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E2: Small Change

New landlord Stan has a few ideas for improving the Axe & Crown.

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Episode Transcript

INTRODUCTION (ELI)

Hi everyone. Eli here. Just a reminder that our fundraiser for Alba Salix Season Two is still on. You can donate at albasalix.com.

This week’s episode is dedicated to the memory of Mr Bill Hollweg. I’ll be back after the show to tell you more about him.

MUSIC—OPENING THEME

ANNOUNCER

The Axe and Crown. Episode Two: Small Change.

INT. BAR, MORNING

The bar is empty except for Gubbin and Stan.

STAN

Psst! Hey Gubbin! You awake there? You look like you had a rough night.

GUBBIN

Is it morning?

STAN

Bright and not-so-early. Did you actually fall asleep at the bar?

GUBBIN

Who are you again?

STAN

I’m Stan

Your new landlord?

GUBBIN

Oh no.

STAN

Yeah! Remember yesterday? With the swords and everything? You guys really had me going there. And then after that—oh man, what a party. All those drinking games, and Pin the Tail on the Landlord! That was a riot. Slightly painful, still a riot.

GUBBIN

Mmnh.

STAN

Your patrons, Gubbin, they just kill me.

GUBBIN

Yeah. Tell ‘em to hurry up with that, okay?

STAN

So anyways, listen. I got one word for you.

GUBBIN

Yeah. What.

STAN

Patio.

GUBBIN

Huh?

STAN

Pa-ti-o.

GUBBIN

That’s three.

STAN

Three what?

GUBBIN

Three words.

STAN

No, one word. Three syllables.

GUBBIN

Make sense, man.

STAN

Syllables. They’re like words, only shorter.

GUBBIN

Right. Okay. Good idea. Stick with those.

STAN

So yeah. Patio! We should have one!

GUBBIN

We who?

STAN

Whee hoo!

GUBBIN

Stop that. Who’s “we?”

STAN

Us! Partners, remember?

GUBBIN

I do not.

STAN

You run the bar, I own the building, that kinda makes us partners, yeah?

GUBBIN

That makes you the landlord, and me the guy that runs the bar.

STAN

This is so cool! I have always wanted to have a tavern. A beacon for the weary traveler. A place where friends meet and greet. Where good times are had and spirits run high. A place with a patio!

GUBBIN

There’s that word again.

STAN

Yeah. They got one at this swanky coffee shop on the other side of the big bridge. It’s on the the edge of the market square, so you can have some lemon seed cake and espresso while you watch the world go by…

GUBBIN

So let’s put in a patio here, so everyone can, what, gaze at the beautiful cracks and stains on the wall across the street?

STAN

You could probably put up plants and things, some nice flowers. I don’t think the lemon seed cake is a must, but man, the espresso…

GUBBIN

Stan.

STAN

Gubbin!

GUBBIN

Do you know where the name Mud Street comes from?

STAN

Totally. Yes, I do. It’s ’cause of the mud, right? Or is there some secret meaning? Does it stand for… Magnificent Urban Destination?

GUBBIN

It’s because of the mud.

STAN

I knew it!

GUBBIN

How would you describe the smell of the mud in Mud Street?

STAN

Oh, okay. Uh, it’s kind of an earthy… it’s a rich, intricate aroma, it’s dark, with a strong note of…

GUBBIN

Poop.

STAN

Yeah, poop.

GUBBIN

That go well with lemon seed cake?

STAN

Okay, thinking, no, not exactly. Okay, I’m hearing you, no patio, I get that. Heck with the patio. Here’s one for ya, you ready? Theme nights.

GUBBIN

Don’t you have a job or something? Somewhere you have to be?

STAN

Lemme see, next on the list…

GUBBIN

What’s this list?

STAN

Of improvements. To the Axe and Crown. Ready?

GUBBIN

Why does the Axe and Crown need improving?

STAN

Number one: the beds. Gotta say, I crashed in a vacant room last night and when I woke up, man, I hurt all over.

GUBBIN

That’s what you get for playing Pin The Tail On The Landlord. Boy, did you squeal!

STAN

Well, that might be a factor, I get it. But we really do need new bedding.

GUBBIN

The bedding is new.

STAN

It’s like straw.

GUBBIN

It is straw. It’s new straw.

STAN

We could switch to down, or wool or something.

GUBBIN

Sure. Let’s do that for all our luxury suites.

STAN

Hold on! Which ones are the luxury suites?

GUBBIN

None of them. None of them are luxury suites.

STAN

Wouldn’t that be a great idea though? You’d get premium rents… I have to add that to the list.

He scribbles on his paper.

GUBBIN

Once again, I think you’re forgetting what neighbourhood you’re in.

STAN

Okay. Here’s another idea—small effort, big impact. Clean the windows!

GUBBIN

Why?

STAN

It’s so dark in here.

GUBBIN

That’s the idea. It’s a tavern. It’s dark. How else am I supposed to sleep?

STAN

We’ll put up curtains.

GUBBIN

Curtains get dusty.

STAN

And windows get dirty. We can hire someone to clean them both.

GUBBIN

You said you liked the Axe and Crown for its authenticity.

STAN

Absolutely!

GUBBIN

How’s that fit with changing everything in it?

STAN

Seriously? Curtains are gonna ruin the authenticity?

GUBBIN

Next you’re gonna say change the name.

STAN

Well…

GUBBIN

(sighs)

STAN

It’s just… you know, a little militaristic.

GUBBIN

What was your first clue? The fact our sign is a shield with a weapon painted on it?

STAN

Yeah, but… “The Axe and Crown”. Not really very comfy or welcoming.

GUBBIN

As opposed to what?

STAN

I dunno, the Rover’s Roost. Or The Ship and the Anchor.

GUBBIN

You gotta be kidding.

STAN

Well, no that’s got some seafaring kinda deal to it… “arrrr!” Wait! How about this: “The Troll’s Den”.

GUBBIN

I’m a troll! I’m not a bear!

STAN

“The Troll’s Treasure”.

GUBBIN

Trolls don’t do treasure. That’s leprechauns.

STAN

Right! Hold on! The treasure… is your tavern. Your patrons!

GUBBIN

Why do you want to change the name?

STAN

Well, the sign’s falling to bits… it seems, you know, like a good moment to start fresh. I know a couple of sign painters who used to work for my father. I’ll bet they could do an awesome new sign for you. What do you think?

GUBBIN

You know where the name “Axe and Crown” comes from?

STAN

No! Enlighten me.

GUBBIN

It’s from the arms of our regiment. Second Royal Engineering Battalion.

STAN

You were in the army? Like, our army? I didn’t think they had any trolls.

GUBBIN

Yeah, a few. Mostly doing the dangerous stuff. You wanted something built or blown up or booby trapped, the Second, we were your go-to team.

STAN

Wait, the Second? The Battle of Whipsaw Gap? That was you guys?

GUBBIN

You’ve heard of it.

STAN

Yeah, I mean I was just little when it happened, but… oh man. You guys are kinda like heroes.

GUBBIN

Eh. Well. We got sent in to do a job. We did it.

STAN

Still.

GUBBIN

Anyway, look. Old Noreena ran this place before me. Her brother was in the Second with us. After the war, the old gang used to come around here, have a pint, help her out. She’s the one called it the Axe and Crown.

STAN

Ah. Okay. Gotcha.

GUBBIN

So the name stays.

STAN

Oh no, yes, definitely. Axe and Crown all the way.

GUBBIN

Mm hmm.

An awkward pause. Stan looks around for something else to talk about.

STAN

So! Uh, so this, this over here must be the bar.

GUBBIN

No, it’s a wall that’s lying down on the job. Don’t touch those.

STAN

I always thought I’d make a great bartender. “Here you go, my friend. That’ll be three shillings and sixpence.”

GUBBIN

Three and six! What kind of place do you think I’m running?

Stan wanders around the room and tries the kitchen door. It’s locked.

STAN

Ahh, I love it! What’s in here? The kitchen?

GUBBIN

(sharply)

Don’t. Kitchen’s off limits.

STAN

Why, what’s in there?

GUBBIN

It’s been condemned. We had a fire.

STAN

Oh no! How bad is it?

GUBBIN

You don’t want to know.

STAN

Well, we need to fix it up right away! Start serving food again.

GUBBIN

I’m running the bar. I don’t have time to cook.

STAN

Okay, so we get a cook.

GUBBIN

I had one.

STAN

And?

GUBBIN

He… left.

STAN

So we get another!

GUBBIN

I’m not paying more damn people.

STAN

Hey! We could have some kind of signature dish. Whaddya think? Something unique that says “Axe and Crown”.

GUBBIN

What, like field rations?

STAN

Yeah! Now you’re talking. Are those good?

Stan ducks through another doorway.

STAN (CONT’D)

Aw, Gubbin, I love this back room! You know what it needs? A stage along the far wall…

GUBBIN

Stage!

STAN

Yeah! This place would make a great music venue.

GUBBIN

No. No musicians. Not since that guy with the whistle.

Stan returns to the bar.

STAN

What guy? Guy with a whistle?

GUBBIN

Some guy said he could charm all the cockroaches in the building and lead ‘em away. Played this whistle was supposed to sound exactly like a cockroach mating call.

STAN

But it didn’t?

GUBBIN

Oh, it did. He had the mating call down to a T. Then he joined a poker game, got caught cheating and ran off before he could get to the “leading them away” part. So what do you think we ended up with?

STAN

More cockroaches?

GUBBIN

Ten times more cockroaches. And an earache.

STAN

Never mind that. Listen, some buddies of mine are in a band. They play jigs and country dances, really great tunes.

GUBBIN

Spare me. I can’t stand all that fol-de-doy hiddledy-day stuff.

STAN

That’s the best part!

GUBBIN

Those aren’t words. That’s just making sounds.

STAN

Yeah, sounds have no place in music.

GUBBIN

Who wants to listen to music when they’re trying to have a beer?

STAN

The Broken Bell, up by the College, they’ve got music every night. People love it. The bartenders there are busy from sundown till last call!

GUBBIN

I got enough things to take care of without having to serve a hundred beers in a night.

STAN

You won’t need to! If we start bringing in those kind of crowds, we can afford to hire more staff.

GUBBIN

(muttering)

Musicians, man…

STAN

We can start doing shows one or two nights a week…

GUBBIN

NO MUSIC.

STAN

Poetry? Maybe? The Broken Bell—

GUBBIN

The Broken Bell can keep all their damn music and poetry. It ain’t coming in here!

STAN

No romantic spirit, that’s your problem!

GUBBIN

None whatsoever.

STAN

Gubbin, there must be something you want to do with this place. If you could change just one thing about this bar, what would it be?

GUBBIN

Just one thing?

STAN

Yeah!

GUBBIN

Let me think. Wait, I got it.

STAN

Yeah? What?

Gubbin rises and grabs Stan by the collar.

STAN (CONT’D)

Hey, hey! This is my good coat.

GUBBIN

Oh! You are a little fella.

Gubbin force-marches Stan to the door.

STAN

Listen, what about upstairs? You could renovate the rooms, make ‘em nice and—aaack!

Gubbin tosses Stan out and slams the door behind him.

GUBBIN

(sighs)

Yeah. Much better.

MUSIC STING

INT. BAR, EVENING

Moderate crowd.

GUBBIN

You want a refill there, Rosina?

ROSINA

Sure. I like the new curtains, by the way.

GUBBIN

Really?

He pours her a beer.

ROSINA

Yeah, they give this room a cozy kinda feeling. It’s nice.

GUBBIN

If you say so. There you are.

ROSINA

Thanks, Gubbin.

Rosina heads back to the far corner.

STAN

See? Everyone likes the curtains.

GUBBIN

Three people doesn’t equal “everyone”.

STAN

Hey. Have you heard anyone say they don’t like them?

GUBBIN

Fine. Your curtains can stay.

STAN

Woo hoo!

GUBBIN

Stop that. Especially since the windows are all clear now.

STAN

Heaven forbid. You might actually be able to see what’s outside.

ROSINA

(from afar)

Hey Stan! Tommy doesn’t believe you can fit a hundred and forty peanuts in your mouth.

GUBBIN

Sounds like your services are required, Stan.

ROSINA

Hey Stan!

STAN

Be right there!

(to Gubbin)

You like the curtains, just wait till you see the new sign.

GUBBIN

Hang on. What new sign?

STAN

It’s already up!

GUBBIN

There better not be a ship on it!

STAN

Okay, guys. I’m ready!

He heads off. Excited shouts from Rosina and company. They start counting: “One! Two! Three!” and continue throughout.

Gubbin pulls the curtain.

GUBBIN

(under his breath)

I don’t believe it. Stan, you little bastard.

The outside door opens and several musicians enter.

LUCKY

…yeah, everybody said it was a dump, but Rosie told me they finally started fixing the place up a bit. Hey! You Gubbin?

GUBBIN

That’s me.

LUCKY

Nice to meet ya. I’m Lucky. That a new sign out front? Looks good.

GUBBIN

Yeah. It’s not bad. Hell… it’s kinda beautiful.

LUCKY

“The Axe and Crown”. That got anything to do with the old Second Engineers?

GUBBIN

Yeah, sure does.

LUCKY

Heroes, man. I grew up in Little Moose Valley. Mom and Dad always said those guys literally saved our town.

GUBBIN

Yeah, they did okay. So. What can I get you folks?

LUCKY

Ale for me. You guys?

His bandmates agree. “Absolutely.” “Ale for me too.”

LUCKY (CONT’D)

Four ales, if you please!

Gubbin starts pouring.

GUBBIN

Comin’ up. You from out of town?

LUCKY

Hmm? Oh, the cases? Nah, these are our instruments. We’re the band!

Gubbin stops pouring.

GUBBIN

The band…

LUCKY

Yeah, didn’t your guy Stan tell you? We’re playing tonight. We’re called the Retching Rogues.

GUBBIN

You’re musicians.

LUCKY

That’s right!

They retch.

GUBBIN

STAN!

The crowd stops counting; sounds of disappointment. A hush falls.

STAN

(approaching, mouth full)

Yes, Gubbin?

GUBBIN

(beat)

Show these rogues to the back room and help ‘em set up.

STAN

You got it, boss.

MUSIC—CLOSING THEME

ANNOUNCER

The Axe & Crown!

Starring Hugo Jones, Art Carlson and Marisa King.

Written and directed by Eli McIlveen.

Recorded in Toronto at Trench Recordings.

Sound design by Eli McIlveen.

Produced by Sean Howard.

The Axe & Crown is a Forgery League production. To find out more, visit forgeryleague.com.

OUTRO (ELI)

Hi, it’s Eli, writer and co-producer here.

This week, we had some sad news in the little community of indie audio drama. Bill Hollweg, who must have worked on about a million productions for Darker Projects and Broken Sea Audio, has died, and far too soon. He was a real pioneer in online audio drama, and someone with boundless enthusiasm, always a kind word and encouragement for others. I never met the man in person, but I’m really grateful for all he did for us. So here’s to you, Bill. Godspeed.