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Three troubled teenagers on the lam meet up by chance in Denver and begin a journey together in a slightly stolen antique Cadillac. It ain't Jack Kerouac's road trip.
Looking for Redfeather
Fifteen-year-old Ramie Redfeather leaves Cheyenne with an MP3 player in his pocket and his thumb in the air. He’s hitchhiking to Denver, he’s looking for an Apache named Redfeather, hisfather, a man he’s never met.Redfeather is supposedly playing a gig tonight in a blues bar called Ziggies.Ramie’s mother is a waitress, a single parent with two kids to support, just scraping by.Ramie has taken a handful of bills out of her tip jar, and left her a note. “I’m going to see my father, I’ll be back in time for my court date.”
Meanwhile, a bug splattered Cadillac Eldorado with Maryland tags is rolling through Cheyenne.The guy behind the wheel is seventeen-year-old Charles Sweeney, who, until recently has gone by the rather unfortunate nickname “Chuck.”But Chuck has re-invented himself as “Chas” and he’s left his Maryland home in a stolen car.Technically, he didn’t steal the car, he kind of borrowed it from his grandmother – without permission.He has also taken six dusty cases of vintage Bordeaux from her wine cellar, which he does not intend to return.
Chas is fleeing his so-called “life” back east.He has never been anywhere to speak of, and according to Chas, “they’re all brain-dead back there.”Actually, his mother really is brain dead; she exists in a vegetative state following an overdose and will soon be taken off life support.His father is on house arrest.Chas lives with his grandmother, whose car and wine he has stolen, to escape the situation. He hopes to experience the great American road trip, envisioning a twenty-first century On the Road, or Easy Rider without the crash ending.Just south of Cheyenne, he stops for a hitchhiker.It’s Ramie, thumbing his way to Denver.Together, they go looking for Redfeather.
Sixteen-year-old old Faith Appleby has learning disabilities but she has been given an amazing voice. Believing her voice is her only chance for success, Faith changes her name to Mae B. LaRoux, buys a fake ID with money she nicked out of the church collection plate, and leaves her conservative Christian home in Baton Rouge, guitar in hand. Her plan is to win the Breakout Blues contest at the Austin Music Festival but she gets on the wrong bus -- the bus to Denver.
Ramie and Chas manage to sneak into Ziggies but Redfeather, the scheduled entertainment, is a no-show. Ramie’s father has disappeared again. But Mae B. LaRoux shows up, looking for a gig.The three teens connect, heading out on the road to get LaRoux to Austin in time for the contest, looking for Redfeather on the way.One clue points to Tucson.
In Arizona, Chas leaves the main highways to explore the desolate Apacheria.The teens get lost on an unmarked road traversing a rugged desert canyon, where Chas wrecks the car, rolling it over an embankment.Three Apache fishing guides come to their rescue.Scratched and bruised, Ramie, Chas and LaRoux spend the night at the home of the Apaches, who take them in and care for them like family.They make friends with the eighteen-year-old Victorio, and find they have music in common.The self-sufficient Apaches get the wrecked car running and help the kids get back on the road.Victorio decides to join them as far as Ruidoso, New Mexico where he plans to get a summer job and stay with his cousin.
Tucson is a dead end – they can’t find Redfeather.Because of the accident they have missed him by one night and he has vanished once again.In Ruidoso Victorio’s cousin gets them all tickets to Slaughter, playing at the Apache-owned, Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino.But Ramie becomes separated from the others and accidentally finds a small lounge next to the slot machines that advertises Redfeather as that night’s entertainment.He has found his father at last.But the reunion does not go the way he imagined, and Redfeather is not the man Ramie needs him to be.
Leaving Victorio in Ruidoso, the teens race to Austin to deliver LaRoux to the blues festival in time for the contest.LaRoux doesn’t win but she gains the attention of a record producer.Reluctantly, the boys leave her in Austin with her older brother, thinking, “we knew her when.”They are running low on energy.The road trip is falling apart. Their pockets are empty and so is the gas tank.
Ramie has a court date hanging over his head, he must go back home and face his life.He feels more of a kinship with the Apache family who rescued them than he does with his biologic father.In spite of the crushing disappointment of meeting him, Ramie is out from under his father’s shadow.He is free to become his own man, to reinvent the name Redfeather for himself.
Chas must start back home to Maryland and face his mother’s likely death when she is taken off life support. But Chas has a new understanding of family, friendship, and responsibility. A lot can happen in two weeks – and across two thousand miles – to change the course of a person’s life – especially in a borrowed Cadillac with new friends and a trunk full of Grandma’s wine.