EXT. TRAILER PARK – DAWN
An early model Toyota Corolla idles outside a trailer home with the driver barely visible behind the tinted glass.
INT. TRAILER HOME – DAWN
A littered space with dirty laundry and dirty dishes. Raman Noodle wrappers overflow from trash can. A baby girl sleeps in a cardboard box.
NATHAN SMALLS, twenty-something college student in jeans and T-shirt hovers over a small table with an open algebra book, a spiral notebook, and a cheap looking .22-caliber revolver (Saturday night special). A toilet flushes. MARY PATTERSON, twenty-something girlfriend, enters from the bathroom in jeans and checks her sleeping baby. Nathan looks up from his homework.
I can’t leave her.
We’ve been over this a hundred
times. I can’t pull it off
I’m not leaving our baby.
Not now. Not ever.
Well she’s not coming with us.
Long beat. Nathan puts his hand on Mary’s shoulder.
We’ll be back before she’s up.
What if she wakes up crying?
What if she stops breathing?
What if someone steals her?
Look, we need this.
Nathan glances at the box. Sees baby outline.
You got a better idea, let’s hear it.
Mary struggles in her head.
Fine. But if anything happens
Get your shit together. Mrs. Abbott
said she’ll be here.
Nathan checks his watch.
Mary wraps her hair in a bun.
Nathan takes the .22 off the table and checks the cylinder. It’s loaded. He stuffs the gun in his pants and covers it with his shirt tail.
EXT. TRUCK STOP PARKING LOT – DAWN
The sun rises over a vacant gas station and a Waffle House diner across the street. JON REECE, an Army Private with a buzz cut and a green duffel bag stands in line to board a Greyhound bus. He’s nervous, fidgety, distracted while the last few passengers board.
FROM ROAD POV:
The bus pulls away, LEAVING JON IN THE PARKING LOT ALONE.
Jon’s thousand yard stare focuses on the diner across the street. He blocks the sunlight with his hand and starts walking toward the diner.
A LOUD HONK from a tractor trailer prompts him to jump back as the eighteen-wheeler veers off toward the diner parking lot.
EXT. DINER PARKING LOT – DAWN
Jon approaches the diner entrance. He sees CARL DAVENPORT step out of the Mack truck wearing boots, a jean jacket, and a wallet chain hanging from his back pocket. A road warrior, tough-as-nails man with a scruffy beard and weathered face.
Jon and Carl cross paths but say nothing. Jon notices the early model Toyota Corolla with tinted windows FACING AWAY FROM THE DINER AT THE OPPOSITE END OF THE PARKING LOT. Jon can BARELY see the driver’s silhouette through the tinted glass.
INT. DINER – DAWN
Jon and Carl sit at separate booths. DARLENE MADISON, a thirty-something manager with nice features, scrubs dishes in the sink behind the counter.
Carl takes a menu from another table. A customer leaves change on the counter and exits.
The fifty-something short order cook, SIMON THORTON, scrapes the grill. He wears a pony tail with a white apron around his jeans. Turquoise rings and bracelet.
Grits are empty.
I thought you ordered more.
I don’t get paid to inventory.
I get paid to cook.
Stares through a window at the parking lot. A Volvo station wagon with a man and woman inside parks near the restaurant.
EXT. DINER – DAY
Middle age couple, HAROLD MEEKS(pharmaceutical sales rep) AND BETTY MEEKS(homemaker), exit the Volvo wagon. They bicker as more cars arrive in the diner parking lot.
The hotel has free breakfast.
I can’t face another bagel
with cream cheese.
You could have had something else.
I could have stayed at a better
place. One with room service.
You wanted to tag along. Maybe
next time you’ll think twice.
There won’t be a next time.
What’s that suppose to mean?
Harold and Betty enter the diner. A two door Mazda COUPE parks beside the Toyota Corolla.
Lambda Theta Alpha sorority sisters KELLY, HILDA, and LINDSAY exit the Mazda. They stretch and squint.
KELLY (cute, bubbly, cheerleader type).
HILDA (shortest and thinnest of the three, woozy, about to puke on her shoes).
LINDSAY (prudent, responsible, designated driver more or less).
Hilda staggers, bumps her car door against the Corolla. She cringes. Can’t discern the Corolla’s occupants behind the tinted windows. She holds her hand to her mouth about to puke. SHE SEES HER CELL PHONE ON THE BACK SEAT.
Lindsay locks the car with the keyless remote.
I left my phone.
You won’t need it.
A FORD STATION WAGON pulls in front OF THE DINER as a SHERIFF’S CAR parks at the OPPOSITE END OUT OF SIGHT FROM THE COROLLA. Kelly, Hilda, and Lindsay enter diner.
FORD STATION WAGON POV:
Waitress, Abby Smith, gets out and SLAMS THE DOOR. She holds her apron and blows smoke. Flicks her cigarette butt. Her nametag hangs crooked on her uniform. The station wagon drives away.
INT. DINER – DAY
Darlene hustles behind the counter with a tray of drinks. Bacon SIZZLES on the grill. Simon searches the fridge for supplies. Abby enters.
Abby ties her apron. She’s angry. Pissed at being there.
It’s my day off.
No one would cover the shift.
And that’s my fault?
Table five hasn’t ordered.
Twelve still needs coffee.
Darlene carries orange juice glasses to Harold and Betty’s table.
Abby takes her notepad from her apron pocket. She grabs the coffee pot. The place is buzzing.
CHERYL WILKINS, a black waitress and community college student emerges from the back room counting money.
I need change.
Take it from the register.
HAROLD AND BETTY POV:
Harold waves his coffee mug.
(impatient, to wait staff)
I need a refill.
You can’t find good help anymore.
I told you we should have stayed
at the hotel.
Quit bitching. You sound like
Darlene delivers a plate of over-easy eggs and toast to Carl’s table.
Carl looks at his food.
I asked for scrambled.
Darlene forces a smile. She takes the plate. Going to be a long shift.
Jon watches the parking lot intently. He’s startled when Cheryl brings his waffle with bacon.
Can I get you anything else?
Jon shakes his head. Cheryl leaves the check.
He’s flustered. Tickets crowd the counter. He knocks a serving spoon off the counter and picks it up. Tosses it in the sink with piled dishes. He grabs a hot pan handle and burns his hand.
He stares at an order ticket and taps Darlene’s arm when she tries to walk by.
What is this?
Darlene reads the ticket.
Wheat toast, no butter.
Spell it out next time.
I can’t read your scribble.
INT. SHERIFF PATROL CAR – DAY
Deputies CHUCK AVERY and DALE WILSON unbuckle their seatbelts. Chuck stuffs a clipboard beside the riot shotgun mounted between the seats.
You want something?
Dale reaches for his wallet.
I got it.
EXT. PATROL CAR – DAY
Chuck exits the patrol car and swaggers toward the diner entrance. Wears shades, mustache, and an ego the size of Texas.