The Cars of Tomorrow
by Rix Roundtree-Harrison
Nick Thime sits at his desk reviewing a map of the trail of destruction left by The Cars Of Tomorrow. His office door opens and in walks Powaqa Nightbird.
“Aqa, it’s late. What are you still doing here?”
“I’ve some work I wanted to finish before I went home. I see that you are still working, maybe you should take a break."
"Yeah, I could use some movie time. My head is swimming in this Bentley Erle murder, TCOT business. But I can't decide if I want to throw “It Came From Outer Space” on the projector or go to the movies and catch “I Married A Monster From Outer Space."
Well before you decide you have a call; Miss Jade is on the line for you."
"Thanks Aqa. Now go home, the work will still be here tomorrow."
Powaqa Nightbird smiles and raises her hand to her brow and gives her boss a two-fingered salute and says, “Goodnight Nikz.”
Nick returns the salute and picks up his phone while still concentrating on the map. "Hello Miss Jade. Did you receive the information regarding the NASCAR racers attempt to stop The Cars Of Tomorrow I had the currier deliver to you? That’s quite a story huh? I’m I back in your good graces now?” Nick becomes quiet for a moment, and then speaks. “What? Yes I have a tux, why? A party? Now? But I, but I…..Well alright if you insist. I'll be ready, see you then."
The spotlight like beam of the street lamps bounces of the surface of the long shiny black Cadillac limousine that pulls up in front of the Nick Of Time office. As Nick steps from his office the limo driver steps from the vehicle and opens the limo door for him.
Inside sits Layna Jade looking movie star glamorous dressed in a strapless silver gown with silver opera gloves. Sitting next to her is FBI Agent Melendez who like Nick is dressed in a black tuxedo.
"Well, well, says Nick Thime, “I didn't know you two had met. Miss Jade, you do get around."
"Miss Jade stopped by the FBI office to see me,” said Agent Melendez. “She told me about this fascinating party, where everyone involved in this T.C.O.T business would be in attendance. She thought that maybe I could learn something important."
Layna Jade flashes her wicked smile. "Being that Agent Melendez is the FBI and working on this case he could crash this private party as he represents the law, but you Mr. Thime would not be allowed in unless you were a guest of one of the invited guest, and that would be me."
"In that case Miss Jade I owe you a grateful thank you," Nick says appreciatively.
"You're welcome," says the smiling journalist.
"So everyone will be here?" asks Nick.
"Yes,” answers the beautiful journalist, “they have nothing else to do. Since the DC police have yet to arrest anyone for Bentley Erle's murder and the FBI is trying to figure out who is behind this Cars Of Tomorrow business, none of the principle players can leave town, except the NASCAR drivers, thanks to your exemplary work, Mr. Thime.”
Nick smiles and nods at the speaking journalist, “So everyone figured that they might as well come to the already scheduled United Auto Workers’ annual AutomoBall, and have a little fun. They all figure this could help keep their spirits up, relieve some stress, and take their minds off of all the horrors that have taken place."
The Cadillac limousine pulls of in front of a large white marble building. The building has a large portico supported by several large white marble Doric pillars. At first glance this building could be the White House until a sign is seen out front that reads "DAUGHTERS of the AMERICAN REVOLUTION."
Sweeping spotlights positioned on the grounds of the DAR building bathes the beautiful building in brilliant white light.
Nikolas Thime, Layna Jade, and Agent Melendez exit the limousine. As they approach the portico they stop and are in awe as they gaze at beautiful gleaming colorful vehicles which have been placed on display there.
Soft portico lights shine down on four glistening, beautiful, futuristic and spellbinding automobiles.
"These cars are beautiful," says Nick. "With their aerodynamic design and the unusually shaped head and taillights, they remind me of Harley Erle's Cars Of Tomorrow, what are they?"
"These," answers Layna Jade “are concept cars from Japanese and Korean automakers. That red one is called the "Optima," the “Sienna” is the gold one. That blue one there is called the "Sentra." And this silver beauty here is my favorite, it’s the Altima, aren’t they stunning?”
The three walk through the wide entrance that leads into the main ballroom. The ballroom is opulent and luxurious with a marble floor, copper colored walls with gold leaf borders, Corinthian columns, a red-carpeted grand staircase that leads up to a balcony that overlooks and orchestra pit where a symphony orchestra in a tiered semi circle is playing.
Behind the orchestra are three large wall screens that have the giant moving images of the craggy faced actor Jack Palance and the beautiful angular faced of actress Joan Fontaine clenched in a romantic embrace.
Suddenly these images are replaced with juxtaposed images of the two being chase in a desert by dark suited men with guns, a silver 4-prop propeller plane, a cache of money, and beautiful but dangerous looking femme fatal also possessing a gun.
In front of the orchestra are three Arab-American women whose heads are adorned with black hajibs encrusted with small glittering jewels. They wear long black floor length gowns that have slits from their hips to the floor to expose a shapely leg in dark nylons, with feet tucked into black stiletto heel pumps.
Each woman stands behind wafer thin keyboards that sit atop clear Plexiglas stands. Their lithe fingers dance over the keys creating a frenetic synthesized electronic sound.
The symphony orchestra accompanying them creates a swirling orchestral sound grounded by the throbbing repetitive pounding of a 4 x 4 disco drumbeat.
To the thunderous assault of this dance music the keyboard playing Muslim women sing, "I have, gottagetaway from-here, au-revoir-my-dear, flight-to-Tangier….aaaaahhhh ah, Tan-gier…. aaaaahhhh ah."
Handsome men in tuxedos have beautiful women in floor sweeping gowns in their arms whirling and twirling them to this synthesized syncopation, across the shiny marble ballroom floor.
Nick Thime and Layna Jade approach the bar where there stands the glamorous gowned model Isadora Maxima, the beautiful Ford heiress Victoria Ford-Erle and her stunning assistant Zola.
"Hello Victoria,” says Layna Jade with an ominous smile, “where's your hubby; don't tell me you've lost him again?
Victoria Ford-Erle does not even acknowledge Layna Jade and continues to gaze at the dancing crowd. But Layna Jade does not let up. “Why don't you send the loyal and faithful Zola to go fetch? She'll find him, won't you Zola dear?"
Just like her employer Zola also ignores Layna Jade. Then Layna Jade turns her attention to Isadora Maxima.
"Miss Max, I see you're sober tonight. At the last party where I saw you, you were throwing up all over everything, and everyone."
Loathing looks come from the faces of all three women as they walk away, which seems to excite Layna Jade. Nick notices Miss Jade’s glow.
"Look at you; you look like a cat ready to swallow several canaries. You are in your element, aren't you?"
"Yes, I'm excited, look around you Mr. Thime, look at all these beautiful people. Just think, among all this beauty money and power, you will find scandal, jealousy, rivalries, lies, deceit, mystery and murder. So many stories; and stories are my business. Yes, I'm in my element, and I love it. Something exciting is going to happen tonight, I can feel it."
Approaching the bar are the NASCAR drivers, Bo Fields, Wendell O. Scott, Junior Johnson, Axel Anderson and Hooker Hood. They are handsomely dressed in black tuxedos but they appear uncomfortable in them, and have bored looks on their faces.
When Layna Jade sees the NASCAR drivers a shocked look appears on her face. "Oh my goodness, look at them Mr. Thime. When they wash off some that grease and dirt and put on real clothes, they actually look like human beings, handsome human beings, I'm impressed."
The smiling Hooker Hood shimmies up next to the journalist, "Does that mean you'll let me take you out for a night on the town darlin'?"
"When hell freezes over!” says Layna Jade. “I said you looked nice in a tux, but that's true of any man. I still wouldn't be seen in public with you."
Nick scans the room and notices that Harley Erle is distracted and looking across the room. Nick follows Harley Erle's gaze and sees that Harley is watching the beautiful woman whom he saw enter his office to have a reading with Powaqa. The woman is tucked discreetly behind a marble pillar with his brother, Lincoln Erle.
The woman and Lincoln Erle are engaged in intense conversation, so intense that Lincoln Erle fails to notice his wife Victoria Ford-Erle approaching him from behind.
Nick cannot hear the words that are exchanged, but the body language tells him all. Victoria Ford-Erle grabs her husband by the arm, she says a few words to the woman and the woman's face is then covered with the unmistakable veil of the insulted.
The woman then says something to the married couple, waves her hand dismissively at them, and walks off in anger.
Nick glances back at Harley Erle whose face is blanketed with displeasure.
“The Erles are into taking over things,” says Layna Jade.
“What?” says Nick Thime. “I’m sorry Miss Jade I was distracted for a moment, what were you saying?”
“I was telling you how the Erles like to go into new ventures. For years Bentley Erle wanted into the salvage industry."
"Salvage, why?" asked Nick with interest.
"Well aside from the fact that the salvage industry is the 16th largest industry in the USA, it would give him access to his own scrap metals that he could recycle for automobile manufacturing."
"Was he successful?"
"When an Erle sets their mind to something they are always successful. He got into the salvage business a few months ago. What a shame he was killed before he could concentrate on it and build it into something."
Layna Jade and Nick approach two of The Geniuses, Dr.’s Stone and Izmaylov engaged in conversation. "I did not think you were into parties Dr. Stone," says Dr. Izmaylov.
"Normally I am not but I've been on every tour Washington DC has to offer and did not feel like another. I must admit the tours were most enlightening and educational. During the Tourmobile night tour I learned about those confusing traffic circles, the burning down of Washington by the British during the war of 1812. I thought about another tour then decided against it and came to this party."
Dr. Graffam is at the bar when she spots Nick and Layna Jade talking with her two colleagues and makes a bee-line towards them.
When she reaches Layna Jade she is greeted with a smile. "Hello Dr. Graffam, are you enjoying the party?"
"I was until you arrived,” said the scientist with hostility, “God how I despise you. Everything was fine until you came along, you wretched bitch!”
The journalist has a stunned and confused look on here face when she responds to the scientist's profane name calling, "Dr. Graffam, I've no idea what you mean."
"Don't lie you bitch, you know exactly what I mean. Since you want to play innocent maybe I should choke the truth out of you."
With her right hand Dr. Graffam grabs the diamond necklace around Layna Jade's lovely neck, twists it and begins to choke the journalist whose flush face is filled with alarm as she grabs at the strong necklace gripping hand of Dr. Graffam.
A shocked Nick Thime grabs the angry scientist by the arm and shouts, "Let go Dr. Graffam! Stop it now!"
Dr. Graffam releases her hold on Layna Jade's necklace allowing the journalist to breathe.
Dr. Graffam breaks free of Nick Thime’s grasp and she angrily walks off.
Layna Jade face registers shock, surprise, and then embarrassment when she realizes all the party guests witnessed her being assaulted by the angry scientist.
"What was that about?” asks Nick Thime.
Layna Jade massages her sore neck, "I assure you Mr. Thime, I have no idea."
"Maybe you wrote something unflattering about her in your magazine."
"No, I haven't. I've never written anything about Harley Erle's Geniuses, ever."
"Well you did something to her, and judging by the strangle hold she put on you whatever it was it must have been major. And she was obviously not at all happy about it."
"No Mr. Thime I’ve never written about Dr. Graffam. But I admit I've written plenty of dirt on the Erle's, matter of fact, I cut my journalistic teeth on them."
"Really, how so?" asks Nick with curiosity.
"When I was in elementary school I wrote my first serious new article and it was about the Erle children. I will never forget it. It began with a big splashy headline. It was so sensational that the Associated Press and CBS, NBC and ABC radio news all picked it up…." Layna Jade's mind travels back in time.
On a busy metropolitan street corner a crowd of people surround a Hispanic newspaper boy who screams out the day’s headline.
"Extra, extra read all about it! Terror Tots Takeover Town!"
A black man holds the newspaper in his hand reading the story on the front page. At the top of the newspaper is the large all capital lettered bold headline, "TERROR TOTS TAKEOVER TOWN!"
Beneath that is a superimposed altered picture of four giant 50 foot tall Erle children, terrorizing the tiny town at their feet.
Little Aurora Erle has a car in each of her giant hands. From the widows of the car are the screaming heads of its terrified passengers.
Little Harley Erle, has his hand wrapped around a church steeple, snapping it off causing rubble to fall to the ground sending horrified citizens running for cover from the falling debris.
Little Woody Erle, is swatting at three bi-planes that circle him, knocking one of them from the air.
Little Lincoln Erle is stamping his giant foot into a park lake creating a giant tsunami that swamps the town and sending townspeople fleeing for their lives.
Beneath the picture is the byline, "A. J. Carter," and the article begins:
DETROIT, Michigan (AP) This past summer the tiny
town of Gainesville Florida was besieged by Woodrow,
Harley, Aurora and Lincoln Erle, offspring of auto
magnate Bentley Erle.
While on summer vacation in Gainesville, the four little
rich children decided that they wanted to add the town
to their toy box. They opened a chain of large modern
mega shopping complexes. They sold goods at prices
so low, and paid salaries so generous none of the other
area retailers could compete, thus effectively driving all
competitors out of business. But that wasn't enough, the
Erle children then opened a chain of automobile service
centers with state of the art equipment and charging low
prices, again squashing all competitors. Now virtually
everyone in Gainesville works at the Erle's chain of mega
grocery stores or their super service stations, thus giving
them an unchallenged monopoly.
With the astronomical profits they’ve made, the little Erle
children bought the Gainesville First National Bank
and they bought up all available property leases and
land. After that, they took over the school system and
decided the school curriculum and what schoolbooks would
be used. They then placed people on the Erle payroll into city
government positions essentially taking over all city services
including trash collection, water and sewage, and the public
library where they decided what books are to be made
available for reading.
Now Gainesville has become a sort of Erle Kingdom
where like serfs during feudalism the people of Gainesville
get the privilege of toiling the land owned by the royal Erles
and they are also burdened with exorbitant taxes. There
is even talk that they will change the name of the town
from Gainesville to "Erleville."
How the poor people of Gainesville didn't know the
reputation of the Erles is a mystery as they were
already terrifying legends. They had a reputation for
taking that which appeals to them as the racing world
can attest to.
Several years ago in a Maryland suburb of Washington
DC, the Erle children were disqualified and banned
for life from go-cart racing for cheating. But, instead
of taking their punishment like sportsmen, the terror tots
vowed that the racing establishment would pay for
humiliating them, and pay they did, as they experienced
first hand the revenge of the terror tots. The terror tots
then proceeded to buy up all the racetracks in the
Mid-Atlantic area. Those track owners that refused to
sell received visits from big burley, dark pinned stripped
suited, panama hat wearing muscle men who convinced
those that didn't want to sell that it would be healthier for
them and their families if they did. Once again the terror
tots held dominion over an entire industry, ruling with
iron fists and reaping all the profits."
An African American hand folds the newspaper. The hand belongs to an attractive thirty-something female.
She is standing by a wooden desk. Around behind her is a blackboard with the alphabet written in perfect penmanship chalk across it. On the classroom walls are drawings obviously created by children.
Sitting at the first wooden is little Layna Jade looking up at the woman with a confused look on her face.
"Alayna,” says the woman, “the Erle family is furious with the school about this piece you wrote; it seems that all of it is untrue. Did you just make this up?"
"No Miss Cannon, I didn't. My cousin told me the story, he heard it from two friends, who heard it from friends and they got it from friends."
"Oh I see, the snowball effect."
"Snowball Miss Cannon?” asked little Alayna.
"Yes, like a snowball rolled in the snow, this story grew and grew with each retelling. It was a monstrous pack of inaccuracies and untruths by the time it got to you. Alayna, one thing that you must always remember, in journalism you never rely simply on what others tell you, you must go out and dig for the truth, checks facts, verify stories, make sure you obtain and tell the unvarnished truth. Now you will have to write a retraction."
"What's a retraction Miss Cannon?" Little Alayna asks innocently.
"Basically, you are going to have to write a piece telling everyone who read this or heard about your story that you were wrong and apologize as you have caused the Erle family a great deal of embarrassment. If you were a real grownup journalist they could sue you for libel."
"What's that Miss Cannon?"
"They would take all of your money from you for the damage you did to their reputation by your story filled with untruths."
Nick Thime gazes at the dancing couples. "Yes Miss Jade, I heard the Erle's race track and Gainesville stories and their versions were totally different from yours."
"That's because theirs was the simple unvarnished truth whereas mine was sensationalized.”
“Sensationalized? That’s an understatement.”
“Like I said I cut my journalistic teeth on the Erles and learned two very important lessons. Do not rely on hearsay, go out and checks your facts, interview people or you end up with egg on your face, not to mention causing the subject of my piece great embarrassment and humiliation. After it was revealed that my story was false I was mortified and never wrote under the name of A. J. Carter again, I altered my name and became simply Layna Jade to distance myself from that article."
"You said you learned two lessons, what was the other one?"
"The other lesson I leaned is that good stories do not need to be embellished upon. A good story with intricate, complicated characters and interesting plot twists is riveting all by itself."
"Yes really. Take that woman there, she is a story."
Nick notices the woman that Layna Jade has pointed out is the same beautiful woman that had a reading with Powaqa.
This time the beautiful woman is standing near the open portico doors talking with Woody Erle. Nick glances across the room and notices Woody’s Erle’s brother Harley watching them intently.
The woman abruptly turns away from Woody Erle who then walks away from her with a dejected look covering his face.
"Who is she?" Nick Thime asks.
"She's Riviera Phish, the Phish Carburetor heiress and ditzy socialite."
"Really?" Asks Nick with surprise in his voice.
"Don't be, you're not her type counselor."
"Really, what type is her type?"
"But she's an heiress."
"That's right, and she wants to keep it that way. She only takes up with men who have their own vast fortune so that she won't have to share hers."
"That doesn't sound like a ditz to me."
"I said she was ditzy, not stupid. Would you like me to introduce you to her?"
"No, I can take care of these things without help." Nick begins to walk in the direction of the heiress.
"You won't get anywhere with her Mr. Thime."
"You don't know my destination Miss Jade."
Nick walks up to the heiress, "Excuse me, Miss Phish?"
The heiress gives Nick a bored annoyed look. "I'm sorry but I don’t wish to dance."
"No Miss Phish, I don’t want a dance, I want you to clear something up for me as you have me a bit confused."
"I have you confused? Do I know you?"
"No, but you do know an associate of mine, Miss Nightbird. But she seems to know you as Riva Salmon."
A veil of fright falls over the face of the carburetor heiress, "W-who are you?"
"I'm Nikolas Thime of Nick Of Time."
Her face displays recognition of the name. "That's the name of the office, where I…."
"Yes, my office"
The heiress grabs Nick by the arm and hurriedly whisks him outside and onto the portico. "Mr. Thime, I must ask a great favor of you."
"What sort of favor Miss Phish?"
"I'm afraid I don't understand."
"I saw you talking with that harpy Layna Jade. Is she a friend of yours?"
"We are acquaintances, why?"
"Please don't tell her that I was at your office seeing a physic. You don't know that woman. That would be perfect fodder for her to plaster on the front cover of that thing she calls a magazine. I could just see the cover it if she found out, "Carburetor heiress talks points and plugs with automotive spirits from the great beyond." She would make me a laughing stock and would enjoy it."
"Don't worry Miss Phish, Miss Nightbird is my employee and she uses my office as her office and your meeting with Miss Nightbird is not only confidential with her, but also with me."
Relief is displayed on the heiress' face. "Thank you Mr. Thime."
"I must say, I've gotten to know Miss Jade a little over the past few days and from what I've seen your fears are justified, she would have a field day with that information."
"I'm glad you understand."
"Miss Phish, may I ask you a few questions about your session with Miss Nightbird?"
"Oh course, Mr. Thime."
"When I returned to the office that night my office……"
"Your office was in shambles, I know, I'm somewhat responsible for that."
"The spirit Miss Nightbird conjured was that of my father. His spirit was in turmoil and he kept warning me of danger."
"What kind of danger?"
"I'm not sure. I went to Miss Nightbird to ask if my lover was true."
"Did Miss Nightbird ascertain if your lover was true or not?"
"No, my father appeared and went berserk and, well, warned me to get away from the man I love."
"Your father repeated the phrase “Salmon fish,” Miss Nightbird took that as just ghostly gibberish equating your fictitious surname Salmon to fish, but..."
"You are very astute Mr. Thime. Yes, my father was actually telling Miss Nightbird that my name wasn't Salmon, but Phish, she thought he was saying "fish" as both are pronounced the same."
"Why did you choose Miss Nightbird for your reading?"
"Well for a while I've had nagging questions about my relationship with this gentleman. The nagging little voice had gotten louder. When I arrived here in DC for the auto show I desperately needed advice so I picked up the phone book and let my fingers do the walking and picked "Nightbird In Flight Psychic Readings," simply because I loved that name."
"So I take it Miss Nightbird is not the first psychic you have seen?"
"Oh no, I have a woman on retainer in New York that I see regularly, and I have one in Monte Carlo, and one in Los Angeles. But I never use my real name with any of them as I do not want reporters or gossip columnist finding out about it as you said, such people would have a field day with and heiress seeing a psychic and it could become quite embarrassing."
"Well as I said, it would be completely unethical of me or my staff to share this info so rest assured we will keep it to ourselves."
At the bar both Forester Fisher and his wife Aurora Erle-Fisher look totally unhappy. Forester Fisher is dressed in a black tuxedo like all the men there, and, so is his wife.
Aurora, obviously inebriated sways a little and is held up by her husband who looks at her with anger in his eyes as she reaches for another drink.
"No Aurora, you've had enough."
"Don't yoooou tell me (hic), whenive had eeenuff you," Aurora slurs. "This, is, a, party and I, intend to parrrr-tay, and, and (hic) en-joy myssself."
"I said no more!" Forester Fisher tries to remove the glass from his wife's hand. "It's bad enough that you embarrass me by coming here dressed like a man, making us look like the top of a gay wedding cake. Then to add insult to injury you get sloppy drunk. I've had enough!"
Again Forester Fisher tries to take the glass of alcohol from his wife and as they struggle for the drink and he slaps her across the face. Aurora's brother Woody Erle witnesses this and rushes to his sister's aide.
Without a word Woody's right fist slams into Forester Fisher's jaw sending him flying backwards over and then behind the bar. Everyone has stopped dancing and watched as Forester Fisher jumps from behind the bar and dives onto Woody Erle and the two begin throwing punches at one another.
Harley Erle runs over and breaks up the fight between his brother and brother-in-law.
"Cut it out you two, this is neither the time nor the place; you're making spectacles of yourselves."
"But Harley,” says Woody, “he hit Aurora, right here in front of everyone."
"What?" say Harley Erle. He then sees the bruise of a slap on his sister's face, then Harley Erles recoils and gives Forester Fisher another right to the jaw, and then they begin trading punches.
Forester Fisher is now trading blows with both Harley and Woody Erle and surprisingly, he is holding his own.
Forester Fisher’s pummeling left and right hooks sends Harley Erle smashing into a table. Fisher then turns and punches Woody Erle sending him flying across the bar.
As Forester Fisher waits for Woody Erle to come at him from the bar, Harley Erle grabs him from behind, spins him around and punches him with a bone cracking right to the jaw.
"Wow, fireworks!" says Agent Melendez watching the fight as he stands on the red-carpeted golden staircase with a plate of hors d’oeuvres in his hand.
Standing on the stairs behind Agent Melendez is the gorgeous NASCAR racer Jo Bascopolous who is luminous in a low cut white satin gown that seems to emit a radiating glow.
Nick and the carburetor heiress hear a crashing sound and a commotion is going on inside the ballroom and walk back inside to investigate.
Victoria Ford-Erle with her husband Lincoln in tow steps in and breaks up the fight between Forester Fisher and the two Erle brothers. "Stop it all of you!” says the Ford heiress, “You should be ashamed of yourselves; this is no way for people of our stature to be behaving, brawling in public like the common ruffians."
The three disheveled men heed their sister-in-law and cease fighting but anger still seethes on their faces.
The music starts again and couples begin to dance. Then the wobbling, inebriated Aurora lifts a full glass into the air and starts shouting at the top of her drunken lungs.
"QUIET! quiet ev-ver-rie bod-dy, quiet!” slurs the drunken woman. “I wanna take this oppa, op-portunity to make a toast (hic). Ah toa, a toast to you, Josiephine Bassscopolousss.”
Aurora Erle-Fisher raises her glass “Josephine, I thank you for killin’ my bastard of a father, now I'm almost finally free to live my life (hic). I say "almost" be-cause I'm still tied to this dddrreck, of a hus-band. Jo, Josie-phine, please do me the great favor of killing him too (hic), then Ican finely be completely free. Here’s to you Josephine Bascopolous."
All eyes turn towards the beautiful Josephine Bascopolous who stands alone on the gilded staircase. Her face has the horrified deer caught in headlights look.
Horrified by the accusation and request of the inebriated Aurora Erle, a humiliated and embarrassed Josephine Bascopolous drops her champagne glass. Her mouth begins to quiver, and her eyes well with water and tears begin to roll down her cheeks. Crying, she runs down the stairs and out of the ballroom as all eyes follow her onto the portico. Nick Thime runs after her.
Nick reaches Jo Bascpolous and takes the distraught woman into his arms.
She places her head into his chest and begins a quaking sob.
"Why did she do that to me Mr. Thime, why? In front of everyone she accused me of murdering her father and was happy about it. Then to make matter worse, she asked me to murder her husband."
Nick removes his handkerchief from the breast pocket and wipes away Josephine's tears. She's drunk Jo, she doesn't know what she was saying. I guarantee that tomorrow she won't even remember any of it."
"But everyone else will. As you know there are some who do wonder if I killed Bentley. His own daughter saying that I did will cause some to now believe that I did do it."
Nick tenderly wipes away Jo’s remaining tears and asks her, “Would you like me to get you a drink?”
“No, but could you get me to my hotel please?”
“I never pictured you for a runner Jo, from what I’ve seen about you, you are strong and deal with adversity head on. Don’t let Aurora Erle’s drunken foolishness send you into hiding, giving credence to her inebriated accusation.”
The large brightly lit black and white movie marquee reads "ATTACK of the 50 FOOT WOMAN." Pulling away from the movie theatre is a large black Cadillac limousine.
In the backseat of the limousine sits an excited Chevy Erle who excitedly talks to the chauffer Mr. Mosaudd through the open glass partition that separates the two.
"Wow, "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" was so cool! I love when she grew to 50 feet tall and broke though the roof of her house, that was so cool! Then she finds her husband and picks him up and crushes him in her hands! That was so cool! Then….."
Chevy abruptly stops his sentence when the limo in which he is riding is suddenly jolted and the chauffer loses control of the automobile. Chevy is thrown about in the back of the vehicle and all is a dark blur when comes the squeal of tires and a loud metal crunching crash.
"Chevy hold on tight!"
"Ahmed!" The young boy cries.
Chevy begins to tumble through the air as the limo flips over and over. When it stops there is silence in the upside down limo.
Chevy crawls out of the broken window and cries out, “Ahmed?” Then bright lights and the roar of engines are behind him. The frightened little boy begins to run but finds himself surrounded. The boy cries out "Ahmed," and then all goes dark.
Back at the AutomoBall Junior Johnson is whispering into the ears of the orchestra conductor. As he walks away the orchestra goes into a swirling pounding dance tune.
In front of the orchestra are the three Arab-American women. This time they are dressed in tight sexy low cut black leotards with black leather motorcycle hats, jackets and boots.
They sit atop a big gleaming black Harley motorcycles and have chains in their hands. The long chains are attached to dog collars that are around the necks of big buffed oiled black, white, brown, Asian, Hispanic and Native American rippled muscle men that are squatted down on the floor and dressed only in black bikini Speedos.
Behind them and the orchestra on the bank of multiple screens are images of beautiful sexy women from all ethnic groups. These women were dressed as police officers, arresting female criminals; they were construction workers building skyscrapers, while on the ground below another woman in overalls worked a jack hammer.
A group of woman dressed in dark pin stripped suits as gangsters are betting money on a dog fight. A football team comprised entirely of women has just defeated the opposing team, who are also entirely comprised of woman.
All the while the leather clad motorcycle mounted Arab-American women sang to a pounding synthesized electronic disco beat, "It's a man's world-try to understand-it's a man's world-we have the best hand."
Junior Johnson and Wendell O. Scott walk up to Isadora Maxima and Zola. The two NASCAR drivers bow at the waist. The two woman nod in the affirmative and then Johnson takes Miss Maxima’s hand as Scott takes the hand of Zola and then sweep them into their arms and onto the dance floor.
Simultaneously all the men in the ballroom sweep a woman into their arms and begin to dance. They rock, spin and jump to the pounding dance tune.
The men pick the women up by their waist and lift them above their heads, making them look like bells or open tulips in their big gowns. The men bring the women down and swing them around.
The women grab a handful of tulle to give themselves freedom of movement. They spin and move towards the men as the men grab their hands and they go down to the floor and slide under, between and through the men’s spread open legs.
The men pull them back through, bring the women to their feet, the men release their hands and the women spin again, this time throwing their arms all the way behind their backs until their hands clap, simultaneously arching their backs and thrusting out their chests.
Nick Thime and Jo Bascopolous walk back in from the portico, “Oh, they look like they are having such fun,” says the female NASCAR racer.
“Why don’t we?” said Nick Thime as he extends his hand to Jo Bascopolous and they join the other dancers.
They all repeat these choreographed movements and when Jo Bascopolous thrust out her chest and throws her arms behind her back someone grabs them and she hears the clink of snapping shut handcuffs and behind her stands homicide Detective Brian Kumnick and a uniformed police officer.
"Loretta Josephine Bascopolous?"
With fear and confusion in her eyes Jo Bascopolous is too stunned to utter a word.
"You are under arrest for the murder of Bentley Erle. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."
The female racer’s pleading eyes look to Nick Thime, "Mr. Thime?"
"Don't worry Jo, I'm coming to the station too, we'll straighten this out."
When Detective Kumnick takes Jo Bascopolous out into the black and white night the uniformed officer places the handcuffed Josephine Bascopolous into the police car.
Then another police vehicles pulls up and a police officer exits and sprints up to Detective Kumnick.
"What's up Rosenblum?"
"We just got a report that there was an accident over at Rock Creek Park."
"So what? Why are you telling me?"
"Because the accident involved the Erle family's limousine. The little Erle boy was in the vehicle."
Harley Erle over hears this as he is approaching the vehicle and panic covers his face.
"My son Chevy in an accident, is he hurt?"
"No sir, he's missing."
Layna Jade who is standing off to the side smiles as she says to herself, “I get strangled by a mad scientist, there’s a brawling family feud, the little Erle boy disappears, and Jo Bascopolous is arrested for murder. I had a feeling that this would be an exciting night. What’s next?”
Next month: The Cars Of Tomorrow cook-up a hot time in the ole town tonight.
© 2010 Rix Roundtree-Harrison