Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 4, 2013

First of Several posts – Non-Action Scenes from Thrillers

Thrillers often grab the reader’s imagination and lead them breathlessly through action-packed scenes, but sometimes it can become tiring.

To give readers a pause, and often to set the scene for the next action sequence, scenes that aren’t filled with tension lay out a rhythm for readers.  The following comes from my first published novel, Piety and Murder.  The protagonist, Mack Brinson, is waiting in the Morning Call Coffee Stand, in Metairie, LA.

By the way, the Beignets and Cafe’ au lait  they serve are wonderful.

It’s usually hard to find a parking place around the Morning Call… no exception this evening. The place is known worldwide, I suppose, as the place for beignets and café au lait outside the French Quarter. It’s located in a small strip shopping center across the street from the big Lakefront Mall, sort of a homey or homely-looking facade with a big cup of steaming coffee as the logo. Some think it at least the equal of the ritzier places in the Quarter such as the Café du Monde. Although like much of the New Orleans area, it’s a bit grungy, I like it.
I finally found a parking space about half-a-block away and stopped in at the newsstand next door to pick up a copy of the Times Picayune to read while I waited for Vong. It was only six thirty-five. He was due at seven.
Morning Call is open twenty-four hours; seven days a week. There are fair-sized crowds at virtually any time. It isn’t really a restaurant in the usual sense: the only items on the menu are the beignets (wonderful!), great café au lait and hot chocolate or milk (for kids). There are, of course, tourists but the larger part of the café’s clientele are locals.

A group of old farts hangs out there morning and evening, sometimes playing checkers, sometimes just talking without looking at one another—looking out windows—watching the crowds; waiting for one day to end so that they can begin another. As the evening becomes night, they shuffle off with good-byes and promises to meet again tomorrow—hoping that all of their number are there when they convene again.

You can see the kitchen through windows that face the seating area; the immense mixing bowls that stand half as high as a man, heavy blades in them spinning the stiff dough; the hot, deep vats of oil where the delicate, airy pastries are cooked, and the huge urns where deep, dark coffee is always being freshly brewed. The old fashioned walnut counters with their marble tops and brass fittings came from the original location in the Quarter when Morning Call moved out here. The walnut arch with a string of naked light bulbs and the sign “Morning Call Coffee Stand,” is over the center of the room.
The story I heard was that the owners moved out to Metairie to get away from the increasingly dangerous downtown streets. A sad commentary on a city I love, but I too, am glad Morning call is less than two miles from the end of the causeway bridge and is in a place where one doesn’t feel prickles on the neck when walking to the car in the dark hours just ahead of dawn.



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