Rated: E · Short Story · Mystery · #335621
A hair-stylist gets a loan
|Why didn't I mix with the chamber of commerce partners? Why didn't I attend that business luncheon when the going was good? I could have other businesses backing me up now. My hair salon could be flourishing. Why didn't I understand why anyone pushed himself to get ahead in the world? Janice Fleischmann scolded herself while she squirmed, waiting for Mr. Mayer, the loan officer, to bring her papers. She had thumbed her nose at business matters, and now, she wasn't so sure she had done the right thing with her financial life. |
Janice liked working as a hair stylist because her work addressed the hidden creativity in her. What annoyed her was that everyone expected people in her profession to prattle non-stop whether they made sense or not.
As Janice gazed at the plaque from the American Banker's association on the wall, her peripheral vision caught something moving near the window outside. When she turned her head she saw a tall, blond man with a misshapen, bulbous nose, blue eyes and a stiff-brimmed straw hat like the kind people wore on boats. His eyes were searching for someone or something inside the bank.
"I am happy to say that your loan is just about approved. I have some papers here for you to sign. One question. Just when are you planning to redo the salon?" Mr. Mayer ambled to his desk as he talked. Janice turned to him.
"Oh, no. Not again." Mr. Mayer walked to the window with decisive steps. "Go away!" He yelled at the man in the straw hat. "Sorry, Miss Fleischmann. We have been having a rather tough time with this panhandler. Has he been bothering you?"
"No, I just saw him."
"He has been going after our customers, asking for things. Excuse me just a sec." He picked up the phone and dialed.
"Mike, he's outside again. What should I do? Okay, okay...No, you wouldn't want me to do that....not enough evidence... If the police were to be involved... Yes, too much. I'll call you later."
Why didn't Mr. Mayer tell the guard right outside the door to tell the man to go away? Why did he get so agitated? Why was his face reddened like that? Janice was intrigued, but she didn't utter a word about the man outside. Trying to act crisp and businesslike was enough of a strain.
On her way out, Janice bumped into the man in the straw hat. She was walking along the corridor outside the bank's president Mr. Sutton's office as she was stuffing the papers into her handbag. She only saw the brim of the hat.
He was the one to bump into her. "On purpose," the tellers had observed. Then, he had snatched her papers and had run out ripping them.
The police asked her if she missed anything else.
Janice checked her bag. Her wallet for the charge cards, money, car keys, checkbook, make-up bag, and tissues. They were all there. So strange! What was that man's intention?
"Are you all right, Miss Fleischmann? You aren't hurt, are you?" The bank president seemed concerned.
"I'm fine. Thanks for your concern, Mr. Sutton. Don't worry, please. These things happen."
"Strange man! Your papers will be replaced immediately, and I hope you don't think we are to blame for this."
"I know that. It is not your fault or the bank's. I like this bank, believe me."
After supper when Janice plopped down on the sofa and she turned on the T.V., her mouth slacked open, in surprise. That incident in the bank was the lead story on the local seven o'clock news. So much for small town news, she thought.
A few days later, just as she was closing up shop, her phone rang.
"Miss Fleischmann, my name is George Sorkin. I am an attorney. I hear you have been hurt or rather manhandled inside the First Trust Savings and Loan. I'd like to represent you for the damages received."
"You want me to sue the bank? But that is ridiculous...I'll do no such thing."
"Listen to me Miss Fleischmann. You may not be aware of your rights, but that's where we come in as lawyers. To protect our innocent citizens."
"But I wasn't hurt in any way..."
"What about the emotional hurt? A business has no right to let suspicious people inside their premises to risk the customers' physical and emotional health. I strongly feel you deserve compensation for what you went through. After all, that panhandler attacked you inside the building."
"I don't need that kind of money, Mr..."
"Sorkin. The name's Sorkin."
"Mr. Sorkin I have always earned my money. I wouldn't do that to a bank."
"But I insist. You have no idea how many people are hurt, wounded, and lose jobs because of negligence. Think about it, and please, at least, meet me in my office to talk about this matter. Let me show you my other clients' cases, and you'll know I'm on your side. The right side."
Janice agreed to meet George Sorkin in his office the following Monday, only because she had decided to start getting acquainted with other businesses and important people. Knowing a lawyer in town could be to her advantage, if she ever needed one in the future. Besides, she was curious about the clients' cases Sorkin had mentioned.
Yet, she couldn't go on Monday because too many customers made appointments at the salon, and she was short of helpers; so she took a chance and went in Tuesday without an appointment, knowing full well that she wasn't going to sue the bank.
When she told George Sorkin she would not sue the bank, the lawyer didn't seem disappointed. "You came here, didn't you? It shows you are not as sure of this as you think. Please, give it some more thought."
As Janice walked out of Sorkin's office, she saw a gardener trimming the bushes with casual motions. Janice almost let out a scream as if thunderstruck, but she controlled her impulses. The tough woman that she was, she wouldn't let the sight of a straw hat get the best of her.
She walked to her car in quick strides. As she untangled her key chain with quivering fingers, she tried to watch the man out of the corner of her eye. The man turned around to pick up a fallen branch. Yes, that was him, the same tall, blond man with a misshapen, bulbous nose and blue eyes. The man who had ripped her papers.
Was he after her? Let the police do the investigating, she told herself. She would be safe inside her car. As soon as she got in, she hit the lock button.
She drove directly to the police station. She was mildly irritated to have to wait for a detective but later felt better when the detective congratulated her for noticing the details.
"So many people look at a criminal and cannot describe his features," he said. "We have been pursuing several leads, and this man and his accomplice have been into some serious fraud. You might be called to identify him and testify in court later."
"It passes me by why people act so stupidly. How awful!"
"Have you given your case to Mr. Sorkin?"
"No, not at all. I wouldn't do that. I don't want my relationship with the bank damaged in any way. My loan has been approved anyway."
"So much the better," the detective said, staring at Janice with an expression resembling disbelief.
A few months later, as Janice was sterilizing the combs in between two clients, Nora, the new girl with her usual chitchat mouth, asked her, "Jan, did you hear the news about that crooked lawyer?"
"No, I don't have time for TV in the mornings."
"This lawyer hired some guys to bump people in office buildings and such. Then he tried to represent those people. He was arraigned last night."
"What's his name"
"Sorghum...Sorkin. I'm not sure."
"Yeah. Do you know him?"
Janice tapped her finger to her lips and studied the rest of the salon. The new floor, the two added hairdryers, the freshly painted sign that said, "Cuts, Color, Highlighting, Perms and Styling," and the three tables as extras...those for the local artwork, jewelry, and handcrafts for purchase.
Yes, everything was in its place and she had truly earned it all.