Archive for March 18th, 2012

18th March
written by amber

Easy Terms

A buzzer sounded. “Mr. Gehry, the loan officer will see you now,” said the man who’d been waiting with Pete in the outer room.

As Pete entered the room, a man behind a large desk rose and held out his hand to be shaken. “Good evening, Mr. Gehry. I hope we didn’t keep you waiting too long.”

Pete sat nervously in a chair directly in front of the desk. “No, no, that’s fine. And thank you for the bottle of champagne. That was very generous.”

“Nothing but the best for our valued clients. Now tell me, Pete – can I call you Pete? – how much were you looking to borrow this evening?” The loan officer smiled affably, while his associate stood against the wall without any expression at all.

“Well, I was thinking, maybe $5000?” He squeezed his hands into fists in his lap, below the man’s level of sight. The champagne had relaxed him, but now his anxiousness had returned with a vengeance.

“Pete, looking at the information you’ve given me so far,” the man scanned the papers on his desk, “telling me that you’ve held your present job for over ten years, you drive a late model car, you’ve got some retirement savings, I think we could go $10,000 for you this evening.”

“Oh, my – well, I wasn’t expecting that much.”

“My representative did mention our special offer to you, didn’t he?”

“Oh, I guess I wasn’t really paying attention.” Pete had been rather upset when the loan agent approached him.

“This week we have a no interest guarantee. As long as you pay it back by next week, there’s no interest whatsoever.”

“Well, I was planning on being able to pay it back at the end of the evening.”

“Of course. We’ve been watching you, Pete, and we have every confidence that you will be able to pay it back.”

Pete leaned back in his chair, regarding the two men warily. “Wait a minute. What’s in it for you? There must be a catch.”

“Pete, it should come as no surprise to you that we have a close working relationship with this establishment. Skilful gamblers like yourself are the bread and butter of a casino. It would be regrettable if a temporary setback were to cause you to go home instead of continuing to create the amount of interest and excitement you were surrounded by earlier tonight. It’s in everyone’s benefit if you resume your spectacular winning streak. I’m sure that’s what you want, isn’t it, Pete?”

After a few seconds of frowning while he pretended to seriously mull the offer over, Pete said, “Well, okay. I’ll take the $10,000.”

“Wonderful. Now there are a few more papers we need you to fill out. Let me count out your money while you do that.”

From a lower desk drawer, the man drew out banded stacks of bills, tearing the band and counting the money with crisp snapping sounds while Pete picked up a pen and started in on the forms.

After a moment, he said, “A picture of my wife – sorry, I don’t carry one. I have this older photo of the kids, will that do?”

“Actually, we’ve got their Facebook pages up now.” The loan officer’s assistant turned the computer screen so that Pete could see it as the view  rapidly flipped from Margaret’s page to Minnie’s and then Pete Junior’s. “We can take the photos from there.”

“Why do you need that?”

The loan officer squared up the pile of bills and said, “At this time of night, Pete, you’ll agree that we can’t possibly get other guarantors. We can’t call your banker or your father-in-law or whoever would normally co-sign a loan with you to explain that you’ve just lost a substantial amount of money at the poker table but that you’re certain to win it back over the next few hands. So we allow you to use your family as security. Of course, they’ll never know about this, because you aren’t going to default on this loan, are you, Pete?”

“No, no. Of course not.”

“Of course not. Okay, just sign at the bottom here. Good. If you like, Marcel here will carry your cash down for you and get your chips.”

Pete headed toward the door, following Marcel and his money.

“One more thing, Pete.”

Pete turned.

“A word of advice. We noticed that you lost your rhythm at the table when you got up to go to the bathroom. This happens to a lot of people. There’s a bag on the couch for you – it’s got a couple of adult diapers in it. Lots of gamblers use them, and you might want to consider it for yourself.”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

Thanks to CBC radio’s Sunday Edition today for giving me the idea for this  story and many of the details I’ve used in it.