Missed Opportunities 

Jimmy sat at his desk in his office. The desk was cluttered with paper, logbooks, receipt books, pens and pencils, so much so that you couldn’t see the desktop. On the walls were posters of Jim Brown, the Cleveland Browns fullback football player, The Harlem Globetrotters world famous basketball team, Pam Grier, a popular Black B-Movie actress, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. The room had a strong male musty smell, combined with pepperoni pizza and stale cigarettes. Jimmy hung up the telephone, shook his head and let out a loud sigh.

“Sissy!” he yelled.

His office door was flung open and in rushed Sissy with a cup of coffee in her right hand. Sissy Hanson had worked for Jimmy for over ten years. When she first started, she was returning to the workforce due to her husband of twenty-five years leaving her for a younger woman. Everyone tried to tell her that the other woman really wasn’t a “younger woman” because she was only three years younger than Sissy, who was forty-four at the time, but, in Sissy’s closed mind, she was younger than she was so therefore she was a younger woman. Case closed.

“Yes, Sir?” Sissy sat the cup of coffee down on Jimmy’s desk.

“Thanks. Why did you transfer that call to me Sissy?”

“She said it was important that she spoke with you, today.”

“Sissy, Mrs. Williams calls us once a month, the first of the month, to complain about our cab drivers. You know this.”

“I know Mr. Jimmy, but she started getting loud and cursing me out. You know I can’t be listening to no heathen talk like that in my ears. And if I hang up on her, like I did the last time, she will just call us for a cab, come down here and curse me out to my face. And then demand we take her home. For free! Now Pastor Barns told us just this past Sunday that we must block the Devil from putting evil thoughts in our minds and Mr. Jimmy, every time I speak with Mrs. Williams there are many, many evil thoughts that go through my mind about her. So, I did what Pastor Barns told us to do.”

“And what was that?”

“We are to flee from the Devil, and I flew by passing the call on to you. Anything else Sir?”

“No. Next time, fly your butt and that call somewhere else. You dig?”

“I dig what you saying, but I can’t promise that it will be planted in good soil.”

Sissy smiled, one of her best features, and went back to her desk, closing the door softly behind her. Jimmy shook his head, laughed and took a drink from the cup of coffee. He looked thoughtfully at the telephone while taking a few more sips of coffee, then picked it up, dialed a number he had dialed every week for the past six months with the hope that he would be able to speak with his daughter. 

It took some doing, but he had found out where they lived. He got their phone number from the private dick who found out his ex-wife’s address, phone number and where she worked. He even knew that his daughter went to the same school that Sara did. He had to bite his tongue to not ask Sara if she knew Marie. Marie was the same age as Sara so they could be in the same classes at school. Sara never brought any friends home or spoke of any for that matter. Jean was the social butterfly in the home, and he never saw Marie with her, and he certainly wasn’t going to ask Jean, especially about another young girl.

“Hello.” It was his ex-wife Mary’s voice.

Jimmy muttered “Wrong number, sorry” and quickly hung up the phone.

Damn it! Why couldn’t he just ask to speak to Marie. He was such a coward! Every week, the same thing. The phone either rings and no answer, or she answers. And he says the same thing all the time "sorry, wrong number" and once again, loses an opportunity to reunite with his daughter.

He thought about going to the school to see if he could see Marie getting on or off a school bus. But decided against this because the parents in the neighborhood didn’t like strangers hanging outside of the school building. If Shelia found out or saw him there she would want to know why, and he didn’t want to deal with that situation.

Once when the school nurse called to have Jean picked up early due to being ill, Jimmy offered to go get her in his cab and Shelia wouldn’t even allow him to do that for her. Shelia was so protective when it came to her girls, like his ex-wife was with his daughter. Overprotected at times. He hated the fact that Shelia didn’t have anyone to protect her. 

Jimmy looked at the telephone again. Picked it up and called Mary’s number again. This time someone else answered the phone. A young female voice. Was this Marie? 


Once again, Jimmy couldn’t speak.


“Sorry, wrong number.” Jimmy hung up quickly. And once again, another missed opportunity.