A CHRISTMAS TAIL

The heart warming story of a mystical cat, a little girl, and some holiday magic that occurs in a small butcher shop one Christmas Eve. When struggling butcher Ralph Minetti has nothing left to believe in, a little girl comes into his shop on Park Ave. in New YorK City to visit the bow tie wearing store cat, Gus. But Gus is no ordinary feline, for as Ralph tells little Amanda, every Christmas Eve, Gus starts to talk. But will the magic be enough of an epiphany to change a bitter, disillusioned, middle aged grocer who hasn't seen his own estranged teen-aged daughter for five years and who owes money to both his suppliers and the mob? 


 

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID:

"One of simonelli's best works. A theatre experience not to be missed. Destined to become a holiday classic!"

Joe Franklin - Bloomberg Radio


 

Excerpts - "A Christmas Tail"  

ACT I
SETTING: A small market in New York City. A few shelves line the wall with groceries. There is a counter back that serves as the butcher area. Behind the butcher counter is an open doorway that leads to a back room. Main store entrance is down left. Door leading to basement is up right. Door leading to storage room is up left. There is a small cafe table down left with two chairs.
AT RISE: Lights up on Sally, a women of forty-five. She is sitting at small desk that has a cash register and telephone. Where applicable during first act phone will ring randomly keeping Sally busy.
(Phone rings.)
SALLY
Five Star Market, happy holidays! Oh, hi Mrs. Bellows, yes, we have tangelo’s…yes they’re in season, they get flown in from New Zealand… Well I didn’t say they were in season in New York…
(Ralph enters from main door carrying a large, heavy parcel. He drops it on the counter. He is a large, robust man aged fifty. He searches the floor of the store looking for something.)
RALPH
Gus, where are you? Come on Gus, I’ve got some chicken liver for you. (He moves to door up right continuing to call for Gus, the store cat. He opens door, which leads to the basement and calls) Gus, are you down there? Come on up.
SALLY
(to Ralph)
Good morning Ralphie.
RALPH
Good Morning Sally.
(Ralph hangs up his coat in alcove behind Sally’s desk then crosses to behind butcher counter)
SALLY
(to phone as she continues taking order)
2
Yes, one quart of milk, whole wheat bread, diet soda, chicken cut up, and tangelo’s. Anything else Mrs. Bellows? Brillo, I think we’re out…I think an order's coming in today… Hold on… (to Ralph) Ralph, did you pick up that wheel of Brie cheese?
RALPH
(busy behind counter)
It’s in the van… have you seen Gus around?
SALLY
We have Brie Mrs. Bellows… sure; I’ll throw a wedge in. What’s that? If you have to ask you can’t afford it… after all, this is Park Avenue. (she hangs up phone)
Hey Ralphie, we’ve got orders backed up for delivery and Carlos didn’t show up again…
RALPH
Did you call Murphy’s bar on third Avenue?
SALLY
Murphy’s doesn’t open till ten A.M.…it’s nine forty –five.
RALPH
Maybe he lined up early to get a good seat.
SALLY
Stop joking, this is Christmas Eve, we’re getting swamped with orders… I’ve got nine turkeys that have to go out this morning, are you working on them? After all, you are the butcher around here.
RALPH
Have you seen Gus?
SALLY
Why are you so interested in that stupid cat?
RALPH
He’s the only one around here who doesn’t answer me back.
SALLY
(phone rings) There’s another call, I need ten pairs of hands around here… (she picks up phone) Five Star Market, happy holiday’s. Yes, I’ll send it up right away. See Mrs. Chambers is waiting for her order and there’s no one to deliver it.
RALPH
Well why the hell is it so busy?!
SALLY
What, you’re complaining? It’s Christmas, it’s busy.
RALPH
3
It’s Park Avenue, everyone is Jewish.
SALLY
The East Side of Park Avenue is Jewish, the West Side is Christian, and the West Side wants their orders! (she exits booth and starts straightening the groceries)
RALPH
(He moves stage left to small counter with cash register on it, picks up telephone)
(Into phone)
Sal? It’s Ralph at Five Star Market. Hey, those tomatoes you sent me were rotten. How could you send out produce like that? No, the apricots were fine but the tomatoes stink. Well I want you to take them off the bill… that’s right…off the bill…What? Your money’s coming, I’m mailing out a check the first of the month…now just take those tomatoes off the bill… your money is coming I said (he hands phone to Sally) tell him his money’s coming.
SALLY
(Into phone)
Your money’s coming.
RALPH
(Back to Phone)
… hey look, I could just as easily stop off at the super store on the way in and pick out my own produce, I run a high class shop here, I got top level clientele…yeah, well make sure you do.
SALLY
So how about those orders Ralphie, after all they’re not going to deliver themselves, and I’m the one whose got to listen to all the complaints around here, God forbid you should ever pick up the phone when it rings.
RALPH
I’m the butcher here and you’re in charge of the groceries, you said it yourself. If a meat order comes in, I’ll answer the phone.
SALLY
And how are you gonna know if it’s a meat order before you answer, does the phone moo?
RALPH
You know what I mean. And we’ll let Tom deliver the orders until Carlos gets here. He’s off from college this week isn’t he? Shouldn’t he be here already?
SALLY
He called, he’s running a little late. The 4 train got held up at Grand Central again. Do you want your phone messages? (She returns to her booth and picks up pink message pad.) Mrs. Schwartz wants two chickens; broilers, not fryers. (she crosses back to butcher counter)
RALPH
4
(he starts writing the orders on the white butcher paper with a heavy crayon)
Broilers, not fryers…got it.
SALLY
Mrs. Cartright wants a rack a lamb.
RALPH
A rack of lamb? That’s a lot of work. Is she a good customer?
SALLY
She’s one of our best customers. Pays her bill on time every month like clockwork. And since when do we turn down orders around here? Just my luck, I get stuck working with a temperamental butcher. (Back to her desk)
RALPH
Well she better be a good customer…
SALLY
Oh, and Frankie Santa called four times looking for you.
RALPH
(a look of concern)
Frankie Santa?
SALLY
That’s right, Frank Santarelli. He says he’s coming over later. You been gambling again?
RALPH
(nervously)
Of course not, he’s just coming to wish me a Merry Christmas. (He takes out a bottle of Scotch from behind counter and pours a drink into his coffee cup)
SALLY
Why are you drinking this time of the morning?
RALPH
I’m a closet alcoholic, when else would I drink? Did Barbara Jordanaire call to order anything?
SALLY
(a little jealous)
No, your "Grade -B, Off-Broadway" girlfriend didn’t order anything.
RALPH
(he takes bottle and cup downstage and sits at table)
She is not my girlfriend and she is not a "Grade-B". She happens to be a fine actress. She was up for a Tony Award a few years ago.
5
SALLY
(she crosses to him)
Yeah, twenty years ago. And she hasn’t done a decent role since unless you consider 'The Hollywood Squares’ acting. And the way you fawn over her when she comes in the store. (mocking tone as she hugs him) "Hello Miss Jordanaire, what can I get for you Miss Jordanaire.”
RALPH
I do not fawn over her.
SALLY
Are you kidding? And every time she calls in to have something sent up you deliver it personally. She doesn’t even know we have a deliveryman! It’s embarrassing. You’re making a fool of yourself!
RALPH
We just happen to have a very good relationship, what’s the word I’m looking for…
SALLY
What word?
RALPH
You know, to describe when you enjoy a female's company but you’re not having sex.
SALLY
Gay?
RALPH
(taking umbrage)
No, not Gay. Who ever heard of a gay butcher?
SALLY
Platonic?
RALPH
Platonic, that’s the word. Me and Miss Jordanaire have a platonic relationship. (Gets up and starts arranging groceries)
SALLY
I still say she's washed up. I heard that she made a blue movie a few years ago.
RALPH
That was not a blue movie. It was an experimental, art film.
SALLY
(crosses to Ralph)
If you say so. Anyway, Miss Jordanaire hasn’t placed any orders lately. Maybe she’s on location in Tijuana.
6
RALPH
You’re just mad 'cause your husband ran off with one of those New Jersey Community Theatre divas fifteen years ago.
SALLY
That is so unfair. How could you even bring that up? That floozy broke up my marriage. (Back to her desk)
RALPH
(sits back down at table)
Nobody breaks up anything. He was gonna leave regardless. You can’t control another person’s actions. Everybody’s born with free will. A person wants to leave, they’re gonna leave, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You gotta move on with your life. Find someone else.
(Amanda, a girl of ten years old enters the store and starts looking around for Gus)
SALLY
Look at you, the philosopher all of a sudden. When did you get your degree in Psychology? I notice you haven’t moved on since your wife passed away.
RALPH
That’s different and you know it. I had no control over that happening.
SALLY
And like you said, I had no control over my husband leaving. Once a philanderer, always a philanderer.
AMANDA
(to Sally)
What’s a philanderer?
SALLY
Never mind honey, it’s an adult word.
AMANDA
(crosses to Ralph at table)
Hey mister, where’s Gus?
RALPH
Go away little girl, I’m busy over here.
(Amanda moves around store likes she owns the place searching for Gus the cat)
SALLY
Ralph, that’s little Amanda Cartwright from the building next door, you know, the rack of lamb. Be nice.
RALPH
7
I’m sorry, little girl. I haven’t seen Gus this morning.
SALLY
Did you need something Amanda?
AMANDA
My mother sent me down for a box of crackers. The unsalted kind please.
RALPH
(moves to the shelf to get the crackers, he moves a can of tomatoes from next to the canned fruit to where the boxes of pasta are)
Look at this, Tom put the tomatoes next to the canned fruit again. How many times do I have to tell that kid? Is that how they train them in college? And where is he anyway? You know, just because he’s your nephew doesn’t mean I can’t fire him.
(The phone rings and Sally answers and takes an order as Ralph hands the crackers to Amanda)
Here you go sweetheart. (to Sally) One box of saltines going next door. Write it down. (Sally just waves busily in acknowledgement) Now go on home little girl, we’re busy here.
AMANDA
(she ignores him and sits at table placing crackers down)
My mother loves your food. She say’s you’re the best butcher on Park Avenue.
RALPH
That’s because I’m the only butcher on Park Avenue. Now run along little girl. Your mother's waiting for her crackers.
AMANDA
Can I look for Gus? He’s my friend.
RALPH
Listen….ah, what’s your name again?
AMANDA
Amanda.
RALPH
Listen Amanda, this is Christmas Eve. We’re very busy here because people want their Christmas turkeys for tomorrow. Don’t you have to help your mom and your brothers and sisters decorate?
AMANDA
I don’t have any brothers or sisters. And we don’t really make too big a deal about Christmas. My dad is a professor at the University. I overheard him tell my mom one time that they only have the tree because of me.
RALPH
8
Now I’m sure that’s not true. Everyone believes in Christmas. It’s a magic time.
AMANDA
What’s magic about it?
RALPH
What about Santa Claus?
AMANDA
I overhead my dad tell my mom that….
RALPH
Alright, alright.
AMANDA
Can I go find Gus now? He’s so cute with that big bow tie he wears and that big bushy tail.
RALPH
Yeah, he is something, isn’t he?
AMANDA
My dad says you really shouldn’t have a cat in the store but since there’s a rodent problem in New York you really can’t…
RALPH
Rodent problem?! Your dad has quite an opinion on things. And I still say he’s wrong about Christmas, it is magic.
AMANDA
I don’t think so. (she starts looking for the cat) Gus, where are you?
RALPH
The animals talked.
AMANDA
(stopping)
What?
RALPH
On the first Christmas Eve. Outside the stable where the baby Jesus was born. The animals talked.
AMANDA
They did?
RALPH
They certainly did.
AMANDA
Animals can’t talk.
9
RALPH
I think they can. On certain special occasions.
AMANDA
I doubt it.
RALPH
Gus can talk.
AMANDA
He can not.
RALPH
He can so.
AMANDA
Really?
RALPH
Really. I tell you what, can you keep a secret?
AMANDA
Yes.
RALPH
Well, Gus can talk alright. But only one night a year. Can you guess which night?
AMANDA
Christmas Eve?
RALPH
That’s right, Christmas Eve. And do you know why only on Christmas Eve?
AMANDA
Because it’s magic!
RALPH
That’s right, because it’s magic. Okay. I'll make a deal with you. If I tell you the story will you promise to go home so I can get some work done?
AMANDA
Sure!
RALPH
Now shake on it. Because once you shake on a deal you can’t break it.
10
AMANDA
You can’t?
RALPH
No you can’t.
AMANDA
Well, okay. (they shake hands)
RALPH
(very animated as he tells story)
Okay, Well Gus walked right through that front door ten Christmas Eve's ago. He was just a kitten, but he still had that big bushy tail. His tail was twice the size of him back then. He looked more like a raccoon than a cat. I had the door open because I was bringing a Christmas wreath in from the car to hang. (He opens front door which Sally promptly closes to keep the cold air out) Well he scampered right in here and jumped on to the stool behind my counter. Since it was Christmas I hung a little bell on his bushy tail and when he wagged it the bell would ring and he started to talk.
AMANDA
He did?
RALPH
Absolutely. I asked him where he came from and he said he was born in a palace in Russia that used to belong to one of the czars. He jumped ship and wound up in New York Harbor. Then he made his way right to this store here on Park Avenue. And every time that bell rings Gus talks, but only on Christmas Eve.
AMANDA
And why is he called Gus?
RALPH
I give him that name. After the Russian prince, Prince Gustav.
(Tom, a twenty year old college student, enters the store)
TOM
Good morning Ralph, good morning Aunt Sally, hey, hi Amanda.
AMANDA
Hi Tom, do you want to help me look for Gus?
RALPH
Tom has work to do honey, now run along and bring your mom the crackers like you promised. Remember, a deal's a deal. (He hands the crackers to her)
AMANDA
Okay. See you later. (She moves to front door) It’s starting to snow!
11
TOM
(near Sally’s desk)
Looks at these order sheets. Why are all these orders still here? Where’s Carlos?
RALPH
(goes back behind counter)
Probably getting some early Christmas Spirit.
TOM
At Murphy’s again? You want me to go get him?
SALLY
(she rises and gets her coat which she places on her chair)
You stay right here and start filling those orders. I’ll go look for him.
RALPH
Who’s going to watch the phones?
SALLY
What, your arms are broken? I've got to go to the A&P to get some Brillo for Mrs. Bellows anyway.
RALPH
Give her SOS.
SALLY
It’s not the same. They order Brillo, they want Brillo.
(Tom takes the can of tomatoes and moves it back to the canned fruit section)
TOM
I don’t get it; we go to another store to get the items we don’t have? Just tell them we’re out.
SALLY
This is a service business on Park Avenue. They don’t want to hear we’re out. They’re rich, they want service. Why do you think the Korean Grocer across the street went out of business?
RALPH
They couldn’t understand English?
SALLY
That and they didn’t deliver, they didn’t provide service. Tomorrow is Christmas, they want service today! They want their turkeys today. They want their Brillo today!
RALPH
(To Tom)
And they want it in English!
12
SALLY
(to Ralph)
And they would have their Brillo if that grocery supply order from the wholesaler ever got here. It was supposed to come in yesterday. What happened to it Ralphie, you forget to pay the bill again?
RALPH
Now don’t start sassin' me, this is my store, I make the rules! What does the sign outside say, ‘Ralph’s Five Star Market’!
SALLY
All I’m saying is that...
RALPH
I know what you’re saying.
TOM
Alright you two, knock it off. No fighting, it’s Christmas Eve.
RALPH
And you, how many times do I have to tell you? The canned tomatoes go with the pasta, not the fruit.
TOM
But tomatoes are fruit.
RALPH
College boy. Is that what they teach you? Waste of time and money.
TOM
You say that now, but when I’m a rich and famous composer, we’ll see what you say then.
RALPH
Composer, you?
TOM
And musician, actor and playwright. One day my name is going be all over Broadway.
RALPH
Well you’re not auditioning today.
SALLY
(crosses to butcher counter)
Stop picking on him. He is a musician you know. Runs in the family. My brother, his father, is a tenor sax man. Didn’t you mention to me once that you were a musician Ralph?
RALPH
13
As a matter of fact I used to play guitar. Kept one in the store, downstairs in the basement. I think it’s still down there somewhere gathering dust. Or maybe it got thrown out, who knows.
SALLY
I’ve seen that guitar down there.
RALPH
Doesn’t matter. I stopped playing years ago.
SALLY
Why? (crosses to desk and puts on coat)
RALPH
Gave it up after my wife passed. Besides, my hands are so worn out from cutting meat all these years I’d never be able to play those bar chords. Too bad. I was pretty good in my day. Mary always encouraged me, wanted me to make a career of it. I used to play it for her all the time, but after she died, it just wasn’t any fun anymore. I lost my audience.
TOM
I think you should start playing again. Music can be very therapeutic. When I’m feeling blue I just start playing my piano, I start composing songs; it’s great motivation. Gee Ralph, you think maybe you could put in a good word with Barbara Jordanaire when you talk to her again?
RALPH
Barbara Jordanaire is a professional actress, a theatre veteran. She’s not interested in college kids trying to break into the business.
SALLY
How do you know what she’s interested in? Don’t listen to him Tom. Watch the store and get to those orders. I’ll be back. (She walks out the front door momentarily then pops back in) Frankie Santerelli just rounded the corner. (she exits)
RALPH
I’m going down the basement. Tell him I’m not here. (Ralph starts to exit to basement, goes back for bottle of Scotch then exits)
TOM
(calls after him)
But what do I tell him?
FRANKIE
(Mid-forties, tough guy, enters store)
Hey kid, where’s Ralph? In the back?
TOM
(nervously)
Hi Frankie. He’s not here.
14
FRANKIE
Is he in the back? (he walks to back room) Hey Ralphie, you back there? (to Tom) So where is he kid?
TOM
I think he went to get some Brillo.
FRANKIE
Brillo?
TOM
Band-Aid’s, I meant Band-Aids. He nipped himself cutting some meat.
FRANKIE
When I get through with him he’s gonna need a crutch… (looks at shelves) Unbelievable, the merchandise never moves here. That’s the same cling peaches from last year, I recognize the dent in the can. No wonder he’s got no money. The merchandise is like little tin soldiers, stalwart and smart, they stand at attention and never move.
TOM
Tin soldiers?
FRANKIE
Look kid, I’ll learn ya something about how to make a store display. Your front window, every thing is all over the place It’s all random. Ya gotta line everything up in tree’s.
TOM
Tree’s?
FRANKIE
(arranging shelf items in threes)
Yeah, ya gotta put tree boxes of crackers together, tree cheeses. You know tree, tree, tree.
TOM
Oh that kind of tree.
FRANKIE
Exactly. I got a deli on Third Avenue. That’s how we do it kid. Now where the hell is Ralph? I gotta talk to him. Now!
TOM
I told you, he’s out.
FRANKIE
That’s okay, I’ll wait for him.
TOM
Well I think he’s gonna be a while.
15
FRANKIE
Hey kid, while I’m here, ya got any pickles in a jar? We’re out at my place. You can’t serve a deli sandwich without a pickle. It’s Un-American.
TOM
It is?
FRANKIE
Sure, it’s like going to the movies and ordering popcorn with no soda. Ya gotta have both or it just don’t make sense.
TOM
I guess.
FRANKIE
Hey, why are you workin' here anyway kid? Nobody ever comes in. Why don’t you come work for me and I’ll turn ya into an A-1 bona fide deli man?
TOM
A deli man?
FRANKIE
Sure, I’ll learn ya how to slice the meat, cook up the chicken cutlets, beat up the guys who don’t pay their bills.
TOM
Come on, you don’t really beat people up for not paying their bills do you? I mean that’s just Hollywood movie stuff.
FRANKIE
A little naive, aren’t ya kid? Now you want to come work for me or not?
TOM
Let’s see, a deli where you beat people up. It does sound intriguing. And it probably would make good material for a play some day.
FRANKIE
A play? What are you, some kind of writer kid? That what you takin' in school?
TOM
I’ve written some things. I hope to be a professional writer someday.
FRANKIE
Like what, books?
TOM
Books, plays…
16
FRANKIE
Plays? Nobody goes to plays anymore. They watch T.V. or movies.
TOM
I think some people still go.
FRANKIE
Maybe you should write TV shows kid, there’s more money in it.
TOM
Yeah, but if you write for Television you’re an employee of the studio. You don’t own the material. If you write a novel or a play it’s your work. Stays around forever even after you're long dead and buried. Like Othello.
FRANKIE
Never heard of him.
TOM
How about Shylock?
FRANKIE
Now you’re talkin' my language kid. (Phone rings) Now where the heck are the pickles?
TOM
If there’s none on the shelf we’re probably out.
FRANKIE
Ralph keeps extra’s in the basement. I’ll go look.
TOM
No, you stay here, I’ll look.
FRANKIE
You gotta answer the phone. There’s nobody here. Ya can’t leave the place empty. I’ll go look.
TOM
(crossing between Frankie and the basement)
It’s okay. They’ll call back, don’t worry.
FRANKIE
Is there some reason you don’t want me in the basement?
TOM
No, not at all, it’s just that you’re the customer and I’ve got to provide you with the proper service.
FRANKIE
17
Save it kid. I wasn’t born yesterday. (He crosses to basement and yells down) Ralph, get up here pronto. I know you’re down there. Don’t make me come and get you. (to Tom) Watch yourself kid. Don’t ever lie to me again. You think you’re helpin' but you're only makin' things worse.
RALPH
(enters from basement holding pickle jar)
Hey Frankie. I was busy in the basement, Tom must have thought I was out.
(he hands him the pickle jar)
FRANKIE
The kid tried to cover for ya, he’s a standup guy. Ya got my money?
RALPH
It’s Christmas Eve Frankie; I haven’t been to the bank…
FRANKIE
(grabs his shoulder)
Don’t bullshit me Ralph, you haven’t paid any Vig for tree months. I can’t keep carryin' ya. For me, I don’t care, we go way back. But I got people to answer to Ralph, and they’re gettin' antsy. They got Christmas bills to pay too you know.
RALPH
Next week Frankie, I promise, we get the money in here after the first of the month when the charge bills go out, you know that.
FRANKIE
Hey, when you asked me for the money did I say next week? Did I ask you for a credit rating? No, I gave you the money. This is a business transaction. There are consequences involved.
RALPH
And we’ve done business before and you never had a problem did you? I always made good plus.
FRANKIE
But you were never this late and I’m getting tired of making excuses for you. Understand? (Ralph busies himself) Look at me when I’m talking to you. (Ralph looks at him) You understand? I’m not kiddin around this time.
(Sally enters)
SALLY
Hey, I found Carlos.
FRANKIE
I gotta have something today. What time you open 'til?
RALPH
Five o'clock; give or take.
FRANKIE
18
Well it’s gonna be take, and I’m the one doing the takin'. Cash or your kneecaps, it’s your choice. I’ll be back a quarter to five.
SALLY
Come on Frankie, it’s Christmas Eve…
FRANKIE
(to Sally)Stay out of this you… (to Ralph) Smarten up. I’ll deduct these pickles from the bill. (he exits)
SALLY
You okay Ralphie?
RALPH
Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.
TOM
How much do you owe him?
RALPH
Depends, you talkin' Principal or Vig?
SALLY
Let’s start with the Vig.
RALPH
Ten grand.
SALLY
Wow!
RALPH
Actually, it’s nine thousand nine hundred and ninety seven if you allow for the pickles.
SALLY
Stop joking, this is serious. Frankie’s a wise guy. You know what he’s capable of.
RALPH
I know the guy thirty years, his bark is worse than his bite.
TOM
I’d be careful Ralph.
RALPH
What do you know? You’re a kid wet behind the ears.
TOM
Hey, I’m just saying…
19
RALPH
I’m Ralph Minetti, nobody gets the best of me. I didn’t live this long without learning a few tricks kid. You get older, ya get life experiences, that’s what you don’t realize. It’s tough out there. It ain’t no cake walk like they teach you in college. Wait till you get older and get responsibilities, You’ll see. What, you want to be some big Broadway hot shot? It takes work, hard work. And talent.
TOM
I’ve got talent.
RALPH
Yeah, but how you gonna use that talent? You gonna waste it? Or you gonna apply it? Look, everybody's got talent kid. Doesn’t just have to be for acting or music or writing plays. There’s art in everything you do, I don’t care what it is. Cutting meat… Cutting meat is a talent if you know how to do it right.
TOM
Don’t you worry, I’m not wasting mine. I’m going to write and compose. And if just one person hears a song or reads a play and gets a little enjoyment out of something I’ve done then I’ll be satisfied.
SALLY
I’ve seen his work Ralph. Read a few of his one-act plays. The kid is good.
RALPH
Yeah, well that may be, but I know plenty of talented people with nothing to show for it. You ready for rejection kid? Because in your line of work there’s a boatload of it.
TOM
Well maybe money and fame aren’t my main motivation. Maybe I just do it cause I love it. For the sheer enjoyment.
RALPH
Oh, I get it. You see what we got here Sally? This nephew of yours? What we got here is a dreamer.
TOM
Oh, and you never had a dream Ralph? How about this store?
RALPH
This store? A dream? It’s a freakin' burden. A nightmare.
TOM
Then why do you keep it? Why not just cut meat for one of the big chains?
(He pulls out small pad and jots down notes)
RALPH
Because it’s mine kid. Just like those songs and plays you write are yours. It’s my nightmare, my burden, all mine. And if you hate it so much why are working here? Huh? Smart kid like you?
SALLY
Because I asked him to Ralph. To help out.
RALPH
20
We can get along fine without him.
SALLY
Sure, push him away. Just the way you push everything else in your life away.
RALPH
Like who?
SALLY
Like your daughter for instance.
RALPH
She’s none of your business. (To Tom) What are you writing there kid?
TOM
Notes. It’s what writers do. They take notes on life. Experience is the playwright's muse.
RALPH
Yeah, I see you goofing off in the back office writing on that laptop. And if you’re gonna write, why don’t you use a good old fashioned typewriter like the old pro’s used to use?
TOM
What, are you so closed minded you're against modern technology now?
RALPH
I’m not closed minded, just practical. You kids waste all your time playing those computer games and working on your laptops. You never see kids out on the street playin' ball anymore.
TOM
Those laptops come in pretty handy. You can get practically any kind of information you want on them.
RALPH
Dreamer. Let’s go, ditch the pad and get back to work.
(Carlos enters - He is Hispanic, mid-thirties. He is gentle, kind, a bit naive, fumbling but well-meaning)
RALPH
Hi Carlos, nice of you to join us today. Anything new at Murphy’s?
CARLOS
I wasn’t drinking Ralph, I swear. I’m back on the wagon.
RALPH
Yeah, then where were you? And it better be good.
CARLOS
I’m sorry Ralph. I was helping out at the soup kitchen. We’re trying to get meals out to shut-ins.