It was a typical fall morning in New Orleans. The early morning mist would soon enough give way to crisp and bright. Madeline was sitting in a French Quarter courtyard café. She was sipping coffee and flipping through the morning paper.
“Ah! The Want-Ads,” she thought. She’d, a long time ago, given up on ever finding that ideal part-time job that would allow her to choose her own hours and spend the rest of the day writing. Nevertheless, she sometimes scanned the ads. As usual, there was one to tease her:
“Wanted: Personal secretary to work from my home. Interviews held between 1PM and 3PM this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Please call for an appointment….” Blah, blah, blah.
It was Wednesday already. That would mean rushing home to change for an interview; going on an interview; rushing back home to change clothes for a cocktail party and then rushing off to meet her husband.
Madeline toyed with the idea for a few minutes. Then she pecked the interview number out on her cell phone. A woman answered. “Delaney Law Office.”
“Hello,” Madeline began. “This is Madeline French. I’m calling about the want ad in this morning’s paper.”
Ended up the woman, on the other end of the phone, was the wife of the lawyer needing a secretary. Madeline assured her she had excellent secretarial skills, but not legal secretarial skills. That seemed alright. “It’s mainly to help him with his research and research papers and class planning. He’s a law professor at Tulane. You’d work here and, sometimes, in his office on campus.”
An interview was set up for three that afternoon. That left plenty time to finish her coffee and check over her resume. The first part of the day would be simple. The difficult part of the day would be later.
Later. Madeline sighed. Her husband, Chris, was hosting a cocktail party in hopes of wooing a Los Angeles film company into producing their movie in New Orleans. Several prominent New Orleans business people would also be attending. It was a very important evening for him. She didn’t want to be late. She wondered if she could finish up an interview and make it to the cocktail party by 6:30 that evening.
Before Madeline knew it, 3PM had arrived. She shook her head. “There’s always a chance things could go my way,” she thought as she rang the door bell of an old home in the Garden District.
A woman answered the door. “Ms. French?” Madeline recognized the voice from their telephone conversation. “Let me just let him know you’re here,” she said as she walked to a door off the foyer and open it. “Ms. French is here.”
“Thank you, Juliette. I can see her now as a matter of fact.”
The woman motioned Madeline into the door and followed her into one of the largest home libraries she had ever seen. A two-story circular room of rich wooden shelves and walls and furnishings. A man was sitting at a desk facing a floor to ceiling window. Madeline watched him put his book down and stand and turn to greet her.
Madeline put her hands on a library table. She steadied herself. The interview would not go well. She should never have thrown his high school ring from her car window then driven over it as many times as she had.