Old Home Café: The Next Generation

By Edward Floden, based on characters and situations created by William D. Fries, Jr.

Episode XXXIV: Hollywood Comes To Pisgah

(Originally published in The Legend-News of 2004 December 24.)

The stranger looked at Carol with a “what kind of stereotype are you?” look. Carol had been playing the part of a waitress for years. She could phone it in, but teasing the out-of-towners was a lot more fun.

“The boss doesn’t hang around much on the night shift,” said Carol. “But if you’ve got questions about this operation, I can answer ’em.”

The stranger, who shall remain nameless until the next sentence, pulled a business card from his wallet and held it out to Carol. “Paul Schaffle,” he said. “I’m with Backyard Productions, and we’re considering making a movie about this place.”

Carol took the card and examined its fancy typeface and its fancy logotype (some kid on a tire swing), all printed on fancy pasteboard. Skepticism filled her eyes. She filed the card in a pocket of her apron and said “A movie? Here? Must be a non-action flick, ’cause nothing’s happened here in years.” She thought for a moment, then added “’cept for that tanker explosion, but that was years ago.”

Schaffle sipped at his coffee. He nodded and said “Might fine cup of coffee.”

Carol said, “I’ve seen that television show. You want some cherry pie, too?”

“Maybe later,” said Schaffle. “Right now, I’m here to check out the area; see what we can use for locations.” He swept his arm towards the window and the parking lot. “Check out the scenery; and figure out what this project will cost.”

“You must be low-budget, if you’re comin’ out here,” said Carol. “And what sort of movie could you make about a truck stop in Iowa, anyway? It better not be one of those ‘rural comedies’, full a’ rejects from The Dukes of Hazzard. I hated that movie.”

“Well, it is a comedy,” said Schaffle, “but it’s about a trucker who drives around this part of the state, delivering bread. It’s a spec script; someone wrote it, we got a copy of it, and we’re investigating whether we should make a movie of it.”

“A guy who delivers bread?” asked Carol. “That’s been done, honey, thirty years ago. ’Cept then it was a dozen teevee commercials. They made a rich man outta some local boy.” She pointed to the glass case on the eastern wall of the room. “Just take a look at the pictures and newspaper clippings in that display, and you’ll see what I mean. Your idea ain’t exactly original.”

“I’ll agree with that. I haven’t read an original idea in years,” said Schaffle. “But every tire could use a good retread.”

Carol frowned. “That’s an interesting suggestion, comin’ from a La-la Land type like yourself. Have you ever seen a retread? They occasionally fall apart.”

“Any movie’s a gamble,” said Schaffle.

Carol freshened up Schaffle’s coffee. “One question, though. Why are you out here at 3 A.M.? Those guys,” said Carol, pointing to the drivers in the booth, “needed a caffeine boost. Me, I’m working. But you? Why are you here? We’re lucky to see tourists during the day, and I’ve never had one show up after midnight.”

“I wanted to see the sunrise,” said Schaffle. “‘Dawn over the Old Home Café’. It’s a scene in the movie.”

“Then sit back, honey, ’cause you’ll have to wait. Sunrise ain’t ’til about a quarter to six,” said Carol.

Next: Push it!

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