This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 743 words.
I left school before I was eighteen, with five very average O-levels, and a place at Technical College, where I wanted to study automotive engineering. I had some idea of working for Fords. They were one of the biggest employers in the county, and I was sure I could end up designing a wonderful new engine for them. For my seventeenth birthday, Auntie Jean had paid for driving lessons, and I passed my test first time. After that, all I could think about was getting a car, and the freedom that would give me.
Turned out I wasn’t really suited for automotive engineering. I didn’t get on well with the boring teachers, and there was too much writing about combustion and stuff, and not enough actually messing around with cars and engines. Before I was nineteen, I had seen an advert in the local paper for a junior car salesman at the main Ford dealership, and got the job without finishing Technical College. I had to ask mum to buy me a suit, and she didn’t seem at all impressed with my choice of career.
But she bought me the suit, some smart black shoes, five white shirts, and two striped ties.
Being around the cars was great. But I soon found out that a junior car salesman doesn’t get to close any deals, and spends a lot of time helping to prepare new cars for delivery, wearing an overall over his suit. At least I got to drive a few around; delivering them back after services, or moving them to other dealer’s premises. They kept telling me that once I was twenty-one, I would get to use a company car and start to actively sell, based on what I was learning. Except I wasn’t learning anything.
Two days before my twenty-first birthday, Auntie Jean showed up at the house and gave me two hundred quid. “Spent it on anything, Darren love. Spoil yourself”. When she had gone home, my mum switched off the telly halfway through a programme I was watching, and said she had something to say.
“Now you are twenty-one, I think it’s high time you got your own place, and moved out. I am going to be sixty soon, and I intend to retire. The pension is very good, and I still have all the money your gran left me. So this is what I’m going to do. I will buy you a flat, nothing fancy mind. And a car. Something reliable, but not brand new. You can choose both, and I will pay for them. You won’t have a mortgage or car payments, and it will give you a good start in life”.
To say I was flabbergasted was an understatement. I knew my mum was well off, but I had never expected anything like that.
The next day at work, I arranged to buy an ex-demonstrator Fiesta S. Eight months old, metallic black, low mileage. I got it for staff rates, so no profit for the company. Then I went into town on the Saturday afternoon, and had a look around the estate agents. I found a nice flat in a window of one of them. A small sixties-bult block, nothing much to look at. One bedroom, car parking space, and open to offers for a quick sale.
A a friendly bloke talked me through it. Flat number five of six, second floor, no lift. Central heating, double glazing, and cheap council tax. Service charges were negligible, and the woman selling was keen to get rid of it as she was getting married and moving to London. He offered to take me to view it then and there. She had obviously tidied up before we arrived, and as soon as I started to look around, she was trying to sell me everything in it. Seemed her move was to some posh houseboat on the Thames, and there would be no room for any of her stuff.
Back at the estate agent’s, I made an offer that included leaving everything in the flat. All she would take with her were her shoes and clothes.That would save me a fortune trying to furnish it and kit it out. Although the offer was cheeky, the prospect of a cash buyer sealed the deal straight away. The agent shook my hand, and then offered me a job.
His name was John, and the company was called Mason and Walker.