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©The Only Way

 

(Man and woman traveling in a car.)

 

Woman:†††††††††† So this is supposed to be shortcut?

Man:††††††††††††††† Well, Yea, but mostly itís supposed to be a scenic drive through the Ozarks.

Woman:†††††††††† So far itís only been pine trees and that horrible smell. (Makes a face and

††††††††††††††††††††††† Waves hand under her nose.)

Man:††††††††††††††† (Makes face, too.) Yea, I wonder what that is.

Woman:†††††††††† I donít know, but I think you should stop and ask directions before it gets

††††††††††††††††††††††† dark. The sunís been in front of us, then beside us, then behind us, then on

††††††††††††††††††††††† the other side, then back in front. I think weíre going in circles.

Man:††††††††††††††† Me, too. Iíll stop at the first place I see.

Woman:†††††††††† Really?

Man:††††††††††††††† Yea.

Woman:†††††††††† Why?

Man:††††††††††††††† Why what?

Woman:†††††††††† Why are you so willing to stop and ask directions? You never have before.

Man:††††††††††††††† (Pause) Because weíre about to be lost in the Ozark Mountains after dark

††††††††††††††††††††††† and I remember that movie with Burt Reynolds and, well, Iím gonna stop

††††††††††††††††††††††† and ask. Okay? Besides, that smells getting worse and Iím starting to worry about what it might be.

Woman:†††††††††† I wish I hadnít asked. Now Iím scared.

Man:††††††††††††††† hey, I never used the word scared.

Woman:†††††††††† You didnít have to. (Pause) Isnít that a gas station or a store or something?

Man:††††††††††††††† (Looks hard, squinting.) Itís something. I hope itís not called the Bates Hotel.

Woman:†††††††††† Pull in. Itís all we got.

Man:††††††††††††††† Now Iíll use the word scared. (Pulls in.) At least I donít see the word Bates in the name.

Woman:†††††††††† (Looking up through windshield, reading sign.) Naw, itís Buford Pusserís Cafť.

Man:††††††††††††††† (Quickly looking up to sign.) Really?

Woman:†††††††††† (Grins) Iím just messing with you. But they do have gas-hard cider-and general store-restroom around

††††††††††††††††††††††† back.

Man:††††††††††††††† Alright. You stay in the car with the engine running.

Woman:†††††††††† Iím not staying out here by myself. Itís getting dark. If we have to go, we go together.

Man:††††††††††††††† Iím not sure I like the way you put that.(They get out and go inside where 2 old, men are watching 2

††††††††††††††††††††††† other old men playing checkers. They stop talking and playing and stare at couple as they enter.)

1st Old Man:†††† Somethiní I can do fer ya?

Man:††††††††††††††† Uh, please. We need directions to Branson or at least to Interstate 40.

1st Old Man:†††† Well, son, ya come to the right place alright. Theyís lots of ways to get there from here. First of all ya go

†††††††††††††††††††††† down this road about a half mile and take a hard right and drive for 27 minutes and take a left.

Man:††††††††††††††† How fast do I drive for 27 minutes?

1st Old Man:†††† It donít matter, Ďcause down that hill with those curves ya can only drive one speed, but after ya take

†††††††††††††††††††††††† that left you come to highway 57 and turn right and thatíll take ya to Branson.

2nd Old Man:††† Or you can go back down here to that big green barn you passed on the way here and turn left. That

†††††††††††† †††††††††††road winds a lot, too, but it will eventually dump you out on the Interstate. Ifín you know how to get

††††††††††††††††††††††† there from there.

3rd Old Man:†††† Donít listen to them, Ďcause Iím here to tell you thereís only one way to get to Branson from here.

††††††††††††††††††††††† (Other old men laugh.)

4th Old Man:†††† There he goes again. Only one way. You old fool. You know theyís lots of

††††††††††††††††††††††† ways to get there from here.

3rd Old Man:†††† Iím telliní you the truth, son. Theyís only one way. And ifín you want to get there from here, Iíll tell you.

Man:††††††††††††††† (Other old men snickering. Man looks at wife, she shrugs.) Yea, I want to know. (Other old men howl

†††††††††††††††††††††††† with laughter.)

2nd Old Man:††† He got himself another sucker.

3rd Old Man:†††† You stay on this road for 17 and 3/10th miles. No more. No less. Theyíll be a road there if you mileage

††††††††††††††††††††††† from here is exactly 17 and 3/10th miles. Itís the road less traveled and itís a narrow road, but it will take

††††††††††††††††††††††† you straight into Branson. (More laughter.)

Man:††††††††††††††† Which way do I turn on the road?

3rd Old Man:†††† Can only turn one way. The tick is to find it. Remember, 17 and 3/10th miles. No more. No less. And

††††††† †††††††††††††††††believe me, thatís the only way to get to Branson from here. Trust me.

4th Old Man:†††† (Still laughing.) Trust him, he says. His is just one of many ways, but itís the hardest to find. The ways we

†††††††††††††††††††††††† said are easy roads. And Iíll tell you one other way, besidesÖ.

Man: †††††††††††††† Thatís okay. Weíll go his way. (Wife looks at him like heís crazy as he pulls her to the door.)

Woman:†††††††††† (Stops at door and turns to the old men.) Iíve just got to know. Whatís that smell?

2nd Old Man:††† What smell?

1st Old Man:†††† She means the chickens.

Woman:†††††††††† Chickens?

1st Old Man:†††† Yes, Maíam. This hereís the chicken capital of the world.

Woman:†††††††††† How do you stand that smell?

4th Old Man:†††† Smells like money to us. (All the old men laugh as man pulls wife outside.)

Woman:†††††††††† (Once outside.) If money smelled like that I would prefer poverty.

Man:††††††††††††††† (As they get into car.) I guess you can get used to anything.

Woman:†††††††††† Now, tell me why youíre going to follow the hard-to-find directions when the others say all the ways will

††††††††††††††††††††††† get us there?

Man:††††††††††††††† Iím just thinking. He says his way is the only way. The others say his way is just one of many. If all the

††††††††††††††††††††††† ways will get us there, why not go with the one that says his is the only way? If we go one of the other

††††††††††††††††††††††† ways and the one-way guy turns out to be right, we could be lost in those mountains and you remember

††††††††††††††††††††††† that movieÖ

Woman:†††††††††† Yea, yea, I remember the movie.

Man:††††††††††††††† Anyway, Iím going with the one-way guy and if it turns out his is just one of many ways weíll still get to

††††††††††††††††††††††† Branson. So, why take a chance? (sets odometer.) There. The odometer is on 0. (Puts car in gear.)

††††††††††††††††††††††† Okay. Here we go. 17 and 3/10th miles, right?

Woman:†††††††††† (Smiles.) Thatís right. No more. No less.

Man:††††††††††††††† (Sniffs air and grimaces.) Chickens, huh? (Shakes his head.) Phew.

Woman:†††††††††† Almost makes you want to hurt the Colonel, donít it?

 

 

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