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Chapter 14

The best way to handle racism is to get them where it hurts. Their pockets. If there's one thing I hate more than anything, it's racism. I have dealt with it on more occasions than one. Shayla has dealt with it as well. I don't play about my wife. I can use my power and celebrity for many things, and I choose to use them for good. This was another good that clearly needed to be done.

It didn't take long for Bill to get in touch with the CEO of La Ville Lumière all the way in France for me. After getting a hold of him and after getting over his initial surprise of talking to me, I explained Shayla's case to him, to which he was extremely upset. He denied excessively that his company worked on racist ideas and apologized multiple times. He promised that as long as Shayla and I choose to shop at his stores, that we'd never have problems like that again. I told him it wasn't just us though and recommended a racial sensitivity training for all of his employees because there's no reason for all the black people in her store to be profiled in that way. I apologized for the people who might have stolen but quickly reminded him that it's racist for anyone to think just black people steal, reminding him that anyone can steal no matter their race or ethnicity. At that CEO Abel Cantrelle apologized profusely and promised he'd handle the associate of that store appropriately and immediately.

Bill, two other bodyguards and I pulled up to The Galleria at Tysons and as much as I didn't want to go in and cause a frenzy, this is my wife we're talking about. I'll be damned if she gets denied anything because of her race.

"Ready, Mike?" Bill looked back at me.

I looked over at the two bodyguards, "yep." All three of them got out and waited for me to open the door. Had it just been Bill and me, we wouldn't have stood a chance. It was necessary for the other guards. Everyone will be wondering why a man is walking surrounded by three other men, but it's better than being trampled. Normally, I wouldn't even do something like this, but for Shayla? I'd do anything.

Bill opened my door to let me out, prompting the other guards to close in on me as I pushed my sunglasses up the bridge of my nose. Bill locked the door as we began to walk to the entrance of the mall. I just want to get in and out. As much as I love my fans, I'm on a mission. I don't have time for anything but a wave if that. As we walked in the mall, everything seemed to go pretty smooth so far. No stares...yet. Shayla told me to meet her and Roland over by Dillard's. This should be pretty quick.

"How are you feeling, sir?" one of the guards asked me.

"I'm good. I feel invisible and I can't say that I've felt invisible as myself in a while."

"You can say that again," Bill joked.

"Any minute now," one of the security guards laughed.

"Quit. You're gonna jinx it," I warned him. As if on cue, the stares slowly began to linger on my fedora, ponytail, and loafers. If I didn't want to be recognized, I'd have to wear a mask like I've done all those other times. "Too late," I mumbled. "Speed up," I told Bill and the other guard in front of me.

"Is that..." I heard someone ask as others pointed.

"It can't be..." I heard others say. Oh, but it is.

"Michael Jackson?!" Someone shouted, only causing everyone else to look my way. My no cover cover is officially blown. Suddenly a crowd began to follow us. I put my hand up to wave, which only caused an eruption of gasps and like two screams. The crowd began to follow us only getting louder.

"What do you want us to do, boss?" One guard asked me.

"We're just going to keep heading to our destination," I said as I pulled out my Motorola phone to call Shayla.

"Yeah, babe?" she answered.

"I need you to meet me by the door at the store. We've got a crowd following us and we just need to get in the store without commotion. I don't want to have to get you from point A just to have to hurry to get to point B."

"A crowd?" she sighed. "Okay. I'll see you when you get here," she hung up. I understand her frustration. This will be her first mob...

"Change of plans, we're heading right into the store, Bill," I told him. He gave me a thumbs up and began leading us to the store. The crowd did not let up. It just continued to grow and grow like how it did in Japan, France and everywhere else I went just as myself. The only difference is that my wife is will be with me soon. Fans asked for autographs and photos. Normally, I don't decline a fan, and as much as I hate ignoring them, this is urgent. The cons of being a celebrity are that the fans feel that you're at their beck and call, which is far from the truth. I appreciate my fans and I love them so so much, but I love my wife more.

Once we got to the store, Shayla and Roland were already waiting beside the entrance to the store. Once she saw me, she ran up to me, giving me the biggest hug. I kissed her forehead, which only caused more screams and gasps from the crowd taking photos of our encounter. Shayla and I walked in the store while Bill and the other guards stood at the entrance to block any entry. I walked up to the desk to a wide-eyed starstruck girl who I assume was the girl Shayla had problems with, "is your manager in?" I asked her.

She nodded, mouth wide open in shock, "she just walked in."

"Could you please tell her we need her assistance? And while you're back there, can you please close the gate so we can have an ounce of privacy?"

"Of course!" she said in a perky voice and hurried to the back.

"It's crazy how people have such a different demeanor when they see you," Shayla shook her head.

"What do you mean?" I asked her.

"She was so monotone, nonchalant and racist when it came to me."

"That's going to change," I assured her as we waited. "What dress were you looking at?" She pointed to a half-black and white dress split perfectly down the middle with diamonds. "That's beautiful! You'll look stunning in that dress."

"You think so?" she played coy. I nodded and looked toward the gate being closed and waved at the fans gawking at me and my wife. Flashes from cameras came from many different directions. I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of photos landed in the papers tomorrow.

"How may I help you, Mister..." the manager walked up to me, pausing as she got a good look at me. "Michael Jackson?" she asked almost in disbelief. "You-you're the special customer the CEO called about?" I nodded. "Well..." she cleared her throat. "How may I help you?"

"I don't know if Mr. Cantrelle told you or not, but my best friend had a terrible experience in here," I gestured toward Shayla who gave a small smile to the manager and the sales associate. "She was racially profiled by one of your sales associates although she was a paying customer. I don't know who... Do you know who it was, Shayla?"

"Hi, Samantha," Shayla smiled wide at the sales associate standing by the manager, who had turned beet red.

"Did he call you and tell you the issue, Miss...?" I looked at the managers nametag. "Miss, Janet?"

Janet cleared her throat, "I did receive a call from Mr. Cantrelle, which was why I had to rush up here. I'm so sorry for your experience, Miss," she offered her sincerest apologies to Shayla.

"Mr. Cantrelle mentioned everything would be handled appropriately?" I asked her.

"...yes..." Janet nodded slowly. "We want all of the customers treated with respect and kindness."

"Thank you. Babe go on and pick out what you want," I gestured toward Shayla.

"Anything?" she asked.

"Go get it. Whatever you want. Just get it," I shrugged. At that, Shayla pulled Roland by his arm to help her pick out the clothing and any shoe she was interested in.

"I am so sorry this happened to you and your friend, Mr. Jackson. Mr. Cantrelle told me you don't ever have to worry about anything else whenever you shop at any La Ville Lumière or any of our other shops. It won't ever happen again."

"Did Mr. Cantelle mention a racial sensitivity training?" she shook her head no. "Expect one to come up soon. I recommended it to him because no one should be treated this way, ya know?"

"You are absolutely right, Mr. Jackson. Everyone should have a fair chance," Janet told me. I looked at Samantha who was still beet red.

"I-" Samantha cleared her throat. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Jackson. Had I known she was your friend; I would have never ever treated her like that."

"It's not even about that, Samantha," I shook my head. She obviously willingly missed the entire point. Ignorance is a choice and it's clear she chose just that.

"I'm ready!" Shayla placed every item of clothing on the desk.

"Now, I do still have to ring in all of these items, but it's covered by Mr. Cantrelle," Janet said as she rung in each item. "Samantha, take the security sensor off of these and bag them." Samantha's hands shook as she slid each security sensor through the machine and folded them to be bagged. I almost feel bad for her.

"Thank you, Samantha!" Shayla smiled at the shaken Samantha.

"I'm sorry," Samantha choked and ran to the back of the store.

"Sam-" Janet sighed. "I'm sorry. I guess this is too much for her."

"It'd be too much for me too if I were caught being racist. I'm the victim, Janet. Not your not-so-sweet Samantha back there," Shayla made it known.

"I know, Ma'am. I sincerely apologize for her actions," Janet nodded. "You didn't deserve that whether you're friends with Michael Jackson or not."

"Thank you, Janet," Shayla nodded. Janet rang in the bill which totaled fifteen thousand dollars. Yikes. Having a racist employee got Mr. Cantrelle out of fifteen thousand dollars of profit.

"I'll finish bagging these for you. Anything else for you all?" Janet asked us. I looked at Shayla.

Shayla shook her head no, "no, ma'am! Thank you so much for your help."

"You're more than welcome. We want everyone to feel welcome no matter their race, age or gender. What you experienced today was far from our beliefs."

"I'm sure," Shayla nodded as she handed two bags to Roland. "How are we going to get out of here?" she asked me. I looked at the gate only to see the crowd had grown with more gawking fans.

"Do you mind if we leave through the back of the store? We kind of want to get out of here in one piece." I asked Janet.

"Of course!" she nodded as she handed Shayla the last two bags. "Come on," she logged out of the computer and waved us to the back. Bill, Roland, and the other guards followed us through the back. As we walked through the back, we saw Samantha crying on the table loudly at the situation. Could I really feel bad for her? Janet opened a door, "you'll go down these stairs, make a left and you'll be right in the garage."

"Thank you, Janet," Shayla and I said in unison as we made our way to the staircase with everyone else in tow.

"Well, that was a tr-"

"You're FIRED!!!" We heard Janet's scream from the hallway. Shayla and I looked at each other in surprise.

"You win some, you lose some," Shayla shrugged. "Thank you, baby. I really didn't expect that."

"I had to pull a couple of strings, but we won't have those problems with this company again. I'll tell you that. Let it happen at another store, you'll get the same result."

She laughed, "thank you, baby. You really like the dress?"

"I betterlike the dress," I laughed.

"You're right about that. I don't even feel bad for baby girl. She messed with the rightone today."

"I guess so, huh," I followed her down the stairs to the garage. I know if we heard that shout, the fans in front of the gate heard that shout. So, I know for a factthis will be in the papers tomorrow.

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