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                                      Screenplay by

                                     David Cronenberg

                                   Based on a novel by

                                       J.G. Ballard

                                      SHOOTING DRAFT


               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 toward 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 wing's 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.

               CU breast on metal. CU hard nipple and rivets.

               CU 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 the thrusting.

               EXT. FILM STUDIO -- DAY

               We are floating toward 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 
               mini-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 

                         I think I saw him in the camera 


               We float toward 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 spread.

               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 AD approaching with deliberately 
               heavy footsteps. The AD pauses just outside the door.

                              (off screen)
                         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 on to her back and throws her 
               legs over James's shoulders.

                                     CAMERA GIRL
                         It'll take more than a minute.


               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, who is standing 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 come?

                         We were interrupted. I had to go 
                         back to the set...

               Catherine turns toward James and pulls open her blouse, 
               exposing her left breast. She pulls James's face down and 
               presses her nipple against his cheek.

                         Poor darling.
                         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 and Karen.


               James lingers among racks of nightdresses outside a changing 
               cubicle. Monitored by a bored, seen-it-all middle-aged 
               saleswoman, 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 brassières 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 brassière 
               have left a medallion of impressed skin, and finally on the 
               elastic-patterned grooves beneath Catherine's breasts 

               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.


               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-belt.

               As the car moves off, James puts his free hand between 
               Catherine's thighs.


               James studies storyboards for an automotive battery 
               commercial, which are spread out over a broad architect's 
               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, leather-bound notebook.

               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 

               But he says nothing to her, and she remains poised and 


               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. RAINSWEPT 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 toward 

               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 head-on.

               At the moment of impact, the man in the passenger seat of 
               the other car is propelled like a mattress 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 this happens, James is vaguely conscious of the 
               same thing 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 

               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 really to yank them 
               open in case the violence of that act might trigger some 
               further unnamed catastrophe.

               INT. JAMES'S CAR -- NIGHT

               Numbly watching James as she fumbles to undo her seat-belt, 
               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 seat-belt.

               In the strange, desperate privacy of this moment, the breast's 
               erect nipple seems somehow, impossibly, a deliberate 

               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 a very serious Catherine 
               is applying the makeup.

               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.

                         Thank you.

               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-looking 
               new ward, all of them empty.

                         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 

                         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 unfamiliar.

                              (referring to the 
                         Is that a gift from Wendel? It has 
                         an aeronautical feel to it.

                         Yes. From Wendel. To celebrate the 
                         licence 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 transparent pain.

                         That's going well, then.

                         Well, yes.
                         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 company.

               A dark-haired student female nurse comes into the ward. She 
               wags a finger at James.

                                     STUDENT NURSE
                         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.

                                     STUDENT NURSE
                              (to Catherine)
                         Are you this gentleman's wife? Mrs 


                                     STUDENT NURSE
                         You can stay for this, then.

               The nurse pulls the bedclothes back and digs the urine bottle 
               from between James's 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 leaves.

               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 curious.

                         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.

                         It is?

                         After being bombarded endlessly by 
                         road-safety propaganda, it's almost 
                         a relief to have found myself in an 
                         actual accident.


               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-chested 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 pockmarked 
               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.

                         James Ballard?


                         Crash victim?


               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 walks off down the 

               As James turns to continue, a young woman comes out of the 
               same room that Vaughan appeared from and moves toward 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.

                         Dr. Remington...?

               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 him.

               She pauses when she reaches the doorway, waiting for him to 
               step out of her way. James looks down at 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 

               James is acutely aware of her strong body beneath her mauve 
               bathrobe, her ribcage partly shielded by a sheath of white 
               plaster that runs from one shoulder to the opposite armpit 
               like a classic Hollywood ball-gown.

               James steps aside. Deciding to ignore him, Helen Remington 
               walks stiffly along the communication corridor, parading her 
               anger and her wound.

               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 toward the 
                         windshield-wiper gutters.

               Catherine resoaps her right hand from the bar in the wet 
               saucer on the bed tray, a cigarette in her left. 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 


               Catherine and James travel home in the back seat of a taxi. 
               Learning against the rear window of the taxi, James finds 
               himself flinching with excitement toward the approaching 
               traffic streams, which now seem threatening and super-real.

               Catherine watches him, aware that he is over-exhilarated, 
               very excited herself by his new sensitivity to the traffic.

               EXT. BALLARD APT. BALCONY -- 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, 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 wedding guests.

               James gazes raptly down at this immense motion sculpture, 
               this incomprehensible pinball machine.

               Catherine comes on to 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 car.

                         I can't sit on this balcony forever. 
                         I'm beginning to feel like a potted 

                         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 with you?

                         I thought she might come along. 
                         Handling a car again might be more 
                         tiring than I imagine.

                         I'm amazed that she'll let you drive 

                         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 are there; most 
               of them have been driven to work. James walks among those 
               that remain, absorbing the details of the personal things 
               left in them -- 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 'Balladr'. He 
               stares at the familiar pattern of oil-stains marking the 

               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 

               EXT. FIRST CRASH SITE -- DAY

               The rented car slows and stops on the concrete verge a few 
               yards from the spot where James's 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 

                         You were the last one I saw just 
                         before the accident. Do you remember? 
                         We made love.

                         Are you still involving me in your 

               An airline coach passes, the passengers bound for Milan 
               staring down at the couple in the car. Renata buttons her 

               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 

               A hundred yards behind them, a dusty old Lincoln is also 
               parked on the verge. The leather-jacketed driver watches 
               James through his mudspattered windshield, broad shoulders 
               hunched against the door pillar. As James crosses the road 
               the man 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 into the car.

               INT. RENTED CAR -- DAY

                         Can you drive?

                         I can drive.

               James shifts the car into gear and cruises slowly toward 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 mouth.

               The man looks up at James and he recognizes Vaughan, the 
               young doctor he last saw in the hallway at the airport 

               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 crashed.

               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.
                              (to James)
                         Are you planning to have another car 

                         I'm not thinking about the crash at 

               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 conscious of it.

               EXT. POLICE POUND -- DAY

               James enters the gate of the police pound 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. 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 grill.

               Two policemen cross the yard with a black Alsatian dog. They 
               watch James hovering around his car as if they vaguely resent 
               his touching it. When they are gone, he unlatches the driver's 
               door and, with an effort, pulls it open.

               James eases himself on to 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 on to 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 that killed her 
               husband. As she raises her head she sees James through the 
               glassless 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 toward a damaged truck, then turns and 
               comes back as James gets out of his car.

               She gestures toward the damaged vehicles, then speaks to 
               James as though continuing a conversation already in progress.

                         After this sort of thing, how do 
                         people manage to look at a car, let 
                         alone drive one?
                         I'm trying to find Charles's car.

                         It's not here. Maybe the police are 
                         still holding it. Their forensic 

                         They said it was here. They told me 
                         this morning.

               She peers critically at James's car, as if puzzled by its 
               distorted geometry.

                         This is your car?

               She reaches out a gloved hand and touches the radiator grill, 
               feeling a chrome pillar torn from the accordion, as if 
               searching for some trace of her husband's presence among the 
               blood-spattered paintwork.

                         You'll tear your gloves.

               James gently takes her hand and moves it away from the grill.

                         I don't think we should have come 
                         here. I'm surprised the police don't 
                         make it more difficult.

                         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?
                              (almost apologetically)
                         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 

               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 uneasy.

                         I take it you're not wearing white 
                         to reassure them.

                         I'll wear a bloody kimono if I want 

                         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 with him.

               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 of me.

                              (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 colour.

               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 
               on to the windshield.

               INT. JAMES'S CAR -- DAY

               The car swerves from the fast lane and veers toward 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 coach.

               They watch the cars swerving past on both sides of them, 
               horns sounding.

                         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 a 
                         massive traffic jam under an off-
                         ramp. I don't think we moved more 
                         than fifty yards.
                         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 case.

                         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 

               They have now reached the top level of the multi-story 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 dress.

               With the jet engines screaming for accompaniment, Helen lifts 
               her right breast from her brassière, 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 
               preceding scene.

               James's thoughts keep flashing back to himself and Helen in 
               his car, the images mixing confusingly with his present 
               lovemaking to Catherine.


               James is back in his office, but it is obvious that he is 
               only nibbling at the work that has piled up in his absence. 
               Renata comes in.

                         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 discreet about the 

                         Really? What kind of exhibition is 

                         I suspect it involves re-enactments 
                         of famous car crashes. You know, 
                         Jayne Mansfield, James Dean, Albert 

                         You're kidding.

                         Serious. But you'll have to take 
                         your new friend, the female crash-
                         test dummy. She dropped it off for 

                         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 surprise.

                         We've had a few of those ourselves, 
                         haven't we?

               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 1955 
               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 a few rough wooden stands have been erected.

               A blond 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.

                              (over speakers)
                         '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 toward 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 thirtieth; the time: 


               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 program sheet.

                         The real thing is available free of 
                         charge. Besides, it's not quite legal. 
                         They can't advertise.

                              (over speakers)
                         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 

                         Who is that? The announcer. Do I 
                         know him?

                         That's Vaughan. He talked to you at 
                         the hospital.

                         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 now.

                              (over speakers)
                         The second star is stuntman and former 
                         race driver -- Colin Seagrave, who 
                         will drive our replica of James Dean's 

               EXT. COUNTRY ROAD -- NIGHT

               Seagrave, a coarse and burly man, wriggles his way behind 
               the wheel of the delicate little race car without 
               acknowledging the cheers of the crowd. He wears James Dean 
               clothes -- a red windbreaker, a white T-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.

                              (over speakers)
                         I myself shall play the role of James 
                         Dean's racing mechanic, Rolf 
                         Wütherich, 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.

               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.

                              (over speakers)
                         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 Salinas, 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.

                              (over speakers)
                         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 also 
               functions as an assistant, and then sinks down into the silver 

               Seagrave starts the Porsche, which settles quickly into a 
               husky idle. A few blips of the throttle, and then the Porsche 
               is reversed down 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, co-ordinating 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 

               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 toward each other, each in its respective 

               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. 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 on to 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 
               race car.

               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 has been buzzing, goes silent again. Trask walks away 
               from the crash site and disappears into the shadows at the 
               edge of the road.


               There is no movement from either Seagrave or Vaughan. James 
               is not sure how to react, but Helen seems genuinely worried.

                         Is that part of the act or are they 
                         really hurt?

                         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.

                              (over speakers)
                         Rolf Wütherich 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 Porsche but is 
               jammed behind the wheel. Without missing a beat, Vaughan 
               dances over to the car and begins to haul Seagrave out of 
               his seat.

                         Hold me. I'm dizzy. I can't stand 


               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 toward 
               the road, and James follows her.

               EXT. COUNTRY ROAD -- NIGHT

               Just as James and Helen step on 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 grandstand on to 
               the road. A loudspeaker mounted on one of the police cars 
               begins to blare.

                              (over loudspeaker)
                         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.

                              (to Vaughan)
                         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 are able to 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 seriously?

                         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 seems not 
               to notice, but her eyes close dreamily every once in a while. 
               James watches microscopically.

               Sometimes, when the flow of traffic allows, Vaughan stares 
               intently at James while his hand works away 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 showroom is a fiberglass replica of a 1930s 
               Brooklands racer, faded bunting stuffed into the seat.

               They get out of the car, helping the woozy Seagrave through 
               the door at the side of the showroom, which leads to the 
               stairway up to the apartment above 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 

                         Oh, God. What happened? Here, lie 

               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 concussion.

                         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 her lap.

               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 

               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 embedded in the windshield -- 
                         and the little dead dog thing as 
                         well. You know, the Chihuahuas in 
                         the back seat. I've got it figured 

               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 

               James turns to go, leaving Helen to her conversation with 
               Vera, but Vaughan follows him through the door, holding his 
               arm in a powerful grip.

                         Don't leave yet, Ballard. I want you 
                         to help me.


               James follows Vaughan down a cramped corridor to a 
               photographic workshop formed out of a warren of small rooms. 
               Vaughan eases James into the first room and then carefully 
               closes the door behind them.

                         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 leather-bound 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 close-
               ups of impacted radiator grills and windshields.

               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 

               The remainder of the album describes 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 promising pupil.

               James closes the book.

                         What kind of help can I possibly be 
                         to you? You seem to be everywhere at 
                         once as it is.

               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 

                         Thought you might be missing these.
                              (to James)
                         So here you are at the nerve centre. 
                         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? 
                         A book of crashes? A medical study? 
                         A sensational documentary? Global 

                         It's something we're all intimately 
                         involved in: the reshaping of the 
                         human body by modern technology.


               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 planes flying in formation. They touch 
               each other from time to time without seeming to notice it, 
               but James notices it.


               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 the windshield.

               And then, abruptly, James is aware of the dented fender of 
               Vaughan's Lincoln only a few feet behind Catherine's sports 

               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 signalling 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 James approach as if he had never seen him before, 
               scarred mouth working on a piece of gum as he gazes at the 
               aircrafts taking off from the airport.

                         Vaughan, what the hell are you doing? 
                         Are you trying to create your own 
                         Famous Crash?

               Vaughan hooks his gear lever into reverse.

                         It excited her, Ballard. Your wife, 
                         Catherine. She enjoyed it. Ask her.

               Vaughan reverses his car 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, buttocks pressed into his groin. He is inside her.

                         He must have fucked a lot of women 
                         in that huge car of his. It's like a 
                         bed on wheels. It must smell of 

                         It does.

                         Do you find him attractive?

                         He's very pale. Covered with scars.

                         Would you like to fuck him, though? 
                         In that car?

                         No. But when he's in that car...

                         Have you seen his penis?

                         I think it's badly scarred too. From 
                         a motorcycle accident.

                         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 shirt around 
               her hips like a department-store window-dresser jerking a 
               garment on to a mannequin.

                         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.

               INT. ROAD RESEARCH LAB -- DAY

               We are witnessing a spectacular road accident re-created 
               under laboratory conditions in the immense confines of the 
               Road Research Lab.

               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.

               Among 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 of fragments.

               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 

               The engineers wave to the crowd reassuringly and move toward 
               the motorcycle, which lies on its side fifty yards behind 
               the car. But it is Vaughan -- a black-jacketed figure striding 
               on long, uneven legs -- who arrives first at the bike.

               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 

                         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 motion.

               An audience of thirty or so gathers at the trestle tables to 
               watch a slowmotion 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 dream-
               like 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 crash.

               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 way.

                         I've always wanted to drive a crashed 

                         You could get your wish at any moment.

                         No, I mean a crash with a history. 
                         Camus's Facel Vega, or Nathaniel 
                         West'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 think.

               James opens the briefcase and slides out a thick packet of 
               glossy photographs, all of them marked up with coloured ink 

               The photos are culled from a variety of sources -- newspapers, 
               magazines, video stills, film frames -- blown up to uniform 
               8' x 10' size. Each one depicts a famous crash victim in the 
               prime of life, and each one has the wounds to come marked up 
               very explicitly -- 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 photographs shows the cars in which these 
               famous people died. Each photo is marked to show which parts 
               of the cars destroyed or fused with which famous body part: 
               for example, a close-up 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 understand why.

                         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 

                         What about the reshaping of the human 
                         body by modern technology? I thought 
                         that was your project.

                         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 on to 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 the airport car-park looms.

               INT. AIRPORT CAR-PARK -- DAY

               The Lincoln spirals its way up toward the upper levels of 
               the airport carpark. 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.

                         You drive.

               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 Vaughan returns 
               with the gum-chewing whore in tow.

               As the girl, with short black hair and a boy's narrow-hipped 
               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 into the darkness.

                         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 

               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 

               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 


               James and Renata sort through some storyboards together at 
               the architect's table. Renata takes a few cast-offs and walks 
               past the window toward 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 lift?

                         No, thanks. I'll go with Vaughan.


               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 

                         They're questioning Vaughan about an 
                         accident near the airport. Some 
                         pedestrian... they think he was run 
                         over intentionally.

                         Vaughan isn't interested in 

               As if taking their cue from this, the policemen walk back to 
               their car. Vaughan watches them go, head raised like a 

                         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 

                         I'd better come with you, then. Are 
                         you sure you can drive?

               As Catherine and James walk toward Vaughan, he reaches into 
               the rear seat of his car and pulls out a white sweatshirt. 
               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 

               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 

               INT. VAUGHAN'S CAR -- NIGHT

               Catherine has half hidden herself behind the passenger seat. 
               Her steady eyes follow the skid marks and loops of 
               bloodstained oil that cross the familiar macadam like a battle 

               Vaughan, by contrast, leans out 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. A police motorcyclist cuts in front of James and slows 
               to a halt, signalling him to wait and allow the ambulance to 
               pass. James stops the car.

               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 

               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 traveling 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 strap.

               As the older man turns to the 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 door, he notices that the blood of one 
               of the accident victims has somehow been splashed on to 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 

               EXT. JAMMED MOTORWAY -- NIGHT

               James walks back alone, eventually spotting them among the 
               throng of spectators, Catherine watching Vaughan's scarred 
               face intently, provocatively, as he photographs every aspect 
               of the accident.

               There is a calmly festive and pervasive sexuality in the air 
               among 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 on to the 
               heads of the occupants.

               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 roofliner with drying blood. But it's 
               soon apparent that it's not hair, but rather a cheap, tangled, 
               platinum blond wig.

               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 disciplined puppy.

               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 a 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 art.

                              (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 joy.

                         Come with me, James. I have to 
                         document it.

               Vaughan lopes off toward 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 

               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 

                         We 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 area.

               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 beside Catherine.

               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 reassuringly.

               Vaughan sits like a bored gangster beside her, his left knee 
               leaning against her thigh. One hand rubs his groin absent-
               mindedly. 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 
               cubicle 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, on 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 his 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 geometry.

               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 bower.

               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 the seat.

               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 crash injuries.

               At just this moment, Catherine looks into James's eyes in an 
               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 hips.


               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 sweat-soaked seat.

               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.


               The Lincoln pulls up at the Ballards' 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 toward 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.


               In the elevator, James holds Catherine closely, lovingly.


               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 


               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 among 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 


               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 floor-
               mounted gear lever rises laterally, giving way to a vertical 
               wing of chromium metal moulded into the reverse of a driver's 

               Amid 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 culs-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 airplanes move across their heads along the east -- 
               west runways of the airport. Gabrielle's hand 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 his mouth.

                         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 organ.

                         Do it there. And then after that, do 
                         it here.

               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 

               INT. FILM STUDIO -- NIGHT

               We float through the studio past a one-story-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 

               James stands pacing as the dolly shot is reset, lighting is 
               adjusted. An AD brings him a cellular phone.

                         Somebody named Vaughan. Do you want 

               James nods. The AD presses the TALK button and hands the 
               phone to James.

                         Hello? Ballard.

               INT. TATTOO PARLOR -- 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 PARLOR -- 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 next door.

               INT. TATTOO PARLOR -- 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 that 
               include stylized sketches of famous crash wounds, photos of 
               Andy Warhol's scars, automotive styling-detail drawings from 
               a 50s Detroit design studio.

                              (to tattooist)
                         You're making it too clean.

                         Medical tattoos are supposed to be 

                         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 global prophesy?

                         There's no difference. James -- I 
                         want you to let her give you this 

               Vaughan spreads out a stained scrap 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 

               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 


               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 chain-
               link 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, kiss.


               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 
               overgrown 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 
               mudstreaked 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 car.

               An engine starts with a roar. As James steps back into the 
               roadway he is briefly aware of a heavy black vehicle 
               accelerating toward 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 toward 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 
               remounts 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 radiator hood.

               EXT. BALLARD APT. BALCONY -- 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 

               Below it, the traffic moves sluggishly along the crowded 
               concrete lanes, the roofs of the vehicles forming a continuous 
               carapace of polished cellulose.

               Suddenly, Catherine is behind him. She puts her hands on his 
               shoulders and he turns to her as though in a dream, gestures 
               toward 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 

                         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, 
               archeologists faced with a problematic hieroglyph.

                         I wasn't driving. I'd left the car 
                         in the parking-lot at the airport. 
                         Could it have been deliberate?

                         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 for her.

                         It's Vaughan. He's courting you. 
                         Let's go find him.


               Catherine's car hurtles along a deserted six-lane highway.

               INT. CATHERINE'S CAR -- LATE DAY

               James is driving. He looks across 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.


               They drive past stretches of road we have seen before: the 
               underpass near the wrecker's yard, several accident sites 
               and filling stations, etc.


               One of the filling stations is near the airport. As they 
               cruise by it, they spot Vera Seagrave talking to a girl 
               attendant at the pumps.

               James turns into the forecourt. Vera is dressed in a heavily 
               insulated leather jacket, as though she were about to leave 
               on an Antarctic expedition.

               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-legged posture.

               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 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 

                         I was with him in the car at the 

               Before James can stop her, she accelerates toward 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 airport.


               James turns the car into the traffic.


               Vaughan is waiting for them at the airport flyover. He makes 
               no attempt to hide himself, pushing his heavy car into the 
               passing traffic stream.

               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 surface.

               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 slow lane.

               James can see that Vaughan's 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 corners.

               When they slow down for a line of tankers, Vaughan makes his 
               move. He pulls up beside them and then cuts viciously across 
               three lanes of traffic to hit them broadside. The nose of 
               the Lincoln just nicks the tail of the light sports car, 
               which spins down the road.

               The Lincoln keeps on going, its vast momentum taking it into 
               the guard 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 sports car 
               when it comes bouncing to a halt across two traffic lanes.

               Catherine lies back, sprawled in her seat, eyes wide and 
               staring with fright, body rigid, bleeding from a small cut 
               on her cheekbone. James jumps out of the car, then immediately 
               slows with a limp. He continues, working his way doggedly 
               through the motionless cars to the edge of the ramp.

               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 

               Wreckage, flames and blood are everywhere.

               James's eyes are wide: not with horror, but with excitement.

               EXT. POLICE POUND -- NIGHT

               Catherine and James stand at the gatehouse of the police 
               pound, collecting the gate key from the mustachioed, sharp-
               eyed young officer there.

               They then walk down the lines of seized and abandoned 
               vehicles. The pound is in darkness, lit only by the street-
               lights 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 
               to 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 
               hands as 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 darkness.

               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 
               out of the car, James and Catherine see that it is the 
               crippled Gabrielle, her leg shackles clacking as she and 
               Helen begin to walk toward 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 lovers.

               James and Catherine circle away from the couple and make 
               their 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.


               James stands talking to the officer at the gatehouse window, 
               holding Catherine's 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 fill out?

                                     POUND OFFICER
                         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.

                                     POUND OFFICER
                         Well, it's got to be a total write-
                         off. I don't see what you could 
                         possibly do with it.


               We are close on the huge, battle-scarred grill 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 on to the replaced panels, and 
               whatever was cracked, scraped and crumpled still cracked, 
               scraped and crumpled -- a mobile accident rolling on badly 
               misaligned wheels.


               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 basically been living 
               in the car for some time.

               James is searching for something among 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, focused: he has spotted what 
               he has been looking for.


               Through the Lincoln's insect- and oil-smeared windshield 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 on to 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.


               In her mirrors, Catherine spots the Lincoln charging toward 
               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 Catherine's car.

               James begins to bump the tail of the sports car, breaking 
               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 on to the grass verge, almost comes 
               back, then loses traction completely.

               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.


               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 edge.

               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 

               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 sports car.

               James eagerly makes his way down the wet grass of the hill 
               toward 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 hurt?

               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 all right...

               James slips her panties down her legs, leaving them around 
               her left ankle when they snag on the one high-heeled shoe 
               she still has on. He gently rotates her on to 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 next one...

               We 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 by obliviously only a few meters away.

                                         THE END


Writers :   J.G. Ballard  David Cronenberg
Genres :   Drama  Thriller  Romance

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