Friday, February 18, 2011

Caffeinated Inc. Episode 06: Meran

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.

Director's Commentary: This is the point at which the series got even weirder than just Peter's ghost. We introduced Engel, who is really supposed to be an incarnation of Jesus (which is why He's in a three-piece suit and sandals, and speaking German, an inside North American Baptist joke - "if German was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us."). Add a bag-lady who thinks she's an angel, and the series has gone from oddball to bizarre. Again, this was largely due to the challenge of working with a cast who couldn't always make rehearsals or performances, and we were writing with a "whoever is there" approach. Somehow, it held together, and people liked it: some came to the Gathering just to see what happened next with C.I.
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
ENGEL, a mysterious man who looks identical to ALAN
MERAN, a homeless lady who lives in the mall who believes she’s an angel.
KIM is behind the counter, SARAH is sitting at the counter on a stool.  JASMINE is  walking around the shop, holding up cloth and paint swatches, mumbling to herself.

KIM:  So how long did the kid stand there before Carl actually talked to him?

JASMINE:  I don’t know, must have been about five minutes, he felt so bad for leaving him hanging that he gave him his coffee for free!

SARAH:  Really, don’t get all tied up in a knot about Carl and his little “customer service” service speech.  Common politeness tends to be better than his “customer service”.

JASMINE:  Sarah!  He is trying.

SARAH:  I know, he is doing way better, but Kim doesn’t really know how to take him yet

KIM:  He seems really nice.

SARAH:  He is , he just doesnt’t always want anyone to know it.

CARL and ALAN enters as the girls are laughing.

CARL:  Hey.  What’s so funny

JASMINE:  Nothing, you had to be there.

SARAH:  You wouldn’t get it.

CARL:  Oh hey Kim, this is Alan.  He comes in here…fairly often.  He reads a lot.  And Alan, this is Kim, she just started.  She, uhh…reads a lot. 

ALAN:  She’s really pretty.

KIM:  Wha…I am?

ALAN:  “Beauty ought to look a little surprised: it is the emotion that best suits her face. . . The beauty who does not look surprised, who accepts her position as her due—she reminds us too much of a prima donna.” - E. M. Forster.  Well, gotta go to work..

SARAH:  What exactly is it that you do?

ALAN:  I’m really late.

CARL:  Thanks for the ride Alan.

(KIM does indeed look surprised…very surprised as Alan waves goodbye and leaves.)

JASMINE:  You’ll get used to Alan.  He doesn’t. . . have a lot of inhibitions.  He pretty much says whatever he thinks.

SARAH:  Exactly what he thinks.  What you hear, is exactly what he was thinking.  He doesn’t know how to lie, near as I can tell.

JASMINE:  Which would make him the perfect man if it weren’t for the fact that he lives on a completely other planet.

SARAH:  Yeah, “Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus, and Alan is from. . .”

CARL:  Oz. 

SARAH:  Which would he be then?  He’s obviously not the scarecrow, since he seems to have a brain. . .

JASMINE:  Well you’re definitely Dorothy. . . And Carl has no heart, so he’s the tin man.

CARL:  Hey! 

JASMINE: (reminding him) Nice-ometrics. 

KIM:  Well, I guess I could be the cowardly lion. . . I’m not terribly brave.

SARAH:  Well that means Alan’s either the dog or the nice Witch.

CARL:  Or the Wizard.

SARAH:  Too much pretense.  We already established Carl has a tough time lying.

JASMINE:  He’s Toto.

CARL:  Yup.  He’s the dog.  (Notices the GIRLS getting their coats on.)  Do I smell bad?

JASMINE: We’re taking Kim to see that new Brad Pitt movie.  The one where he plays death.

SARAH:  Girls night out – you know.

CARL:  I wouldn’t be coming along even if I wasn’t working.  I have an aversion to drool.

SARAH:  Not to mention what being out with three women –

JASMINE:  Beautiful women. . .

SARAH:  Beautiful women, would do for your reputation.

CARL:  My reputation is just fine. 

SARAH: Whatever.  (JASMINE and KIM go out the door saying their farewells.)

CARL:  Sarah, could I talk to you for a minute?

SARAH:  I was just kidding about the reputation thing. . .

CARL:  I know, don’t worry about it.  What I was wondering was, would you be interested in doing some musical numbers here at the shop over the Christmas season?

SARAH:  Sort of like in-mall busking?

CARL:  Yeah.   I just thought that it would be cool for everyone involved.  It would give the shop a cool ambience, while letting you get your name out there.  There’d be money involved. . .

SARAH: Not much.  Remember, I run the books.

CARL:  Well, will you do it?

SARAH:  Just Christmas carols?

CARL:  Mostly, but you could do some other stuff; originals or whatever. . .

SARAH:  Cool.  Its a deal.  When do you want me to start?

CARL:  How about Monday?

SARAH:  Sure, I’ll come over after I finish up at the store.

CARL:  Thanks Sarah.  (She leaves.  CARL begins tidying up, then notices “The Box” behind the counter.  A slight change in lighting occurs as CARL places “the Box” on the counter.  Music comes up at this point, slightly ominous.) Finally. Let’s see what secrets you hold.  (He takes the key from around his neck and contemplates it, then unlocks the box and opens it.  The first item he removes is a Bible, old and worn.  He thumbs through it; inside are pictures, one of which he lingers upon.  It is of Peter and another man, the photo in black and white.  He then removes a journal, which is old and yellowed with age.  He flips it open to the first page; Peter’s Journal - 1972-1973. The sound of knocking at the door to the shop is heard.)

CARL:  What is it with people wanting in when I’m closed?  Go away!

(Another knock.)

CARL:  I’m sure Starbucks is still open!

(Another knock.)

CARL:  Just hold on. . . (He goes for his keys.  ENGEL enters, wearing a suit and glasses.)

ENGEL: Ich ahbe dreimal geklpoft, aber niemand antwortet.  (I have knocked three times but no one answers)  

CARL:  Well we’re closed, what do you expect? (looks up and sees ENGEL, mistaking him for ALAN. ) Alan? How did you get in?  I was sure I locked the door. . .

CARL: (looks up and sees ENGEL, mistaking him for ALAN. ) Alan?

ENGEL: Ich sterbe vor Durst. (Im dying of thirst.)

CARL:  (A little nervous.) Very funny Alan; aren’t you supposed to be at work?

ENGEL: (Approaching the counter, ENGEL looks deeply into CARL’s eyes.) Warum haben Sie Angst?  Sie brauchen keine Angst zu haben. (Why are you afraid?  You need not be afraid.)

CARL:  I’m not afraid. . .

ENGEL:  Der Winter hat begonnen. Sie arbeiten zu langsam.  (The winter is here.  You are working too slowly.  \

CARL:  Of course. . . you wanted a drink.  (CARL begins pouring ENGEL a coffee.)

ENGEL:  Vielen Dank.  (He points at the Bible.)  Das Buch, gehort mir.  (That book belongs to me.)

CARL:  Yours?  I can’t imagine how. . . or did you know Peter?

ENGEL:  Ja. Sein Tod war unerwartet.  Er wurde von meinem Feind getotet. (Yes. . . his death was unexpected.  He was killed by my enemy.)

CARL:  Then you know who killed him?

ENGEL:  Ach, ich weiss es. (ENGEL takes a last sip of coffee.) Ich müsse jetzt gehen. (Oh, I know. . .I must go now.)

CARL:  Wait!  You know who killed him!  You have to stay and tell me what’s going on!

ENGEL:  Ich kann es nicht leicht erklären. (I cant explain it easily.) Der Tagebuch.  Leist es.  (The diary.  Read it.)

CARL:  (CARL notices the Bible, still sitting on the counter.) Your book!

ENGEL: Es ihnen anvertraut. (it is now in your care.)

CARL:  When will I see you again?

ENGEL: ENGEL:  Ich werde ein viertes Mal klopfen. (I shall knock a fourth time.) (ENGEL leaves, and there comes a knock almost immediately. CARL runs out, voices OFFSTAGE.)

CARL:  AHA!  I knew it was locked!

(He comes back in.  MERAN steps out of the shadows.)

MERAN:  Could you spare a cup of coffee for a poor woman?  I’m dying of thirst. (CARL jumps.) I didn’t mean to frighten you. 

CARL:  You just startled me.  The man who was just here, he was just really weird.

MERAN:  What man? 

CARL:  The one who just left.  You must have seen him. 

MERAN:  I saw no one.  My, but I’m cold.  Winter’s definitely here. 

CARL:  Yes. . . what was it you wanted?

MERAN:  A cup of coffee – I’m afraid I can’t pay. . .

CARL:  No, that’s all right.  I’m practicing for sainthood. . . (he starts to regain some of his humor and composure in the presence of this seemingly human presence.)

MERAN:  Quite a lofty pursuit.  (She looks at the Bible.)  But I see you have the proper texts here.  I have one of those you know.

CARL:  The Bible?  It isn’t actually mine.

MERAN:  It is now.

CARL:  (Handing her a coffee.)  Why did you say that?

MERAN:  Because its true. 

CARL:  Please don’t start speaking German.

MERAN:  I don’t know any German; never assigned there.

CARL:  Assigned there?

MERAN:  I’m an angel.

CARL:  Of course.  First Peter’s ghost, then Alan’s German speaking twin, now this. 

MERAN:  You don’t believe me?

CARL:  Right now I’m not sure what I believe.

MERAN:  But you’re looking.

CARL:  I guess so.  I’ve just felt so lost, since. . . well, since Peter died.  He was the owner of the store.

MERAN:  I know.  I read it in your file.

CARL:  My file?  What are you, some weird sort of undercover cop?

MERAN:  I already told you, I’m an angel.

CARL:  Right.  Well, if you’re an angel, how come you didn’t see the man who just left here?

MERAN:  Because there was no man to see.

CARL:  But I saw him!

MERAN:  Who?

CARL:  The man who was just in here!  He was German, about six foot, in a suit. . .

MERAN:  You’re telling me what he looked like.  I asked you who He was.  You still haven’t answered that.

CARL:  He didn’t tell me who he was.

MERAN:  Yes he did.

CARL:  No he didn’t!  And how would you know anyhow?

MERAN:  I can’t answer your question until you answer mine.  Who was He?

CARL:  I already told you!  I don’t know.  He didn’t say his name.

MERAN:  I haven’t told you my name, but you know who I am.

CARL:  I know what you are.  Or what you say you are. 

MERAN:  Sometimes those are one and the same. The who and the what.  That’s your problem; you seem to think there’s a difference between who you are and what you are.

CARL:  This is too weird.  Could you just say things plainly, so I understand them?

MERAN:  I am speaking plainly.  You just aren’t listening the right way. 

CARL:  What?  Well how I am supposed to do that?

MERAN:  It would help if you stopped talking.  Its very difficult to listen when you’re talking.

(CARL is taken aback.  He stays silent a moment, looking about in confusion.)

MERAN:  That’s better.  Breathe Carl, breathe. (He starts) How do I know your name?  I told you, I read the file.  And since I know your name, its only fair that you know mine.  My name is Meran.  I was sent to watch out for you. . . it would be. . . unfortunate if anything were to happen to you now, before you read the diary – and the book. 

CARL:  What’s in the diary?

MERAN:  The answers you long for.  The fourth knock. . .

CARL:  My God.

MERAN:  No dear, I just work for him.


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