Time was running out for Ray Purvis. The survival of Purvis Holdings now depended on selling the land earmarked for the proposed shopping centre to the Kaytee Corporation of Japan, but not all the land was Ray’s to sell. Brimming with confidence, Purvis had assured the Japanese fishing entrepreneur he would overcome this problem in the next few days with the purchase of the last two properties.
“I hope so,” Mr Oshi from Kaytee had insisted at the end of their meeting, “I leave for Tokyo next Wednesday and our deal must be completed by then.”
Early the next morning, the Purvis yellow Rolls Royce was parked once again in the back streets of Newbury opposite the two properties Ray Purvis desperately needed. The semi-detached retail building from the 1920’s with its traditional delicatessen and a new-age crystal shop was an incongruous clash of the old and the new in colour and style.
Ray knocked on the crystal shop door. There was no answer. His annoyance turned to anger as he read the small hand written note taped to the inside of the glass. “Closed for meditation and whale watching, that’d be right!” Ray said to himself as he kicked the door in frustration.
The delicatessen next door was open. Inside, Madge Thomas was stacking some selves when Ray Purvis, unsure of the reception he would receive, stepped tentatively into the shop. Madge turned to greet who she thought would be the first customer of the day. The smile on her face quickly faded.
“You’ve got a nerve!” Madge declared as she advanced on the unexpected and unwanted visitor.
“Please, Mrs Thomas,” Purvis said in a silky voice. “I knew nothing about the trouble at Regal Mortgage.”
“So you say,” Madge Thomas snapped back. “Just stay away from us.”
On hearing his wife’s raised voice, Dean rushed into the shop from the backroom. “What do you want?” Dean demanded of Ray without wishing for an answer, as he walked over and stood next to Madge, hands on hips.
“Dean, Madge, please. I can understand why you might be angry with me, but honest, I was in the dark as much as you.”
“You have done enough damage Mr Purvis, so I think it would be wise if you left right now,” Dean said coldly.
Purvis was unswayed and did not move. “It’s true!” Purvis pleaded. “I’ve got money with Regal Mortgage myself.”
With the skill of a consummate salesman, Purvis’s soothing empathetic words transformed Dean’s anger into concern. Purvis told of his regret for suggesting family and friends invest with Regal Mortgage and how he would also personally suffer should the company fail. And then there was the impact such a failure might have on his business. “You know Regal were the major backers of the shopping centre,” Purvis told the Thomases.
Madge’s scepticism when it came to Ray Purvis was not assuaged by what she heard, but her husband was now more worried. Dean, who had been preoccupied with the possible loss of their savings, had not considered what effect the collapse of Regal Mortgage might have on his plans to establish a new international deli.
“I suppose this means the shopping centre’s not happening,” Dean asked despondently.
“I’m a man of honour, Dean, I think you know that,” Purvis said with smooth sincerity. “A lot of people are depending on that project. Good people like you and Madge who’ve agreed to sell their properties…”
“Now wait a minute Ray,” Dean jumped in.
“Don’t worry, Dean,” Purvis said reassuringly. “I have come here to tell you the good news personally. A Japanese firm is interested in providing the finance.”
“So the deal’s still on?” Dean asked.
“Sure is,” Purvis replied. “I’ve got a contract for you right here.”
Although Madge Thomas didn’t like Ray Purvis, his offer to buy the family deli had seemed fair and she and her husband had already agreed to the sale. The desire to get away from Purvis overwhelmed Madge. “I have work to do out the back, so I’ll leave you men to it,” she explained.
As Madge left the room, Ray Purvis opened his brief case, took out the contract and put it on the top of the Merlin freezer cabinet. The freezer motor switched on, and as Purvis flicked through the contract pages looking for the one to be signed, the rattle of the motor increased.
Purvis folded back the pages of the contract and took a gold ballpoint pen from his inside jacket pocket. He clicked the pen with a flourish and offered it to Dean. “All you have to do is sign here,” Purvis said, indicating the section on the page.
Dean looked at the pen with suspicion. “Oh no, I don’t think so.”
A look of anxiety spread across Purvis’s face. The Merlin motor roared, clunked and stopped. “You’re not have second thoughts now, are you mate?” Purvis asked.
“Of course not,” Dean said with a smile. “It’s just that I am a pen and ink man myself.” And with that, the shop owner picked up a fountain pen and asked, “If it’s alright with you…”
“Sure,” Purvis said with a slight sigh of relief. “Sign it with anything you like so long as it is legible.”
Purvis watched as Dean carefully unscrewed the cap of the fountain pen and bent down to sign the contract lying on the glass lid of the freezer cabinet. As soon as the nib of the pen touched the paper, the Merlin started again with a loud thud and sudden shake causing Dean’s hand to slip.
“Bloody thing. Sorry, it’s a bit wiggle there,” Dean said indicating to his signature.
Purvis picked up the contract and inspected the signature. “What’s a wiggle between friends,” Purvis chuckled as he put the contract into his briefcase.
In the next episode, “Final Practice”, Ruth and Jane work on their starts for the State Rowing Championships the following Sunday while their fathers talk about the financial troubles.