Have Caffeine, Will Travel

A while back I promised to publish at least a bit of Code Slingers, The Musical, a piece I originally wrote for a group of friends I worked with back in the early 1990s. One of my friends called it “A Wacky Light Opera.”   I wrote it while waiting to get laid off and so the theme of layoffs and how incompetently they are often handled, formed the “plot.”   

If I were to cast the four men introduced in the first scene, it would be Clint Eastwood as Rambler, John Candy as JPL, Gary Sinise as Malcolm and Ben Stiller as Marco. 


Code Slingers, the Musical
Written in a cubicle by the light of a dying PC

Toward the end of the last century, the machines running the major financial systems of the world were controlled by mysterious groups of people known as “code slingers.” They communicated in a language predating email and their eclectic habits often frustrated executives, but without them, the financial systems were doomed.

This is story of one such group and the battle for their souls.  

Act 1, Scene 1

Setting: A hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in Bezerkly California.  Mid fall. 

Entrance: Four men sidle up to the bar, all dressed in black.  Luigi, the barkeep, approaches them with care.  No words are necessary; he knows why they are there.

Luigi to Lola: Three double cappuccinos and one Diet Coke. Pronto!

Lola is Luigi’s sister. He watches her sashay in front of the Code Slingers, looking over her shoulder with a come hither look. He hisses something in Italian, the rough translation being:  Pish!  You are nothing to these men. When they find out you have no brain, they will dump like garbage!  They are … the Code Slingers!  She rolls her eyes as though someday he’ll be sorry he was mean to her and starts preparing the order. 

Rambler: We’re going to be late.

Malcolm: Who cares? They called a meeting for eight in the morning. What kind of bullshit is that! They’ll just have to wait until I’ve had my Joe.

JPL: Bullshit!  I call bullshit!  I’m not going!

Rambler: Settle down big guy. We gotta be there for Sol. There’d be no us at all if not for Sol. He’s the man with the vision … the man with the plan. What no one else has the balls to do … he can.

Marco flashes his bright blue eyes at Lola as she places two cups on the counter.

Rambler (aside):

No, no my friend.
That gal will never treat you badly,
abuse you and betray you.
Make you miserable in the way
you think that you deserve.
Find another; flash your paycheck
and hang on for the misery,
the exquisite misery of being the whipping boy
for a woman you think you don’t deserve.

Malcolm: Besides, my love-obsessed friend, there’s no woman on earth worth risking a good cappuccino for. Even in this town and Luigi makes the best.

JPL (as Luigi hands him the Diet Coke): And Luigi makes the very best!

Rambler:  That’s right big guy.

They walk outside to claim their favorite table, a gnarl of redwood just big enough for the four of them to squish around as they watch men in suits emerge from the Underground.    

Malcolm: Poor suckers. Every morning, eight o’clock on the dot. What misery.

Rambler:

Yeah, but do they get those calls at night?
The system’s down … it’s quite a fright.
Get thee to the site toute suite!
Soothe their ire and make things neat.
Dance your best and sing a song
And hope  you won’t be there very long.

Marco and JPL: And hope that you won’t be there … very long.

Rambler:

At the site in San Antoine.
Or someplace very far from home,
where labor’s cheap, and taxes low
but there’s really nowhere to go.

JP:

If you ever get off site,
it’s early morning or the dead of night.
Your choices are an all night grill,
whose specialty is broiled road kill.

One of the business men passes them with a disdainful look and mumbles: Lazy, good for nothing Code Slingers.

Rambler:

They think we have it easy,
how little do they know,
all they see is the life we lead,
in at ten and out by three
with plenty of three hour lunches
and lattes by the bunches.
Oh … it may seem like a breeze
to those poor hourlies.

But … the era of the code slingers,
who program the machines,
that run the banks and brokerages
and government agencies, unseen,
who get big salaries and lots of perks,
from all those loathsome corporate jerks,
is coming to an end, my friends, coming to an end.
I can feel the change a-coming
although I know not when,
the end of an era,
we thought would never end.

Marco: Speaking of loathsome corporate jerks …

Rambler: Yes, we’d better go.

Malcolm: They better not be plucking any of my low-hanging fruit.

Rambler: Low-hanging fruit?

Malcolm:

The up and comers,
the interns and green card candidates.
The low-hanging fruit, Rambler.
The ones not quite ripe;
the ones you can just stand on two feet and pluck from the tree.
The ones who have no … seniority.

Marco:

Sol will hold them back you’ll see. 
He sells the systems;
and makes things work.
He peers into the future –

Rambler and JPL:

With his third eye!

Marco:

And keeps us all alert.
They all fear Sol.
He will hold them back you’ll see.
He’s the Rainmaker; the Visionary.
Who sells the systems;
And makes things work.

Exit:  The Code Slingers

Next:  The Mighty Sol questions the need for sleep and his secretary Alma emasculates the Lover with A Brain.  Meanwhile, what are the executives up to in their golden tower and will the slingers be able to thwart their evil plan?  Or will Jan’s brain explode from an excess of silliness?

2 thoughts on “Have Caffeine, Will Travel

    1. Marco is based on a good friend of mine who thinks any woman who cares about him is somehow defective. Good-looking, intelligent, witty but … I used to see these four guys every morning on my way to work, all dressed in black sitting at that same table as though waiting for the shoot-out to happen. Wild times in the Wild West.

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