Daydream Main Menu

Darlene's Daydream Café

A New Country Pop Musical

Darlene's DayDream Cafe

Book, Music and Lyrics by Vance Holmes

The Premise   |   The People   |   Main Elements   |   Symbolic Elements

Plot Synopsis  - Act I  |   Plot Synopsis  - Act II   |   Setting - Maps

Back to the Main Menu

Darlene's Daydream Café
and Auto Body Repair


The Premise:


Darlene, once a country singer, was in an abusive marriage with her band's manager William, with whom she had her first boy, Junior Willie. Three years after Willie's birth - Darlene and a secret lover were discovered by her husband in a motel room.

William was killed when Darlene's lover turned the gun on him. Darlene quickly disposed of her husband's wallet, personal belongings and the gun. She rearranged the room and the corpse to make it appear as though there had been a robbery/murder, then called the police and reported the crime.

Being one of several local motel robberies at that time, the crime though unsolved, was all but forgotten about by police.

Darlene cashed in on the insurance policy and quickly moved to Highlonesome, Arizona where she opened a small diner.

A few months later Darlene discovered she was pregnant with her lover's baby, but lied on the birth certificate and to anyone who asked, and said that the child, named Cody, was the son of her late husband William.

The diner where Darlene and her two boys live and work has managed to stay open for nearly twenty years. After graduating high school, Willie opened an auto body repair shop in the back, and the place is now known as "Darlene's Daydream Cafe and Auto Body Repair."


The People:


Despite being on the highway between two ghost towns, Darlene (40) is content in her cafe which boasts of good coffee, cheap food and live music.

Although deeply devoted to his mother, Cody (21), Darlene's baby boy is restless and secretly yearns for a life on the road. Consumed with the romantic history of the old west, Cody Joe wants to travel and have wild cowboy adventures of his own.

The Drifter, actually, Robert Alan "Duke" Tracy (25) is hiding from police and has taken to the road.

The elder son Junior Willie (25) is obsessed with the family's bleak financial future. He is convinced that the diner should be sold and the money used to move the family and his fiance Patty away from the dying town.

Patty (25) is unhappy in her stormy relationship with Willie but is also anxious to marry and move to a larger city.

Clifford, who never speaks, is a musician who wandered into Darlene's diner several years ago, began playing piano in exchange for food, and has been playing there since.

Plot Synopsis -- Act One:

It is early on an unusually hot August morning, and while Darlene sips a diet lemonade and vodka, the radio blares out a violent oncoming storm. Cody emerges from the kitchen and sings. [ SKIP LIKE A STONE ]

The radio announces another storm warning -- then the door to the diner suddenly blows open, and into the room walks the Drifter, a mysterious stranger with a guitar over his shoulder.

With little prompting, Darlene orders him breakfast, and introduces herself and her two boys by way of a song. [ DAYDREAM CAFE ]

In response, the Drifter sings his own introduction song which reveals little about him, but charms Darlene. [ STRANGER PASSING THROUGH ]

Willie, who has begun an auto body repair shop in back of the diner, comes through briefly to pitch his idea to sell the place, but Darlene refuses to listen. He leaves but threatens to press the issue later at a family meeting he's planning.

Darlene attempts to question the Drifter about his arrival in the small town, but is caught off gaurd when he makes a pass at her.

Cody enters the room with breakfast, catching Darlene and the Drifter in a compromising position. Darlene gets Cody to sing one of his favorite old cowboy songs which impresses the Drifter. [ WHEN THE WORK'S DONE ]

Cody and the Drifter go into the kitchen to talk further, leaving Darlene to hear another gloomy weather report on the radio.

Yelling is heard. Willie and Patty burst through the door fighting. After much fussing, Willie leaves and Patty and Darlene sit down to have a drink.

Just as Patty tries to inform Darlene of a reported runaway fugative in the area, the Drifter passes through on his way to the bathroom. Patty is immediately taken with the Drifter and subjects him to her one-woman karioke show. [ COUNTRY GIRL ]

Willie enters to catch Patty showing off and an argument ensues. Darlene takes the Drifter for a tour of the place to get him out of the room.

Willie begs Patty to help him convince Darlene to sell the diner, and promises to marry her when they move to a new city. Cody overhears some of this and warns Willie away from the topic. Willie and Patty move aside to speak privately.

The Drifter enters and confers with Cody about the location of the nearest bus or train station. Patty leaves, complaining that Willie loves his truck more than he loves her. Willie sings a love song to his truck. [ BUILT FOR COMFORT ]

Patty and Darlene have been discussing the Drifter, and as they enter Patty presses him for answers. When Darlene goes to the kitchen, Patty reveals her attraction for the Stranger. Patty openly questions Willie's true feelings and commitment, and aggresively flirts with the Stranger. Patty comes on to him and suggests she could get Willie's truck and provide a ride out of town, or perhaps even run away with the Drifter.

When Patty tries to hear the radio news of the runaway fugitive, the Stranger quickly changes the station and dances with Patty. [ ROUTE 30 ]

The station happens to play of one of Darlene's old recordings.

Patty calls for Darlene who enters followed by Cody. Darlene is convinced to sing her old song and reminices about the bad old days as a country singer, recounting her trip to the Arizona Desert and her dream of a diner. [ LOOKS LIKE RAIN ]

Willie comes in and demands to have a family meeting to discuss the selling of the diner. More news on the radio of the runaway fugitive this time announcing a reward. They quiet Willie, long enough to hear the update.

Willie begins the family meeting by insisting they sell the diner. Patty tries to help pitch the idea, but Darlene is dead set against it. Cody offers Darlene his total support either way.

The Stranger suggests that Darlene could draw customers and make more money by advertising the diner as a bed and breakfast. She is delighted by the idea, and goes off to dream about the new plans and write ads for travel brochures. Willie argues with Patty, disgusted with Patty's weak defense of his position. Before Willie can storm off - Patty asks him to have a private conversation. They exit.

Cody informs the Drifter that a midnight train goes through a neighboring town. The Stranger offers to share some marijuana with Cody who readily accepts, and the two have a long conversation about Cody's past and future.

The Stranger suggests that they should skip town and team up to become a fearsome duo - out exploring the countryside. They sing about life on the road as a pair of free-spirited cowboys. They laugh and dance and eventually end up in an embrace. [ TWO COUNTRY COWBOYS ]

Darlene, unheard, walks into the diner in time to see the two men kiss. The men go on dancing until Patty re-enters with Willie who tells everyone that he plans to turn the Stranger over to the police. Darlene rejects the idea, but Willie insists - explaining that there is a large reward for his capture.

The Drifter moves for the door, but Willie blocks it, and says he is determined to keep the Drifter inside the diner until the police arrive.

It begins to rain harder now. The arguing intensifies as the men scuffle near the door. Cody gets involved in the fight and is slightly injured. Willie tells Patty to call the police but the phone is dead.

Cody confronts Willie and they fight. In a sudden suprising move, Willie produces a shot gun and declares that until the storm ends and the police can be contacted, he intends to hold hostage everyone in the diner.

Plot Synopsis -- Act Two:

As the radio blares out another storm warning, Cody sings a quiet sad cowboy song. [ CURTAINS OF NIGHT ]

Darlene and Willie argue. The Stranger and Cody quietly confer. Willie stops him with the threat of the gun, and insists he will keep everyone in the cafe until the police can be contacted. Darlene is questioned about the gun.

Cody protests the Stranger's innocence. Patty pressures the Stranger about his true identity.

The Drifter tells everyone how he found the cafe, explaining that he shared a boxcar with a man who claimed to have once known a woman named Darlene who owned a diner.

The Drifter confesses in a song, that he is in fact the wanted fugative, but that it was actually a terrible mistake. [ DRIFTIN ]

Cody is convinced of the Drifter's story, and is determined to go off with him. Willie confronts the Drifter and the situation becomes tense.

Darlene having written some text to send to travel publications asks Patty to read the description of her bed and breakfast. Cody tells Darlene that he plans to leave town with the Stranger. Darlene resists the idea, and fears that the Stranger is not to be trusted. Cody is resolute and feels the time is right, and promises to return. [ TWO WHITE HORSES ]

Patty and Willie argue about their relationship.

Drifter goes to the bathroom and while he's out of the room, Willie sings about his philosophy. [ RIDE WITH THE TIDE ]  Drifter escapes through a bathroom window.  Willie and Cody fight, then chase after Drifter.

Patty and Darlene discuss the situation. Patty sings about her relationship with Willie.

Cody and the Drifter enter followed by a gun wielding Willie who has prevented their escape. Willie gloats about his capture and argues with the others that turning in the wanted Drifter is the right thing to do.

Darlene sings about her family. [HOME]

Suddenly the radio and all the lights go off. The diner is plunged into a silent darkness. Darlene scrounges for candles.

Cody and Willie presses Darlene to reveal the truth about William Sr.'s death.

The Drifter surprisingly mentions a name that frightens Darlene. He again recounts parts of the story he heard from the mysterious boxcar companion, and reveals that man's name to everyone. Darlene explains the truth about the family history. She confesses that William, SR. was not killed in a robbery, but had actually been shot by her secret lover.

Darlene goes on to tell everyone how she re-staged the death scene to look like a robbery/murder. Darlene tells Cody that the man she was having the affair with  was his father, and that he disappeared without a trace.

Cody reels from the news, insisting he has always suspected something was wrong. Cody says he will go and find his real father.

Darlene begs Cody to wait until the storm ends to leave, but he is resolute. [ ALWAYS ]

Patty announces that the phones are again working and Willie instructs her to call the police. Cody and the Drifter move toward the door. Willie shoots near the door to stop them. The brother's and Darlene wrestle for the gun. Suddenly the lights blink on again, as the power is restored - it is realized that the Drifter has escaped during the confusion.

Cody unplugs the phone and over Darlene's objections leaves to follow the Drifter. Patty, saying she needs time to consider things, quickly leaves. Willie follows out after her.

Darlene quietly sits alone for a minute, then begins to clean up the diner.



Main Elements:


Classic story with modern undertones based on several films of the "stranger in a small western town" genre. (Petrified Forest, Picnic, Albino Alligator )

1. Bittersweet longing for a better place
2. Missed chances for love
3. Violent gangsters
4. Quaint desert cafes
5. Clever dialog


Symbolic Elements:


DARLENE  "darling" (Middle English)

WILLIAM   from the Teutonic elements "will helmet".

CODY   "helpful" (Gaelic)

PATTY PATRICIA. Pat Garrett was the sheriff who shot Billy the Kid.

DUKE  from the noble title. Humphrey Bogart plays escaped gangster Duke Mantee in Robert Sherwood's "The Petrified Forest."

TRACY   "path" or "road" (French).

CLIFFORD "ford by a cliff" From a place name or a surname.

JEDEDIAH The name comes from a Hebrew name meaning "Friend of God" or "Beloved of God". ---------------------------------------------------------

Depending upon its level of intensity, rain may either serve as life-giving or life-destroying. It is revitalizing, fertilizing, and heavenly, and often marks acts of purification.

The lonely wanderer is a common image across all genres of literature. The wanderer is the opposite of the pilgrim; the first is aimless, the second directed. In Buddhism, the wandering man is one who is caught in a cycle of birth and death until enlightenment is achieved, thus attaining the motionless center.

West is the direction of the setting SUN and dusk, linking it with death, endings, the season of fall, and middle age. In the mid nineteenth century western culture witnessed westward expansion and the GOLD rush, so this context allows us to see west as opportunity, hope, and adventure.

Train symbolism is related to social life, destiny, journey, and fatalism.

The candle symbolizes light in the darkness of life, illlumination; it is the symbol of holy illumination of the spirit of truth. Lit in times of death, they signify the light in the next world, and they represent Christ as the light.

The San Pedro River Valley


Highlonesome, Arizona


It was owned by Bill McCombs who was a brother in law to Bob Crosby the world famous steer roper who had a ranch nearby. Most of the area ranchers got their mail delivered to Highlonesome and it was the meeting place for that corner of the world. Bill McCombs had two daughters and two sons. Strawberry was the eldest and finally bought the Bob Crosby ranch at Highlonesome; Bill Jr. who ran the Diamon A Ranch Co; Iola, who still lives in Roswell and Barbara who now lives back east somewhere. Highlonesome became no more in about 1942 when Bill built a new home in Kenna and moved his family closer to civilization. Somebody will have to show you where it was because I don't believe there is even a tin can left of what used to be a welcome sight to a lot of folks.

Southeastern Arizona


Return to Darlene's Main Menu

Exit to TheatreDance Home Page