Rafael Barba loathed Trevor Langan. The man strutted the halls of Harvard Law with privilege oozing out in every step. Rafael found him annoying from day one of school. Langan would cite his parents’ knowledge in his in class discussions. Rafael would just roll his eyes and hope the man would shut up. He learned from his friend Rita that Langan’s mother was a circuit judge and his father, the head of a private firm. He had attended Princeton before coming to Harvard.
He avoided speaking to Langan even though they had mutual friends. They did see each other during class or at Rita’s study parties, those typically had more drinking than studying but they did not interact. Rafael did notice him when he was around, he was hard to completely ignore. Langan dressed well everyday, always put together, not a hair out of place. It annoyed Rafael greatly.
The first time they spoke was at Rita’s Christmas Party.
“So where do you vacation?” The tall, handsome jerk was wearing the most pretentious Christmas sweater.
Rafael scoffed for his initial response. His scoff made Langan drop his smile and look confused.
“Some of us do not vacation. Some of us have never vacationed. Some of us actually have to work in addition to attending school. Some of us don’t have rich parents to send us monthly checks.”
Langan chuckled nervously. His cheeks turned red. Rafael had only know about the checks because of Rita. He probably shouldn’t have thrown it in the man’s face, but the bitter feeling in his stomach had given him confidence.
After a few moments Langan’s smile returned, “You use the world ‘some’ a lot. You might want to expand your vocabulary or they will revoke that scholarship.”
Langan laughed at his comment as well as a few others around. The bitter feeling in the pit of his stomach turned into anger.
Rafael didn’t say a word in reply. In the Bronx, he had a reputation as a loud mouth but here at Harvard he always avoided confrontation. He didn’t want to be the scholarship student who was kicked out on his ass.
He walked away, avoiding eye contact with the spoiled man. He said his goodbyes to a confused Rita. She tired to get him to stay. Despite the holidays, Rafael still had work the next day and he used it as an excuse to leave.
Rafael would have successfully avoided interaction with the trust fund man if it had not been for a chance encounter.
During undergrad at Harvard Rafael had found work with a Cuban tailor who worked almost exclusively for the professors at the school. He worked delivering for the man and over the years was trusted with being his clerk, keeping the books and from time to time measuring. He was grateful to Mr. Lopez for giving him many hours when Rafael was available and for keeping Rafael dressed as well as his peers. He was a comfort to speak Spanish with him and every once and a while eat Cuban food with the man’s family.
On weekend during this final semester of law school, Trevor Langan walked into the shop. One of their professors had the gall to refer the man to Lopez. Rafael had been at the front desk, studying for exams when the bell rung. Rafael had tried to suppress a flush of embarrassment. He had run into many people he knew from school during his years working at the shop from undergrad to law school. Langan was one he had hoped to avoid.
Mr. Lopez was sewing when the man came in for his appointment which Rafael spotted in the books under their professors name. He called out to Rafael from the back, instructing him in Spanish to measure the man.
As much as Rafael loved Mr. Lopez, he hated him in the moment.
There conversation had been brief at first. Langan seemed a bit sheepish when Rafael explained that he would be the one measuring him. He removed his sports jacket and Rafael began. Rafael knew his cheeks were red but couldn’t make the blush stop. He wasn’t embarrassed to measure the man, Rafael had to admit he had a good body but he was embarrassed to be in a position of service to the wealthy man.
Langan went through the appointment with a chiper attitude. He didn’t seem bothered by all of Rafael’s snide, under the breath comments. Rafael thought he looked at bit disappointed when Rafael and finished and called Mr. Lopez in.
Rafael was surprised that Langan came back for several more appointments. He could afford the fine suits made by Mr. Lopez’s hand. Each time Langan would talk at Rafael, not expecting much conversation back.
Things became less tense, sometimes Rafael even laughed at Langan’s terrible attempts at jokes. Rafael finally felt comfortable with the man and their tentative friendship.
So when Langan asked him to dinner, he accepted.
When Langan had pulled up to Rafael’s apartment complex in a shiny red convertible, Rafael couldn’t help but laugh at the walking stereotype. Langan took it in stride and like a gentleman opened the car door for Rafael.
The restaurant had been upscale but Rafael’s hadn’t thought that was odd considering who Langan was.
Dinner went well the conversation never hitting a lull. They talked mostly about school and not about personal things which was fine by Rafael.
“I was always curious how a scholarship student could afford such nice clothes. You are really lucky to have that job.”
“Yes, lucky.” Rafael couldn’t stop his voice from dripping with disdain. Although Rafael would admit to his mother or friends back home that he was lucky he didn’t always feel that way. He thought about all the hours he worked in the shop, at the law library and tutoring undergrads. The cost of books, food, school fees had been weighing on him for years.
He was always exhausted but he had done it so that he wouldn’t have to trouble his mother. He didn’t regret his choices but he did not appreciate it all being attributed to luck.
Rafael refused to let Langan pay for his meal. He didn’t think Langan could tell he was cross with him until Rafael also refused a ride back to his apartment. Rafael made sure it was clear he would rather walk than be near Trevor Langan.
Langan showed up at his work study time at the law library a week later. Rafael had never seen Langan lack confidence until that day. He came in during a slow afternoon, the library was calm during a spring holiday.
“What can I help you with, Langan?” Rafael said curtly.
“Rafael, I need to apologize. Every time I mention you are on scholarship I don’t mean it to be an insult. You are at the top of our class yet you work and find time to study. I respect you and what you have done to get here. You are amazing.”
Langan’s apology, Rafael’s suspected, was crafted by Rita Calhoun. He doubted the privileged pup had really seen the errors of his thinking. But he appeared sincere in his apology and Rafael had given him the forgiveness he desired.
After that, Rafael finally allowed himself to foster a friendship with Trevor. It had been a nice way to end law school with Rita and Trevor. They studied together, partied together and applied for summer internships and jobs together.
The friendship between them made it easier to accept the job with Trevor’s father. He did hesitate but Rita and Trevor convinced him there was plenty of time to become an ADA. They told him he should make a little money first to care for himself and he could learn how the opposition worked.
Rafael was surprised when his mother didn’t object to the job. She had been grateful for his wealthy friends who looked out for him and invited him to travel.
It would take him years to admit that he was grateful too.