Part 1 – Colleague
Part 2 – Friend
Part 3 – Conman a & b (see below)
Part 4 – Sociopath (next week)
At this point, the situation was somehow strangely thrilling and edging toward the bizarre.
My former housemate Myles was flush with cash, was offering us discounts on some pretty expensive computer gear and he had a black $200,000 Mercedes Kompressor coupe out on hire as part of his new IT job, but actually, we hadn’t seen him in weeks. None of this seemed too odd because he was the master of the aloof. He’s coming, he’s going, he’s committed, he’s disinterested… You coulnd’t pin him down but he you had no doubt he was always in control. Being calm under pressure was Myles’s M.O. Nothing defined him better, whether he was charming a 15-year-old, blagging a payrise or hiring a $100,000 Mercedes.
Six weeks after I had seen him when he hired out the Merc, I got a call from Myles about this time with another proposition Of course, that’s not how the conversation began but before long he was telling me that he may as well get rid of his Celica. He had no need for it now as his own Mercedes – a company car – was just days away from arriving on a shipment so, not really needing the cash, he was going to just take it to any car yard on Parramatta Road and take what they gave him.
“Are you mental?” I said. “They won’t give you anything for it. They give terrible trade-in prices, it’s what they do. That’s like throwing it away! What’s it worth?”
Haha, he laughed. “It cost me about fifteen grand a few months ago.” And what would you accept for it? “Oh, I dunno.” He was completely nonchalant telling me he would probably get just six or seven thousand for it at a car yard.
“Well, we’d give you that,” I said, out of nowhere. And after I got off the phone, it wasn’t too hard to convince my wife that Myles had gone bonkers and because he was earning so much he was happy to ditch his ‘old’ sports car on anyone who will give him six thousand dollars.
It was a 1992 Celica, sooth lines, pop-up headlights. I always considered it the best shape. It was a hairdresser’s car but hey, we were driving an ’86 Mitsubishi Cordia, non-turbo.
Within a day or two Myles had turned up to swap his car for cash and we sold our Cordia a week later for about $1000, not really caring because we had just scored a massive bargain.
It was about this time I caught up with my friend Mike. Mike is a tradesman who had hit it off with Myles while Myles lived with me. I guess they liked each other because they were both into hifi equipment and loved getting a good price. On anything. However, their methods could not be more different. Mike would play hard ball to get his way, Myles would lay on the grease and slide his way into a bargain.
While driving around in the inner west, Mike mentioned he had heard from Myles lately. He had turned up, just out of the blue like he did with me, only thing is, Mike had a few different experiences to me.
We were still driving when we started the conversation but I had to pull over when it got weird.
As we sat in my car in Glebe, Mike recounted how Myles had rung him up more than once saying that he had a new job and he was getting paid heaps. He added that he could help Mike get some great gear if he wanted. I assumed he meant computer gear. It all sounded very familiar.
Yes, I said, I knew IT jobs were well paid but his seemed to be really well paid. “I just can’t work out why he still lives in the mountains, now that he works in North Sydney.”
Mike: North Sydney? No, Parramatta.
Me: No, I am pretty sure he said North Sydney. That’s where all the big IT firms are anyway.
Mike: No, he’s not in IT. He’s working in some hifi job playing with hi-end audio equipment.
Me: What! No, no….. Is that what he said to you?
Mike: Yes, totally, That’s how he gets his hands on cheap hifi gear. And how he can afford that Mercedes.
Me: Err, no, he doesn’t own that. That’s hired. I was there.
Mike: Oh fuck.
We looked at each other as if we had stepped into another dimension. Was this a frickin’ film? How could this be? It was kind of funny. But mostly horrifying. We spent another hour going through every detail like young detectives.
From what we could work out between us, assuming that we were both being fed lies, Myles probably had no income, no job, no prospects, no access to cheap gear of any sort, and he probably had no actual friends. His life was a complete and utter fabrication. On top of that, we realised, his family was a mystery. His past, also, was a complete unknown. he had never revealed anything of himself. But we had bought into it up to about twenty thousand dollars between us.
We were all pawns in an enormous, clever game that saw him driving around on my credit card, spending money Michael and I had given him for hifi or computer equipment he didn’t have.
And a car. I had a Celica out the front of my house he sold to me. Was it really his? My heart was sinking very fast. It was looking like the most foolish thing I had ever done and I had talked my wife into joining me in my stupidity.
It now made complete sense why we had not yet seen the rego papers. We’d been badgering Myles for the rego papers for weeks after he had ‘forgotten’ them on the night we paid him for the car.
Seriously, I know this sounds flacid of me, but if your mate sold you his car, would you call REVs on the spot to check him out, especially if you had known him for two years, having worked with him and lived with him?
I didn’t really want to know the status of the car right now. I had many other things worrying me. Like where was Myles?
We wanted to find him, and rearrange him.