It was touch and go, a snip at £1299 but as a wise man once said, “if it seems too good to be true then boy it is too good to be true.” A 2002 Saab 9-5 2.0 manual Arc in bright red with all the toys and coming in at a mere 69k on the clock. A private seller not trade so the possibility of waving a wad of cash to a desperate man could get it for maybe £1100 or less. Always one for a bargain and the opportunity to make a quick buck I was sorely tempted. So tempted that the pain was physical but I knew that I had to play a waiting game, had to bide my time, this was my chance to make money and timing was everything. After the requisite number of days the advert remained live, hook in the water I thought. My palms were sweating as I made the phone call, 12 miles away I'd be quick, punchy, decisive and out there with the cash and the signed owners slip in moments and on for a resale and nice weekend profit. I'd expected a gruff middle aged male to answer the phone or maybe an Asian accent, maybe some early haggling, then maybe it'd be gone.
What I got was a prim, pretty, Edinburgh, Morningside female, better than ever, an ignorant rich bitch selling an unloved shopping cart to a charming man like me. Candy and babies sprang to mind as she gave me her address; “Yes, I've had a number of calls, quite a bit of interest but nothing has come of any of them, I'm rather frustrated, I'm due to take delivery of another vehicle quite soon and there isn't much space in the driveway and I've no wish to leave it on the street.”
“Well madam, I'll be over in about 30 minutes if that's ok with you?” “Fine”, she said and passed across her address details. I finished my coffee and looked quickly over the A to Z, easier than sat nav no matter what the geeks might say and don't start me on those stupid thumb bursting smart phones.
As it was the middle of the day the traffic was relatively light and I made good time across town. I found the address and the car, gleaming in the driveway it sat proudly outside the house. Somebody has spent time polishing it up and there was a “4 sale” sign on the windscreen. I couldn't understand how it hadn't been snapped up, was business really that bad, why had the sharks dipped out on this little honey? I rang the door bell and looked at my shoes, clean enough.
There was a pause and then a shadowy figure came up to glass and unlocked two locks and drew back a chain. The lady from the phone call pulled the door open and smiled, her eyes had a definite sparkle, we were away. “I'm here about the car that's for sale” I said in a fairly obvious and awkward tone, shrugging slightly and trying to hide a little of my enthusiasm. “Of course” she said, “I'll just get you the keys”. A few seconds later she handed me the keys, “take a look yourself, I'll just get my coat.” I took the keys and checked the car, clean as a whistle, sweet as a nut and tidy as a brushed hamster. Of course I'd have to find a few niggles to focus on so I could argue her price down a bit which I duly did. She seemed a little put out when I mentioned the miss-fire, the tracking and the discoloured oil but we agreed on a final price of £1050, as good as I'd hoped.
“I don't like to see cash being handed over outside or in the street” she said, “you'll have to come into the house”. I followed her in through the glass door, it closed behind me. “To the kitchen” she trilled. I followed on thinking about the denominations of notes in my wallet, I didn't want her to see how much money I actually had, that was a bit vulgar and in these circumstances when I'd negotiated downwards by a decent margin, pretty inappropriate.
When I awoke I was sore and damp, tied up and sitting in a puddle in a derelict warehouse of some kind. “You're lucky son” said the policeman looking down at me as I looked up at him. I felt sick and disorientated and stuck in some kind of numb shock, my face was sore. “You're the tenth one they got with that scam, must've taken £25k in cash, a few cards, your own cars and the contents of all your wallets, then away they go. All you need is a mobile phone number, a posh squat and a little bit of nasty muscle, a little bit of nasty muscle, does it every time.”