Cafe Caulewaul by Milton Joseph

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

A cafe with a large “Grand Opening” sign in the background. There should be a counter where the food and beverages are prepared, at least three tables and a piano/keyboard. Near the counter is a makeshift menu that only lists “Coffee” for sale. The owner of the cafe, CARL CAULEWAUL, enters and turns on the lights after entering the room. CARL looks around and takes the place in; breathing in the air.

CARL: Only a few moments until I can finally open the place! It’ll be so nice: the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sounds of conversation as everyone enjoys their beverages and snacks… ah, how wonderful this will be! Let’s see… five minutes! I’m so eager to open! No, Carl, not yet! You must soak in the tension, the anticipation! Although… I guess I could check and see how big the crowd is… I can’t do it! I shouldn’t go and spoil the magic of my Grand Opening! I’ll just sit here and wait. [whistles] One more minute. [whistles more intensely] Agh! This is the longest minute of my life! I just want to serve someone coffee right now! …hold on, did I even make the coffee yet? Oh crap! My fans are gonna be so disappointed and… wait a second, I have an idea. Maybe when they order their coffee, I will respond by telling them that I’m specially crafting the drinks specifically for them! Yes, it’s a seamless, foolproof plan! Oh, oh, it’s time to open. Alright, everyone, come on in!

CARL opens the door. But nobody enters.

CARL: Umm… is anyone… there? Oh no. Did I mess something up? Ah! Did I… I knew it! I told everyone that I would open the store next week! Dammit! It doesn’t help that I barely advertised my cafe to anyone. Maybe my genius “keep it a secret until the last minute” strategy was flawed somehow. Uh oh. Did I tell my mom the wrong date too? I need to call her… hello, Mom? Yeah, it’s about the cafe. Did I tell you that the Grand Opening was today?

Loud, indistinct yelling comes from the phone.

CARL: Guess I didn’t. No, it’s okay, Mom, I’ll just… no no, Mom, you don’t have to fly down here today and… but, how are you even gonna-she hung up. I might as well inform my Twitter followers about the Grand Opening, not that it will help much. And…there. Now I wait.

ZEKE LeBLANC suddenly enters.

CARL: Huh. That was fast.

ZEKE: Oh. My God. It’s actually you! Holy crap, I don't know what to say! Ha ha.

CARL: Hello there!

ZEKE: Hello! Hi! I’m your biggest fan! Let’s see… oh! My name’s Zeke LeBlanc! That’s my name! Oh my. Okay, so I own all of your albums, the limited editions of them, yes. I’ve got every piece of your merch, even the super rare unsold plushies with the butter knives accidently stitched in! Not sure how that happened but I don’t care! It’s my favorite! I literally sleep with it every night! Look, here’s the spot that knife always cuts me! And I own two copies of your movie. Ah! It’s sooo good! And, and, I was super disappointed when I heard you were retiring from music but, but then I started hearing rumors like “oh, he’s starting a cafe” and “he wants to live a humble life now” and at first, I thought that was really stupid and these idiots were just making stuff up, like, Carl would NEVER- I can call you Carl, right? Sorry, I shouldn’t. It’s disrespectful. Anyway, Mr. Caulewaul would NEVER EVER quit. But then, I found out it was true and felt betrayed! But then I saw your relieved face in your latest interview and, oh boy, if only you knew how shocked I was to see that! But I’m happy for you, don’t get me wrong! So, so, I set out in search of your cafe with all of the means I had and finally, finally I have found… your… cafe!

ZEKE is noticeably out of breath.

CARL: …Gee, you sure talk fast. And a lot. Alright, let’s take a second to breathe. In… out… alright, you know what? Seeing as how you’re such a die-hard fan, I’ll make you some coffee. On the house. Have a seat.

ZEKE: Oh, you’re so nice too! Ha ha. So, Mr. Caulewaul, what made you decide to suddenly quit making music and open this cafe?

CARL: Zeke, was it? You can just call me Carl-

ZEKE: Oh, I could NEVER do that!

CARL: Even though you did earlier?

ZEKE: That was me just getting a little too into the moment, ha ha, really, I shouldn’t-

CARL: Zeke, it’s okay, really. Just call me Carl. Here, I’m just a humble cafe owner.

ZEKE: …Can I really?

CARL: Of course. The two of us are just ordinary people here. I want us both to feel comfortable. I’m not a bigshot anymore, so you don’t have to treat me like one, okay? Instead, I’m just a normal guy… with a big shot history.

ZEKE: Okay… Carl. Tee hee hee!

CARL: Please don’t laugh like that.

ZEKE: It’s hard not to… Carl. Tee hee! Sorry! It makes me happy that we’re friends now.

CARL: Friends? We’re moving a little fast, don’t you think?

ZEKE: Oh my god! I am so sorry, sir! I will NEVER go so far EVER again!

CARL: …It was a joke, Zeke. Relax.

ZEKE: Oh. I see. Ha ha.

CARL: Yeah. So you want to know why I quit music?

ZEKE: Yes! Please tell me! I NEED to know!

CARL: Alright, alright, but it’s not a very complicated or interesting story. See, my mother had always wanted to open her own small family restaurant, however, she was never able to earn the money to do so, and on top of also having to raise me and take care of the family, she wouldn’t have had the time to run a restaurant either. Here’s your coffee. Specially made.

ZEKE: Wow, thanks, Carl! Tee hee! Sorry, continue.

CARL: Growing up, I actually shared that same dream. It might sound silly, but some of my happiest days were when I was a server at Denny’s during high school. I sucked at my job and got fired within a month, but the experience was one of the highlights of my life. I loved doing customer service and I wanted to make people happy in a restaurant or something of my own. But unfortunately, I had a talent.

ZEKE: Oh, yes, very unfortunate.

CARL: Mm hmm. Turns out I was a prodigy, gifted at playing piano and, to make matters worse, I had a beautiful voice. Finally, to solidify my life’s path, my family encouraged me to become a musician, especially my Mom. To make them happy, I decided to do it. I thought it might make me happy to live that kind of life too, and it did for a little while. But, over time, I really wasn’t feeling satisfied, you know? However, what I was gaining from this career was money. Bucket loads of it. So I figured that, once I earned enough money and had a good enough following, I would open up this cafe and fulfill mine and my mother’s dream!

ZEKE: Wow… such a touching story! I think I’m gonna cry!

CARL: I’m glad my story resonated with you. I’m just happy that I could make this a reality! Although, it seems I still lack some of the necessary skills of a cafe owner and I did such an awful job at publicizing… the… cafe. Zeke? Are you alright? I never thought my story would hit you that deeply.

ZEKE: No, it’s not that. Is this supposed to be coffee?

CARL: Yes. Or at least it should be? What does it taste like?

ZEKE: Not coffee, that’s for sure. I’m sorry!

CARL: Don’t apologize. I know I’m not good at this.

ZEKE: I don’t mean to offend you, but do you not know how to make coffee?

CARL: I must admit that I’ve never made coffee before.

ZEKE: Wow! Makes me wonder how you managed to get a food service license.

CARL: Me too…

ZEKE: But… not knowing how to make coffee? That is so cool! And perfect!

CARL: What? How?

ZEKE: Actually, I didn't come here just to meet you. I came for a job! I can totally help out!

CARL: Really!? Sweet, my first employee! Okay, you’re hired!

ZEKE: Wait, shouldn’t you, like, interview me or something?

CARL: Oh, sure, I guess.

ZEKE: Woo! I’ve been looking forward to this!

CARL: Ahem. Hello, sir. My name is Carl Caulewaul.

ZEKE: Hi, I’m Zeke LeBlanc, ha ha. Ahem! It’s a real pleasure to meet you, sir.

CARL: You make a great first impression, Zeke.

ZEKE: Really? I’m actually really nervous! I’ve never done an interview before!

CARL: Me neither. I mean, on this side of the interview. I’ve never been an interviewer.

ZEKE: Isn’t it so exciting!?

CARL: Very! Ahem. Alright, so what makes you think you’d be a great fit for-

ZEKE: Hey! Can I get your autograph!?

CARL: Oh, of course. Do you have a-

ZEKE: Here! A marker! And a sheet of paper! Also, both copies of your movie!

CARL: You’re very prepared. Impressive.

ZEKE: Thanks, Carl! Tee hee hee!

CARL: That laugh still bothers me, though. Here you go.

ZEKE: Thanks! Oh, and here’s my resume!

CARL: Oh, I just autographed that. Sorry, I can’t really read what it says.

ZEKE: Oh, whoops, ha ha. Guess I got too excited. Should we continue the interview?

CARL: Oh, yes, of course. Do you know how to brew coffee?

ZEKE: Kinda!

CARL: You’re hired!

ZEKE: Yay! What should I do first?

CARL: Put up these “Now Hiring” posters around the neighborhood. It’s another thing I forgot to do.

ZEKE: No problem! Be back in a sec!

ZEKE rushes out. CARL tries the coffee.

CARL: Ack! What the hell? This doesn't even taste like a drink. Maybe opening the cafe was a bit rash when I don't even know how to brew coffee. God, that's disgusting.

ZEKE rushes in.

ZEKE: Done!

CARL: Whoa! You sure work fast, don’t ya?

ZEKE: Yup. What now, boss?

CARL: Since that’s done, I guess we wait for customers. Or even a new employee.

ZEKE: Pfft! As if we’ll find another employee so soon!

CARL: Yeah, I know, right?

GINA MURPHY enters, holding a “Now Hiring” poster.

GINA: Uh, hi, I’m here for the job?

CARL/ZEKE: That was fast.

GINA: Oh, you’re the one who shoved this into my hand!

ZEKE: Oh, did I? Sorry!

GINA: No, it’s fine. I was looking for work anyway.

CARL: Well, come on in and I’ll interview you right away.

GINA: Oh wow, actually? Thank God! My mom has been on my case lately. She’s been really grouchy about the fact that I haven’t gotten any interviews yet. Like, who cares? We’re rich anyway. Why do I need to work?

CARL: I like to think working is a valuable experience to have. And I’d say your mom is just trying to look out for you in her own way, which is very sweet.

GINA: …Do I know you from somewhere?

CARL: Possibly. Zeke, do you mind getting her some coffee?

ZEKE: Of course! Wait, do I give her your coffee or should I make a new batch?

CARL: Yours, please. I’d rather not cause any casualties.

ZEKE: Aye, aye, sir!

CARL: It’s nice to meet you. I’m Carl Caulewaul, owner of this cafe.

GINA: Caulewaul…? Oh, you’re that musician who quit! Why would you do that? You make way more money doing music than this. Why would you go from that to working in this dump?

JAMES GREEN enters, sits at a table and takes out a laptop.

CARL: It’s my dream. I think I’ll really enjoy running a cafe.

GINA: Okay then. Well, I’m Gina. I, uh, go to the high school down the road.

CARL: Wonderful. So, do you know how to brew coffee?

GINA: Yes, of course.

CARL: You’re hired!

GINA: …Are you joking?

CARL: Actually, I’m a bit desperate for some employees. Being real with you for a sec, I honestly suck at managing this place so far.

GINA: Then why would you-

ZEKE: Here you go.

GINA: Oh. Thanks, uh…

ZEKE: I'm Zeke, Carl’s biggest fan.

GINA: Gina.

GINA plays games on her phone as she drinks her coffee.

CARL: You can relax for a bit and then we’ll get you straight to work.

GINA: Whoa, hold on. I’m working right away?

CARL: Oh, sorry, I guess that’s not how it usually works, huh?

GINA: Nah, it’s fine. I got nothing better to do anyway.

CARL: Thank you very much, Gina. Alright, Zeke, teach me…

ZEKE: What’s up, boss?

CARL: How long has that guy been here?

ZEKE: Oh, I don’t know. I had no idea he was there.

CARL: Is this… our first customer!?

ZEKE: Maybe! Let’s go serve him!

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