SOUNDS again. Gillis gets up and opens the door. Two men wearing hats
stand outside, one of them carrying a briefcase.
Joseph C. Gillis?
ease into the room. No. 1 hands Gillis a business card.
We've come for the car.
That’s exactly what it felt like. They may not have been in
hats and suits, and I wasn’t living on Sunset Boulevard, but
when a certain carmaker sent me a certain letter about my electric
car, I knew the repo man had arrived.
The funny thing is that, unlike Mr. Joseph C. Gillis, I had never missed
a car payment. Sure, I had been late once, but never long enough to
dread a pile of late notices in my mailbox.
I was a perfect customer and when my lease was up, I offered to buy
the car or simply extend the lease. But the carmaker said no. They
wanted their electric car back.
But why? Why couldn’t I keep my car?
There was nothing wrong with it. In fact, it was the best car I had
ever owned by a long shot. Fast…zero to 30 in three seconds.
Zero to 60 in eight seconds. Quiet. Just a faint futuristic whirrrr
like the Jetson-mobile.
And...oh yes, it didn’t use a drop of gasoline.
All you’d do is charge it up in your garage overnight. It took
about $3 of electricity to go 100 miles. Or you could juice it up for
free around town at one of dozens of charging stations L.A. built during
the 1990s. Some of them were even solar powered. This car had turned
me, for the first time in my life, into a car lover.
Frankly, after five years of driving bliss, I had known the end was
coming. Other electric car drivers had already lost their cars. In
fact, no major carmaker was letting drivers extend their electric car
leases. And because almost none were ever available for sale, it was
impossible to keep them.
What was left to do? What would Joe do?
I knew they'd be coming around and I wasn't taking any chances, so I
kept it a couple of blocks away in a parking lot behind Rudy's Shoeshine
But here’s the rub. The parking lot behind Rudy’s
Shoeshine Parlor disappeared years ago and so had Rudy’s. And
second, even if I could find another safe house, I’d likely end
up in court eventually for a stolen car. And when I lost, in addition
to a felony,
as the contract clarified, I’d be liable for GM’s legal fees.
Multiply four corporate lawyers times two years and you’ve got
a bill that Norma Desmond couldn’t pay.
For those who knew how easy it was to live without gasoline; for those
who knew you could charge a car off of your house without a pound of
CO2 adding to global warming; for those who loved
their electric cars, it was a whole lot more than the repo man.
Perhaps the press could help us turn the tide. We held a public funeral.
Evelyn Waugh would have been proud. Our loved ones, the last electric
cars in procession, at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. But the media’s
wrap-up was that the car of tomorrow had become a car of the past. But
what about today? It was here, now. From here, only one recourse was
left—to make a film.
You couldn’t blame the carmakers for wanting their car back. They
were beautiful. In fact, the leasing company went over every car with
a fine tooth comb. Damage fees would apply. So when rumors surfaced that
the cars were then being destroyed, it all went to another level.
- AT THE DOOR
Over the shot the SOUND of the truck being started and the cars moving
away. Gillis moves out into the courtyard and stands staring after the
car. From the house comes Norma.
Now what is it? Where's the fire?
I've lost my car.
Oh...and I thought it was a matter of life and death.
It is to me. That's why I came to this house.
That's why I took this job...