Monday, February 07, 2011

Caffeinated Inc. Episode 01: As Deeply as You Believe

Caffeinated Inc. (pronounced fully - "Caffeinated Incorporated") was the Gathering's weekly sitcom in the first two years of our existence. To that end, these scripts predate the Year of the Rabbit I'm celebrating here, but are indicative of the sort of approaches the Gathering took toward expressing the Christian faith. They also formed the basis for my blogged novel, Magik Beans. I was the primary writer, but the characters and sometimes dialogue took shape in a improv-to-script approach I shared with co-stars Blaine Kehl and Marcia Hamm.  I'll be posting all of our initial seven episodes in subsequent updates.

CARL,  an employee at CI in his early twenties
SARAH, a friend of Carl’s who works at a local music store
ALAN, a socially challenged courier who says exactly the wrong thing or right thing

(The interior of C. I.  The stage is dim, since there are presently no lights on in the shop.  The sign on the door is turned so that the audience sees the word OPEN.  CARL and SARAH walk up to the door, dressed in funeral attire.  CARL takes out keys, opens the door and they enter.)

CARL:  Why do people always ask, “How was the funeral?”  I mean, its a funeral. . . was I supposed to have a good time or something?  It’s not like asking, how was the stag, or how was the movie?

SARAH: Well, people don’t always know what to say. . . it’s uncomfortable.

CARL:  They don’t have to say anything at all.  Its unnecessary – I’m aware I was at a funeral, I’m aware that someone died, and I’m aware that other people are aware of that.  They don’t have to say a damn thing. 

SARAH:  Well they did. . . you don’t have to keep going on about it.

CARL:  I’m sorry – I just have to vent.

SARAH:  Fine, so I’ll buy you a punching bag.  Take out some of your aggressive feelings making me a latte. 

CARL:  None of the machines are warmed up. . . I don’t want to have to clean out the whole thing ---

SARAH:  So make me a tea – and make one for yourself.  One of those herbal ones that’s supposed to make you go to your happy place.

CARL:  Tea I can do. 

SARAH:  So I decided to stay on at the store.

CARL:  How are you with that?

SARAH:  Well, I don’t really have any choice – its really too late to register for classes now, and besides, I get cheap CDs.

CARL:  And next semester?

SARAH:  Can I take this one day at a time?  Neither of us is really in any shape to be taking huge career steps.  I’m taking a few weeks off to go back home so I don’t freak out at the store again.

CARL:  Your manager was okay with everything?

SARAH:  Yeah, she went through something similar. . . I mean, how could she be upset?  Its not everyday someone watches. . . you know. 

CARL:  I know.  I’ve been having nightmares about it.  I keep seeing the glass shatter, and then looking over. . . it was so weird.  It wasn’t at all like it is in the movies.  I just kept looking at his body, laying there, trying to piece together where all the blood was coming from.  It wasn’t gross, it was just shocking.  I couldn’t. . . I still can’t make my brain accept the fact that Peter’s really gone.  We’ll never see him again. (uncomfortable silence.) Here’s that tea.

SARAH:  Thanks. (takes a sip.)  Needs sugar.

CARL:  I’ll get that.

(ALAN walks up to the door and knocks.)

CARL:  Read the sign, we’re closed!

SARAH: (seeing ALAN)  It’s Alan, can I let him in?

CARL:  Oh yeah, here. (Tosses her the door key.)

(SARAH opens the door for ALAN, who steps inside.)

ALAN:  Is there a dress code in effect?

CARL:  That’s not funny.

SARAH:  At least he didn’t ask how the funeral was.

ALAN:  Right, the funeral! Crap! You know, I would’ve come by yesterday, but the envelope was stuck underneath some other parcels and so I didn’t find it until the end of my route.  So I figured I ought to bring it by today, seeing as it was marked for overnight delivery and all.   I assume its something important.
(ALAN hands envelope to CARL)

CARL:  Weird.  I’ve never gotten mail here before, especially something this official.

ALAN:  Oh that reminds me, you have to sign for it.

CARL:  Sure.  (Signs the release form, which ALAN takes from him.)  We’re having tea, do you want some?

ALAN:  I’d rather have a latte.

SARAH:  We’ve been through this.  Just say yes.

ALAN:  Yes.

CARL:  All right - Herbal or Black?

ALAN:  Do you have any of that tea with Ginseng in it?  I’ve heard it stimulates higher brain functions, and I’ve always wanted to try some to see if its true.

SARAH:  Like you need your brain functioning any higher.

CARL:  Something normal please. . .

ALAN:  Tea, Earl Grey, hot.

CARL:  Engage.

(CARL begins making the tea, and then opening the envelope to read its contents.)

ALAN:  So was it a burial, or ash spreading. . . Catholic or Protestant. . .

SARAH: What difference does it make?

ALAN:  I’m just curious.  I’ve never actually been to a funeral, I’ve just read about them.  

SARAH:  You’ve never been to a funeral?

ALAN:  Why are you so upset I’ve never been to a funeral?  It’s kind of a good thing don’t you think?

CARL:  I’m more concerned with the fact that you’ve read about funerals. 

SARAH:  Well, it just seems strange to me that you’ve never been to one.  Has no one in your family ever died?

ALAN:  Well, my grandfather died when I was three, but all I remember about that age was peeing on my mom this one time when I was having a bath. . .

SARAH:  Too much information.

ALAN:  So what was it like?  Was there a lot of crying. . . did you cry?

SARAH:  No. . . I did most of my crying last week.  I feel sort of like I’m all cried out.  I was at a memorial service once where this woman gave the eulogy for her own daughter.  And she never cried. . . she didn’t even have to hold back tears. 

ALAN:  Maybe they didn’t get along so well. 

SARAH: No, that wasn’t the impression I got.  Apparently the father had passed away a few years prior, and the service sort of centered around a celebration of them being reunited.

ALAN:  Like in the afterlife?

SARAH:  I guess.

ALAN:  “’Tis curious that we only believe as deeply as we live.”  (SARAH stares at him, a bit baffled.)  Ralph Waldo Emerson.

SARAH:  Yeah, I guess belief can sustain you in some tough times. . . if you believe in something.

CARL:  (Looking up from the papers.)  This doesn’t make any sense.

ALAN:  What, is in German or something?  I can read German. . .

CARL:  No. . .

ALAN: . . .or French

CARL:  No. . .

ALAN:  Gaelic?

CARL:  No – you understand Gaelic?

ALAN:  Its a dying language.  You know every bleeding heart’s trying to save some animal. . . I learned Gaelic.

SARAH:  Who the hell speaks Gaelic anyway?

ALAN:  Some people in Nova Scotia. . . Enya. . . Loreena McKennitt - did you know that I emailed her in Gaelic, but she never wrote back to me. . .

SARAH:  All right, all right.  Carl, what’s up with the paper?

CARL:  Well, I understand what it says, but it just seems too weird.

SARAH:  What does it say?

CARL:  Essentially, it states that I’m the owner of Caffienated Inc. now.  

SARAH:  Are you for real?

CARL:  That’s what it says.  Take a look for yourself. (Hands the papers to her, pointing out a particular portion of writing.) Right here.

ALAN:  That’s awesome!  Were you related to Peter or something?

CARL:  No. . . I only worked for him.  I just don’t get it.

SARAH:  So what are you going to do?

CARL:  What do you mean, what am I going to do?  I can’t run a coffee shop!

SARAH:  Peter obviously thought you could.

CARL:  But this is more than just running it!  I own it.  Why didn’t he give it to a relative?

SARAH:  Who knows?  Maybe he didn’t have any.

ALAN:  “To receive a present handsomely and in a right spirit, even when you have none to give in return, is to give one in return.”

CARL:  What’s that supposed to mean?

ALAN:  Well, Peter gave you a pretty amazing gift. . . to sit here and question it – well, you can’t really give it back now, can you?  The least you can do is accept it with the generosity it was given.

SARAH:  Do you remember what he said to us the day he died?  This shop was his dream.  He didn’t just give you the shop, he gave you his dream. 

CARL:  I just don’t believe I can do it.

SARAH:  Why don’t you at least try?  I’d guess that’s all Peter would’ve asked from you.  How did that go again Alan?  We believe. . .

ALAN:  Only as deeply as we live.

SARAH:  You don’t believe you can do it?  You may say that, but I doubt you believe it.

ALAN:  “Doubt of any kind cannot be resolved except by action.” - Thomas Carlyle.

CARL:  Have you ever thought of going into greeting card writing?  (He stands, silent for a moment.)  It’s just so much. . . so soon, so fast.

SARAH:  Nobody ever said living deeply would be easy.  And I’ll help you. . . I’ll keep the books for you, since I know you hate that.

ALAN:  And I’ll buy more lattes. (They look at him.)  What?  That will help.  What else am I supposed to do, write quotes on the blackboard?

CARL:  That’s not a bad idea.  (He walks to the board and writes, ’Tis curious that we only believe as deeply as we live.”)



  1. i think that whoever produced the Gilmore Girls TV series should've hired you. you've done an incredible job.

  2. Anonymous10:12 AM

    I was doing sound yesterday at our new church and was suddenly overcome with a wave of nostalgia, in part because it resembles the gathering in some respects - small church plant, informal atmosphere, etc. It's not the same, though, and I miss being at the G when y'all were speaking, playing music, doing skits, or something more crazy.

  3. Courtney - that's high praise! I love Gilmore Girls.
    Michael - where are you attending?

  4. Anonymous2:04 PM

    We're going to MosaicHouse, which is just off 114 street on 40th ave south of the whitemud. It's a neat community - very diverse, potlucks every Sunday, and excellent preaching. You should stop in sometime.

    Are you still going to Mill Woods Pen?

  5. Yep - Millwoods Assembly. Haven't been in a few weeks, but the speaking, music, and kid's program is top notch, so that's where we're hanging our hat.