Based on a true story. In the 1980's an American inventor designed a device that enabled an ordinary car engine to run on common tap water. The man was poisoned after meeting with foreign investors..



HALRYDER (screenplay)
 
A thriller by
 Joe Simonelli
 
www.joesimonelli.com
 
 
 
 
      
 
 
This story is a work of FICTION. Any resemblance to people either alive or dead is strictly coincidental.
2
 
 
‘HALRYDER’
FADE IN
“1995”
EXT.  The front of a modest three Bedroom Ranch home in Illinois. Two stretch limousines are in the driveway in front of the open attached garage door. 
PAN FROM LIMOUSINES TO A VOLKSWAGON BUG SITING IN THE GARAGE
CUT TO:
FRONT DOOR
Four Arab Businessmen dressed in traditional white garb and carrying briefcases exit the front door and enter  two limousines. They are followed out the door by Harold and Steven Ryder who watch them drive away.
CUT TO:
Fred and Hal
HAL
So what do you think?
CUT TO:
CLOSE UP STEVE
STEVE They offered a lot of money. A shitload of money. Hell, enough money to keep us from working the rest of our lives. The whole family. hell, cousins six times removed won’t have to work. and their grandkids!
CUT TO:
FRED AND HAL
HAL
Yeah Steve, it was a lot of money.
STEVE
So what’s your answer going to be Hal?
CUT TO:
3
 
CLOSE UP, HAL
HAL The same as it’s been for the last five years, even if the price has gone up. Screw the money. I’m not doing this for the money. You know if I sell it to them they’ll bury it and no one will benefit. 
(The sound of an approaching car is heard)
CUT TO:
LONG SHOT
A black sedan is approaching from the opposite direction. It pulls into the driveway.
CUT TO:
HAL AND STEVE
STEVE
Were you expecting anyone else?
HAL
No. You?
STEVE
No.
CUT TO:
SEDAN:
All four doors open and three men and one woman exit. One man wears a military uniform and the rest are dressed in business attire. They approach Hal and Steve.
SANDERS
Are you Hal Ryder?
HAL
I am.
WEISS
And you must be his brother, Steven Ryder?
STEVE
I guess I must be.
 
4
 
SANDERS
(he flashes his credentials) I’m agent Sanders with the Central Intelligence agency. This is Miss Weiss, the general counsel for Shell oil. 
HAL
And these two gentleman?
WEISS Mr. Simonetti and General Fowler from the defense Department. We’d like to have a word with you if we could.
HAL Sure, why not. The more the merrier. Come on in.
(They all enter the house)
CUT TO
PRESENT – EXT.
A mid sized car pulls up to a small two story building on an isolated road. A 30 year old woman carrying a computer bag exits the car. As she approaches the door she pulls a piece of paper from her pocket.
CUT TO
CLOSE UP OF PAPER WHICH READS SUITE 2-C, 10 PM.  
She reaches into a small mail box which hangs outside the door and pulls out a key. She opens the door and enters. The camera follows her as she walks up a flight of stairs and past two doors till she finds the door that reads suite 2-b. she knocks
CUT TO: 
INT. SUITE 2 – C
An empty corporate lounge except for a table and two chairs .There is a sink on one wall. Joe Brown sits at the table looking at his smart phone. He is an older man dressed casually.  
 
 
JOE
(still looking at the phone)  Come in Miss Handly
 
SARA (enters )
Hello Mr. Brown.
5
 
 
JOE (not getting up)
Please..sit.
 
                                                                           (She sits opposite him)
 
What’s the matter? Not what you expected?
 
SARA
Well, not exactly.
 
JOE Why not? I’m not dressed in a black suit wearing a fedora and  dark sunglasses? No trench coat? Actually I have one in my car if you’d like to see it.  But I only keep it there in case it rains.
 
SARA Well, given your credentials one does make assumptions.
 
JOE You watch too many movies. This is what I normally wore throughout most of my career. When you work covertly for a government agency you want to be able to blend in, not stick out like a sore thumb.
 
SARA
(She removes her lap top and smart phone) Do you mind if I record our conversation for the record.
 
JOE You know that can’t happen. Take whatever notes you like on your lap top for the record but I can’t allow my voice to be recorded.
 
SARA You know I could tell you I’m not recording  and easily secretly record you.
 
JOE Yes, but we both know what would happen if I ever found out a recording surfaced.
 
SARA Enough said. I’m a journalist but I’m not paid enough to take those kind of risks.
 
 
 
JOE
6
 
You’re taking a big risk right now just by meeting with me you know. I explained that to the liaison when we made these arrangements. I hope he made it clear to you and your editor.
 
SARA He did and I’m aware of the risk I’m taking in that regard.
 
JOE
Fine, as long as all is understood.
 
SARA
Now Mr. Brown….
 
JOE No need to be formal. Just call me Joe…or Fred, or Sam.
 
SARA
Of course, we’ll never know your real name.
 
JOE I’ve had so many aliases over the years sometimes I can’t remember my given name.
 
SARA How does one even get into your line of work?  I mean, you don’t just walk off the football field your senior year of high school and say to yourself, hey, I think I’ll become a spy.
 
JOE No, but sometimes you do say I’d like to become a cop or go into the military. That’s usually where people like myself are “recruited.”
 
SARA And just what branch of the government were you affiliated with? The C.I.A.
 
JOE I started there for a while, we all have to start somewhere. But for the majority of my career I was with a unit that had no official name and had a security clearance seven levels above the president.
 
SARA
Seven levels above the president? 
 
JOE Stop being so naïve Miss Handly. The president is a temporary government employee. Eight years at most. He’s strictly on a need to know basis.  That would be like a top brokerage firm
7
 
hiring a front door receptionist and giving them access to all their top clients. Next you’re going to tell me you think there’s really a two party system in this country?
 
SARA Even I’m beginning to see the line blur on that one.
 
JOE Exactly. It’s now just one party with a common agenda that puts on a good show to make it look like there are differences when they’re all just working for us,
 
SARA
Us being whom….The “Deep State.”
 
JOE Call it what you like but as good a name as any.
 
SARA I guess next you’ll be telling me about aliens on a secret base in Roswell. New Mexico,
 
JOE (starts to laugh) That was a good one wasn’t it? But in my opinion it’s all a bunch of crap. Now I can’t be absolutely certain because I don’t have the highest security clearance but I have been to Roswell and there’s nothing there. Nothing of an extra-terrestrial nature anyway. Think of it logically Miss Handly. An alien civilization has the superior technology to travel through space and visit us then crash lands when they get here? I guess their GPS wasn’t calibrated enough.  (laughs again) Any news of alien sightings from the nineteen forties on was information the government wanted put out there as mis-information.  Are alien civilizations possible? Absolutely. Actuality it’s probably a certainty. They could have even  visited the planet millions of years ago and planted seeds that kick started all life on this planet. But if they did it would no more than a bee accidently pollinating a flower then moving on. 
 
SARA Then why would the government even want a story about aliens at Roswell in the first place?
 
JOE To plant a false flag so that when  the technology advanced, as it has, they could send out air planes that look remarkably like flying saucers to panic the people into thinking there’s an actual Alien Invasion.
 
SARA
For what reason?
 
8
 
CUT TO:
CLOSE UP - JOE
 
JOE (he rises and starts to pace) The same reason the ‘deep state”, as you call them, does anything. For control of the masses! They control everything. The political system, the media…. You’re young, but when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn there were three major television networks and about four local stations. That’s it. And this was New York City, the media empire.  The government controlled everything of major importance that we wanted the citizenry to know. Oh not local stuff like a fire or even local politics. That was of no concern to us. But when Kennedy was assassinated do you think we released the real facts to the three major networks? Forget it. He was killed by a conglomerate including his vice president, the mafia and the CIA. Why? Because he wanted to end the war in Vietnam, disband the C.I.A. and his brother kept picking fights with the mafia. Do you know who would have lost a ton of money if that war ended? LBJ and all his political Texan oil men cronies. Santo Trafficante was a  Mafia leader who gave a death bed confession as to his involvement in the Kennedy assassination  that no one ever reported. He wasn’t the only one. Witnesses to what really happened that day in Dallas mysteriously died even years after Kennedy was killed. 
 
CUT TO:
CLOSE UP - SARA
 
SARA So what you’re saying is all this deep state stuff is caused by greed?
 
CUT TO:
CLODE UP - JOE
 
 
JOE It’s what this country was founded on isn’t it? A bunch of rich colonial landowners and industrialists didn’t want to pay any more taxes to the crown so they revolted. And guess what, they still don’t want to pay taxes. Even to the government of the country they formed! Do you realize that the highest tax bracket in the United States during President Eisenhower’s administration in the nineteen fifties was 90 percent? What is it now? It was Eisenhower who said “beware the military industrial complex” before he left office. Think of that Miss Handly, a former general! One of their own, sounded the warning and nobody listened. Everything is big business I’m afraid. Look at current commercials.  They trumpet a career in the military like they’re recruiting for a college campus. All rah, rah ziz boom bah. Only on a college campus people usually don’t die. The government makes military combat sound like a football game nowadays.  Oh, yeah, they pretty much want to control everything. But alas, they slipped up on one thing. They were a little lax and  late to the game on it and now it’s starting to cost them and that’s why we’re here.
9
 
CUT TO:
JOE AND SARA
 
SARA
And where did they slip up?
 
CUT TO:
 
CLOSE UP - JOE
 
JOE The internet miss Handly. Remember their control of the media? Well as much as they tried to put the ‘genie back in the bottle’  in the nineties they just couldn’t. All the information I related to you is out there. The only thing they have going for them is that information is not easily disseminated on the internet. You have to search for the information you want. It’s not spoon fed to anyone by the media. When you do find something they can easily discredit it as a conspiracy theory. As a matter of fact they count on it. They count on you thinking that the Kennedy assignation, or Martin Luther King or yes, even aliens and any others are just a bunch of cranks getting together. That’s the government’s ace in the hole to this day. That level headed middle class citizens have enough on their plate to not care while their government continues to squeeze them with taxes and rob them blind. Do you know how close the entire world financial system came to collapse in two thousand and eight because  a few greedy wall street financiers screwed up and not one of them spent a day in jail?   Do you know what the definition of a conspiracy is Miss Handly?
 
CUT TO:
JOE AND SARA 
 
SARA Sure, a group of people conspire to commit something usually nefarious.
 
JOE
How big a group?
 
SARA
I don’t really know?
 
CUT TO;
CLOSE UP – JOE
 
 
 
 
 
10
 
JOE
 
The dictionary says it could be as little as two or more people. Only two!  Two lovers conspiring to kill a husband or wife to get them out of the way.  Actually, that is probably the most common. Two people conspired to kill someone, the police find out,  prove it in court by forensics or eye witnesses and that’s that. Think of it Sara, only two people in our  government have to decide they want to cover up information that they don’t want citizens to know. So given that fact  I would venture to say that probably ninety nine percent of conspiracies are probably true.  Which brings us to one of the greatest conspiracies perpetrated on the citizenry of not just the United States, but the world, that hardly anyone knows or cares about but if they knew the real story they surely would. For it is a conspiracy of such proportion that it could have benefited man kind for generations.  But again, greed got in the way.
 
CUT TO:
JOE AND SARA
 
SARA
I’m all ears.
 
JOE (sits at table) Let me preface the story first. Usually when there are technological break-troughs on some product or device they come to market and replace existing technology. It’s better for everyone, right?
 
SARA
Absolutely.
 
JOE Except when such technology might jeopardize the profits of a huge consortium of powerful industries such as transportation or oil and render them nearly irrelevant.
 
SARA
Care to expand on that?
 
JOE Let’s put it this way. When Henry Ford invented the automobile, why didn’t all the horse and buggy manufacturers try to put him out of business? After all, didn’t his invention threaten their very livelihood?
 
SARA I suppose they really didn’t take the automobile seriously at first. And by the time they did it was probably too late to stop it, and progress. And of course the buggy manufacturers  weren’t really one large group but probably just many small manufacturers spread across the country.
11
 
 
JOE Very good. Now you would say the invention of the car was a good thing. People went places more often and much faster.
 
SARA Aside from the terrible environmental footprint that cars leave I’d say that’s valid.
 
JOE Exactly. The burning and depletion of fossil fuels. The cost to run a car when oil prices sky rocket. Kind of holds the economy hostage doesn’t it? 
 
SARA
Your point being?
 
JOE Suppose someone invented an alternate fuel source for oil that cost practically nothing and left no environmental footprint. Wouldn’t you say that would be a remarkable break through?
 
SARA
You mean like electrical cars?
 
JOE Close, but that’s an alternative power source, not an alternative fuel source. And how practical is it to have to spend hours re-charging your car when you can fuel up in just a few short minutes. If there’s one thing consumers don’t want, it’s inconvenience. Otherwise electric cars would have rendered fuel driven cars obsolete by now.
 
SARA Plus the fact that you’re up against a very powerful oil consortium.
 
JOE Exactly. The oil consortium tolerates electric cars as a way to mollify the energy critics. Make it seem like there is an alternative to their monopoly when in reality there isn’t. But what if I were to posit something to you. Something that was readily available to the public thirty years ago that the oil companies and the government squelched, Something that would have made everyone’s life easier and cost them practically nothing to fuel their automobiles.
 
SARA The only thing that fits that description is a car that runs on water.
 
JOE Exactly Miss Handly. A car that runs strictly on water. Any kind of water. Tap, rain, sea water.
 
12
 
SARA Come on, if that were available we’d have it by now.
 
 
CUT TO:
CLOSE UP – JOE
 
JOE You think so? You think the big oil companies would let that happen? You think the government or military would jeopardize an industry that’s vital to one third of the world’s economy. You see eventually even advances in technology are governed by the law of diminishing returns.  
 
CUT TO:
CLOSE UP - SARA
 
SARA
So you’re saying it is available?
 
CLOSE UP:
 
JOE Some say yes and some debate it. Mostly those whose best interests lie in debunking the technology. But I’m going to let you draw your own conclusions. It all started in the late nineteen seventies. Jimmy Carter was president and a thirty nine year old inventor named Hal Ryder sat in his Illinois living room with his twin brother Stephen, watching some unsettling events transpire in the den of his living room.
 
CUT TO -  1981
 
Hal and Steve sit in Hal’s den watching the television 
 
“We interrupt your regularly scheduled program with a special bulletin.”
 
CET TO – Television screen
 
NEWSCASTER  It has now been confirmed that fifty two American diplomats and citizens have been taken hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran by a group of Iranian college students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, who support the Iranian Revolution. Many conjecture this to be in reaction to the United States granting asylum to the Shah of Iran. More details will follow as they become available. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.”
 
CUT TO Hal and Steve
13
 
 
STEVE
(get’s up and turns off television) Can you believe that shit Hal?
 
Hal Not only do I believe it but I saw it coming. Ever since the Arab oil embargo. If we don’t find a viable alternative to fossil fuel the whole world economy is going to be held hostage. Or maybe you like the price of gasoline tripling over the last few years.  
 
STEVE
So how’s your work going?
 
HAL
It’s going.
 
STEVE
And you still think it’s possible? It can work?
 
HAL Theoretically yes. According to all we know so far about thermos dynamics, not so much. You see oil is easily flammable so it burns easily in a car engine. It also depletes itself easily and since it started out as a readily available commodity it really wasn’t an issue. But as we deplete the resource the price goes up. Simple supply and demand. Now water can be burned also, actually, the hydrogen component of water, and much more efficiently than oil.
 
STEVE But it takes more energy to break water down into it’s hydrogen component then the output that the fuel is providing. 
 
HAL Exactly, and that’s the rub. To find a cheap and efficient way to burn the hydrogen element in a closed internal combustion system. 
 
STEVE It would be more akin to a perpetual motion effect. Once the chemical reaction is started it keeps repeating without need for an outside fuel source.
 
HAL
In layman’s terms, that’s about it.
 
STEVE And you think you can achieve this in your garage laboratory when the big auto manufacturers can’t. 
14
 
 
HAL That’s just it Stevey. They’re not even trying. You think they want to cut their own economic throats? Think of the pressure the big oil companies exert..
 
STEVE I guess they do have a vested interest in not making cars that run on water. 
 
HAL Imagine what can be achieved if I can make this happen. Not only would the expense of fueling your car be  almost non-existent but think of how the cost of food and other consumer goods would come down because now it would cost almost nothing to ship them by truck!
 
STEVE Or airplane or anything else that uses fossil fuel. Sure is a nice thought.
 
HAL
Come on, I’ll show what I’ve got so far.
 
STEVE
Let’s take a look.
 
Hal and Steve exit from den to Garage where a series of Burners and flasks are set up on a work bench. A Volkswagen bug is also in the garage.
 
STEVE It’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you open up the garage door to get some light and fresh air in here?
 
HAL Bullshit. Nobody gets to see what I’m doing in here. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” Stevey. This is God’s work I’m doing here.
 
STEVE
Care to explain?
 
HAL Electrolysis Stevey, Taught in every middle school science lab in America. 
 
(He lights a burner)
 
Now Watch. Electricity flows through water, cracking the molecules and filling test tubes with oxygen and hydrogen bubbles.  The volatile gases explode to prove that water has separated
15
 
into its components.  All I have to do is figure out a way to contain it and keep the reaction going without having to reignite the energy source. 
 
HAL That’s what I’m going to try to find out brother. Are you in?
 
STEVE
Absolutely.
 
CUT TO: PRESENT 
 
Office building with Sara and Joe
 
 
SARA
So did it work?
 
JOE Let’s fast forward fifteen years. It’s now nineteen ninety five and Hal Ryder comes out with a patent on a fuel cell capacitor.  A device that separates the molecule of water into it’s hydrogen component and burns it efficiently within the car engine. He retrofits a Volkswagen bug and claims it can run from New York to California on just twenty two gallons of water! Various local news outlets pick up the story. The video of the car running can be seen on you tube. Check your computer.
 
SARA (Opening her laptop)
Do you mind?
 
JOE Not at all, go for it. I told you all the information is out there.
 
 
CUT TO:  SARA’S LAPTOP
 
(A video of the Volkswagen is seen driving down a suburban street. Painted in large lettering on the side of the car is ‘This car fueled by tap water”)
 
NEWSCASTER Local Illinois scientist and inventor Harold Ryder is seen here driving around his neighborhood in a Volkswagen bug that he claims is running on water. He also claims that this vehicle can make it from New York to California on just twenty gallons of water! That’s just one and a half tankfull’s of any normal engine folks! Looks like the price of joyriding is about to get a lot cheaper!
16
 
CUT TO 1990
 
Executive Offices of Shell oil in New York City.
 
Miss Weiss and Mr. Simonetti  sis at a conference table with a few other executives watching the end of the same broadcast.
 
SHELL EXECUTIVE You all know Beth Weiss. Shell oil’s legal counsel. So what do you think Miss Weiss?
 
WEISS The technology is there. He could have done it. Of course no one in this room or their affiliates were interested in developing the technology in their own best  interest. Even though in hindsight it sure would have made sense to design a car that could run on water, patent the  technology, then sit on it so no competitor could have come out with it.
 
EXXON EXECUTIVE
I say we pay him off.
 
SHELL EXECUTIVE
Is that Exxon’s  official stance?
 
EXXON EXEC.
Absolutely., Does B.P. care to weigh in?
 
B.P, EXEC.
Why don’t we let the Arabs pay him?
 
WEISS I’m sure we gen get OPEC to pony up their fair share. 
 
SHELL EXEC. Mr Simonetti. Does the state department have any opinion on this.
 
SIMONETTI There are always alternative methods to handling things. He has the patents however so I I’d say monetary remuneration is always the cleanest way.
 
SHELL EXEC. Well all I have to say is that before we shell out a penny we better make damn sure that that fucking kraut car is really running on water!
 
SIMONETTI
“Shell”  out a penny. Nice pun.
17
 
WEISS Who should we send to handle the negotiations?
 
SIMONETTI
I have someone in mind.
 
CUT TO: EXT Hal Ryder’s House
 
A  green Volvo pulls into the driveway and comes to a stop. Joe Brown exits the care and knocks on the door 
 
CUT TO: Int Hal’s den
 
 
HAL
That’s him.
 
STEVE
I’ll get it. (Steve opens the door and Joe enters)
 
JOE
You must be the brother.
 
STEVE
That’s correct. And your name.
 
JOE Mobil.  Joe Mobil. Or Joe Exxon, or Shell. I represent them all. As well as the pentagon.
 
HAL
I’m Hal Ryder. 
 
JOE I know who you are. I thought you were told we were meeting alone.
 
HAL My brother’s my partner. He can hear anything you have to say. 
 
JOE
Suit yourself. Are those the plans?
 
HAL
18
 
Yes. The schematic. The patents are in my safe. Although I don’t know what you plan to accomplish here. You people have been chasing me for the past five years. And the closer I’ve gotten to success the more intensive it’s been. I’m not interested in selling. For any price.   JOE Why not. Why not become a very wealthy man and retire someplace warm…..and safe.
 
STEVE Because we know you will squelch the technology and a car that runs on water will never make it to the market place. And since you’ll own the patent on the technology no competitor will ever be able to duplicate it. There is no duplicating this technology. There are no alternate methods, no slight variations that will produce the same results.
 
JOE (amused) Oh wait, now I get it. I had it all wrong. What we have here are a couple of patriots! Benevolent patriots out to help and advance mankind. 
 
HAL
Not totally. We’ll still get rich. 
 
JOE How? You going to open your own car dealership. A factory to manufacture new cars. That takes backers. And lots of money.
 
HAL Which we have. We’ve even spoken to some former executives of American Motors about this. 
 
JOE American Motors? The mickey mouse outfit that made the Gremlin? Listen to me pal, and listen good. No American or foreign auto manufacturer is going to do anything that we don’t want them to.  
 
HAL I have investors outside of oil and the auto industry lined up.
 
JOE
Really? Good luck.
 
HAL
I think this meeting is over.
 
JOE
19
 
You mean you don’t want to even hear my offer? (to Steve) I think your brother is being a little naïve, don’t you? I don’t think he understands the ramifications of what tragic circumstances can occur in cases like this. Cases where a lot of important people and entities stand to lose a lot of money if a reasonable solution isn’t found. 
 
STEVE
Maybe we should listen to his offer Stan.
 
HAL Why? What’s he gonna  do? Kill me?  Make me disappear? The technology is there and the patent is done. You get rid of me, someone else replaces me. How long do you think you can keep this secret from the American public? Imagine their outrage when they find out that their own government is standing in the way of progress and keeping them from an alternative way of fueling their car that would cost them practically nothing. Are you going to kill everyone Mr. Mobil? Every U.S. citizen? They’ll be nobody left to purchase your oil, will there.
 
JOE One thing I have to say Hal, you certainly are passionate… I’m going to whisper a figure into your brother’s ear. I think you should seriously consider it. Carefully. The figure is nonnegotiable unless you want to take less. You could divide it by a thousand and still be a very wealthy man.  
 
(he whispers in Steve’s ear)
 
Thank you for your time gentleman. You know how to get in touch with me. I await your decision.  Please don’t make me wait more than a week or it’s out of my hands.
 
(Joe exits)
 
STEVE
You want to know the figure?
 
HAL
No.
 
STEVE
I think you should hear it.
 
HAL I’m not interested in never seeing twenty years of work never coming to fruition.
 
STEVE Stan, it’s a lot of money. And you know these guys are dangerous.  Who cares if it doesn’t come to market through you. Eventually, when the time is right, someone else will get it done.  
20
 
 
HAL When the time is right?  (He stands)  Stan, remember when we were kids, back in sixty nine when we watched the moon landing? Remember how we thought, wow, I wonder what space travel will look like in, twenty, thirty, fifty years? We could be going to Mars, Jupiter…maybe another solar system. And we’d live to see it.  With all the technological resources and money America has? Well it’s been twenty five years and how far have we gotten? A space station. A shuttle? We’re never going deeper into space and you know why? There’s no money in it. The government is not going to do shit to improve things if there’s no money in it. It’s up to individuals to get it done. Individual entrepreneurs like us. Like the Wright brothers, and Tesla and Henry Ford.
 
STEVE Especially in light of the fact that everyone said that what you’ve done is impossible because it violates the first two law’s of thermodynamics. 
 
HAL If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that everything is impossible until man or nature finds a way. Electricity was impossible. Splitting the atom was impossible. Damn, a microwave oven was impossible.
 
STEVE Eight hundred million dollars Hal. That was his offer. That buys an awful lot of microwave ovens. You need to think about this.  Hal, are you listening to me?
 
HAL
Yes, I’m listening. I’ll seriously consider it. 
 
STEVE You better. Especially when you consider the alternative. And what if you can’t raise anymore money?
 
HAL I’ve still got the American motors guys. And two guys form Italy.
 
STEVE
Italy? What part?
 
HAL
Palermo.
 
STEVE I think I’d stick with the American motors guys.
 
21
 
HAL Come on. You hungry?  You want to take the bug out for a joy ride?
 
STEVE You got enough water in the tank to make it to the Cracker Barrel?
 
 
CUT TO: INTERIOR
 
Hotel Room
 
Camera on bed where Miss Weiss and Shell Exec are having sex. Shell exec rolls off her as they lie side by side.
 
SHELL EXEC
Did you send Brown?
 
WEISS
Yes.
 
SHELL EXEC
How long do you want to wait?
 
WEISS
Not long.
 
(She rolls back on top of him)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CUT TO:
 
EXT:  A park bench.
 
Joe Brown and Agent Sanders sit on a bench.
 
SANDERS It’s been three months and neither brother will return Weiss’s phone calls. It’s out of her hands.
 
22
 
BROWN
He’s a damn fool if you ask me.
 
SANDERS
You want me to take it from here?
 
BROWN
Be my guest.
 
CUT TO:
 
INT: A small Italian restaurant in Illinois.
 
Steve, Hal, Paulo Rossini and Guiseppi Aloia  sit at a table.
 
PAULO You are so gracious to invite us out to this lovely restaurant.
 
HAL Why not, you’re the ones making the investment.
 
WAITER
Your wine seniore.
 
(he opens the bottle and pours the glasses as they continue to convers)
 
GIUSSEPPE And why not, we are all going to be very wealthy men, si?
 
STEVE
Si, very wealthy!
PAULO You know, what you did to bring this to fruition is very brave and very noble. Not just for the people of America, but also for the people of my country and all countries!
 
HAL
It was just the right thing to do. ( to waiter as he goes to pour him a drink) No wine for me. Cranberry juice.
 
WAITER
Very good seniore’.
 
(The waiter leaves to fetch the cranberry juice)
23
 
PAULO
You do not like wine?
 
STEVE
My brother doesn’t drink alcohol.
 
GUISSEPPE What the Americans call a tea totaler Paulo.
 
HAL How long before you have the first auto factory in place?
 
GUISSEPPE Less then a year my friend. We manufacture in Italy and export to other countries.
 
HAL
Excellent!
 
PAUO May I offer a toast. To our new partners. A very successful and profitable future.
 
STEVE To Giuseppe and Paulo, our new friends from Palermo.
 
GUISSEPPE
But you have no drink my friend.
 
(The waiter puts down a glass of cranberry juice)
 
HAL Here we go, a little ocean spray to seal the deal.
 
 
They all raise a glass of wine and drink immediately after which Hal starts choking. As the Italians just sit there watching.
 
STEVE
(Rising form chair) Hey Hal, you okay?
 
Hal rises still choking.
 
HAL
I’ve been poisoned.
24
 
 
(He collapses to the floor)
 
They poisoned me Stevey. The bastards got me.
 
STEVE
Somebody call an ambulance!
 
CUT TO EXT
 
Police Station in Illinois
 
Reporter and cameraman are standing outside
 
REPORTER We are standing outside of the police station where Steven Ryder, the brother of inventor Hal Ryder, is expected to make a statement on the death of his brother inside a local Italian restaurant two days ago.
 
CUT TO: A cab pulling up outside the courthouse.
 
Steve Ryder emerges from the cab and is cut off by the reporter.
 
REPORTER Mr Ryder, would you like to make a statement as to the unfortunate sudden death of your brother.
 
STEVE That was no unfortunate sudden death. That was a convenient sudden death, for the big oil companies.
 
REPORTER Are you implying your brother was murdered?
 
STEVE
Implying? No. Stating categorically? Yes! 
 
REPORTER
Who do you think was responsible?
 
STEVE The two Italian investors at the table didn’t blink an eye when it happened. And I haven’t heard from them since.
 
25
 
 
REPORTER But why would investor who stood to get rich from his invention want to harm him.
 
STEVE
Why else? Someone reached them.
 
REPORTER
Someone like whom?
 
STEVE
Isn’t it obvious.
 
(He enters the building)
 
REPORTER And there you have it. Back to you in the studio.
 
CUT TO: INT.
 
Interrogation room in the police station.
 
 
DETECTIVE Okay Mr. Ryder. You are being recorded. This statement is for the record concerning the death of your brother, Hal Ryder. You can begin in five…four thee…two..one
 
STEVE (he reads from a type written  paper) My name is Steven Ryder. I was born and reside in the state of Illinois. Approximately  three days ago, March 21st , 1998, my brother Hal and I were at  lunch in a local restaurant with two French Investors when Hal took a drink of iced tea, started choking and ran from the restaurant. I followed him out the front door where he exclaimed “I’ve been poisoned, Stevie, they poisoned me” and collapsed to the ground. The paramedics arrived but were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. The official coroner’s report declared that my brother died from a brain aneurism but I believe that diagnosis to be incorrect. I believe, in light of the following facts, that my brother was murdered. The facts are as follows. My brother, since nineteen seventy five, had been working on a viable system for an alternative fuel source, namely, H2O or common water, in it’s native component of hydrogen, to fuel auto mobiles. As his work proved successful he was approached on separate occasions by representatives of U.S. and foreign oil companies, the pentagon and the U.S. government. Monetary remuneration was offered to him on many occasions in exchange for his patents but in each case and against my advice and the advice of others, he refused all offers. On the day of his death the two French investors who were present showed neither remorse, or surprise after
26
 
he collapsed outside the restaurant.  Prior to today and I’m sure long after, many people have tried and will to discredit my brother as a crank and a fraud. But I’m here to tell you that Hal Ryder was an American patriot. A true patriot who refused large sums of money and an easy way out to try to lighten the burden of working class people by providing them with a cheap energy source. This my statement, this 23rd day of March nineteen hundred and ninety eight. 
 
CUT TO: Office Building: Sara and Joe 
 
SARA
So that’s what happened.
 
JOE
That’s what happened.
 
SARA
You haven’t answered one question.
 
JOE
And what’s that?
 
SARA
Why? Why are you telling me all this? 
 
 
JOE I’m getting old. Sometimes a person wants to purge himself. Get things off his chest. For whatever reason. Remember I told you of the mafia Don’s and their death bed confessions about the Kennedy assassination?
 
SARA And so ends the Hal Ryder story and cars that run on water.
 
JOE
Actually, that’s not quite the end.
 
SARA
How so?
 
JOE Let’s just say that here were some residual effects.  
 
SARA
What kind of residual effects?
27
 
 
JOE Residual effects like this idiot who I had to deal with just last year. Remember what I told you, this story is floating around the internet. Sometimes people find it.
 
CUT TO:  The same office building and lounge
 
Joe Brown sits in same chair as there is a knock on the door.  
 
JOE
Come in.
 
(Adrian Schwartz, about fifty years old, enters)
 
You’re Schwartz?
 
ADRIAN
I am, Adrian Schwartz.
 
(He puts his hand out to shakes Joe’s but Joe doesn’t return the gesture)
 
 
JOE (he smiles)
Adrian Schwartz, the Hollywood writer.
 
 
ADRIAN One and the same. I take it you’ve read the screenplay?
 
JOE
We have.
 
ADRIAN And you know my figure. How much I’m looking for? I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.
 
JOE You don’t need to know my name. And for the record, we are not particularly fond of people trying to extort money from us by writing the kind of conspiracy bullshit that you’ve written. “HALRYDER, THE CAR THAT RUNS ON WATER.”
 
ADRIAN Let’s not be coy. You wouldn’t even be seeing me if you thought the idea was bullshit. You’d just let me go ahead and let my agent sell the rights to the studio. But you and your people
28
 
don’t want this story out there in the mainstream even if it is bullshit. So I’m doing the smart thing. I’m playing it smart and coming to you first. You know my price. I know what it’s worth to you. And it’s a pretty small amount to guys like you but it’s enough for me to pay off some debts and buy a boat in Marina Del Ray so I can write some other screenplays in peace.   
 
JOE We know all about your debts. They’re gambling debts in Vegas. We know those people very well. Why don’t we just give you nothing and let the casino people deal with you?
 
ADRIAN Because the casino people know that I have a track record and I stand to make much more money if I get the movie made. Then they get paid off and I probably keep losing money to them for years to come so they’re willing to wait. Now you have my offer, what’s it gonna be?
 
JOE
We’ll let you know. Thanks for coming.
 
ADRIAN
When?
 
JOE
By Friday.
 
ADRIAN
Great, you can find me through my agent.
 
JOE
Oh we’ll find you alright.
 
CUT TO: INT: Office Building
 
Joe and Sara 
 
 
SARA
So what happened to Schwartz?
 
JOE We bought the rights to his screenplay for two million and burned it.
 
SARA
What if somebody else writes one?
 
 
29
 
JOE
Depends.
 
SARA
On what?
 
JOE How good it is and how much money they want for it.
 
SARA
I don’t follow you.
 
JOE Mr. Schwartz wasn’t the first screenwriter, studio exec or literary agent to approach us with the same basic storyline.. There were several before them.
 
SARA
So what happened to them?
 
JOE Like I said, it depends. For three million or less we usually pay them off.
 
SARA
But Schwartz only got two million.
 
JOE He was a bad negotiator. That’s all he asked for. Besides, I wasn’t crazy about his ending.
 
SARA
So you paid them all of?
 
JOE Not all of them. Some didn’t want to negotiate a price so we dealt with them differently.
 
SARA
How so?
 
JOE Come on Miss Handly. Do I really need to spell that out?
 
SARA So you’ll just keep paying anyone who approaches you to go away? 
 
 
30
 
JOE Don’t forget, we were willing to pay Mr. Ryder close to one billion but he was the inventor. A major motion picture release, even if it’s taken as fiction, gets the public to thinking. “Hey, why can’t the government dedicate more money and research to cars than run on water rather than oil.  Shit, they spend enough money on new weapons to kill people…how about helping out the middle class a little.” No one wants that kind of headache. So keeping the whole thing quiet is better. Like I said before, some information is available on the internet and there are a lot of scammers out there trying to sell a product similar to Ryder’s but they just plain don’t work so that makes it a lot easier for us to discredit Hal Ryder as a scam artist.
 
 
SARA And you think Hal Ryder’s car did work? It ran on water?
 
JOE What’s the difference? Even if it didn’t he came very close. And very close is too close for us. It means if some corporation actually did devote research and money to the idea they might actually come up with something and we can’t have that now can we?
 
SARA Still, paying anyone who approaches you three million each still seems like a costly way to do business to me..  
 
JOE There’s not as many people as you think Miss Handly. We don’t just negotiate with anyone coming in off the street with a script. They have to have an agent, a track record or a producer backing them. Schwartz had a track record and an agent. A bit of a hack but he did sell some low budget screenplays. And as to the three million dollars? You see it’s all a matter of economics to us, dollars and cents. There is sometimes more money  involved in dealing with someone differently that paying them off. Depending on who the person is and the amount of family and contacts they had. That’s a lot of money to spread around to have to keep people quiet. In most cases it’s more cost effective to just pay the one person off then ten others who might ask questions. We took care of Steven Ryder well enough. You won’t be hearing from him again. 
 
SARA
You mean…
 
JOE Oh no, Steven is resting comfortably in a nice warm climate. He was well compensated and he’s not saying another word on the subject. He’s nobodies fool. And as to paying anyone else three million.
 
SARA
31
 
(he takes out a penny and puts it on the table) You see this.
 
SARA
A penny.
 
JOE That’s correct. Divide it buy a thousand before three million would even feel like a penny to the oil companies. When the thousandth jerk with a screenplay approaches’ we’ll worry about it. 
 
SARA When you put it that way….yes, I guess paying them off would be better than……
 
JOE (He rises and crosses to the sink) Dealing with them ‘differently?”  Why of course it would, after all, we’re reasonable people.
 
SARA
So how did they do it?
 
JOE
Do what?
 
SARA
Poison Hal Ryder?
 
JOE We knew he didn’t drink. And we had an arrangement with the Italians. They told us in advance where the restaurant was and we greased a few people to get access to the cranberry juice. 
 
SARA
(as she rises) One last question. What ever happened to the car?
 
JOE (He pulls an empty plastic gallon container from below the sink)  It’s in good hands. (He starts to fill the water gallon)
 
SARA
What’s that for?
 
JOE The water? I’ve got a five hour trip back to Virginia and I’m almost out of fuel.
32
 
 
CUT TO:
 
EXT. THE BUILDING 
 
Camera pans from Sara’s car to the side of the building where a 1975 Volkswagon bug is parked.
 
FADE TO BLACK
 
As credits roll an actual (or re-crerated) radio talk show snippet of the actual news item of the car that runs on water is played with the two radio hosts commenting.