Orphans of the Primordial Ooze by Peter Tarkalas

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

ACT ONE SCENE ONE.

The lights come up and we are faced with the outside of a sidewalk
cafe called " For the love of Latte" It is a storefront with a door leading
inside and with a few tables outside. A middle aged man is sitting at
one of the tables looking out with a coffee in front him.

He is obviously waiting for someone.

He takes a brand new book out of the bag and places it
face up on the table in front of him. Someone walks by and he
glances up with some hope in his eyes only to follow her to the
other side gradually turning into disappointment.

Another man steps out of the cafe with a coffee and a plate with two biscottis.

He is dressed very casually.

LANCE: Hey.

(Lance places his coffee two tables away from Conrads.

He puts down his biscottis, a paperback he takes out of his ppocket
and puts it on the table also. He removes his coat and hangs it
on the back of his chair He sits down.).

This is the life eh? To be sitting out here and enjoying a few rays of sunshine.
After the winter we just had. Man. It almost makes being alive
worthwhile. (Slight pause.). Almost. (Conrad doesn't want to engage
him in any conversation and pretends he doesn't hear him. (Pause.)
Lance looks at him and takes a sip of his coffee.). Can you believe
what they charge for a cup of coffee here? Five bucks. I just about
crapped myself. (Slight pause.)
When did the world get so pretentious? Like that twit behind the
counter. "I'll be your barrista for today. What can I get you?"
What the hell is a barrista? They pour hot water into a cup right?
Probably have to get a degree from a community college. Christ. It's
just an excuse so they can nail you five bucks for a coffee that you
could get from Timmy"s for a buck and a half. For five bucks I could
buy a pound of coffee. (Slight pause.) He turns to Conrad. Do you
know how many cups of coffee you can make with a pound?

CONRAD: (Not wanting to engage him but he has made eye contact,).
No.

LANCE: Eighty cups. (Slight pause.). Yup. Eighty cups of coffee.
You might be asking yourself, how do I know that little interesting
bit of information? (Waits for a response.). I used to have to work
for my dad when I was a kid and he had a family
restaurant. (Slight pause.) I worked through most of public school
and all of high school. A couple of nights a week after school and
every bloody weekend. (Slight pause.). And then summer would come and my life would be
really over. Six days a week, morning to night.

CONRAD: (Nodding his head) Oh. That's … that's nice.

LANCE: Yeah. What's so nice about it? I couldn't stand working
for the asshole. (Shaking his head at the memory.)

CONRAD: Oh. (He definitely doesn't want to engage him any
further.)

LANCE. :Now where was I? Oh yeah 80 cups of coffee. So figure it
out. Eighty times five bucks. That's 400 bucks for a pound of coffee. That's a
pretty hefty profit margin. You and I are inthe wrong business pal. My father was in the wrong business.
He should have opened up a place like this.
(Slight pause.) He wouldn't fucking listen though. To him I was just
a stupid kid who didn't know anything. (Slight pause.). I told him
the future was in specialization. Specialize in one area. Like this
joint that specializes in hosing you for coffee. (He takes a sip.)
Back in those days there was nothing like this We sold everything.
You name it we had it. Even desert. At that time they didn't have
all these fancy bullshit cheesecakes that they have now. We had fresh
rice pudding, jello, pies, sundaes, sodas, banana splits.
(Thinking.)
Banana splits. They were my specialty. A work of art. People would
come in from miles away to have one of my famous banana
splits. My secret weapon was I used to
split the banana in half and fry it up on the grill.
(Slight pause.). Then I would put three scoops of ice cream.
Chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. On top of that I would cover it
with pineapple sauce and butterscotch and chocolate syrup. Then I'd
smother the whole shebang with whipped cream, sprinkle all these nuts
on top and then the three maraschino cherries. (Slight pause.). You
don't see that anymore do you? Probably because of the million
calories that it had. In those days not everybody was going apeshit
counting calories and trying to look like a twig. (Slight pause.)
My favourite dessert was the coconut cream pie. I used to stare at it
in the pie case all day long. Only problem was I wasn't allowed to
have a piece. Unless it was in there for a few days and got stale …
then I could have it. (Slight pause.). My father explained the
economics of the situation. He said we cut that pie into six pieces
and we had to sell five in order to break even. So if I ate one then
there went the profit … so what was the point in selling pies if he
couldn't make a dime out of it. (Slight pause.). He could have been bullshitting me about the whole
thing but if we had a place like this with the mark up they got.
Jesus. I could drink … uh … what … 78 cups of coffee and we would still be making some money.

CONRAD: You're forgetting about the overhead. Rent. Hydro. Water.
Salaries. Equipment.

LANCE: (Looking around.) Yeah. Like all this lawn furniture must
have really set them back.

CONRAD: There's a lot more to expenses than meet the eye.

LANCE: You must think I'm pretty fucking stupid huh?

CONRAD: When did I say you were stupid?

LANCE: You don't have to tell me about fucking overhead. That was
drummed into me most of my life. Not drummed in. More like hammered
into me. The old man always made sure I knew how tough of a life he
had. Like he had some kind of a monopoly on suffering and hardship.
(Slight pause.) The point I was making about this place was you don't
have to gouge people for a lousy cup of coffee. Maybe they're new in
business here but I don't see a line of paying customers waiting to
get in. Maybe if they drop the price they'd get a bigger crowd in
here instead of us two saps.

CONRAD: This is just a slow time of day. Usually they're quite busy here.

LANCE: Oh yeah? You come here a lot?

CONRAD: It's close to my office.

LANCE: What are you? Bill Gates? (He picks up his biscotti and
shows it to Conrad.) Don't get me started on this. I got to warn
you that if you feel like a cookie they're going to soak you three bucks for one of these.

CONRAD: (Smiling.) You're paying for the ambiance.

LANCE: And all the carbon monoxide I can suck into my lungs.
(Conrad tries to turn away and ignore Lance.) Three bucks.. They
get away with that here because they don't call it a cookie. I was
corrected by the genius behind the counter. I asked for a couple of
cookies and she says "'do you mean the biscotti?"
(He holds it up and looks at it). I don't know. It looks like a
cookie. (He smells it.) It smells like a cookie. (He takes a bite.) Even tastes like a
cookie.

CONRAD: It must be a cookie then.

LANCE: No it's not. It's a biscotti. Who'd pay three bucks for a
fucking cookie? (Slight pause.) I went to pay and for a coffee and two cookies and
tax she wants over 12 bucks. I said to her that I didn't recall ordering dinner. (He chuckles.)
She didn't think that was very funny.

(Conrad tries to ignore him and opens up his book and leafs through
it. He reads the back cover. Slowly moves his body away.

LANCE: Well I wont bug you anymore. I'll just let you read your
book and I will read mine.

(Lance pulls out a worn paperback from his pocket and opens it up and
starts to read. He is in the middle of the novel. Conrad looks over
at Lance and looks at the cover of his book he looks at his and
realizes they both have the same book. He looks over at Lance who is
entranced in his novel. He is perplexed.

CONRAD: Excuse me.

LANCE: (Looking up.) Yeah

CONRAD: I just happened to notice the cover of the book you are reading.

LANCE: Yeah. O'Neil. The Iceman Cometh. What about it?

CONRAD: No. Nothing. It's a funny coincidence. I happen to have
the same book.

LANCE: No shit. Wow. What are the odds of that huh? There's only
the two of us sitting in this cafe and we're both reading the same play. (Slight
pause.) He's my favourite playwright. This is a classic. How far are you
into it?

CONRAD: I just picked it up in the bookstore before I came here.

LANCE: I think you're going to like it. It's about all these
losers who hang out in this bar … waiting for their buddy Hickey to come. He shows up once
a year and they have this great big drunken party. It's the highlight of their lives.
(Slight pause. He puts his finger on the book cover.). It’s all
about facing the truth. Hickey is the iceman in the title. He's
supposed to represent death.

CONRAD: (Trying his hand at levity.) Why don't you act out the
entire play and save me the trouble of reading it.

LANCE: Hey. Good one. You got a sense of humour.

(Pause. Conrad is still trying hard to ignore him.)

LANCE: I like doing this once in a while. Kind of like playing
hooky. Nobody knows where I am. The wife still thinks I'm out
busting my hump. I get to read a book and drink expensive cups of
coffee.

(Conrad sees another person on the sidewalk and follows her with his
eyes.)

LANCE: Check out some hot looking babes. (He eyes the woman.) Not
bad eh?

CONRAD: Pardon me?

LANCE: I seen you. You were eyeballing her. (Conrad turns away.)
Can't blame you. Nice body on her. Hey look at the rack on this one.

(They both look and follow with their eyes.)

LANCE: Those tits look real to you? (He squints his eyes to get a
clearer look.) They're sticking straight out. They gotta be phoney. (He calls out
to stage front and waves.). Hey you. Nice looking cans. Where'd you
buy them? (He laughs and then stops and turns to Conrad.). Did she
just tell me to fuck off? (Conrad smiles.). These women don't know
how to take a joke anymore. Not that they ever
could. Look at them. Nowadays they got
everything. Boob jobs. Ass jobs. Tummy tucks. Face lifts.
They can fix their eyes, their noses, their lips, their teeth,
their hair. They can just about fix everything on their bodies ...
everything … except their brains. Nobody's ever figured out how to
fix those. (He taps his head.). With all this cosmetic surgery I bet
you they could even make my grandmother look hot … and she's been dead fifteen years.

CONRAD: The whole point is it makes them feel better about
themselves.

LANCE: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's what it's all about these days…
the new religion … feeling good about yourself.

CONRAD: Haven't you felt better when you've had a good haircut. Or
put on a new suit?

LANCE: Yeah. For about five seconds. (Slight pause.) These
women drive me nuts. You keep getting mixed signals from them. I don't
think they really know what they want. They want to parade around
with their tits sticking straight out to here, looking like sex
objects but they bitch and moan about it when you treat them like one.
(Slight pause.) Take a look at this cuppie doll. Look how short
her skirt is … now what would happen if you or I went up to her and
told her that the way she looked was really turning you on. How far
do you think you'd get with her?
(Slight pause.). Let me ask her.

CONRAD: Please don't.

LANCE: (He whistles and waves.) Hey honey. Yeah you. I see
Paris. I see France. I can see your underpants. Ha ha.

(Conrad turns away in embarrassment.)

LANCE: Oh yeah. Up yours too. (He gives her the finger. To
Conrad.) Definitely no sense of humour on these broads. (He picks up his
things and moves to the very next table.) Listen. I never introduced myself. I'm Lance.
(He holds his hand out to shake hands.)

CONRAD: (Pauses for a second and then holds his hand out.) Conrad.

LANCE: (They shake hands.) Hey Conrad. (Sitting down.). To be
honest with you i just didn't come down here to drink an expensive cup
of coffee and read a book. (No answer.) I'm not going to be sitting
here too long so you can stop your worrying.

CONRAD: (Acts as though he doesn't know what he's talking about.)
I'm not worried.

LANCE: Sure you are. I can tell. You're thinking to yourself. Why
is this asshole coming over here and breaking my balls. (Pause while Lance stares at
him.) Anyways. I'm supposed to be meeting someone here. And when she shows
up and hopefully she does soon then I will have to move to another
table ... you know ... to get some privacy.

CONRAD: (Slight pause). Ah. I am assuming this woman is not your
wife? (No answer.) A girlfriend? Mistress?

LANCE: So what now? I've piqued your interest? (Slight pause.)
We're meeting here to hash things out. Not my idea … not with the
fucking prices they charge here.

CONRAD: Ah. So you are meeting her for the first time … I assume
to discuss whether or not you're going to embark on an affair?

LANCE: Jesus. You make it sound so fancy … embarking on an
affair … mistress. I just gotta check her out. See if she's on
the up and up. (Slight pause.) I met her on an internet cheaters
site. We've been emailing back and forth for a while now and we
finally set up a date to meet. (Slight pause.) I want to make sure
she's who she says she is. With the internet you never know. She
could even turn out to be a guy.

CONRAD: (Pause.) You said a cheater's site. What site was that?

LANCE: Specialfriends dot com.

CONRAD: (Growing more and more anxious.) And she suggested you
meet here? This afternoon?

LANCE: Yeah. Like I said if I had my choice I'd be meeting her at a
Timmy's.

CONRAD: (He looks alarmed and starts to stare up and down the
street.) This is not right. Specialfriends dot com? Are you sure?

LANCE: Positive. Let me tell you something. If you're thinking
about stepping out on your wife. That's the place to go. (Slight
pause.). You fill out this questionnaire they have there. You know
… all your likes … dislikes. What type of relationship are you
looking for. You just check off all these categories. It's kind of
neat. Like going to the grocery store with your shopping list.
(Slight pause.) Except I kind of fibbed a little on mine. I figured
everybody probably does that. I checked everything off. Other than
the gay shit so… don't get your hopes up. (Slight pause. He
laughs.) So according to my profile I'm a kind, sympathetic,
understanding guy who resembles a greek god and who is a very … very
… patient lover. (Slight pause.). They love that part.

CONRAD: (Still alarmed.) Something is wrong.

LANCE: What? The greek god part? Hey I'm not exactly expecting Miss
America to show up. I figure we'll sort out the bullshit after we meet.

CONRAD: But what if there are two greek gods sitting in this cafe?
(Lance looks at him quizzically.) How is she going to know who you are?

LANCE: She told me to bring a book. Any O'Neil play.

CONRAD: Like this one? (He holds up his book.) Look familiar?

(Lance looks at his book and at first is perplexed and then some
dawning falls on him.)

LANCE: What the hell?

CONRAD: I think someone is playing games. (Slight pause.) You're
supposed to be meeting a woman here between three and four?

LANCE: Yeah.

CONRAD: Well so am I. That's why I have the same book as you do.
What's her name?

LANCE: Bambi.

CONRAD: That's her.

LANCE: Maybe it's not the same person. There are a lot of Bambi’s
on that site.

CONRAD: We're both here with the same book, at the same time.

LANCE: Shit. And here I was thinking I found the perfect woman.

[End of Extract]

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