In the Regeneration - the man-made messiah

Chapter April 12, 2012

There was a line below Rita’s forehead, a jagged little frown line that pinched the skin ever so slightly between her eyes and appeared on her perfect face like a silent warning. It was Rita’s only physical flaw, or at least the only one Max could find, but he was looking for it now and seeing it more often as he searched for a way out of what he was beginning to think was a complex little mess he’d blindly and compulsively stumbled into.

“Seriously,” she pleaded. “If you come to London we will have the best time.

She poked him playfully in the ribs, demanding some response.

“No,” he said, getting off the bed. “I told you before – I’ve been there and look, it’s O.K. but…”

“Not with me you haven’t!”

“Listen Rita, please… give up on this will you?”

The frown line deepened.

“Max – I promise – it won’t cost you a thing.”

It won’t cost you a thing!

Mate – did you hear that?

Something about this is not quite right.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s on me.”

“What is?”

“Everything – Europe – whatever we do together.”

“You’re joking!”

“No, I’m not.”

This sudden surge of largesse from a woman who Max had concluded was naturally fairly stingy only strengthened his resolve to resist.

“Why would you do that?”

“Because I can.”

He fell back on the bed, flattened by the irony. It was like he’d won some strange, unreal lottery and finally found a girl who wanted to pay!

But get serious!

Pay – for you?

Mate – come on, there’s something seriously wrong here – that just doesn’t happen!

“Anybody would think I didn’t have money of my own.”

Max was on a contract with the Carlton Football Club – with $700,000 still to come – not bad for a twenty-six year old!

“Not compared with me you don’t.”

Rita’s frown had vanished – replaced by a brash, haughty smile so smug it induced a compulsion within Max to believe her.