In contrast to the previous few weeks, the days now dragged by: unbearable long days of waiting for the phone to ring. Doubts and questions kept milling through Anthony's mind: what had he forgotten; what had he omitted; what if he was not successful? He had been so busy with this, he hadn’t worked on anything else. He couldn't afford to wait around much longer before looking for other work, but found it difficult to focus his mind on anything else.
After two nail-biting weeks, the call came at last.
He'd been invited to submit his final presentation to the Hiltons the following Wednesday.
Anthony's body went numb. Uncertain of what to expect, he hoped the caller would give him some indication, but there was none. Finalising his presentation turned his life into a rush again. What more should I do to perfect it? What can I do better to give me an edge?
Finally, the day arrived.
‘Good morning Mr Jenkins. Please take a seat. Mr Hilton will be with you shortly. May I offer you something to drink in the meantime?’
‘Uh . . . Thanks. Rather, no thanks,’ Anthony stuttered as he took a seat. Though he would have loved a cup of coffee, his nervous state would most likely cause him to spill it all over himself. He wondered if the receptionist noticed him shaking.
‘Excuse me, Miss. Would it be possible for me to start setting up for the meeting? I am sure Mr Hilton is busy and it will save time.’
‘Yes, certainly, go ahead. The meeting is being held in the boardroom and it is free. Let me show you the way. Is there anything you need assistance with? I can arrange for someone to help you.’
‘Thank you, that is kind. There are a few heavy items in the pickup and it would certainly be helpful to have them carried in.’
Anthony wondered whether B&C had already given their presentation. Deep in thought and preoccupied with setting up, he almost gasped when he heard a booming voice behind him.
‘Good morning, Mr Jenkins. This looks impressive. Welcome to Hilton Cosmetics. May I call you Anthony? Please call me Mervyn.’
Turning around, Anthony saw Mervyn Hilton approach, smiling broadly with an outstretched hand. A huge man who, although he appeared overweight, moved lightly Anthony noticed, estimating him to be in his late fifties. Clearly his bulk was more muscle than fat, not someone you would want to pick a fight with. It was difficult to picture him in the cosmetics business.
‘Good morning Mr . . . I mean Mervyn. Yes, please call me Anthony. I’m almost finished, hope it saves some time once we start.’
‘Well, don't let me interfere. Please let me know if you need help. We should be ready in the next few minutes, just waiting for the others to get here.’
‘Thank you, I’m about done.’
‘I can see you have gone to a lot of trouble . . . Ah here are the sons now. I believe you’ve all met previously?’
Mervyn Jnr, or Junior as they called him, was a younger version of his father and would have looked much more at home in a rugby scrum than in the boardroom of a cosmetics manufacturer. He was responsible for managing production operations. Donny, the oldest of the brothers – short and thickset with heavy-rimmed spectacles – was responsible for research and product development. The youngest brother, Glen, looked like an athlete or a model. He probably spent more time in the gym than at the office, and Anthony's impression of him was that of a ladies' man. He radiated an air of confidence, which suited his role in marketing and customer services.
‘Now that we are all here, let’s start. Anthony, would you like some coffee or tea?’
‘Coffee, thank you.’
After asking the sons what they wanted to drink, Mervyn ordered four coffees over the phone.
‘Now where were we? I realise you put a lot of effort into today’s display, however we are pushed for time and I am, unfortunately, going to disappoint you. We've made our final decision, and I doubt that your presentation would change that.’
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