If you enjoyed All These Nearly Fights, and its sequel, Fault on Both Sides, then I hope you’ll like my short story, Up-and-Coming Jimmy, which describes and episode in the sale career of Jimmy Harris before he was any good at selling cars, and long before he won big money playing the lottery.
If you haven’t read either of the Jimmy novels, I think you’d still enjoy the short story as a prequel to them both.
Either way, to obtain a PDF copy, simply let me know via my contact page and I’ll be pleased to send it on. Unless you specify otherwise, I’ll add your contact details to my database so that you’ll get bang-up-to-date information about my forthcoming novels and other writing. But if you’d prefer to be excluded from mailshots, and you’d rather I didn’t keep your information, just say so.
Just to tease you a little, I’ve shown the opening to Up-and-Coming Jimmy below:
There are many good things about being a vehicle mechanic. The money is decent, for one thing, and so is the craic with your workmates. Another benefit occurred to me only recently, a few weeks after I’d hung up my overalls and begun selling cars for a living rather than fixing them. The benefit I’m talking about is the certainty involved in the work: once you’ve changed the cam-belt on a 2007 VW Golf, you can go on and change a hundred. The job is much the same every time: it’s a repeatable process.
I found myself longing for a return to repeatable processes a week or so back, one sunny Saturday morning in the showroom. It was ten-past-eleven, and through the plate glass windows I could see two of our mechanics, Dave and Keiser Wilhelm, having a smoke and a laugh outside the entrance to the workshop. They had greasy overalls, cheesy grins, and looked to be doing just fine, thank you very much. They’d be finished by one o’clock, and down the pub by half-past. That’s what life was like on the tools: Saturday afternoons off, and good camaraderie when you were on.
Returning my attention to goings-on in the showroom, I saw that my punter, Greg, was smiling at me from across my desk. Smiling can often be a good sign, except that Greg’s smile wasn’t nice. His narrow eyes had a cynical glint which made him look plain nasty. I reckoned the smile went with his manner. I found Greg to be a superior, supercilious, shit-headed bastard.
‘So, this service plan of yours?’ he asked, his tone of voice no more endearing and no less arrogant than the snarky look on his face. ‘What specification of courtesy car would I get when bringing my own car back for service?’
Inwardly, I sighed. Outwardly, I suspect I did the same, albeit without meaning to. Fixing a car may have been a repeatable process; selling one absolutely wasn’t. When you set out to fix a car you focused your know-how on crankshafts and cylinder heads, both of which yielded to your will according to the laws of physics. But when you set out to sell a car you focused your powers of persuasion on a living, breathing person – sometimes two or more of the fuckers – and their response didn’t necessarily hold to any universal laws, except maybe those of unpredictability. In Greg’s case, I reckoned he was raising gnarly objections for the sake of appearing clever and impressing the young woman he’d brought to the dealership that morning. To look at, the girl was attractive. To talk to, though, her personality clearly mirrored his.
‘We would try,’ I told Greg, ‘to match the specification of your designated courtesy car to that of the vehicle you purchased.’
‘Try? Is that all? You’d only try?’
‘Trying is what we would do. So, if you bought a BMW Sports Coupe, we would try to provide something equally prestigious on the day when you bring the Beemer back for service. But I would be over-promising if I guaranteed you exactly the same model.’
‘All sounds bit vague.’ He let out a snigger. ‘I have to give my customers better answers than that. Isn’t that right, Kirst’?’
Kirst’, when she’d finally consented to give a name, had previously introduced herself as Kirstie. She nodded in reply to Greg, and returned his sickeningly-superior smirk. ‘Sure is, Greg,’ she confirmed, shaking her head slightly, as if to emphasise how shocking our service levels were that a one-day courtesy car might be anything other than a like-for-like replacement.
To read the rest of Jimmy’s prequel, just get in touch (see my contact page for details).