Chapter 13

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I definitely have to go shopping for the AMA's. There's no way I'm not wearing a new dress for this event. Plus, my baby is performing, so I have to look my absolute best. D.C. is the best place to go shopping too because of all the upscale malls and spectacular fashion. So, there was no way I wasn't not going to go shopping here. After being out with Michael in public, it's time I start wearing small disguises so that no one notices me. I decided to wear jeans, a raspberry blouse and a long black wool coat with leather gloves to match and of course, my favorite raspberry beret.


"Where are you and Roland going?" Michael asked me.


"The Galleria at Tysons," I told him as I pulled on my beret and coat. I literally bought a raspberry beret because of Prince's song. When I told Prince, he was flattered. When I told Michael, he rolled his eyes and still does every time he sees it. But it will forever be my favorite. It goes with just about every winter coat I own.


"Don't forget to wear sunglasses," he warns me.


"In the mall?"


"If you want a little privacy, I advise it. People won't recognize you as much. It'll help." At his instruction, I went in the hallway table drawer and pulled out a pair of his black shades. "What are you getting at the Galleria?"


"We've got the AMA's in five days and the Super Bowl is coming up very soon."


"That's right," he nodded.


"What color are you wearing? I kind of like matching you at events."


"Black and white. I'm just gonna keep it simple. You know I have to perform that night, so there's no reason to get too dressed up."


"Black and white it is then. See you later, baby," I went over to kiss him. I hurried over to meet Roland at the front door.


"Baby," Michael called me back over to him.


"Yeah?" I walked back over.


"Take my card," he handed me his black AmEx.


"You sure?" I wondered. I've used his card many times before, so it isn't using his money I'm concerned about it. It's the fact that now that we're out, using "Michael Jackson's" card as I've been his date for the past two events is a lot riskier than it was before. Before, it was just a coincidence that my husband shared the same name as "Michael Jackson," now, "Michael Jackson's Soulmate is using his card to shop."


"Yeah. Why wouldn't I be?" he asked me.


"It isn't a coincidence anymore, ya know?"


"Nobody will know. They won't even be able to tell it's you. Here," he put the card in my hand. I bit the inside of my cheek, pondering if I should take it or not and finally decided to go meet Roland at the newest Mercedes 500 Michael bought.


"Everything okay, Mrs. Jackson?" Roland asked me as he opened the back door and helped me in.

"Yep. I just hope our shopping trip doesn't turn into some kind of nightmare."


"It won't," he shut the door and got in to drive. "Honestly, no one should even notice you."


"I sure hope not," I looked out the window as we began to drive. This is my first time being out without Michael since the public outings. Thankfully, I have Roland with me, but honestly, I don't know what to expect.


VII


Everything has been going smoothly since we stepped foot in the mall. No one has followed us or anything. Not that I'm famous enough to be noticed or anything, but I bet if I took off these shades, it'd be a different story. It's crazy how I've been through every nook and cranny of this mall, but I still can't find anything to wear. Maybe I should just go somewhere else.


"Did you want to go somewhere else?" Roland asked me.


"Let's try one more store. We haven't gone to all of them, have we?"


"I think we have..."


"I'm not sure that we have," I looked around at the stores we already had been through. I'm discouraged at this point because I haven't found anything in this "upper echelon" mall. I'd probably be better off shopping at Elder-Beerman or Parisian, but I'd have to go clear across town for either one of those. Who knew that finding something black and white would be so difficult? I've gone from Saks to Nordstrom to Burberry to everything else in between only to not find a thing. Honestly, I have five more days until the AMA's, so I'm not too pressed to find anything now, but it would have been nice.


"Mrs. Jackson, I don't think we visited that store," Roland pointed at a small store in the corner called La Ville Lumière. The store was adorned in such beautiful bright lights and did not have a single mannequin outside like all of the other stores. Which must mean it's really top notch. Roland and I walked over to the store and went in. I looked over at the twenty-something-year-old sales associate who just offered a tight-lipped smile instead of a hearty hello, which slightly irritated me. I hate when people do that because I don't feel welcome. Normally, I'd walk out after not being greeted, but I'll take it easy on Becky today. I mean, the least she could have done was say hello to someone willing to spend their hard-earned money in her store, but whatever. I walked through the store admiring all the beige and black clothing the sales associate had stocked. Beige and black seem to be their specialty, I see. These clothes are simply beautiful. Better than any of the other clothes I've seen today. Roland followed two steps behind me as I made my way to the back of the store. Right there in the back of the store was a lone mannequin wearing a dress that immediately caught my eye. I walked over to it to feel the material on the half black and white dress that was perfectly split in the middle with diamonds. One shoulder strap was on the black side of the dress while the white side was completely strapless. The train of the dress was subtle, but very much so needed.


"Roland," I gasped. "I think I found the dress," I said as I continued rubbing the material through my fingers and looked at the tag to find out it was by a French designer I had yet heard of. "Oh my gosh... If this isn't a sign, I don't know what is. Isn't it beautiful?"


"It really is. It's perfect, Mrs. Jackson," Roland nodded.


Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the sales associate walk up to me, forcing another tight-lipped smile on her face, "you like the dress?" she asked in an American accent that completely caught me off guard.


"I really do. It's perfect. Is there any way I can try it on?" I asked without looking up from the dress.


She sighed and shook her head no, "I'm afraid not."


My head snapped up, "why not? Is that not a fitting room over there?" I pointed to two rooms blocked off with black curtains."


"Oh. They are, but this dress is nine hundred dollars," her left eye twitched.


Roland and I looked at each other, "okay... but what does that have to do with me trying it on?"


"We only allow paying customers to try on our clothing." Isn't that something? Right when I find the perfect dress, I have to put up with this bullshit. I looked at her nametag to find that her name was Samantha.


I scoffed, "you've got to be kidding me, right? What makes you think I'm not a paying customer?"


Samantha cleared her throat, "not to be prejudiced, but people like you frequent my store a lot. They try on the clothes and nine times out of ten, they're never purchased. They're just missing. Unless I can verify that you're a paying customer, then-"


"Oh, baby, that's not prejudiced. That's racist! You think because I'm black, I'm going to steal from you? This is a whole new day and age. You're really telling me ignorant people like you still exist?"


"It can be whatever year you want it to be. The reality is, people still steal. So, can I verify a form of payment?"


"You know what?" I looked her up and down. It's taking everything in me not to go off on her. "You can keep this dress. I'd rather not spend my husband's hard-earned money in a story run by a racist anyway." I walked out with Roland in tow. I'm pissed! Just my luck that I find the dress and then all of a sudden, Becky's ignorant ass won't let me try on the dress. At this point, it isn't even about the dress anymore. It's about the demeanor Samantha had when I walked in the store and how bold she was to tell me black people steal; therefore I couldn't try on the dress.


"Are you alright, Mrs. Jackson?" Roland asked me as we sped walked back to the car.


"No. I'm not," I said as I pulled out my mobile phone to call Michael.


"Is there anything I can do?"


"I'll let you know. Thank you," I told him as I waited for Michael to answer. That little girl obviously doesn't know who I am. I can very much so call my lawyer, the news... Anyone for real! But is it really worth all that? I don't even want to give that company money anymore, because of that racist idiot.


"Hey, baby," Michael finally answered.


"You'd never guess what just happened to me."


"What happened?"


"I found the dress I was going to wear to the AMA's."


"Oh, yeah? How much was it?"


"Nine hundred dollars."


"Not bad, babe!"


"That's not the best part though. The best part is that I couldn't even try it on."


He paused, "...why is that the best part? Why did you buy a dress that you didn't even try on?"


"I walked in the store with no greeting from the sales associate. That should have been my first sign. Then when I find the dress that I'm absolutely in love with, she sneaks her way over to me and asks if I like the dress. Of course, I tell her I do and that I'd like to try it on. This heifer tells me I can't try it on because it's nine hundred dollars!"


"Did you tell her you had the money?"


"No, Michael! I asked her what that had to do with me trying on the dress and her racist behind had the audacity to tell me that only paying customers can try things on in the store. She goes on to say that people that look like me frequent her store, try things on and next thing she knows the item is missing without being purchased. I'm not buying anything from a racist."


Michael cleared his throat, "did you talk to her manager?" his voice sounding much more serious.


"No," I sighed. "She was the only one in the store."


"What's the name of the store?"


"La Ville Lumière."


"It's French?"


"Yes."


"Don't leave. I'm going to handle it."


"I'm not spending any of our money in that store."


"Who said anything about money?" he asked me and hung up. I turned around to face Roland.


"What'd the boss say?" he asked me.


"I think he's coming," I told him as I went to sit down. Becky doesn't know who she's playing with. She got the right one today.

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