The Cars of Tomorrow
by Rix Roundtree-Harrison
The new morning sun caresses the small three-story business that is sandwiched between a Chinese restaurant and a CVS drug store. At ground level the building possesses a large plate glass window that reflects the pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the street.
The window has stenciled on it in large capital letters the words "NICK OF TIME," and beneath that are also capital lettered words that grow smaller as they cascade down the window: "LAW OFFICE," "PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS," "PSYCHIC READINGS."
To the right of the window is a door, the large black numbers "1600" are etched above it. The Native American woman, Powaqa arrives at the door and inserts a key. Upon entering the office Powaqa instinctively flips the wall light switch, but to her surprise the lights do not come on.
She notices soft light coming from the desk at the rear of the office. It is candlelight emitted by an elaborate candelabra sitting on the desk. She walks towards a closed door at the rear of the office. A frown covers her face as she hears the crunching of glass beneath her feet as she walks. She yells out, "Nikolas Thime!"
From behind that door she gets Nick Thime's faint response. "I'm in the screening room."
She opens that door to find that this room is also dark, except for a faint moving light and faint voices coming from behind another door, slightly ajar, at the rear of this room.
She grabs the door knob and swings open the partially opened door. Nick Thime is bathed by the light emanating from a television screen is lying relaxed on a futon. His face is in need of a shave and he is dressed in a white t-shirt and dark pajama bottoms. He is engrossed with the scene playing out on the television. On the screen actor Edmond O'Brien approaches a man sitting at a desk, and says to him, "I want to report a murder."
"Who was murdered?" The man asks.
"I was." Replies Edmond O'Brien.
From the door an annoyed Powaqa ask, "Nikolas, what's going on? Why are there no lights?"
Nikolas Thime hits the button on a remote and the television that emitted the light and voices is silenced, bringing darkness to the room. Nick Thime goes to a window behind the television and opens the blinds flooding the room with fresh sunlight. Above the window is an oblong cylindrical metal canister that houses a retractable movie projection screen.
To the right of the sidewall the back wall begins; this wall is covered from ceiling to floor with shelving that held stacks and stacks of 8mm metallic movie canisters. Just like the wall to its left, the next sidewall was also covered with shelving that contained movie canisters. In front of this sidewall sat a movie projector that faced the window on the opposite side of the room.
Nick smiles at the woman. "Good morning Aqa."
A perturbed look creases her face. "Is it a good morning Nikolas? If I have to work in darkness it will not be a good morning."
Nick takes Powaqa's arm and guides her out of the screening room, through the dark office, and out to the outer office lit by candle light. He walks over the front of the office and draws the vertical blinds that cover the plate glass window, allowing outside light to enter the room.
An apprehensive smile forms on the lawyer's face. "So Aqa, how are we this morning? Are we a good witch or a bad witch?"
At that Powaqa's face grows dark and angry and the flames on the candles in the candelabra jump three feet high.
Nick's apprehensive smile turns to a look of nervous worry and he says sheepishly and softly, "Ooooookay, bad witch."
Powaqa places her hands on her hips and Nick immediately explains about Strode and his seed pod experiment from the previous night that blew out all the light bulbs, which led to the darkness and adds, "I told Stroddy to clean it up, but he didn't do it."
Still angry, Powaqa asks, "And did you follow up and ask him why he hadn't cleaned up his mess?"
Like a guilty child Nick Thime looks down at the floor, "Um, ah, well…."
"No, course you didn't, you woke up this morning, ignored the darkness and broken glass, and went straight to that television, didn't you?"
"Well, I, ah, um…"
"Nikolas, how am I supposed to work in the dark? And I've got a client coming by this evening for a reading. For a reading darkness adds atmosphere, but this is ridiculous."
Frantically Nick Thime opens the top drawer of Powaqa's desk, reaches into it and pulls out some money.
"Well here is some dough. Why don't you run next door to CVS for me and pick up some light bulbs, please."
At that the flames from the candelabra jump five feet high. Nick looks at the frozen face of Powaqa, "Um ne-ver mind, I'll go and get the light bulbs."
The frozen face of Powaqa turns to annoyance; she snatches the money from Nick's hand.
"I'll get the light bulbs; you go back to your television!" She then presses the button on the intercom on the desk. "Hezikah Strode! I'm going over to CVS to buy some light bulbs, when I get back I had better find you cleaning up this mess! Do I make myself clear?" CLEAN UP THIS MESS, NOW!"
The voice of Strode, small and nervous comes through the intercom, "Y-ye-yes Powaqa, I'm on my way down; I'll start cleaning right now."
With a dark stormy look on her face she whips around and glares at Nick Thime,
"Why couldn’t you do that?"
"Um, well, I, ah…."
Powaqa then storms out of the office grumbling about Nick, movies, television, Strode, experiments, darkness, not getting work done, and having to do everything herself. As she exits the law office Nick yells out, "Aqa, while you're at CVS, pick me up a 5th Avenue candy bar! Will ya, please? Thank you."
The soft illumination of the light bulbs fills the steamy bathroom with a warm glow. From behind the plain white shower curtain the voice of Nick Thime is heard signing, "The carrrrs, of to-mor-row, the carrrrs, of to-mor-row."
The showering Nick, smiling and engrossed in song stops singing when the water abruptly stop falling from the shower head. Annoyed he taps on the shower head. "Hey, what's going on?"
The entire house begins to rumble and shake. Powaqa in her office and Strode in his laboratory stop what they are working on as their faces become lined with concern.
Nick Thime fiddles with the shower faucets until suddenly with incredible force the shower heads shoots off of the pipe like a bullet, and hits Nick in the head almost knocking him unconscious. Then a violent torrent of water shoots from the shower's headless pipe like water from a fire hose. Suddenly the dazed Nick finds himself engulfed in a gigantic ball of churning water.
The giant ball of water in which Nick Thime is encased, spills out of the shower and fills half the steamy bathroom. The rampaging water ball brakes down the bathroom door and spills out into the bedroom.
The furiously flowing water splashes through the bedroom and then breaks down the bedroom door and spills out into the hallway. This giant wave of water begins to splash down the flight of steps.
A running Powaqa has arrived at the base of the steps to see a massive wave of water coming at her with a naked Nick Thime tumbling in its center.
Nick's cheeks are puffed as he tries to hold his breath, no longer able to, his mouth opens taking in water and he begins to drown inside the mobile wave of water.
As if the water could sense that Nick is in danger, the wave of water creates an opening and pulls itself back away from Nick's head allowing his head to protrude outside of the wave. As water spews from Nick's mouth he begins to breathe.
As the churning wave of water descends the stairs Powaqa places her palms together, closes her eyes and begins to whisper a spell. But before she can complete the spell, at the base of the wave a plume of water is created that flows ahead of the main body of water that splashes down the steps and wraps itself around Powaqa's legs and pulls her off her feet and to the floor on her back.
A stunned Powaqa looks up; her eyes grow wide with fright as she witnesses a dripping tsunami like wave of water is towering over her. Her face fills with horror and she screams as the giant wave with Nick encased within it comes crashing down on top of her.
At the base of the stairs, the first floor is now a churning shallow sea in which Nick and Powaqa are trying to swim out of.
Then the surface of the water roils as it pulls itself together and takes on a large human form. It has a head, arms and a torso that sits atop the wave of water. In its watery head are three tiny whirlpools that are obviously two eyes and a mouth.
The water-thing raises its thick watery arms shoulder level, with its large dripping watery hands palms up. It throws its head back, spreads the hole that is its mouth wider and releases a frightening house shaking roar that is part bubbling gurgle, the turbulent sounds of roiling water made when a submarine submerges, and the threatening, challenging growl of a revving muscle car engine.
The whirlpool eyes of the water-thing seem to be fixed in anger as it looks at a splashing Powaqa trying to swim out of the water. Like the elongated arms of the Fantastic Four's Mr. Fantastic, the right arm of the water things quickly extends in Powaqa's direction. The mammoth water hand clutches her by the throat and raises her dripping wet body out of the water.
A male voice shouts "No!" The water-thing rapidly whips its dripping head around and sees Strode descending the stairs from the third floor above. The water-thing's whirlpool eyes take on an expression of fear, and it abruptly drops Powaqa into its churning wave.
The water-thing throws back its head again releases another thundering roar and then collapses with a loud splash back into the wave of water. Then like an outgoing tide the wave of water quickly rushes to the first floor bathroom and kitchen. The watery wave then dives into the large kitchen double sink, the bathroom sink and toilet, flowing upwards into the faucets, downwards into the toilet, vanishing from sight.
Strode rushes to the wet, gasping and coughing Nick and Powaqa, wrapping dry blankets around them both. "Nikolas, Powaqa; are you alright?"
Still coughing they shake their heads in the affirmative. The coughing Nick looks up at the African American scientist. "Strode, what the hell was that?"
"I don't know Nikolas. I didn't do it this time. At least, I don't think I did it. Then again, maybe I did. I don't know."
A concerned Nick turns to Powaqa. "Aqa, you okay?"
"I'm fine Nikolas, but what was that? It tried to kill me. Is it gone? Will it return?"
"I don't know Aqa, but, Strode?"
"I'm on it Nikolas," said the scientist.
The stylized design of the clock on the office wall is that of the sun, it reads 11:00. Powaqa sits at her desk typing a document. The front door bell jingles. Powaqa looks up from her typewriter to see a tall, beautiful blonde woman enter the office.
It is the race car driver Jo Bascopolous, and she wears a look of trouble and worry on her beautiful face. A large round flat black hat decorated with white polka dots looks like a pizza sitting atop her head. On her body she wears a strapless black top, a shiny wide white belt circles her tiny waist, and below that a full pleated black skirt. Powaqa greets the woman with a warm smile.
"May I help you?"
"Yes, I was wondering if Mr. Thime were available?"
"Have you an appointment?"
"No, I'm afraid not. My name is Josephine Bascopolous. I met Mr. Thime at the auto show. I'm hoping that he can help me. Some friends of mine are in serious trouble and need legal help. Not being from the area I did not know where to turn, and then I remembered that Mr. Thime was a lawyer and I came to see if he could help."
Powaqa gives the woman a curious look, and then motions to the sofa. "Please have a seat; I'll see if Mr. Thime is available."
Powaqa steps into Nick's office, and closes the door behind her.
Sunlight sliced by Venetian blinds enters the room through a window that sits to the far left of a white wall; beneath the window are file cabinets.
To the right of the window are bookshelves that cover the entire wall from the ceiling to the floor. These shelves are lined with a multitude of books or various topics such as law, science, politics, religion, history, mythology and film.
Where the right corner of the bookcase ends a back wall begins. This white wall comes to life as an overwhelming plethora of images such as screaming humans, atomic age mutated insects, creatures from the bottom of the sea, flying saucers from outer space and radioactive dinosaurs leaped from the 1950's sci-fi movie posters that cover it. The blazing colours, bold lettering and busy images of posters screamed out titles like, "IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE," "THE DEADLY MANTIS," "WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE," "THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN," and many others.
To the right of the posters is a closed white door; from behind it can be heard muffled voices. To the right of the door the white wall continues and hanging from this wall are three framed licenses to practice law, one to practice in Washington DC, another to practice in Virginia and one to practice in Maryland, all are issued to Nikolas O. Thime. Among the framed licenses is also a framed degree issued to Nikolas O. Thime from Georgetown University's school of law.
To the right of the degree and law licenses is a door slightly ajar that allows a glimpse of the bathroom sink behind it. At the right corner of the bathroom door another sidewall begins, and just like the one opposite it, the entire façade is covered with a bookcase filled with books.
The back of a black leather chair faces the wall on which the framed degree and licenses hang. Draped across the chair back is a dark suit jacket. The chair is tucked beneath a large wooden desk.
On the top of the desk sits the morning edition of the Washington Post newspaper. The newspaper's pages have been turn to the "Metro" section.
Immediately to the desk's left between the desk and the sidewall of books sits a large floor model globe. On the floor at the globe's base there is an expensive pair of men's black leather dress shoes.
A plush black leather sofa faces the front of the desk. The back of the sofa is against a white wall from which hangs two abstract paintings separated by a square clock that sits between them.
To the right of the sofa sits an ornate high backed antique wooden chair, and to the right of the chair is a closed door, this door opens and Powaqa enters the room. She notices the screening room door is slightly ajar and walks up to it.
On the television screen are movie icons Susan Hayward and Gary Cooper both are dressed in western attire; Gary Cooper also has on a gray cowboy hat.
From her leather holster an angry Susan Hayward has pulled a pistol on a calm Gary Cooper, she says to him, "If you want to know where you are or where you're going you come to me. And you can tell that to the others too. You can tell them that without me they're nowhere, without me they're lost, and when you're lost in this country mister you're dead."
Powaqa lightly taps on the screening room door. "Nikz, sorry to disturb you but there's a young woman here to see you, a Josephine Bascopolous, she says she met you at the auto show, there's trouble, and she needs your help."
Nick never takes his eyes off the screen. "Josephine Bascopolous? Auto Show? Oh! Jo!"
Nick jumps up from the futon, bolts into his office, runs to his desk and pulls his shoes from beneath it, and grabs his suit jacket that is draped across the back of his desk chair and puts them on.
Powaqa is standing in the middle of the floor staring at him with a look of disbelief. Nick notices her stare and looks himself over. "What's wrong? Why are you staring at me like that? Do I look alright?"
An amused crooked smile crosses Powaqa's face. "You look fine but you're not complaining, fussing, or swearing."
"And why would I be complaining, fussing, or swearing?"
"Usually when you are interrupted while watching one of your movies, you get annoyed, grumble, complain, and throw a tantrum. This Josephine Bascopolous must be very special."
A grinning Nick Thime fumbles with his tie. "I do not throw tantrums."
Powaqa steps up to Nick and starts adjusting his tie. "Yes you do."
"No I don't. Tell me, did Miss Bascopolous say what the trouble was?"
"Actually she said friends of hers were in trouble."
"Alright then Miz Nightbird, please show her in."
Powaqa steps out into the outer office, and returns to Nick's office with Jo Bascopolous.
Nick Thime sporting a beaming smile walks over to her as she enters and shakes her hand. "Jo, it's wonderful to see you again."
"Thank you for seeing me Mr. Thime."
"My pleasure Jo. My indispensable left and right hand, Miss Nightbird tells me that this isn't a social call."
"No Mr. Thime I wish it was, but I'm afraid it isn't. I have some friends who are in a bit of trouble and are in need of legal help."
"Alright then let's get busy. Miss Nightbird is going to sit in and take notes, I hope you don't mind."
"Oh no, not at all."
"So tell me Jo, what's the nature of this trouble and how can I help?
"Remember my two friends I pointed out to you at the auto show, Junior Johnson and Wendell O. Scott?"
"The famous NASCAR drivers, yes I remember them. Are they in trouble?"
"Yes, they and three other NASCAR drivers, Bo Fields, Axel Anderson, and Hooker Hood are in jail."
Nick's facial expression becomes very hard and serious. "In jail? What on earth for?"
"You don't know this because it's been kept out of the newspapers for now by the auto show promoters, but the news will break by this afternoon's papers."
Stern curiosity blankets Nick's face. "What news?"
"The SUV concept cars from The Cars Of Tomorrow exhibit have been stolen."
The stern curiosity on Nick's face gives way to complete surprise. "What; all five of them?"
"Yes, all five."
Nick brings his right hand to the mouth of his contemplative face. "Hmmm, so your five friends have been arrested in connection with the theft of these automobiles, I take it?"
"Yes, that's right."
"Tell me Jo, do you know what led the police to believe your friends are involved in the theft of these automobiles?"
"No not really, all I know is that through the rumor mill the police say they have concrete evidence that they were involved in their theft."
"Can you think of any reason why these men would want to steal the SUVs?"
"Do you think they were involved in the theft of the SUVs?"
"No I don't."
"Then that's good enough for me."
Surprise comes over Jo Bascopolous' face. "You mean you'll help?"
"I'll see what I can do."
"Oh thank you Mr. Thime."
"Jo, I'll see what I can find out and get back to you, tell me, where are you staying?"
"At the Hilton on 14th street," says Jo as she takes Nick's extended hand and shakes it. "Thank you Mr. Thime, thank you." Jo nods to Powaqa. "And thank you Miss Nightbird."
Powaqa ushers Jo Bascopolous out of the office as Nick Thime walks over to his desk and picks up the Washington Post newspaper. He turns to the Metro section and his eyes jump to the article, "Woodbridge Car Dealer Found Dead. Dealership Vandalized, Cars Stolen."
He then presses down a button on this intercom and speaks, "Stroddy, Aqa, I'm hungry, how's about some lunch?"
Through the intercom Strode responds with, "I can't Nikolas, I'm working on this water-thing mystery."
Powaqa responds with, "I'd like to Nikz, but I've so much work to finish."
Nick smiles slyly to himself and presses the button again and says, "Lunch is on me."
There is a momentary rustle of soft noises, a few seconds of silence, and suddenly Powaqa Nightbird and Hezikah Strode are standing in Nick's office doorway, and in unison say, "We're ready, let's go!"
The street sign reads, "18th" street. Along the street, people rush to and fro, entering various eclectic eateries with names like, "Madame's Organ," "Grill From Ipanema," and "The Diner."
The Diner has a row of tinted plate glass windows below its name. Behind the tinted glass hungry diners consume their lunch. In a center booth about halfway down the right side sit Nick, Powaqa, and Strode eating lunch and engrossed in conversation.
Strode swallows a mouth full of food and continues speaking, "So, based on the water samples I obtained from Powaqa's wet clothing, the water-thing was accidentally created when the surge of electricity passed through my seed incubator and went into the basement's water heater.
"Now Powaqa I must ask you, prior to the appearance of the water-thing did you use any water this morning?"
"Yes, when I arrived at work I turned on the tap and filled the tea kettle to make myself a cup of tea," said the sorceress.
"And this went without incident?" The scientist asks.
The scientist adds, "As for me, when I awoke this morning I showered and shaved and made coffee without incident."
"Does all that mean anything Stroddy?" Nikolas Thime asks.
"I think it does Nikolas. I think it means that the water-creature is not interested in Powaqa or myself."
"Then why did it try to kill me?" Powaqa Nightbird asks.
"I'm not sure it wanted to kill you as much as it wanted to get you out of the way."
"Get me out of the way? Why?"
"It saw you as a threat and a competitor."
"Competitor for what?"
Shock drapes the faces of Nick and Powaqa and they simultaneously drop their forks into their plates, and in unison exclaim out loud, "WHAT!" Their exclamation is so loud all the other diners turn to give them annoyed looks.
Strode continues with his deduction. "I believe the creature is attracted to Nikolas, that's why when the creature realized that Nikolas was drowning within it, it made an opening so that Nikolas could breathe, it did not want to harm him. Then it saw Powaqa come to his aide and was jealous as it saw Powaqa as competition for Nikolas' affections. Then it saw me, recognizing me as its creator, and assumed that since I created it, I would also have the ability to destroy it, so it fled."
With a mischievous smirk Powaqa asks, "So, you accidentally created a gay water creature?"
Strode's normally placid face lights up with shock and insult. "I did not create a homosexual water creature. I would never create a homosexual creature of any kind. Homosexuality is a lifestyle that I do not condone. Also, if you remember my creature did not view me, a male, as a threat for Nikolas' affections, thus it must be a heterosexual female."
With an evil grimace on her lovely face Powaqa asks, "How can you be sure, it didn't have boobies?"
The flustered scientist shouts loudly, "It-it, didn't have a male appendage either Powaqa!"
Again the annoyed diners turn to look at the legal team's table.
Not letting up with her teasing questioning Powaqa continues on, "How can you be sure, he only took human form to his waist."
A flustered and speechless Strode looks like he is about to explode with anger.
Nick Thime's eyes roll in his head. "Um, excuse me you two. Stroddy, water, definition."
Strode gives Nick a curious look, the look turns to one of studiousness and he gives the definition. "Water: A clear, colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid. H2O, essential for most plant and animal life, and the most widely used of all solvents. Freezing point 0 degrees Celsius, 32 degrees Fahrenheit; boiling point 100 degrees Celsius, 212 degrees Fahrenheit; weight per gallon 8.338 pounds, 3.782 kilograms."
"Now," says Nick Thime, "nowhere in that definition was anything said about water having a sex, and do you two know why?" Powaqa and Strode give Nick Thime a blank look, "Because water doesn't have a sex, its water, so enough of this foolishness. I want you two to figure out a way to get rid of this thing. I'm afraid to bathe, wash my face and hands, afraid to get a drink of water, afraid to flush the toilet, lest an amorous water-thing attacks me. Find a way to get rid of it, and quickly."
"But Nikz, I didn't help Strode create it, why do I have to help him get rid of it?"
"Because Aqa, two heads are better than one, and when you two put your heads together there's nothing you can't accomplish.
"Now, this auto theft case we've just been handed." Nick takes out the still folded morning Washington Post newspaper he brought with him, turns several pages and hands it to Strode.
Strode reads it then looks up at Nick Thime. "Mysterious Hardware Store Break-In, Nothing Stolen?"
"No not that article, the one beneath it, the article pertaining to the vandalized automobile dealership."
"You think the auto show auto damage and theft that Miss Bascopolous told you about, and the car dealership death, vandalism, and thefts are connected?"
"I don't know Stroddy, but I find it odd and a little too coincidental that cars were stolen in batches, at two separate locations 30 minutes away from each other, just an hour or so apart, in the middle of the same night.
"Stroddy, I want you and your operatives to pay a visit to the vandalized car dealership on route #1 in Woodbridge and see what you can find out about the death of the woman, the vandalism, and the car theft."
"What do you want me to do Nikz?" The Native American sorceress asks.
"Aqa, how’s about you spending the afternoon at the library. I want you to go through racing and automotive magazines over the past two, three years, particularly the magazine AutoErotic. Get me all you can find on the auto manufacturers Ford, GM, Chrysler, and American Motors. Get me all you can find on NASCAR, the drivers Junior Johnson, Wendell O. Scott, Bo Fields, Axel Anderson, Hooker Hood, and Josephine "Jo" Bascopolous. After that, stop at a newsstand and pick me up the latest issue of AutoErotic will you? I'll meet you both back at the office later."
"Where will you be Nikz?"
"I'm going to the jail to talk to these drivers, then on to the convention center auto show to take a look around."
Two beautiful Monarch butterflies gracefully glide through the destroyed and car-less automobile dealership. They fly over to two men and hover around them. One of the men is a Hispanic male in a dark suit. The other man is an African American man wearing a sport coat covering a stripped shirt and dark slacks. The Hispanic man shakes his head is disbelief.
"Detective Haynes, I just don't understand any of this, do you?"
The African American man also shakes his hand in the negative. "No I don't understand it, that's why we contacted you guys at the FBI for help. The money in the cash vault wasn't touched. Every car that was on this lot is gone, yet the keys to every one of them are still hanging in the showroom office. And all this broken glass, window glass from the missing vehicles mixed with the broken glass of the showroom."
"And it was glass that decapitated that poor woman?" The FBI man asks.
The two butterflies hover around an area of the car lot where on the ground there is a police chalk outline of where a dead body had laid. This outline is unusual because it has no head. The butterflies fly a few feet away and hover around a chalk outline of where the body's head had laid.
Behind the car dealership is a narrow back road that separates the car dealership from an apartment complex. Sitting in the apartment complex parking lot is a nondescript pick-up truck.
Across the base of the truck's long bulbous hood is "CHEVROLET" in small silver metal capital letters. A series of elongated horizontal silver metal slats fall below the name. On each side of the first slat are large round single head lamps. Four more metal slats are beneath that first one and beneath the final slat is the chrome truck bumper.
Inside the vehicle sits Strode; his truck's inside rear view mirror is like a tiny widescreen television screen showing the images of the talking law enforcement officers, the empty and destroyed dealership showroom, the empty car lot strewn with shattered glass, and then close-ups of the chalk outlines of where the woman's body and head had laid.
From his truck radio comes not music, but the conversation that the two law enforcement officers are having.
"Yep, according to forensics the glass fragments found in the flesh of her severed neck was the same as the glass from the shattered dealership windows."
The questioning eyes of the African American detective look to the Hispanic FBI man for answers. "So what do you think? A crazed gang, what?"
"I dunno. I've never seen anything like this."
At a busy street corner a city bus with "GEORGETOWN" brightly displayed in its front destination board window off loads and picks up passengers. As the bus pulls away, a svelte woman dressed all is black is seen from the rear climbing a tall steep flight of flagstone stairs that lead to a Colonial looking building perched atop a hill.
The woman is Powaqa Nightbird and she reaches the top of the hill and approaches the building door that has a plaque affixed the brick wall next to it that reads "GEORGETOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY."
First she goes to the magazine reading area and from the racks pulls every magazine related to the auto industry and auto racing, including AutoErotic. With magazines, personal identification and library card in hand she goes to the magazine circulation desk and ask the librarian seated there for the previous years back issues of these magazines.
After a few minutes she has been provided with all the back issues that she has requested.
At a large wooden table tucked behind tall bookshelves and out of the sight of all in the library, Powaqa has arranged the magazines into separate stacks atop the table and then arranges the stacks in a circular formation.
In her seat she folds her legs beneath her taking the pose of meditation. She then folds her arms across her chest, her hands wrapped around her biceps. She then closes are eyes and her lips move as she silently murmurs an incantation. Suddenly the pages of the magazines at the very top of each stack begin to flutter and then turn rapidly.
Nick stands at the base of a flight of wide cement stairs. On each side of the bottom step are two street lamps with bulbous white globes that have printed on them in large black capital letters, "POLICE." At the top of the stairs the police station has the look of an old inner city schoolhouse.
Nick ascends the stairs and enters the police precinct. Inside police officers are taking handcuffed suspects to jail cells. Officers are interrogating women whose clinging and revealing dress indicates that they practice the world's oldest profession. Other officers try to calm frantic citizens who are seeking missing loved ones.
Nick walks up to a desk of a young freckled faced blonde police officer. The officer has a hard and determined look on his face as he examines some paperwork. The officer looks up and his hard features soften.
"Hey Mr. Thime, long time no see, what's up?"
"Hello Harold, I'm here to see the NASCAR gentleman you have in custody."
"They are in the interrogation room with the detectives Mr. Thime."
At that moment a blonde Caucasian police detective in a crisp white shirt, a loose tie, and black slacks exits the interrogation room and spots Nikolas Thime. "Well well, Mr. Nikolas Thime, what brings you here? And where are your two sidekicks, Dr. Frankenstein and the witch of the west?"
"If you are referring to Doctor Strode and Miss Nightbird, Detective Kumnick, they are out on assignment. I'm here to see Mr.'s Johnson, Scott, Fields, Hood, and Anderson."
"You representin' them?"
"What does that matter to you, you're a homicide detective."
"Yes, that's true, but we are short handed and have an overload of cases, so I thought I'd assist in other areas; if that's alright with you Thime?" Said the police detective in a voice etched with sarcasm.
Nikolas Thime pays no attention to the detective's tone and asks, "What makes you think the NASCAR racers were involved in the disappearance of the concept vehicle?”
“We received an anonymous call from someone who witnessed the drivers breaking in to the convention center,” the police detective answers.
“What are the racers charged with?" Thime asks.
"Breaking and entering, trespassing, destruction of property, arson, assault with a deadly weapon, and grand theft auto," says Detective Kumnick. Then the detective expresses an ominous smile and adds, "We may throw in a few other charges later."
At that Nick's left eyebrow arches. "May I see them please?"
"Yeah, come on." The detective leads Nick to the interrogation room door, where another blonde detective stands waiting. "Todd, Mr. Thime is here for see the racers."
The detective beckons for Nick to enter the interrogation room. Nick grabs and turns the door knob and enters as the other detective leaves the interrogation room.
The interrogation room is stark, bleak, and sparse; a large square wooden table sits in the center of the room ringed by five young handsome men in NASCAR jumpsuits who are seated and arguing. Four of them are Caucasian men, two with blond hair and two with dark hair, one of the dark haired men is Junior Johnson. The fifth man is the African American, Wendell O. Scott who is obviously distressed by his situation.
"Oh Lord I'm in jail, I hope my momma don't find out about this."
"Oh pipe down, its not like you've never been in jail before; hell, we've all been in jail before," Said the young racer with wavy dark hair.
"Yeah but it was foe' small stuff like drinkin', fightin' and runnin' moonshine," says the young man with a blond crew cut.
"Yeah, we all spent a night or two in the county jail for that one. But this is serious real serious, we might get sent to the penitentiary," adds the young NASCAR driver whose stringy blond hair falls into his eyes.
"Penitentiary? Oh Lord we gonna git sent to the 'lectric chair."
The dark haired, round face Junior Johnson says, "Calm down Wendell, we aint gonna git sent to no electric chair."
The five young men look up when Nikolas Thime enters the room and they all give him a curious and cautious, questioning look.
Nick introduces himself to the race car drivers. "Gentlemen I'm Nikolas Thime, I'm an attorney, I've come to help you. Can I get your names?
The dark haired, round faced racer stands, 'Junior Johnson sir, pleased to make yo' acquaintance."
A wiry young man with wild stringy blond hair that falls into his eyes says, "Like, I'm Bo Fields, howdy."
"I'm Wendell Oliver Scott, Mr. Thime," said the African American racer.
The racer with a head full of dark wavy hair and an impertinent look on his face sneers out "Anderson."
And a grinning young man with a blond crew cut shakes Nick Thime's hand, "Hooker Hood daddy-O, race track thrilla' and lady killa'."
Johnson, Scott and Fields all groan at Hood's comment, as Axel Anderson says, "Excuse me while I throw up."
"All right gentleman," said Nick Thime, "your friend Josephine Bascopolous asked me to see about getting you out of this jam that you are in."
Skepticism is etched on the faces of all the men and Junior Johnson speaks. "Lo'retta Josephine Bascopolous asked you to help us?" The NASCAR drivers exchange looks of disbelief.
Nick's left eyebrow arches. "I get the feeling that Miss Bascopolous' request comes as something of a surprise to you."
"It sure as hell does bein' that she hates our guts," said the racer Junior Johnson.
"What makes you think that Miss Bascopolous hates you?" Nick asks.
"I think she took things the wrong way."
"Ya' know, the way we treated her because she wanted to hang out wit us and be one of da boys, but she aint."
Nick's forehead crinkles as determined looks form on his face as he thinks, and looks the men over. "Oh, you mean because she a woman?"
"Yeah, dats it," says Junior Johnson. "Don't git us wrong, we like Lo'retta, for a girl she's all right, but a woman aint got no business bein' on the race track."
"Like, that's right," adds the stringy blond haired Bo Fields. "I mean like it's alright for a girl to drive trick cars and stuff, and be entertainment for the crowds befo' the race starts, ya' know, like rodeo clowns. But racin' with us? Like, naw man, that just aint right."
"So you gentleman don't believe that Miss Bascopolous possesses the skills required to be a good race car driver?"
The men all look at Nick with surprised insult in their eyes, and the crew cut haired Hooker Hood speaks, "No sir daddy-O, we didn't say that. No matter how we feel about her, that gal can drive an auto-mo-bile."
"So she's good?"
"Good? Listen Mister, what did you say your name was?" The wavy dark haired Axel Anderson asks.
"Thime, Nikolas Thime."
"Listen Mr. Thime, if it's got wheels on it, that gal can drive the hell out of it."
"Lord have mercy,” says Wendell O. Scott, “you don't wonna be behind her, cause you will be eatin' nothin' but dust."
Bo Fields adds, "And like, if you is unlucky enuff to be behind her, like you only gonna be behind her for a few seconds, cause dat girl will be gon', you hear me? Gon'."
"Mr. Thime," says Junior Johnson, "let me tell you 'bout what Lo'retta did when she was a little bitty girl down in Carolina. He turns to his fellow drivers and asks, "Did you guys ever hear dat story?" The other four NSACAR drivers all shake their heads in the negative. "Well her daddy was a C-119 Boxcar flier in the U.S Coast Guard and he was stationed down in 'Lizbeth City. When Lo'retta was 'bout eight or nine years old, her daddy took her to work with him one day."
Junior Johnson's telling of this story is so vivid it begins to unfold in the mind's eyes of Nick Thime and the other NASCAR drivers.
From a sky filled with tall thick clouds, a flock of seagulls peer down on a wide still river. On the river's edge there are piers and docks where several 44 foot search and rescue motor boats with U.S Coast Guard emblems painted on them are anchored.
Near the docks is a boat house and beyond the boat house across the field there is a configuration of airfield runways. Beyond the runways are two large airplane hangers. Between the hangers and towering over them sits the circular airfield control tower.
Standing outside of one of the large open hangers doors are three people. One is a handsome hatless Asian man in a short sleeve shirt, and dark dress slacks. Military ribbons that sit above the left pocket adorn his dress shirt. The other is a tall handsome Caucasian U.S. Coast Guard Captain with his piss cutter on his head and wearing a leather flight jacket that has officer's bars affixed to its shoulders.
He is holding the hand of a little girl in braided blonde pig tales with small ribbons at their ends. She has on a plaid dress, white socks and shiny black patten leather shoes.
The smiling Caucasian male is having a conversation with the Asian man. "Yeah Sammy, I'm off today, me and 'lil bit here came by to pick up my paycheck and to catch up with Chief Garrish, I wanna ask him if I can borrow his E-3 Paul Pritcher."
The little girl notices a strange tall and boxy vehicle exiting the runway. Like a car, the strange vehicle has two tires, one on each side of its front end. But at the rear of this strange contraption is one single wheel and above this wheel sits a large boxy square in which sits the vehicles engine. On top of the engine box is a single exhaust pipe spewing black smoke. In front of the box that contains the engine is another boxy shape that is the vehicle's windowed cab. Beneath the vehicle and between the front and rear wheel are several rotating disk covered with bristles that are sweeping debris off the runway.
The little girl points to the strange contraption with curiosity and excitement. "Daddy what's that?"
The man momentarily stops his conversation to answer the girl. "That's a runway sweeper darlin'."
"What's it for daddy?"
"It sweeps trash off the runway and keeps them clean so that the airplanes can take off and land safely."
The sweeper exits the runway and comes to rest on the airfield tarmac. A young dark haired Caucasian male in black ball cap and dark Coast Guardsman's work overalls jumps from the vehicle. He spies the talking officers and greets them with a respectful salute, "Mornin' Cap'n B, mornin' Mr. Suumi."
Both officers return the salute and speak in unison, "Good morning Terry Webb."
Coast Guardsman Terry Webb walks into the hanger leaving the runway sweeper unattended and its door open.
Little Loretta Bascopolous who has broken from her father's grip looks at the vehicle with an innocent child's curiosity. She slowly and cautiously walks over to the sweeper.
Loretta turns to see if her father is watching her, and he isn't. Loretta quietly climbs the small ladder that leads into the cab of the vehicle. Once inside she sits in the driver's seat and adjusts it to fit her height.
She then places the little index finger of her right hand to her mouth and studies the machine's controls. She then hits the vehicle's starter switch with the index finger of her left. The sweeper whirs to a loud, rattling, smoke spitting start.
Loretta garbs the steering wheel with her left hand and grabs the gear controls with her right. Her little foot mashes the gas petal and the runway sweeper lurches forward.
Loretta smiles to herself, please that she has figured out how to operate the large machine. She mashes down on the gas pedal and makes it go faster; soon she is speeding off the tarmac and down a runway.
The Coast Guardsman, Terry Webb comes frantically running out of the hanger yelling, "The sweeper, the sweeper, somebody has stolen my sweeper!"
Captain Bascopolous turns to look for his daughter, "Loretta?" He doesn't see her anywhere and then looks at the careening sweeper that sped by him and sees his daughter at the controls and yells, "LORETTA!"
From the cab of the sweeper Loretta Bascopolous can see the flailing arms of her father, but she cannot hear his screams over the loud rattling thunder of the sweeper's engine. Smiling, she waves to her father, "Look daddy, I'm driving the sweeper!"
Captain Bascopolous, Mr. Suumi, and Terry Webb chase the usurped sweeper on foot. Every time they get near the sweeper little Loretta quickly cuts the wheels and gets away from the men or cuts the wheel as if to run them over. With the three men either jumping at the sweeper and missing it and falling to the ground or fleeing it, so as not be run over, they resemble the silent movie era's klutzy Keystone Cops.
In the circular control tower two white male and one black female Air Traffic Controllers notice the commotion on the field and grab binoculars. "Hey, what's going on down there?" The female asks.
"I don't know. It looks like three guys chasing a runaway runway sweeper," Says one of the males.
The tower radio crackles, "Tower this is C-G-1-4-0-9 requesting permission to land, over."
The other male in the control tower peers down at the commotion on the ground, "I don't know what's going on down there but they need to get off the runway. We've got a C-82 coming in for a landing."
The female air traffic controller gets on the telephone, as the male takes to the radio and speaks to the incoming plane, "C-G-1-4-0-9, this is tower, please circle airfield, obstacles in runway, attempting to clear, over."
Up in the sky is a silver twin propeller engine, twin-boom aircraft that looks just like the aircraft used in the Jimmy Stewart film, "The Flight of the Phoenix". Inside, at the airplanes controls are the African American co-pilot and the Caucasian pilot, who speaks into the radio mike, "Copy that tower, will circle, over and out."
In the control tower the tower radio suddenly and unexpectedly crackles again, "Emergency, emergency. Tower this is C-G-3-1-1-6, I have one engine down, second engine operable, but questionable, request permission for emergency landing, over."
"This is tower, copy that C-G-3-1-1-6, please circle airfield, obstacles in runway, attempting to clear, over."
Navigating through large slowly sailing clouds is another silver aircraft, a large wide bodied, twin propeller engine flying boxcar. It limps through the heavens on one engine as the propeller engine on the aircraft's right wing is not functioning. At its controls are its Asian-American co-pilot and Native American pilot, who speaks to the control tower. "We copy tower, but situation grave, second engine beginning to malfunction, over."
"Copy that C-G-3-1-1-6; continue holding pattern, runway stabilization in progress, over and out."
Again the tower radio crackles, this time with a female voice, "C-G-1-9-7-7 to Elizabeth City control tower, this is Lieutenant Mary Jane Doster, requesting permission to land, over."
The male air traffic controller gets on the radio, "Lieutenant, this is tower. We are having a little bit of trouble, obstacles on runway, attempting to clear, please circle airfield, over."
Streaking through the sky is small, lean and mean looking aircraft. This plane has a vicious dangerous look about it due to the menacing tiger's eyes and snarling teeth that are painted behind the propeller on the aircraft's nose. Beneath the fighter plane's glass hatch sits a helmeted woman flying the aircraft. "Copy that tower, but I am almost out of fuel, by my estimations I've less than ten minutes of fuel remaining, over."
A Hispanic Coast Guard officer enters the control tower. "What's going on out there?"
The African American woman puts down the telephone receiver and responds, "A little girl has taken control of the runway sweeper sir. She is erratically navigating it about the runways, making it difficult to grant incoming aircraft permission to land. Two of the aircraft request emergency landing as one is having engine trouble and the other is almost out of fuel."
"Jeez, when it rains it pours," says the officer. "Dispatch the MPs to gain control of the runway sweeper and get it off the runway."
"Yes sir," replies the female air traffic controller.
A military jeep containing a black, and a white military policeman, speeds away from MP headquarters. The jeep roars across the airfield towards the pilfered sweeper. They pull up beside the sweeper matching it in speed.
One MP says to the other, "Skeeter, you hold the jeep steady and keep pace with the sweeper and I'll jump onto the thing." But as the MP attempts to jump onto the sweeper, Loretta cuts the wheel, sending the sweeper lurching away from the military jeep. The MP dives into thin air and comes crashing to the ground.
The MP in the jeep then attempts to cut off the sweeper by pulling the jeep in front of the sweeper's path. Loretta Bascopolous slows the vehicle down as her father, Mr. Suumi, and Terry Webb approach it on foot. As the three men are about to jump upon the vehicle Loretta cuts the wheel and steps on the gas. The vehicle's turning radius is so tight that it practically spins like a top in place, thus not allowing the three men to jump aboard. The sweeper leaves the runway and speeds across the grassy field with the three men on foot and the MP's in the jeep giving chase.
Up in the air the large and limping flying boxcar's second propeller engine sputters and spews flame and black smoke as the propeller ceases whirling. The plane's nose points downward and it begins it's descent from the sky.
The now frantic but in control Native American pilot takes to the radio, "Tower this is C-G-3-1-1-6, second engine has failed, we will attempt crash landing, suggest you clear the area. I'm gonna see if I can ditch this thing in the river. Please dispatch S&R for assist."
In the fighter plane the woman looks at her fuel gage which now reads "empty". Her plane's propeller stops spinning and the engine goes silent. She snatches up her radio mike and speaks into it. "Tower this is C-G-1-9-7-7, fuel tanks empty, will attempt crash landing, suggest you clear area."
On the ground, emergency sirens howl as running Coast Guardsmen commandeer a fire fighting vehicle that screeches off into the airfield to save the life of the crashing fighter plane pilot.
Simultaneously, double timing Coast Guardsmen in life vest race to and man the 44 foot Search and Rescue boat and speed off into the river to be at the ready to save those in crashing flying boxcar.
Looking up in the sky, the S&R team sees the smoking twin engine flying boxcar falling from the heavens becoming parallel with the river.
Then from out of a large cloud formation, the illustrated fighter plane which has run out of fuel appears, it is descending rapidly in a crash dive.
The speeding jeep is on the sweeper's tail until again Loretta Bascopolous quickly jerks the steering wheel. The fast moving jeep is faked by Loretta's quick turn and zooms pass the sweeper at high speed, bolting down the dock, striking fuel drums, careens out of control, and drives off the pier becoming airborne over the river.
With the out of control jeep entering the airspace over the river, the jeep and the two crashing planes and the S&R boat in the river are on a collision course with one another. But over the still river a miraculous display of runaway vehicle choreography occurs.
In the river is the speeding 44 foot Search and Rescue boat. The occupants of the boat look up and their eyes are wide with horror and they scream with fear as they are cast in the shadow of the wide underbelly of the mammoth flying boxcar that is just a few feet over their heads.
The pilot and co-pilot of the flying boxcar scream out when an airborne military jeep streaks pass their plane's front cockpit window, within inches of touching it. The MPs in the jeep scream out as the driver is looking to his left and into the cockpit window and clearly see the horrified faces of the flying boxcar's crew. The MP in the passenger seat is screaming as he looks up to see the still propeller and then the wing of the fuel less fighter plane just inches above his head.
The female fighter plane pilot screams as she looks down and sees an airborne jeep just a yard beneath her and the smoke spewing flying boxcar beneath it.
Just barely missing each other the occupants of all the vehicles are screaming simultaneously. In the air traffic control tower the three air traffic controller and the Coast Guard Officer viewing this with wide eyed horror on their faces are screaming too.
Mercifully missed by the flying boxcar the crew of the 44 foot S&R boat screams again as the flying boxcar clears them they see the undercarriage of the airborne MP jeep coming down on them. The screaming crew of the S&R boat, leap from the boat and dive into the river just before the jeep lands on the boat smashing and sinking it into the river waters
The smoking flying boxcar touches down in the river, skimming along the river's surface on its belly, eventually coming to a stop in the middle of the river.
The pilot of the crashing fighter plane has a look of determination on her face as she spies a strip of runway that seems to be unobstructed and attempts to veer the plane towards it.
The airfield fire truck is racing in the direction of the fighter plane, and then from out of nowhere appears little Loretta Bascopolous in the runway sweeper.
The driver of the fire truck quickly jerks the steering wheel of the vehicle in order to miss the sweeper, putting the fire truck in the path of the crashing fighter plane. The fighter plane's body just misses the top of the fire truck but unfortunately its extended landing gear does not.
The fighter planes landing gear is snapped off by the impact with the fire truck, the impact also flips the fire truck over causing it to tumble sideways along the grassy field.
Loretta's father yells, "Hit the deck!" As the crashing fighter plane barely misses the top of the sweeper, the three men on foot chasing the sweeper dive to the ground. As the fighter plane passes over them it hits the ground landing on its belly. The fighter plane slides through the grassy field, and then slides off the field and in the direction of the PX parking lot.
In the PX parking lot shoppers see the fighter plane sliding in their direction with blinding speed. Shoppers fling provision filled grocery bags into the air and abandon grocery filed shopping carts as they flee the parking lot screaming.
Skidding on its underbelly; the fighter plane slides across the parking lot and straight into the PX's large plate glass front window. The fighter plane crashes through the supermarket window tearing off its wings and smashing into the cash registers in the front of the store. When it comes to a stop its nose is covered with the large the store sign, "HOT WINGS 12 for $1.00," which had been posted on the now shattered storefront window.
In the river, the Search and Rescue seaman in life vest, and the two MPs splash in the river waters as their vehicles sink. The airman of the flying boxcar have exited the slowly sinking floating plane and climbed onto its roof.
The unhurt officer of the fighter plane pops the hatch of her aircraft and jumps from the plane. She looks in awe at the damage around her and then runs out into the PX parking lot to join the PX shoppers who along with the men atop the flying boxcar, the S&R team and MPs who have swam to the river bank, and the staff of the control tower, who are all watching a runway sweeper run circles around three man on foot and another MP jeep that has been dispatched to stop it head in the direction of the airbase's main gate.
In the control tower the eyes of the Coast Guard officer roll up into his head, his body goes limp and he faints to the floor with a thud.
Up in the sky circling the airbase, the crew of the silver twin propeller engine, twin-boom aircraft that had first requested permission to land has witnessed the pandemonium that has taken place on the airfield below.
The black co-pilot and white pilot exchanged worried glances and the pilot picks up his radio mike, "Tower this is C-G-1-4-0-9, belay my request for permission to land. Have decided we'd rather land at Norfolk, over and out."
He looks to his co-pilot, "Let's get the hell away from here." The silver twin engine plane quickly gains altitude and streaks off into the clouds away from the Coast Guard air base.
For a moment Nick Thime and the racers are speechless. Nick finally finds words, "What a story."
"But it aint over yet Mr. Thime," says Junior Johnson. In Junior Johnson's mind's eye the story continues to unfold.
As the runway sweeper piloted by Loretta Bascopolous approaches the Coast Guard airbase's front gate, MPs run from the guard house waving their arms trying to get Loretta to halt the vehicle. Loretta waves to the MPs as she crashes through the front gate with the MP jeep in pursuit. The sweeper leaves base and heads out onto the highway marked by the sign, "US Highway 17".
Loretta exits the highway and then drives the sweeper across farmland possessing a crop of large leafy vegetation that is close to the ground. A farmer sitting on his tractor watches in disbelief as the sweeper's rotating circular brushes grind his crops to mulch and fling the mangled vegetation along with a dark cloud of soil from beneath the vehicle.
The MP jeep remains on the highway going around the farm in the attempt to catch Loretta on the other side. On the opposite side of the farm Loretta bring the sweeper to another roadway where there is located a U-Tote-M convenience store.
Loretta pulls the sweeper into the convenience store parking lot and parks next to a black '41 Dodge police cruiser that has single round headlights that sit on each side of a large horizontally slatted metal grill. Loretta jumps from the sweeper and says to herself, "That was fun." Loretta peers into the police vehicle and spots the keys still in the ignition. She looks into the plate glass window of the convenience store and sees the African American police officer who belongs to the Dodge police car grinning flirtatiously at the attractive Asian American cashier.
Loretta taps on the store's plate glass window and waves to the officer and says, "Good morning Deputy Cobbs, is it okay for me to drive your police car for a little while?"
Having no idea what Loretta is saying on the other side of the glass the officer smiles and waves back at Loretta and continues flirting with the young female cashier. Then out of the corner of his eye his sees his police cruiser pull away, driven by Loretta Bascopolous. He runs out of the store screaming, "Loretta you bring that police car back here! Loretta, come back here!" With rear tires spinning and spitting gravel Loretta speeds off in the police car.
The deputy runs back into the convenience store, "Alice I need to use your phone to call the station."
As Loretta speeds down the highway in the police car's rearview mirror she sees the law enforcement vehicle marked "Sheriff" pull up behind her, followed by the Coast Guard MP jeep.
Barreling down the highway Loretta passes a sign that reads, "Welcome To The Great Dismal Swamp." Loretta views the sign with concern, fear, and alarm, "The swamp! I don't like the swamp, it's spooky in there."
Loretta quickly jerks the steering wheel spinning the police car into a sliding, squealing 90 degree angle in the center of the road. The sheriff's police car behind Loretta is moving at incredible speed. He hits his breaks but realizes he is moving too fast, so to avoid hitting Loretta in the side he quickly swerves his vehicle over into the right shoulder of the road and screeches pass Loretta. With the Sheriff squealing down the right shoulder and Loretta spinning in the center of the road in front of them, the fast moving MPs have nowhere to go except to the left.
The MP hits the breaks but loses control of the speeding vehicle. The careening jeep slides to the left shoulder, hits the ditch and flies into the swamp. The two MPs are thrown from the airborne jeep which smashes into a massive swamp tree, bounces off the tree, and lands with a splash in the swamp. The black swamp water bubbles and gurgles as the upside down jeep slowly sinks up to its wheel wells into the dark swamp waters.
The two soaked but unhurt MPs walk out of the swamp and onto the roadway to see Loretta straighten up her vehicle and speed back into the direction from which she came. The sheriff turns his vehicle around and roars after her.
The police radio in the car Loretta has pilfered crackles to life, "Loretta honey, this is Sheriff Crawford, be a good girl and stop the vehicle, please darlin'?"
Loretta picks up the radio's mike and speaks into it. "Sheriff please let me drive the police car a little while, I won't hurt it, I promise. Remember that time you were at Miss Annie's house? You let me drive your car around in her yard, you said I was a good driver, remember?"
At the sheriff's office a Native American policewoman dispatcher and two male police officers, one Caucasian and one African American sit listening to radio exchange between the Sheriff and Loretta Bascopolous.
The African American officer releases an "Uh oh," as the female dispatcher's face fills with fury, she speaks angrily into the radio. "Fred Crawford, what were you doing at that hussy Annie Blizzard's house, and when was this?"
The sheriff comes over the radio, "I, I, I can't remember Talibah honey, it was some time ago."
Loretta Bascopolous comes on the radio to clarify, "Uh uh sheriff, it was last Saturday, at lunch time when Miss Annie was babysitting me."
"Last Saturday," screams the dispatcher, "you told me you were out busting up a moonshine still last Saturday! Why you no good lying...."
"Oh yeah honey, I remember now. I was on my way to bust up the still, but I got a call from Miss Annie saying that she thought there was a stranger, maybe a burglar trespassing on her property and wanted me to check it out."
"Gosh sheriff you can't remember anything," says Loretta on the radio. "There wasn't a burglar, remember? Miss Annie asked you to come fix something in her house. You told me to go outside and play while you fixed whatever it was. I asked you could I drive your sheriff's car. You told me I could drive it but I had to promise that wouldn't tell anybody I saw you, remember?"
"Loretta, would you please be quiet and stop the car darlin’. Talibah, Talibah honey, you got it all wrong baby, let me explain…Talibah?"
A male voice comes on the radio. "Um, your wife is gone sheriff, but she wrote you a note, I'll read it to you, it says, "I have gone home to throw out all your shi…ah, Loretta are you listening?"
"Well I'll skip that word. It's about your things sheriff, Talibah's note says, "I'm throwing your things out into the street, and then I'm changing the locks on the doors because I don't ever want to see your sorry assssssaaaah......butt, again you lying, cheating, no good sack of shi….." Loretta, are you still listening?"
"Okay, I'll skip that word.….."So you and Annie can go to straight to hel.."
Alarmed, Loretta Bascopolous comes across the radio, "I'm still listening deputy Willis."
"Sorry Loretta, I'll skip that word. That's the entire note sheriff. What do you want me to do?"
"What do I want you to do? I want you and Deputy Pridgen to get your dumb asses in squad cars and help me catch this little girl!"
"Sheriff, your language, a little girl is listening," says the deputy.
"And I heard it," said Loretta Bascopolous.
"Willis, Pridgen, get out here now!"
"We're comin' sheriff."
As the two police deputies take to their cars, Loretta's father Captain Bascopolous passes them and enters the now empty Sheriff's office.
In the center of town a frantic middle aged Caucasian man whose hands are tied and bound behind his back, comes yelling out of a building marked, "Elizabeth City First National Bank." "Help, help, the bank has been robbed!"
One police vehicle speeds past the screaming man while the Caucasian deputy brings his police car to a screeching halt in front of the man. "Deputy the bank was robbed by two men, one white one Hispanic, they took off in a white late model Ford."
Loretta Bascopolous who is speeding down country roads still has the sheriff on her tail, picks up the radio mike. "Sheriff, how do I turn on the police car siren?"
"Loretta honey, leave the siren alone and stop the car, please."
"Never mind sheriff, I figured it out."
The siren of Loretta's police car begins to wail, bringing a large smile to her face. The smile turns to a look of determination as her foot presses down harder on the gas pedal, roaring away, leaving the sheriff in the dust as if he were standing still.
The Native American sheriff's mouth falls open in disbelief and he picks up his radio mike, "Goddamn! That gal is shakin' the trees and rakin' the leaves. Willis, Pridgen, get over to Swamp Road and 17, I'll meet you there; I've got an idea."
After the Sheriff's radio transmission ends, suddenly, Loretta's father comes across the radio, "Loretta this is daddy, you've had the police car long enough, its time to give it back."
"No buts, do as I say Loretta Josephine Bascopolous or you will get a spanking like you've never had before in your life."
"Yes daddy," says the little girl reluctantly.
A white Ford sedan speeds down the highway; inside are a Hispanic man and a Caucasian man driving the vehicle. "Robbin' that bank was a cakewalk Ernesto."
Then the bank robbers hear the unmistakable sound of a police car siren. They look behind them to see a fast approaching black police car with its siren blasting coming up behind them.
The driver steps on the gas hoping to outrun the oncoming police car to no avail. They pull out their pistols to be ready for a shootout; but to their surprise the police car not only catches up with them, but passes them.
As the vehicle passes them they look inside it to see a little girl in braided pigtails behind the wheel. Loretta looks over at them, smiles and waves. The two bank robbers have looks of incomprehension on their faces as they timidly wave back.
"Did we see what I thought we saw?" The Hispanic bank robber asks.
Loretta is miles ahead of the bank robbers when her police car radio crackles again,
"Calling all cars, calling all cars, the First National Bank of Elizabeth City has been robbed. Suspects, a Caucasian male and Hispanic male escaped in late model white Ford sedan. Suspects are armed and dangerous, approach with caution. That is all."
Realization dawns on Loretta's little face, "Hey! I saw the bank robbers, I passed them!" Loretta quickly and deliberately cuts the wheel of the black Dodge police car, with tires squealing it does a 180 degree spin, faces the direction from which it came, and burning rubber it rockets down the road in the direction of the bank robbers.
The bank robbers see the police vehicle containing Loretta heading straight for them. "Holy geez, she's gonna ram us." The driver hits the brakes and does a 180 spin and barrels down the highway with Loretta in the siren screaming police car in hot pursuit.
As the two speeding vehicles pass a narrow country road a North Carolina State Trooper car squeals out of that country road with siren blasting. The Arab-American trooper gets on his radio, "This is Trooper Rakkim. I'm in pursuit of the bank robbers and that wild little girl. Both are heading southbound on US 17 in the direction of Elizabeth City."
Further ahead of Loretta and the bank robbers, the sheriff and the two deputies have set up a road block with the two deputy vehicles in the center of the road with their front ends touching. "Who is this roadblock set up to catch sheriff, the bank robbers or Loretta?"
"I don't give a damn, if we catch one, then we can all focus our resources on catching the other one."
To their surprise the car approaching the road block is not Loretta but the bank robbers, Loretta is right on their bumper and the State Trooper is on her bumper. The bank robbers smash through the road block knocking the deputy vehicles aside, Loretta and the Trooper are in hot pursuit.
The bank robbers tear through Elizabeth City unable to shake Loretta Bascopolous. Pedestrians scream and flee as the bank robbers run traffic stop lights and drive up on the sidewalks trying to escape Loretta Bascopolous and the Trooper.
Loretta rams the bank robber's vehicle with the police car, causing them to lose control of their vehicle which leaves the street, roars into the city park, bounces off a small pedestrian bridge that crosses a canal and flies through the air and crashes through the front plate glass window of the Sheriff's office on the opposite side of the small park.
Loretta's father is there waiting as she pulls the police car up in front of the station with a screeching stop.
The State Trooper, the Sheriff and the deputies arrive and pull the dazed bank robbers from their automobile and cuff them. Loretta Bascopolous springs from the police car, runs to the waiting arms of her father, and bounces into his arms with a huge smile on her face, "Daddy, daddy, I caught the bank robbers!"
"Lord have mercy," says Wendell O. Scott, "she was a wild thing when she was a youngin'"
Nick Thime has an amused look on his face when he asks, "So young Miss Bascopolous was responsible for the destruction of two planes, a boat, two jeeps, the airbase PX, a fire truck, a farmer's crops, the sheriff's office, and a marriage. What happened to her? How much trouble did she get into for her little.... excursions?"
"Well," says Junior Johnson, "bein' as 'evrbody stationed at the airbase and practically the whole town banked at 'Lizbeth City First National, it was their money that had all been stolen, but since Loretta was responsible for catchin' the bank robbers, no charges were brought 'gainst her and all parties involved decided to forget the whole matter."
The NASCAR drivers notice Nick trying to suppress the slight smile forming on his face.
"Aw go on and laugh Mr. Thime," Say Axel Anderson, "you know that story was funny as hell."
Nick Thime smiles and says, "She was, "shakin' the trees and rakin' the leaves." No longer able to suppress it and with tears welling in his eyes, Nick begins to laugh out loud, joined by the NASCAR drivers, who all burst in raucous laughter.
After they have all finished laughing Junior Johnson adds; "After that, to keep Lo'retta out of trouble her daddy got her into racin' go carts. Then she went from go carts to dirt tracks, then from there to stock cars.
"Then her momma and daddy sent her off to Paris France for more schoolin' and to make her more ladylike. In Paris France she started racin' again and won several races, so's I heard. Then bout fo' years ago she come back from Paris France all growed up, filled out, and prettier than a movie star. But she won't the same, she had changed, she was all stuck up and snooty. I seen her at the Richmond Raceway signin' up foe a race, I spoke to her, she looked at me like I was a stranger, and she told me and 'erbody to stop callin' her "Lo'retta" and call her "Jo" and walked off.
With a quizzical look on his face Nick Thime says to the drivers, "So if you gentlemen think that Miss Bascopolous is a good driver and you obviously have a high opinion of her, I take it you don't want her to race with you just because she's a girl?"
"That, and she won't give us no play," says Hooker Hood.
They notice the arching of Nick's left eyebrow and Bo Fields answers Nick Thime's unasked question. "Like we done all asked her for a date once or twice but she always shoots us down. She wonts to race wit us but acts like she's too good to go out wit any of us, so we shut her out. If she wonts to be part of our team, she's got to give a little, if you know what I mean?"
"I see," says Nick Thime. "That's all very interesting, but obviously Miss Bascopolous does not dislike you, because she did indeed come to me and ask me to help you. She called you all her "friends."
"That Jo is alright even if she is a female," says Junior Johnson.
"Well bless her heart," says Wendell O. Scott, "are you going to help us Mr. Thime?" He asks.
"I'll do my best."
Relief is displayed on the face of the five men as Nick offers his hand, which they all shake.
Thank you daddy-O," Hooker Hood says, "we thought by now the po-lice would have done realized that we didn't have nothin' to do wit the fire at the convention center or the stolen cars, but we done been booked, fingerprinted and charged and we is really startin' to get worried."
"You say you had nothing to do with the theft of the SUVs?"
"No we didn't," said Anderson.
"Then why do the police think that you do?"
The men give each other guilty looks. "We did make a mistake…or two," said Wendell O. Scott.
"What do you mean, "a mistake or two”?
"We kindda wanted to take the SUVs for a little test drive," says Junior Johnson.
Skepticism blankets Nick's face. "Go on."
"We didn't really ask anybody if we could," said Wendell O. Scott.
Nick's left eyebrow arches. The racers read his face, and Junior Johnson continues.
"Well, after the auto show me and Wendell went to this party given by GM at this bar
"The Brewery" or sumpin' like that, near that swanky train station, Union Station. Axel,
Bo, and Hooker was already there cause they had come to DC to see the auto show too.
"Man, like they had every kindda beer in da world," said Bo Fields.
"And we tested all of 'em daddy-O, and got a 'lil tipsy," adds Hooker Hood.
"Hell, I didn't get tipsy, I got drunk," says the dark haired Axel Anderson proudly.
"Whatever," said Junior Johnson, "then we started talkin' 'bout them SUVs and how fascinatin' they was and how we’d love to get behind the wheel of one of 'em. So we decided to go back to the convention center to take a test drive. But the convention center was closed."
"So how did you get in?" Nikolas Thime asks.
"Well," says Bo Fields, "like we noticed that one of da stairwell windows on the second flo' was open. We climbed the tree next to the stairwell and crawled in through the window."
"That explains the breaking and entering and trespassing charge," Said Nick Thime, "Go on, but how about just one of you telling the story."
"I'll tell it daddy-O," says Hooker Hood.
"Oh no, let me tell it cause he talks like he drives, slow," said Axel Anderson.
"Like why should you tell it Yankee?" Bo Fields asks.
"Because,” said Axel Anderson, “I'm the only one of this bunch who can speak English. And what's with the name calling? You southern boys just can't get over the fact that you got your butts kicks by us Yankee boys during the Civil War."
"There was no such thing as the Civil Wa', it was the Wa' of Northern Aggression," said Junior Johnson.
Axel Anderson shakes his head negatively, "It was the Civil War and it was to abolish slavery."
"It wasn't about slavery, it was about states rights," said Hooker Hood.
"Yeah, the states wanted to hold on to their rights to own slaves," said Wendell O. Scott.
An annoyed frown crosses Nick Thime's face. "Gentleman I'm not here to re-fight the, the, War Between the States; I'm here because you all are in serious trouble. So can we stick to the issues at hand? Mr. Anderson, please tell me what happened that night at the convention center."
"Well we spotted those SUV beauties sitting on their platforms, the spotlights were still shining on them, making them look like priceless jewels. We all took a fancy to that Caddy though."
As Axel Anderson tells the story the race car drivers relive it in their heads. They all stood mesmerized staring at the gleaming black Cadillac. "Man, aint she the most b-u-t-ful thing you ever seen?"
"Damn she's gorgeous," says Junior Johnson, "she looks like a sparklin' black diamond."
"Like I just gotta git behind the wheel of dat," said Bo Fields.
"Uh-uh, I saw her first," said Axel Anderson.
"Oh Lord, I just gotta drive that, me first," said Wendell O. Scott.
The young racers run towards the Cadillac. Wendell O. Scott's hand is the first at the Cadillac's door and is about to grab the door handle until one of the other racers grabs him and pulls him to the floor. Then they all began to pull each other to the floor creating a pile of NASCAR drivers on the floor laughing and struggling and holding one another down to keep each other from getting to the Cadillac first.
"Hey man git offa me," says the laughing Wendell O. Scott.
"Ouch, like you kicked me; you're as mean as a snake," said the chuckling Bo Fields.
"Your momma," says the also laughing Axel Anderson.
"Why you always got to talk ‘bout somebody's momma?" The laughing Junior
"'Specially his momma," adds Hooker Hood, "that woman makes the best bar-b-que spare ribs, so good they'll make you smack yo' own momma."
Somehow Axel Anderson who was at the bottom of the pile reaches the Caddy, he pulls at the door handle to open it but hears a "click" and the door to the Cadillac is locked.
They all have a surprised look on their faces. Junior Johnson places his face next to darkly tinted driver's side window and tries to peer inside the vehicle. "Damn this glass is so dark you caint see inside." He starts to slap on the window. "Hey, who dat in there? Open up, we know you is in there."
"Hey daddy-O, maybe who ever is in there is scared of us;” says Hooker Hood. “Maybe they think we come to steal the cars or hurt 'em.". He stands in front of the Caddy and waves his arms. "Hey in there, we're friends, open up."
"Hell, like there is fo' mo' cars, let's try one of dem," said Bo Fields. He sprints to the ring containing the Oldsmobile and Buick, and as he is about to touch the door handle of the Olds but he hears the locking click. Flummoxed, he turns and looks at the others, "It locked."
Then the racers run towards the Buick, Chevy and Pontiac, but before they can even get to them they hear the now familiar click of locking automobile doors.
They stand perplexed as Axel Anderson studies the automobiles. "Maybe it's some kind of anti-theft device that can sense when some unauthorized person is about the take the car and it locks itself."
"Like Mr. Erle said they was "smart cars," adds Bo Fields.
"Well," said Axel Anderson, "that was a bust, I need a drink, lets go."
"Damn, we didn't even git to sit in the seats of dem babies, I....” Hooker Hood's sentence is cut short when he hears the low growl of an automobile engine coming out of the darkness ahead of them.
"Did you guys hear that?" Wendell O. Scott asks.
"Yeah, someone else is definitely here, and they done started up a car," says Junior Johnson.
They walk towards the sound and are stopped in their track when what seems like three sets of subtle eyes peer at them from the darkness ahead. As the eyes get nearer the drivers can see that they are the automobile parking lights of the '59 Chrysler 300, the '59 Corvette, and the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado.
They stand frozen for a moment until the engines of the automobiles roar with the ferocity of lions and the vehicles charge at them as if they were bulls in an arena. The five men take off running through the convention center with the three cars in hot pursuit.
Hooker Hood and Bo Fields are being chased by the Corvette. Hooker Hood dives onto the platform containing a shiny black Lincoln Town Car, while Bo Fields jumps onto the hood of a Mercedes.
Missing them the Corvette smashes into a tall obelisk advertising MERCURY. The glass and metal obelisk is smashed to pieces sending Wendell O. Scott who is running from the Plymouth ducking the flying debris of the obelisk.
Hooker Hood and Bo Fields attempt to run out of the showroom, but the Chrysler 300 sniffs out Hooker Hood and is quickly on his heels. Bo Fields looks behind him to see the Corvette charging at him.
Hood and Fields run towards each other with the vehicles right behind them. The two men race to each other and when their bodies are about to make contact, Hood bolts to the left and Fields to the right. The speeding oncoming cars cannot turn as quickly and smash into each other in a crunching head on collision, sending automobile metal and glass debris flying into the air.
Junior Johnson and Axel Anderson are hiding in the darkness behind a large partition advertising Porsche.
Flashing on its high beam headlights and turning it front end from left to right causing the rays of light to sweep the darkness. Then like a large winged bat, the Cadillac Eldorado stalks the wide aisles hunting for the men.
The high beams strike the two men who flee from behind the partition and race towards the Volkswagen display. The Eldorado roars after them. As they run down an aisle with show cars on both sides of it, the Eldorado is almost on top of them and they can feel the heat of the high beams on their backs.
They split up and Axel Anderson dives into the bed of a Ford truck and Junior Johnson dives through the open window of a Volkswagen. The Eldorado hits its brakes and slides into 160 degree stop, its rear fins strikes an electrically lighted obelisk advertising Volkswagen.
The obelisk falls over, smashes into the carpet of an auto platform causing sparks to spurt from the exposed wiring. These sparks ignite the carpet beneath it and a fire is started.
The frightened young men spot the wide opening that leads to the wide convention center concourse and run towards the exit. The Cadillac Eldorado seems to have anticipated their move and is speeding towards the exit.
With the Caddy on their heels, in one fluid movement the racers Scott, Hooker and Fields jump to the sides. Johnson and Anderson, realizing they are about to be run down run towards the Datsun automobiles on display. In non stop movement they jump on the platform, then jump on the hood of a Datsun, then jump again grabbing the low hanging DATSUN banner that hangs from the high ceiling, hauling up their legs under them the Eldorado misses them.
The Eldorado focuses on Bo Fields and is barreling down on him. As Bo Fields runs he turns and looks behind him to see the Cadillac's steel bumper with its protruding torpedo like bumper guards within touching distance of his heels.
When it looks like the Eldorado will mow him down, from the ceiling swoops down Wendell O. Scott swinging through air on a rope attached to a steel beam in the ceiling. Like a swashbuckling Errol Flynn he scoops up Bo Fields out of the path of the ferocious Cadillac Eldorado and swings across the showroom. Wendell O. Scott releases his grip on the rope and he and Bo Fields come to a rolling landing on a second floor balcony.
The speeding Eldorado hits its breaks but is moving to rapidly to stop, and its tires squeal as it slides out of the showroom. It turns its front wheels as it seems to notice that it is sliding straight into a shining Dodge pick up truck. But the abrupt turning of the front wheels coupled with the car's excessive speed, sends it into a tumbling repetitive sideways flip out of the showroom. It smashes through the ceiling to floor plate glass windows and continues its tumbling flip out into the concourse.
As the automobile continues its bouncing sideways flips down the wide concourse it flips and tumbles with such force that its hood pops open and dislodges from the vehicle as does the passenger side door, breaking glass and bits of metal fly from the tumbling automobile.
The Cadillac continues to tumble right down the double wide stairway that has escalators on each side of them, and tumbles down to the base of the stairs crashing and coming to rest upside down into the model car concession stand that was at the base of the stairs. Its wheels still revolving as one of its twisted headlights shoots a beam of light up to the ceiling.
The five race car drivers come running into the concourse. They stop running but have built up so much momentum that they slide to a stop on the shiny concourse floor.
They look down the stairway and witness flames sprout from the underbelly of the Caddy and they look to their left and see the build up of smoke and flame in the showroom they have exited.
"Oh Lord we in trouble now!" The frightened Wendell O. Scott said.
With signs of worry all over his face Junior Johnson says to his peers, "C'mon, c'mon, let's get outta here. The po-lice and the fire department will be here soon and we better not be here when they git here."
The five racers run into the darkness and disappear.
"And that's exactly what happened Mr. Thime, I swear," said Axel Anderson.
"Then what did you do?" The attorney asked.
"We went back the way we got in and left the convention center. A few hours later the police come knockin' on our hotel room doors tellin' us we were under arrest for breaking and entering, trespassing, arson, destruction of property, assault with a deadly weapon, and auto theft."
"To be honest," said Junior Johnson, "the breakin' and entering and trespassin' we'll have to accept cause we did, but Mr. Thime I swear we didn't damage no cars or anything in that buildin', we didn't start no fires and when we left them SUVs was still there. Someone was inside of 'em and locked the doors to keep us out; whoever stole them SUVs was already there befo' we got there. And someone was driving them other cars and they tried to run us down and kill us."
"What about this assault with a deadly weapon charge? What's the story with that?"
"Well," says Axel Anderson, "I guess that ties into the possible murder charge."
"Murder," Nikolas Thime asked with surprise in his voice, "why would you be charge with murder?"
"Well," Axel Anderson says, "you know I told you that the Cadillac Eldorado crash landed on the model car concession stand?"
"Well what we didn't know at the time was that a night security guard heard the racket created when whoever was driving the Corvette, Chrysler, and Cadillac and was trying to kill us, and came to investigate. The security guard just happened to be standing at that concession stand when the Caddy came tumbling down the stairway."
A serious and worried look comes over Nick's face. "And the car not only landed on top of the concession stand but the security guard as well?"
The five men hang their heads and shamefully nod in agreement.
"Well, that explains the assault with a deadly weapon charge."
"Yes sir. The guard is in critical condition in the hospital…."
"But if he dies from his injuries you all could be charged with murder?" Nick Thime adds.
"Yes sir," says Junior Johnson.
Nick Thime releases a long whistle and rubs his chin.
Frantic worry blankets Wendell O. Scott's face. "Oh Lord Jesus, I told you, we gonna git the 'lectric chair."
"What do you think Mr. Thime?" Axel Anderson asks. "Can you get us out of this jam? Will you take our case?"
"Yes gentleman I'll take your case. As for getting you "out of this jam," I'll do my best. But first let's see about getting you guys out on bail, then I need to go check a few things out."
"Thank you Mr. Thime," Said the five racers in unison.
Bo Fields looks at his fellow racers, "Like wait a minute fellas, what about that Corvette?"
"What about the Corvette?" Nick Thime asks.
"Nothin' daddy-O, nothin', don't pay Bo no never mind, he's crazy," said Hooker Hood.
"I aint crazy, like, I know what I seen and you all seen it too," said Fields frantically.
"We didn't see nothin', we was too busy runnin'," said Junior Johnson.
Bo Fields is unable to complete his sentence as Axel Anderson says, "Shut up Bo! You aiming to get sent to the crazy house?"
Nick looks at the men suspiciously, "What's going on? What are you not telling me?"
The NASCAR drivers all look down at the floor. A no nonsense look blankets Nick Thime's face as he says to the racers sternly, "Spill it gentleman!"
Nervously Bo Fields speaks. "Well Mr. Thime, like, it was dark in the convention center and the windows was up on the Caddy and Chrysler so we couldn't see who was drivin' 'em, but the Corvette was a convertible so we could see into the driver's seat."
"So you could see who was driving the Corvette? Tell me Mr. Fields, who did you see driving it?"
"That's just it Mr. Thime, like, there wont nobody drivin' it."
Next Month in The Cars Of Tomorrow: We Are Family
© 2010 Rix Roundtree-Harrison