Short Story

Smart Car 15


I was able to stop before plunging over the falls. For so many reasons, not the least of which is that Deuce is illegal based on his lack of safety devices, I didn’t want to be interviewed. To avoid being identified I activated Deuce’s cloaking device, making him appear to be a normal smart car with the usual artificial personality and intelligence. As a result, when no Charger was seen in the vicinity, it was assumed that Deuce went over the falls with Mower Arty.

Given the trauma of having killed a killer and nearly dying myself, I wasn’t thinking straight. While driving home, it occurred to me that Sheila could be freaking from the news reports. There were no other Chargers on the highway, so she would assume that it was Deuce and I that went over the falls with Mower Arty. I can’t blame her for saying “You asshole, how can you let me think that you were dead, and even more important, that Deuce was destroyed” when I called her. Clearly, she had heard the news about Mower Arty and Deuce before I called. Her comment about Deuce gave insight into our complicated relationship.

Just after that call, I got one from Eugene Springfield, the billionaire Mindphonetm inventor that we had met in Canada. I wasn’t surprised to hear him start by saying “I’m glad to see that you survived the falls and stopped a killer. When your breathing returns to normal, give me a call.” The guy is on top of anything that interests him, and I know that cars interest him.

After I got home to Sheila and told her the whole story, I called Eugene, or Gene as we have been told to call him, and gave the same story to him.

“Duke, you may not know it yet, but your story has gone national, even international. As a consequence of seeing the Mower Arty antique Mustang and Sheila’s Deuce on the news, there has been worldwide interest and demand for the cars. I don’t know if it is nostalgia, or a pent-up demand for performance after all the years of tame smart cars, but the reaction has been tremendous.”

“And Eugene Springfield sees a way to exploit that interest?”

“No shit, Sherlock.”

I don’t know if Gene’s comment was comparing Conan Doyle’s “ending” of Sherlock Holmes to my supposed demise over Rightinback Falls, but I let it go.

“Here’s what I’m thinking Duke. With you, but mostly Sheila helping, we can make Charger and Mustang replicars in Canada and ship them around the world. We can make hot cars for the jurisdictions that allow them like Canada and Russia, and smart cars for those that don’t like the US and Europe. What do you think?”

At first I was a little irritated about the “mostly Sheila” comment, but he was right, Sheila knew more about antique cars in general, and Chargers in particular than I did. I told him to hold the phone and opened my mouth to talk to Sheila, but before I could speak, she said “Let’s go.”

I think that Deuce might have been the happiest of all of us to go back to Gene’s Newberry Ranch in British Columbia. He had his proudest moments there showing off during Gene’s car show, but all of us loved the hospitality of Gene, his wife Linn and son Medford. To make things easier for the project, Gene had bought the wreckage of the Mower Arty Mustang. It was even easier to work with Deuce, because he could talk. Within a month Vancouver and Portland – he agreed to a US factory as well as Canada – were turning out replicars both hot and not (smart cars).

Two months later happy people around the world were cruising around with sexy cars, putting the utilitarian smart cars to shame. Did I mention that Gene is one of the good billionaires? All of the profits from the Charger and Mustang lookalikes go for medical and ecological research.

On the downside, there are rumors of conversion kits turning the smart replicars to hot. I suppose that Sheila isn’t the only one who wants some auto excitement. We don’t know yet about possible safety problems. Deuce no longer uses his cloak when he is out and about. People assume that he is just one of the replicars. He has taken to yelling at onlookers “I’m the original”. He hates the newbies, particularly when he is propositioned for sex. He wants nothing to do with the promiscuous replicars or old smart cars because he is not programmed to even understand car sex, much less being able to perform. His programming left him completely naïve in some areas, while being a scientific genius. Maybe less fun for him, but easier for us humans.