TRANSCRIPT This story is written by Ashley Retzlaff. Ashley is an English and Theatre teacher who writes a lot of poetry. A scrambling enthusiast who owns more half-filled notebooks than any hoarder could, she creates worlds where reality and hope clash. The miniature worlds she creates lie dormant in the notebooks until brought to life by a reader’s voracious eyes and mind. But you have the power to set the stories free! Set them free! This is “No Coffee Today.”
My whiskey dinner the night before gave me a sound night of sleep, but left an acidic taste in my mouth. Eager to dispel this early morning flavor, I groggily flipped the on switch of the small black machine and pushed the glowing red button. It was 12:01pm, my usual time to wake, but I didn’t notice the button which normally read “Brew” on my Generation One Keurig now said “Push Me.” I also didn’t notice the button was glowing with a pulsing red light rather than its usual innocuous white. And somehow, I also didn’t notice the small doorbell ring that sounded when I pushed the button.
Really, it had been a while since I really noticed anything in my life. I walked through life like a smelly ghost that viewed clean clothes as more of a luxury than a necessity. Ever since being “let go” from the Schnaboskywoksy (shnaa-bahsky-wak-ski) and Smith’s Law firm for having an affair with Mr. Schnaboskywosky (shnaa-bahsky-wak-ski) himself, I failed to see a meaning in life. And who could blame me? I missed that mustachioed man who snorted when he laughed and talked to dogs like they were people. He was a funny lawyer with a heart and he wanted me! How he could desire a portly, soft-around- the- edges paralegal -who was always five minutes late despite always trying to be on time – confused me. Wallowing in my child’s pool of self-deprecation, I looked down at what looked like fresh defecation on my blue Backstreet Boys shirt.
“What the fuuu…” spurted out of my mouth just as I heard a miniscule voice coming from the red button I’d pushed on my Keurig. The mixture of the odd brown stain on my shirt with the strange voice made me sense I was still asleep.
“What in the sweet Lemony Snicket flubber-wisping way of tarnation’s fingertips do you want? You only need to ring the doorbell once! Twice, maybe if the being is coming slowly to the door. But, three times?! How terrible impatient can you be?”
Like an exaggerated character in every Disney channel TV show, my mouth started to hinge open and my eyes grew twice in diameter. I was witnessing the red button of my Keurig swing open as a miniature man about the size of a chapstick container yelled at me with every ounce of his meager being. He wore comically large round glasses that he had to have known were too large for his face. He wore a shabby, brownish suit that looked like it had come from the high fashion rack at Goodwill.
Dumfounded, I was unable to answer so he admonished me again.
“You! Dirty woman! What do you want? At least have the zip zilliky decency to speak to someone after you punched their doorbell an inordinate amount of times!” I felt idiotic talking to this Chapstick-sized man, but his strong convictions and anger forced me to respond.
“I-uhhhhh. I’m just trying to make some coffee…why. Are you….? Is this thing broken?” I started shaking the sides of the black machine, but stopped when the man began screaming again. His sharp voice pierced my ears.
“So you can ring my doorbell! Wake me at a ungoshingly early time! And now you’re shaking my home! Where does the madness stop! Cut it out you overgrown oaf!” I stopped and helped the small man who know was hanging from the red button of the Keurig as if an earthquake had struck his home and it was the only stable object in sight.
This is when I noticed what lay behind the entrance the man came out of – previously known as the brew button for my Keurig. It was a bright world with a small sun peeking through the early morning sky. Gardens, flowers, and colors that looked like they belonged in a Lisa Frank sticker book delighted my eyes. I crept down to see closer into this Viewfinder my Keurig had become.
The miniature man who had invaded my kitchen crawled back into his doorway and quickly shut the door with a loud harrumph.
Was I shocked? Sure! Weirded out? Oh yeah…and still recovering from a Whiskey dinner headache that could only be cured by caffeine….. Shit….Yes.
This entire morning seemed quite surreal, but perhaps what was even more odd is instead of trying to solve this mini-man invasion, I began tearing through my cupboards to find any semblance of coffee beans. Knocking down box after box of stale snacks, I came up with four chocolate covered espresso beans masquerading as bugs in the corner of a cupboard. Once I realized they weren’t creepy crawlies, I crammed them in my mouth and chewed them quickly.
Like most things in life, I should have looked more closely, one of the beans was actually a beetle. Effing gross.
My interior monologue started running as I spit the brown sludge into the kitchen sink. You know, what? No! I told myself. That living Duplo guy, he’s the one who should apologize! He’s the one in your kitchen! Keeping you from YOUR coffee. Do the Keurig, Karen. Woman up. Make some COFFEE!
Against any use of proper judgment I pushed the button again. The doorbell pingned and the man arrived promptly, but his anger subsided.
“You’re really not goshdarning going away are you?” he asked dejectedly. “Please, just tell me what you want devil woman.”
“Devil woman!” I responded. “So misogyny’s real even in the unreal! Why don’t we start with names first! Me, I’m Karen. Let’s stick with first names because I don’t trust you mini-man.
“Mini-man!” he shrieked! “Oh look at this sizeist!”
Would you like to flibbing inform me why my door now opens up to your sad world?”
“My sad world?! You know what, I’m just trying to make some coffee to get on with my day, mini-man. I didn’t ask for you to barge through my Keurig!” I sad exasperated.
The Chapstick man stopped and stared at me with his enlarged brown eyes. I could tell he meant what he said next from the sound of his voice. “You mean to tell me it’s happened again? Oh no. Oh my gorb. Oh my GORB!”
“What are you talking about?” I questioned in a frustrated tone. “And why are you keeping my coffee from me?”
He snapped back. “Listen, name is Ollie. I am a garden gnome. It seems our worlds have intersected. We need to fix this, you and me.”
“What? How? Please just let me go back to sleep. This day has gone to shit anyway.” I started to turn away but stopped when I heard a deep booming voice.
“KAREN. MORTAL. IN THE NAME OF GORB. FIX WHAT YOU HAVE STARTED!” The sound was coming from the garden gnome, Ollie, although it sounded nothing like him.
“How?” I asked half confused and half fearing for my life. There was something about this tiny tyrannical man that scared me.
“Karen, listen. For the sake of your world and mine, close the door. Then put this Keurig machine in the recycling. They will know what to do from there,” Ollie explained calmly.
“And you’ll be okay?” I inquired.
“Yes. All will be well. You’ll get your coffee, our worlds will sever, and you’ll put some flagbagging life together!” Ollie explained.
So I followed his directions. I unplugged my beloved Keurig. Closed his door. And put my much needed coffee maker in the recycling bin.
I took a shower and went back to bed, no longer feeling the need for coffee. But I reached for the last clean shirt on my bedroom dresser, promising myself I’d do laundry. Tomorrow. Well, not tomorrow. Later today.
Kim Fukawa has been seen all around Chicago. Most recently she has worked with The House Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, and Babes With Blades Theatre Company. She is an artistic affiliate and occasional fight choreographer with Babes With Blades.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download