A Good Runner: Part Twenty-Nine

This is the twenty-ninth part of a fiction serial, in 815 words.

Mitzi and Billy left the factory five days before Easter. They had to get up to Durham, where Jed was running his first funfair of the season over the Bank Holiday weekend. On the long drive, Mitzi was outlining her plans for the coming summer. “Reckon you’re of an age to think about us getting wed now, Billy. If we are gonna have kids, there’s no time to waste, bearing in mind I’m not as young as I was. P’raps we can do a season on the big wheel, then tie the knot after, what do you say?”

He turned and smiled. “Sounds good to me, Mitzi love. Be nice to have a little one along on our travels”.

Despite the usual rain over Easter, the funfair did well. Billy soon got the hang of helping Jed and his sons get the big wheel up and running, then dismantling it again before they moved on to the next town. Mitzi took the money in the little booth outside, and before they started each day, she toured the other caravans telling all her friends that Billy had asked her to marry him.

That always made him smile, but he didn’t bother to correct her.

The days on the fair were long, and there was a lot of driving between the towns where Jed had arranged to set up. By the time the August Bank Holiday was approaching, they were back near Lincoln, in one of the regular spots taken by Jed’s fair.

Sitting outside the caravan on the day before set-up, Mitzi was grilling some sausages on a rack over a fire in an old metal barrel. “Billy darling, don’t you think it’s time we got rid of the car? It seems a waste of money to put petrol in it, buy new tyres and such. Jed is still happy to tow our ‘van with his lorry, and there is room for us in the front. If you sold it, we would have enough to buy a new ‘van. Our one is so old”.

Billy grinned. “I know, I was born in it, and my dad bought it when he got married. It was old even then. I like the car well enough, but I will think about selling it at the end of the season, if Jed is happy to tow us back to Gloucester after”. Mitzi nodded, then swallowed half a sausage. “He said he will, we just have to give him some petrol money. But why wait? We could put a sign in the window, and park the car where it will get noticed”.

The next morning, Mitzi went off into the camp, and came back holding a big piece of cardboard. “I got Madame Lucretia to write it up nice for us, look”. She held up the sign, and Billy was impressed. It was written up beautifully, in fancy writing that he didn’t know was called italics.

‘CAR FOR SALE. FAIR PRICE. ASK AT THE BIG WHEEL’.

She was pleased that Billy was happy with it. “How much are you going to ask for the car love?” He shrugged. “Reckon I will let them make me an offer, see how much they say”.

They had a four-day spot at Lincoln, and after two days nobody had asked about the car. On the Sunday, a man came up to the booth holding the hand of a little girl. Mitzi smiled. “Two, is it?” The man shook his head. “No, we are not going on, I wanted to ask about the car”. Mitzi leaned out and shouted. “Billy, get Jethro to cover you, this man wants to talk about the car!” When Jethro came to do the big wheel, Billy wiped his oily hands on a rag and walked over.

The man looked serious.

“That’s a sixty-three Consul Cortina, have you had it long?” Billy was cagey. “Not that long, I got it from someone I used to work for, s’pose you might say he was my boss. She’s a good runner, and the mileage is genuine. I’ll even throw in the tow bar if you like”. He produced the keys. “Let’s go and look at it, and I will get it running for you”.

When it started up first time, the man nodded, looking satisfied. The little girl looked bored as he went over the car with a fine tooth comb. “This spare has never been on?” Billy shook his head. “Never”. The man closed the boot lid. “How much do you want for it?”. Billy was ready. “Make me an offer, see if it’s close”. Rubbing his chin, the man mumbled. “I was thinking two hundred”. Shaking his head, Billy replied. “And I was thinking two-sixty”. Extending his right hand, the man grinned. “Shake on two twenty-five, and I will bring you the cash tomorrow at ten”. Billy took the hand.

“Done”.

44 thoughts on “A Good Runner: Part Twenty-Nine

  1. Okay, I’m relieved to know that Billy lives, and he has his old ball and chain Mitzi to keep him happy, and now we’re on to a new owner. Curious about his story and he’s with a child? Loving the progress of owners and the sweet details about their lives. So fascinating…C

    Liked by 1 person

        1. There were no suspects in Adrian’s death, and the only crime they could see was the car being stolen later, and driven to Geneva. Not much CCTV around those days, and the camp site manager hadn’t even known he was there, because Julien paid for the tent. Sadly, it was considered to be an accidental fall, and written off as such. Even if they had bothered with fingerprints, they would not have had Julien or Sally’s prints on file.
          Best wishes, Pete. x

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  2. (1) Bad citation: “I have something to say, Billy, so bear with me. If we are gonna have kids, there’s no time to waste, bearing in mind that I’ll soon be too old to bear children. A life without children would be unbearable.”
    (2) Mitzi was grilling some sausages… She new the Banger Brothers had committed the crime, but she also knew that they worked for Mr. Mash. So she was determined to get them to squeal on their boss. “If you don’t reveal Mr. Mash’s whereabouts, I swear that I’ll eat you for lunch!”
    (3) Based on what I’ve been towed, Jed’s mother was named Laurie. She hauled him around for nine months.
    (4) Did you hear about the couple who sold a Lincoln at the funfair in Fordham?
    (5) “Billy, get Jethro to cover you.” Why does that remind me of Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies?
    (6) Overheard:
    Billy: “I’ll even throw in the tow bar if you like.”
    Buyer: “Okay, but please be careful, and aim well when you throw it. I don’t want you to damage the car.”
    (7) Bad citation: “The little girl looked annoyed as her father went over the car with a fine tooth comb. That was her comb after all.”

    MEANWHILE, IN A CONGENIAL SPOT NAMED CAMELOT (NOT FAR FROM LINCOLN):

    GUENEVERE
    Do you recall the other night that I distinctly said you might
    Serve as my escort at the next town fair?
    Well, I’m afraid there’s someone who I must invite in place of you
    Someone who plainly is beyond compare
    That Frenchman’s power is more tremendous than I have e’er seen anywhere
    And when a man is that tremendous
    He, by right, should take me to the fair

    SIR LIONEL
    Your majesty, let me tilt with him and smite him!
    Don’t refuse me so abruptly, I implore!
    Oh, give me the opportunity to fight him
    And Gaul will be divided once more!

    GUENEVERE
    You’ll bash and thrash him?

    SIR LIONEL
    I’ll smash and mash him.

    GUENEVERE
    You’ll give him trouble?

    SIR LIONEL
    He will be rubble.

    GUENEVERE
    A mighty whack?

    SIR LIONEL
    His skull will crack.

    GUENEVERE
    Well…
    Then you may take me to the fair
    If you do all the things you promise
    In fact, my heart would break should you not take me to the fair

    [It’s been reported that ‘Ginny’ and ‘Linus’ rode the Big Wheel at the funfair, and that they taught Mitzi and Billy a few things about chivalry.]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Billy got it for free, and £225 was a lot of money to him, in 1974. I was earning about £1,800 a year then, and in December 1973 I had bought a brand new Hillman Hunter for £799. So I think £225 was a good price for that old Cortina. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. £225??? I’d have given him £275! I lothe missing good deals on unwanted things, apparently 🤔even in a fictional story!

    Great twist Pete. Did not see it coming. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At the time, (late 1974) £225 wasn’t a bad price for a car that only cost around £650 new, 11 years earlier. Always glad to hear if any reader doesn’t anticipate the outcome of an episode. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

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