Jane Thomas and her parents, Dean and Madge, stood dumb-founded as Sky Crystal told them the Japanese company taking over the shopping centre project had other plans for their land. “There going to build a fish processing factory and cold storage plant!”
As Sky delivered her bombshell, the Merlin freezer in the Thomas deli started with a loud clunk. “The biggest in the world,” she added, and the freezer motor roared.
“That can’t be true,” Dean said, struggling to make sense of what he had just heard. “I saw Ray Purvis only the other day. He was still talking about a shopping centre.”
“He would, wouldn’t he?” Sky snorted. “But it is true. His assistant Ralph told me, just this afternoon.”
“Why would Purvis’s assistant tell you a thing like that?” Madge demanded, with a little more force than she intended. “You know what I mean, especially if it’s true.”
“Sorry Mrs T, but it is true. Ralph loves fish, he’s outraged,” Sky said, giving Madge a gentle hug. “Oh Mr Thomas they use those awful drift nets. The vacuum cleaners of the sea that catch everything.”
“We’ve got to stop them,” Jane said urgently.
“That’s what Ralph says too,” Sky agreed. “They won’t get my place. I haven’t signed anything yet.”
“What about us, Dad?” Jane asked looking from her father’s ashen face to that of her mother. “Will we have to sell?”
Dean shrugged his shoulders, his voice just a thin whisper. “We’re cactus. I’ve already signed.”
“What a bummer,” Sky said and walked to the front door of the shop. “I’m going to meditate on it. That always helps.”
Sky gentle closed the door after leaving, as though not to disturb the depressing solemnity of the moment. Madge’s reaction was very different. She was furious and ready to fight.
“Forget the meditating bullshit,” Madge shouted as she snatched up a piece of butcher’s paper from the counter. “I’ll do for the buggers right now!”
Madge strode towards the kitchen door. For years, she had put the names of those who caused her harm in the freezer compartment of the family fridge. Technological voodooism to help salve a battered soul even though in her heart or hearts Madge knew it could not possibly affect the actual person.
The motor of the deli Merlin freezer raced and was soon revving so fast that the vibrations caused the metal frame holding it to shake. Dean called out to his wife, “If we’ve going in for one of your voodoo tricks, why don’t we really put them on ice.”
Thump, thump the freezer chassis banged against the floor as Dean took the sheet of paper from his wife and laid it on the glass top of the Merlin cabinet. Jane passed her father a felt tip pen and on the paper he wrote the names ‘Purvis’, ‘Price’ and St Clair’.
Just as Dean was about to slide open the glass top, Madge stopped him. “You didn’t say their names! Come on, we’ve got to do this properly.”
With one hand, Madge took one of her husband’s hands. “Now make a circle,” she instructed taking hold of a hand offered by Jane. As father and daughter held hands, the circle formed with the paper on the Merlin in the centre. “Now, the full names,” Madge said, and the three members of the Thomas family chanted in unison, “Ray Purvis, Elliott Price, Murray St Clair.”
Dean picked up the paper, opened the vibrating glass top of the Merlin and dropped the names into the freezer.
3.00 AM, the bedside clock glared back at Dean. Dean and Madge had retired to their bedroom above the shop many hours earlier, but neither could sleep.
“Come on love,” Madge said gently. “We decided together. We’re both to blame.”
“I was the one who signed everything away, not you,” Dean replied despondently. “I should have never trusted that bugger Purvis, you didn’t.”
“What’s done is done, Dean,” Madge said firmly. “Let’s see what the lawyer has to say on Monday. Come on, try to get some sleep, tomorrows’ Jane’s big day,” Madge said reminding her husband of the State Rowing Championships that Jane and her friend Ruth Goldsmith were competing in the following day.
From their bedroom they could just hear the sound of the Merlin freezer downstairs, as unbeknown to them it worked for a miracle.
The sale contract, which Dean had signed so carefully with his fountain pen, was still at the top of the pile on Ray Purvis’s desk when the sprinkler system at Purvis Holdings suddenly came on at 3.17 in the morning. Although there was no hint of smoke or excessive heat, water sprayed everywhere.
A jet of water from one of the sprinklers in the ceiling of Ray Purvis’s office soaked the contract. It seemed to be targeted at Dean’s handwriting: The ink smudged, ran and began to wash away. When all trace of Dean’s signature had been obliterated, the sprinklers stopped, just as suddenly as they had started.
In the next episode, “Race Day”, Jane and Ruth get off to rocky start in the double sculls and Abraham Goldsmith reports on the sudden departure of Elliott Price for the ski slopes of Switzerland.