Tennessee Plates

In ’68, the hot smoke and cold eyes of ‘Nam stalked ELVIN SUGGS. Now, it’s a blonde in a red dress—and, he doesn’t want to run. Suggs is no stranger to heartache. Years have passed since the Hubble brothers murdered CHERIE, his ex-wife. When he receives an offer on his Memphis home, Elvin decides it’s time to confront his poignant past. With his Airedale, VANNA, beside him, he leaves St. Louis. Thirty minutes outside of Memphis, he passes a silver Caddy with Tennessee plates, by the side of the road. He decides to stop, and meets SHELBY SWAIN.

Vivacious and sultry, Shelby also has a rocky past. She is working at a St. Louis nightclub when her ex-husband, MYLES LAMOUR informs her that a potential client, sleazy RONALD “JUPE” JUPITER, solicited his defense in a mysterious murder charge. SHELBY knows Jupiter, from a shady past. When she returns to the Galaxy Apartments, managed by parolee, NESTER ARSENEAUX, she discovers her look-alike friend, Claire Ireland, dead in her living room. Was the bullet intended for her? Shelby decides to run from St. Louis. In fact, she has been running from ARTURO PRIMO, and his two hombres, EDUARDO RUIZ AND SANTOS (Santy) COREJOS for months. When she stole enough cash from Arturo’s safe to start a new life, she killed Arturo’s brother, HECTOR, and ran, first to Reno, then to Chicago, and finally, St. Louis. She thought she would stay, but now, decides to hide out at her Mama’s trailer in Memphis. That’s when the Caddy broke down—and Elvin showed up.

DI REDDING and COBRA GLYNES, SUGGS’ business partners, smell trouble all the way from St. Louis. It wasn’t like Elvin not to call for hours. When he finally tells them that he has met a “blonde angel” and is reconsidering the sale of his home, they decide to go to Memphis. Meanwhile, Elvin is falling in love with Shelby. He has been lonely for too long, and disregards warning signs, even when Di and Cobra bring them to his attention. Back at the Galaxy Apartments, Jupe is homeless, and Nester allows him to stay in Shelby’s former apartment. They don’t know that Eduardo and Santy have murdered Shelby’s nosy next door neighbor, LAVERNE PIECE. Her corpse awaits discovery.

At one time, Jupiter, Nester, Eduardo and Santy were former inmates in a Texas prison. One night, outside The Lounge by Maurice, Jupiter runs into Eduardo and Santos. They bribe the owner, Maurice, for Shelby’s forwarding address. Jupe has regrets when he sees the paltry payoff he receives for his introductions, and visits Myles LaMour to explain the situation. Eduardo and Santy drive to Memphis, and spot Shelby and Elvin on Beale Street, where she applied for a job as a country singer at the Heartbreak Hideaway. They chase them through the crowd, but lose them—this time. Fortunately, Di and Cobra also spotted Elvin and Shelby. They convene at Elvin’s house on Newell Street.

It is here, in the rooms of his former home, that Elvin resurrects the feelings he has so carefully avoided. The memories of Cherie, good and bad, bombard him, and he turns to Di for emotional support. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Shelby confesses to Cobra that she is being pursued by ruthless killers, and begs for his protection. Cobra is alarmed and informs Elvin, but to no avail. Without warning, Shelby grabs the keys to Elvin’s car and takes off, dropping her cell phone on the way. The recorded message divulges her aliases. Elvin, Cobra and Di go to the trailer court to wait for Shelby; but, Shelby is headed for the Scotland Yard Motel to meet Jupe, before she returns to the El Dorado Trailer Court with Jupe, Eduardo and Santy. When she does, a shoot out ensues. Elvin shoots Santy. Arturo becomes impatient for Eduardo to return Shelby to him, and flies to Memphis.

Shelby leaves the El Dorado Trailer Court to perform at the Heartbreak Hideaway. Elvin, Di and Cobra are in the audience. As a parting gift to Elvin, she performs a song she has written expressly for him. Thought she has fallen in love with Elvin, but she feels he deserves a different kind of woman. The show ends, and she runs backstage, where Eduardo and Arturo wait for her in the darkness. They don’t know that Elvin is waiting for them. Arturo aims for Elvin, but Elvin’s trigger finger is faster. He shoots Arturo. Elvin searches for Shelby in her dressing room, but she is gone. He discovers a pink clutch purse that contains a Tennessee driver’s license that belongs to Shelby Swain. The other two licenses, like Shelby, are gone. Elvin realizes he fell in love with a woman he never knew. He sells his home in Memphis.

Elvin, Di and Cobra return to St. Louis. The JEOPARDY championship is on television, and they watch as Nester wins the grand prize. He decides to donate a portion to military veterans, so they can enjoy a chance to do something they always wanted to do. He believes the important thing in life is not the outcome, but the opportunity to participate. Elvin agrees!

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