The Cars of Tomorrow
by Rix Roundtree-Harrison
The blackness is split open as arcs of forked lightening flash in dark sky. The fingers of the lightening bolts seems to reach down from the sky and touch the iconic structures of the White House, the US Capital, the Washington Monument and the Washington DC skyline, illuminating the monumental city below.
Away from the National Mall and downtown DC, the lightening illuminates the stately old homes in the residential neighborhoods.
On the rooftop of one such a home, Strode, the African American scientist, is in a dark smock and is on the rooftop adjusting some sort of three pronged antenna apparatus.
"Yes, yes this should do just fine. My antenna should attract lightening; the electrical charge should travel down to the seedpod incubator in my laboratory and fertilize them.
"Imagine, instead of earth, water and sunlight, using electricity to insure prefect flawless crop yields, abundant and free of defects. My electric fertilization technique will manipulate the seed's cell structure to insure perfection, thus guaranteeing abundant growth with each and every seed."
Again the sky is lit with snaking lightening. The lightening illuminates Strode's face exposing eyes which seemed to be filled with confidence, surprise, anger, arrogance, exhilaration, and just a tinge of madness. Above the eyes are large thick eyebrows shaped like thumbs, which push down on his eyelids making his eyes angry narrow slits.
Strode places his goggles over his eyes and steps back away from the antenna. As he hoped, lightening bolts strikes his antenna. With his forearm he covers his handsome lightening illuminated face.
The electricity travels down the antenna and into Strode's laboratory which contains all
the trappings of a scientist's laboratory, the large rectangular blackboard with equations written in chalk scrawled across it. Tables that contain microscopes, Petrie dishes, specimen jars and Bunsen burners line the walls. Large pieces of equipment with circular meters and gauges with needles that jump into the "danger" area are also visible. In the center of the room is a workstation filled with bubbling test tubes and vials. Protruding from the walls on each side of the room are giant metallic poles with orbs attached to their ends from which frenetic arcs of electricity jump from one to the other.
The electrical energy travels through a thick strand of wire and into a strange oblong metal pod that resembles a coffin. The metal coffin like construct begins to glow. But unbeknownst to Strode the electricity does not stop there, it continues to travel through the wiring of the house.
The current travels down to the basement and enters the electric hot water heater causing it to glow, filling the basement with a bright and eerie light as the water heater spits off tentacles of electricity.
This discharge of electrical energy sends a feedback of electric current back through the house, and in every room in the house light bulbs, even those turned off emit a faint soft glow for just a fraction of a second.
Nikolas Thime in a white t-shirt, dark slacks, and in his dark stocking feet is laying on a futon. His handsome face is so enraptured by the moving images on a television screen he didn't notice the momentary faint glow of the light bulb in the ceiling above him.
The television has a strange space-age shape; it is wider at the top than it is at the bottom. Above the television screen at each end of the box are two rocket shaped knobs that protrude like the taillights of a 1959 Cadillac.
The knob on the left is positioned halfway between "Low" and "High." The channel knob on the right is on channel "11."
On the screen a dark haired woman is screaming as she is menacingly approached by a giant shiny metallic silver robot like creature.
The giant silver robot stops its approach when the woman ceases her screams and utters the strange words, "Gort, Klatuu Barada Nikto."
The only light in this room is provided by the television, until suddenly crackling visible current surges through the electrical wiring attached to the ceiling light. The suspended ceiling light bulb flashes once and then explodes sending small shards of light bulb glass flying through the small room.
Nikolas Thime dives to the floor covering his head, small flecks of light bulb glass cover his back. Nick comes to his feet, confusion plastered across his face. His eyes dart about the room still lit by the television, his brow crinkles, his face fills with anger, and he yells, "STRODE!" He grabs the doorknob grumbling, "What has he done now? I swear one of these days one of his experiments is going to leave me homeless."
He opens the door and to his surprise finds that the outer room is dark. He steps into the dark room and his stocking feet steps on small bits of light bulb glass, causing him to yell again, "YOUCH! Stroddy, where are you? What have you done?" He sees a beam of light sweeping the darkness and hears the sound of heavy footsteps crunching glass-covered floors, coming his way. Then he hears the excited voice of Strode. "Nikolas! Nikolas!"
"Stroddy! What have you done?"
"What have I done?" Asked the scientist, with pride in his voice, "I've perfected my electrical seed fertilization incubator; it works! I can create perfect flawless seeds that will produce flawless crops without the need of sunlight. Crops that can grow in complete darkness! I can see myself winning the Nobel Prize!"
With the beam of Strode's flashlight in his ambivalent face Nick responds dryly. "Well guess what Stroddy? You are growing something else in this darkness, you're growing my ire. Maybe you'll also receive a Nobel Prize for that."
Strode gives Nick a confused look. "I don't understand Nikolas, what do you……"
Nick's angry eyes roll up in the darkness towards the ceiling.
Strode's confused look disappears and is replaced with the startled look of comprehension. "Oh, the lights! I can explain that. The current I drew from lightening to charge the seed incubator accidentally surged through the house causing every light bulb in the house to explode.
"But as you can see this surge did not effect appliances, your television or movie projector, stereo, telephone, just light bulbs so, no harm done really."
The anger in Nick's eyes relays that he is not happy with the explanation. "Oh, and that's suppose to make me feel better? Strode, it's completely dark in here, and I've got to dress to go to the auto show later."
Strode's darting eyes hints that he is feverishly trying to think up an explanation more suitable that will placate Nick Thime. "But look Nikolas," Strode points to the soft light that floats from the room where Nick was watching television, "the tiny error of my experiment did not affect your television in your screening room."
At that Nick notices the flickering light coming from the television in his screening room. "Yeah you're right, the TV wasn't affected."
"What were you watching Nikolas?"
"The Day the Earth Stood Still."
"Is it good?"
The anger on Nick Thime's face fades away and is replaced by excitement. "Is it good? It's excellent. It's a thought provoking film about a man from another planet who comes to earth to warn us of imminent doom unless we change our war-like destructive ways. Oh man, you don't know how good it is."
"Well Nikolas, why don't you go back and continue with your movie, The Day the World Took Ill, and I'll take care of the lights and broken glass, alright Nikolas?"
Mesmerized like a moth to a flame Nick is drawn to the television's light and heads back to continue watching the film. "Stroddy, fix the lights, clean up the mess and please be more careful will you? And it's "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
"Yes Nikolas, enjoy your movie. I should have this mess cleaned up by the time you leave for the auto show."
Nikolas Thime goes back into the small room, stretches his long lean body out on his futon and continues watching the movie. He folds his arms across his chest and a look of pleasure, contentment and bliss blankets his face.
In the outer room Strode pulls the screening room door close with his left hand and his right hand wipes his lightly perspiring forehead as he released a, "Whew, I got out of that."
The facade of the gleaming four-story modern building possessed large plate glass ceiling to floor windows and stretched for four city blocks. Throngs of people enter this mammoth complex through a large triple archway that has "WASHINGTON DC CONVENTION CENTRE" carved into the stone above it. The building's multiple glass doors swing open revealing a large cavernous space filled with beautiful new and sparkling automobiles. Affixed to the walls, free standing obelisks, and signs suspended from the ceilings, are the large blazing neon logos of all the automobile manufacturers such as, "FORD," "MERCURY," "CADILLAC," "CHRYSLER," "PLYMOUTH," "CHEVROLET," and "AMERICAN MOTORS." Blazing neon advertisements also shouted out the names of the imports like "MERCEDES BENZ," "DATSUN," and "TOYOTA" as well.
From the high ceiling hangs a large rectangular banner with bold black capital lettering that reads, "1958 DC AUTO SHOW!" Beneath that in small print is, "Featuring Miss Auto Show 1958 - Isadora Maxima!"
In his dark suit Nikolas Thime maneuvers his way through the teeming crowd of auto enthusiasts.
He stops and joins a crowed "ooohing" and "aaahing" at the 1959 Mercury Monterey, with its rocket ship taillights and wrap around rear window, as it revolves on a slowing spinning platform. It is a two-tone job with shark like fins on its rear.
Then he stops to join the mob viewing the 1959 Chrysler 300 with its smiling bumper that sat beneath its large frowning grille. With its four slanted headlights resembling beady eyes, and its rear fins, it looks like a menacing shark on the prowl.
Nick stops to take in the beauty of the 1959 Corvette, a glistening sleek two-tone convertible two-seater that sat atop wide whitewall tires that seem to be at the ready to race out of the showroom.
Nick then joins the excited crowd worshipping the dark and elegant 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, with its long body and oversized exaggerated tailfins fins being the talk of the auto show attendees.
Suddenly Nick is startled as a microphone is thrust in front of his face. Standing before him is a Caucasian male, he has a youthful boyish looking face and a head full of neatly combed prematurely gray hair. The man has on a dark suit and behind him is a black male manning a TV camera.
The gray haired man speaks with a proper British accent. "And you sir, what do you think of the exciting automobiles you've seen here at the Washington DC 1958 Auto Show?"
Nick's rattled appearance is gone as he looks into the camera with a cool and calm collectiveness. "I think the 1959 models are very exciting, but what I've really come here to see are The Cars Of Tomorrow; I understand that is where the excitement will be."
"So tell me, what have you heard about the The Cars Of Tomorrow exhibition?"
"I hear that we will be shown cars like we've never seen them before, and I can hardly wait."
The gray haired reporter with the British accent takes the microphone out of Nick's face as the cameraman turns the camera on to him. "And there you have it folks, another car show attendee here to experience the hyped Cars Of Tomorrow exhibition. Live from the 1958 DC Auto Show, this is Timothy Getter for "9 News Now," back to you Andrea and Mike."
At that, the black cameraman turns off his camera and turns to the reporter and speaks with a Jamaican accent. "Ey mon, I'm goin' to run over to the food court and grab me a snack. You want anything?"
The reporter smiles and shakes his head negatively.
Nick Thime's face is creased by a wide smile as he turns to the TV reporter and offers his hand and they shake. "Hey Getter, what's the big idea, putting me on the spot like that?"
When the smiling reporter responds to Nick Thime, the proper British accent is gone, replaced by a slang filled Cockney accent. "Blimey Nik'las, I didn't expect to see you 'ere today, and it's good to see you ole boy. When I saw you 'eadin' me way I couldn't resist rattlin' you up a bit by throwin' me mike in your face. I must say you 'andled it quite well."
"It comes from years of being put on the spot by our city's cunning, crafty, clever, and ruthless but beautiful District Attorney, Dai Akimoto."
"Ah yes the lovely Miss DA; in that courtroom she certainly keeps you on your toes. And while we be on the subject of old friends 'ow 'r Pow and ole Zeke, are they 'ere with you?"
"They're fine, but neither of them is here. You know that Aqa isn't into cars. As for Stroddy, I asked him to come with me but he declined, he said he had some important seedling experiment that he needed to work on."
"Is ole Zeke still blowin' up stuff?"
With exasperation on his face and in his voice, Nick Thime responds with, "Constantly and consistently."
The reporter smiles, "Good; that means things are normal at your place. Tell me, is Pow seeing anyone spec----" Tim Getter abruptly stops talking as there is a tug at his suit jacket.
Behind him is a tow headed boy of about eight years of age. "Mr. Getter I brought somebody who knows all about the 1955 Daytona Grand National race and can tell you who the winner was."
With amused curiosity Nick Thime's eyes scrutinize the little boy. "Who's the kid Getter?"
The smiling Tim Getter places his hand on the boy's head. "This lit'el guy is really into cars and racing. We 'ave a bet 'bout who won the 1955 Daytona Grand National. He says it was Tim Flock in a Chrysler, I say it was the bloke Fireball Roberts in a bloody Buick."
Nick looks at the young boy. "Hiya kid, what's your name?"
With an amused but friendly smile Nick ask, "Like the car?"
"Yes sir. Are you a reporter too like Mr. Getter?"
"Oh no, my name is Nikolas Thime, I'm a lawyer." A smiling Nick takes Chevy's hand and shakes it. "Nice to meet you Chevy."
Tim Getter interrupts, "Enough with the introductions. So Chev, tell me which of us is right, who won the bleedin' '55 Daytona Grand National?"
"I brought someone with me who knows and can prove it to you that I'm right."
"Who kid?" Asks Tim Getter with a feigned curiosity on his face.
Nick and Tim give each other surprised and amused looks, "Your girlfriend?" Nikolas Thime asks.
"Aren't you a wee bit young for girlfriends lad?" The reporter asks.
The boy gives the two men an annoyed look, "That's beside the point. She can prove what I told you."
"Well, where is your lit'el racetrack sweet 'eart? Bring 'er on."
The little boy turns to the throng of auto show attendees and yells out, "Jo, over here."
Nick and Tim look between the auto show patrons waiting for a little girl to appear, when stepping up to the little boy Chevy is a fully grown, twenty-something, statuesque, shapely blonde beauty who places her elegant well manicured hands on Chevy's shoulders.
She has long shoulder length hair with a widow's peak from which a curlicue spins off, falls down the right side of her forehead almost covering her right eye giving her a sexy Veronica Lake look.
Her lean body is draped in a light gray suit, the jacket of which is open to reveal a shimmering low cut blouse. The jacket is buttoned at the waist showing off the woman's appealing figure. From beneath the long streamlined skirt extends shapely long legs.
The boy looks up at the attractive woman with a look of infatuation on his face and dreamy puppy love in his eyes. "This is my friend Jo. She's so pretty. She's a racecar driver. I love her. When I grow up I'm going to marry her."
The blushing woman gives the boy a sweet smile.
The faces of Nick Thime and Tim Getter first register shock as their mouths fall open, and then infatuation covers their faces as well as they are definitely pleased at the sight of the ravishing beauty that stands before them.
They practically push little Chevy out of the way and stumble over one another as both of them reach to shake her hand. Tim reaches her first. "Hello Jo, I'm Tim Getter. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Nick bumps him to the side and shakes her hand. "Hi Jo, I'm Nick Thime, our friend Chevy here has told us nice things about you. So, you're a race car driver, how fascinating."
The look on the woman's face shows awareness of her impact on the two men. She smiles warmly and friendly. "It's nice to meet you both. Chevy tells me that you have a dispute regarding the '55 Daytona Grand National?"
The beaming Tim Getter says, "Yeah, I say Fireball Roberts won the '55 Daytona Grand National, Chevy says it was Tim Flock, who's right?"
"I'm sorry, but Chevy is correct, it was Tim Flock in a Chrysler."
"It's not that I don't be believin' you Jo, but how do you know?" Tim Getter asks.
"I was there." The smiling female race car driver replies.
Chevy beams with pride, sticks out his little hand and exclaims to Getter, "Told you, now fork it over."
Tim Getter reaches into his suit jacket pocket pulls out his wallet and hands a crisp bill over to the beaming young boy."
Chevy turns to leave the three adults when Jo asks, "Chevy, where are you going?"
"They're selling model cars on the first floor," says the boy, "now I have enough money to buy the one that I want."
A maternal look comes over the face of the beautiful woman. "Chevy you shouldn't be wandering around here alone, and I'm sure your folks must be wondering where you are. So go get your model and get right back to your folks, okay?"
Chevy smiles at the beautiful woman, "All right Jo," he says obediently. Chevy looks at Nick and Tim and exclaims, "What a woman, I'm such a lucky man." And with that Chevy is gone, leaving Jo alone with the two smitten adult men.
Tim Getter's smile diminishes a bit as contemplation covers his face. "Jo, I seem to be rememberin' reading somethin' 'bout a young female NASCAR driver, by the name a Josephine Bascopolous makin' a name for 'erself in the man's world of auto racing, would that be you by any chance?"
"Yes, that's me. Are you two connected with the auto and racing industry?"
"No, I'm a reporter," says the flirtatiously smiling Getter.
"And I'm a lawyer. Jo, I take it you are in town to take in the auto show?" Nick Thime asks.
"Well actually I was on my way to the Richmond International Speedway because there is a NASCAR race there in a few days, so I thought I'd stop here in Washington to catch this hyped Cars Of Tomorrow show, and then afterwards get on down to Richmond for the race. The buzz on The Cars Of Tomorrow show has been so exciting that practically everybody in the racing world is here to see it."
The woman points to a revolving platform with a space age looking vehicle sitting in its center. The headlights of this automobile are shaped like the slanted eyes of a cat. A long elliptical grille with tiny metal teeth sits between the headlight eyes. The automobile's front bumper is composed of three flat pieces of metal that extends across the front end and below the mouth like grille of the auto and extends from the sides and slightly dip down causing them to look like whiskers. At the car's rear it has fins that opposed to sitting on top of the vehicle extend from it sides causing the car to appear that it has wings.
Surrounding the revolving vehicle are three men, one young lean black man with close cut hair, and a young round faced white man whose hair sat high atop his head in an Elvis Presley like pompadour. Both these men are dressed in black NASCAR jumpsuits decorated with sponsor patches. Standing beside them is a middle aged white male dressed in light suit.
'That's Junior Johnson and Wendell O. Scott, two NSACAR drivers," says Jo Bascopolous.
Tim notices the vague look on Nick's face and explains. "Junior Johnson is a championship NASCAR driver and Wendell O. Scott is the first African American NASCAR driver and also a championship winner."
"Oh," Responds Nikolas Thime nonchalantly.
Jo Bascopolous continues with her information. "They were hired by American Motors to promote their new car." Then a look of displeasure comes over the face of the beautiful woman. "The man with them in the suit is Woody Erle, the owner and president of American Motors and designer of the Cheetah El Gato."
Nick turns to Jo, "Cheetah El Gato?"
"That's the car on the platform, isn't she..…" There is a long pause before Jo completes her sentence, "….interesting? She's part car, part plane, part rocket. She has a roaring 350 horse power V-8 engine, dual exhaust, a 5 speed manual transmission, and she can do 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. Under the hood she's quite the fast and the furious beast, but the body style is, well, so, so…."
Nick Thime and Tim Getter speak in unison, "Ugly?"
"Yes," replies Jo Bascopolous.
Suddenly a lilting female voice floats out of the crowd. "Say cheese Jo darling."
Following the voice is a beautiful smiling dark haired African American woman with a camera.
She has the large voluminous eyes of disco queen Donna Summer, the angular facial construction of silver screen legend Lena Horn and the clef chin like that of fellow screen icon Irene Dunne.
Her glossy dark hair stands high on her head as glistening loose strands of hair fly to and fro over her forehead. Her hair is also pulled back in the back and becomes a long thick shiny black braid that runs down between her shoulder blades.
She is dressed all in black. Smooth shoulders are exposed as the straps of the low cut top wraps around her upper arms flows across her chest and come to a "V" point in the center of her bosom providing a glimpse into sumptuous cleavage.
A thick black leather belt with a large circular buckle cinches her waist a big full calf length skirt blooms beneath the belt.
Upon seeing this woman Jo Bascopolous' face is covered with disapproval.
The smiling beauty with the camera motions to Nick and Tim. "Would you two gentleman mind stepping away from Miss Bascopolous for a moment? I'd like to get a picture of her for my magazine."
Nick and Tim step back as Jo's hardened face softens with a smile as the woman snaps a picture of the female racer. "How wonderful to see you again Jo dear; what brings you here?"
"I'm here as a spectator Layna, so I don't see why you need my picture."
The woman releases a sigh. "Actually if it were up to me I wouldn't bother with getting your picture as I fail to see your importance or relevance, but my editor seems to think you're newsworthy and he wants your picture, so I take it. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do, right?"
Jo's face returns to its annoyed look and she does not respond to the woman's venomous statement. "Mr. Thime, Mr. Getter, this is Layna Jade, she is a journalist for the magazine AutoErotic. Her specialty is getting the dirt on the automotive and racing world, and she does, even if she has to lie down in it….or with it."
Unflustered by Jo's catty comment Lanya Jade responds with, "Well a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do, but speaking of lying down, I saw your performance at Talladega. You weren't lying down you were just asleep, you came in seventh place wasn't it? Maybe you should try lying down with some of your peers. Maybe then they might be inclined to let you win a race. Ooops, I'm sorry, I forgot, you can't. Ta ta my dear."
The journalist spins on her heels, as she does the long braid at the back of her head whips around and almost slaps Jo Bascopolous in the face.
Layna Jade walks off leaving Jo Bascopolous with a livid expression on her face as she watches her walk in the direction of the Cheetah El Gato automobile on display in the American Motors section.
The Caucasian NASCAR driver witnesses the approach of Layna Jade. The white male taps the black male who is signing an autograph on the shoulder. "Hey buddy, look what's comin'."
The black man looks up to see Layna Jade walking towards them with a serpentine smile on her lovely face. "Oh Lord, and we was having such a nice day. Whatduz she want?"
The white man pats the black man on his back. "Wendell, be nice. You know she has a lot of readers, and we don't need no bad publicity."
With an acidic smile Layna Jade greets the men. "Well hello boys, could I get a picture and a few words?"
The white male looks at Layna Jade with a stone face. "You can take the picture LJ, but you aint gonna like the words."
"Still upset over my Richmond Speedway piece I see?"
"Piece" is right, piece of sh…" Before Junior Johnson can finish his sentence Wendell O. Scott grabs his arm.
"Junior, you said be nice 'member?" Wendell O. Scott turns to Layna Jade. "LJ we didn't 'preciate what you wrote about us in that article. We was under the impression that you was there to cover the race, but you spent more time diggin' into our personal lives."
"My readers want to know all about their heroes, their strengths their weaknesses, etc. They have a right to know that their gods had run-ins with the law, ran moonshine, or were jailbirds."
"You focus more on the bad stuff in our past, more so than our performance and wins," Junior Johnson states.
"That's your perspective, and you're entitled to it, just as my readers are entitled to the truth."
The suited man appears and stands between to two men and places his arms around their shoulders. "Alright boys, let's play nice, smile and give the little lady a great picture." The suited man, Woody Erle gives a wide smile while the two NASCAR drivers on each side of him just give stony poker faced looks.
Layna Jade turns her attention to the suited man. "Mr. Erle, rumor has it that American Motors is on its death bed. What, can't go to daddy for a bail out? Or is daddy though financing his ungrateful son's failures?"
The man's smile fades and is replaced by the look of simmering anger. Layna Jade's smile grows broader. "I hear that you thought the Cheetah El Gato would be your company's savior, but it seems that your cat has run out of lives. Maybe it's not selling because of its looks. Visually it's not a very appealing car."
With squinted eyes she tilts her head and looks at the automobile. "It looks like a catfish; they're bottom dwellers you know? Like your company."
At that, fury fills the eyes of Woody Erle. His body language indicates that he is about to spring from the platform and pounce on Layna Jade, but Junior Johnson and Wendell O. Scott grab his arms. They look at him with a smile and say, "Play nice."
The camera bulb flashes, capturing an angry image of Woody Erle being held back by Junior Johnson and Wendell O. Scott who have obvious fake smiles plastered on their faces.
Layna Jade radiates an evil smile, "Oh what a pretty picture that will make; ciao boys." The woman spins on her heels causing her long braid to whip the air as she walks off.
The furious Woody Erle eyes Layna Jade with anger as she makes her way away from them and vanishes in the thick crowd. "I hate that woman," says the seething auto magnate.
"You and 'evrbody else in the racin' world," Junior Johnson adds.
Nick Thime notices the crowd forming at The Cars Of Tomorrow pavilion. Out of the corner of his eye he also notices the woman he broke a date with, Isadora Maxima, draped in a long white robe and tucked away in a semi-dark corner behind a large advertising partition that reads, "Oldsmobile Always A Step Ahead." The beaming Miss Maxima is wrapped in the arms of a tall handsome white male with dark wavy hair and a thin dark mustache.
"I think the bleedin' show is 'bout to start," says Tim Getter to Nick Thime and Jo Bascopolous, "so let me grab me cameraman and get to work. Nik'las, I'll be seein' you later. Jo, even though you cost me a bloody five spot, it was indeed a pleasure meetin' you."
"See you later Getter," said Nick Thime as he extends his arm to Jo Bascopolous.
"Shall we go Jo?"
Jo Bascopolous takes Nick's arm and they walk in the direction of The Cars Of Tomorrow pavilion.
The pavilion stage has a raised 50-foot long stage that had a tall, dark colored 20 foot high curtain behind it. Center stage in front of the curtain stood a waiting microphone on a stand.
At each end of the stage was a pair of ornate Greek columns. From behind the Greek columns at stage right appears a tall, square jawed, handsome, fifty-ish Caucasian man in a dark fedora and dark well-tailored expensive suit. He walks to the center of the stage to the waiting microphone.
"Hello everyone, and welcome to, "The Cars Of Tomorrow." Imagine a solar powered automobile that never requires refueling. An automobile so intelligent that you just tell it where you want to go and it takes you there, no matter the terrain, with the power of all wheel drive.
"Imagine an automobile so sophisticated that you can never get lost, because the car knows every roadway and every patch of earth of our great country, like you know the back of your hand.
"An automobile that can keep you company on long lonely drives by holding a conversation with you.
"Imagine an automobile that will instantaneously wrap you and your family in a protective cushion at the onset on a deadly collision, a car whose sole purpose is to not only get you to your destination, but also get you to your destination safely and in opulent elegant comfort. Well those automobiles are here today, and we at GM have created them.
"I'm Harley Erle, president of General Motors, and I designed, created, and invented these concept vehicles, which we at GM have named the Supreme Utilitarian Vehicles or S U Vs. The SUV will indeed be the car of tomorrow.
"The SUVs have all the standard features that the discerning car buyer has come to expect in an automobile, such as automatic transmissions, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo radio, and power everything, including brakes, steering, mirrors, and windows.
"But the SUVs also come with features that you will find in no other automobile, amazing features like, onboard computers that contain mapping and navigational systems, heated seats, stereophonic widescreen television, telephones, a protective pillow deployment system in case of head on collision, impact resistant bumpers, keyless entry, voice activated ignition, and loads of other futuristic features."
Harley Erle looks the buzzing crowd over. "I can see looks of amazement and disbelief on the faces of some of you, so I guess I'll quit talking and let you see for yourselves. Ladies and gentleman GM is proud to introduce to you, the S U Vs, THE CARS OF TOMORROW!"
Harley Erle raises his arms and the thick heavy curtain begins to slowly part at its center. At the same time Harley Erle, with his arms still raised stands completely motionless as he slowly sinks into the stage floor. The opening curtains tuck themselves behind the Greek columns at each end of the stage.
At the same time the rolling thunder of a kettledrum fills the hall with its thundering anticipation. The kettledrum ceases and music begins to play, it's the same tune heard during the Universal-International pictures logo and the opening credits.
The now completely open curtains unveil gigantic white capital letters, about 10 feet high that spell out "TOMMORROW." Sitting on top of that word are the words "THE CARS OF" also in white capital letters about five feet high. Behind the large words is complete darkness. Then just as Harley Erle had done, the oversized words begin to slowly descend down into the stage.
Simultaneously in the center of the stage a head begins to slowly rise out of the stage floor, it is the head of a dark haired Asian man. As he rises, all can see that he is dressed in a black tuxedo. The tall words, THE CARS OF TOMORROW have completely descended from view as the Asian man has completely risen on the stage, behind him is utter darkness.
He places his mouth next to the microphone and begins to sing to the music. "The carrrrrrs of-to-mor-row. An ex-cit-ting-new-way to tra-vel. The carrrrrrs of-to-mor-row, are-here, for-yooooou."
The Asian man's song comes to an end and he begins to descend down into the stage floor from whence he came, taking the microphone and its stand with him.
When the Asian singer has disappeared down into the stage, the orchestrated music that he crooned to changes, it becomes sonically assaulting, racing electro-techno beats.
Then three women sashay out of the darkness in the rear of the stage. One is black, one is Hispanic, and the third is the exotic Hawaiian woman who was Nikolas Thime's broken date from earlier in the day, Isadora Maxima.
They are glamorously dressed in sleek black satin floor length evening gowns with long snaking trains. Their torsos are covered by broad shouldered brown leather jackets.
On their heads are brown men's panama hats, and in each of their right hands are furled bullwhips. They looked like glamorized female versions of Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones character.
The lights in the pavilion dim leaving the audience in semi darkness. The three women turn facing the darkness behind them, unfurl their whips and with a sizzling crack, slash their whips into the darkness in front of them.
When they do this, what appears to be the whites of five sets of large menacing iris and pupil less eyes peer from various places in the darkness at the rear of the stage. The empty eyes seem to slowly blink at the mesmerized crowd.
The lights at the front of the stage slowly brighten to illuminate three raised revolving circular platforms containing five excessively large, sparkling, automobiles. The sets of the blinking eyes that were peering from the darkness are the burning parking lights of these revolving vehicles.
The eye catching headlights of these vehicles were not the normal plain and drab circular headlights found on vehicles of this period. They possessed odd shapes like eyes cut into an angry slit, elliptical egg shapes, sideways triangles, and smooth rectangles.
They possess windows tinted so dark that the glass appears to be black. The vehicles did not possess the standard attached steel bumpers. The bumpers on these vehicles were a molded part of the auto body, giving the automobiles a seamless and smooth look as if the entire auto body were stamped out from one single piece of metal.
Their big glossy waxed reflected images stood on large wide black shiny tires attached to glistening 5-spoked custom alloy rims as they whirled in the shiny black-mirrored revolving floor on which they stand.
Revolving in the ring on the left are two large glistening, beautiful, 5-door, metallic silver, futuristic looking automobiles. The vehicles appear to be part car, part station wagon, part truck, and part van.
Revolving in the ring on the right is a 5-door metallic grey automobile and a 5-door reflective metallic ghostly white automobile. Both vehicles share the same large black tires, part car, station wagon, truck, and van characteristics as the two cars in the ring on the left.
In the center ring there is only one vehicle, a huge revolving glistening metallic black automobile that looks like a dangerous stainless steel black sword blade accentuated with gold trim. Unlike the other four vehicles this one seems to have only the characteristics of a car and truck, as it has 4 doors and a short tarp covered truck bed.
The three models loosen the grip on their whips allowing them to unfurl and fall to the floor. With their whips trailing on the floor behind them, the models sashay over to the revolving vehicles.
The African American model stands before the ring on the left; the Hispanic woman stands before the ring on the right, and Miss Maxima stands in front of the center ring. Simultaneously the three models raise the unfurled whips and lash the spinning vehicles with a violent crack of their whips.
The vehicles cease their spinning, and in unison their engines fire up releasing a thundering sonic "vroom."
Then, the models begin to slowly sink down into the stage and disappear as the platforms on which the SUVs sit sink down to floor level.
The wheels of the SUVs screech and spin on the shiny reflective stage floor. Then the glistening cars speed across the stage towards the crowd standing on the pavilion floor. When it seems like the SUVs will leap from the stage and into the crowd the SUVs hit their brakes and spin and slide to a 180 degree stop at the edge of the stage, their rear ends now facing the crowd.
Then the tires of the SUVs spin and scream out again as the SUVs race off into the darkness at the rear of the stage, and they disappear into the blackness.
The assaulting techno music fades out and is replaced by Native American tribal drum rhythms. The blackness at the rear of the stage slowly begins to change as the blackness becomes a dark blue, then the brilliant bright blue of a cloudless sky.
Beneath this sky is a panoramic view of the golden plateaus, mesas, buttes and canyons of the American West. At the base of the steep golden canyon walls a narrow river runs through the canyon floor. Thundering through the canyon is a golden cloud of dust.
Atop a rocky ridge there sits a band of racially diverse females on horseback. They are dressed in the attire of Native American braves. On their heads are large exaggerated feathered Native American head dresses that run down their backs, pass the horses on which they sit and almost touch the golden ground. In their hands are coiled lassos.
The leader of this band of braves is Isadora Maxima. From their ponies they silently watch the golden cloud thunder through the canyon. Miss Maxima then jabs her moccasin feet into her horses' side and starts it on a fast gallop down the steep rocky terrain. The other braves follow their leader and they race down a hill in the direction of the thundering fast moving golden dust cloud.
In this cloud of dust is not a herd of wild mustangs, but the five SUVs racing along the crooked pass between the steep canyon walls.
The massive truck-like black SUV is in the lead, in the center of its distinctive egg crate grille sits the elegant Cadillac coat of arms cupped in a golden lanyard. On each side of the grille are the tall thin rectangular glass vertical strips that contain the stacked quadra head lamps. On the truck bed tailgate at the vehicle's rear the name "XCALIBER" is emblazoned. On each side of the tailgate are burning red taillights, that like the front head lamps are tall, thin, rectangular vertical strips.
The big black Cadillac rides point, flanked on it's left by the steel gray SUV and one of the silver SUVs. It is flanked on its right by the glittering metallic ghost white SUV and the other silver SUV, the five massive vehicles kick up a dusty golden wake behind them as they race through the open west.
The beautiful female braves racing on horseback and twirling their lassos over their heads approach the SUVs from the rear. The SUVs hit their brakes and cut their wheels and make a 180 degree spin, their gleaming 5-spoked alloy custom wheels of the vehicles are spinning forward as the vehicles slide backwards.
The SUVs come to a stop facing the beautiful female braves. One of the large silver SUVs seems to snort at the braves through its split vertical grille that looks like the nostril cavities on a fleshless human skull. The Pontiac arrowhead logo sits between the two grille segments, and stamped into the vehicle's silver front bumper is its name, "AMAZON." At each side of the front end sat single elliptical headlights that contained three small lamps within each of them.
The frightened horses on which the braves ride whinny as they bolt upright on their hind legs, turn and flee, the glittering SUVs give chase. The wild SUVs chase the female braves back into the golden canyon and they all disappear from sight.
At the canyon mouth at the opposite end of the canyon, it is not the beautiful female Indian braves that exit, but a slow moving herd of Texas longhorns.
The music changes again, the Native American drums are replaced by a quasi-disco beat coupled with sounds of yelping cowboys cattle calls and cracking whips, it sounds like a dance mix of the theme from the television western Rawhide.
The shiny black Cadillac leads the cattle drive. When the cattle and the SUVs cross a wide shallow river, the vainglorious vehicles stop for a moment in the middle of the shallow river, and seem to gaze at their shiny reflections in the mirror like waters.
The steel gray SUV's large square boxy grille has the Oldsmobile logo which is a vertical rocket that sits inside of a vertical rectangle, sitting in its center. On each side of this grille sits large boxy head lights, which are divided into four squares of equal size. As if they were eyes, the headlights seem to notice a young calf that strays from the herd.
The shiny black front tires of the steel gray SUV cuts and spins ferociously sending golden dust flying as it chases the calf. The SUV runs ahead of the calf sliding to a sideways stop in front of it.
At the rear of vehicle, on both driver and passenger sides beneath black tinted rear windows is the word "ETERNITY." A sleek spoiler sat atop the rear of the vehicle above its rear fifth door. Below the darkly tinted rear window of this door is, "OLDSMOBILE" in thick silver lettering.
The SUV guides the young calf back into the herd. As the SUVs drive the cattle, a violent dust storm ensues, and the SUVs disappear behind a think cloak of swirling golden dust.
The haphazard dust storm suddenly seems to become an organized living mass as it transforms into a swarm of locust. The swarm of locust dissipates to reveal the pinky blue hues of a pre dawn sky.
Beneath the sky is the tall thick brush of a jungle. The music changes again, the electrified Rawhide theme music is replaced with electrified Burundi tribal rhythms interspersed with native chants. It is a fast paced, altered version of the theme music that played during the opening credits of the Clark Gable, Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner jungle soap opera, Mogambo.
Bright lights shine between the blades of the tall waving blades of jungle grass; suddenly the brush is aggressively parted by the front end of a glistening metallic silver SUV.
On each end of the SUVs front end were two sets of thin rectangular headlights. The top headlights sat above another identical set of rectangular headlights below. A strip of shiny silver metal separated the top and bottom head lights as it ran across the front face of the vehicle. The metal strip ran through the center of the SUV's grinning black grille. In the middle of the silver strip sat the golden Chevrolet bowtie emblem.
As the Chevy mows through the bush, beneath the driver's side door rear view mirror is a name, it reads, "VALHALLA."
The Chevrolet continues to plow through the bush, at its rear its twin stacks of three circular taillights blaze as it is followed by the other four SUVs. Like pack animals they are loaded with large square packs of supplies which are tied to the roof of each vehicle.
The SUVs trudge slowly through thick and lush green jungle brush. Behind them is a gaggle of glamorous and racially diverse models dressed in khaki safari clothing and wielding hunting rifles. Miss Maxima leads the hunt, her eyes cut slowly and sharply as she cautiously steps through the tall jungle foliage.
There is a rattling in the brush and the glamorous huntresses raise their rifles, the treetops shake and spread, unveiling a gigantic, snarling, ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex that stomps out of the jungle. The T-Rex emits a jungle shaking roar and the beautiful huntresses scatter.
The roaring T-Rex chases after the SUVs, who race through the jungle with the snarling T-Rex on their tails. The racing, hungry T-Rex lowers its huge head and snaps at the SUVs.
The five SUVs then taunt and confuse the T-Rex by encircling him. The SUV cease circling the dizzy T-Rex and they speed across a giant felled tree that spans a deep mountain gorge. The tree trunk whose girth is wider than that of the largest redwood is as wide as a highway. The SUVs traverse the massive dead tree and make it to the other side.
The angry T-Rex stands on the opposite end of the gorge and emits a jungle shaking roar. The SUVs on the other side of the gorge flash their high beam headlights challengingly at the T-Rex. The T-Rex accepts the challenge of the SUVs and then stomps across the wide dead tree trunk.
When the T-Rex is in the center of the tree trunk, the SUVs acting as a team, place their bumpers against the end of the tree on their side of the gorge. The shiny tires of the all wheel drive vehicles spin as they push the tree trunk with the T-Rex atop it off of the ledge, sending it and the roaring T-Rex tumbling into the deep, dark, bottomless gorge.
The SUVs race through the lush jungle. When they come to a wide crystal clear jungle stream they splash into it and spin their rear ends around at a 45 degree angle. This movement throws up a wave of water which splashes the crowd standing nearest the stage. The wet audience isn't angered by their drenching; they cheer and release a thunderous applause.
The SUVs then slowly ride through the center of the stream as if enamored by their beautiful reflections that sparkle in the clear waving waters. Still traveling through the center of the stream the SUVs reach a magnificently beautiful waterfall which they drive straight into and disappear.
The clear sparkling water falls heavily, then turns into a light drizzle revealing a gray sky. The drizzle that falls from this sky pelts the steel and glass skyscrapers of an urban metropolis. At the base of the skyscrapers are configurations of empty highway cloverleaves.
The light rain stops as the music changes again, the Burundi disco beat is gone, replaced with the synthesized hi-NRG rhythm track of the synth pop classic "Blue Monday" by the British band, New Order. This is coupled with the aggressive growling vocals of actor and singer Divine, star of the original film version of "Hairspray." The vocals which can only be described as a cross between a roaring tractor trailer engine and the voice of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" villain, Freddie Kruger, continuously growls out the line, "I'm So Beautiful."
The SUVs sans rooftop packs appear. They are led by the wet black Cadillac as they race through the wet city streets. The water droplets that stand on the shining waxed bodies of the SUVs glitter like sparkling diamonds affixed to precious metal.
With the highway as their playground; the SUVs race across bridges, and roar through the canyons of the downtown metropolis.
As the SUVs pass the gleaming glass facade of an office tower, they abruptly slide to a stop to ogle at their glamorous images reflected in the building's mirror glass. Then the SUVs drive away so very slowly allowing their gleaming reflected images to leisurely slink along the face of the glass building.
Once past the glass tower the wheels of the SUVs screech and spin as they pick up speed and continue to race through the city streets.
They approach a large ornate Renaissance looking cathedral. In the rain slicked street the ghost white SUV spins to a sliding stop in front of the cathedral. Its front end is decorated with large triangular headlights and within these triangles are three small circular lights. The vehicle has an elliptical grille that has the circled Buick tri-shield logo in its center.
The large cathedral doors swing open and a sea of racially diverse bridesmaids, all in flowing white trailing satin gowns and opera gloves exit the church. They cascade down the flight of cathedral steps standing to the sides.
From the center door of the cathedral appears a veiled bride. The veil covers the model's face, then is draped over her shoulders and falls down her back and she is trailed by yards upon yards of flowing white fabric.
Beneath the gossamer bride's veil is the beautiful face of Isadora Maxima. She is dressed in a soft white padded shoulder top and a white mini skirt. Her shapely legs are covered in white hose that go down into stiletto heeled, calf high white boots. In her right hand she brandishes a white whip.
As she rapidly descends the cathedral steps she aggressively throws her hips from side to side. When she reaches the base of the stairs she walks past the Buick's rear 5th door that holds its name "SKYSCRAPER." She unfurls her whip and the vehicles tire's screech as it slowly back away from her.
She cracks the whip at the Buick and it speeds towards her, hits it breaks, cuts it front wheels and does a 360 degree spin to a rocking stop. With her whip Miss Maxima lashes the driver's side door of the Buick and the door opens for her.
Miss Maxima slides into the vehicle, slips behind the steering wheel, the door closes and the vehicle speeds away, followed by the other four SUVs. The bridesmaids descend the steps to throw rice at the SUVs as they speed off.
The bridesmaids step up about one quarter ways up the steps. Then from the doors of the cathedral the safari huntresses exit, they position themselves halfway down the flight of cathedral steps.
Next out of the cathedral doors come the Native American female braves; they stand at the top of the cathedral stairs.
The roaring SUVs return to the cathedral and they all spin into a 90 degree slide and stop in front of the cathedral in a "V" formation with the Caddy at point. Rising slowly out of the Cadillac's truck bed is the model bride, Miss Isadora Maxima.
In simultaneous fluid movement, like those made by the glamorous models on the game show The Price is Right, all the models positioned on the cathedral stairs and Miss Maxima in the Cadillac truck bed cross their legs, throw their arms up and into the air, sweeping their arms through the air with a criss-cross motion. Then they freeze with their upwards and outstretched arms striking a glamorous "Y" pose, signifying the end of performance.
The curtain slowly closes on the colorful panoramic world and the crowd goes wild as their pleased, amazed, and entertained faces release screams and shouts, cheers and whistles, and their clapping hands fill the convention center with thunderous applause.
Nick Thime stands aggressively clapping with a huge pleased smile on his face. He begins to walk away with the dispersing crowd then he looks to his left and to his right and notices that Jo Bascopolous who had been standing right beside him is gone.
Leaving the auto show he scans the crowd for her but she is nowhere in sight. He does notice however the tall handsome mustached man with dark wavy hair, who he had seen clenched in a corner with Miss Maxima prior to the show, now huddled in a dark, half hidden away corner, talking with the lovely journalist, Layna Jade.
The man's face is within kissing distance of Layna Jade's, and with a dreamy look in his half closed eyes Nick can tell he's whispering words of romance to her.
Layna Jade has a stoic, superior, yet amused look on her face, looking straight ahead, not making eye contact with the man.
As Nick Thime passes the Cheetah El Gato platform he sees the two NASCAR drivers Junior Johnson and Wendell O. Scott, and the president of American Motors Woody Erle.
Nick Thime can tell by the facial expressions, body language, and gestures of the racers, that they are engaged in a heated argument with the car company president.
The full moon illuminates a lonely white shield shaped roadway sign. Within the top 1/3 of the sign printed in black is the word "VIRGINIA." This word sits atop a solid black line runs across the sign face from one side to the other. Below this line is "U.S," and below that is a large number "1."
The US highway #1 sign is dwarfed by the giant sign to the right of it that towers over it; it reads "SHEEHY FORD." Below this sign idle automobiles sit quietly on a dark automobile dealership lot.
Behind the cars is the closed and dark new car showroom. Behind the shiny dark shapes of the cars in the showroom, a faint light can be detected coming from one of the offices in the rear.
Inside the office a blonde fifty-ish woman is writing in a ledger. She stops her writing when she hears strange sounds coming from outside. She leaves her office, walks through the dark showroom, opens the showroom door and steps tepidly outside into the lot. Immediately she thinks she sees something move behind the still automobiles at the rear of the lot.
She walks to the back of the lot but sees nothing and turns around and is suddenly bathed in bright lights. She turns away from the light and is struck by more light. She throws a hand over her eyes as she is surrounded by blinding lights.
Captured in the light she tries to run back to the showroom, until the sound of a blaring barrage of multiple car horns stop her. The blaring horns become louder and louder, the woman can no longer take the deafening sounds and places her hands over her ears, still the sound becomes ever louder.
The light is so bright she closes her eyes. The woman opens the mouth on her face flushed with fear and screams, but her screams cannot be heard over the assaulting siren sound of the car horns.
The horns become ever louder, so loud that the windows of all the automobiles on the lot and the glass of the showroom building begin to crack and then suddenly all the glass shatters sending glass flying through the air in all directions.
The woman opens the eyes on her screaming face just long enough to see large splinters and shards of shattered glass violently tumbling and slicing through the night air, coming towards her.
The full moonlight still illuminates the US highway #1 sign, but now all is still and silent at the dark automobile dealership until the thundering "vroom" of multiple automobile engines shakes the night and then fades off into the distance.
© 2010 Rix Roundtree-Harrison