Thursday, February 22, 2007

Episode 06: Martha Stuart and Mr. Miyagi

What has gone before: Andrew Weazle, the owner of a failing coffee shop on the University of Alberta campus trades what he believes to be the final Friday night deposit in return for 'magic coffee beans' from a homeless man. After dumping the coffee made by the magic beans into a potted bonsai tree, a massive ash tree mysteriously grows overnight inside the shop. While Andrew is checking the neighboring copy shop and restuarant, his new employee, Lara, discovers three strange women in the shop's basement...

"No damage?" Lara asked, incredulous.

"None," Andrew replied. "They were a bit weirded out that I came in all wound up...I told them I had some flooding in the basement and wanted to make sure it was confined over here." He was standing on the ladder, which was leaning against the wall adjacent to the trendy restaurant. He was peering into one of the fissures the tree had ripped in the wall. "This limb is too large at this point to taper off before it gets through the wall,"
he said under his breath. "It doesn't make a bit of sense."

"You have a giant tree in your coffee shop," Lara reminded him. "I think we're well past sensible." She looked intently at the wall, her eyes scanning back and forth. "And speaking of sensible," she said, "What possessed you to think it would be a good idea to cover the original brick with wood panelling?"

"I didn't do that," Andrew replied. "I had no idea the brick was underneath."

"Yeah, but it looks like shit," Lara said. "You never thought to remove it?"

"I guess I was too busy serving coffee and worrying about paying the bills," Andrew replied, turning away from his investigation.

"Well, I guess you have a reason to take it down then," Lara said cheerfully. "I've always wanted to do some interior decoration...a friend of mine said I have a real knack for it."

"Let me guess, you'd paint everything flat black and put a bloody dripping pentagram on the floor?" Andrew tried turning on the taps for the sink to wash his hands, but no water came out. He swatted at the taps in frustration.

"Hardy har har," Lara said, cocking her head to the side. "Just because I dress in black doesn't mean I'm all into death and stuff...and being Wiccan isn't like being a Satanist or something."

"Whatever," Andrew said. "Look, if you want to rip all the wood off the walls and redecorate, knock yourself out. You've got roughly 36 hours to do it."

"Gotta get the store up and running again. I get it."

"No, in 36 hours the bank will phone the university and inform them that I haven't paid my rent," Andrew said.

"What happened?"

"I was short about...oh, the whole amount," Andrew replied.

"But you must have made some money this month!"

"Yeah, I paid the rent at my apartment and..." Andrew trailed off, and his eyes went wide. "Oh shit." He ran across the shop and ducked behind the counter. He was looking at the floor, pacing about frantically.

"What are you looking for?" Lara asked, crossing over to the counter. "What's wrong?"

Andrew was murmuring chantlike: "The bonsai tree...this is the bonsai tree..."

Lara looked up at the huge canopy of leaves and branches. "It's a little big for a bonsai tree, isn't it? I mean, you'd really have to seriously Miyagi on this thing to get it small enough to..."

"It was right here!" Andrew shouted, pointing at the tree's trunk.

"Actually, it still is," Lara said, furrowing her brow in concern. It looked as though Andrew had finally cracked under all the pressure.

He looked up at her, as if realizing she was watching him for the first time. He leaned across the counter. "There was a bonsai tree from my grandfather sitting in a little ceramic pot where that tree is now," he said, carefully enunciating every point of diction. "I poured the coffee I made with the magic beans out in the pot," he spread his arms theatrically "and voila!"

"Magic beans?" Lara asked.

"Magic coffee beans," Andrew said, nodding as if this explained everything.

"And where did these magic coffee beans come from?" Lara asked.

"The homeless man I gave the night deposit to," Andrew replied.

"Well of course," Lara said. "Is that why you're currently short the rent?"

"No," Andrew replied, his neck craned to take in the tree's vast canopy. "I wouldn't have made rent anyhow. That's why I gave the money away. Figured the guy could use it more than the University."

"And he gave you magic coffee beans in return?" Lara asked.

"Yup," Andrew said, kneeling down to sift amongst the broken tile. "And I made coffee with it, but only took one sip...and then threw the rest out...into the pot--" he stood up, a piece of terracotta ceramic held between thumb and forefinger, "--that the bonsai tree was in."

"So you're saying you think this," Lara indicated the immensity of the tree, "is the bonsai tree?"

"Yeah," Andrew said absently.

He dropped the pottery back onto the floor, bringing his attention abruptly back to Lara. "Doesn't matter though, does it? He didn't give me enough to market it as the next big thing in fertilizer, so I'm still screwed...the only difference is, in 36 hours the University will have one hell of a mess to clean up. I guess that's not bad for an inadvertent revenge, right?"

Lara didn't reply. Instead, she walked over to the tree and put her hand on its trunk. She could feel it emenating a sort of energy, a was definitely very much alive. Lara knew she should be far more panicked by such an imposing presence, but instead, she derived a deep sense of peace...belonging...and solidity. Where her world had been shifting on its axis only days prior, it was now firmly set in place. And it all revolved around this tree.

She's one of us, isn't she? Ima had said...

"You can't just give up like this," Lara said. "We have to do something."

"What are we going to do?" Andrew asked, throwing his hands up in exasperation. "Even if I could come up with the money for the rent, we'd still have to repair all the damage...replace the busted machines...we'd be closed the whole's impossible."

He leaned his elbows on the counter and buried his face in the V of his arms, his fingers gripping his hair in tight fistfuls.

Lara turned away from Andrew and looked up at the tree.

"We could use some help here," she whispered.



the philosopher one said...

I just realised that you are writing this thing like a Charles Dicken's novel. But Dickens never had leprauchauns, which are quite possibly the scariest creatures besides gnomes.

Gotthammer said...

I haven't read a lot of Dickens. What makes Magik Beans Dickensian? And these leprechauns are seriously scary. At least, to people they don't like.

Sir Lunch-a-lot said...

That was an awesome way to end the episode: "And that's when the leprichauns walked in." Very nice.

I didn't know that lepirchauns are scary. But then, I guess my last encounter with them was in elementary School where we were told about leprichauns being these devious little people who, if you caught, would give you a little bit of burried gold.

Big Deet said...

This is starting to resemble the Gilmore Girls or 24, in that each episode ends with a teaser. Have we thought about how episodes there might be or are we just making it up as we go?

Gotthammer said...

I know how many episodes there will a week! Actually, I do know where it's all going, episode for episode, up until Easter. Then things get fuzzy. I have an overall story arc, and I'm planning for a trilogy, so it should wrap in December of 2009.

I know how it ends. I just don't know the details on how we get there.

Gotthammer said...

I originally wrote the end of episode 6 to include a group of Leprechauns, but I had no idea how bloated the storyline Episode 7 started would become. I figured that the thread of Episode 7 would be over and done with by the time I reached Episode 13. Instead, the story was starting to ramp up, not plane down. I had never intended the leprechauns to go bad. Sometimes the story writes itself.

Add to this my realization that Episode 1 took place in January and the arrival of the Leprechauns was miraculously only days away from St. Patrick's day in March, so that there are about two months of missing story running around somewhere. Which brings us to the Director's Cut.

So in short, I'm starting to revise the story. I hope this doesn't get anyone too angry about where the story was headed up until this point. It seems like a good time to go back and flesh out the things that would have lead up to a journey into the tree. Besides, that way the climax can occur at the Pole right around Christmas!

As a result, the end of Episode 6 now has a link to this post...and once I've caught the story up to my satisfaction, there will be a link back to Episode 7, with the words "Which was right about the time the leprechauns walked in" reinserted.

I know it's not linear, but the story got away on me before I knew it! Besides, given the space/time possibilities within the story itself, maybe we're all just traveling the Tree.