Oh, Why Did I Invent This?

This is not so much sci-fi as the truth waiting to be pitched to the world - You read it here first. I am an inventor. I have invented a motor that powers itself. Yes- It does not need any fossil fuels to make it work; therefore gas and petroleum corporations will hate me and hunt me down to keep this invention from getting known. I will try to send updates as often as I can so you guys - the next generation, might help me to save to world. Wish me luck.

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1. Oh, Why did I invent this?

For three weeks now I’ve been here. It’s freezing outside. The frost on the skeletal trees, yellow from the street lamps against the darkness of the English February morning. I type a few words. I’ve got to publish my discovery. I’ve invented a motor that powers itself and the world needs to benefit from it. I’m constantly aware of every sound outside and the creaks inside the dirty, chilly apartment make me jump out of my skin.

George is being helpful, bringing a weekly bag of shopping and news from the outside. I have no telephone here, no television or radio and my presence is known only to George. I have to place my trust in my eldest son. Twenty years old, a tall handsome chap, his weekly visit is due this afternoon at two on the dot.

I pore over the laptop but I can’t concentrate. My prototype has proved itself to me and obviously to whoever it was that set fire to my unit. The newspapers reported me dead in the wreckage which is fortunate for me because I think they’d be back to finish me off.

Two o’clock arrived with our George. His distinctive knock expected and welcomed. I let him in and he placed the bag of shopping on the worktop in the kitchenette. He beat his gloved hands together to shake off some of the cold. “How y’doin’ Father figure?” He exclaimed in his easy-going way. I do wish he would stop that irritating father figure shit. He up-dates me on the happenings outside and within five minutes, he’s on his way.

Well, they’ve caught no one, they have analysed CCTV footage. They’ve been round the unit like starlings on a wet lawn with their fingertip searches. The national press have been round with their photographers and have published pictures of the remains of my prototype. George left me a Daily News. A front page with a picture of peculiar twisted pipework and the headline: R.I.P Rugby’s own Heath Robinson.  They still think the body was me but why do they have to take the piss?

Odd things started to happen soon after I met with that patents lawyer. “Just so it’s clear in my mind;” he mused, “The invention is basically perpetual motion?” James Morrison was a short chap, five foot nothing which was at odds with the baritone emanating from his mouth. He had the same disbelief in his voice that my old boss had when I ran it by him. The same notes of derision that engineers have when I try, with my layman’s logic, to make them understand that you CAN have an electric motor that powers itself!

The Eureka moment that gave me the pneumatically self-regenerating electric motor hasn’t brought me fame and wealth; it’s got me cowering alone in a smelly apartment. My workplace burnt down and my credibility is being dragged through the news media’s ridicule machine.

I was convinced that my invention would be easily understood by engineers and it would be universally welcomed as a genuine innovation. Oh! No. Everyone is suffering from the high cost of fuel but nobody thought a research budget into an alternative solution was a good idea.

I’d no option but to build the model myself. With ideas about pitching for venture capital but until I could demonstrate a working model, I’d got no chance. The many odd pieces of equipment I needed to help me realise the prototype were too much for my garden shed so I hired a small unit on a business park, where I worked on this thing that would very soon, amaze the world. Seven days a week, working from early morning to late at night, often falling asleep at the drawing board, I fashioned my new invention. After twelve weeks of scrounging, buying, and assembling the equipment I needed, I was able to satisfy myself of the idea’s integrity. It really works! The feeling on seeing the fruits in action was indescribable. Fantastic! I wanted to tell everyone, shout from the rooftops. Get drunk. I poured a shot of JD and raised the glass to an imaginary adoring crowd. “Thank you, thank you!” I couldn’t imagine anyone not being pleased with this gadget. The world will never be the same again.

My thoughts turned back to reality. MY world will never be the same again. But for all the wrong reasons. 

The Patents Office is the place you go to protect what they call Intellectual Property. You pay them for research. They’ll check to see if there are any ideas or systems similar to yours. They’ll tell you if your invention is unique. If you get the thumbs up, you get your patent. The helpful folk at the Patents Office recommend seeing a patents lawyer to establish that the invention is yours, that no-one else has a claim to it and that you are entitled to patent protection. These lawyers have to see your invention in the flesh; to witness its operation and to satisfy themselves that you are not infringing other copyrights. This is all well and good but surely these lawyers need to have a lot of integrity not to steal your as yet unprotected idea?

Deep in confused thought, I’m suddenly aware of a knock at the door. “Oh shit!” “They’ve come for me.” With a leaping heart I jump up and stupidly press myself to the wall, next to the door. The pounding of my heart so loud, I am petrified. Our George said he’d only come once a week so it’s not him – He’s just been. I hear a key in the lock. “The bastard’s coming in!” Reaching for a paperweight I resign myself to a bit of self-defence, against who, I’m about to find out.

As he came into the room, the newcomer boomed my name. “Terry! It’s only me.” He turned towards me as I stalled in my deadly assault-with-paperweight. My loaded arm poised insanely skyward. “It’s you!” I exclaimed “James Morrison the patents lawyer!” I didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried. At five foot tall he didn’t appear to be much of a physical adversary so I pitched in straight away for some straight talking: “Just what the hell is going on here?” “Why has my lock-up been destroyed? What . . .” He stopped me mid rant by holding out a palm as he sat comfortably back in my chair. “Terry, Terry,” he calmly repeated, “There some gaps that you need clueing up on.” He suggested that he put me in the picture chronologically; that I didn’t interrupt until he’d finished when I would have an opportunity to ask questions. “Go on.” I said as I put the paperweight safely back on the table.

He bought out some folded A4 sheets of paper from inside his jacket and handed them to me. I recognised my signature on the first page. I flicked through the sheaf. It was my patent application. “Your self-regenerating motor, you’ll be pleased to know is a viable concept. We know of a few similar examples around the world. We occasionally hear of a house somewhere in the world with its own power plant. Such premises are flagged as unusual in that although they are occupied, they don’t generate invoices from the utility companies. These contraptions have been made by people like you, ordinary working folk, keen to be freed from fuel bills. Many of these inventors mysteriously disappear; house burnt down or are victims of accidents.  You have to be protected. You are a fly in the ointment to some people at the moment and you could be responsible for shares becoming worthless overnight should your idea get out. Your patent will never be granted, I’m afraid, because your invention must never get to be common knowledge.” “But...” I interrupted. He waved me quiet. “The fact is that the world is not ready for the benefits that your discovery would achieve.” He continued “Your vision, as you’ve already outlined to me, was to see an end for the need for fossil fuels as an energy source. Sure it’s a worthy enough aspiration but the mass unemployment that this would cause is unimaginable.”  I had to agree that unemployment would be massive. I could also see that nuclear power stations are just an excuse to keep that technology alive for much more sinister reasons.

He explained that it is usual practice for all patent applications to be scrutinised for the greater good; that certain things need to remain constant.

 Status quo my ass! I thought. Just who are these people? How many lives are lost in the mining of fossil fuels? How many lives are destroyed by all these governments and OPEC members with their vile, selfish wars? As common workers, much of the wages we need are to help finance this effort. If we didn’t need to pay for gas, electricity or petrol, we wouldn’t need to earn so much to stay afloat. Can’t they realise that if every house, shop, hospital, warehouse, hotel had its own individual self-regenerating power plant and if all road and rail vehicles could run on their own momentum, most things in the world would be much less expensive.

I was apparently brought here to the apartment in an unconscious state after having been spiked for my own safety. The police don’t know about me or the safe house; they are still looking for the arsonist and/or murderer. George and his midget chum Morrison don’t yet know the identity of the corpse but agree that whoever he was, it was fortunate for me that he was discovered at my lock-up in his unrecognisable condition. They’d been expecting a hit on the place and were able to act swiftly in moving me to this safe house when the fire took hold. I had compromised the secrecy of the invention by tweeting whilst under the influence. They suspect that I am in danger from OPEC agencies.

“If my invention is not unique, how come it’s not already adopted throughout the world?” “Well the simple truth,” said Morrison “is that once you have this motor that needs no fuel, there is no money in it for business. Without consumers’ constant need to replenish thirsty vehicles and to pay for gas and electricity, those businesses would perish. They would cease to exist. “As I said: They nip those little gadgets in the bud.” “You are unique as far as we know in that you survived the mysterious accident!”

Morrison’s cell phone trilled with the Nokia tune. “Yep.”    “Oh, hi George.”  “Yep, just filled him in.”      “Okay, I’ll tell him now; cheers, bye.”

“He’s a good lad, your George. One of our best. He’s got you booked on a flight. New passport. He’ll be back tonight with all the details.”

When Morrison went, I sat down at the laptop and put it to sleep. I won’t have to write it all up then. I hadn’t thought how my discovery would impact on jobs like this?  If I publish my invention, would the benefits to the world outweigh the pitfalls? The ability to produce free electricity from a simple, inexpensive unit could provide heating, lighting, water purification, cheap travel, virtually free domestic and commercial power. Trains and road vehicles could power themselves without the need for constant topping up.

I lay on my bunk. A new passport is a peculiar thought; this is weird. From tonight I’ll have a different name. Sounds like I’ll be in another country very soon.

Our George’s knock shakes me out of my reverie. I let him in with a waft of icy air from the stairwell. “Hi Father figure. How y’doin’?”  “For Chrissakes George. Can’t we lose that father figure crap?” Irked, he rounds on me; “Wake up will you? You are in the deepest of deep shit just now. I’m the only thing in your life that resembles normality. So if you’ve finished your rant, we’ve got work to do.” He drops a passport on the table. “For me?” “Yep, for you.” Even though I am feeling the danger, bizarrely, I’m more worried about what name I will have to commit to memory. What name? Picking up the well-thumbed passport, a tentative peek reveals a photo of me and my new name for the foreseeable future. Kevin James Moore. “Kevin?” I moan; “Kevin?” Oh well, at least it won’t take much remembering. I didn’t ask where it came from.

I had the passport clutched firmly in my hand in the car that was spiriting us along the M1 motorway towards London’s Heathrow Airport. I sat alone in the back while our George, up front, chatted animatedly with the driver about the relative merits of the soccer teams Coventry City and Aston Villa. I’d got none of my belongings apart from the clothes on my back. Our George had given me a flight bag with a change of clothes and a toothbrush.

This whole caper, on a need to know basis, was becoming a bit of a drag. I just want my life back. I wish I’d never thought of this freaking gadget. Lottery winners must get these feelings – life, normality will never be the same ever again. “Here we are.” The driver chirruped as the ugly sprawl of Heathrow came into view. “I hope you didn’t forget your passport!” followed by a chuckle that resembled a blocked drain. I didn’t really notice the freezing temperature as we left the car. I was too numb in the head to think of anything much.

“Your destination is New Orleans!” said our George. You’ll be flying to Houston. You’ll be met by our man Faubourg. He will travel with you to the Crescent City and you will be his guest, staying in his shotgun ‘till we calm things down.” He gave me an envelope (containing $500), a ticket and boarding pass then he was gone.

Eight hours later, with a bumpy landing at Houston International Airport I’m on American soil. They have a very strict immigration routine. Gaining access to the United States requires to visitor to have been pre-registered with the visa waiver program ESTA. The officer at the immigration desk takes finger and thumb prints, eyeball photos and then he scans your passport. How the hell George and his pals managed to conjure up all this stuff is way beyond me – I’m in! “Welcome to the US of A and have a nice stay.”

The arrivals hall at Houston is massive. So crowded but at the same time, surprisingly muted. The gaggle of meeters and greeters is always amusing and I walked right past the sign that welcomed Mr Kevin Moore without spotting it. “Mister Moore! Welcome to the United States!” The reverie bubble popped as I realised that I was Mister Moore. Funny, I thought: How did this chap know it was me? He stuck his hand out “Mister Moore, I’m Andy Faubourg. We’re heading for New Orleans.” We shook and he could see my puzzlement. “Morrison wired me your picture.”

The heat was blistering outside, must be eighty. “So Bro. Did y’all have a good trip?” The southern accent, like the heat might take a bit of getting used to. I tried to respond in kind “Sure did Andy. Bro, I could use a JD and an Abita!”  “MM-mm! Now Bro, that’s something we need to talk about. Y’see George told me y’all got to keep away from liquor ‘n’ shit. Pepsi on the rocks is the nearest y’gonna get.” His tone was pretty final but I suspect a bit of abstinence might be for the best.

I sat alongside Faubourg in the back seat of the comfortable Lincoln. He poured my iced Pepsi and we headed east on I-10. His cosy, homey chat with the driver led me to believe they’d met before once or twice. The next thing I remember is being shaken awake. “Kev! Bro! How y’doin’? We’re here already. We’re in Louisiana.” MM-mm yourself, I thought. If they’re going to keep me away from liquor ‘n’ shit and spike me all the time, I might have to do a disappearing trick.

I woke in the dark. I could just make out the shape of a window against the blackness of the wall. The room was stifling. My head was throbbing like I’d drunk a bottle of bourbon. Thoughts filtered slowly back. In America, with a false passport. My son works for some weird agency, everybody seems to want me doped up. I don’t know what time it is; I don’t even know what day it is. There’s some sort of tribal music going on outside. Pounding beats, a manically shaken tambourine and some strange hollering. All this noise and my head pounding a beat of its own. “How y’doin,’ bro?” The standard Louisiana greeting flew cheerily from Faubourg’s lips. “Y’all need some food.” He put a tray down on a cupboard. “Get some o’ that gumbo inside you. You’ll feel much better for it. Then get yourself cleaned up. It stinks in here like the mornin’ after in a Storyville whorehouse!”

The food did a good job. Stomach settled, headache subsided. The odd sounding music had drifted away. The players had marched past and were bothering another street. The shower was fantastic. It felt like it washed away more than my pukey sweat. Anxiety seemed to wash away with it. I ventured out of my room into a living area where Faubourg reclined in a wicker chair. “How y’doin’ bro?” I called, (I learn languages real fast.) He didn’t respond. “Andy. You asleep?” At the same time as I noticed a dark red trickle oozing through the white wickerwork of the chair back, I became aware of a movement behind me. Spinning around just in time to be whacked in the face with what seemed like the back of a shovel.

Waking up with a splitting head is a habit that I really need to lose. The sooner, the better. A fan revolved slowly on the shabby ceiling moving the air rather that cooling it. With morning light outside I recalled the events of the evening. “Oh, Christ! What’s happened to Andy?” I jumped up with a start only to have myself pulled back down by bindings of some sort. “Oh no! I’m tied to the bed!”

How can I put back the clock? As I wallowed in self-pity I heard some scraping noises outside. A little black face appeared at the window. We shocked each other. He backed away quickly. “Hey! L’il Bro!” I called him as friendly as I could manage. “L’il Bro. I need your help here!” After what seemed like ages, L’il Bro came back – With somebody that looked like he might be Big Bro. “Wassup Bro?” called the newcomer. “Man, your face! It looks like y’all had a real slappin’!” I’d forgotten that I might not be too presentable just then. No wonder that L’il Bro ran off. “Good morning.” I thought it might be wise to accentuate my Englishness at this point. “I’ve been tied to the bed and I think my friend in the next room might be dead – could you please check? Call an ambulance?” Big Bro climbed through the window. “Y’all better not be shitt’n me none.” “No, I’m not.” I told him about last night, walking in, seeing the blood and getting clanged. Big Bro slowly eased his way round me and peeped through the door to the living area. He called L’il Bro; “Derrick, get in and untie this man here.” He called back to me “Ain’t nobody here.” He returned and helped Derrick with the untying and said “Listen man, we’re at the wrong place at the wrong time. My L’il Bro ‘n’ me: We just out for a stroll. We see your window open and figure we might find somethin’ to eat. We don’t figure on findin’ y’all lookin’ like a smacked ass ‘n’ tied to your bunk.” “Now you out of your mess ‘n’ you’ve thanked me enough.” He said as he disappeared through the window with my $500.

These shotgun houses are so called because all the rooms are front to back – If you were to shoot a gun at the front door, the bullet would pass through every room in the house and head on down the back yard.  This part of New Orleans contains some of the oldest buildings in the United States. Antebellum they call them – Before the Civil War.

Where the hell is Andy? Is he alive? The white wicker chair with the seeping blood is nowhere to be seen. I just wish I’d got a cell phone. I ventured outside, to try and find a phone. God! It’s so quiet. There’s nobody to be seen. As I take a walk, I’m thinking ‘Don’t get lost.’ ‘Dauphine,’ the street sign says. It’s always a good idea to find an intersection so as to orient oneself. Here we have ‘Lesseps.’ There’s a bar down there. Vaughan’s bar looks a flea-bitten old shack of a place. Shite! Closed. But wait, there’s a guy sweeping up litter. “Good morning.” I greet him. ”Do you have a phone that I can use?” “Well, good afternoon, actually.” He corrected me. “Twenty after three. And just look at the state of your face!” “Y’all walk into a tree?” He invited me into the closed bar. “I figure you need your face fixin’. Let me put some TCP on it. We got a box with first aid stuff; make you look a bit less scary walkin’ round the Bywater like a zombie!” He led me into the bar and poured me a JD on the rocks even though I told him I was potless. “’s okay Bro, y’all remember us at Vaughan’s, for sure!”

I heard a squeal of brakes as Frank, my kindly Samaritan cleaned up my face. Two police officers came inside. They were squinting as their eyes adjusted to the dark inside the bar. “Good afternoon, officers. Can I get you anything?” said Frank. “We’re here to have a little talk with your sore faced friend.”

 

 

It’s not a place I’d want to recommend, the inside of a New Orleans police cell. The cops at Vaughan’s idea of a little talk consisted of a cuffing and a ride downtown. “D’ya got ID?” “My passport is back at Andy Faubourg’s house on Dauphine,” I told him as best I could with my face aching the way it did. “I’ve just been beaten, tied up and robbed . . . and my friend might be dead.” Officer Happy didn’t look too pleased. “Why me?” he said,  “All I want is a peaceful life. And whaddo I get? A Limey dork with a face like a period pain, shoutin’ the odds at me. Throw him back in the cell.”  

I was woken in the middle of the night and taken to a room that smelled only marginally better than the stale piss fragrance of the cell. “What you say next will determine how well the rest of your stay with us is gonna be,” Officer Happy told me. “We had a call from the Bywater. A woman saw two kids running from a house on Dauphine. They threw something into her porch. Turned out it was a United Kingdom passport with your picture on it.” He continued in a hushed tone; “The name on that passport, with your picture, says ‘Kevin James Moore.’ Now I’m really keen to know why you told us that your name was Terry Mack.” He smiled an ugly smile before continuing; “Like I said. . . What you say next . . . Entering the United States with false documents. . . The visa is registered for this Mister Moore, not Mister Mack. You get ten years for that in Louisiana.”

“Do I need to see a lawyer?”

 

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