Can I interest you in a ...?

Can I interest you in a ...?

A Story by Georgina V Solly
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Byron's father has an accident so he takes over his father's business with astonishing results.

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CAN I INTEREST YOU IN A …?

 

Diana was knocked down and badly injured by a motor cyclist. Harold slipped and fell down on a wet street. They arrived at the hospital together. A crumpled piece of paper fell from Diana’s coat pocket while they were preparing to take her for surgery. Nobody noticed. Diana was taken to be operated on. Next, it was Harold being prepared. A nurse spotted the paper and, thinking it was Harold’s, put it into the bag with the rest of his personal effects.

Byron received the news of his father’s admission to hospital in the afternoon. When he asked how his father was, he was told it was no more than a broken ankle.

 At seven in the evening Byron was at the hospital. Harold’s face, in shock, was staring at him through one eye, the other one was shut due to the blow it had suffered when he had fallen to the ground.

“Dad, are you all right?” asked a nervous Byron.

“What on earth are you saying! How am I going to be all right? I’m of a piece, if that’s what you want to know. It won’t be long before I’m back home.”

“Would you like me to bring you anything special?”

“Yes, a good woman.”

“Don’t be rude. I’m speaking seriously. What do you want?”

“You can get me some pâté and cheese, and some wine to go with them.”

“I see you are in great form, I’ll do what I can. Will it annoy you if I go now? You seem rather tired.”

“No, Byron, go now. I’m not used to falling down and breaking a bone every day. See you tomorrow.” Harold closed his eyes.

“See you tomorrow, Dad.”

 

“Good afternoon, I’ve come to pick up my father’s things. He was admitted some hours ago, his name is Harold Martin.”

The receptionist opened a drawer and got out the contents. There were small objects and documents that Harold had had on him. Byron signed a receipt for the things and went home.

The watch, the wallet, keys, a diary, a handkerchief, and a piece of paper with the names of his father’s old clients, or new ones Byron thought while placing everything on the dressing-table.

 

The next day on arriving at the hospital, Byron saw a woman who was leaving and crying her eyes out. The receptionist told Byron that she was the sister of a traffic accident victim who had been admitted to the hospital at the same time as his father.

Byron’s father was a little better but was still annoyed because he was unable to move. “Did you bring me what I asked you for?”

“Yes, Dad. Here you are,” and Byron made a space on the bedside table to place the cheese, pâté, bread and wine.

“Dad, are you sure you can have food brought in from outside?”

“Why not? I haven’t got a bad stomach. The break didn’t travel that far.”

While his father was busy pouring himself a glass of wine, Byron went on talking, “Among your things there was a list of six names. Are they new clients or old clients who have to pay?”

Harold thought for a moment, since the hospital, he hadn’t thought too much about work. “They must be late payers, or perhaps old ones whose payments I pick up personally. Have you got the list on you?”

“No, sorry, I left it at home.”

“Don’t worry. You must go in person so that they pay you the month.”

“I don’t know anything about that.”

“There’s nothing to know. They’ll give it to you, and you’ll take it to the main office. Now leave me, I’m tired.”

“Fine. See you tomorrow.”

 

With a cup of coffee and the list of names on the table, Byron was studying a street guide and trying to work out the best way of getting to the different addresses without having to travel too much. When he had finished looking and making notes, the list looked like this. In the best district lived Olivia Silver, Ralph Vesey; in a more modern area Nelly Barnes and Arnold Pierce; and in the farthest area lived Janine Rogers and Oscar Langley. How strange that there was a man and woman for each district. It must be a coincidence. I’ll talk to Dad about it, thought Byron. Now to work.

Being a tidy man, almost systematic, Byron decided to follow the names on the list in order. Olivia Silver’s house was in a quiet, tree-lined street. Byron found it very pleasant driving along such quiet streets. In the cash book these names didn’t figure. So Byron thought they must be possible new clients.

The first visit was to Olivia Silver and apart from her name and address there was no information about her. A hundred and thirty-five, Olivia’s house, Byron had arrived at the first address. He picked up the briefcase with all the information, combed his hair looking in the car mirror, opened the garden gate, and prepared himself for his first meeting with Olivia.

The door opened in front of Byron’s expectant gaze. He saw no one. He stepped forward and a hand with the strength of  iron came out from behind the door and grabbed him. Byron was still in full shock when a voice from behind the door said, “You must be from the agency. Good afternoon, I’m Olivia, and you, what’s your name?”

“Byron, Madam.”

On hearing the words said in such a formal way Olivia began to laugh. She came out from her hiding place, and Byron saw her. She had the reddest hair pulled back in a mass of abundant curls on top of her head. Her black eyes were staring at him in humour, and the red of her mouth contrasted violently with her hair. She wore a short robe of aquamarine blue. “You have the most appropriate name. Isn’t it sad what happened to Diana?”

“Diana? And what happened?” enquired Byron.

“Haven’t they told you. Well, Diana died in an accident. But forget it. Life is short, and we are here and alive. Follow me, Byron.”

With the sensation that he had got himself into something strange and unreal, Byron followed Olivia. When am I going to be able to speak to her about an insurance? he thought. The house was of an out of date elegance, but still smelt of money. Olivia opened the door to a small gymnasium. Byron said, “ Madam, I’d like to speak to you about something that might be of interest to you.”

“Very well,” answered Olivia as she got up onto a bed, she removed her robe and completely naked made herself comfortable, face down. “You may speak to me while you’re working.”

Byron didn’t know what to do. His father had always told him that you have to be friendly to the clients and even more so when you’re trying to sell a new policy. Then what was he to do? Looking around him Byron saw an exercise bicycle, a magnetic mat, a set of scales, and some stretchers. Olivia’s voice reached him from the bed. “What’s the matter with you? Since Diana’s absence I haven’t had a massage and now I’m all nerves.”

“Madam, it’s that…”

“What’s wrong now? You’re not going to give me a massage with your jacket on, are you?”

“It’s that I haven’t got the right equipment.”

“What are you talking about? Equipment! You only need two strong hands and oil or ointment. They’re over there on top of the table. And if you haven’t got an overall there’s one hanging on the door. And hurry up. I’m fed up with waiting.”

Byron washed his hands, put on the overall and went up to Olivia,  “Which of these do you prefer?”

“The sage oil is very relaxing.”

Sprinkling some drops onto his hands, Byron went up to Olivia and started the first massage of his life, using something of his imagination and scenes from boxing films. Now I understand why my father never spoke about work, thought Byron as he massaged Olivia. For half an hour Byron worked very hard to the sounds of screams and pleasure from Olivia who didn’t let him talk. He tried several times, and finally managed, “Madam, have you got an insurance?”

“What’s it got to do with you? That’s my private business.”

“Yes, I know but I’d like to know if you’re interested in having one.”

“And why are you interested if whether or not I have an insurance?”

“I’m doing my father’s work while he’s in hospital.”

“So, young man, you’re using your work time to do your father’s work.”

“No, no, it’s not exactly that, it’s that…”

“Say nothing else. It would appear you and your father are very close. As you have such good hands, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. If you leave some pamphlets, I’ll read them.”

“Thank you, Madam. I appreciate it.”

“And I am very grateful for the good massage. Diana didn’t know as much as you. You’re such a brute " and so good!”

Byron left Olivia’s house without fully understanding the situation, and got into his car. The next house was Ralph Vesey’s who lived just five minutes away from Olivia.

 

It was a day full of surprises for Byron. First Olivia, and now Ralph. The man who opened the door was about fifty-five years old and slim. “Good afternoon, young man. I know who you are. Olivia just rang me. Follow me, please.”

Ralph’s house was full of photos of pretty girls. Seeing the look on Byron’s face, Ralph said “They’re all beautiful, aren’t they? I have a model agency.”

The room they were heading for was at the end of a corridor. It was really the extension of Ralph’s office. Byron, remembering what had happened with Olivia, thought it would be better to approach the sale of insurance cautiously. Byron received another surprise in a day full of them. “Olivia has told me you re doing your father’s work. He’s an insurance agent.”

“Yes,” Byron answered looking for oils and creams.

“What you’re looking for is in the cupboard over there.”

Ralph lay down comfortably on the bed and Byron saw how skinny he was. There was not an ounce of flesh on his body and his skin was soft and smooth. It was a bit repulsive. But if he wanted to sell an insurance, it was worthwhile. “My father is in hospital and I’m doing his work.”

He received no reply. Ralph had put earplugs in his ears and had fallen asleep thanks to Byron’s creamed hands, who was once more in his role as a home masseur.

Byron was thinking while he worked. If I leave some pamphlets in every house and there are six, on returning in a couple of days, there should be at least one sale. If not, then my father will have to sort it out for himself.

Ralph woke up and said to Byron, “Thanks, young man. It’s been quite a while since my last massage. Olivia offered to give me one, but what with her long nails and other intentions, she didn’t achieve anything, except to make me angry.”

“I’m glad it’s been to your satisfaction. May I leave some pamphlets here, please? If you need any more information, the phone number is there.”

“Fine. Good afternoon, Byron.”

“Good afternoon, Sir.”

 

In his car, Byron looked at his watch. Yes, he would have time to see Nelly Barnes and Arnold Pierce, besides they didn’t live too far away. He was beginning to ask himself what Diana had been. A masseuse it seemed. What has my father got to do with all this? Tonight I’m going to ask him.

Nelly was a woman of about thirty-five with brown hair and eyes, and seductive. When she saw Byron in the doorway she looked him up and down. Byron had the pamphlets ready to hand over.

“Good afternoon, have you got an insurance?”

Nelly laughed, “Do I look like an old woman? What type of insurance are you selling?”

“There are all kinds of insurance, to protect the home in case of robbery, against fire, and against car theft.”

“And boyfriend theft?” Nelly laughed. “Please, come in.”

The house was rather large and pretty. In the living-room, which gave onto the garden, there was a distinguished looking man of around sixty with white hair and the air of someone who was used to getting his own way.

Arnold, this is…what’s your name?”

“Byron, Madam.”

“Look this is Byron. He’s an insurance salesman. Byron this is my friend Arnold.”

He must be Arnold Pierce. Fantastic! Kill two birds with one stone.

“Well, young man what do you want? To sell an insurance policy?”

“Yes, Sir, if I can.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“My father is an insurance agent and at the moment is in hospital, I’m trying to help him.”

Arnold turned to Nelly, “Is this your idea, dear?”

Nelly looked at him in disdain, “ Of course not. Although it seems like quite a good idea.”

“But you know I have to protect my reputation.”

“That’s why you only see me in private, so that your children don’t see me. A girl has the right to look after her future, her old age. I think an insurance policy would be good for me.”

“Paid by me,” Arnold said.

“Well, if you don’t pay it, who else is going to?”

Byron was open-mouthed on hearing these confidences. Arnold Pierce was one of the richest men in the town. Byron hadn’t recognised him till he saw the name and the man together. Then, Nelly had to be the singer he was rumoured to be going out with.

“It’s in bad taste to talk about our business in front of third parties,” was Arnold’s reaction.

Nelly, angered by Arnold’s apparent lack of interest, remained silent. Then she turned to Byron, “You’d better leave.”

Byron apologized, “I’m sorry for having annoyed you, Mr Pierce.”

“You haven’t annoyed me. If you like, you can leave the pamphlets. We’ll look at them. But I can’t promise you anything. Good afternoon.”

Byron had the feeling that he had been sent off like a child.

Nelly caught hold of his arm and accompanied him to the door, “I’m sorry. It’s my fault. We were expecting someone else.”

Even though he knew the answer beforehand he asked, “Who?”

“The masseuse.”

“I’m sorry to have been of no help. Good afternoon. Call me if you’d prefer to go out with someone younger and more agreeable. The number is in the pamphlet.”

In front of Nelly’s attentive stare, Byron went to his car, got in and drove off.

He was thinking he hadn’t known why he had done it, but he liked Nelly. That the old misery was not the man for her. That she would be nothing but an ornament for him.

 

Looking at his watch he saw it was visiting time at the hospital, leaving the last two names for another day, he went to see his father.

This time Harold was in a better mood.

“Hello, Dad. How’s it going?”

“Don’t ask silly questions. How’s the work coming along? Have they paid you yet?”

“No, they haven’t. They are new clients, not old ones. I’ve left the information with them.”

Harold, confused, shut his eyes, “Are you sure?”

“Yes, the names don’t figure in the home payments book.”

“Have you got the real list? Not one invented by you?”

“No, Dad, it’s the list that was among your personal effects that was given to me.”

“Have you got it with you?”

“No. It’s in the car.”

“Brought me anything?”

“I’ve got you a bottle of your favourite rum. Dad, don’t worry about work.”

“I don’t worry. You only have to do it.”

“Good afternoon, Dad.”

“Good afternoon, Son.”

Byron saw that his father wasted no time in chatting up a nurse as soon as he left the room.

 

Oscar lived in the part of the city furthest away from the others, near Janine Rogers. He had been in love with her ever since he had seen her in the street. They knew each other by sight but Oscar wanted to approach her. He was tall, blond and twenty-eight years old. He had done everything possible to attract Janine’s attention but without success. Byron’s arrival at his front door brought him new hope, especially when he introduced himself..

“So you’re an insurance salesman.”

“No, I’m not, but my father is. He’s in hospital now recuperating from a broken ankle.”

“And your name is Byron, who was a romantic poet, and what I need is that a certain young lady fall in love with me. What can I do? What do you think if you ask her for a date, but I go instead of you,” was Oscar’s plan.

“Sounds absurd to me. If you want to go out with a woman, the only thing you have to do is ask her yourself,” said Byron

“And if she says no, what do I do?”

“If you find her really interesting chase her till she falls into your arms. or leave her alone till you find another woman.”

Oscar stood thinking for a while. “You’re right. But I must make a last effort. For the sake of my masculine pride.”

Byron thought  that he could say that it would be cheaper to make an insurance between the two. No, no, that would be silly, and seeing the look of despair on Oscar’s face Byron said to him, “Have you been trying to attract Janine’s attention?”

“Yes, nearly every day.”

“Then stop doing that, and we’ll carry out your plan. Trust me.”

Oscar explained how the plan could work. He was willing to try anything in order to get Janine. “Byron, do you know how to give massages?”

“Yes, I have a certain know-how .”

“Well, if you don’t mind giving me one, I’d be very grateful. The masseuse hasn’t been for quite a while. It’s to help me relax. If you give me a massage, I’ll buy a policy.”

Byron looked at Oscar’s perfect body, thought that Janine must be short-sighted to reject such a lovely man. I’m going to help him, he deserves it and he’s going to buy a policy. Dad will be very happy.

 

Oscar’s instructions were in Byron’s pocket. Staring at the front door to her house Byron got out the note Oscar had written, telling him about the girl’s habits. For someone who had never gone out with her he knew a lot. He had really gone into the matter.

Janine aspired to be an actress, she was twenty years old.

When the bell rang she had a clay mask on her face. There was no one else at home so she went downstairs to open the door.

“Good afternoon, my name’s Byron, I give massages and sell insurance policies.”

The clay masked face stared at him, “Come in, please.”

Byron went into the house and sat down on a chair.

“I’ll be right back,” and Janine disappeared.

When she came back her face was incredibly clean. “I’m sorry if I frightened you but it’s necessary to leave it on for the correct time. So you’re a masseur. My mother isn’t here but you can give me one. You’re from the agency aren’t you? The previous one had an accident.”

Janine took him to a room very similar to that of Olivia. She got undressed and lay down on the table. “The overall and the creams are over there.”

Byron was wondering how he could carry out his plan. “You’re very pretty. Are you a model? Singer? Actress?”

“How did you guess? I’m an actress. Well, aspiring to be one. I’ve only had small parts so far.”

“I’ve no doubt that there’s a big part waiting for you somewhere.”

“Do you really think so? If only it were true.”

Byron, thinking of Oscar’s determination said, “I’m sure.”

“How nice! Now are you going to sell me an insurance policy?” Janine asked.

“I’d prefer to go out somewhere and have a drink. Would you like to accompany me?”

“Where are we going?” asked Janine, curious.

“To buy some cheese for my father, the insurance business is his. At the moment he’s in hospital.”

“And you’re doing his job meanwhile. What a good person you are, Byron! Of course I’ll go with you to get something for your father, and we’ll have a drink at the same time.”

Byron and Janine sat down at the table chosen by Oscar, chosen because it was in the darkest spot imaginable. Byron and Janine were on the point of ordering when a figure entered, it was the moment for Byron to go and buy the cheese. “Janine, I’m going to buy the cheese now. I shan’t be a moment.”

To Oscar, he said, “Don’t forget, you owe me a policy.”

“No, man, I shan’t forget.”

Byron didn’t look round to see how it was turning out. If Oscar was stupid enough to ruin the occasion, he could blame no one else but himself.

 

Harold was sitting up in bed with a smile on his face. “Hello, Son. Tomorrow’s a happy day, I’m going home. They say I must rest, but if rest I must, I prefer to do it in my own home!”

“I’m glad you’re coming home. I’m rather tired after so much work. I now understand why you complain so much.”

“Selling insurance is an art. You don’t learn it in a day, Byron. You have to be persistent without appearing to be so, but above all be friendly with the ladies, so that later they have a chat with their husbands. It’s a game of words and gestures, the rules change with every client. When they are permanent they almost become friends, but in order to get a new client you need to know how to negotiate. Have you got the list? I don’t remember any list of new clients.”

“Here it is, with my notes beside each name so that you know what’s going on. See you tomorrow at ten o’clock.”

“Where are you going?”

Byron was at the door, “I’m going to a club called ‘The Red Doll’.”

“Why? You don’t go to places like that.”

“Nelly works there.”

“And who’s Nelly?”

“Nelly is a singer, and she’s on the list.”

“Eh, just a moment. What on earth have you done? This isn’t my list.”

“Then, whose is it? It was given to me along with your personal effects on the day of the accident.”

“I don’t know. Go and see the registrar.”

“Dad, I’m going to see Nelly, not the registrar. Good night.”

Harold had the list in his hands. What had Byron been up to? If he had found new clients, good,  but if he has caused problems for the company……

 

Byron took Nelly home after the performance.

“I knew you weren’t a masseur or an insurance agent. But I like you. What do you do?”

“I’m in computers.”

“Is your father very angry?”

“I don’t know. But so long as there are a couple of policy sales...”

Arnold, the old tight-wad doesn’t want to buy me a policy. D’you  know what I’m going to do? Leave some pamphlets in the club and to get things started I’ll buy one.”

“Thanks, Nelly. I’m very grateful.”

“And now you can give me one of your fantastic massages.”

 

Harold never spoke about what had happened. The calls from Olivia, Ralph, Janine and Oscar was sufficient for him to arrive at his own conclusion about Byron’s activities during his time as an insurance agent. Besides which, he had sold a policy to each one of them. These sales, plus the new clients from the club where Nelly worked, had meant an increase in Harold’s salary and his category.

 

Above all, Byron was happy. He and Nelly had got married. Their wedding photo was placed on a small table, and beside it the famous list - duly framed.

 

 


© 2012 Georgina V Solly



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Added on April 27, 2012
Last Updated on July 8, 2012
Tags: accident, insurance, sales, surprises

Author

Georgina V Solly
Georgina V Solly

Valencia, Spain



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First of all, I write to entertain myself and hope people who read my stories are also entertained. I do appreciate your loyalty very much. more..

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