Swing for the Heart

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“Like the royal family, what do you think, Mrs. Říha?” David was smiling and lazily stretched out in the wide arm-chair at the bank. To complete the image of a shamelessly rich bon-vivant, with his thumb and index finger he made the gesture of smoking a cigar that he pretended to slowly drag. David was having fun with the idea and was glad that Kačenka was amused by his theatrics. He dropped his mouth’s corners to feign boredom, puckered his eyebrows to seem important and demanded: “Excuse me, young lady, do you have a light please? Or maybe you’d like a cigar yourself?” Kačenka burst out laughing so the whole bank-hall could hear her, making several bank clients turn their heads in amusement. She quickly covered her mouth in panic and David continued: “I’m afraid, lady, that you’ve just pushed your very luxurious Cuban cigar deep into your throat. I will call on Jean, who will use his exceptional finesse to pry out the cigar from your noble mouth. Only with your permission, of course.” Kačenka was howling with laughter and Alice was smiling and shaking her head.

“They’ll throw you out, don’t be crazy. Like a small boy.”

“And perhaps you’d like a puff?” Alice was rolling her eyes and saw that she was only encouraging David to the next prank.

He was in a great mood. He felt proud that they were able to reach the mystical threshold of ten percent of the house’s value. Only he knew that saving on rent was redeemed by his sleepovers that nobody knew about. It was a gorgeous April day of the year two thousand, the year that meant a new period, a path covered with petals of happiness, as he himself hoped.

Two weeks ago David wrote the medical exam again, to gain his medical license. He had to smile as he walked over to Superb to pick up his car that day. This time he really felt good about it. He didn’t let them surprise him. He knew and was prepared for questions like: “…a thirty-year old patient, about whom you know he doesn’t want to be resuscitated, experiences a heart-attack when he’s visiting in your office…” Without hesitation he’d checked off the answer, to provide a pillow and ensure personal comfort. Now all he had to do was wait for the exam result. During the exam itself he didn’t feel as nervous as he had during his first and second tries. He was glad the room was heated. He could really appreciate that, and was almost struggling not to fall asleep. The good thing about the exam was also the fact that the date was in the year two thousand, the year that was blessed with the ‘zeros of good luck’, as he’d believed.

“It’s our turn, they’re calling us,” changed his tone David, “so let’s do it.” The young bank advisor waved them in and all three members of the Říha family followed him to his office. They sat down and accepted the proffered business cards.

David pulled out several documents from a folder and began ceremoniously.

“We are already in contact with a realtor and currently are discussing the purchase of a specific property. This is a photograph of the house and here is the contact for our realtor.”

“He’s not here with you?”

“No, we didn’t realize he was supposed to come with us.”

“That’s fine. That’s fine. This is only a preliminary appointment, anyhow.” That surprised them. Why should their visit be preliminary? They have enough to put down for the down-payment, the purchase is being handled, everything is in motion.

“We have funds for the down-payment…,” David kept his own.

“…yes, let’s say so. We will look at that in a minute. Did you bring your last two paystubs from both your employers?”

“Yes, of courses, here they are and we also have confirmation that both our jobs are permanent. I have a full-time and my wife currently part-time. From May it should be full-time….”

“…is that confirmed?”

“Not yet, but in May we can bring the confirmation.”

“Hmmm, ok. So now you are living in your sublet at Mrs. James’ house, is that right?”

“Yes, yes,” quickly said Alice. The officer looked at her inquisitively, then he glanced at the document and nodded.

“Good. Do you have any other loans or debts?”

“No, this will be the only one. Otherwise we don’t owe anything,” David added to support their request.

“Your credit cards are paid off?”

“We don’t have any.”

“You don’t have a credit card yet? VISA or a MasterCard?” wondered the officer, surprised.

“No, we didn’t need them. We didn’t apply for any.” The man made a note. Kačenka was sitting properly in her chair and with a serious expression on her face she looked from one to the other, sometimes frowned and nodded, as though she was also an important participant in the interview. And she was. All three of them formed a unit that was unbreakable.

“Here I see that the property has a listed price of ninety-three thousand, eight hundred dollars.”

“Yes, it’s a small home. One level.”

“Of course, of course. Someone could express the objection that your income is insufficient to cover regular monthly payments. I think it is a problem.”

“My wife will have full-time hours starting in May.”

“I understand. That improves the situation, but not significantly, I’m afraid.” David knew that the first payment would be between four and eight percent from the entire sum. Today they had ten thousand three-hundred and sixty dollars. That must be sufficient.

“Besides, I also now have a secondary source of income; I play part-time with Blue Brook Bay as a jazz musician. An artist.”

“It doesn’t say that here. How much does that pay per month?”

“Two hundred and forty dollars.”

“Excellent. That changes the situation. Do you have paystubs for that?”

“No, it is…it’s…cash.” David felt uneasy as soon as he’d said it.

“What do you mean, cash? What do you have in mind?”

“It’s a sort of pay that….”

“…do you have a registration number as an artist? When did you register?”

“Actually, it’s just for friends. It’s not a regular income.”

“Then why did you register it? Who’s paying you? Where exactly in Blue Brook Bay do you play? What’s the name of the small business with which you have a contract?”

“No no, I probably said it wrong. The people from Blue Brook Bay came here. We were playing for them! I expressed myself incorrectly.”

“And you had the contract with them?”

“No no, I completely confused it. We played just for fun, just for ourselves and by chance there were some folks who mentioned that they knew someone in Blue Brook Bay. Maybe it was even a different name, I’m not sure now. You know, people mix up things sometimes. Someone mentioned that he’d even pay us two hundred and forty dollars. That’s what it was. That he would pay us!”

“And he stipulated this amount?”

“Yes, or maybe a different one, I don’t remember exactly, it’s been a long time.” The bank advisor studied Říha for a long time, glanced over at Kačenka, Alice, into the documents, and then continued:

“So please, kindly don’t report financial facts that are not fully supported. It could lead to a re-assessment of the attitude of financial institutions towards your credibility generally.”

“Yes, I understand, I just misspoke.” The man was silent for another moment, when the phone rang on his desk. He gestured an apology with his hand, and then for a good five – maybe eight minutes – talked about some coefficient and was very focused. Under the table, David firmly squeezed Alice’s hand and held it until the phone-call ended.

“Alright then, pardon me, where were we. Oh yes, yes, you have the down-payment for a property in the value of, how much was it, yes ninety-three thousand eight hundred. Look, let’s finish up with the calculation, I don’t want to keep you,” he turned to the monitor and punched in something quickly, “in your case it is necessary to put down thirty-percent of the entire value, which means twenty-eight thousand one hundred and forty dollars. If you possess such a sum, it will be our pleasure to offer you a loan for the purchase of this property. It’s a nice little house, after-all. I think it’s a good price, too.” They both stared at him, numb.

“We have over ten thousand. We were under the impression it was a smaller portion.”

“That depends on the financial situation of the client. We can try to re-calculate everything, if you can bring the confirmation of full-time employment for the both of you. For now, I don’t have more positive news.”

“And if we stretched out the payments for a longer period of time?”

“I’m sorry. Can I do anything else for you?”

“Can we calculate it again somehow?”

“I’m sorry. Thank you for choosing our bank. Have a nice day.”

“So does that mean that we have to postpone our dealing with the realtor?”

“I don’t know, I really don’t. Have a nice day.” He got up and politely gestured them towards the door of his small office.

They left the bank mechanically and stopped outside. Looking at each other and without a word, they hugged and held for a while. They weren’t saying anything. David spoke first. Only quietly, into the spring sweater of his wife.

“It’s not at all bad news. Think about it. We will save up more, and if in the meantime we also have higher income, they won’t want such a high percentage. And then maybe the twenty-eight thousand will be enough for a twenty-percent down-payment. We could then buy a house for up to hundred and thirty thousand. A better one. Maybe this is a good thing.” Alice was listening. David continued. “It doesn’t really matter when we buy a house, but what it’s like. Now the saving will go faster. We have a method now. It’s going to be fine. And if you think about it, the rent isn’t that high, if we consider it’s for the whole family. I don’t pay anything.” Alice lifted her head and gave a weak smile.

“Maybe you’re right. Everything bad is good for something else.”

“Surely I’m right. You’ll see. It just takes time and our patience. And maybe Mrs. James isn’t so bad either.”

“No. And with the Filipino girl we’re friends now. We gab about everything.”

“So I would be in the way anyway, in your girl-house,” he laughed.

“No you wouldn’t, David. You wouldn’t.”

“Let’s go have a bite to eat. We need something in our stomachs, I think.”

But the day was not supposed to be over just yet.

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