cabriolet

‘D’you wanna see a picture of my new car?’
‘You’ve got a new car?’
Lena nods, closing her eyes and smiling at the same time. All she needs is a feather sticking out of her mouth to look like a giant and very well satisfied cat.
‘I have,’ she says.
‘Wow!’
‘It is wow. It’s wow times ten. Have a look.’
She sits next to me and gets out her phone – more like a mini-tablet than a normal mobile. She taps it into life and brings up an endless succession of photos of a sleek and silvery cabriolet.
‘That’ll be just the thing in the summer,’ I say, thinking maybe I should be asking her stuff about the engine and the alloy whatever.
‘It’s got a hard-top,’ she says, taking the phone again. ‘It folds away. They’ve got the technology, you know.’
‘I’m not very good with cars.’
‘Don’t like cars! Don’t like rugby! Call yourself a boy?’
‘That’s why I grow a beard. Otherwise you’d never know.’
She holds the phone at arm’s length.
‘How much d’you reckon?’ she says.
‘Loads. I don’t know. I’m crap at this sort of thing.’
‘Go on. How much?’
I don’t want to undervalue it, because that might suggest I think she’s been ripped off. Then again, I don’t want to go too crazily over the odds. I remember a very similar car someone else showed me once, very flashy, retractable hard-top just like this. His was extremely expensive, and although Lena’s is an older plate, it could well be up there.
‘Twenty thousand,’ I say.
How much?’
‘Twenty thousand.’
Twenty thousand?
‘Yep. Or thereabouts.’
Twenty thousand?’
‘Why? How much was it?’
‘D’you think I’m the kind of person who’s got twenty thousand pounds to spend on a car?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe it’s some kind of lease?’
‘Seriously? You think I’ve got twenty grand spare?’
I shrug and make a I’m just a simpleton when it comes to money kind of face.
Lena stares at me, then says: ‘Fifteen hundred.’
Really?
‘Yes. Really.’
‘Oh. Well. That was a bargain then.’
She sighs and puts the phone back in her pocket.
‘What happened to the last car?’
‘That was more of an instant cabriolet.’
‘What d’you mean?’
She gets out her phone and opens the gallery again.
‘I crashed it,’ she says. ‘The fire brigade had to cut me out.’

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