Part 1 – Colleague
Part 2 – Friend
Part 3 – Conman a (see below) & b
Part 4 – Sociopath
My brother and I left that Petersham sharehouse before Myles eventually did. We had attracted one disastrous flatmate who nearly got everyone killed when a neighbour tried to set fire to the house as retaliation for the poisoning of their rooster. Yes, it really did get more interesting after she arrived. This person also wouldn’t let anyone watch her TV, which was conveniently located in the primary living room. And so on. So it was no surprise that we heard through another friend that Myles had left. No word on where he had gone.
It was around the year 2000. I had left my casual job at Grace Bros – where I first met Myles – and now had a fulltime job as a website copywriter. I was soon to be married to my childhood sweetheart.
I got married in November 2000 but remained living in Sydney’s inner west, just down the road from Petersham at the leafy little village of Summer Hill. We rented the cheapest house in the suburb – it was 3-metres wide and had a dodgy toilet a ten metre walk from the back door. (You do what you can to stay in Summer Hill.)
It was while we were in this house, in mid 2001, that Myles called us up. I hadn’t heard from him in about a year so it was ‘out of the blue’.
After some small talk, I recall the phone call went something like this:
LB: How you doing, man?
ML: Really good man, really good.
LB: Where have you been?
ML: Well, I got this fantastic job working in IT and it is soooo sweet.
LB: Oh yeah, do they pay you well?
MB: It’s insane what you can get, you know how it is.
I did know IT staff could demand huge salaries – it was the middle of the dot-com boom, and Myles had the skills. He had often fixed the PCs in our house and reconfigured them at Grace Bros. (Hell, I was earning good money at lastminute.com, a site that didn’t exist a year before but was booming just because people couldn’t believe they could book a flight online.)
Now I think about it, Myles could well have just been a good hacker, a PC enthusiast who taught himself about hardware and software, but I didn’t know the difference. It was entirely believable he would find a cushy job.
The phone call worked its way around to the finer points of his package. He had been given a spot at the top of a small firm which meant he now had a huge salary, a great laptop, and a car. The car was a soft-top Mercedes, at least it would be when the hire company delivered it.
Anna was in the room listening excitedly. I was gob-smacked. Myles asked if we would like to come pick it up with him. YES! First ride in a new Mercedes convertible? I wasn’t just calling ‘shotgun’ I was planning on pashing those leather seats and finding reasons we should drive to Terrigal.
I think it was just a few days later when Myles called – it was the same day he was due to pick us up in his now superseded Celica. There had been some kind of problem at the office and the car was yet to arrive. As aback-up plan, the boss had told Myles he could hire a car, as long as it was the same model, and charge it back to the company.
Keep in mind I was only 23 but this is certainly the part in the story where I begin to feel sick.
We met at he car yard of a sports car hire car place on Parramatta Road. It had Porsches, Ferraris, Aston Martins and a 2-seater Mercedes Kompressor.
They were expecting Myles.
We checked out the car like thrilled teenagers who stumbled across it on a deserted road with the keys still inside. But once inside the office, Myles was all charm and sounding like the young professional he now was. Signing papers and showing his ID, I had nothing to suspect when the final signature was needed and Myles asked if I could do it.
“What’s this for?” I said. “Oh, said Myles calmly, “just because they need a credit card – not as a deposit, I’ve got that in cash. It’s just in case, you know, a security thing. I just don’t have mine on me. Can you do it man?”
I can’t recall how long I thought about this, but he was two minutes away from driving that car out of there and I had never even sat in anything like it. The two large men behind the counter were officious and showed no doubt in Myles’s entitlement to the car or my helping him out. (I feel it worth pointing out that their car hire company is now gone.)
We drove it out and headed straight for the city where my family happened to be meeting for dinner. It was a phenomenal experience driving up to the open-air restaurant and so my extended family fawned over Myles and his new car.
After that amazing night we probably heard from Myles, oh, zero times over the next month. He was gone. He still had the car, he still lived with his parents back in the mountains, but the old friendship had not sparked up again. I was most surprised that he never dropped in as he now worked over the bridge, but on the phone he would simply blame his long hours, saying “you know how it is, man!” blah blah blah.