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Tricks Of The Trade

By: G.L. Sheridan

We're all bleary-eyed from last night's shindig and I'm having trouble focusing on the list, although Jonno seems to recognise the '79 Chryssie Fairhead. Bodywork isn't bad. A bit loose in places, legs a little on the narrow side, but front bumpers big enough for more than a couple of knocks. Shame about the face. Lucky for us, we've got Gareth. Genius with filler and paint. He could take an old Liz '54 and make her look like this year's model. And what he can't do with plastic and silicone isn't worth knowing.

There's a fair crowd here. Looks like some of them have more than two pennies to rub together - like the piniper with four chins and a fat cigar. Ragged jeans and oily t-shirts don't fool me, either. They wouldn't come to an auction if they didn't have the cash. And that's what we deal in - strictly cash. Some punter's steering a Rusthead out to the gate. Looks like he's going to give her a test drive.

Say - that looks like a bargain. Little Eve-type number on the outskirts. Kind of squat, but they're all the rage this year. Sixties revival. My eye immediately swings round to the guy with her. Easy.

I jump down from the platform and saunter across. "Pardon me."

He jumps like a scared cat. Eyes me up as if I'm going to pick his pockets or something.

"Couldn't help admiring your little Darkhead, here. Give you two hundred for her."

He gulps, shakes his head. "She's not for sale."

What the hell did he bring her for? I know the type. "All right. Two fifty."

He glares at me. "Who are you?"

I put on my best smile. "Jake Carter - at your service."

He accuses me with narrowed eyes. "You're one of the traders, aren't you."


"So. You buy her for two fifty, then sell her on for twice as much."

I look her up and down. Close up, she's a bit older than I thought and not too pleasant round the mouth. Lips could do with a shot of collagen. "She's not worth more than three fifty."

He frowns at me. "I was only offered four hundred for her this morning."

"Well, you shoulda took it." I shake my head, slowly. "She's not getting any younger. If I was you, I'd get rid."

I edge back a bit, take a look at the rear view. Padded seating, not too much wear and tear. Nice.

He's still looking a bit doubtful. "Tell you what." I place a friendly hand on his shoulder. "I'll give you three hundred for her - no questions asked."

His eyes move from side to side.

"Cash." I slip my hand into my pocket, bring out a large wad.

He gulps again, then nods. I knew he would. I slip him the money, then take the little Darkhead by the arm and lead her to the parking lot. She steers easily enough and with a bit of work on the trimmings, she'll bring in two thou, at least.

I spot Gareth, his face crumpled in concentration, examining the breasts of some tall Vivian Rusthead. Sometimes the silicone hardens and then the suspension's hard. Punters don't like it. But the Rusthead seems pliable enough.

"How about this, Gareth?"

He straightens up, gives a long whistle. "Where'd you get her? These are right in at the moment."

"Some dumbo down there took three hundred for her."

Gareth gives her the quick once over, starting at the ankles and working his way up. "Nice and solid," he murmurs. "Thighs a touch wobbly. Breasts a bit on the large side." He turns her round and a slow smile eases onto his face. "Rear end just about perfect."

"That's what I thought. Think she could do with some adjustment?"

He pulls at his nose. "Not sure she needs it. A bit of valeting'll make all the difference."

He nods towards the tent. "See what they can do with her."

There's something about females that sets my heart racing. I've always loved them - the feel, smell, taste of them. So making a living being around them is kind of what I've always wanted.

And when I get inside the tent, where the models are lined up, waiting for attention, all that excitement flutters up again. Jonno's in there flushing out some Darkhead's exhaust. Gives them a fresher odour. One of the tricks of the trade.

"What do you think of this one, Jonno?"

Instead of being enthusiastic, he turns round and glares at me. "Where the hell have you been?"

That's disappointing. "Buying this nice little Eve-type. Gareth told me to bring her in for a bit of tarting up."

He frowns at her. "That's all well and good, but while you're off searching the crowd for bargains, I've got a crisis on my hands."

"Crisis? What crisis?"

He jerks his head towards the far end of the tent, but I can't see anything except an '81 General Purpose with handbrakes on. "So?" I shrug.

"Trouble," he mutters, then taps the side of his head. "Overheating."

I peer across at her. "She doesn't look like -"

"Well, she is," Jonno snaps. "And she's starting to affect a few of the others." His voice lowered to an angry mutter. "Pettigrew. Lousy, damned swindler. I should have trusted my instincts when he turned up with her and snapped up my first offer."

"Want me to deal with it?" I said.

"Won't do much good," he grumbled. "We've all tried to shut her up. Gareth even threatened to cut her throat cables."

I stroked my chin. That would reduce the value. Punters like to hear their models moan, purr, or screech round the bends, but there are odd ones who like a silent motor.

Derek's giving an old '58 Greyhead a lube job. Couple of squirts of oil up the pubic vent - trickles down slowly and gives them that nice, slippery feel the punters like. One of the tricks of the trade. I pass a particularly fine Fairhead - Jessica '83 Coupé, if I'm not mistaken - oiled and shiny, hair glossy, teeth polished and that clean, new-female smell. Always gets my pulse throbbing.

But I'm here to sort out the Jeep. She's glowering at me, as if I'm some threat to her. It's unnatural - that's what it is. Unnatural.

I stop a couple of feet away from her. She's not bad, close up. Looks like she's had one or two little bumps - you can always spot them if you know where to look. She's one of those short-haired models - used to be popular back in the early 70's, but not so much these days. The liposuction's got rid of the worst accumulations, but she could still do with adjustment to her central body-work, in my opinion.

She catches my eye and snarls.

I didn't expect that. For the first time, I'm glad of the hand-brakes. She wriggles, trying to set herself free, then bellows in frustration.

Although it seems odd to actually talk to a female, I have to admit, I've done it in the past. Heard some people even play music to them - gets them to perform better. Not sure whether I believe that or not. Anyway, I give it a go.

"Ssh - calm down," I say in a soothing voice.

"Let. Me. Go." There's a breath between each word. She writhes and grimaces at me, her face twisted in what can only be described as anger.

"Come on, now. What are you getting so upset about?"

"Wrong," she yells. "All wrong."


"No shush." Her teeth are bared, her eyes glaring. "Let me go."

I glance quickly over my shoulder to see if anyone's heard. This is ridiculous. A female, pleading to be set free? "And where would you go?" I ask, softly.

This seems to shake her a bit. "Out," she says, vaguely.

"Out there - in the big wide world?" I shake my head. "Won't work, honey."

She frowns. "Why?"

"Come off it. What would you do?"

She has an answer ready. "Work. Find work."

I stifle a laugh. "Work? You're crazy, honey."

She snarls like a wildcat. "No honey."

Touchy. I glance down her bodywork. Maybe she's due for uterus drainage . "Look - this isn't the way things work. You don't hear of computers getting up and demanding time off, or dogs asking for walkies money, do you?"

"Not dog," she screams. "Female."

"I know, I know." I pat her shoulder. "And I'm going to find you the best deal I can." Looking at the scars and broken nose, I guessed she hadn't exactly had careful owners in the past.

"No." She's speaking through gritted teeth. "Free." She paused. "Like man."

Jeez, she really had blown a gasket. "But you're not a man. You're a female."

She raises her chin, defiantly.

I sigh. "Your only purpose is to be used by men." Fancy having to explain that to her.

"Why else would you exist?"

She frowns, as if she's thinking hard. Listen to me, anthropomorphising. "For…" She swallowed. "Me."

Yeah, right. "I shake my head. "Forget it, honey. Females have always been commodities."

"How?" She concentrates. "How. Do you know?"

"How?" I splutter. "It stands to reason. You're objects of pleasure."


She eyes me, beadily. I was getting worried. Some of the nearby females seemed to be listening. If I didn't get this sorted pretty soon, I could have other temperamental models on my hands.

"Females -" She struggles to get the words out. "Females same."

"Yeah, yeah - sure, honey." I turn and catch Jonno's eye. He nods.

"Females…" She hesitates. "Females. Same as males."

Now I've heard it all. You've only got to look at them to see that's ludicrous. And the way they behave - skittish, unpredictable, illogical. All right, so they're manufactured using by-products from the baby-factories, but that's no reason to go jumping to conclusions.

"We -" She gulps. "Human."

I was losing patience. "Human," I grunt, more to myself than to her. "I've never heard anything so ridiculous."

Thank God. Gareth's hurrying into the tent, toolbag in hand, an anxious look on his face.

"Just try and relax," I tell her. There I go again - talking to an object as if she can feel, sense, understand. Next thing you know, I'll be singing tunes to my lap-top.

Gareth has his scalpel out.

The female doesn't look at him. Her eyes are on me. She stares, deep into my soul. "Human."

Quickly, Gareth slits her cables and she's silent. He mops up a bit, while I step back. I have to admit, my legs are a bit shaky. She really had me spooked for a minute, giving me all that rot about being human.

I slip my hands in my pockets and turn away. Jonno's looking relieved and I wonder why he didn't put silencers on this female right away. But I figured he was too busy. Or maybe it was something else - I don't know.

I glance at him and he looks at me. And suddenly, I know what he's thinking. She got to him too. She rattled him, just like she rattled me. Maybe I've been too long in this business. Maybe we both have. Starting to get attached to commodities is a sure sign of stress.

Fortunately, I know a good way to relieve it.

On my way out, I pick up the Jessica Coupé. There's still half an hour before the auction starts.

"Off somewhere?" Jonno asks.

I steer the Fairhead to the exit. She's long-haired, full-lipped and has soft, shock-absorbent breasts. I mean, come on - what else was she made for?

"Won't be long." I smile at Jonno as I leave the tent. "Just taking this baby out for a little spin."

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