Coffee Shops by Jamie Lambdin

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

SETTING
All of the action takes place in Gale’s coffee shop. The space is cozy and almost rustic. Just like
its owner, it is unassuming and welcoming. Somewhere in Arkansas.

ACT I. Scene 1 “Good Morning?”

(Lights up. The setting is a quaint coffee shop somewhere in the south. Aside from a few tables
and chairs, a bar, and a sofa, set of armchairs and a coffee table, the room is empty. Of
customers, that is. A stocked coffee bar, a sink, a trash can, some cabinets, and refrigerator.
Feel free to check out the Set Note in the back of the script for more ideas on furnishings. Two
doors: a front door and a hall door that leads both to restrooms and to a staircase leading to a
living space above the coffee shop. It is the middle of May.

The front door opens and in steps GALE. Sixties. Warm, vibrant. Stylish, but not a snob. She
enters and flips a sign on the front door to say “OPEN.” She crosses and exits to the hall door.
A head of messy hair pops up from behind the bar. It belongs to IRENE; a girl in her mid 20s.

She’s messy and a bit frumpy looking, but spunky. Shorts/cutoffs topped with a baggy t-shirt as
a rule for this first costume.

She holds a book in one hand and a mostly empty cup of coffee in the other. She crosses to the
sofa and sits, propping her feet up on the coffee table. She settles in, opening her book and
taking a sip of coffee.

At this point, GALE has now reentered, unseen by her employee. She clears her throat, startling
IRENE, who drops the coffee mug.)

GALE. Good morning.

(IRENE moves to find something to clean the mess with.)

IRENE. Morning.

GALE. Hard at work, I see.

IRENE. I have been. Til just now.

GALE. Oh, relax. (IRENE sits). I know it’s deader than a doornail around here most days.

IRENE. It’ll be better this weekend.

GALE. Ah, yes.

IRENE. Sam is playing.

GALE. Yes, I know. (She starts to move toward the bar. Pauses.) Could I trouble you for a cup
of coffee?

(IRENE does as she’s asked, moving to the coffee bar).

GALE. You forgot to flip the sign again.

IRENE. Did I? Sorry.

GALE. Just try to remember tomorrow.

IRENE. Okay.

(They settle in; GALE in an armchair and IRENE on the sofa with her book. GALE watches her.)

GALE. Did the syrup get delivered this morning?

IRENE. (Not looking up from her book). Yes.

GALE. Did you count inventory?

IRENE. (A beat. She turns a page). Not yet.

GALE. When were you planning to?

IRENE. I thought you said I could relax.

GALE. Just asking a question.

IRENE. Well, I was thinking I’d do it later.

GALE. Okay. (A beat.) Listen, Irene -

(The front door opens, and a MAN enters.)

MAN. GOOD MORNIN’, LADIES.

(GALE rises, turning to greet him with a smile. IRENE grimaces).

GALE. Good morning -

MAN. That girl hidin’ over there? She sittin’ down on the job?

GALE. Of course not, Irene was-

IRENE. (Slapping on a customer service face & voice). Just taking a little break.

MAN. Well, break time is over. Gimme the best coffee you got.

(Dismissed, GALE returns to her seat).

IRENE. (Behind the bar now). What’cha in the mood for?

MAN. Oh, let’s see. (Making a big show out of pulling out his wallet and looking through its
contents before pulling out two dollars). What’ll that get me?

IRENE. Well, a twelve ounce cup of coffee is two dollars and fifteen cents. And we just so
happen to have two coffees brewed up today: a medium roast and a dark roast.

MAN. (Whistling). Two fifteen? Y’all just about rob me blind. (He pauses, thinking. IRENE’s face
shows that she’s over it.)

IRENE. You got the dark roast yesterday.

MAN. Well then. I guess I’ll just have to have the same thing again today!

IRENE. Can’t go wrong with a classic, right? (She turns, grabbing a cup and filling it. He takes
the opportunity to examine her backside. This is unnoticed by either of the two women).

MAN. Just fine.

IRENE. (Setting the coffee in front of him.) That’ll be two dollars and fifteen cents.

MAN. That’s right. That’s right. (He reaches into the tip jar and pulls out two coins. He smiles at
her and turns, retreating to the front door.) Don’t you be lettin’ that girl slack off now. (He smiles
broadly at GALE and exits).

IRENE. Yuck.

GALE. Irene-

(The door opens, and in walks LUANNE. Beautiful, and a bit whimsical, but not terribly bright.)

LUANNE. Well, hello beautiful people.

GALE. Mornin’

IRENE. (Overlapping). Hi, Luanne.

GALE. Irene-

LUANNE. Isn’t it just the most beautiful day?

GALE. (Conceding for the moment). Yes, the weather is just fine.

LUANNE. You really oughta open the doors and let some of this delicious coffee smell out into
the world. (Crossing to and dropping her purse on the couch). Nothing sugary today, Irene. I am
officially on a diet.

IRENE. Certainly, Miss Parker. What would you like?

LUANNE. Hm… Well, I guess I’ll just have a latte.

IRENE. Just a latte? No flavor?

LUANNE. (Firmly). No flavor. I’m serious. (IRENE goes to make the drink. To GALE.) Oh, Gale,
I met the most fabulous man last night.

GALE. A fabulous man? Really? In this town.

LUANNE. (Sighing). Yes. He asked me to marry him.

GALE. Really.

LUANNE. By the glow of candlelight and with the feeling of champagne bubbles in our hearts.

GALE. And your answer was?

LUANNE. I said I’d think about it. The life of a bachelorette can’t be derailed just any ol’ time a
man gets down on his knee. (Glancing back at IRENE. Lower). Have you told her yet?

GALE. (With a shake of her head). No. No, not yet.

LUANNE. Well, don’t you think you ought to?

GALE. I’ve just been trying to find the right way to say it.

LUANNE. Margot’s on her way. You’d better find a way to say it before she gets here. They hate
each other.

GALE. Oh, please. They do not hate each other.

(IRENE has finished the drink and makes her way to the table)

IRENE. Here you go, Luanne. One latte.

LUANNE. (Languidly). Thank you, my dear. I’m sure this will do just the trick.

IRENE. (Genuinely). You’re more than welcome. (To GALE). Who hates each other?

GALE. Nobody.

LUANNE. (Overlapping with above) My dog and his groomer. I’ve tried and tried, and they just
do not get along.

IRENE. Your dog-

LUANNE. And his groomer. Those two are always mad at each other for some reason or other.
Just last week I dropped the little guy off and when I got back they were not speaking. (She
takes a sip of her coffee and grimaces).

IRENE. (Giving GALE a look over LUANNE’s head). I hate when that happens.

LUANNE. I know, but what can you do? (Rising, crossing to the sugar bar. Looking out the
window.) That old Tom is looking in your window. (She waves).

IRENE. So what else is new.

GALE. (Parental). Irene.

IRENE. That man gives me the creeps. Every day, he walks in here smelling like — well, not
good. And he always orders the same thing. And he’s always fifteen cents short, even though
he knows how much a cup of coffee costs. And then he pulls the fifteen cents out of my tip jar to
make up for what he can’t pay. And I always feel like he’s… I don’t know, like he’s looking at
me.

GALE. Kind of hard to order something without looking at the person you’re ordering from.

LUANNE. (Dropping large scoops of sugar into her coffee.) I’m sure he’s harmless.

IRENE. Easy for you to say. You don’t have him looking in here after you all the time.

GALE. Has he ever said anything or done anything outright to make you feel this way?

IRENE. Well, no.

LUANNE. He’s just a Tom, Reenie. Don’t let him worry you.

IRENE. But-

GALE. Please, Irene. We have a difficult time getting new people in here as it is without causing
trouble with our regulars.

IRENE. (Conceding). Fine. (She retreats to the bar, where she finds a cloth to clean up some of
LUANNE’s stray sugar).

LUANNE. (Crossing through to the couch, trying to ignore the bit of tension). Anyway, he’s gone
now. And we have a lot to do around here.

GALE. Did you bring me some new pieces today?

LUANNE. (Starry-eyed). I did! Five new paintings. They’re part of my latest series. I call it
(Striking a pose as she does so): “Still Friendship.”

GALE. Wonderful!

LUANNE. Reenie, dear. Would you go ahead and bring my art in for me? I don’t want those
treasures wandering off.

IRENE. (Smiling to herself). On it.

LUANNE. Here are my keys. (Digging them out of her purse and tossing them to her).

(IRENE exits through the front door, leaving it open).

GALE. So how do you think I should tell her?

LUANNE. Beats me. (a pause). Maybe you don’t. Maybe you let Margot break the news.

GALE. You’re kidding.

LUANNE. Why not?

GALE. She’ll think I’ve thrown her to the wolves.

(IRENE reenters, bringing in an easel which she sets up near a table downstage. She exits).

LUANNE. Okay, what else then?

GALE. Maybe I can buy her dinner tonight.

LUANNE. Yeah. Just hope she doesn’t choke on her food when you hit her with the bad news.
Talk about adding insult to injury.

GALE. I just don’t know how to tell her. You remember a few weeks ago when Margot called her
a sloppy hillbilly?

LUANNE. And she said “it’s better to be a sloppy hillbilly than a plastic one?” Yes. I thought that
was pretty clever of Irene.

GALE. They didn’t speak to each other for a week. How am I supposed to get two people who
don’t speak to each other to work together?

LUANNE. Same way you get kids to behave, I guess. Tell ‘em to stick their noses in a corner til
they’re ready to play nice.

GALE. That never really worked on Margot when we were kids.

(Almost as if speaking the name summoned her, MARGOT appears in the doorway. She’s self
made and sassy. Rich, and doesn’t mind letting you know it. Charming to some, terrifying to
others.)

MARGOT. You really shouldn’t be leaving this door open, Gale. You’ll let bugs in. (Spotting
LUANNE). Oh. I see it’s already too late for that.

(The ladies stand and offer ad-libbed greetings as MARGOT comes in.)

GALE. Irene is bringing some things in for Luanne. The door hasn’t been open very long.

MARGOT. I assume you’ve spoken to her. (She plops her large purse on the coffee table and
pulls out a laptop. She begins setting up for work).

GALE. Not yet.

MARGOT. (Giving her sister a look). Oh, good. I guess that’s going to be my job.

LUANNE. Go easy on her, Margot.

GALE. No. No. I’ll tell her.

MARGOT. Fine. (Spotting the easel). Hell. Gale, don’t tell me you’ve let Luanne bring more of
that crap into the store.

LUANNE. What crap?

GALE. Margot.

LUANNE. My art has been on the news, I’ll have you know.

MARGOT. Most disasters are.

GALE. Margot, is now really the time?

MARGOT. What did I say?

(The door opens and IRENE and SAM enter. SAM is in her 20s, soft spoken, and kind. They’re
carrying the paintings/easels.)

IRENE. Thanks, Sam.

SAM. No problem. Where are these going?

IRENE. Just down here.

(Let the pieces be covered by cloths of some kind. IRENE and SAM set the paintings on easels,
and maybe some on a table.)

GALE. Hello there, Sam.

SAM. Hi, Gale. Hi, Luanne. Margot.

IRENE. (Upon hearing this last name, her good mood drops. She glances to the other side of
the room.) ‘Lo, Margot.

MARGOT. (Taking in IRENE’s appearance). Irene.

GALE. Would you like anything to drink?

MARGOT. Just a dark roast is fine. (As she crosses to inspect the art pieces that were just
brought in.)

GALE. No cream?

MARGOT. None, thanks. Coffee, as a rule, should be black.

IRENE (To herself). To go with your soul?

GALE. What was that, Irene?

IRENE. Nothing.

(IRENE slips behind the bar as SAM closes the door and crosses to stand by the cash register.
MARGOT has now lifted the cover from a canvas. A reaction).

MARGOT. Oh, honestly, Gale. It’s a wonder you even let this stuff in that door.

LUANNE. Now don’t you be peeking over there, miss Negative Nelly. You have to wait for the
great unveiling. It’s part of my latest series—

MARGOT. (Lifting the cover off of the painting to reveal what is underneath) “Death to Doggie?”

(Perhaps this is an appropriate name for it, as the color choices in the picture seem to resemble a bleeding dog with a noose tied around its neck).

LUANNE. Very funny, Margot. It’s actually called (A repeat of the pose from earlier): “Still
Friendship.” (She takes the cover from MARGOT and replaces it, carefully making sure that it is
completely hidden.)

(IRENE approaches with coffee mug in hand).

IRENE. Dark roast. (She hands MARGOT the mug, offering her a smile. The smile isn’t
returned. IRENE retreats to the bar.)

MARGOT. (Low. To GALE). The dress code is the first thing we’ll implement.

(Thrown by what she just heard, IRENE looks first at MARGOT, then GALE, before moving
behind the bar).

[End of Extract]

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