#3 – Close encounters of the dashboard kind.

This fella had an occupy Galway look and a navy car for sale. We were outside Supermacs when he pulled up in the newly washed wagon. He had wiry hair and a red face with busted blood vessels, a shabby beard, and the confidence of a bad Russian gambler. Rasputin job, selling cars on Donedeal. He didn’t even say hello, just went: ‘I think I’m selling too cheap.’

         We let that settle, cars went by in irritated combustion. I looked down, noticed a broken light, asked: ‘What’s that?’

         ‘It’s nothing. Something simple. No problem to fix.’

         ‘Can we take it for a drive?’

         ‘Sure.’

         On the road, there was a myriad of symbols on the dash. Airbag, warning lights, something else. There was a noise in the engine too, bit like it was grumpy or ready to explode. And the tracking was off. There was a kind of a lazy sense of swaying back and over on the road, like you’re on a boat in choppy water. The gears were stiff and it was a hard work trying to accelerate, like the car didn’t want to, like it was saying: Stop! Leave me alone.

         The oul fella was with me, full of sage advice and comments, like: ‘This could be another ball of shite.’

         ‘Do you rekcon?’

         ‘Well the dashboard is like a Christmas tree with all the lights so that’s a bad start….’

         ‘Needs an airbag too.’

         ‘And a few other things by the sound of it….’

         ‘Great to have a dashboard at least, not like the other yoke.’

         ‘Yeah, I suppose they should be in every car really when you think about it….’

         We thought about that, took in more noise and mechanical anxiety, then decided to turn around. Pulled in at a layby. Checked the glovebox and found the car manual. Looked up some of the faults. There was talk of stop engine immediately. Bring vehicle to your nearest dealer. Red lights are critical issues. I looked up.

         They were all red.

         Time to head back.

         Himself was waiting, against the wall, vagrant hitchhiker look now, or like a man waiting for a bus to go working on a fruit farm full of convicts. He walked over. Saw the manual on the dash. Didn’t like that, asked: ‘What is story?’

         ‘Tryin to figure out those lights.’

         ‘Simple fix, simple. Some cleaners triggered the sensors under the seat and caused the airbag fault. Fix no problem.’

         ‘We’ll pull up over there.’

         And we did. He said: ‘I have this car a long time. No issues. Drives like a dream.’

         ‘Can you open the boot?’

         His face went vague, unsure and he said: ‘Ok, I think I know how.’

         Took him some effort, but he found the lever, popped the boot. We all looked at it like we knew something about engines, then I went for proactive and pulled the dipstick for oil. Wiped it with a tissue and then dipped. Pulled it back up and there was barely a drop on it. Maybe a slight sliver at the bottom of the tiny ball but far from enough. Your man was in right away with: ‘Easy fix, some oil, no problem. This is not an issue. Drives like a dream. Yours for fifteen hundred….’

         ‘Fifteen hundred what? Half price Roubles?’

         ‘Euros. Yes or no? You want? I have big demand…’

**

https://mickdonnellan.com/want-to-buy-mick-donnellans-novels-on-amazon/

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