Lauren Moffit is privileged and overprotected by her wealthy parents. She is one of the few African American students in a prestigious prep school in a predominately white neighborhood. The world is her oyster. Nothing can prepare her for the devastating scandal that rocks her world when her father is charged with investment fraud. Spoiled and self-centered, she struggles to keep her head high. But it’s not until she hears the stories of the people in the park, where she takes her daily run, that Lauren realizes she can rise above her family “situation.”
With newspaper in hand, from the garage I pushed open the mudroom door. Mrs. Robinson, our cook, had the week off, cruising the Caribbean with her sister. Usually when I reached this area, smells of dinner wafted from the kitchen. Today I didn’t smell anything, which was unusual because on Mrs. Robinson’s days off, Mom took over and cooked favorite meals from her childhood. Being in the kitchen was natural for her, having been taught by my grandmother to cook up a batch of collard greens, pork chops and gravy, fried corn, salmon croquettes with rice, fried chicken, barbecued deer ribs, macaroni and cheese, black-eyed peas, fried okra, you name it, Mom could cook it. Sharing meals from her childhood was her way of keeping me in touch with my African American heritage since otherwise I didn’t come in contact with many black people in Fairfield.
None of the familiar smells greeted me today. Maybe we were going out to dinner.
I knew something was wrong when I walked into the kitchen and saw big ugly tears flowing from Mom’s eyes as she sobbed uncontrollably. She quickly wiped her eyes. Without saying a word she beckoned for me to sit down at the table with her. With my eyes I questioned her. But she didn’t say anything. Instead she grabbed the TV remote and pointed it at the television set that was mounted on a wall in the kitchen.
I sat there mesmerized as the TV anchor said, “Peter Williams, Founder of Williams Ortiz L.L.P., was arrested this morning. He is accused of bilking clients out of millions of dollars. An early estimate puts the figure at $300 million. Arrested along with him were other top officials of the law firm, including Samuel Ortiz, Chief Financial Officer, and Roger Moffit, Managing Director. It is not clear the role they played in the fraud, what is known…” the anchor continued.
But my mind stopped when the reporter said Roger Moffit. My Dad. Roger Moffit. It couldn’t be. There had to be some mistake.
Roger Moffit, who always taught me right from wrong. Roger Moffit, who always told me that stealing is wrong. Not that Roger Moffit. It must be somebody else.
I sat there in a stupor. Mom reached out her hand and touched mine.
“Your father will be home soon,” she whispered. “He called right before he went to the police station. His lawyer will take care of bail.
About The Author
Margaree King Mitchell is the author of WHEN GRANDMAMA SINGS, winner of the 2013 Living The Dream Award, illustrated by James E. Ransome, HarperCollins. It was also named one of the best children’s books of 2013. She is also the author of the Coretta Scott King Honor Book UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP, illustrated by James E. Ransome, Simon & Schuster, and GRANDDADDY’S GIFT, illustrated by Larry Johnson, Scholastic. An award winning musical featuring Broadway veteran Ken Prymus has been adapted from UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP. She is the creator of the EveryBody Has A Dream program, which empowers students in urban and rural areas to shoot for the stars with aspirations for their lives. THE PEOPLE IN THE PARK is her first young adult novel.