EXT. AIRFIELD – DAY
We are moving through a small airfield full of parked light
planes. There are no people around. We move through the cluster of
planes towards a hangar on the edge of the field.
INT. HANGAR – DAY
We are still moving through light planes, but now we are inside
the hangar. Some of the planes have their engine covers open,
parts strewn around. Others are partially covered with tarps or
have sections missing. There is even a sleek executive jet parked
in one corner.
As we float past the planes we notice a woman leaning against the
wing of a Piper Cub, her chest against the wings trailing edge,
her arms spread out to each side, as though flying herself. As we
get closer we see that her jacket is pulled open to expose one of
her breasts, which rests on the metal of the wing.
CLOSEUP – Breast on metal.
CLOSEUP – Hard nipple and rivets.
CLOSEUP – WOMAN – CATHERINE
Early thirties, dark, short hair, stylish executive clothes. Her
eyes are wide open but unfocussed. A hand grips her shoulder from
behind. We follow the hand down behind Catherine and discover a
man crouched behind her, kissing her back.
Catherine is standing on a low mechanic’s platform and her skirt
has been raised and hooked over the wing’s flap. She wears garters
and stockings but no panties.
The man, handsome, cruel-looking, rises up behind her, enters her,
kisses her neck. Catherine half closes her eyes. She rotates her
pelvis gently against his thrusting.
EXT. FILM STUDIO – DAY
We are floating towards the modest gates of a small film studio –
the sign above the gates says “CineTerra” in Art Deco script
INT. FILM STUDIO – DAY
We now float through a film set on which a commercial for a min-
van is being shot. Lights are being reset, the van polished for a
beauty tracking shot.
We pick up an Assistant Director as he strides through the action,
looking for someone.
I’m looking for James. Has anybody seen
James Ballard? You know who I mean? The
producer of this epic?
A Dolly Grip with very close-cropped hair looks up from a section
of dolly track which he is adjusting with small wooden wedges.
I think I saw him in the camera
INT. FILM STUDIO – CAMERA ROOM – DAY
We float towards the door marked “Camera Dept.” Inside the room we
find a young woman, a Camera Assistant, wearing a T-shirt and
heavy woolen socks and work boots and nothing else. She is draped
across a table strewn with camera parts, stomach down, head
resting on a black, crackle-finish camera magazine, her legs
Camera parts and cases, tripods, changing bags everywhere.
A man is behind her, kissing the backs of her thighs.
We hear the sound of the Assistant Director approaching with
deliberately heavy footsteps. The Assistant Director pauses just
outside the door.
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (O.S.)
James? James, are you in there? Could we
please get your stamp of approval on our
little tracking shot?
The man, James, looks up from the woman’s thighs.
Of course. Be there in a minute.
The Camera Girl twists around onto her back and throws her legs
over James’s shoulders.
It’ll take more than a minute.
EXT. BALLARD APT. BALCONY – NIGHT
Catherine stands at the railing of the balcony of the Ballard
apartment, which overlooks a busy expressway near the airport. Her
arms are spread wide as they were in the airplane hangar, only
now, it is James, her husband, standing, who is behind her. They
are both half-naked, and he is inside her.
Their sex-making is disconnected, passionless, as though it would
disappear if they noticed it. An urgent, uninterrupted flow of
cars streams below them.
Where were you?
In the private aircraft hangar. Anybody
could have walked in.
Did you come?
No. What about your camera girl? Did she
We were interrupted. I had to go back to
Catherine turns towards James and pulls open her blouse, exposing
her left breast. She pulls James’s face down and presses her
nipple against his cheek.
What can I do about Karen? How can I
arrange to have her seduce me? She
desperately needs a conquest.
I’ve been thinking about that, about you
INT. DEPARTMENT STORE – LINGERIE – DAY
James lingers amongst racks of nightdresses outside a change
cubicle. Monitored by a bored, seen-it-all middle-aged saleslady,
James glances now and then through the curtains to watch Karen
help Catherine try on underwear.
Karen, Catherine’s secretary, a moody, unsmiling girl, is
methodically involved in the soft technology of Catherine’s
breasts and the brassieres designed to show them off.
Karen touches Catherine with peculiar caresses, tapping her
lightly with the tips of her fingers, first upon the shoulders
along the pink grooves left by her underwear, then across her
back, where the metal clasps of her brassiere have left a
medallion of impressed skin, and finally to the elastic-patterned
grooves beneath Catherine’s breasts themselves.
Catherine stands through this in a trance-like state, gabbling to
herself in a low voice, as the tip of Karen’s right forefinger
surreptitiously touches her nipple.
INT. UNDERGROUND PARKING LOT – DAY
James sits in the car beside his wife. She watches as his fingers
move across the control panel, switching on the ignition, the
direction indicator, selecting the drive lever, fastening his seat
As the car moves off, James puts his free hand between Catherine’s
INT. FILM STUDIO – JAMES’S OFFICE – NIGHT
James studies storyboards for an automotive battery commercial
which are spread out over a broad architects’ table. He makes
notes on each panel of the boards with a sharp pencil.
As we move around him, we reveal his secretary Renata sitting and
watching him intently from the vantage point of her corner chair,
her hand poised to write down anything he might say in a small,
From her point of view, we watch James from behind as he works.
Every movement he makes – bending over to correct a panel,
manipulating the pencil, touching the sharp point of the pencil to
his lip, straightening up again – provokes a different tiny
response from Renata, so attuned to him is she.
But he says nothing to her, and she remains poised and vigilant.
EXT. FILM STUDIO PARKING LOT – NIGHT
James settles into his car – a boring American four-door sedan –
running through his control-panel routine like a pilot before
driving off. This time his routine ends with the switching on of
the windshield wipers because it has begun to rain heavily.
EXT. RAINSWEPT ROAD – NIGHT
Driving home from the studio, James hits a deep puddle at 60 miles
an hour and suddenly finds himself heading into the oncoming lane.
The car hits the central reservation with a thump and the offside
tire explodes and spins off its rim.
INT. JAMES’S CAR – NIGHT
In the car, James fights desperately for control.
EXT. RAIN-SWEPT ROAD – NIGHT
The car hurtles across the reservation and, bouncing and slamming
down on its suspension, heads up the high-speed exit ramp. Three
sedans are barreling down the ramp right towards James.
INT. JAMES’S CAR – NIGHT
James pumps the brakes and saws away inexpertly at the wheel. He
manages to avoid the first two cars, but the third he strikes
At the moment of impact, the man in the passenger seat of the
other car is propelled like a Ha stress from the barrel of a
circus cannon through his own windshield and then partially
through the windshield of James’s car.
The propelled man’s blood spatters James’s face and chest, his
body coming to rest half inside James’s car, its head dangling
down into the dark recess of the passenger footwell.
James’s chest hits the steering wheel, his knees crush into the
instrument panel, his forehead hits the upper windshield frame. As
these things happen, James is vaguely conscious of the same things
happening to the woman driving the other car, as though she is a
bizarre mirror image.
Slammed back into their seats after the initial impact, James and
the woman look at each other through the shattered windshields,
neither able to move. The woman, handsome and intelligent-looking,
supported by her seat belt, stares at James in a curiously formal
way, as if unsure what has brought them together.
Out of the corner of his eye, James can see the hand of the dead
passenger, now his passenger, caught on the dashboard and lying
palm upwards only a few inches away from him. James squints as he
tries to focus on a huge blood-blister, pumped up by the man’s
dying circulation, which has a distinct triton shape.
James shifts his focus to the hood ornament of his car, twisted up
into the cold mercury-vapor glare of the roadway lights but still
intact. It is the same triton imprinted on the palm of the dead
passenger, the car manufacturer’s logo.
EXT. RAINSWEPT ROAD – NIGHT
Traffic is beginning to back up behind the accident and a growing
circle of spectators, some of them pedestrians, some drivers who
have left their own cars, begins to form.
The more adventurous members of the crowd paw hesitantly at the
seized doors of the two cars, afraid to really yank them open in
case the violence of that act might trigger some further unnamed
INT. JAMES’ S CAR – NIGHT
Numbly watching James as she fumbles to undo her seatbelt, the
woman in the other crashed car inadvertently jerks open her blouse
and exposes her breast to James, its inner curve marked by a dark,
strap-like bruise made by her seatbelt.
In the strange, desperate privacy of this moment, the breast’s
erect nipple seems somehow, impossibly, a deliberate provocation.
INT. HOSPITAL – DAY
We are close on a face having makeup applied to it. It is a very
pale, blotchy face, and the makeup is smoothing it, making it
appear healthy and even slightly tanned. There are also some crude
black stitches in this face, and we realize that it is James’s
face, and that it is Catherine who is applying the makeup with a
very serious demeanor.
James’s legs are up in a sling, drainage tubes coming from both
knees. Wounds on his chest: broken skin around the lower edge of
the sternum, where the horn boss had been driven upwards by the
collapsing engine compartment; a semicircular bruise, a marbled
rainbow running from one nipple to the other; stitches in the
laceration across the scalp, a second hairline an inch below the
original. Unshaven face and fretting hands.
Catherine is dressed more for a smart lunch with an airline
executive than to visit her husband in hospital.
There, that’s better.
James examines himself in her hand-mirror, staring at his pale,
mannequin-like face, trying to read its lines.
Catherine looks around her as she puts her makeup away. There are
twenty-three other beds in the briskly efficient new ward, all of
Not a lot of action here.
They consider this to be the airport
hospital. This ward is reserved for air-
crash victims. The beds are kept waiting.
If I groundloop during my flying lesson on
Saturday you might wake up and find me
next to you.
I’ll listen for you buzzing over.
Catherine crosses her legs and tries to light a cigarette with a
heavy, mechanically complex lighter with which she is obviously
(referring to the lighter)
Is that a gift from Wendel? It has an
aeronautical feel to it.
Yes. From Wendel. To celebrate, the
license approval for our air-charter firm.
I forgot to tell you.
Catherine finally succeeds in lighting the cigarette. She takes a
deep drag. James props himself up on his elbow, breathing with
That’s going well, then.
You’re getting out of bed tomorrow. They
want you to walk.
James gestures for the cigarette. Catherine puts the warm tip,
stained with pink lipstick, into his mouth.
The other man, the dead man, his wife is a
doctor – Dr. Helen Remington. She’s here,
somewhere. As a patient, of course. Maybe
you’ll find her in the hallways tomorrow
on your walk.
And her husband? What was he?
He was a chemical engineer with a food
A dark-haired student female Nurse comes into the ward. She wags a
finger at James.
No smoking, please.
As Catherine retrieves the cigarette from James and stubs it out
in a glass, the nurse examines Catherine’s glamorous figure, her
expensive suit, her jewelry.
Are you this gentleman’s wife? Mrs.
You can stay for this, then.
The nurse pulls the bedclothes back and digs the urine bottle from
between his legs. She checks the level and, satisfied, drops it
back, flips over the sheets again.
Both Catherine and James watch her closely, her sly thighs under
her gingham, the movement of her breasts as she bends to check the
chart at the foot of the bed, the pulse in her throat. The nurse
catches them watching her, smiles enigmatically back at them, and
Catherine pulls out a manila folder from her bag and slips a set
of storyboards for a commercial out of it.
Aida telephoned to say how sorry she was,
but could you look at the storyboards
again, she’s made a number of changes.
James waves the folder away. Catherine examines his body, aloofly
Where’s the car?
Outside in the visitors, car park.
What!? They brought the car here?
My car, not yours. Yours is a complete
wreck. The police dragged it to the pound
behind the station.
Have you seen it?
The sergeant asked me to identify it. He
didn’t believe you’d gotten out alive.
It’s about time.
After being bombarded endlessly by road-
safety propaganda, it’s almost a relief to
have found myself in-an actual accident.
INT. HOSPITAL HALLWAYS – NIGHT
James is taking his walk through the hallways, trundling his IV
stand along with him like an awkward pet.
A white-coated doctor – Vaughan – steps into the ward from a room
at the end of the hall. He is bare-cheated under his white coat.
His strong hands carry a briefcase filled with photographs which
he pauses to shuffle through as though checking a map.
As James approaches this new visitor, Vaughan’s pock-marked jaws
chomp on a piece of gum, creating the Impression that he might be
hawking obscene pictures around the wards, pornographic X-ray
plates and blacklisted urinalyses. He sports copious scar tissue
around his forehead and mouth, rumpled and puckered as though
residues from some terrifying act of violence.
Vaughan looks James up and down, taking in every detail of his
injuries with evident interest.
Vaughan shuffles his photos again. James manages to make out the
shapes of a few crushed and distorted vehicles caught in lurid,
flash-lit news-style. Vaughan flips through them distractedly,
then with an unexpected, almost flirtatious flourish, slides them
back into his briefcase and tucks it under his arm.
We’ll deal with these later.
He flashes James an enigmatic smile, and then walks off down the
As James turns to continue on, a young woman comes out of the same
room that Vaughan did and moves towards him using a dark wooden
walking stick. She presses her face into her raised shoulder,
possibly to hide the bruise marking her right cheekbone.
The woman is Dr. Helen Remington, whose husband died in her car
crash with James.
James stops as she approaches. He speaks without thinking.
The woman looks up at James as she continues her approach. She
does not falter, but changes her grip on the cane as if preparing
to thrash him across the face with it. She moves her head in a
peculiar gesture of the neck, deliberately forcing her injury on
She pauses when she reaches the doorway, waiting for him to step
out of her way. James looks down on the scar tissue on her face, a
seam left by an invisible zip three inches long, running from the
corner of her right eye to the apex of her mouth.
James is acutely aware of her strong body beneath her mauve
bathrobe, her rib-cage partly shielded by a sheath of white
plaster that runs from one shoulder to the opposite armpit like a
classical Hollywood ball-gown.
James steps aside. Deciding to ignore him, Helen Remington walks
stiffly along the communication corridor. parading her anger and
INT. HOSPITAL – DAY
Catherine washes James’s body as he lies in his hospital bed,
gently exploring his bruises and his wounds.
Both front wheels and the engine were
driven back into the driver’s section,
bowing the floor. Blood still marked the
hood, streamers of black lace running
towards the windshield wiper gutters.
Catherine re-soaps her hand from the bar in the wet saucer on the
bed tray, a cigarette in her left hand. James strokes her
stockinged thigh as she continues her monologue.
Minute flecks were spattered across the
seat and steering wheel. The instrument
panel was buckled inwards, cracking the
clock and the speedometer dials. The cabin
was deformed, and there was dust and glass
and plastic flakes everywhere inside. The
carpeting was damp and stank of blood and
other body and machine fluids.
You should have gone to the funeral.
I wish I had. They bury the dead so
quickly – they should leave them lying
around for months.
What about his wife? The woman doctor?
Have you visited her yet?
No, I couldn’t. I feel too close to her.
EXT. ROAD HOME FROM HOSPITAL – DAY
Catherine and James travel home in the back seat of a taxi.
Leaning against the rear window of the taxi, James finds himself
flinching with excitement towards the approaching traffic streams,
which now seem threatening and super-real.
Catherine watches him, aware that he is over-exhilarated, herself
very excited by his new sensitivity to the traffic.
INT. BALLARD APT. – DAY
James sits in a reclining chair on the balcony of his apartment,
looking down through the anodized balcony rails at the
neighborhood ten stories below.
Cars fill the suburban streets below, choking the parking lots of
the supermarkets, ramped on to the pavements. Two minor accidents
have caused a massive tail-back along the flyover which crosses
the entrance tunnel to the airport. In one of them, a white
laundry van has bumped into the back of a sedan filled with
James gazes raptly down at this immense motion sculpture, this
incomprehensible pinball machine.
Catherine comes onto the balcony, kneels down beside him, begins
to toy lovingly with the scars on his knees.
Renata tells me you’re going to rent a
I can’t sit on this balcony forever. I’m
beginning to feel like a potted plant.
How can you drive? James… your legs. You
can Barely walk.
Is the traffic heavier now? There seem to
be three times as many cars as there were
before the accident.
I’ve never really noticed. Is Renata going
I thought she might come along. Handling a
car again might be more tiring than I
I’m amazed that she’ll let you drive her.
You’re not envious?
Maybe I am a little.
James, I’ve got to leave for the office.
Are you going to be all right?
INT. BALLARD APT. GARAGE – DAY
James stands at the entrance to his apartment building’s
underground garage. Only about a dozen cars stand there, most of
them have been driven to work. James walks amongst them, absorbing
the details of the personal things left in the cars – a silk scarf
lies on a rear window sill, a pair of sunglasses hooked over a
carpeted transmission hump.
James stops in front of the empty bay marked “Ballard”. He stares
at the familiar pattern of oil-stains marking the cement.
INT. RENTED CAR – DAY
A steering wheel, an instrument panel, a windshield. Renata’s hips
gripped by the fabric of the passenger seat, her legs stowed out
of sight beneath her red plastic raincoat. James drives Renata in
a rented car, his first drive since the accident.
EXT. FIRST CRASH SITE – DAY
The rented car slows and stops on the concrete verge a few yards
from the spot where James’ crash took place.
INT. RENTED CAR – DAY
Are we allowed to park here?
I’m sure the police would make an
exception in your case.
James unbuttons Renata’s raincoat and places his hand on her
thigh. She lets him kiss her throat, holding his shoulder
reassuringly like an affectionate governess.
There’s still a patch of blood there on
the road. Did you see it?
I saw the blood. It looks like motor oil.
You were the last one I saw just before
the accident. Do you remember? We made
Are you still involving me in your crash?
An airline coach passes, the passengers bound for Milan staring
down at the pair. Renata buttons her coat.
EXT. FIRST CRASH SITE – DAY
James steps from the car, his right knee giving way after the
effort of driving. At his feet lies a litter of dead leaves,
cigarette cartons and small drifts of safety glass crystals.
A hundred yards behind them a dusty old American car, a Lincoln,
is also parked on the verge. The leather-jacketed driver watches
James through his mud-spattered windshield, broad shoulders
hunched against the door pillar. As James crosses the road he
picks up a camera fitted with a zoom lens and peers at James
through the eye-piece.
Spotting the man, Renata opens the car door for James.
Who is that man? Is he a private
James gets back in the car.
INT. RENTED CAR – DAY
Can you drive?
I can drive.
James shifts the car into gear and cruises slowly towards the man
with the camera. As they approach him, he gets out of his own car,
ignoring them, and kneels down to study the hieroglyphics of the
skid marks on the road surface.
As James and Renata drive past the Kneeling man, the sunlight
highlights the ridges of scars on his forehead and around his
The man looks up at James and he recognizes Vaughan, the young
doctor he last saw in the hallway at the airport hospital.
EXT. AIRFIELD – HANGAR – DAY
James proudly shows off his new car to Catherine and Karen at
their offices at the airport. The car is identical to the one he
James sits sideways in the driver’s seat, door open, weirdly
I can’t believe you’ve done this.
This is the exact same car as your old
one, isn’t it?
Yes, it is.
Are you planning to have another car
I’m not thinking about the crash at all.
James is telling the truth. What he is thinking about is the way
that Karen’s hip casually brushes against Catherine’s hip, without
either woman seeming to be consciously aware of it.
EXT. POLICE POUND – DAY
James enters the gate of the police pound compound on foot, and
shows his pass to the guard at the gate. His pass now stamped, he
hesitates for a beat before he enters.
INT. POLICE POUND – DAY
Some twenty or so crashed vehicles are parked in the sunlight
against the rear wall of an abandoned cinema. At the far end of
the asphalt yard is a truck whose entire driving cabin has been
crushed, as if the dimensions of space had abruptly contracted
around the body of the driver.
Unnerved by these deformations, James moves from one car to the
next until he comes to his own car. The remains of towing tackle
are attached to the front bumper, and the body panels are splashed
with oil and dirt. He peers through the windows into the cabin,
runs his hand over the mud-stained glass.
Without thinking, he kneels in front of the car and stares at the
crushed fenders and radiator grille.
Two policemen cross the yard with a black Alsatian dog. They watch
James hovering around his car as if they vaguely resented his
touching it. When they are gone, he unlatches the driver’s door
and with an effort pulls it open.
James eases himself onto the dusty vinyl seat, tipped back by the
bowing of the floor. He nervously lifts his legs into the car and
places his feet on the rubber cleats of the pedals, which have
been forced out of the engine compartment so that his knees are
pressed against his chest.
The two policemen are exercising their dog across the yard. James
opens the glove compartment, forcing the shelf downwards. Inside,
covered with dirt and flaked plastic, are a set of route maps, a
mildly pornographic novel, a Polaroid of Renata sitting in the car
near a water reservoir with her breasts exposed.
James pulls open the ashtray, which promptly jumps onto his lap,
releasing a dozen lipstick-smeared butts.
Someone passes in front of the car. A policeman’s voice calls from
the gatehouse. Through the windshield, James sees a woman in a
white raincoat walking along the line of wrecked cars. The woman –
Helen Remington – approaches the car next to his, a crushed
convertible involved in a massive rear-end collision.
James sits quietly behind the steering wheel. Helen turns from the
convertible. She glances at the hood of James’s car, clearly not
recognizing the vehicle which killed her husband. As she raises
her head she sees James through the Classless windshield frame,
sitting behind the deformed steering wheel among the dried
bloodstains of her husband.
Helen’s strong eyes barely change their focus, but one hand rises
involuntarily to her cheek. She takes in the damage to the car,
then takes in James. Without giving away anything, she turns and
moves away towards the damaged truck, then turns and comes back as
James gets out of his car.
She gestures towards the damaged vehicles, then speaks to James as
though just continuing a conversation already in progress.
After this sort of thing, how do people
manage to look at a car, let alone drive
I’m trying to find Charles’s car.
It’s not here. Maybe the police are still
holding it. Their forensic people…
They said it was here. They told me this
She peers critically at James’s car, as if puzzled by its
This is your car?
She reaches out a gloved hand and touches the radiator grille,
feeling a chrome pillar torn from the accordion, as if searching
for some trace of her husband’s presence among the blood-spattered
You’ll tear your gloves.
James gently takes her hand and moves it away from the grille.
I don’t think we should have come here.
I’m surprised the police don’t make it
Were you badly hurt? I think we saw each
other at the hospital.
I don’t want the car. In fact, I was
appalled to find that I have to pay a
small fee to have it scrapped.
Can I give you a lift?
I somehow find myself driving again.
INT. JAMES’S CAR – DAY
James is driving Helen Remington away from the police pound.
You haven’t told me where we’re going.
Haven’t I? To the airport, if you could.
At these words, James is stricken by an odd feeling of loss.
The airport? Why? Are you leaving?
Not yet – though not soon enough for some
people, I’ve already found. A death in the
doctor’s family makes the patients doubly
I take it you’re not wearing white to
I’ll wear a bloody kimono if I want to.
So – why the airport?
I work in the immigration department
James is very aware that as they speak, Helen is intently watching
his hands and feet operating the controls of the car, perceiving
these motions in a way that she never would have before her crash
He, in turn, has trouble taking his eyes off her facial scars,
which she now makes no attempt to hide.
She pulls a cigarette packet from the pocket of her raincoat. She
searches the instrument panel for the lighter, her right hand
hovering above his knees like a nervous bird.
Having found the lighter, her strong hands tear away the
cellophane from the cigarette pack.
Do you want a cigarette? I started to
smoke at the hospital. It’s rather stupid
(suddenly very agitated)
Look at all this traffic. I’m not sure I
can deal with it.
It’s much worse now. You noticed that, did
you? The day I left the hospital I had the
extraordinary feeling that all these cars
were gathering for some special reason I
didn’t understand. There seemed to be ten
times as much traffic.
Are we imagining it?
Helen waves her cigarette in a gesture that takes in the whole
interior of the car.
You’ve bought yourself exactly the same
car again. It’s the same shape and color.
EXT. FIRST CRASH SITE – DAY
They are now passing the spot where their crash took place.
Intimidated by the aggressive traffic around him, James allows the
front wheel of the car to strike the curb of the central
reservation, throwing a tornado of dust and cigarette packs onto
INT. JAMES’ S CAR – DAY
The car swerves from the fast lane and veers towards an airline
coach coming out of the exit ramp. Helen quickly shifts to the
left of her seat and, pressing her shoulder against James’s,
closes her hand over James’s hand on the wheel.
With Helen’s help, James just manages to pull the car behind the
They watch the cars swerving past on both sides of them, horns
Turn up here into the car park. It won’t
be busy this time of day.
INT. AIRPORT CAR-PARK – DAY
The car winds its way slowly up the rampways leading to higher and
higher parking levels. James finds the rhythm soothing and begins
to calm down.
I’ve found that I enjoy burying myself in
heavy traffic. I like to look at it.
Yesterday I hired a taxi driver to drive
me around for an hour. “Anywhere”, I said.
We sat in B massive traffic jam under an
off-ramp. I don’t think we moved more than
I’m thinking of taking up a new job with
the Road Research Laboratory. They need a
medical officer. The salary is larger
something I’ve got to think about now.
There’s a certain moral virtue in being
materialistic, I’m beginning to feel.
Well, it’s a new approach for me, in any
The Road Research Laboratory? Where they
simulate car crashes?
Isn’t that rather too close…?
That’s the point. Besides, I know I can
give something now that I wasn’t remotely
aware of before. It’s not a matter of duty
so much as of commitment.
They have now reached the top level of the multi-storey car-park
and James pulls into a parking spot overlooking a major runway. An
immense jumbo jet is maneuvering into its take-off position.
James turns off the car and puts his arms around Helen. She offers
no resistance, as though the whole scenario were well understood
and agreed upon. James kisses her mouth, her eyelids, unzips her
With the jet engines screaming for accompaniment, Helen lifts her
right breast from her brassiere, pressing James’s fingers against
the hot-nipple. Helen now straddles him and, awkwardly meshing
with the technology around them, they make love in the driver’s
seat of the car.
INT. BALLARD APT. – NIGHT
James and Catherine make love in the same position as in the
James keeps flashing back to himself and Helen in his car, the
images mixing confusingly with his present lovemaking to
INT. FILM STUDIO – JAMES’S OFFICE – DAY
James is back in the office, but it is obvious that he is only
nibbling at the work that has piled up in his absence. Renata
I almost forgot to give you this. Probably
because I know you’re going to like it.
Renata hands James a brown manila envelope with no markings on it.
What is it?
A complimentary ticket for a special
stunt-driving exhibition. Definitely not
part of the big auto show. There’s a map
in the packet and a note requesting you be
discrete about the location.
Really? What kind of exhibition is it?
I suspect it involves reenactments of
famous car crashes. You know, Jayne
Mansfield, James Dean, Albert Camus…
Serious. But you’ll have to take your new
friend, the female crash-test dummy. She
dropped it off for you.
You’re not jealous, are you? You have to
understand… Helen and I had this
strange, intense… experience together.
Renata kisses him hard, then bites his lip. James pulls away in
We’ve had a few of those ourselves,
Renata turns on her heel and floats out the door, leaving James to
contemplate the contents of the envelope.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – NIGHT
We are looking at the words Little Bastard. written in black
script on silver metal, enamel on unpainted aluminum. We pull back
to reveal the entire metal object, which is a less Porsche 550
Spyder race car. It is small and curvaceous, and is being fussed
over by several men in overalls. The number .130″ is painted on
its hood and doors.
The Porsche sits on a country road, two-lane blacktop, heavily
wooded, lit by a series of movie lights. On the hills lining the
road have been erected a few rough wooden stands.
A blonde man – Vaughan – stands near the rear of the Porsche, a
microphone-in his hand. His voice floats eerily out of the woods
from speakers mounted on a series of pine trees.
“Don’t worry, that guy’s gotta see us!”
These were the confident last words of the
brilliant young Hollywood star James Dean
as he piloted his Porsche 550 Spyder race
car towards a date with death on a lonely
stretch of California two-lane blacktop,
Route 466. Don’t worry, that guy’s gotta
see us”. The year, 1955; the day,
September 30th; the time: Now.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – GRANDSTAND – NIGHT
Helen and James sit in a half-empty stand, looking down at the
road from amid the trees. Helen has her arm around James’s waist,
her face touching his shoulder.
It’s strange – I thought all this would be
far more popular.
Helen is consulting a yellow programme sheet.
The real thing is available free of
charge. Besides, it’s not quite legal.
They can’t advertise.
The first star of our show is Little
Bastard-, James Dean’s racing Porsche. He
named it after himself, and had his racing
number, 130, painted on it.
Who is that? The announcer. Do I know him?
That’s Vaughan. He talked to you at the
Oh yes. I thought he was a medical
photographer, doing some sort of accident
research. He wanted every conceivable
detail about our crash.
When I first met Vaughan, he was a
specialist in international computerized
traffic systems. I don’t know what he is
The second star is stuntman and former
race driver – Colin Seagrave, who will
drive our replica of James Dean’s car.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – NIGHT
Seagrave, a coarse and burly man, wriggles his way behind the
wheel of the delicate little racecar without acknowledging the
cheers of the crowd. He wears James Dean clothes – a red
windbreaker, a white $-shirt, jeans, loafers, prescription glasses
with clip-on sunshades.
As he talks, Vaughan tours the phalanx of tripod-mounted cameras
to check their placement, and chats off-mike with the pair of
cameramen with hand-held cameras. He seems to be more the director
of the event, possibly the ringmaster, than an actor in it.
I myself shall play the role of James
Dean’s racing mechanic, Rolf W0therich,
sent over from the Porsche factory in
Zuffenhausen, Germany. This mechanic was
himself fated to die in a car crash in
Germany twenty-six years later. And the
third and in some ways most important
party, the college student Donald
Turnupseed, played by movie stuntman Brett
Trask, slim and wiry, wearing loafers and a blazer, waves his hand
and gets into a replica of Turnupseed’s two-tone, black-and-white
1950 Ford Sedan. He starts up the Ford, which smokes badly, and
drives it up the hill about 100 yards.
Turnupseed was on his way back to his home
in Fresno for the weekend. James Dean was
on his way to an automobile race in
Salines, a dusty town in northern
California. The two would only meet for
one moment, but it was a moment that would
create a Hollywood legend.
At this point Vaughan, who is dressed in light-blue cotton 1950s
mechanics’ overalls, sees James and Helen in the thin crowd and
waves to them, as though they were long-standing aficionados of
crash spectacles. He doesn’t wait to see if they react, but
immediately steps into the passenger side of the Porsche,
microphone still in hand.
You’ll notice that we are not wearing
helmets or safety padding of any kind, and
our cars are not equipped with roll cages
or seat belts. we depend solely on the
skill of our drivers for our safety so
that we can bring you the ultimate in
authenticity. All right, here we go. The
fatal crash of James Dean!
Vaughan hands the microphone to a stills cameraman who obviously
also functions as an assistant and then settles all the way into
the silver car.
Seagrave starts the Porsche, which settles quickly into a husky
idle. A few blips of the throttle, and then the Porsche is backed
down the road to the edge of the lighted strip of road.
When the Porsche stops, the excited crowd goes quiet. An assistant
with a walkie-talkie kneels beside the silver car on the driver’s
side, coordinating the start with his opposite number standing
next to the Ford over the hill.
There is a calculated pause before anything happens, and then the
Porsche spins its wheels and accelerates up the hill.
From their vantage point in the stand, James and Helen can clearly
see that the Ford has also started and that the two cars are
headed towards each other, each in its respective lane.
The Porsche accelerates hard, the Ford lumbers along at a moderate
pace, swaying clumsily on its soft springs.
As the cars approach each other, James notices a fresh clearing at
the side of the road at just about the point where they seem
likely to pass each other. Sure enough, when the cars are about
thirty yards apart, the Ford wanders over the center line. As the
Porsche approaches it, it seems to move back into its own lane,
but then suddenly swerves again as though making a left turn.
The Porsche in its turn swerves to avoid the big American car but
they collide, the immense chrome grill punching into the side of
the fragile race car, crumpling it like a wad of tin foil and
shunting it unceremoniously off the road into the clearing that
has been prepared for it.
As the Porsche hobbles to a stop, Vaughan seems to stand up on his
seat and then throw himself out of the car, rolling over what’s
left of the front hood onto the ground. Seagrave remains slumped
in the driver’s seat. Vaughan lies still where he lands, a few
feet ahead of the crumpled nose of the racecar.
The door of the Ford opens and Trask stumbles out. He begins to
walk around in a dazed and agitated manner, and the crowd, which
had been buzzing, goes silent again. Trask walks down the road
away from the crash site and disappears into the shadows at the
edge of the road.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – GRANDSTAND – NIGHT
There is no movement from either Seagrave or Vaughan. James is not
sure how to react, but Helen seems genuinely worried.
Is this part of the act or are they really
I don’t know. You can never be sure with
Vaughan. This is his show.
A stills cameraman runs out of nowhere and kneels beside the
apparently stricken Vaughan in the weeds at the side of the road.
It is not clear whether he is taking his picture or ministering to
him. It soon becomes clear that he has handed him a radio
microphone because Vaughan’s low, melodramatic growl now ripples
out of the woods from the tree speakers.
Rolf W�herich was thrown from the Porsche
and spent a year in the hospital
recovering from his injuries. Donald
Turnupseed was found wandering around in a
daze, basically unhurt. James Dean died of
a broken neck and became immortal.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – NIGHT
Vaughan now leaps to his feet, hands raised in triumph. Seagrave
stirs behind the wheel, then raises his hands. Trask emerges from
the woods, waving to the now-supercharged crowd.
Seagrave tries to get out of the collapsed car but is jammed
behind the wheel. Without missing a beat, Vaughan dances over to
the Porsche and begins to haul Seagrave out of his seat.
Hold me. I’m dizzy. I can’t stand up.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – GRANDSTAND – NIGHT
Helen stands up as the crowd buzzes.
I know that man, Seagrave, the stunt
driver. I think he’s genuinely hurt.
Helen makes her way down the rickety grandstand steps towards the
road, and James follows her.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – NIGHT
Just as James and Helen step onto the road, six police cars,
lights flashing and sirens wailing, converge on the lit stretch of
road, three from each end. They screech to a halt and dozens of
cops pour out of the cars.
The crowd panics and streams down from the grandstands onto the
road. A loudspeaker mounted on one of the police cars begins to
This is an illegal and unauthorized
automotive demonstration which is in
contravention of the Highway Traffic Act.
You are all liable to fines and possible
arrest and confinement… Disperse at
once! Disperse at once!
Because James and Helen are just in advance of the first wave of
spectators, they manage to link up with Vaughan as he helps haul a
still-groggy Seagrave off the road and into the woods. Helen takes
Seagrave’s free arm.
What’s the matter with Seagrave?
Hit his head, I think. His balance is off.
The police spread out through the crowd, collaring people at
random before they escape into the woods.
EXT. WOODS – NIGHT
James and Helen help Vaughan hustle Seagrave through the woods.
The din of the roadway fades away behind them.
Why are the police taking this all so
It’s not the police. It’s the Department
of Transport. Internal politics. It’s a
joke. They have no idea who we really are
In the gathering darkness of the woods, it is apparent that James
doesn’t really know who they are either.
INT. VAUGHAN’S LINCOLN – NIGHT
Vaughan drives the Lincoln through a scarred, bleak landscape. In
the front seat with him are Helen and James. Seagrave is lying
down in the back seat with his eyes closed.
That was glib, wasn’t it? James Dean died
of a broken neck and became immortal.. But
I couldn’t resist.
Vaughan puts his hand between Helen’s thighs. She sepal not to
notice, but her eyes close dreamily every once in a while. James
Sometimes, when the flow of traffic allows, Vaughan stares
intently at James while his hand works away in between Helen’s
thighs, and James looks away, flushed, like a schoolgirl.
EXT. SEAGRAVE’S GARAGE – NIGHT
The Lincoln turns into the forecourt of Seagrave’s garage and
showroom. His business, which has clearly seen better days, is
hot-rodding and customized cars. Behind the unwashed glass of the
show-room is a fiberglass replica of a 1930s Brooklands racer,
faded bunting stuffed into the seat.
They get out of the car, helping the now quite woozy Seagrave
through the door at the side of the showroom which leads to the
stairway up to the apartment shove the garage.
INT. SEAGRAVE APT. – NIGHT
The Seagrave apartment is dirty and depressing, featuring cheap,
cigarette-scarred leatherette furniture.
James watches Helen and Vaughan steer Seagrave into the living-
room, where two people sit on a couch watching television with the
sound turned off: Gabrielle, a sharp-faced young woman who is
rolling a hash joint; and Seagrave’s wife, Vera, a handsome,
restless woman of about thirty.
Vera stands as they come in and rushes over to-the shaky Seagrave.
Oh, God. What happened? Here, lie down.
Vera and Helen lay the confused Seagrave down on the three-seat
sofa, while Vaughan sits next to Gabrielle and helps her prepare
another hash joint. James, awkwardly left standing, notices long
scars on Vera’s thighs and legs.
They did the James Dean crash. It seemed
to go perfectly. But he started to feel
nauseous on the way back. I’m sure it’s
Ah, well… We’re familiar enough with
that, then, aren’t we?
James watches Gabrielle and Vaughan. As she rolls a small piece of
resin in a twist of silver foil, Vaughan brings a brass lighter
out of his hip pocket. Gabrielle cooks the resin, and shakes the
powder into the open cigarette waiting in the roller machine on
On Gabrielle’s legs are traces of what seem to be gas bacillus
scars, faint circular depressions on the kneecaps. She notices
James staring at her scars, but makes no effort to close her legs.
On the sofa beside her is a chromium metal cane, and as she shifts
her weight, James sees that the instep of each leg is held in the
steel clamp of a surgical support. It now becomes obvious from the
over-rigid posture of her waist that she is also wearing a back-
brace of some kind.
Gabrielle rolls another cigarette out of the machine, but does not
offer it to James. Instead, Vaughan gets up and takes it over to
Seagrave, who has managed to sit up.
I’d really like to work out the details of
the Jayne Mansfield crash with you. We
could do the decapitation – her head
“bedded in the windshield – and the little
dead dog thing as well you know, the
Chihuahuas in the back seat. I’ve got it
Seagrave takes the lit joint and draws heavily on it. He holds the
smoke in his lungs for a while, studies the grease on his hands
before he answers.
You know I’ll be ready, Vaughan. But I’ll
want to wear really big tits – out to here
– so the crowd can see them get cut up and
crushed on the dashboard.
James horns to go, leaving Helen to her conversation with Vera,
but Vaughan follows him through the door, holding his arm in a
Don’t leave yet, Ballard. I want you to
INT. VAUGHAN’S WORKSHOP – NIGHT
James follows Vaughan down a cramped corridor to photographic
workshop formed out of a warren of small rooms. Vaughan eases
James into the first room and then carefully closes the door
Do you live here? With Seagrave?
I live in my car. This is my workshop.
Pinned to the walls and lying on the benches among the enamel
pails are hundreds of photographs. The floor around the enlarger
is littered with half-plate prints, developed and cast aside once
they have yielded their images. Vaughan makes a sweeping gesture
that takes in all the photographs.
And this is the new project, Ballard.
As Vaughan hunts around the central table, turning the pages of a
leatherbound album, James looks down at the discarded prints below
his feet. Most of them are crude frontal pictures of motor-cars
and heavy vehicles involved in highway collisions, surrounded by
spectators and police, and closeups of impacted radiator grilles
Vaughan opens the album at random and hands it to James. He leans
back against the door and watches as James adjusts the desk lamp.
The first thirty pages record the crash, hospitalization, and
post-recuperative romance of the young woman Gabrielle a social
worker, the photos suggest – who is currently getting very stoned
in the next room.
By coincidence, her small sports car had collided with an airline
bus at the entry to the airport not far from the site of James’s
own accident. Vaughan had obviously been there, shooting film,
moments after the crash. The incredibly detailed photos end with
her affair with her physical therapy instructor.
The remainder of the album d-scribes the course of James’s own
accident and recovery, and includes his sexual encounters with
Renata, Helen Remington, and his own wife, Catherine. Vaughan
stands at James’s shoulder, like an instructor ready to help a
James closes the book.
What kind of help can I possibly be to
you? You seem to be everywhere at once as
At that moment, there is a knock at the door, and then Gabrielle
enters and takes a few stiff steps into the room on her shackled
legs. She holds out a couple of joints to Vaughan.
Thought you might be missing these.
So here you are at the nerve center.
Vaughan makes everything look like a
crime, doesn’t he?
Vaughan takes the joints and lights them both. He hands one to
James, who takes it gratefully.
What exactly is your project, Vaughan? ~
book of crashes? A medical study? A
sensational documentary? Global traffic?
It’s something we’re all intimately
involved in: The reshaping of the human
body by modern technology.
INT. FILM STUDIO – JAMES’S OFFICE – DAY
James watches Renata and Catherine talking animatedly at the other
end of his office. He can’t hear what they are saying, but Renata
is showing Catherine layouts of ads involving images of private
plane. flying in formation. They touch each other from time to
time without seeming to notice it, but James notices it.
EXT. VARIOUS IMAGE CITY ROADS – DAY
James and Catherine set off for home in their own separate cars.
At times, they are within sight of each other and James watches
her microscopically, as though he didn’t know her, as though,
perhaps, she isn’t human.
At one point he sees her with her hands resting on the steering
wheel, her right index finger picking at an old adhesive label on
And then, abruptly, James is aware of the dented fender of
Vaughan’s Lincoln only a few feet behind Catherine’s sports car.
Vaughan now surges past James, crowding along the roadway as if
waiting for Catherine to make a mistake. Startled, Catherine takes
refuge in front of an airline bus in the nearside lane. Vaughan
drives alongside the bus, using his horn and lights to force the
driver back, and again cuts in behind Catherine.
James moves ahead along the center lane, shouting to Vaughan as he
passes him, but Vaughan is signaling to Catherine, pumping his
headlights at her rear fender.
Without thinking, Catherine pulls into the courtyard of a filling
station, forcing Vaughan into a heavy U-turn. Tires screaming, he
swings around the ornamental flower-bed with its glazed pottery
plants, but James blocks his way with his own car.
Heart racing, Catherine sits still in her car among the fuel
pumps, her eyes flashing at Vaughan.
James steps from his car and walks across to Vaughan, who watches
him approach as if he had never seen him before, scarred mouth
working on a piece of gum as he gazes at the airliners lifting
from the airport.
Vaughan, what the hell are you doing? Are
you trying to create your own Famous
Vaughan hooks his gear lever into reverse.
It excited her, Ballard. Your wife,
Catherine. She enjoyed it. Ask her.
Vaughan reverses in a wide circle, almost running down a passing
pump attendant, and sets off across the early afternoon traffic.
INT. BALLARD APT. – NIGHT
James and Catherine lie naked in bed, she with her back to him,
her buttocks pressed into his groin. He is inside her.
He must have tucked a lot of women in that
huge car of his. It’s like a bed on
wheels. It must smell of semen…
Do you find him attractive?
He’s very pale. Covered with scars.
Would you like to tuck him, though? In
No. But when he’s in that car…
Have you seen his penis?
I think it’s badly scarred too. From a
Is he circumcised? Can you imagine what
his anus is like? Describe it to me. Would
you like to sodomize him? Would you like
to put your penis right into his anus,
thrust it up his anus? Tell me, describe
it to me. Tell me what you would do. How
would you kiss him in that car? Describe
how you’d reach over and unzip his greasy
jeans, then take out his penis. Would you
kiss it or suck it right away? Which hand
would you hold it in? Have you ever sucked
a penis? Do you know what semen tastes
like? Have you ever tasted semen? Some
semen is saltier than others. Vaughan’s
semen must be very salty…
They both have huge orgasms within moments of each other.
INT. HELEN’S CAR – DAY
We are close on the distracted, solicitous face of Helen
Have you come?
Helen Remington and James are having sex in the back seat of
Helen’s car, Helen sitting on James’s lap with her back to him.
She dismounts him and touches his shoulder with an uncertain hand,
as though he were a patient she had worked hard to revive.
EXT. AIRPORT CAR-PARK – DAY
Helen’s car is parked on the upper level of the airport car-park,
which is currently quite busy. Streams of traffic, both pedestrian
and vehicular, flow past the car.
INT. HELEN’S CAR – DAY
James lies against the rear seat of the car while Helen dresses
with abrupt movements, straightening her skirt around her hips
like a department-store window-dresser jerking a garment on to a
Please finish your story.
The junior pathologist at Ashford
Hospital. Then the husband of a colleague
of mine, then a trainee radiologist, then
the service manager at my garage.
And you had sex with all of these men in
cars? Only in cars?
Yes. I didn’t plan it that way.
And did you fantasize that Vaughan was
photographing all these sex acts? As
though they were traffic accidents?
They felt like traffic accidents.
INSET. ROAD RESEARCH LAB – DAY
We are witnessing a spectacular road accident recreated under
laboratory conditions in the immense confines of the Road Research
A motorcycle is in the process of having a head-on collision with
a sedan bearing a family of four – an extremely violent and
disturbing crash despite the use of cradles, dummies, rails,
cables and extensive metering and recording technology.
Amongst the many witnesses to the crash, including numerous
engineers, technicians, and Transport Ministry officials, are
James, Helen and Vaughan.
Vaughan is energetically masturbating through his jeans, shielded
by a sheaf of publicity folders which he holds in his other hand.
There is a terrific metallic explosion as the motorcycle strikes
the front of the sedan. The two vehicles veer sideways towards the
line of startled spectators.
The motorcyclist and his bike sail over the hood of the car and
strike the windshield, then careen across the roof in a black mass
The car plunges ten feet back on its hawsers and comes to rest
astride its rails. The hood, windshield and roof have been crushed
by the impact. Inside the cabin, the lopsided family lurch across
each other, the decapitated torso of the front-seat woman
passenger embedded in the fractured windshield.
The engineers wave to the crowd reassuringly and move towards the
motorcycle, which lies on its side fifty yards behind the car. But
it is Vaughan who first arrives at the bike, a black-jacketed
figure striding on long, uneven legs.
For a moment it seems that he might try to lift it up himself, but
he then backs away to where technicians are picking up pieces of
the motorcyclist’s body, and then turns away completely and
rejoins Helen and James.
Vaughan holds up the bundle of technical hand-outs in his grip.
Get all the paper you can, Ballard. Some
of the stuff they’re giving away is
terrific: “Mechanisms of Occupant
Ejection”, “Tolerances of the Human Face
in Crash Impacts”…
Helen takes James’s arm, smiling at him, nodding encouragingly as
if urging a child across some mental hurdle.
We can have a look at it again on the
monitors. They’re showing it in slow
An audience of thirty or so gathers at the trestle tables to watch
a slow-motion replay on a huge television monitor. As the
hypnotic, grotesque ballet unfolds, the crowd’s own ghostly images
stand silently in the background, hands and faces unmoving while
the collision is re-enacted. The dreamlike reversal of roles makes
them seem less real than the mannequins in the car.
James looks down at the silk-suited wife of a Ministry official
standing beside him. Her eyes watch the film with a rapt gaze, as
if she were seeing herself and her daughters dismembered in the
INT. VAUGHAN’S CAR – NIGHT
James rides in Vaughan’s car. Vaughan drives aggressively, rolling
the heavy car along the access roads, holding the battered bumpers
a few feet behind any smaller vehicle until it moves out of the
I’ve always wanted to drive a crashed car.
You could get your wish at any moment.
No, I mean a crash with a history. Camus’
Facel Vega, or Nathaniel Nest’s station
wagon, Grace Kelly’s Rover 3500. Fix it
just enough to get it rolling. Don’t clean
it, don’t touch anything else.
Is that why you drive this car? I take it
that you see Kennedy’s assassination as a
special kind of car-crash?
The case could be made.
They approach a major intersection. For almost the first time on
this drive Vaughan applies the brakes.
The heavy car sways and goes into a long right-hand slide which
carries it across the path of a taxi. Flooring the accelerator,
Vaughan swerves in front of it, tires screaming over the blaring
horn of the taxi.
As they settle down, Vaughan reaches behind him and lifts a
briefcase off the back seat.
Take a look at this and tell me what you
James opens the briefcase and slides out a thick packet of glossy
photographs, all of them marked up with colored ink pens.
They are photos culled from a variety of sources – newspapers,
magazines, video stills, film frames – blown up to uniform 8×10
size. Each one depicts a famous crash victim in the prime of life,
and each one has the wounds to come marked up in a very explicit
way – lines circling their necks and pubic areas, breasts and
cheekbones shaded in, section lines across their mouths and
abdomens. Handwritten notes complement the circles and arrows.
A second packet of photos shows the cars in which these famous
people died, and each of these photos is marked to show which
parts of the cars destroyed or fused with which famous body part –
for example, a closeup of the dashboard and windshield from the
Camus car – Michel Gallimard’s Facel Vega – is marked “nasal
bridge”, “soft palate”, “left zygomatic arch”.
It’s very… satisfying. I’m not sure I
It’s the future, Ballard, and you’re
already part of it. For the first time, a
benevolent psychopathology beckons towards
us. For example, the car crash is a
fertilizing rather than a destructive
event – a liberation of sexual energy that
mediates the sexuality of those who have
died with an intensity impossible in any
other form. To fully understand that, and
to live that… that is my project.
What about the reshaping of the human body
by modern technology? I thought that was
A crude sci-fi concept that floats on the
surface and doesn’t threaten anybody. I
use it to test the resilience of my
potential partners in psychopathology.
The traffic has jammed up to a walking pace. Using his horn,
Vaughan forces the drivers in the slower lanes to back up and let
him across onto the hard shoulder. Once free, he accelerates past
the lines of traffic, occasionally scraping the right flank of the
Lincoln against the cement divider.
In the distance looms the airport car-park.
INT. AIRPORT CAR-PARK – DAY
The Lincoln spirals its way up towards the upper levels of the
airport car-park. James just spots a sharp-faced young woman in a
very short skirt, an airport whore, provocatively bent over a
railing ostensibly to watch airplanes land and take off, when
Vaughan slams on the brakes and jumps out of the car.
The startled James numbly obeys, sliding over into the driver’s
seat as Vaughan approaches the whore and begins to negotiate with
her. James gingerly maneuvers the boat-like car to one side to
allow traffic to pass as James returns with the gum-chewing whore
As the girl, with short black hair and a boy’s narrow-tripped
body, opens the passenger door, Vaughan hands her a joint and
lights it for her. Then, lifting her chin, he puts his fingers in
her mouth and plucks out the knot of gum, flicking it away in the
Let’s get rid of that. I don’t want you
blowing it up my urethra.
EXT. AIRPORT ROADS – NIGHT
James drives the Lincoln along the bizarrely-lighted roads that
ring the airport. Vaughan and the whore are in the back seat.
INT. LINCOLN – NIGHT
James adjusts the rear-view mirror so that he can see into the
rear seat. Vaughan is having strange, disconnected sex with the
whore. James realizes that he can almost control the sexual act
behind him by the way in which he drives the car.
It is, in that sense, a sexual threesome – or more properly, a
foursome, because the sex between Vaughan and the whore takes
place in the hooded grottoes of the luminescent dials, surging
needles, and blinking lights of the black, brooding Lincoln.
INT. FILM STUDIO – JAMES’S OFFICE – DAY
James and Renata sort through some story boards together at the
architect’s table. Renata takes a few cast-offs and walks past the
window towards the filing cabinet. She takes a quick peek out the
window on her way.
Your friend’s still out there.
James leaves the table and looks out the window. Vaughan is
sitting in his car in the center of the parking lot. Most of the
staff are leaving for home, taking their cars one by one from the
slots around Vaughan’s dusty limousine.
What does he want from you?
Hard to say.
I’m going to leave now. Do you want a
No, thanks. I’ll go with Vaughan.
EXT. FILM STUDIO PARKING LOT – DUSK
James walks out into the nearly deserted parking lot to find two
cars parked in front of Vaughan’s Lincoln: a police patrol car and
Catherine’s white sports car.
One policeman is inspecting the Lincoln, peering through the dusty
windows with Vaughan fidgeting beside him. The other stands beside
Catherine’s car, questioning her.
James slows guiltily as both policemen begin to talk to Vaughan.
Catherine spots James and walks crisply over to him.
They’re questioning Vaughan about an
accident near the airport. Some
pedestrian… they think he was run over
Vaughan isn’t interested in pedestrians.
As if taking their cue from this, the policemen walk back to their
car. Vaughan watches them go, head raised like a periscope.
You’d better drive him. He’s a bit shaky.
I’ll follow in my car. Where is yours?
At home. I couldn’t face all this traffic.
I’d better come with you, then. Are you
sure you can drive?
As Catherine and James walk towards Vaughan, he reaches into the
rear seat of his car and pulls out a white sweat-shirt. As he
takes off his denim jacket, the falling light picks -out the scars
on his naked abdomen and chest, a constellation of white chips
that circle his body from the left armpit down to his crotch.
EXT. JAMMED MOTORWAY – NIGHT
The Lincoln has entered an immense traffic jam, and brake-lights
flare in the evening air. Vaughan sits with one arm out the
passenger window. He slaps the door impatiently, pounding the
panel with his fist.
A police car speeds down the descent lane of a flyover, headlights
and roof-lamps flashing. Ahead, two policemen steer the traffic
from the nearside curb. Warning tripods set up on the pavement
flash a rhythmic “Slow… Slow… Accident… Accident…”
Eventually, they begin to edge past the accident site, which is
lit by a circle of police spotlights. Three vehicles – a taxi, a
limousine, and a small sports Sedan – have collided where an on-
ramp joins the main roadway. A crowd has gathered on the sidewalks
and on the pedestrian bridge that spans the road.
Beside the taxi, its three passengers lie in a group, blankets
swathing their chests and legs. First-aid men work on the driver,
an elderly man who sits upright against the fender of his car,
face and clothes speckled with drops of blood.
The limousine’s passengers still sit in the deep cabin of their
car, their identities sealed behind the starred internal window.
INT. VAUGHAN’ S CAR – NIGHT
Catherine has half hidden herself behind the front seat. Her
steady eyes follow the skid lines and loops of bloodstained oil
that cross the familiar macadam like a battle diagram.
Vaughan, by contrast, leans out of the window, both arms ready as
if about to seize one of the bodies. In some recess in the back
seat he has found a camera, which now swings from his neck.
Siren whining, a third ambulance drives down the oncoming lane.
Police motorcyclist cuts in front of James and slows to a halt,
signaling him to wait and allow the ambulance to pass. James stops
Ten yards from them is the crushed limousine, the body of the
young chauffeur still lying on the ground beside it. Three
engineers work with surreal hand-tools and hydraulic cutting and
prying equipment at the rear doors of the limousine. They sever
the jammed door mechanism and pull back the door to expose the
passengers trapped inside the compartment.
The two passengers, a pink-faced man in his fifties wearing a
black overcoat, and a younger woman with a pale, anemic skin,
still sit upright, staring blankly, in the rear seat.
A policeman pulls away the travelling rug that covers their legs
and waists. The woman’s legs are bare, the older man’s feet
splayed, apparently broken at the ankles. The woman’s skirt has
ridden up around her waist, and her left hand holds the window
As the older man turns to the young woman, one hand searching for
her, he slips sideways off the seat, his ankles kicking at the
clutter of leather valises and broken glass.
The traffic stream moves on. James eases the car forwards. Vaughan
raises the camera to his eye, lowering it from sight when an
ambulance attendant tries to knock it from his hands.
The pedestrian bridge passes overhead. Half out of the car,
Vaughan peers at the scores of legs pressed against the metal
railings, then opens the door and dives out.
EXT. MOTORWAY VERGE – NIGHT
As James pulls the Lincoln on to the verge, Vaughan runs back to
the pedestrian bridge, darting in and out of the cars. James and
Catherine get out of the car.
As James closes the doom he notices that the blood of one of the
accident victims has somehow been splashed onto the door handle,
and that some of it is now on his hand.
He finds a section of newspaper at the side of the road and wipes
the blood off his hand. When he looks up, he realizes that
Catherine has followed Vaughan back to the accident site.
EXT. JAMMED MOTORWAY – NIGHT
James walks back alone, eventually spotting them amongst the
throng of spectators, Catherine watching Vaughan’s scarred face
intently, provocatively, as he photographs every aspect of the
There is a calmly festive and pervasive sexuality in the air
amongst the onlookers, and even a congregational feeling as one
group of engineers works on the crushed sports sedan, prying at
the metal roof which has been flattened onto the heads of the
And now Vaughan poses an only slightly reluctant Catherine against
the backdrop of the stricken taxi as though she were one of the
shaken survivors of the accident.
When the roof of the sports sedan is levered up, the hair of the
driver, its only passenger, comes off with it as though scalped,
stuck to the roof-liner with drying blood. But it’s soon apparent
that it’s not hair, but rather a cheap, tangled, platinum blonde
Vaughan makes his way over to the sedan, intrigued by the dangling
scalp. which is almost phosphorescent in the road-rescue work
lights. Catherine trails obediently behind him, like a harshly
When the body of the driver is exposed to the lights, the effect
is doubly grotesque, for not only is the driver dead and partially
crushed, but he is also ~ cross-dresser: Seagrave, in Jayne
Mansfield drag. His long, greasy hair is tied up in a knot on his
head, he is unshaven, his huge, fake bosom is bloody and askew,
his bloated, muscular body strains against the pink 60s skirt and
jacket, the blue suede boots with high heels.
There is also a dead Chihuahua bitch inside the car with Seagrave,
which Vaughan manages to move with his foot until a cop, outraged,
shoos him away. The dog is stiff with rigor mortis, obviously dead
long before the crash.
An excited Vaughan has spotted James and now approaches him,
It’s Seagrave. He was worried that we
would never do Jayne Mansfield’s crash,
now that the police were cracking down. So
he did it himself. Vaughan turns back to
look at the wreck again, almost reverent.
This is Seagrave’s own solitary work of
(shakes his head)
The dog – God, the dog is brilliant,
perfect. I wonder where he got it?
Now Vaughan turns to James, his face flushed, incandescent with
Come with me, James. I have to document
Vaughan lopes off towards the Seagrave wreck.
But James hangs back, watching, as the passengers from the taxi
are carried on stretchers to an ambulance. The dead chauffeur of
the limousine lies with a blanket over his face, while a doctor
and two ambulance men climb into the rear compartment.
Beyond them, Vaughan begins to snap away at every possible aspect
of Seagrave’s wreck, beginning with the dead Chihuahua.
EXT. MOTORWAY VERGE – NIGHT
Some time later, as the crowd disperses and the traffic begins to
flow normally, James kneels beside the Lincoln and shows Vaughan
the blood on his door. Catherine sits in the back seat.
He must have driven through a pool of
blood. If the police stop you again, they
may impound the car while they have the
blood analyzed. Vaughan kneels beside him
and inspects the smears of blood.
You’re right, Ballard. There’s an all-
night car-wash in the airport service
Vaughan rises and holds the door open for James, who sits behind
the wheel, expecting Vaughan to walk around the car and sit beside
him. Instead, Vaughan pulls open the rear door and climbs in
As they set off, Vaughan’s camera lands on the front seat.
INT. VAUGHAN’S CAR – NIGHT
As they drive, James watches Catherine in the rear-view mirror.
She sits in the center of the back seat, elbows forward on her
knees, looking over his shoulder at the speeding lights of the
expressway. At the first traffic light, she smiles at James
Vaughan sits like a bored gangster beside her, his left knee
leaning against her thigh. One hand rubs his groin absentmindedly.
He stares at the nape of her neck, running his eyes along the
profiles of her cheek and shoulder.
EXT. CAR-WASH – NIGHT
Near the airport, the Lincoln joins a line of cars waiting their
turn to pass through the automatic car-wash. In the darkness the
three nylon rollers drum against the sides and roof of a taxi
parked in the washing station, water and soap solution jetting
from the metal gantries.
Fifty yards away, the two night attendants sit in their glass
cubicles beside the deserted fuel pumps, reading their comic books
and playing a radio.
INT. VAUGHAN’S CAR – NIGHT
The car ahead advances a few yards, its brake-lights illuminating
the interior of the Lincoln, covering the trio with a pink sheen.
Through the rear-view mirror James sees that Catherine is leaning
against the back seat, her shoulder pressed tightly into Vaughan’
s. Her eyes are fixed on Vaughan’s chest, at the scars around his
injured nipples shining like points of light.
James edges the Lincoln forward a few feet. When he turns around,
he sees that Vaughan is holding in his cupped right hand this
wife’s bare breast.
James fumbles for change as Vaughan caresses Catherine’s nipple in
the back seat. Catherine looks down at this breast with rapt eyes,
as if seeing it for the first time, fascinated by its unique
EXT. CAR-WASH – NIGHT
Their car is alone in the washing bay. A voice rings out.
Cigarette in hand, one of the attendants stands in the wet
darkness, beckoning to James, who inserts his coins in the pay
slot and closes the window. Water jets on to the car, clouding the
windows and shutting the trio into the interior.
INT. VAUGHAN’S CAR – NIGHT
Within their blue grotto, Vaughan lies diagonally across the back
seat. Catherine kneels across him, skirt rolled around her waist.
The light refracted through the soap solution jetting across the
windows covers their bodies with a luminescent glow, like two
semi-metallic human beings of the future making love in a chromium
The gantry engine begins to drum. The rollers pound across the
hood of the Lincoln and roar forward to the windshield, driving
the soap solution into a whirlwind of froth. Catherine settles
over Vaughan, and as the rollers drum against the roof and doors,
Vaughan drives his pelvis upwards, almost lifting his buttocks off
In the mounting roar of the rollers, she and-Vaughan rock
together, Vaughan holding her breasts together with his palms as
if trying to force them into a single globe. When his hands move
away to her buttocks, James can see that her breasts have been
bruised by Vaughan’s fingers, the marks forming a pattern like
At just this moment, Catherine looks into James’s eyes in a
instant of complete lucidity. Her expression shows both irony and
affection, an acceptance of a sexual logic they both recognize and
have prepared themselves for.
James sits quietly in the front seat as the white soap sluices
across the roof and doors like liquid lace. Catherine cries out, a
gasp of pain cut off by Vaughan’s strong hand across her mouth. He
sits back with her legs across his hips, slapping her with his
free hand. His sweaty face is clamped in an expression of anger
and distress. The blows raise blunted weals on Catherine’s arm and
EXT. DESERTED MOTORWAY – NIGHT
James drives the Lincoln home along a deserted motorway.
INT. VAUGHAN’S CAR – NIGHT
The street-lamps illuminate Vaughan’s sleeping face in the rear of
the car, scarred mouth lying open like a child’s against the
Catherine sits forward, freeing herself from Vaughan. She touches
James’s shoulder in a gesture of domestic affection. In the
mirror, James can see the weals on her cheek and neck, the bruised
mouth that deforms her nervous smile.
EXT. BALLARD APT. BUILDING – NIGHT
The Lincoln pulls up at the Ballard’s apartment building. James
and Catherine get out and stand in the darkness beside the now-
immaculate black car. Vaughan is still asleep in the back. James
takes Catherine’s arm to steady her, holding her bag in his hand.
As they walk towards the entrance, Vaughan gets up and climbs
unsteadily behind the steering wheel. Without looking back at
James and Catherine, he starts the engine and quietly drives off.
INT. ELEVATOR – BALLARD APT. – NIGHT
In the elevator, James holds Catherine closely, lovingly.
INT. BEDROOM – BALLARD APT. – NIGHT
That night, James kneels over Catherine as she lies diagonally
across the bed, her small feet resting on his pillow, one hand
over her right breast.
She watches him with a calm and affectionate gaze as he explores
her body and bruises, feeling them gently with his fingers, lips
and cheeks, tracing and interpreting the raw symbols that
Vaughan’s hands and mouth have left across her skin.
INT. AUTO SHOW – AIRPORT CONVENTION CENTER – DAY
James and the crippled Gabrielle visit the annual auto show, which
occupies the immense halls of the airport convention center. He
watches appreciatively as she swings herself on her shackled legs
amongst the hundreds of cars displayed on their stands.
Gabrielle approaches the imposing Mercedes stand and, pivoting
about on her heels, seems to take immense pleasure from these
immaculate vehicles, placing her scarred hands on their paintwork,
rolling her injured hips against them like an unpleasant cat.
She soon draws the attention of a young salesman who tries hard
not to notice her scars and braces.
Is there something here that interests
The white sports model. Could you help me
into it, please? I’d like to see if I can
fit into a car designed for a normal body.
Both James and Gabrielle enjoy the salesman’s discomfort as he
helps her into the Mercedes sports car.
She does her best to make it difficult, deliberately snagging her
leg brace clips on the soft leather of the driver’s side armrest,
forcing him to unhook her and to touch her deformed thighs and
knees while manipulating her legs into the footwell.
EXT. AIRPORT CONVENTION CENTER PARKING LOT – LATE DAY
James makes love to Gabrielle in the front seat of her small
invalid car, deliberately involving the complex hand controls in
the mechanics of their sex.
As he slips his hand around her right breast, he collides with the
strange geometry of the car’s interior.
Unexpected controls jut from beneath the steering wheel. A cluster
of chromium treadles is fastened to a steel pivot clamped to the
steering column. An extension on the floormounted gear lever rises
laterally, giving way to a vertical wing of chromium metal moulded
into the reverse of a driver’s palm.
Amidst this small forest of machinery, James explores Gabrielle’s
new and strange body, feeling his way among the braces and straps
of her underwear, the unfamiliar planes of her hips and legs, the
unique cul-de-sac, odd declensions of skin and musculature.
Gabrielle lies back. She lifts her left foot so that the leg brace
rests against his knee. In the inner surface of her thigh the
straps form marked depressions, troughs of reddened skin hollowed
out in the forms of buckles and clasps. James unshackles the left
leg brace and runs his fingers along the hot, corrugated skin of
the deep buckle groove.
The exposed portions of her body are joined together by the
loosened braces and straps. Through the fading afternoon light the
airliners move across their heads along the east west runways of
the airport. Gabrielle’s band moves across his chest, opening his
shirt, her fingers finding the small scars below his collarbone,
the imprint of the instrument binnacle Of his own crashed car. She
runs the tip of her tongue into each of the wound-scars on his
chest and abdomen.
James exposes her breasts, feeling for the wound areas which
surround them. As he tries to enter her, she puts her hand over
Don’t. Not there.
She spreads her left leg and exposes a deep, trench-like wound-
scar in her inner thigh. She directs his hand to this neo-sex
Do it there. And then after that, do it
Gabrielle rotates over him so that he can see the wounds of her
right hip. James turns her back, pulls her thigh in between his
own thighs and enters her scar. With his mouth fastened on the
scar beneath her left breast, his tongue exploring its sickle-
shaped trough, he comes almost immediately.
INT. FILM STUDIO – NIGHT
We float through the studio past a one-storey high automobile
battery. Its six cells are transparent and each one contains
something submerged in the bubbly water that represents battery
acid: a two-man submarine, a scuba diver, a small shark…
James stands pacing as the dolly shot is reset, lighting is
adjusted. An assistant director brings him a cellular phone.
Somebody named Vaughan. Do you want it?
James nods. The Assistant Director presses the “TALK” button and
hands the phone to James.
INT. TATTOO PARLOUR – NIGHT
We are close on Vaughan’s scarred mouth.
I need to see you, Ballard. I need to talk
to you about the project.
Where are you?
EXT. MALL – TATTOO PARLOUR – NIGHT
James drives up to the tattoo parlor, which is located in a small
mall. It is next to a small, private medical clinic, and has the
same antiseptic, untextured look of the ear, nose and throat suite
INT. TATTOO PARLOUR – NIGHT
James enters to discover Vaughan getting a wound tattoo on his
abdomen, one that looks as though it could have been made by the
fluted lower edge of a plastic steering wheel. The woman giving
Vaughan the tattoo is sexless and professional. She could be a
nurse or a hospital dietician.
James sits next to them, barely acknowledged by the woman. Vaughan
has messy papers spread out in front of him which include stylized
sketches of famous crash wounds, photos of Andy Warhol’s scars,
automotive styling detail drawings from a 50s era Detroit design
You’re making it too clean.
Medical tattoos are supposed to be clean.
This isn’t a medical tattoo. This is a
prophetic tattoo. Prophesy is dirty and
ragged. Make it dirty and ragged.
(a hint of sarcasm)
Prophetic? Is this personal prophesy or
There’s no difference. James – I want you
to let her give you this one.
Vaughan spreads out a stained piece of paper as though it were a
sacred piece of parchment. On it is a fiercely sketched wound that
looks as though it were made by the Lincoln’s hood ornament.
Where do you think that one should go?
Vaughan spreads his legs in a mechanical, unsexual way and grabs
the right inner thigh of his greasy jeans.
It should go here.
INT. VAUGHAN’S CAR – NIGHT
We are close on the fresh tattoo on James’s inner thigh. It looks
more like a cartoon version of a wound than a real wound. We can
see it because James’s trousers are down around his knees.
Vaughan’s face comes into frame. He gently kisses the tattoo.
James lifts Vaughan’s face to his own and kisses his mouth,
touches his tongue to each of the scars around Vaughan’s mouth.
EXT. UNDERPASS NEAR AUTO WRECKER’ S YARD – NIGHT
We see that the Lincoln sits in the shadow of an underpass at the
edge of an abandoned auto-wrecker’s yard, looking quite
comfortable next to the stacks of crushed auto hulks and piles of
wheels and bumpers visible through the chainlink fence.
INT. VAUGHAN’S CAR – NIGHT
James and Vaughan show their wounds to each other, exposing the
scars on their chests and hands to the beckoning injury sites on
the interior of the car, to the pointed sills of the chromium
ashtrays, to the curtain of wheel covers hanging on a web of
twisted wire just outside the car window. They touch, embrace,
EXT. UNDERPASS NEAR AUTO WRECKER’S YARD – NIGHT
James steps unsteadily from the Lincoln into the roadway, followed
for an instant by Vaughan’s uncertain arm reaching for him.
He moves away from the car, along the palisade to the weedgrown
entrance of the wrecker’s yard. Above him, the cars on the
motorway move like motorized wrecks.
EXT. AUTO-WRECKER#S YARD – NIGHT
Just outside the fence of the auto-wrecker’s yard a wreck, its
engine and wheels removed, sits on its axles. James opens the door
on its rusting hinges. A confetti of fragmented glass covers the
front passenger seat.
James gets in and sits there for a moment, crouched over the mud-
streaked instrument panel, his knees tightened against his chest
wall. A moment or two of this strangely comforting foetal
security, and then James unfolds and begins to get back out of the
An engine starts with a roar. As James steps back into the roadway
he is briefly aware of a heavy black vehicle accelerating towards
him from the shadow of the overpass where he and Vaughan embraced
together. Its white-walled tires tear through the broken beer
bottles and cigarette packs in the gutter, mount the narrow curb
and hurtle on towards him.
Knowing that Vaughan will not stop, will kill him, James presses
himself against the concrete wall. The Lincoln swerves after him,
its right-hand fender striking the rear wheel housing of the car
James has just left. It swings away, ripping the open passenger
door from its hinges.
A column of exploding dust and torn newspaper rises into the air
as it slides sideways across the access road. The Lincoln re-
mounts the curb on the far side of the road, crushing a ten-yard
section of the wooden palisade.
James can see Vaughan flicking a look back, his hard eyes
calculating whether or not he can make a second pass at him. The
rear wheels regain their traction on the road surface and the car
swings away on to the motorway above.
James leans against the roof of the abandoned car. The passenger
door has been crushed into the front fender, the deformed metal
welded together by the impact.
James retches suddenly and emptily.
Shreds of torn paper eddy through the air around him, pasting
themselves at various points against the crushed door panel and
EXT. BALCONY – BALLARD APT. – DAY
James sits on the balcony of his apartment, watching the sky. A
single-engined airplane floats above the motorway, a glass
dragonfly carried by the sun. It seems to hang motionless, the
propeller rotating slowly like a toy aircraft’ s. The light pours
from its wings in a ceaseless fountain.
Below it, the traffic moves sluggishly along the crowded concrete
lanes, the roofs of the vehicles forming a continuous carapace of
Suddenly, Catherine is behind him. She puts her hands on his
shoulders and he turns to her as though in a dream, gestures
towards the airplane.
I thought that was you, up there.
My last lesson’s next week.
James… my car…
James can see now that Catherine is frightened. He takes her hand.
What? Tell me.
EXT. BALLARD APT. DRIVEWAY – DAY
Catherine’s car sits in the driveway. The paintwork along the
left-hand side has been marked in some minor collision. Catherine
and James stand examining the mark soberly, archaeologists faced
with a problematical hieroglyph.
I wasn’t driving. I’d left the car in the
parking lot at the airport. Could it have
One of your suitors?
One of my suitors.
He kneels down to examine the assault on her car.
He feels the abrasions on the left-hand door and body panels,
explores with his hand the deep trench that runs the full length
of the car from the crushed tail-light to the front headlamp. The
imprint of the other car’s heavy front bumper is clearly marked on
the rear wheel guard.
James rises and takes Catherine’s arm. He opens the passenger door
It’s Vaughan. He’s courting you.
Let’s go find him.
EXT. DESERTED MOTORWAY – LATE DAY
Catherine’s car hurtles along a deserted six-lane highway.
INT. CATHERINE’S CAR – LATE DAY
James is driving. He looks across the seat at Catherine. She sits
very still, pale, one hand on the window-sill.
The traffic… where is everyone? They’ve
all gone away.
I’d like to go back. James…
Not yet. It’s only beginning.
EXT. FAMILIAR STRETCHES OF ROAD – LATE DAY INTO NIGHT
They drive past stretches of road we have seen before: the
underpass near the wrecker’s yard, several accident sites and
filling stations, etc.
EXT. AIRPORT FILLING STATION – NIGHT
One of the filling stations is near the airport. As they cruise by
it, they spot Vera Seagrave talking to a girl at the pumps.
James turns into the forecourt. Vera is dressed in a heavily
insulated leather jacket, as if she were about to leave on an
James calls to her from the car.
Vera! Vera Seagrave!
At first she fails to recognize him. Her firm eyes cut across him
to Catherine’s elegant figure, as if suspicious of her cross-
James gets out of the car and approaches Vera. He points to the
suitcases in the rear seat of Vera’s car.
Are you leaving, Vera? Listen, I’m trying
to find Vaughan.
Vera finishes with the girl attendant and, still staring at
Catherine, steps into her car.
The police are after him. An American
serviceman was killed on the Northolt
James puts his hand on the windshield, but she switches on the
windshield wipers, almost cutting the knuckle of his wrist.
I was with him in the car at the time.
Before James can stop her, she accelerates towards the exit and
turns into the fast evening traffic.
James gets back into Catherine’s car.
I think he’ll be waiting for us at the
James turns the car into the traffic.
EXT. AIRPORT ROADWAYS – NIGHT
Vaughan is waiting for them at the airport flyover. He makes no
attempt to hide himself, pushing his heavy car into the passing
Apparently uninterested in them, Vaughan lies against his door
sill, almost asleep at the wheel as he surges forward when the
lights change. His left-hand drums across the rim of the steering
wheel as he swerves the Lincoln to and fro across the road
His face is fixed in a rigid mask as he cuts in and out of the
traffic lanes, surging ahead in the fast lane until he is abreast
of them and then sliding back behind them, allowing other cars to
cut between them and then taking up a watchful position in the
James can see that Vaughan’ car has become even more battered than
it was before, scarred with many impact points, a rear window
broken, cracked headlamps, a body panel detached from the off-side
rear wheel housing, the front bumper hanging from the chassis
pinion, its rusting lower curvature touching the ground as Vaughan
When they slow down for a line of tankers, Vaughan makes his move.
He pulls up beside them and then cuts viciously three lanes of
traffic to hit them broadside. The nose of the Lincoln just nicks
the tail of the light sports which spins down the road.
The Lincoln keeps on going, its vast momentum taking it into
toward rails of the exit ramp, and then over them.
Catherine and James slam spinning into the tail of a tanker which
has all but stopped. The traffic behind them has already been
slowing and thus easily avoids hitting the stopped car when it
comes bouncing to a halt across two traffic lanes.
Catherine lies back, sprawled in her seat, eyes wide, body rigid,
bleeding from a small cut on her cheekbone. James jumps out of the
car, then immediately slows with a limp. He continues on, working
his way through the motionless cars.
When he looks over the edge, James sees that Vaughan’s Lincoln has
plunged into the top of an airline coach which was running on the
roadway below. With the Lincoln now inside it, the coach then
slewed sideways and crashed into several other vehicles.
Wreckage, flames and blood are everywhere.
James eyes are wide – not with horror – but with excitement.
EXT. POLICE POUND – NIGHT
Catherine end James stand at the gatehouse of the police pound
collecting the gate key from the moustached, sharp-eyed young
They then walk down the lines of seized and abandoned vehicles.
The pound is in darkness, lit only by the streetlights reflected
in the dented chromium.
They soon find Vaughan’s crashed Lincoln, massive and charismatic
even here, even in death. James manages to wrench open the
passenger-side rear door enough to allow them both get inside.
INT. VAUGHAN’S CAR – NIGHT
Sitting in the rear seat of the Lincoln, Catherine and James make
brief, ritual love, her buttocks held tightly in his hang an she
sits across his waist.
EXT. POLICE POUND – NIGHT
Afterwards, they walk among the cars. The beams of small headlamps
cut across their knees. An open car has stopped beside the
gatehouse. Two women sit behind the windshield, peering into the
A pause, and then the car moves forward, its driver turning the
wheel until the headlamps illuminate the remains of the
dismembered vehicle in which Vaughan died.
The woman in the passenger seat steps out and pauses briefly by
the gates. It is Helen Remington. When she helps the driver of the
car out, James and Catherine see that it-is the crippled
Gabrielle, her leg shackles clacking as she and Helen begin to
walk towards Vaughan’s car.
They stroll haltingly, arms around each other, like strange lovers
in a cemetery visiting a favorite mausoleum. At one point, Helen
kisses Gabrielle’s hand, and it is obvious that they have become
James and Catherine circle away from the couple and make these way
back to the gatehouse.
In the depths of the pound, Helen helps Gabrielle into the
Lincoln. In the darkness of the back seat, they embrace.
EXT. POLICE POUND – GATEHOUSE – NIGHT
James stands talking to the officer at the gatehouse window,
holding Catherine arm around his waist, pressing her fingers
against the muscles of his stomach.
I’d like to register a claim for the black
1963 Lincoln, the one that came in a
couple of days ago. Is there a form I can
There certainly is, but you’ll have to
come back between 7:30 and 4:30 to get
one. What’s your attachment to that thing?
A close friend owned it.
Well, it’s got to be a total write-off. I
don’t see what you could possibly do with
EXT. CROWDED RAIN-STREAKED ROADWAY – SUNSET
We are close on the huge, battle-scarred grille of Vaughan’s
Lincoln, now brought back to swaying, bellowing life. The
restoration of the Lincoln is as Vaughan would have wanted it:
Just enough to get it running and nothing more, with ugly brown
primer slapped onto the replaced panels, and whatever was cracked,
scraped and crumpled still cracked, scraped ad crumpled – a mobile
accident rolling on badly misaligned wheels.
INT. VAUGHAN’S LINCOLN – SUNSET
We pull back to see James alone in the car. The road is crowded
and manic; James is intense, hard, exhilarated, alert – a hunter.
The car is full of junk, pop cans, styrofoam containers, all
suggesting that he has been basically living in the car for some
James is searching for something amongst the lanes of traffic,
threading the immense car in and out of the shifting holes that
appear and disappear, driving with a fluid recklessness that is
recognizably Vaughan’s style.
Suddenly, James becomes tense, focussed: he has spotted what he
has been looking for.
EXT. CROWDED RAIN-STREAKED ROADWAY – SUNSET
Through the Lincoln’s insect- and oil-smeared windscreen we can
see the unmistakable shape of Catherine’s white sports car, itself
winding its way aggressively through the braids of vehicles.
The Lincoln lurches out onto the narrow emergency lane and takes
off after Catherine’s car, scraping the low concrete wall as it
wallows from side to side, clipping the corner of a truck that has
made the lane too narrow.
INT. CATHERINE’S SPORTS CAR – SUNSET
In her mirrors, Catherine spots the Lincoln charging towards her
along the emergency lane. Her demeanor is just as predatory as
James’s, and she does not hesitate to react.
Catherine cranks the steering wheel to the right and dives across
two lanes of startled vehicles to fishtail down a little-used
utility access road.
Behind her, and closing rapidly, the lumbering Lincoln follows
EXT. UTILITY ROAD – SUNSET
Around the decreasing-radius curve of the utility road, the more
nimble sports car stretches out the distance between it and the
Lincoln, but once the road uncurls, the booming V-8 allows the
American car to gobble up the ground until it is nose-to-tail with
James begins to bump the tail of the sports car, breathing off the
accelerator for a beat to let the white car – which looks
especially fragile and delicate by comparison – get away a bit,
then charging back until it makes contact.
Now the road ahead curves again, and just as Catherine enters the
curve, James gives her a seriously violent jolt. The rear of her
car slews off onto the grass verge, almost comes back, then loses
Catherine’s car spins backwards off the road, then rolls
unceremoniously, almost gently, down a small grade, shedding bits
and pieces until it finally flops to a halt on its side in front
of a cement culvert.
INT. VAUGHAN’S LINCOLN – SUNSET
Momentum has carried James past the point where Catherine has left
the road. James stands on the brakes until the Lincoln shudders to
a halt. He jams the shift lever into reverse and backs up, tires
squealing and smoking in protest, to where he saw her go over the
EXT. UTILITY ROAD – SUNSET
James jumps out of the car and stands for a beat at the edge of
the road on the wet grass, savoring the tableau below him.
Catherine lies sprawled, half out of the car, her tight black
dress hiked up over her hips, one arm across her face as though
shielding her eyes from the sight of her ruined, lightly-smoking
James eagerly makes his way down the wet grass of the hill towards
Catherine. As he approaches her, she begins to move, stretching
her arms behind her head as though awakening from a deep sleep. He
can now see that her dress is wet, soaked by the dirty water
trickling out of the culvert and now – dammed up by her torso.
James kneels close to Catherine.
Catherine. Are you all right? Are you
Catherine’s eyes flutter open. Her mascara is smeared, as though
she has been crying, and there is wetness at the corners of her
eyes. Her upper lip is bruised and beginning to purple, and there
is blood on her forehead and at the corner of her mouth.
James, I… I don’t know… I think I’m
James slips her panties down her legs, leaving them around her
left ankle when they snag on the one high-heel shoe she still has
on. He gently rotates her onto her right hip, undoes his fly, then
lies down on the concrete with her, ignoring the light, muddy
stream which now begins to soak the thigh of his trousers. Kissing
the back of her neck, he enters her from behind.
Maybe the next one, darling… Maybe the
He pull up and away from the couple on the ground until we lose
them behind the overturned Sports car, then rise and pivot until
we are once again watching the frantic lanes of traffic hurtling
obliviously only a few meters away.
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