Taken for a ride

(Writer’s group challenge: Write a very short story on the topic “Magic Carpet Ride”)

Bradley pulled the big Mercedes Bens out of the nightmare traffic gridlock and straight into a used car lot. “Now is the moment” he muttered to himself, ”that I trade this monster in on something lighter and more manoeuvrable”.  Suliman the car salesman listened carefully to Bradley’s traffic woes and then said “I have exactly what you need sir. Flying carpets are all the rage right now. The roads are choked up and nobody can afford the fuel anymore. Carpets are very efficient because they run on solar power and they just float over the crowds”.

Bradley could hardly believe his ears, but meekly followed Suliman to the back of the car-lot and into a building piled high with carpets. Suliman thought that Bradley should have a rather posh Persian model with luxury features, but when he mentioned the price it made Bradly feel quite airsick. At last the salesman lowered his sights and towed Bradley into the department labelled ’previously loved carpets’.  They waded through dirty and jaded mats of yesteryear, but finally came across a reasonably smart looking Flokati.

“Just the thing for you sir” said Suliman . “It’s a rare  Greek model. Only one previous owner and she was 96 years old “. Bradley wondered what had happened to her, but he said nothing. The carpet was easily wide enough for two to sit on side by side and that’s exactly what Suliman was gesturing  Bradley to do. He curled his legs up under him as he saw Suliman do, and almost immediately they were airborne. The carpet just lifted off smoothly and quietly and very soon  they were cruising out above the car-bloated street. It was a fantastic experience. All too soon for Bradley they circled elegantly back towards base where they settled serenely into the landing space. Bradley was bewitched, and before he knew it they were haggling about price and Bradley found himself signing on the dotted line. It took him some time to realize that he had in fact just signed away ownership of his plush Mercedes in exchange for this rather decrepit flying rug. Before he could really gather his wits, Bradley found himself out on the pavement with his carpet rolled up under his arm. ‘ I suppose I better try and fly this thing’ he thought weakly. So he unrolled the carpet and sat cross legged in the middle and tried to remember what to do next. Suliman had said something about just clearing his mind and allowing his inner being to take control. At first nothing seemed to happen, but then suddenly, the carpet leapt off the ground and lurched  up into the sky. It wasn’t smooth and gentle as it had been with Suliman flying it, but swooped and dived, up and down, down and up like the proverbial roller coaster. Bradley was just about able to hang on by clinging to the long Flokati pile.  ‘Thank goodness for the pile’ he thought. Well up and down was bad enough, but all of a sudden the carpet started to hesitate in mid-air. It jerked and slewed and then suddenly spun into a dramatic nose-dive. Buildings whizzed  past Bradley’s  ears and then, just before they smashed into the pavement like a great asteroid, the carpet gave a little swoop up and fell motionless to the ground. The landing was hard to say the least and Bradley was sore and shaken, but was able to get up. Eventually he collected himself, grabbed the carpet, and headed for the showroom. Suliman looked rather puzzled at seeing a dazed and bruised Bradley dragging himself in through the door with his Flokati under his arm.

“What seems to be the problem sir” he enquired?

“This bloody carpet is a complete dud roared Bradly. It can’t fly at all”.

“Oh come now sir” said Suliman in an appeasing tone, I’m sure it’s just a glitch”. Suliman unrolled the carpet, sat down on the middle of it and closed his eyes. In moments, they rose elegantly from the floor, circled the room smoothly a couple of times and then glided to rest exactly where they had lifted off. “There doesn’t seem to be any real problem sir” said Suliman. But then a puzzled look clouded his face. “You do have a carpet pilot’s licence don’t you sir?

“You never said anything about a flying licence you cad” barked Bradley in a fury.

“Well sir, when people buy flying carpets we just assume they have a licence”.

“Well how do I get a bloody licence then” said Bradley in amazement?

“Oh it’s quite easy sir. There are several academies in Teheran that can train you. Of course you will need to go to Teheran and lodge there whilst you attend classes. It’s a bit pricey, but all those colleges do guarantee a licence  within 3 years max”.

“This is quite outrageous” screamed Bradley. The deal is off. I demand my money back”.

“Well we don’t do refunds sir. That’s not possible. But we will buy the carpet from you”.

“Oh well that may be OK then” said Bradley, brightening visibly. How much do I get for it?”

“Well sir” said Suliman dolefully, ”it’s a very old model and one can’t get the wool for those anymore, so it’s not worth much. But I’m feeling generous today sir so I will offer you R30 000.”

“What” – screamed Bradley? “That wouldn’t even buy a set of wheels for my Mercedes”.

“Yes that’s true sir. You appear to have made a rather poor purchase here today sir”.

There was nothing Bradley could do, and before he knew it, he was back on the street with R30 000 in his pocket and no vehicle of any description to call his own. But worse was to come. As Bradley shuffled despondently off the pavement to cross the road to the bus stop, he nearly had his nose taken off by a youngster racing past him in a large blue Mercedes. Bradley jerked hi head up just in time to see the guy shaking  his fist back at him from the driver’s seat of what used to be his car.