When he went through the entrance door, he suddenly crashed into something / someone and a loud clattering noise of lots of things falling to the floor followed.
He immediately knelt to repair the damage he had done. A fine woman’s purse lay on the floor and all its content splattered around it.
He picked up the female purse and the scattered things on the floor and shoved them back into the purse.
When he stood up, he found himself face to face with the stunningly beautiful lady he had seen earlier entering the bank, but leaving it immediately.
He could only stare and held the purse with a tight grip as if the purse could rescue him.
She advanced her hand, hesitated and intently looked back at him, before she questioningly lifted an eyebrow and asked: “Is something wrong?”
This brought him back to reality. He swiftly shook his head as if to clear it, remembered the purse he held in a dying grip and advanced it to her.
Slightly set off, cheeks burning because of his embarrassment over running into such lovely a lady, he started and nervously had to restart his sentence again.
“Did I hurt you?” When she shook her head, he continued with a bit more courage.
“Would you ... - Might I, - invite you to have lunch ... with me? – As a kind of compensation, so to speak...”
An astonished look crossed his face as if surprised, that he had indeed said those words aloud.
With hopeful eyes he looked at her and met her bright and smiling eyes.
“Oh yes, that would be lovely. It is such a bright and lovely day today.”
The driver, standing in the background and awaiting his mistress shook his head. The weather was totally awful and every moment it could start to rain. But he drew back to await her call later. It was quite obvious for him that she had totally forgotten his presence, so he would buy himself a lunch and a newspaper with a big sports part and would await her call later. At two o’clock she had the next meeting, so that would leave him some comfortable time.
Max felt totally awkward but could not take his eyes from her, so while exiting, he nearly slammed the entrance door in the face of the lady from the queue. But she was still totally smitten from his kiss on her cheek and did not even recognize it. She murmured something to her companion. “What a nice man, a real gentleman.”
Max was glad, that ‘his lady’, as he in his mind called her, suggested a nearby restaurant. He was not so sure he would have found a more complicated way.
He politely helped her into her chair, before he took his seat opposite her.
|Excerpt J. Mulligan as Max (Source: RichardArmitageNet.com)|
“I do not even know your name and sit here with you, about to take my lunch.”
Max smiled and offered his hand for an official introduction.
“My name is Max, Maximilian Delarmy. I am, or better, I was architect.”
“Oh, that is interesting. Do you have a special building you have built?”
“I was the main architect of the theatre palace in Leeds, but now... - Oh, let’s place our orders first. The waiter seems quite in a hurry.”
Both looked at each other, not really taking notice of their surrounding and only a very agitated waiter had been able to interfere in their cocoon in which they only were aware of each other.
Maximilian was not even aware, that he still did not know the name of his lunch-partner.
They chatted easily with each other and time flew by without their even taking notice of it. The waiter arrived with their meals a short time later and their conversation, after excursions to art, literature and music they both liked, came back to Max’s architectural projects and why he had given up his job when he liked it so much.
“That had not been an entirely voluntary decision, on the contrary. I had been the last one employed at the company and therefore had been the first who had to go when the company got into financial troubles. The current financial crisis hit them with full blow when some creditors could not pay and immense outstanding depths remained unsettled. – With no family for me to care for, it had been a clear decision and was deemed fair and socially compatible. -
|John Mulligan as Max (Source: RichardArmitageNet.com)|
“But do you not have a standard contract with the bank regulating such a situation?” Ellie asked, astonished, that such a clever man would run into a choking contract.
“Yes, indeed, the contract allows me the option to pause payments. But the bank rejects, as I still have enough other investments to continue payment. – The result is – as all my investments lay with this bank that they hold my complete accounts and reject any access or withdrawal. I tried to buy a computer this morning and had to learn, that my credit card would no longer work. This brought me to the bank – and to you.” He smiled at her.
“All the money I have right now are the coins in my pocket and the loan the accountant gave me today.” With this words Maximilian touched his breast pocket, where he had put the envelope of the accountant.
All of a sudden all colour drained from his face, when he could not feel the envelope where he had placed it. He opened his jacket and searched for the letter, but nothing was there. He slipped out of the jacket, turned it round, but nothing!
“The envelope is gone.” He stood up, but the waiter immediately running towards him in alarm brought Max to quickly sink back into his chair.
|John Mulligan as Max (Source: RichardArmitageNet.com)|
“You lost a letter from the accountant? But it cannot be gone. You got it at the bank?”
“Yes,” Maximilian nodded, completely drawn down by his series of bad luck.
“You had it, when you left the bank?”
“So you had it, when we met?”
This brought a smile back to Maximilian’s face. Their memorable ‘meeting’ had been a complete collusion.
Ellie took up her purse and hurriedly examined its content. When all things kept clamouring around, she – without further ado – turned it round and scattered all its contents on the table between them.
Max stopped a lipstick from landing in his lasagne. But with a joyous cry, Ellie fished out an envelope and brightly smiling handed it over to Maximilian.
With a heavy sigh of relieve, Max took the letter.
Ellie now expected him to open it, but Max just sat there and stared at the envelope.
“Do you not want to see what it contains?” Ellie asked.
“Not now.” Max looked up to the clock on the wall. “The time is not right, yet.”
Max now looked at Ellie and saw the disappointed look at her face. Hurriedly he added: “Sorry. That has nothing to do with you. I am only allowed to open it at two o’clock today.”
Now it was half past one. Ellie looked at her watch.
“Half an hour still to go then. - Oh, I have to hurry, I have a meeting at two o’clock I totally forgot about.”
She collected her things from the table and packed them back into her purse. Max helped her to get all the scattered content.
When Ellie settled back in her chair to finish her meal, she suddenly looked up.
“I do not want to offend you, but would you mind me settling the bill?” She did not want to hurt his feelings, but did not want to get him into deeper financial troubles either.
“Oh no, that is fine. I have money and with the loan everything is fine again. Thank you very much for your offer.”
“When I went to the bank today, I had almost lost all hope. – But now everything is just wonderful. I have a loan to get me back on track and am sitting in front of the loveliest woman I ever met.”
Max suddenly realised, that he had no name for her.
“Hmmm, how should I call you?”
Ellie, quite a bit ashamed of her forgetfulness to introduce herself, whispered her name and drew out a business card from her spacious handbag.
“Ellie Carrington. What a wonderful name for a beautiful lady.” Max repeated.
Ellie reacted shyly as his compliments made her feel self-conscious and hesitantly handed over her card.
Max did not glance at the card, but intensely looked at Ellie.
“Will we meet again?” He knew he was not the best in light flirting, but quite forward in his approach. But he very much hoped, he did not offend Ellie, for though he knew her for only an hour, she already was the most precious person in his life.
Ellie smiled sweetly at him and answered: “Yes, I would love that very much.”
Her look at Maximilian gave her a clear view of the entrance door, where she spotted her chauffeur who waved and tried to get towards her.
Ellie abruptly stood up.
“I have to go now. Good bye and till soon.”
With these words she left a stunned looking Maximilian behind, who, with his back to the door, had not seen Ellie’s exchange with the chauffeur.
‘Half an hour still to go.’
Max put the envelope in front of him before his plate and stared at it.
In some way he had lied to Ellie. He still had some coins, but they would never cover the meal. He desperately needed the loan, as he went to the bank, when he had discovered that the bank had even blocked his credit card, while he was trying to buy a computer.
A moment later, the waiter arrived with the bill, awaiting his payment. When Maximilian just sat there and continued to stare at the envelope, the waiter cleared his throat.
“A moment please,” Maximilian asked.
“What sense would that make?” the waiter rebuffed.
|J. Mulligan as Max (Source: RichardArmitageNet.com)|
The waiter looked doubtful, but went to fetch the glass of water. Only minutes later, he again stood next to Maximilian and waited for him to pay the newly printed out invoice.
Maximilian asked for ten minutes. The waiter went, but only came back with the manager.
Maximilian looked at the clock at the wall, sighed and murmured: “What can 10 minutes hurt.”
With this he took the envelope and opened it with a spare knife on the table.
He drew out the letter and opened it. Something fell out of the envelope he held, but he had covered it with the letter, so that he did not immediately see it.
But the gasps of the waiter and the manager took his attention away from the letter. He looked at a golden credit card, not understanding its importance. His own credit card had not worked any longer today. Had the accountant replaced it?
Then understanding hit him. The golden credit card meant unlimited credit at the bank. It was not comparable in any way with his own small credit value with extreme penalty charges for any credit taken.
‘Unlimited credit’, he thought. ‘What in ... did that mean?’
The manager was the first who ruled in his surprise. He pushed his waiter into the direction of the bureau: “Bring the card reader. Go on, do it.”
To Maximilian he bowed and assured him, what great pleasure it had been, to have him as a guest in his restaurant and how honoured he felt to have been able to serve him.
Maximilian was too stunned to answer coherently. He started, but broke off again repeatedly. In the end he clapped his mouth shut and stayed quiet, while staring at the card and letter on the table, but not really seeing anything of the script.
The waiter came back with the card-reader and with extra care took the golden card, put it in his reader and booked the bill.
Maximilian had the presence of mind to take out some coins to give the waiter a tip, but otherwise remained there in shock.
The manager, seeing that something was amiss and wanting to ascertain the good opinion of his guest, the multi-millionaire in town, rushed his waiter to bring Max an espresso ‘on the house’.
The intense smell of the strong coffee brew brought Maximilian back from his shocked state. After one sip, he started reading the letter:
Dear Sir or Madam,
This card with unlimited funding is a loan for the duration of 2 months.
The recipient – you - have to bring it back after said 2 months in exactly the same state as it was received.
Hon. E. Wilbers & R. Wilbers
Carefully Max folded the letter after reading it several times, put the card and letter back in its envelope and with utter care stowed it into the inner breast pocket of his jacket.
With wobbly knees he stood up and a bit awkward and self-conscious left the restaurant under the repeated bows of waiter and manager, which drew the attention of all guests towards him.
The manager, as soon as Maximilian had left the restaurant, hurried back into his office and took up the phone.
He dialled the number of his friend at the local news agency and informed him about the extraordinary happenings in town. A multi-millionaire was here, visiting the town incognito. This tip would be sufficient payment to make the journalist do a good review about his restaurant soon. The manager smiled contentedly.
The reporter, jumping at this news, as the usual summer hole had to be filled, immediately took up his camera and tried to catch the ‘sensation of the summer hole’.
|Edited J. Mulligan as Max (Source: RANet.com)|
Max asked for the accountant he had spoken with before and urged him, to take back the card and give him an ordinary loan. But the accountant told him of his clear instructions. It was this or nothing.
Depressed by the immensity of “The Gold Card” and the immediate change in the behaviour of his surrounding, of which he had gotten a first glimpse at the restaurant, he left the bank building.
The waiting journalist, which as soon as he left the building started to take photos of him, surprised him. Resigned to the fact that he could not change anything, he came to the resolution to make the best of it, as he had no other choice anyway. With the knowledge of ‘unlimited credit’ for two months, he happily smiled into the lens of the camera.
... Continue with: Part 3 ...