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From Long Term- my contribution


          I get to work fifteen minutes early to lock myself in my office and pray. I thank God for all the things that didn't happen while I was ravaging the female population of Delaware (and the rest of the tri-state area). Despite having slept around to a ridiculous degree, I never caught any diseases or became anybody's babydaddy. Nobody ever stalked me or keyed my car or threw hot grits on me or anything like that. Folks might laugh about the grits, but a guy I went to high school with is in the hospital right now with third degree burns. Apparently his wife caught him with her former best friend. The next morning, she served him breakfast in an unexpected fashion. I hear he'll be all right once the skin grafts heal.

            Anyway, after I thank Him for all the bullets I dodged, I pray for the women from my past. I've encountered two since I got saved last year, and both were pleasantly surprised when I apologized. I know God has forgiven me, but I need to deal with the damage I did. They were all willing participants, but that doesn't excuse me using them.  

            The sound of high heels causes me to end my prayer and prepare to work. I'm Transitional Employee Coordinator for Statebank's credit card operation. I oversee all of the temporary employees in Customer Service (Correspondence and Phones) and Credit Analysis. My assistant Susan Lassiter is in my office every day promptly at nine A.M. to review the day's work. I tell her all the time how much I appreciate her. She made my transition from temp to HNIC easy, despite the fact that she was also in line for this position. It would be easy for her to sabotage me so she could get my position, but she's not like that.

            ““Nate, this is Medina Holloway. Medina, Nate Carter.”

            I'm used to Susan introducing me to temps on their first day, but this is a huge surprise.

            “He's the guy who approves your hours, so be nice to him.”

            We laugh, but two of us have to force it. Medina looks about as happy to be working under me as I am to have her here.

            Most men in my position would try to holler at Susan. Besides being such a great person, she is FINE. She's five seven (which puts her about at my chest), and her figure is provocative. But, I decided that dating coworkers isn't a good idea when you're the boss. I can tell Medina's gonna test my resolve.

            Medina is shorter and not as physically gifted as Susan, but she has this intangible something that drives men crazy. Her tangible isn't bad either; she's five feet five inches of brown skin and killer curves, and those brown eyes of hers can charm cash from a miser.

            Help me, Jesus.   

            I shake her hand while I fight to free my tongue from its temporary paralysis.

            “Welcome back to Statebank, Medina.”

            Susan raises an eyebrow. “I didn't know you'd worked here before.”

            Medina doesn't blink. “It was two years ago. Nathan and I were on the same long-term assignment.”

            I ignore the frosty attitude in her voice and the anger in my gut. The five minutes it took to get through my standard new temp spiel seemed like five hours, but Susan finally takes the heifer out of my office. When the door closed behind them, I prayed again.

            “God, I asked to find women I slept with, and You sent me the one that did me wrong! What am I supposed to do with her?”

            I remember something Pastor Nathan said in his sermon yesterday. “Prayer isn't just us telling God what to do and asking for stuff; prayer also involves listening.

            “Okay God, I'm gonna keep listening, but I better get to work before I get fired. I hope I hear the answer when You give it.”

                     EXCERPT

What lies in the soul of a man? Love, laughter, heartache and sorrow? Pride, fear, rage and contentment? The true measure of a man lies in his heart and in his soul. This collection of enlightening stories personifies the sentiment, faith, resilience and love embodied in the creation God made in His own image. The Soul of a Man is a divine truth and an affirmation of the passion running through the minds of men where hearts and souls are bared.

Winner of the 2009 African-American Literary Award for Best Anthology.
Contributors (collectively known as the Soul Brothers) include: Joe Thomas, Joey Pinckney, Brian Ganges, Marc Lacy, K.L. Belvin, Clarence "Baba Simba" Mollock, Alvin C. Romer, Jihad, Thomas Ashburn, Jr., William Frederick Cooper, Jarold Imes, Eddrick DeJuan and the late Tyrell Floyd.