Rival writers James Hunt and Brie O'Keefe provided far more nuanced, sophisticated and properly thought-out stories than mine, and they were excellent. Our old friend Sam Jordison from the Guardian, and lots of other places besides, gave a great presentation on the future of digital publishing. Sam's new imprint Galley Beggar Press has a home here.
Would you like to read the winning story? What's that? You would? Then you have come to exactly the right place, because the opening sequence is right here. The middle will be followed be the end.
One Previous Owner
Brian was miserably drunk that morning and for the third time in a week he was trying to sell me his car.
"Brian," I said. "I don't want it." We were out in the street. "I've got one. Look. It's there."
"Well, I don’t want it either. Take it. Please. For a mate."
Brian wasn't really my mate. We were neighbours but until last weekend we'd never spoken. That was roughly when he'd discovered his wife Kathy had been using the 2002 Vauxhall Zafira – 12,000 on the clock, matt black finish, grey interior trim – for liaisons with the marketing manager at the engineering
firm where she worked.
I'd come home that evening and found Brian sobbing on the kerb. Later he'd taken a screwdriver to the paintwork which had diminished the Zafira's value somewhat. But it was still worth a couple of grand. I told my wife Jenny the whole car-sex thing sounded like something from a seventies porn flick; surely marketing professionals in charge of their own diaries would use a Travelodge. Jenny did not disagree.
Next night we invited Brian in and I listened to his hazy monologue. He hated Kathy. He loved her. He wanted to die. Mostly, he wanted more booze. The Zafira was a permanent reminder of Kathy's betrayal. He had to get rid of it.
"Listen," I said that morning. Brian was swaying in his own private breeze. "I'll give you a dollar for it. That's
my final offer. I can't go any lower. Basically, you're robbing me."
Obviously, it was a joke. He wasn't meant to go for it. But he grabbed my hand and started pumping it vigorously.
"Done," he said. "Good man." Downwind of Brian the air was hot and sweet. "It's yours. Never let me see it again."
Which made me wonder, since Brian lived next door, where I was going to park it.