Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Caffeinated Inc. Episode 05: The Move, the Box, and the New Girl

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.

NOTE: One of the challenges of writing this series was the availability of cast, the bi-weekly nature of our services, and the fact that we didn't have a home for the services until October of 1998. So the first few scripts imagine the coffee shop on Whyte Avenue, which is where we wanted to be. The subsequent scripts featured the shop in West Edmonton Mall, which is where the Gathering called home until fall of 1999. 
CARL, the hardworking, cynical proprietor of Caffienated Inc.
SARAH, an aspiring concert pianist who works at a record store on Whyte Ave.
ALAN, a courier with a high IQ
JASMINE, an effervescent graphic designer
KIM, an old friend of Peter’s who is looking for work

(SARAH sits amidst a stack of cardboard boxes, going through a black ledger which contains C.I.’s financial records.  CARL and ALAN enter, carrying boxes.)

SARAH:  I’ll have to give this much to Peter, he kept neat books.  Which is less than I can say for you Carl.  Seeing where Peter’s records leave off and yours pick up is like English and Sanskrit.

ALAN:  I can read Sanskrit.

SARAH:  Try reading Carl’s hieroglyphs then.

ALAN:  I said Sanskrit, not Ancient Egyptian.

CARL:  That’s fine.  You’re back now, so if the records are messy, you’ll only have yourself to blame. 

ALAN:  Are you sure you don’t want to start setting up the late machine?  I mean, we’ve got a lot left to load, and. . .

CARL:  Alan, I’m not going to set up the late machine just so you can have one.

ALAN:  I wouldn’t just have one. . . I’ll drink at least five or six. . .

CARL:  That’s what I’m afraid of.  Why don’t you just walk down to Second Cup and pick us all up a drink.

ALAN:  Blasphemy!  You speak the name of the anti-Goat in my presence!

CARL:  It’s just a suggestion.  Besides, you can scout out prices and check out the competition!

ALAN:  Aha!  Joshua and Caleb, spying upon the holy land!  Shall I return with grapes the size of a man’s fist?

SARAH:  A moccacino the size of this cup will suit me just fine. (She extends a Starbucks cup to him. He looks it over.) 

ALAN:  Sarah!  You’re going to get me killed!

SARAH:  What? 

ALAN:  This cup is from Starbucks, and you’re sending me to Second Cup!

CARL:  I don’t think they’ll care much where you got the cup from Alan.

SARAH:  Besides, it’ll complete your disguise. They won’t know you’re part of the competition.  Just think if you walked in with a cup from here.

ALAN:  Carl doesn’t have cups like this for sale.

SARAH:  Never mind.

ALAN:  (To Carl)  What do you want?

CARL:  Can you grab me an Italian Soda?

ALAN:  What flavor?

CARL:  Raspberry.

(ALAN exits.)

SARAH:  What’s the deal with all these goat references?

CARL:  Some story about an African goatherder whose flock discovered coffee beans.  He wanted to call the shop ‘the Frisky Goat.’

SARAH:  It has a nice ring to it.

CARL:  Yeah, if you’re a pub targeting Scottish highlanders.  Don’t ever tell Alan you thought it had a nice ring to it.

SARAH:  From the looks of things it doesn’t seem like you’re going to hear the end of it anyhow.

CARL: Yeah.  Say, thanks for helping me move the shop out here.

SARAH:  No problem.  I’m just surprised you got a space here in the mall so fast.

CARL:  Money talks.

SARAH:  Speaking of which, where did you get the extra money to make the move before Christmas?

CARL:  Let’s just say that Peter put away money with as much proficiency as he kept the books.  He had all this excess money stored away in one of the shop’s accounts.  I can’t figure out for the life of me what he planned to do with it all.

SARAH:  Peter’s turning out to be quite the mystery man, don’t you think?

CARL:  Yeah.  I feel like in some sort of Friends meets Twin Peaks sort of thing.  All I need now is for some coffee drinking federal agent to walk in and tell me he’s been sent to solve the death of Peter Heiss, and it’ll be all too surreal.

SARAH:  I don’t think Canada has federal agents.

CARL:  We must have something like that.

SARAH:  You never hear about it.  Not like the FBI or anything.

CARL:  Yeah.  Well, I’m going to unpack some of these boxes while we wait for Alan to get back.. 

SARAH:  Why don’t you open ‘the box.’

CARL:  You mean the one I ‘found’ the key for on Halloween?

SARAH:  You’re not still convinced you actually saw Peter’s ghost?

CARL:  How else do you explain this key (he pulls it out) being on the counter which was completely empty when I fell asleep?

SARAH:  Who knows?  I guess its possible. . . I don’t know, it’s just too weird to think of Peter’s ghost visiting you on Halloween of all nights.

CARL:  Apparently it’s the only night they get shore leave all year.

(JASMINE enters, packing paint and brushes.)

JASMINE:  Sorry I’m late.

CARL:  Yeah, well, it was your idea to do all this color scheme garbage.

(SARAH thumps him.)

CARL:  But, better late than never.

SARAH:  I need to run down to Wilson’s stationer’s for some supplies.

CARL:  It’s accounting.  You’re not drafting blueprints.

SARAH:  The ledger’s almost full; we need till tape, elastics, lots of little junk that you don’t think about.  You worry about the coffee, I’ll worry about the office.

(She exits.  JASMINE is setting herself up, putting down a drop sheet.)

JASMINE:  So, how has everything been going.

CARL:  Really good.  We should be done shortly.  And as soon as you’re done doing your facelift on the place, we’ll be ready to set up.

JASMINE:  Wow.  No sarcasm. Are you on the cynic’s patch or something?

CARL:  No, its a new thing I’m trying.

JASMINE:  Being nice?

CARL:  (Sharply.) Yes. Being nice. And you’re not helping.

JASMINE:  Think of me as nice isometrics.  ‘Nice-ometrics.’  You’ll improve your ability to stay calm in a shorter space of time due to resistance to higher levels of outside agitation. 

CARL:  No kidding.

JASMINE: Ah ah!  You’re being. . . how did Alan put it?  Tremu—

CARL:  Don’t even say it!  Just paint, and give me some space.  I’m not ready for niceometrics.  I’m lucky if I can handle a twenty minute work out of niceness.  I’ve been sarcastic and cynical for twenty-five years.  It doesn’t go away overnight.

(He goes to ‘the Box’ and puts the key in.)

JASMINE:  Nope, life is definitely a journey.  What’s with the box?

CARL:  It’s got a revolver in it.  Will you shut up already?

JASMINE:  Come on, you’re not even trying. 

CARL:  Fine, all right.  It came with the store.  It belonged to Peter, the former owner. 

JASMINE:  So what’s in it?

CARL:  I don’t even know.  Maybe Jimmy Hoffa.  That diamond from the Titanic movie.  I don’t know if human eyes have ever gazed on the inside of this box.  This could turn out to be a Geraldo-opening-Al-Capone’s-safe sort of thing. 

JASMINE:  That was anti-climactic. You're thinking more along the lines of Pandora’s box.

CARL:  Don’t get me spooked.  You wouldn’t be saying that sort of thing if you knew how I got the key to the box.

JASMINE:  Why, was it on the corpse?

CARL:  In a manner of speaking.

JASMINE:  Well open it already.

CARL:  I AM.  (He turns the key, and the box clicks open. He starts freaking out.)

JASMINE: (Alarmed) What!?  What is it?????

CARL:  Nothing.

JASMINE:  Well, what was all that about.

CARL:  One of those Alberta energy brown out things.  Just be glad you weren’t cooking a turkey.

JASMINE: Don’t be so dramatic.  Just open the box.

CARL:  It’s pretty suspenseful, isn’t it?

JASMINE:  Yes!  Now open it!

(KIM enters.)

KIM:  Hello? Anyone here?


CARL:  Hello.  We’re not open yet, we’ve still got some renovations to do.  We ought to be up and running by the middle of the month though. . .

KIM:  Actually, I’m looking for Peter.

CARL:  Peter. . . he doesn’t work here anymore.

KIM:  Oh.  Do you know how I can get a hold of him?

CARL:  Well, not really.  How did you know Peter?

KIM:  He was. . . a friend of mine.  A good friend.

CARL:  Well then, I guess you ought to know.  Peter’s passed away over a month ago.

KIM:  He’s dead?  But how?

CARL:  He. . . was shot—it was a drive by shooting, he got hit. . .

KIM:  A drive by shooting?  I didn’t think he would—he would go. . .

CARL:  He would what?  Who he? He who?  Go where?

KIM:  (Collecting herself) Peter? But he was such a quiet, caring man.  I can’t imagine anyone wanting to kill him.

CARL:  I know. . . The police don’t think it was premeditated. (There is a significant pause.)  They think it was just random.  Still, how many drive-by shootings do we have in Edmonton?

KIM:  Yeah. . . well, thanks for your time. . . I should go now.

CARL:  Is there anything I can help you with?

KIM:  Probably not.  I don’t know. . . Peter told me to come to his shop if I ever needed a job.  Are you hiring. . . ?

CARL:  Well, officially. . .

(JASMINE thumps him)

CARL:  Yes!  Yes we are!  Especially for friends of Peter. (He scowls at JASMINE.)  What sort of experience do you have in customer service?

KIM:  Well. . . none in this sort of an environment.  None that would apply really.

JASMINE:  Couldn’t be worse than yours. 
CARL:  Excuse me, I’m doing an interview here.  How about education?  Have you graduated yet?

KIM: No. . . um.  I’m a couple credits short.

CARL:  So you’re still in high school.

KIM:  No. . . not currently.

CARL:  Can you make a cup of coffee?

KIM:  Now?

CARL:  No no.  I’m asking you; do you at least know the difference between a coffee bean and a Glossette raisin?

KIM:  Raisins don’t make goats frisky.

CARL:  What?

KIM:  Nothing, I’m just joking around.

CARL:  No, how do you know about that? The frisky goats thing?

KIM:  I read a lot.  I used to work a night shift, so I had a lot of time on my hands during the day.

CARL:  Thank God.  I thought you were a friend of Alan’s for a second there.  So where was it you worked?

KIM:  Downtown.  It’s – closed. 

CARL:  Any references?

KIM:  Peter.

CARL:  I see.  Well, let’s see.  You have no high school diploma, you have no customer service experience, and no living references. 

KIM:  Sorry to bother you. . .  (she turns to go.)

CARL:  On your way out, would you mind stopping by the van parked at entrance ??.  There’s a few boxes still in there.  Bring them back in here and we’ll talk about when you start.

KIM:  Pardon me?

CARL:  You can carry boxes, can’t you?

KIM: Yes, but –

CARL:  Prove it and you’re hired.

KIM: (Smiling.) Thank you.  (She exits.)

(JASMINE stands, stunned.  CARL nods his head, smiling. JASMINE walks over, pries open CARL’s jaw and looks into his mouth.)

JASMINE:  Okay, alien creature, let him go!  Leave this man! 

CARL:  Get off me. 

JASMINE:  Who are you, and what have you done with Carl?

CARL:  What?

JASMINE:  You just gave a job to someone who is not qualified for it.

CARL:  Yes.

JASMINE:  Not qualified for anything.

CARL:  Yes.

JASMINE:  So what is that?

CARL: (Thinks for a moment.)  Nice-ometrics.



  1. Mike, just thought I'd leave a comment and say that I am really enjoying these scripts. This would have been a nice treat to watch each Sunday morning. Out of curiosity, what was the rational at the time for doing these in church? Was there a larger overall goal in doing these, or were you guys mostly going for some godly entertainment or something?

    Anyway, I am really enjoying these (and your year of the rabbit sharing overall).


  2. Thanks for the encouraging words, Calvin. They served as an intro/warmup to the theme of the sermon, believe it or not. They're open source so far as I'm concerned, so if you ever have a chance to tweak and use them, go for it.

  3. That is such a cool idea! I love it!