A little more of Lady Jayne is revealed
| Lady Jayne chapter 3
Does the sun always shine on this part of the world now? I noticed how sunny the area seemed when I was here last week. There was no shiny glass and metal embossed buildings to reflect the light, still, it seems so bright. Gillies is basically a mid-income suburb just outside of DC, on the Virginia side of the river. The architecture consisted mostly of two and three story well-kept brownstones surrounded by a number of commercial storefronts.
Gillies was not always so pretty. The brownstones were here, l but in desperate need of repair. The streets, dirty, with only a few open shops dotting the garbage laden streets. Used needles and empty condom rappers were interspersed among the among the other debris. Many of the brownstones had been abandoned and taken over by gangs and the homeless.
About ten years ago, a number of k street lobbyists and law firms began purchasing the brownstones. The streets were cleaned, the gangs and homeless removed, mostly. New stores opened and new tenants moved in. They called it gentrification. Others called it an invasion.
Strategies Inc. was embossed in silver, on the black nameplate, in the center of the white wooden door, surrounded by perfectly pointed red brick. They opened their doors here ten years ago. When it was still an area most people avoided.
I opened the door and walked in.
“Mr. Dewitt, how nice to see you again. Exactly on time. I hope you were not waiting outside just to make your entrance.”
“Rose, I believe. No, but I have to admit I did spend some time walking around and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. It is a lot different then I remember it from fourteen years ago.”
“Remembering the helps name. Impressive” she responded. “I hope you were not here in search of drugs.”
“No, Something dumber. A fraternity scavenger hunt”
Her eyes opened wide. “And you lived to tell about it. Or was it brag about it”
“Fourteen years ago, Brag. Today its more don’t know don’t tell”.
She smiled. “They’re waiting for you. Conference room, second door on the left. Just go in.
I had to stop as soon as I walked in. What I expected was a typical conference room. Long mahogany conference table. Overstuffed high back leather chairs. Water glasses. Water.
What I saw was a comfortable, but large, living room. A small low antique table centered the room. Embroidered, comfortable looking wooden chairs around the circumference. At the far end of the room by the wide picture window, on large comfortable armchairs, sat three men and two women drinking coffee. One empty chair with it’s back facing the window waited for me.
“Not what you were expecting.” The voice came from an attractive brunette, sitting to the right of the bay window, next to the empty chair. “Everyone has the same reaction. Even me. Names Julie.”
“She’s the aggressive one on the team. Soon, she will begin asking you if you're married. I might be interested in the answer to that as well. This is the team”
The other members of the team looked up at me for the first time. Right on cue.
“My name is Brad. I lead the alpha team. And yes, we are the alpha. Starting on my left is Mat, Phil, and Bill. If you need last names, this is not the group for you, Or you for us.”
Brad said all this without standing up, turning to look at me or offering to shake hands. Without saying anything, I made my way to the empty chair at the window, and sat down, with my back not touching the back of the chair.
“Peter,” I said then eased back into the chair.
“Don’t let the alpha designation impress you. The alpha team is chosen at the beginning of every year, based on the previous year’s performance. The alpha is spelled with a lower-case a, just to make sure we don’t get too ahead of yourselves.”
Everybody chuckled, including me.
“I heard they do things differently here. It was why I wanted to interview. Happy to see the rumors might be true.”
“Might”! Mat said speaking for the first time.
“I am still learning about Strategies. I know what I was hoping for, but I am still learning.”
“Wow, I wish I said that at my interview” Phil volunteered.
“Julie gave me a quizzical look before asking, “Available”?
Everyone around the table laughed including me. I didn’t respond.
Julie sighed, “not, I can tell”.
“Aggressive much Julie”, Brad imputed, smiling and shaking his head. “She is, and it is very helpful when we are working on a project. Embarrassing at other times”.
“I like being straightforward. It puts some people on their guard. Especially the men. More important it gets me results”. She turned to look at me. “ I have a feeling that Peter does not mind. At least I hope not.”
“Just to cover the basics, what do you know about Strategies, and why do you want to be here”? This was the first time Bill joined the conversation. He seemed better dressed than the others. Tight smile. All business.
“Strategies is a law firm, but even more than that. You operate as a think tank. Firms come to you to find strategies that work with challenging cases. Sometimes you litigate. You’re very profitable, but you have a conscience. Pro bono work is a requirement. How did I do”?
The group was silent. They were thinkers. They thought about everything. Large and small. I was silent as well. Brad was the first to speak.
“Nice. Grab your self a cup of coffee, and a danish if you like. We have a few hours to sit and chat”.
I retrieved a cup of coffee for myself. The alpha group was quiet while I did. When I sat down, the conversation began and continues for exactly a few hours.
Like all interviews, it ended. No commitments were made.