Ray Purvis’s visit to the Crystal Shop was less than successful. Sky Crystal didn’t like what she had read and seen about Ray Purvis and didn’t like shopping centres.
“They’re just glass and concrete temples to consumerism,” She told Purvis.
“A shopping centre doesn’t have to be like that,” Purvis said with as much conviction as he could muster.
“I’ve seen the ones you build Mr Purvis, and they are like that,” Sky retorted. “Why won’t you take no for an answer?”
In the Thomas deli next door, Dean Thomas was once again chipping out the excess ice from the Merlin freezer when the young man from the bakery entered carrying a basket of bread. Dressed in the hip late 105s rockabilly style; leather jacket and boots, embroidered shirt and slicked back hair, the delivery man also affected a fake American accent.
“Hey man, keeping cool?”
Dean extracted himself from the freezer and picked up a bread roll which he had carefully set aside the previous day.
“See this? Dean said putting the roll on the counter in front of the delivery man. “One of my best customers nearly bought it yesterday.”
“So, it’s not cool?” The young hipster asked.
“Underweight again! Did you tell them back at the bakery like I asked?” Dean demanded.
“I laid it on them,” the delivery man replied in his Americanese. “But listen man, this bread is cool. It’s made by hand, you dig?”
“No, you listen. I don’t care if they make the bloody bread with their feet, just so long as they get the weight right.” Dean shouted, his anger mounting. “Go back and tell them again! Do you dig me, man?”
Not wanting to inflame the situation any further the delivery man set to work unpacking the bread and dropped the American accents.
“Okay Mr Thomas.”
Dean’s anger however was not assuaged. As he continued to harangue the young man about declining standards and the disappearance of the concept of giving good service, Ray Purvis entered the deli, with a roll of architect’s plans under his arm, and stood by the door listening.
The delivery man picked up the offending bread roll and put it into his basket. “I’ll take this back then.”
“You do that. The customer always used to be right, you know that saying?” Dean asked without waiting for an answer. “Well what is he now? Just another mug waiting to be cheated!”
After the young man had left, agreeing to pass on Mr Thomas’s complaints once again, Ray Purvis walked up to Dean and introduced himself. This however was largely unnecessary for over the years Purvis had expended considerable energy and money manipulating the media to make himself a public figure known to virtually everybody.
“Nice to meet you Dean, but do call me Ray,” Purvis said, oozing smooth charm. “I must say that was a welcome defence of old-fashioned values. You’re a man after my own heart.”
“Thanks Ray. I’m afraid I lost my temper a bit.”
“Nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in.” Purvis said in a reassuring voice. “I won’t take up too much of your time, Dean, but I’m planning to build a new shopping centre in the area and I wanted to talk to you in person.”
“You mean you’re after the land?” Dean replied, with mounting suspicion. “Is that crook Williams working for you?”
Ray admitted that he had asked the Williams firm to approach Dean with an offer, but expressed complete surprise that the offer was for just $320,000, even though this was the amount that Purvis had earlier dictated.
“It seems Mr Williams has been a little less than honest, I am sorry.” Purvis apologised. “I asked him to offer you considerably more, three hundred and seventy five thousand in fact.”
Dean and Ray commiserated with each other about the dishonesty of real estate agents before Dean explained it wasn’t just the money. He and his wife had built the business up over the last 5 years and they had a lot of regular customers.
“I understand,” Ray said. “But here, let me show you what we are planning.
Ray unrolled the plans, and with a skill borne of many years experience slid gracefully into selling mode. He talked up all the benefits of the shopping centre and showed Dean a space in the new centre where he could have larger, truly international delicatessen.
“Tell you what,” Ray said. “You can have it rent free for the first two years.”
Over the evening meal at the kitchen table that night, Dean enthusiastically explained the shopping centre proposal to Madge and Jane. He told them he liked Ray Purvis and thought his offer was very fair. Madge, as usual, was more cautious and sceptical.
“What about Sky?” Madge asked. “She doesn’t want to sell.”
Dean, who normally supported Sky when her cosmic flights of fancy were under attack, was unusually critical. “Sky’s like all those alternative people,” Dean replied, “Won’t be happy until we’re all living in caves eating bean sprouts!”
“You know that creep Annabelle Purvis in the freezer mum?” Jane said breaking the air of subtle tension. “That’s his daughter, and if he’s anything like her I reckon he ought to be in there too.”
Madge and Jane laughed, but Dean didn’t see the humour in it. “You shouldn’t encourage her in your silly superstitious games,” Dean grandly told his wife. “It’s childish.”
“Oh don’t be so pompous, where’s the harm?” Madge snapped back at him before laughing. “Come on dear, it’s just a joke.”
Dean smiled at this wife and daughter. “Next you’ll be sticking pins in dolls,” he said with a chuckle.
“You never know Dad, it might just work,” Jane replied, joining in the joke. “Annabelle Purvis has been too sick to come to school since mum and I put her in the freezer.”
In the next episode, “Mrs Clutch requests”, the Principal of Lushers College for Ladies puts the hard word on Ray Purvis.