I watched him, obscured by window-ledge greenery, circling the old Mitsubishi Space wagon. Mobile in hand, his mouth-corner nipping a fag.
He’d brought a mechanic with him – introduced as ‘my nephew – he helps me a bit’. Nephew had opened a tool box and was crouching. He’d spotted the mild sump leak.
I gave them the keys and they fired her up.
I wanted a £1250 for a quick sale. Book price for mint condition was £2400. She wasn’t mint. But she wasn’t bad. 98000 miles; full service history; manufacturer-guaranteed repairs; clean body; one careful lady driver from new.
Fag-man pressed on the accelerator and the old faithful spat and puttered a bit – betraying that tiny cylinder misfire she’d developed at 2yrs. An imperfection that only made her more perfect to us.
She’s not been started for days now. That wee cough’s to be expected cos I’ve not had her out.
‘Nephew’ lifted the lid and began scribbling on his pad. Listing repairs that would need doing. Every syllable another hundred off the price.
He flicked his roll-up into touch and we were off. The sump needed replacing. That’d be £150 at least. Timing belt? Probably another £250. That cylinder misfire wasn’t clever. New cylinder head -even a scrappie one would cost. And he sucked whistling air sharp between nicotined teeth. Rolled his eyes.
Not sure this is worth ma time. Another pause. Another teeth sucking. £450 Mrs. That’d be my best offer.
Nae deal then. I need more than £450. And you know she’s worth a helluva lot more than £450.
He rocked on old black trainers.
Ok Mrs. He glanced at nephew. £550. Final offer. You’ll not get better than that.
I looked at the old girl. The worn grey upholstery exhaling the smell of us. A thousand family trips. An interior grubby with dripped ice-cream; spilled pee-pots; soured milk and feet-scuffings. And I was overwhelmed by the desire to protect and keep her.
Sorry. I can’t afford to sell at anything less than £950.
That was a lie. The new car was bought. Would be delivered on Monday.
I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time.
My face was closed to him now.
Would you take £750?
I shook my head. Hard-eyed.
A new silence fell. There was no fresh offer. Nephew closed up his toolbox. Uncle pressed Golden Virginia into fag papers and rolled as they walked to their old truck.
I turned to the door. Ana had been watching it all.
Do we really need to sell our car Mum?
I nodded. She patted my arm with her 7 yr old hand , comfortingly.
Don’t worry Mum. We’ll find a good family for her.
A week later, new car ensconced firmly in fickle hearts, I posted a reduced price for a quick sale. I flagged the need for a new oil sump. The harmless cylinder misfire. The timing belt change required in 20k miles.
She sold for £550.