SCENE -- EXTERIOR, AFTERNOON, TRAIN DEPOT
Okay, that's not exactly how it happened, but you
don't know that! You weren't there! Besides, as far as the movie going
public will know that's exactly the way things happened when I left Durham,
NC on June 2. In reality the train was a blue 1993 Saturn, the depot was
an auto garage, the conductor was a mechanic and the train's exhaust was an
angry mechanic's cigar smoke and he barked something along the lines of, "Hey,
this is only ten 6 dollar bills, you owe me another 6 bucks!" The rest happened
almost exactly like I said.
Rain falls on a husband and wife, their tears fall to the ground. A train's
smoke surrounds them. A sad song plays on the public address system. Which
sad song? Take your pick, but pick the one by R.E.M. The Conductor barks,
"All aboard!" The lovers kiss one last time. The train begins to
pull away from the station. The kiss ends. The man runs to the train and hops
onto the moving locomotive. The woman turns from the sight of her husband
leaving. The man watches his lover disappear into the cruel distance.
After crying and driving for about thirty minutes, I made my first stop. I pulled off Interstate 40 in Burlington, NC and found a Bojangle's -- a cajun chicken and biscuit fast food joint
throughout the south. I bought a large sweet iced tea. I was heading west
and I knew that it was only a matter of days until I wouldn't be able to
order that wonderful sweet nectar that flows through every southerner's urinary
My second stop was Thomasville, NC. This was one of the several places that
I called my hometown while growing up. I wanted to talk to an old friend
of mine, my college roommate. We had some catching up to do, I needed to tell
him about my move to LA and he needed to introduce me to his 3 year old daughter.
You see, I used to think that an hour and a half drive was a chore and I let
that hinder me from seeing more of my friend. Now, I know better. In LA, you
can't get to your ear without it taking at least 20 minutes. My friend and
I talked for a while and I got on my way.
I drove across town to see my first tourist sight of the trip.
In the town square of Thomasville, there sits the world's largest Duncan Phife
chair. People call it "the Big Chair".
It goes well with the world's largest chest of drawers that is one town over
in High Point. The chair is a symbol of the industry that has fed the people
of Thomasville for many years -- the over sized furniture industry. The one
thing you learn quick on the road is America loves to celebrate itself by
building over sized objects. From
Thomasville's Big Chair to the giant peach of Gaffney, SC, exaggerated objects
stir American pride and lure the traveling public.
I rolled into Charlotte, NC at about 8pm and picked up my traveling companion,
Wendell Black. You may notice a resemblance between my name and his, we share
parents. We headed off to Asheville, NC for our first night's rest. But before
we got far, we stopped for dinner. Now a general rule I try to follow while
traveling is to avoid chain restaurants, or at least national chains. But
I do make some exceptions, at least one meal of the trip I like to have at a
place called Waffle House. Don't confuse it with Pancake Haus,
or French Toast Hut. You can find a Waffle House at about every
other interstate exit in many states. It's open 24 hours so you always kind find a meal on the road.
It's sort of a poor man's truck stop. The food may be a little greasy, but
where else can you find a juke box with the "Waffle House
Our dinner, was a wonderful meal of grease and oil, with a plate
of fat on the side. I didn't know whether I should have the side of fat, but
I was on the trip of a lifetime and I told myself to go for it. Myself argued
for a while, but I reminded myself that I was driving and I would leave him
stranded at this road stop if he wasn't careful. He reluctantly agreed to my dinner choice.
A few hours after dinner we stopped in Asheville, NC
for a night of sleep. Lucky for us, our parents lived only a few feet away
from where we stopped. Mom and Dad had a bed ready for us and we settled in
for a short summer's nap.
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