserved that. But listen man, I still have a lot of growing up to do and I’ve always felt a little threatened by you because from the day I met you in Undergrad you had your ish together. And everything you said you were going to do, you’ve already done and are doing. But that’s my hang up not yours and I want to say sorry for everything.
GARRETT: Aight aight aight man, enough with the mushy stuff. Now are you in or out? You know we can’t do this without you.
JAMEL (Laughing): Yes you can but I don’t want you to. So count me in.
GARRETT: Aight man, let’s make it happen.
JAMEL: Following your lead brother.
It had been three days before Garrett decided to call Trisha and she was furious. Once she called him, he had to listen to twenty minutes of a scream out and thirty minutes of questions and drilling and threats. He had to laugh to himself. She just misses me.
GARRETT: Are you done?
TRISHA: No I’m not. So after talking with Kelby and getting him to forward me all the information you neglected to include me in, I’d like to offer you a proposition.
TRISHA: Trisha Gilbert PR Firm will handle any and all Public Relations and event planning for your business as a partnership on the agreement that I’m given the title of Director of Public Relations.
GARRETT: How much is this going to cost us?
TRISHA: Nothing at all. I just want the title and all you have to do is agree to it. I can have the paperwork together by the end of the week.
GARRETT: You know I’m definitely down with this Trisha and I do appreciate it.
GARRETT: But…I think that the idea of a business owned by four successful Black men is impressive and needed in today’s economy. I mean we have a Black man running for President. Having a Black female in the forefront of everything we are doing sort of defeats the purpose.
TRISHA: Understood. Of course I definitely agree. But I’m not trying to co-own anything with you guys. I just want to be included.
GARRETT: So you promise to stay in the background when necessary?
TRISHA: No I don’t but I will promise to not make this investment about me.
GARRETT: Oh really? Like you usually do?
TRISHA: Listen, having my company’s name on all of your press copy will be just enough for me. If you want to be honest, the firm has been stagnant for the past year and we need something great like this to help us progress. So it benefits me just as much, if not more, than it is benefiting you and your partners.
GARRETT: Understood Ms. Gilbert. Okay well if you could have that paperwork together by the end of business Friday that would be great.
TRISHA: No problem Mr. Kelly. Thank you for your attention in this matter.
GARRETT: No, thank you. You have a good evening.
TRISHA: Do you have any other questions or anything else we need to discuss?
GARRETT: No, I think I’m good. Good evening.
And he ended the call. Did he really not ask me to come over? Then she remembered that she was trying to hold out for a week. Damn! Then she remembered that she just offered to go into business with the man she’d been sleeping with since she was in college. Damn! Then she remembered that she had two packs of fresh batteries on her nightstand. Mmmm yes! Thank God for twenty-four hour pharmacies.
After several meetings, Garrett, Kelby, Micah and Jamel had everything set and ready to go. At Jamel’s urging he thought that it would be in their best interest to apply for a business loan. Eventually everyone agreed. Garrett would be in charge of finance and management. Micah would be in charge of marketing. Jamel would be the Executive Chef. Kelby would be a silent partner. It was a great investment and they were doing it together! Garrett suggested all legalities be handled by Allen-Baker-Smith Law Firm. Lisa Myers was a lawyer at the firm and she had offered Garrett free consultations from the first time he took her son Braheem to hangout with him.
It took a few months to finalize everything but they were all so on point soon after Garrett had proposed his initial idea to everyone back in March. By mid-November that year, the property was sold, decorating had begun, legalities, permits and finances were in order, public relations and marketing strategies were set and a title had been given to the venue. They would call it SOUL. It would be a Soul Food and American cuisine style restaurant by day, a lounge in the evenings, and a nightclub on Saturday nights. To top everything, President Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States of America a week prior. He was the first Black man ever elected into that position. History was made and four other Black men were ready…and inspired to make more.
Garrett invited Jamel, Kelby and Micah, Monica, Sabrina and Trisha down to SOUL one Friday evening for a mini-celebration. He had wine and cheese waiting and had setup a table and some chairs. Everyone took turns making toasts. It was an incredible feeling. Suddenly…
KELBY: Okay everyone I need the floor for a few minutes.
KELBY: As you know, Sabrina and I had been together since we were in high school, all throughout college and are still making moves together. This has been a great couple of years for me but a very stressful one. But that beauty right there has stuck by me through all of it. I was sitting on the couch a couple of days ago waiting for her to come home and I started reminiscing. I remembered the first time we met. I remembered the first time we went out on a date. I remember her cheering for me at every game I’ve ever played before I went pro. I remembered both of our proms. I remembered our first kiss and the first time we made love. Then I started counting years and I came up with too many years of us together and not being official. And I didn’t like that. So I decided to do something about it.
Kelby grabbed a little blue box out of his pocket and got down on his knee, grabbed Sabrina’s hand and began.
KELBY: Sabrina I love you with all of my heart and I thank you for sticking by me and loving me so hard. I know things have not been easy and I’ve been the main cause for that stress but I want you to know that I’m a changed man because of you and I want to keep you around. So with that being said…will you marry me?
Screams from the ladies, hoots and hollers from the men, tears from Sabrina and a placing of a huge diamond ring on her finger from Kelby.
SABRINA: Oh my God! This ring is too big Boo.
MONICA: Girl please. No its not!
KELBY: Hey hey hey Brina. You know nothing is too good or too big for my baby.
SABRINA (Taking the ring off): I don’t want you spending all of your money on me like this. You just started getting this money Boo.
KELBY: Put that ring back on your finger. My money is your money now.
TRISHA: That’s right Kelby...I like that! OURS! Our money! So since I’ll be in charge of planning the wedding let’s discuss sometime to go over any pre-nuptial agreements.
Everyone shot her a dirty look.
TRISHA: What? Oh please I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking it!
GARRETT: But you are the only one tacky enough to speak on it!
TRISHA: Tacky! Garrett don’t make me read you up in here. Up in your establishment!
GARRETT: Ooooh please do cuz I’ve got some things to get off my chest too.
MONICA: Hellooo! Damn must you both ruin this moment for my girl and my homie?
TRISHA (Taking a sip of her wine): I apologize.
GARRETT: That’s a first.
GARRETT: Okay okay I’m sorry!
KELBY (Laughing): Ya’ll crazy. Anyway, back to us. So what do you say Brina? Will you jump the broom with me? Become my constant future?
Sabrina thought about all of the years they’ve spent together in love and all of the years they’ve spent together in conflict. Was it worth it? Was she ready? She then began reminiscing. She remembered the first time they met. She remembered the first time they went out on a date. She remembered her cheering for him at every game he’d ever played before he went pro. She remembered both of their proms. She remembered their first kiss and the first time they made love. Then she started counting years and came up with too many years of them being together and not being official. And she didn’t like that. So she decided to do something about it.
SABRINA: Yes! Yes I’ll marry you!
And he grabbed her and they embraced and kissed and wiped each other’s tears off their faces. Garrett looked around at all of his friends and smiled. New beginnings were definitely in order. He raised his glass.
GARRETT: To Kelby and Sabrina!
MICAH: To Barack Obama!
JAMEL: To making history!
TRISHA: To progressing!
MONICA: To friendship!
SABRINA: To love!
KELBY: To SOUL!