The initial diagnosis was: ‘You might be lucky.’
It was enough to hang on to, maybe not buy a new car, maybe they’d take out the extra oil and sure it’d all be sound.
Days passed, no word.
Had a great time getting buses around Athlone. Standing at the bus stop and people on the street shouting like: ‘How’d you fuck up the car this time, Micky?’
‘Too much oil.’
‘Is it true that can happen?’
Wednesday came, arrived like a dead weight. Still no word. Went up to get some stuff out of the boot. Few extras hanging around the yard. Romanians, Hungarians, lads with moustaches and mechanical theories and they knowing nothing.
The Insignia was on the lift. Unlifted. The mechanic sat in, said: ‘Let’s see.’
He turned the ignition. No luck. Just a splutter and a cough and a myriad of lights and diagnostic pain on the dashboard. There was a lad at the door working hard on a Marlboro and studying the rain. When he heard the noise he was straight over. ‘Car is gone. Finished! No good.’
‘Who asked ya?’
‘I tell you. It’s over for this.’
Turned out he was right.
There was talk of crankshafts and pistons. And pressure. And oil. Oil. Oil. Oil. Don’t talk to me about oil. Do you know anyone that might buy it for scrap?
‘I’ll let you know.’
Later on Donedeal. There was a Citroen for sale in Roscommon. Looked good. No test, no tax. I rang it anyway. Your man said: ‘It’s still available, yeah. Can I ring you back in a second?’
And he never rang back. Then there was a BMW somewhere in Athlone. Five series. Got the jitters and rang it. How much I asked him.
Five and a half grand, he said.
Sound, says I. Keep it.
Eventually discovered the Vectra. A beaut. Taxed and a test. Good to go. Rang it. Your man was pure sound, gave me a figure I could handle, and with a bit of scrap money from the other yoke I might come away ok.
Got there. Rural. Lots of dogs and grass and drizzle and stone walls. Fella says he doesn’t use the car much, except to bring herself to Bingo. Although he had it in Dublin once or twice and she was sound, not a bother on her.
Take her for a spin, he says.
I did. Missing headlamp. Yellow engine light. Bag of plums thrown in the back. Otherwise, 100%. Fuck it, I’ll take it.
Handed over the cash, did the count, filled out the logbook and sat in. 6 speed. 1.9 Diesel.
Let her warm up before you start her, he said. And never mind that oul yellow light on the dash. Ways does be these days, half the country does have them lights on, you just need to plug in the yoke and press the button and make it go away. That’s what they did the last time anyway.
Sound, I says, thanks. G’luck.