The Milk Route
Set in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, The Milk Route tells the story of Mickey Derbes, a successful New Orleans real estate developer whose questionable ethics have made him very unpopular with the displaced community. As chairman of the ostensible “Bring New Orleans Back Commission”, he’s assigned the unenviable duty of buying off ruined properties for pennies on the dollar. His own home, an Antebellum mansion he shares with his wife, Carmel, is also in devastation exacerbating the fact that the wounds from the loss of their only son to Leukemia years earlier have yet to heal. Accompanied through the ruined neighborhoods by his military escort, Gene, Mickey encounters his dilapidated childhood home and is harkened back to simpler times when he was taken under the wing of a milk man, Johnny, a decorated Vietnam veteran who served with Mickey’s KIA father. Mickey would help Johnny on his midnight milk runs over the summer and they developed a special bond. Mickey visits Johnny’s daughter, Kate, who informs him that Johnny is still missing and requests that he find him. On his journey, he is met by distrusting property owners, an arrogant FEMA manager and a vindictive hospital administrator as he holds the community at bay during a series of public committee meetings. The mission helps him recall the adventures he shared with Johnny on their milk route. Eventually, Mickey discovers that Johnny got caught up in a fracas at a relief camp resulting in his death, but no one knows where his body is. A public relations nightmare, the incident leads to the suicide of the police captain — Mickey’s best friend from childhood. The turn of events sends Mickey on a period of quiet self-reflection where he realizes his journey, and the memories it evoked, helped him rediscover the values of friendship, honor and community. He makes the decision to do right by the neighborhood by sending in a lame duck development proposal to the mayor which gets rejected and returns the properties to their rightful owners. However, circumstances bring Carmel to her breaking point and she prepares to leave Mickey. Gene appears with new information about the whereabouts of Johnny’s body. Mickey convinces Carmel to join him in retrieving Johnny’s body from an enormous makeshift morgue. On the way home, Mickey opens up to Carmel about his feelings surrounding their son’s death, helping them to start a new chapter in their lives.