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This pleasant domestic idyll, with its delightful promiscuities, was brought to an end by the reappearance of Robert Vaughan, nightmare angel of the expressways.
Let's recap a bit, because the story is about to plunge back into the spaces of the mind hinted at in chapter one.
James Ballard had his life transformed by a near fatal car crash in which another driver was killed and the man's wife, a doctor named Helen Remington, was injured. The transformation was internal and his perception has been altered. He is now alive to the psychogeographical landscape of motorways, vehicles, concrete and airports - and the inevitable promise of fetishized death they bring.
Ballard and Helen has started an affair, reliving the accident through sexual encounters so powerful that arousal has ceased to function out of this context.
They now attend a stock car rally held by stunt car drivers working on the nearby Elizabeth Taylor movie at Shepperton. Part of the entertainment is a re-creation of a real crash which itself goes wrong creating a crash. The scene director was none other than Vaughan himself and Ballard and Helen help him take the injured driver to the hospital. All the set up, the characters, the ideas and the symbolism, are now coming together and paying off. Ballard sits in the car out front of the hospital and marvels at Vaughan's scarred body and confident manner. The real revelation comes at the close of the chapter, a shocking physical realization of Ballard's dreams and feelings about the crash.
In the lavatory of the casualty department I stood beside Vaughan at the urinal stalls. I looked down at his penis, wondering if this too was scarred. The glans, propped between his index and centre fingers, carried a sharp notch, like a canal for surplus semen or vinal mucus. What part of some crashing car had marked this penis, and in what marriage of his orgasm and a chromium instrument head? The terrifying excitements of this scar filled my mind as I followed Vaughan back to his car through the dispersing hospital visitors.