The finish line, a quarter of
a mile down Las Palmas Road. The Car wins by three feet. The
Car turns and comes back slowly, followed by the Plymouth. The
Driver stops and the boy gives him $400. The Girl and the Mechanic
get in. They drive slowly down the road in the direction of the
finish line. The Driver turns left and suddenly they are in the
desert. He drives very slowly. Then he stops. He cuts the headlights.
There is no noise. There are no lights. The sky and the night
are completely around them. They are silent. Then the Driver
accelerates to 130 m.p.h
A plaza in the center of Santa
Fe. The Driver pulls up to the curb. He gets out and the Mechanic
moves over to the Driver's seat.
DRIVER (preoccupied, almost morose)
: I'll walk to the motel. He walks down the street. The Mechanic
and the Girl drive off.
The motel. The girl jumps up
and down on the bed. The Mechanic lies on the other bed, looking
at her. He gets up and turns on the TV and returns to the bed.
The Girl joins him on his bed. Together they watch TV.
A street, center of town. The
Driver walks into a bar. It is a workers' bar, dimly lit. A few
Mexicans quietly drink and watch the TV over the bar. A fight
is on. The Driver sits down at the bar and consciously turns
his back to the fight on the screen. The bartender comes up to
DRIVER: A double Jack Daniel's
with a water chaser.
Another crowded bar. The Driver
sits at the bar, drinking shots. The bar is crowded with young
people. In the back a rock-and-roll band plays. People dance.
The Driver is drunk.
A Spanish bar, quiet, tastefully
furnished. The barmaids wear long Mexican dresses and jewelry.
The Driver walks in, standing for a moment in the doorway. The
driver of the Plymouth Road Runner sits at a table with his girl.
The Driver stares openly at the driver of the Plymouth Road Runner
and his girl. She is in her early thirties, very beautiful, her
hair long and dark, her features open and floating in an intense,
almost ravaged way. She is on the verge of tears.
GIRL: But you're not twenty-five.
You're thirty-two. You can't play these kind of games anymore.
PLYMOUTH DRIVER (trying to keep
his voice controlled) : I'm going to do whatever I want to do.
GIRL (her voice sarcastic, nearly
hysterical) That's right, we're not married are we?
PLYMOUTH DRIVER (bitter, his
anger showing) : No we're not.
He looks down at his glass.
GIRL: Don't withdraw on me. Just
when I need you, you turn away. (She begins to cry.)
PLYMOUTH DRIVER: You don't need
me. All you need is a lamppost to relate to.
GIRL. (half rising) : Oh I hate
you. I really hate you. You're so cruel.
PLYMOUTH DRIVER (angry) : And
you're so out of your fucking tree. If it wasn't for your period,
I'd say you were clinical.
The girl rises from her chair,
crying hysterically. She throws her glass on the table, breaking
it. The Plymouth Driver stares at her. She runs out of the café.
The Driver watches her go, then looks at the Plymouth Driver
who is staring after her. The Driver gives him a slow thumbs-up
signal; the Plymouth Driver looks at him and nods, then returns
to his drink.
The motel. The motel is arranged
around a square court with cars parked in front of the rooms.
The Driver makes his way slowly to the Car. He opens the door
and gets in behind the wheel. There is no expression on his face.
It is quiet except for a few cars passing on the street nearby.
The Driver gets out of the Car and goes to the room. He hears
indistinct voices inside. He drops the key and sinks to the ground
outside. The voices become more distinct.
GIRL (very quietly, subdued)
: Do you like this?
MECHANIC (his voice low and distant)
Yes, I can say that I like that.
MECHANIC: That too.
GIRL (moaning) : Oh . . . yes,
Yes. Take me around the pool.
There are vague sounds of lovemaking.
On the road, morning. A Texas
Hitchhiker stands in the haze half a mile up the road. The GTO
is going 85 m.p.h. It passes the Hitchhiker, then squeals to
a stop. The Hitchhiker runs after the GTO and climbs into it.
The driver's sweater is a light, very expensive yellow cashmere.
The camera observes him more closely now. His blond hair is neither
long nor short. He is of medium build and height. His face has
regular features, although there is a puffiness around his eyes
and mouth. His smile is a little too loose, his gestures a little
too nervous and obsessive. He looks like an aging fraternity
boy or slightly spaced young executive who has been seized by
some mysterious and unconscious trauma. He is known as GTO. The
Texas Hitchhiker is a small-town businessman in his middle forties.
He carries a cardboard briefcase. He wears a cheap brown suit,
brown boots and brown string tie. His manner is timid and bland.
GTO (a little too lordly) : Which
way you going?
TEXAS HITCHHIKER (trying to get
his breath after his run to the car) : Amarillo.
GTO: You're in luck.
GTO slams his foot on the accelerator
and the GTO leaps forward, throwing the Hitchhiker's head back
and his mouth open. He hastily straps on his seat belt as the
GTO hits 100 m.p.h.
TEXAS HITCHHIKER (gasping at
the sudden acceleration) : Great God Almighty, mister.
GTO (smiling with satisfaction
at the Pontiacs' performance) : She's got a hard pull, doesn't
she? Zero to sixty in 6.4. She'll do a quarter mile in 13.40.
The Texas Hitchhiker nods his
head in timid approval and sneaks a cautious glance at GTO. GTO's
mouth is pulled into a firm line, his hands are over the steering
wheel in nine and three o'clock racing position as the GTO hits
120 m.p.h. and then eases off.
GTO: Performance and image. That's
what it's all about.
TEXAS HITCHHIKER (shaken, his
hands pressed together) : Mighty fancy auto-mo-bile.
GTO: It's out of sight. It's
more than just a factory car. It's an institution.
The Texas Hitchhiker nods his
head in desperate agreement and sneaks a glance at the speedometer,
which registers 100 m.p.h.
TEXAS HITCHHIKER: I can see that.
GTO : I bought her in Bakersfield,
California. I was testing jets at the time and it got so I bad
to have more action on the ground. You know what I mean?
The Hitchhiker nods cautiously.
GTO: I mean you can't stay high
the same way forever. So when the 455 came out with the Mach
IV Ram-Air with tunnel-port heads, beefed lower end and a Holley
high-riser setup, I was on line -- 390 h.p. and 500 foot-pounds
of torque, whatever that is. It's in the folder in the glove
compartment. But she's a Road King, all right.
TEXAS HITCHHIKER: How come you
ain't in Bakersfield?
GTO: Because I'm in the Southwest.
They ride in silence for a moment.
GTO: What kind of sounds do you
TEXAS HITCHHIKER: Beg pardon?
GTO: Rock, Soul, Hillbilly, Western.
What's your taste
TEXAS HITCHHIKER: It don't hardly
matter to me.
GTO takes a cassette from the
dashboard, looks at it, and puts it in the tape recorder to the
left of the glove compartment. The sounds of Bluegrass fill the
car. The GTO holds a steady 100 m.p.h. on the narrow straight
road across the desert.
The Car, New Mexico. The Car
is pulled over to the side of the road. The Mechanic is working
on the engine. The Driver and the Girl lie on the scrubby sand
near the Car. There is no traffic on the road. The immense space
around and above them stretches for miles until it fades on the
horizon. The road cuts through the desert in an exact line.
MECHANIC (on his way to the back
area): Fouled up spark plug.
The Mechanic takes two wrenches
from his tool kit and goes back to the front end where be pulls
the spark out with a wrench, gaps it and replaces the plug.
DRIVER: It's straight like this
clear across Oklahoma.
GIRL (vaguely) : I wish we were
back in Santa Fe.
DRIVER: What about San Francisco?
GIRL (brightening): San Francisco
is groovy. Or Denver. I was in Seattle once. I ate a lot of fish
and sprained my ankle.
DRIVER: New Orleans, Miami, Boston
GIRL (sitting up): New York.
What about New York?
DRIVER: That's definitely a town.
The Big Apple.
In the distance they have come
from, a small point approaches. As it gets larger the point becomes
the shape of the GTO.
DRIVER (to Mechanic) : The fan
belt sounded a little funny. It squeaks.
MECHANIC: I'll tighten it.
The GTO, traveling. The tape recorder plays the same cassette:
Bluegrass music. The Texas Hitchhiker stares straight ahead,
his face frozen into an artificial smile. GTO keeps the car at
an even hundred m.p.h. He is driving with his left arm out the
window, his, right hand on the steering wheel, a cigarette between
GTO: So after I got shot down
twice over Korea I decided I needed some fun and games, you know
what I mean. I just wanted to take off a few years. I ran out
of cash and had to take a job testing jets. But I had to have
more action on the ground.
The Texas Hitchhiker nods cautiously.
GTO: I mean you can't stay high
the same way forever. Right? So when the 455 came out with the
Mach IV Ram-Air with tunnelport heads . . . .
They pass the Car. The Mechanic
is working on the fan belt. The Girl and Driver are lying on
the ground next to the Car. GTO slows, looking them over, then
GTO: Those sons of bitches have
been following me clear across two states. Three states. They
keep wanting to challenge me. They come up behind and honk and
then when I keep my cool and don't get into it they get hysterical.
A bunch of small-town car freaks. They'd run over you if they
had the chance. But that homemade stuff can't stand up to the
old 455. I'd lose them in twenty minutes. Color me Gone, baby.
TEXAS HITCHHIKER: Well, I'll
tell you one thing, you sure have one hell of a fast automobile.
The Girl and the Driver lie on the side of the road. The Mechanic
looks at the engine.
DRIVER (watching the GTO disappear
into the distance) : I've seen that GTO a couple times before.
Believe he passed us in Arizona. Some kind of weekend warrior.
reprinted from April 1971
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