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The Electric Car
Two stories in Latin America become intertwined when a young Engineer kills herself after a failed relationship.
[1,462 words]
Tomas Sancio B Baquiano
Tomas Sancio is a Mechanical Engineer located in Caracas, Venezuela whos day job is software programming.
[October 2006]
[email protected]
The Electric Car
Tomas Sancio B Baquiano

- Lung cancer? Is that what he has? Tell me Dr. that you can make a mistake. Tell me Dr. that it could be something else.

- I'm very sorry Graciela, but I've spoken with the pathologist. He confirmed my first diagnostic.

- It can't be.

- I've also spoken with the oncologists who told me how we can work together to help him get out of the sickness. I don't want to give you false hopes but cancer CAN be treated. We just have to work together.

- But Dr. Luis, you know my husband. He doesn't smoke cigarettes and hasn't done it since we were 20 years old. I told him once when he showed up in my house that there were children nearby that could start crying. I hadn't finished explaining how the smoke bothered them when he took a good look at my baby brother Miguel. He just froze and looked back at me. He looked at Miguel again and quickly looked at me. He did this several times and just started smiling. While he smiled, the cigarette slid from his mouth. He probably didn't realize when it fell into a crack of the laundry floor and was put off by the foamy water. He just stood there smiling and his eyes watered. After some seconds, he came back to senses and cleared his throat. Then he realized that he had gotten too excited, smiled back at me and changed the conversation. Doctor, it can't be.

- As I said before, we are going to work on this together. We believe that Don Enrique may have acquired this disease through all of his years swallowing the city air as a taxi driver in el DF.

- Sebastian!! Sebastian!!

- Fredo, mi pana. "Tutto posto!". That's how the italians would say. :-D

- What did the teacher tell you?

- She approved the project of thesis. She just didn't want us to make a stunt out of it. Patricia Requena's project is just too famous in the University for us to treat is as a sick joke. :-|

- Cool!! We're gonna work on the great Requena.

- Yes, the great and sad Requena. :-S

- Graci, pass me some water.

- Try not to talk too much, dear. You'll start coughing again.

- Graci, I look thin. I think I won't make it.

- We all will dear, we'll all make it.

- Who's that beauty Fredo? Ha!, you rat! You told me I'd be the first to know about all your "extra-curricular" activities. ;-)

- I'm Angélica. Mucho gusto

- What are you studying, Miss Angélica?

- Social Sciences. Fredo told me you guys were gonna take the Requena project. She's a legend here. Too bad she can't tell you guys what to do.

- A damper that produces extra power for an electric motor is not that hard, at least in theory. People are just scared of the project because they're superstitious. :-(

- Honestly, I think you par de malandros are both incapable of fixing anything, but it's gonna be fun and creepy to see you trying.

- The only bum here is your boyfriend. He's lucky he has a partner like me. 8-)

- Graciela, you're beautiful.

- Save your words dear. The Dr. said that the sickness was spreading more slowly than before.

- That means that it has no where else to spread. In this cuerpito you can only fill it that much with badness.

- Stop, please.

- When my body is all full, the last piece of goodness will leave with me to wherever Dios wants me to go.

- Please stop.

- Patricia was a f****** genius! :-O

- Why is that Fredo? Why Sebastian?

- Listen, Fredo and I took this project because of how obvious her discovery was: she said that all the energy that is liberated by automobile shock absorbers could be transformed into electricity using a coil system and some transformers and then used for recharging the battery and powering the car.

- Right, it's obvious: cars don't just go forwards and backwards. If you remove the shock absorbers (have you seen those old broken-down cars?) then the car will go up and down. =D>

- Wow.

- Yeah!! You and Fredo can run out of power on a cold night in the mirador and recharge the battery doing the you-know-what. ;-) :-P

- Hahaha.

- Don't laugh Fredo or you won't get any "you-know-what", "you-know-how" or whatever's on your dirty mind.

- Graci, do you believe in love?

- Of course, all my life.

- For a while I didn't. Then one day, about six years ago I picked up a couple near the Sheraton María Isabel Hotel. They were from Venezuela and had come to the DF for a University exposition or something like that. They were just a normal couple. A bit fresa if you ask me.

- ...

- They asked me to take them around the city. They couldn't afford a formal tour so I gave them the usual: El Zócalo, Plaza Garibaldi and the Zona Rosa.

- Honey... ... talk little.

- I don't know why I still remember them. It was maybe the expression on the girl's face. Her eyes were into the man. The man was like walking asleep or something like that. The rhythm of their words was perfect. She said she was an electrical engineer and gave classes. Her boyfriend was also a teacher in the University and wouldn't stop talking about how important her current project was.

- A project?

- Yes, it was something about electric cars. But those things never work. I thought it was just plain love of the man that made the project seem like it was for real.

- You're my project.

- If you said that you were building a restaurant to cook for all of the city, I would show my love by telling you "yes it will work". I would never tell you it wouldn't.

- The only thing I don't like about this cafeteria is that they take three hours to serve you the coffee. When it comes it's already cold.

- Fredo, you always complain. Angélica, what happened finally with Patricia's ex-boyfriend?

- I think he stayed in the University of California or Stanford, don't remember. It didn't make sense to come back after he left her and didn't look back. It obviously doesn't make sense now. He probably got some counseling there and overcame the situation. For all we know, he probably has a family and he's living the "american dream".

- Sucks to think that everybody's leaving or has already left. :-(

- I'm not leaving and Fredo says he's not leaving either. But if Fredo leaves and we're still together, I'll follow him. I won't even think about staying even if I had the most important project in the world. We can always come back to visit. No way!! My name is Angélica, not Patricia Requena.

- Mrs. Graciela Fernández!! Mrs. Graciela Fernández!!

- Yes.

- Dr. Luis López wants to see you. He's at Intensive Care now.

- No, it's not today... ...it's not today. Tomorrow is September 15th! He just wanted to hear El Grito for the last time! Please let me know that he'll hear it!! Please!!

- Doña, please. The Doctor is waiting for you.

On October 4th, the sun shines through the windshield of a green and white Volkswagen beetle. The front seat of the taxi has been removed to allow easy entry to the occupants in the back. The taxi company was debating the name of the new driver to replace Don Enrique Fernández. While the car was parked, the delivery boy dropped the Diario de La Reforma newspaper onto the driver's seat. The automobile section of the paper featured a story in which the Andean Development Corporation was to provide a loan to a Venezuelan University for the development of a booster system to the electric and hybrid cars currently in the market. Renault and Nissan of Latin America were co-sponsors to the so-called Requena project, named after the late Engineer. The project had been archived for years after her unfortunate suicide. The Reforma article welcomed such a technology and added that this could be the turning point for making electric vehicles in Mexico, a city so affected by air pollution. Taxis would be the first vehicles to be converted.

For the DF, it was an exceptionally clear day.


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© 2006 Tomas Sancio B Baquiano
October 2006

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