“Where’s the antique then?” asked Steve, avoiding the temptation to glance at the mahogany chair hidden under the table. If he was right, and he was certain he was, it was an eighteenth century Lambert Hitchcock in all its finery.
“Might be worth something, I don’t know,” said the old man next to him, pushing the chair towards the centre of the room. “Sad to see it go but I need the money.”
Steve nodded, concealing a smile. As the middle man he had the perfect scenario – a naïve seller and an equally gullible buyer already in mind. So what if the old man ‘needed the money.’ He should be more careful and check his facts; Steve had to.
“Firewood, that’s all,” said Steve. “I’ll give you twenty quid, as a favour.”
The old man’s eyes darkened. “Twenty you say. Well I’ve got no choice.”
Steve opened his wallet, picking a note from the bundle inside. “My car’s too small so I need the van. See you tomorrow?”
Deal initiated, Steve was already counting the profit. Back in his car and with one hand on the steering wheel, he punched a number into his phone.
“I’ve found the chair,” he said. “Definitely a Lambert but the bloke was cunning and drove up the price. For a mate I’ll let you have it for five hundred.”
The phone rang again. It was the old man to say he had a nice surprise for him. Steve shrugged, annoyed but nonetheless he agreed to go back.
The front door opened, a jam-packed white plastic bag handed across to a horrified looking Steve.
“One favour for another,” said the old man with a wink. “I’ve chopped it up, ready for firewood – you should be able to fit it in your car now.”
By Kevin Brooke