Romeo & the Beanos
an original screenplay by J. Thomas Wells
A view from the air of a mountainous Indonesian isle, its indigenous music and chants in the background. A large osprey flies across the sky.
Then cut to the streets of downtown Washington, DC, morning rush hour. Then inside a busy Starbucks, customers in line, the baristas calling out the beverages.
A short old man, oddly dressed in bright colors, slips through the crowd of customers. His dress is that of an Indonesian shaman. Aloof to the store’s bustle he stations himself beside the large canister of coffee beans on the counter. With his hands affectionately touching the glass he begins a quiet chant while intently watching the beans. Ricardo, one of the baristas, tries to direct him to the end of the line, but he is ignored. The store manager eventually comes over, “Can I help you sir?” The old man is un - responsive as he continues his chant. Nearby customers have turned to watch the encounter as the manager repeats his question to no avail. Another barista, Romeo, is on the side watching. His eyes widen as he notices a slight movement of the beans in the canister in response to the old man’s rhythmic chant. He steps in to help the manager, repeating the question in Spanish then in French. When he tries Portuguese they have a brief exchange. The manager presses Romeo, “What did he say?” Romeo says, “He said no, he didn’t need any help… He’s singing . . . to the beans.” The manager rolls his eyes and says to Ricardo, “Give him a complementary drink and send him on his way.” But the old man balks at the offered drink. He points instead at the wooden stir sticks. He is given a large handful as he is escorted from the store.
The morning routine resumes with no further disturbance. Later that morning as Romeo goes through his cleaning routines he occasionally casts a glance at the canister of beans. When no one else is near he leans close and sings some of the notes the shaman had used. He sees and hears a distinct movement in the canister. A coworker nearby says, “What’s happening Romeo?” “Oh nothing, nothing.” and returns to his cleaning.
That evening as Romeo leaves after his shift, the shaman steps from the shadows and introduces himself, “I am Galdifore. Did you speak to them?” Romeo nods. “No.” The shaman looks disappointed, Romeo continues, ”I sang to them, like you did.” There is a bonding eye to eye between them. Galdifore nods, “Then they have come to the right place. They will be safe here”. Romeo says, “I don’t understand, I’ve never seen coffee beans like that.” “They are not coffee beans.” Galdifore motions to Romeo to open his hand and then drops several of the “beans” into it. Romeo looks at them closely and sees that the size, texture and color are different. “Sing to them.” says the shaman. As Romeo chants softly he sees the beans begin to take on a purple luminescence. Then they begin to vibrate in tune with his musical tones. He looks at Galdifore wide eyed who just nods back to continue. “They need to hear the music of the human voice. They will die without it.”
The following day Romeo is humming melodies while he works. Coworkers are giving him odd glances. “What’s up Romeo?” He just nods and continues, watching the subtle motion in the canister. Elsewhere in the store Galdifore, wearing a straw hat, is sitting at a table pretending to read a newspaper. They both give a startled look as Ricardo reaches for the lid of the canister with a scoop in hand. Romeo stammers, “Ah .. We shouldn’t use those.” “Why?” Ricardo replies. “There’s some sticks and junk mixed in there. I found some this morning.” Ricardo replaces the lid and swiftly pulls out a fresh bag of beans and pours them into the espresso machine. The shaman is now at the counter. Romeo whispers, “How did these . . .things get into our coffee?” “ The coffee is from my island. They were hiding there.”, “Hiding from what?” Romeo’s question goes unanswered, the shaman has moved to the window looking pensively at the sky.