The Redneck Sleeping Bag - Act One, Scenes 1 & 2
Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
150Trip End May 16, 2008
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Cast of Characters:
Me: Middle aged male on a Journey around North America. Photographer. Aspiring writer. Experiencing life on the road.
Sara: Beautiful young barmaid. Single. Works at John's Place. Smokes.
Ernie: 45 year old single male. Concrete worker and barfly. Smokes
Keith: Middle aged male on holidays. From Indiana visiting friends.
Dora: Barmaid. 36 year old female. Divorced. Lives with her ex and 3 year old daughter and 8 year old son. Works opposite shifts from her ex so that they can take turns caring for their kids. Smokes.
Patrick: Mid 20's male. Wanderer. Back in town looking for the barmaid he had a fling with 6 months ago when he was last through town. Smokes.
Melissa: 38 year old female office worker. Native American & Irish descent. Married to an Italian from Chicago. Smokes.
Act One, Scene 1
Me has driven from Swannanoa, North Carolina to Fort Mill, South Carolina (a small town on the outskirts of Charlotte, NC). A 2 hour drive. As he arrives at the campground he notices a Ford Dealership not far away. This will come in handy later as his truck is in need of some servicing. Sets up his trailer in another of a long list of KOA campgrounds. This KOA is different from the others. The main office is in an Exxon gas station. The main building also contains a Blimpie's Pizza & Sub and John's Place, a local watering hole. The campground is filled with Oak trees and acorns are constantly raining down. But the campground itself is void of other travelers. The temperature is in the mid sixties. Me decides to go for a short bike ride. He's decided to try and slowly get back into shape.
Act One, Scene 2
Time-early evening. Me has decided to go to John's Place for some pizza for supper. John's Place-small, non-descript drinking hole. Under renovation. One half of premises blocked off with plastic sheet. Laminated u-shaped counter with 8 bar stools along 3 sides. Juke box alongside one wall. 5 or 6 small round tables with high chairs along the wall opposite the bar. Long table next to juke box with 5 or 6 regulars having a few drinks after work during Happy Hour. Smoke permeates the environment. Me walks in. Sara is behind the counter serving drinks and chatting with Ernie who is on one side of the counter, closest to the group of regulars and the juke box. Keith is sitting in the middle of the long side of the counter. There are 2 empty seats on the far side of the counter. Me walks over to the empty seats, grabs the chair on the left, removes his jacket and sits down.
Sara: (smiling) What will you have?
Me: (pauses & thinks for a few seconds) What kind of coolers do you have? And can I have a food menu?
Sara: (thinking) All we have is Smirnoff Ice. We don't serve food, but you can go next door and get some at Blimpies then bring it back.
Me: I'll have the Ice.
Ernie: (quite loudly) I'll have another beer!
Sara walks around serving the various customers. Chats with Me, Ernie and Keith. Keith's friend walks in and orders a drink. Conversation continues for a while. Me goes and orders a pizza. They'll deliver it when it's ready. Ernie has numerous beers during this time. Dora walks in. It's shift change. Sara cashes out her shift. Dora pours herself a whiskey and Red Bull with a beer chaser. Goes to the ladies room to drink it. Me orders another Ice. Pizza arrives. Sara joins the guys at the bar, sitting next to Ernie. The bar is Sara's home. She has nowhere else she has to be. Dora pours some drinks for the various customers. Runs out of Crown Royal, gets another bottle out of the storage area. Takes the bottle out of the Purple cloth bag it comes in.
Dora: (talking more or less to Sara) I had to bring my daughter to the doctor this morning. She had to bring one of her Barbie's with her. Coco. On the drive to the doctor's office she tells me Coco is cold. All I have in the car is a Crown Royal bag. Then we walk into the doctor's office with this Barbie in a Crown Royal whiskey bag. You know...we really are redneck...especially when your daughter's Barbie doll has a Crown Royal sleeping bag!
Conversation continues between the various individuals. Keith's friend leaves. Patrick walks in a while later. Orders a beer on tap. Bar phone rings. Dora answers it and chats for a while. Gets off the phone and says it was her mom calling. Dora also has a 13 year old daughter and 16 year old son who live in Colorado with Dora's mom. Dora was living there but when she moved back to South Carolina left the older kids there to be with their friends. Dora's daughter had gotten in with the wrong crowd. She decided to change and get new friends. Dora just finds out that her daughter has been quite sick because one of her daughter's old friends spiked her drink at school with Visine. It's taken 2 weeks to find this out. She's pretty shaken up. Dora pours herself another whiskey and Red Bull with a beer chaser. Goes to the ladies room to drink it. Keith leaves. Old Guy walks in and sits in Keith's place. Orders a drink. Sits there, but doesn't participate in any conversations. Sara has quite a few beers. Ernie's still drinking and flirting with Sara. After a while Sara leaves. Me orders a Sprite. A short time later Melissa walks in. Sits between Me and Old Guy. Melissa says something to Old Guy and his response upsets her. Me and Melissa chat for a while. Old Guy leaves. Ernie starts flirting with Melissa. Moves over and sits between Patrick and Melissa. Conversations continue for a while. It's getting late. Me says goodnight to everybody.
End of Act One
That was my day yesterday. Over the past few weeks I've been comparing life to TV or Movies. Today I decided that life was more like TV or a Movie. We have the local barfly...divorced, lonely, obnoxious, but generally a nice guy. The older barmaid...a local girl, loves what she does, trying her best to give what she can to her kids, gets through the day with that extra push of a few stiff drinks. The young barmaid...beautiful and friendly, hasn't met her dream guy yet, still searching for some meaning to her life. The local regulars...come into the bar most nights as there's nothing for them at home but emptiness. And then the itinerant drop-ins...those with stories as varied as life.
I met a lot of nice people last night. The only downside is that everybody smokes. I came back to the trailer smelling like an ashtray. I got up early to bring my truck to the Ford Dealership. It was time for an oil change. It was also time I had my rear shocks changed. One got busted a while back and all the fluid leaked out. The tires were also due to get rotated. And finally, that grinding noise coming from the rear axle that I mentioned when I was in Cape Cod never did go away. I figured it was time to get it checked out before it caused some serious damage. It could be a quick fix or something expensive. I'll find out later today.
I'll probably be staying here till Sunday. Thursday is the American Thanksgiving. I was hoping to be in Charleston where there is more of what I want to see, but the campgrounds I've checked out there are already booked for the weekend...it being a long weekend. I'll probably head into Charlotte tomorrow to check things out. Racing season is over. So the only thing happening out at Lowes Speedway, the home of Stock Car racing, is the year end souvenir blow-out. I am in the middle of racing territory. Thursday night there's a Thanksgiving Dinner at John's Place. Sara invited me. It'll be nice to be with a bunch of friendly people.
Act Two - Charlotte, NC ...to be continued