Script created with Final Draft by Final Draft, Inc.
"The Potato Creek Chair of Death"
By Robert Kerr
INT. A GARAGE - DAY
The empty front seat of a rust-speckled green Pacer.
After a moment, MICHAEL, an edgy seventeen-year-old with
shoulder-length hair, throws a bag into the back seat,
gets into the car and sits in the driver's seat. For a
moment he stares at his hands resting on the steering
wheel. He reaches into his jacket pocket and takes out a
set of keys. His hands shake as he selects a key and
puts it into the ignition. He gets a hold of himself and
starts the car. He presses the button on a garage door
opener and the garage door opens. Light fills the
EXT. SUBURBAN CLEVELAND - SAME
The Pacer backs out of the garage, down the driveway, and
onto the street of a lower-middle-class neighborhood.
Before he puts the car into drive, Michael looks back at
The house is weather-beaten and looks rather neglected.
The curtains are drawn; the house seems very dark and
Next to the front step is a garden ornament—a bird with
propellers for wings. A breeze picks up and the
propellers start to spin.
Michael jumps at the sound of a voice through his half
A NEIGHBOR across the street stands by his front door,
holding a lunchbox up in the air. He is speaking to his
daughter, a small KINDERGARTNER in a bright yellow
raincoat, who stands at the end of the neighbor's
Michael relaxes a little and watches.
Hunching over under the drizzle, the neighbor trots up to
the kindergartner, places the lunch box in her hand, and
kisses her on the forehead. The kindergartner walks down
the driveway and turns onto the sidewalk. The neighbor
turns toward the house, then stops, catching sight of
Michael draws back slightly, watching the neighbor.
The neighbor raises his hand, hesitates, then waves at
Michael rolls up his window. He puts the car in gear and
starts to drive away.
The Pacer approaches an intersection.
The kindergartner stands on the street corner, watching
the Pacer approach. The kindergartner stares at Michael
as he drives by.
Michael is transfixed by the kindergartner's stare. He
accelerates the car as he finishes the turn.
The kindergartner turns to watch as the Pacer speeds off
down the street.
EXT. THE ROAD - DAY
A speed metal song plays on the Pacer's stereo as the car
enters the freeway.
The sky is still overcast as the Pacer passes a sign:
"WELCOME TO TOLEDO."
Michael watches the streets warily as he drives through
The Pacer passes a sign: "NOW LEAVING OHIO."
The sky brightens and the clouds break up. The sky turns
blue, then orange, then deep, dark blue, then pitch black
as the Pacer passes more road signs:
"WELCOME TO INDIANA - THE HOOSIER STATE"
"SOUTH BEND WELCOMES YOU"
"CHICAGO - CITY OF THE BIG SHOULDERS"
Michael keeps driving, even though he has trouble keeping
his eyes open. The passing signs and oncoming headlights
start to mingle with a waking dream.
"MADISON - WISCONSIN'S CAPITAL CITY"
EXT. A STARK LANDSCAPE - DUSK
In the hallucination, Michael is in the middle of a
stark, shadowy, endless landscape. He looks around,
lost. There is an unsettling CRY in the distance.
Michael turns to see where the cry has come from.
"NOW ENTERING IOWA"
In the dream, Michael turns to see his house, which
stands by itself in the middle of the landscape.
Scavenging birds circle above the house.
The garden ornament stands next to the front step. Its
propeller wings spin wildly.
"ONLY 623 MILES TO WALL DRUG"
Michael tries to walk toward the house. He cannot move.
Michael attempts to lift his feet, but they are stuck to
A red sign with white lettering: "ON CURVES AHEAD"
The dim, luminous outline of a path appears beneath
The path leads toward the horizon, away from Michael's
Another red sign: "REMEMBER, SONNY"
Michael finds he can lift his feet again. He starts to
follow the path.
Michael stops and turns back toward the house.
The scavenging birds start to descend on the house.
"THAT RABBIT'S FOOT"
Michael tries to walk back to the house. Once more, his
feet are stuck to the ground.
Michael turns away from the house.
He can lift his feet again.
Michael starts walking down the path again, away from the
In the distance, at the end of the path, there is
something under a bright light.
It is an old wooden chair. Suspended in the air, above
and slightly to one side of the chair, is a revolver. If
someone were sitting in the chair, the revolver would be
pointing at their head.
Michael walks around the chair and gun, studying them
from all angles. A CAR HORN blares.
EXT. A COUNTRY ROAD - MORNING
Michael wakes up behind the wheel of the Pacer. The CAR
HORN blares again, over and over.
The Pacer sits in the middle of the road. It has come to
a stop at an angle across both lanes of traffic. It
blocks the path of a delivery truck.
Michael puts the car in gear and starts down the road.
There is a sign ahead: "JACK 'N ELLEN'S - GIFTS 'N
EXT. GIFT SHOP PARKING LOT - DAY
The Pacer is parked in the lot. A huge white Lincoln
Continental pulls in next to it. The Continental's door
opens, and CEDRIC, a middle-aged man who resembles an
overgrown infant in a ten-gallon hat, gets out and walks
toward the gift shop.
INT. GIFT SHOP - DAY
A bell rings as Cedric strides in. Michael and ELLEN, a
thirtyish woman in jeans and an old sweatshirt, stand at
the counter in the middle of a conversation.
Cedric hovers in the doorway, listening.
This kid told me about it in second
grade. It's a chair, out west somewhere,
and there's this gun set up in front of
it. The gun's set to go off sometime
between now and the year 2010, but nobody
knows when exactly. Here. I drew a
picture of it.
Michael flips through his notebook, looking for a page.
Cedric approaches the counter.
Say, miss, you got any of those dashboard
things, you know, the little ladies with
the titties that light up?
Cedric cups his hands in front of his chest to suggest
breasts, then flares his fingers in and out to suggest
Ellen rolls her eyes.
Or how about those tumblers, you put ice
in and the ladies' clothes disappear?
Aisle four, next to the musical dildos.
Oblivious to Ellen's sarcasm, Cedric heads down an aisle.
Michael has found the page he wants.
This is what I'm looking for.
The notebook is open to a page with a pencil drawing of
the chair and gun from Michael's dream.
Hey, miss, I don't see any little ladies,
any tumblers, or any dildos back here.
Listen, sir, I don't know what kind of
shop you think this is—
A souvenir shop. I can read the sign.
Well, what you're looking for are not
Sure they are, if they say, "Hi from
Cedar Rapids." According to this here
magazine you folks carry erotic
Cedric shows Ellen a glossy magazine, "Extreme Tourism."
On the cover is a photo of a young, smiling, all-American
couple. They wear combat fatigues and have cameras
around their necks. Behind them is the world's largest
ball of string.
Ellen flips through the magazine.
Must have been the previous owners. That
was ten years ago.
Ellen gives the magazine back to Cedric and turns to
You were saying . . .
You pay fifty cents to sit in the chair
for one minute.
Cedric peers over Michael's shoulder to look at the
It's like Russian roulette, I guess.
You're tempting fate.
I've never heard of such a thing.
Looks like the Potato Creek Chair of
You've heard of it?
Cedric hands Michael the magazine.
Page 32, I believe.
Michael opens the magazine to an article with the
headline "Off the Beaten Track." A subhead reads,
"America's 100 Weirdest Tourist Traps."
Decided I wanted to see all these places
since I won the Publishers Clearing House
Ellen scoffs in disbelief.
Michael turns the page. Next to the number 37 is a
heading in bold type: "Chair of Death."
You don't believe me? Here's a picture
of Ed McMahon handing me a giant check.
Cedric shows Ellen a photograph in his wallet.
In the magazine there is a photograph, obviously staged
and shot in a studio, of a smiling, wholesome-looking
tourist sitting in a chair, a gun pointed at his head.
Below the photograph is a caption: "Probably a Myth."
Ellen studies the photograph in Cedric's wallet. Her
That check isn't real, of course. It's
just for show. They send me the money in
With his finger, Michael traces an arrow pointing to a
map of the United States.
Since I won I quit my job, sold my house,
and now I'm traveling around the country
with my Mama.
Michael's finger comes to rest at the end of the arrow.
He moves his finger, revealing the words "South Dakota."
Want her to see all these weird things
before she dies.
Michael hands the magazine back to Cedric.
Do you sell maps here?
Looks like we're out. We might have some
in back. There are tons of boxes back
there we haven't touched since we bought
Ellen goes into the back room.
Cedric amuses himself with a miniature snowscape.
Michael goes to the window and looks outside.
Cedric's white Continental sits in the parking lot.
Through the windshield, VALERIE is visible. She is a sad
looking, elderly woman.
Cedric puts down the snowscape. Something else has
caught his eye.
It is Michael's notebook, still open to the picture of
the chair of death.
Cedric checks to make sure Michael isn't looking.
Michael continues to look at the Continental.
Cedric turns a page in the notebook, revealing an
intricately detailed picture, drawn with a number two
pencil, of a skeleton with a long, flaming sword raised
above its head.
Cedric flips a couple more pages. The same skeleton
appears in different poses on the next few pages. In
each successive drawing, the skeleton looks progressively
more mechanical and robot-like.
Cedric flips rapidly through the pages.
There are more drawings in the notebook, as well as
verses of poetry and song lyrics.
Cedric closes the notebook and looks at the skull drawn
on the cover.
Cedric regards Michael for a moment.
Michael is still staring out the window.
A moment passes. Barely visible through the windshield,
Valerie stirs, perhaps turning to look at Michael.
Who is that, in the car? Your mother?
Why do you want to know?
Michael shrugs. Cedric walks over to stand next to
Michael. He looks out the window at the Pacer.
That your car?
Piece a junk.
INT. BACK ROOM - SAME
Ellen stands among several open cardboard boxes in the
back room. She opens another box and takes something
It is a tumbler with a picture of a tan, muscular man
wearing only bikini briefs. Ellen turns the tumbler.
Lettering spells out, "Hi from Cedar Rapids."
INT. GIFT SHOP - SAME
Cedric and Michael gaze out the window.
You're from Ohio, then.
How'd you know?
Your plates. Boy are you jumpy. What
are you doing in Iowa all by yourself?
Run away from home?
Look at that.
Cedric points at something.
EXT. GIFT SHOP PARKING LOT - DAY
An Iowa state patrol car comes to a stop a short distance
from the Pacer and the Continental.
INT. GIFT SHOP - DAY
Michael turns toward the back room.
Haven't you found it yet?
An Iowa state TROOPER emerges from the patrol car.
In the back room, Ellen opens a box and looks inside.
She finds a road map.
The trooper is circling the Pacer.
Cedric observes the trooper as well as Michael's
Ellen emerges from the back room carrying a road map.
I found one. I don't know if it's any
good, though. It's at least twenty years
The trooper looks closely at Michael's license plates.
I don't care.
The roads have all probably changed.
The trooper starts walking toward the front door of the
There's an Amoco just down the street. I
bet their maps are—
Michael slams a bill down, takes the map from Ellen, and
starts around the counter.
Wait, wait. Where are you going?
Michael goes into the back room.
That's employees only!
In the back room, Michael looks around for a way out.
In the front of the shop the BELL sounds as the trooper
opens the front door.
Michael sees a door and dashes for it.
ELLEN (O.S.) (CONT'D)
You forgot your change!
Ellen comes into the back room, just in time to see the
back door closing behind Michael.
EXT. GIFT SHOP PARKING LOT - DAY
Michael walks around the side of the building, stops at
the corner, makes sure the coast is clear, then walks
quickly to the Pacer. He gets in, starts the car, and
Valerie watches as the Pacer speeds off.
Cedric and the officer appear in the doorway of the shop,
watching Michael's car disappear. Cedric looks down at
something in his hands.
It is Michael's notebook.
EXT. A HIGHWAY - AFTERNOON
Cedric is driving the Continental. Valerie sits in the
You are a teapot, short and stout...
Cedric waits for Valerie to respond. She doesn't.
Come on, Mama. Sing the other part.
I don't remember.
Sure you do. The bit about the spout.
"You are a teapot, short and stout..."
And you are the spout where the tea comes
That's right. "You are a staircase, long
Valerie looks at Cedric. Her irritation is starting to
Cedric nods to urge her on.
And you are the rail so people don't
You are a mailbox, made of tin.
And you are the postcard that gets put
in. Remember this one? You're a tomato
in a row.
And you are the water that makes me grow.
Cedric laughs. In spite of herself, Valerie smiles.
Do you remember any more?
That was at least thirty years ago.
Must've come up with at least fifty
different verses. Wasn't there one about
Valerie notices Michael's notebook sitting on the seat
beside her. She picks it up and flips through it.
What is this?
It belonged to the kid at the gift shop.
He left it behind when he took off. Now,
what was the one about the outhouse?
Valerie opens the notebook to one of Michael's drawings.
In this drawing, a boy stands with his head bent forward
so that his long hair hides his face. Behind him a man
and woman sit in easy chairs watching television. They
are viewed from behind; only the backs of their heads,
their arms and their feet are visible. The man holds a
can of beer and the woman holds a cigarette. The
television screen shows a mechanical skeleton wielding a
Intrigued, Valerie turns the page.
In the next drawing, the man and woman face the
television in the same pose. The boy is in the
foreground, his face now turned upward. His hands cover
his ears, his eyes are tightly closed, and his mouth is
open in a scream. In the background, the cyborg skeleton
bursts out of the television, swinging its sword at the
man and woman in the easy chairs.
Did he draw these pictures himself?
How would I know, Mama?
They're amazing. He's really talented.
Really sick, if you ask me. The kid
ought to see a psychiatrist.
Because he likes to draw skeletons?
Exactly. What kind of kid gets his
jollies from that?
I'm sure it's just a phase. Like that
phase you went through when you were his
What phase was that, Mama?
When you kept stealing the underwear from
Mrs. Shumacher's clothesline.
I did that once, Mama. Once. On a dare.
You think I didn't know about the hatbox
full of panties under your bed?
Cedric is speechless.
I'm just saying that's the kind of thing
teenagers do. You stole panties, this
boy draws flaming skulls.
Don't compare me to that hooligan.
What was his name?
I don't know. He's just some punk who
ran off with his parents car. I never
took anything of yours. I was a good
kid. Still am.
He writes poetry, too. Listen—
Cedric snatches the notebook out of Valerie's hands and
flings it into the back seat.
You'll get nightmares looking at that
Valerie starts to reach for the notebook.
Startled, Valerie stops reaching for the notebook. She
stares at the road ahead.
You don't understand. That boy was
Cedric tries to catch Valerie's eye, but she won't look
I'm just trying to look out for you.
Like you always looked out for me.
Cedric turns his attention to the road ahead. They drive
on in silence.
EXT. A CROSSROADS - NIGHT
The Pacer comes to a stop at a crossroads. A sign
pointing down one road reads "U.S. HIGHWAY 67." The
other sign reads "STATE HIGHWAY 42."
Inside the car, Michael is looking at the road map under
the car's interior light. Apparently the map isn't much
help; Michael sighs and folds it up.
He looks first at one sign, then the other.
He takes a coin from his pocket and flips it. He checks
the result. He puts the car in gear.
The Pacer turns down Highway 42.
Michael drums on the dashboard, making up a song.
It's the last time
I have to listen to you.
It's the last time
I have to put up with you.
It's the last time
I have to look at your face.
The Pacer accelerates into the night.
EXT. HIGHWAY - NIGHT
The Continental passes a sign reading "HIGHWAY 42."
Cedric is driving. Valerie gazes out the window.
How soon do we stop for the night?
Next Motel 6.
Why don't we stop somewhere nice for
once? Get a suite so I could have my own
room? We can afford it.
What do you need your own room for? I
don't have anything you haven't already
Valerie is uncomfortable.
What's wrong with Motel 6? They've got
those funny commercials on the radio.
They drive in silence for a moment.
Listen, Mama, we'll compromise. We can
stay at a Holiday Inn. It's a step up
from a Motel 6.
Light shines on Cedric's face, reflected by the rear view
mirror. He looks up at the mirror.
INT. THE PACER - SAME
Michael, in his car, is still singing.
Whatever I said
It was never enough.
Michael sees the tail lights of a huge white car ahead of
Michael flashes his headlights.
INT. THE CONTINENTAL - SAME
The flashing headlights, reflected in the rear-view
mirror, pulse on Cedric's face. Cedric looks out the
A pair of headlights loom just behind Cedric's car.
The Pacer follows closely behind the Continental.
Michael flashes his lights a couple more times.
Whatever I did,
It was never the right stuff.
Cedric's eyes are fixed on the rear-view mirror.
Ought to slam on the brakes and teach him
Settle down, Cedric.
The Continental slows down and starts hogging the road.
The Pacer bears to the left. The Continental bears to
the left, blocking it. The Pacer bears right, and the
Continental also bears right.
Finally, the Pacer pulls sharply onto the shoulder and
starts to pass the Continental.
Michael continues singing over the sound of the engine.
Wherever I went,
You were riding my back.
The two cars speed down the road, side by side.
So he wants to race.
I'll show him what this car can do.
Let him pass.
The Pacer and Continental are neck and neck.
Michael looks for an opportunity to pass.
Well it's over.
It's over and done.
There is an S-curve sign ahead.
Cedric, slow down.
No one passes me, Mama.
There's a curve ahead.
Good. Maybe next time he'll think twice
Slow down or I'll never speak to you
Cedric eases off the gas and exhales in frustration.
The Pacer passes the Continental.
Cuz it's the last time,
The last time.
As the Pacer pulls off the shoulder and back onto the
road its tires spit gravel up in the air.
The gravel bounces off the Continental's windshield.
You happy, Mama? I could have passed
Cedric looks ahead just in time to see the Pacer before
it disappears around the curve. He catches sight of
Cedric sees the Pacer's license plate.
Nothing. Goddamn kids.
Michael continues accelerating.
Goddamn old people.
The Pacer leaves the Continental further and further
behind as it races into the night.
Script created with Final Draft by Final Draft, Inc.