Although Drew was a difficult man to deal with, he always took good care of Quinita. Whenever their research team found themselves in a crunch to meet a deadline to provide results for other medical centers, or they were running out of funding for one of their projects, Quinita was always the one that seemed to find a solution for everything; and Drew appreciated that about her.
So tonight, Drew sent her a clean and shiny, black BMW SUV with black tinted windows. It also had a sticker on it that matched the stickers on the vehicles they used for research.
“This must be a new one!” Quinita mumbled under her breath right before getting into the car.
She sat in the backseat wearing her oversized “grandma” sweater, neon yellow tights, and light purple sneakers. Her style was something outrageous, but she didn’t care. She went everywhere with a purpose and wasn’t focused on appealing to the masses with her fashion choices. She always arrived to get the job done.
She straightened up the oversized, bubble-gum pink glasses on her face and watched the streetlights as they rode past them in the nighttime.
“This is for you,” the driver said, “…Drew said something about you and snacks.” he finished, before reaching back to hand her a bag of goods. He snickered as he did.
Quinita burst into laughter, “Drew knows me SO well!”
“Apparently he does,” the driver said, “I’m Xuan, by the way,” he said as he made friendly eye contact with his almond-shaped eyes in the vehicle’s rearview mirror.
“I’m Quinita, but you can just call me Q. Everybody does.”
They continued the trip with lighthearted small talk about how Xuan was a first-generation Vietnamese student at the university, and about names and the importance of them, “I think you should make everyone call you Quinita. When we die, our names are all we take with us, and all we leave are memories,” Xuan suggested.
“Ain’t nobody tryna hear about a Black girl’s name!” Quinita said, jokingly, looking out the windows.
They both giggled.
“Nobody is trying to hear Vietnamese man name either, but they should!” Xuan said, smiling and concentrating on the road.
“They need to put some respect on our names!” Quinita said.
The car filled with more laughter, although the shared understanding was something serious to acknowledge. Here it was, the year 2029, and so many things still hadn’t changed.
They were close to the university; close enough to where Quinita could see the enormous research building where she worked. It had seven floors and was mainly made of all glass. The lighting on the building was so bright, there was no need for streetlights.
As they entered the parking lot, Quinita spotted Drew standing at the curb waiting on them with his arms crossed over his belly. He was holding a cigarette in his hand.
“Oh shit, I’m in trouble,” Quinita said out loud.
“He looks mad!” Xuan said, he giggled nervously.
Drew was a 53-year-old man. He kept his blond hair cut short and had a mustache that was so thick, it looked like a toupée on his top lip. His eyebrows followed suit.
“Hey, you can have these, if you want,” Quinita handed Xuan a bag of chips.
“Thanks! I love these!” Xuan responded.
“Good luck!” Xuan said.
Quinita was gonna need every good vibe that ever existed according to the look on Drew’s face. She exited the vehicle feigning confidence.
“Glad to see ya,” Drew said, throwing and putting out his cigarette on the ground, “…follow me.”
Quinita followed Drew down the long, winding sidewalk. “Drew, I’m sorry I didn’t come in sooner, I–” Quinita started to explain.
“Ya know, Q…I try to be angry with you and I can’t,” he said, “the very thing that pisses me off about you is the same reason why you’re so good at your job.”
“What do you mean?” Quinita asked.
They were going up to the fourth floor on the glass elevator.
“You’re stubborn, a tough cookie. You don’t move until you know it’s safe and legit.”
Quinita looked around confusingly, hugging herself in her huge sweater and the huge bag she always carried with her. Such a nerd.
“This is why we needed you to come here tonight,” Drew continued, “I don’t know if you saw what popped up on the news a few hours ago–”
“About the cure for incurable diseases?” Quinita blurted out.
“That’s my girl!” Drew said. He’s such a dad. “Yes, as soon as we got word of it here, I reached out to the CDC to validate the claim. Sooooo…” he trailed off as they exited the elevator.
“What now, Drew? Please don’t let this be nothing crazy!” Quinita butted in.
“I’m sending you on a field trip!” Drew replied, feigning excitement.
Quinita gave him a blank stare, still hugging herself.
They were now standing in the middle of the office.
“The CDC informed me that they discovered a new strain of HIV and they think that it can be used to create a vaccine…” Drew explained.
Quinita turned her head completely sideways, conveying high interest. Her curly afro followed, covering her eye.
“…so what I want you to do is to make a trip to the CDC and observe this information…” Drew said, before looking to see if anybody was watching them, his eyes locked back on Quinita “…and find out what they’re not telling us.”
Quinita didn’t move for what seemed like forever.
“Lexi will brief you on what you will need. We’ve already funded this mission, so you will be well taken care of while you’re in Atlanta,” Drew said, “I know you won’t let me down.”
“Right this way, sweetie!” Lexi called to Quinita from behind.
Quinita was instantly overwhelmed with anxiety. She was also annoyed with Lexi being the one to brief her on this mission. Her head was spinning, her gut was bubbling, and her last nerve was irritated.
Stay tuned for the next episode of Lola Sky! New episodes are posted every Monday & Friday by 9pm EST.
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