"Hey, Sparkle!" The spunky older woman waved.
"Hi, Ms. Johnson! How are you today?" Sparkle waved back from inside of her office.
As Ms. Johnson made her way over to Sparkle, she proceeded to tell her more than what she needed to know.
"Phew, child! My back is hurting like something crazy! I had a hot date last night and let me tell ya gir--"
Sparkle cut her off before she could get a word out edgewise. While she loved speaking with Ms. Johnson, the little old lady could be a bit much at times.
"No, no, no, no, no, Ms. Johnson! I don't need to know all of that!" She quipped, throwing her hands up in the air in protest.
"Girl... You ain't no fun! When was the last time you went on a date?"
Just before she could answer the question, her phone rang several times, but she was unable to locate it. Her desk was covered in paperwork, making it impossible for her to find anything.
"He-Hello!" Sparkle answered the phone frantically, after the fourth ring.
"Hey, Sparkle! How are you? Is everything alright over there?" A deep burly voice asked.
"Yes, everything is OK, Mr. Wilson. Can you give me a second? I'll be right back."
Placing her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone, Sparkle asked Ms. Johnson if she could please give her some privacy.
"Ok! But I expect an answer later," Ms. Johnson whispered, as she left Sparkle to her phone call.
Breathing heavily, she inhaled and exhaled deeply before speaking.
"I'm back Mr. Wilson, how may I help you?" She said while still trying to catch her breath.
"There's no need to be so formal, but look, I need your help with something big!"
"Sure, sir! What is it?" She asked cheerfully.
"Michael Jackson will be donating five million dollars to our mission, and here's the kicker! He will be helping us serve Thanksgiving dinner to those in need!"
"Is he playing a prank on me? Or has he gone berserk?" she thought silently to herself.
Mr. Wilson was the CEO of the Compton Community Center. He was a nice guy, but he could also be a bit strict at times. He never struck her as being a jokester, so he had to be telling the truth.
"Wow! This is amazing! But will we be able to handle the media frenzy?" she questioned.
"Actually, Mr. Jackson is keeping his visit private. So no one can know about this except for the people serving meals that day, and even then, we can't tell them until the day of," He warned.
"Got it! So, what do you need me to do?" she asked curiously.
"Sparkle, I need you to be in charge! I'm going away on vacation that week, and unfortunately, I won't be around for Mr. Jackson's visit," he explained in a remorseful tone.
"Huh? I can't handle this on my own!" She blurted.
"Sure you can, you're the Associate CEO of this community center for a reason. I hired you because you are smart, gifted, and talented! You can pretty much handle anything thrown your way," he stated proudly.
"I'm glad you have so much faith in me, sir, but maybe-- this task is better suited for someone else?"
"Oh, nonsense! You're the only one that I trust to be in charge of this, and you are second in command."
"Alright, alright... I'll do it, but don't expect me to gush over the guy," she replied unenthusiastically.
While Sparkle was familiar with Michael Jackson, she just didn't get excited over celebrities. Sure, she loved his music, admired him for his charity work, and even had all of his albums, but she wasn't about to 'fake the funk' just because he was famous.
Feeling relieved, Mr. Wilson let out a deep breath. "Thanks for doing this, Sparkle! I'll give your information to Mr. Jackson's team. I now officially turn this over to you. Congratulations! This is a once-in-a lifetime-chance," he bellowed.
"If you say so, Mr. Wilson... If you say so."
Feeling depleted from a long day of work and not to mention the news of Michael Jackson's impending visit, Sparkle left the center and made her way home.
After Settling down into the cushy seat of her 1991 red Camaro, she turned the radio on, hoping to find some good music for her ride home.
As she scanned through various stations, she caught the tail end of Michael Jackson's voice. ["And that was a new Michael Jackson exclusive! Stay tuned to Kiis-Fm 102.7! Your number #1 hit music station."]
"Hmm, I didn't know he had a new song coming out... Guess that gives me something to talk about when I meet him," she said sarcastically while contorting her face into a smirk.
Sparkle knew she was being irrational, but she just wasn't excited over meeting him. For as long as she could remember, she wasn't fond of celebrities, and most of it stemmed from her childhood.
Pushing the painful memory aside, she fastened her seat-belt and headed home towards Downtown LA, where she lived in an upscale apartment called the Pegasus. It was a historic 1949 landmark that had been renovated into apartments.
While she wasn't rich by any means, she was still able to live comfortably due to unfortunate circumstances.
When Sparkle was just 21 years old, she graduated with honors from Spelman, a historically black college, where she earned a degree in "human services."
She didn't need to work at the community center if she didn't want to, but her passion in life had always been to help people, especially those less fortunate than herself.
As she entered her apartment, she noticed a letter laying on her floor. "Someone must have slipped this under the door," she thought to herself.
When she opened the letter, the first thing that caught her eye was the letterhead that read: MJJ Productions. "Wow! His team moves fast!" she remarked sharply.
Feeling as though she was going to collapse at any moment from being so tired, she took a seat on the sofa and began to read the letter.
"Dear Ms. Washington, I am very much looking forward to working with you and appreciate you for letting me volunteer at your community center. As I previously discussed with your boss, I'd like for my visit to remain private. Thank you for your cooperation regarding this situation. Attached are ten formal Non-Disclosure/Non-Circumvention" Agreements for you and your staff to sign. I'm looking forward to volunteering at your wonderful center. Please sign the attached documents and fax them back to me as soon as possible."
"Ahhh! And so it begins," Sparkle chuckled softly to herself.