Caffe Cino Pictures

The Trip – by Eric Krebs

Posted in Uncategorized by Robert on January 1, 1953

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Eric Krebs was one of the last playwrights to produce at the Cino.
This play is about his experience as the Cino’s last doorman.



c 2009 by Eric Krebs, (Contact him HERE.)
Illustration by Harvey Dodd (His gallery site HERE).

(The play takes place in DiMasi’s late night coffee house.

(There are two characters, the MAITRE D of DiMasi’s, and MARIO, a man of twenty-four who is reasonably likable.

(It is night in October. The Maitre D stands near the door. The shop is empty, not yet open for the evening.

(The young man, Mario, enters from the street.)

MAITRE D: Hi. We’ll be open in about half an hour.

MARIO: Hi. Is Pete here?


MARIO: Pete DiMasi.

MAITRE D: Pete’s dead. He committed suicide.

(The man is puzzled.)

MARIO: Pete?


MARIO: The fellow who owns this place?

MAITRE D: He did own it. He died. He’s dead now.

MARIO: Pete’s dead? Dead?

MARIO: When…?

MAITRE D: A year almost.


MAITRE D: I’m sorry to tell you that.

MARIO: I don’t believe it.

MAITRE D: It’s so.

MARIO: I just can’t…The way that you tell me.

MAITRE D: That he’s dead?

MARIO: I just got out of a cab expecting to see him. BOOM! You say he’s dead.

MAITRE D: I’m sorry the way I told you. It was blunt, but it’s true. He is dead.

MARIO: Pete.

MAITRE D: Just couldn’t stand the pressure, I guess.

MARIO: He was one of the most solidified guys I knew. I thought he was.

MAITRE D: He wasn’t.

MARIO: He’s dead. What happened to him? How…?

MAITRE D: I’m afraid I don’t know. You see, I haven’t been working here long.

MARIO: Dead.

MAITRE D: Yes. (Pause.) Well, he’s dead. What can I say?

MARIO: I can’t go for that.

MAITRE D: It’s hard to accept, but he’s… You know. (Pause.) You from out of town?

MARIO: Jersey, Trenton.

MAITRE D: Friend of Pete’s?

MARIO: Pete’s dead… Yes, a friend. That’s like saying I’m dead. I can’t ever think of that.

MAITRE D: Pete is dead. I’m sorry.

MARIO: You really blew my brains out with that one.

MAITRE D: How long have you been away?

MARIO: A year I guess.

MAITRE D: And you didn’t know. I’m sorry I told you the way I did.

MARIO: Pete’s dead. He killed himself…?

MAITRE D: Yes. I don’t know much about it. (Pause.)

MARIO: What about Harry?

MAITRE D: Harry?

MARIO: The waiter Harry.

MAITRE D: I don’t think I know him either.

MARIO: He was around all the time. A small guy with a messed up leg.

MAITRE D: Sorry. I’m new here.

MARIO: I’ve really gone over this time.

MAITRE D: Excuse me?

MARIO: I can’t fit it all in. You leave for a little while and when you come back all your contacts are gone. Nobody in this place knows me. Pete’s not here, and Harry’s gone. I might as well not have lived here. No one here to remember me.

MAITRE D: I’m sorry.

MARIO: But I did live here, and now I might as well not have.

MARIO: What do you mean ‘Yes.’ ‘Yes’ and ‘I’m sorry.’ I spent a lot of time here. It seemed important then.

MAITRE D: Perhaps it was, then.

MARIO: It was real.

MAITRE D: I’m afraid I wouldn’t know. I’m new here… (Pause.)

MARIO: Pete’s dead. Not here any more.

MAITRE D: Yes. But if you don’t want to believe me, I can tell you he’s on a trip.


MAITRE D: Yes…To the islands…the Aleutian islands, off of Alaska.

MARIO: On a long trip.

MAITRE D: Alaska.

MARIO: But that’s hard too. Pete wasn’t the tripping kind.

MAITRE D: But he has gone on a trip.

MARIO: That is better. Can I believe it?

MAITRE D: If you like. Alaska for a while. (Pause.) Excuse me.

(Now as at other times during the play, the Maitre D attends to some function of the coffee house. This time it is ashtrays. He places several out on the tables. There is silence. The man traces his finger along the mortar lines between the bricks of the wall. The Maitre D returns to the man.)

MARIO: Hey, let’s start all over again. Hi, I’m Mario.

MAITRE D: How do you do.

MARIO: Mario Tanicola.

MAITRE D: Tanicola?

MARIO: Yea. Does the name sound familiar?

MAITRE D: No. You’re from Jersey.

MARIO: I used to live here, but I’m from Trenton now.
MAITRE D: How long did you live here?

MARIO: A year and a half about. Hey, how’s Pete?


MARIO: Pete DiMasi.

MAITRE D: Oh, he’s on a trip to Alaska.

MARIO: Alaska?

MAITRE D: The Aleutian Islands. He’s doing some work up there.

MARIO: He’s dead.

MAITRE D: No, he’s in Alaska.

MARIO: You told me he was dead.

MAITRE D: I just told you he’s in Alaska. We just met… (Pause.)

MARIO: You know I’m going to the coast soon.

MAITRE D: California?

MARIO: Yes. on my bike.

MAITRE D: What do you have?

MARIO: I just bought a Harley.

MAITRE D: A Harley.

MARIO: The chopper.

MAITRE D: Sounds nice.

MARIO: It is, very nice. You know, when I was seventeen I bought a new Triumph. I spun out, and it threw me twenty-seven feet. I collected on that and bought an Olds which I traded for an Impala. Now I’m twenty-four. I just bought another new cycle. Same place I was seven years ago. I might just as well not have had the cars.

MAITRE D: What do you do?

MARIO: What do you mean?

MAITRE D: To support yourself. To amuse yourself.

MARIO: I’m a machinist. And I fight. I’ve got metal fragments in my fingers but I fight anyway. (The fingers are rough, callused, and dirty.)

MAITRE D: A machinist.

MARIO: Pete’s dead.

MAITRE D: Metal fragments.

MARIO: Dead.

MAITRE D: He’s on a trip.

MARIO: He’s dead.

MAITRE D: Alaska.

MARIO: Dead.


MARIO: Like I’m dead.

MAITRE D: Are you…? (Long pause.)

(The Maitre D folds programs. The man watches.)

MAITRE D: You were pretty good friends?

MARIO: I didn’t know him all that well. But I’d come and he’d give me a little skin, you know.

MAITRE D: You weren’t very good friends.

MARIO: Well, I’d just come in and we would joke around. Nothing real deep. But I would have fought for him. I won’t fight for everyone, but I would for Pete. And he liked that too. He liked to know that someone would fight for him.

MAITRE D: How long did you know him?

MARIO: Oh all of my life when I lived in the city. I’ve been thinking of moving back here.

MAITRE D: I thought you were going out to the coast.

MARIO: Maybe I’ll live here until I pay my bike off. (Pause.) I mean we weren’t great friends or anything, but I would fight for him.

MAITRE D: He’s in Alaska now.

MARIO: Yea, he’s…on that trip. You don’t know Harry?

MAITRE D: The waiter Harry?

MARIO: Yea. That’s him.

MAITRE D: No, I’m new here. I just started working.

MARIO: Harry was a good friend of Pete’s, and Pete really liked him too. I wonder where Harry went.

MAITRE D: I think everyone here is new.

MARIO: I wonder if Harry’s still around somewhere. (Pause.) Eng-Ger-Gy.



MAITRE D: I’m afraid I don’t understand you.

MARIO: I screwed the word up as a god-damned joke. I meant energy.

MARIO: Don’t think I’m high or anything. I said the word wrong on purpose.

MAITRE D: I see.
MARIO: Don’t you want to know why I said it?


MARIO: I was thinking of Nausha.

MAITRE D: Nausha?

MARIO: Yea. Nausha. You know Nausha?

MAITRE D: Never heard of him.

MARIO: Nausha. Her.


MARIO: Want to hear about her?

MARIO: When I hung around here, one night this weird girl walked in. She was dressed in red pajamas. They looked like pajamas. We got to know each other right off. She really figured my mind. Sharp girl. Taked with a kind of an accent too. A funny one. The minute she saw Harry, she turned my way and said something like, “The fella not got all his parts. I want fic him sure.” She said ‘fic’ because of her accent.

MAITRE D: And did Harry get fixed?

MARIO: I really don’t know. I think he did. But we got along real well, and right after that she moved in, and we shacked up for three months. You know, Pete knew her too. Anyway, when I finally walked out of that place, I was drained of energy. Just drained. I went back to Trenton… who would a thought I’d never see Pete again?

MAITRE D: Thought you were talking of Nausha.

MARIO: I was, but I was thinking of Pete.

MAITRE D: Pete seems to have meant a lot to you.

MARIO: He did… he meant a lot. (Pause.) What’s he doing up there?

MAITRE D: In Alaska?

MARIO: Yes… do you know what he’s doing?

MAITRE D: I think he’s working for the government.

MARIO: Pete! Working for the Government? That ‘s very funny.

MAITRE D: Why do you say that?
MARIO: Well, like Pete didn’t say much against anybody, but he did all the time against the government. Everyone sort of knew how Pete felt about the government.

MAITRE D: It was strange how it happened, but I guess they got the word that Pete knew a lot of things about a lot of people. They came to him.

MARIO: No. They came to Pete?

MAITRE D: Said they needed someone to open a place in Alaska like this one. They said that they knew Pete could do it.

MARIO: The government came to Pete. I’ll bet he got a real kick out of that. Why’d they want a place like this, anyway? (The idea grows.)

MAITRE D: It had something to do with Eskimos.

MARIO: Eskimos! That’s great.

MAITRE D: Since we made Alaska a state, I guess the government waned to give them a chance to be just like us, and they figured that Pete was the one who could do it best.

MARIO: Hey, the whole thing doesn’t make much sense.

MAITRE D: It does sound kind of crazy. But these Eskimos work all say in their kayaks and herding their reindeer around, and by the night they’re all pretty tired. So a lot of them go into Pete’s place, and he gives them a little skin, I guess, and lets them see a little bit of what it’s like down here.

MARIO: What’s the place like up there?

MAITRE D: I haven’t seen it, but Peter writes all the time. It’s made of ice. Like one big huge igloo. As a matter of fact, they’re working on a new igloo that will cover the whole town like a big dome, so no one will ever have to go outside.

MARIO: That’s a hell of an igloo.

MAITRE D: Yes, but they have a lot of ice up there. Most everything is ice.

MARIO: Well, they got Pete up there, and he’ll melt some of it. He was one of the warmest guys….

MAITRE D: One of the warmest guys I knew….

MARIO: Pete….(The idea of the trip to Alaska crashes between the two men, unable to sustain its own weight. The Maitre D busies himself folding programs again. The man wanders through the coffeehouse, touching the walls, the tables, the chairs.)

MARIO: (From the other end of the coffee-house). You know I can do extended push-ups

MAITRE D: I didn’t know.

MARIO: Well I can.

MAITRE D: What may I ask is an extended push-up?

MARIO: A pushup with your arms way out in front of you?

MAITRE D: I see.

MARIO: I can do it because I use hyperventilation.

MAITRE D: You use….

MARIO: Hyper-ventilation.

MAITRE D: What is hyper-ventilation.

MARIO: It’s a kind of breathing. They use it in karate. Want to see what it is?

MARIO: Well, the main thing is that you take in as much air as you can in a very short time. The best thing to do is open your mouth as wide as you can, and take very deep breaths, like you want to breathe the whole world in. The problem is to get the air into your lungs. It’s easy to fool yourself, and take the air into your stomach, but that doesn’t give you extra air in your blood. You know what I mean?

MAITRE D: I think so.

MARIO: If you do it right you get dizzy, but it gives you a lot of extra power. You breathe like that long enough and you get almost twice the strength in your muscles. You do it right, and it’s almost like getting high.

MAITRE D: And breathing like that, you can do extended push-ups?

MARIO: Yes. Using hyper-ventilation.

MAITRE D: What do you gain by it?
MARIO: What do you mean?

MAITRE D: What do you gain by doing extended push-ups?

MARIO: I’m special. See, only one out of about a hundred people can breathe that way and get the right effect. It’s very hard.

MAITRE D: You still didn’t answer my question.

MARIO: What’s that?

MAITRE D: What does it get you? What do you gain by it?

MARIO: It helps me keep in shape. Not many people can do it….Did you know Pete?

MAITRE D: You’ve got Pete on the mind, don’t you?

MARIO: I didn’t know that he….Did you know him?

MAITRE D: Not really.

MARIO: He wasn’t a friend of yours?

MAITRE D: I never met him personally.

MARIO: You never even met him?

MAITRE D: I told you, I’m new here. I’d been in a few times, and I knew who he was, but I never talked to him.

MARIO: I thought everyone talked to Pete. I thought everyone knew him….BOOM! Pete’s dead. I got out of a taxi right down there, not knowing….

MAITRE D: You know, someone wrote in the john in big letters, “PETE DIMASI LIVES.”


MAITRE D: And he does in a way, in this place from what I’ve seen.

MARIO: Hey, you haven’t been putting me on have you? Pete isn’t really here?

MAITRE D: Pete’s in Alaska. Remember?

MARIO: Will you stop saying that? We made that up.

MAITRE D: Sure if you like.

MARIO: But Pete does still exist. Even if only in a john. I’d fight for that chance.

MAITRE D: But you have fragments of metal in your fingers.

MARIO: I’d fight anyway.

MAITRE D: What for?

MARIO: To exist. Even like Pete does. Even in a john. I don’t exist around here anymore. I lived here too.

MAITRE D: You really felt at home in this place, didn’t you?

MARIO: I was part of this scene for a long time, but does anyone bother to write in the john ‘Mario Tanicola Lives?’ Does anyone bother?

MAITRE D: Your dreams are very small.

MARIO: Dreams. You get out of a cab and expect something. They haven’t seen you in a while. And what happens? There’s no one here. They don’t know who you are. You just aren’t any more…

MAITRE D: Yea. That’s rough. I’m sorry it worked out that way.

MARIO: Hey, you know you’re a very funny guy.

MAITRE D: (On his guard.) Funny?

MARIO: Yea. You talk funny. And you want to know why I said that?

MAITRE D: Sure. (Cautiously.) Why?

MARIO: Well, we’ve been talking for a long time, and you know all about me. But you haven’t said a thing about you. I don’t know a thing.

MAITRE D: There isn’t much to know.

MARIO: But I don’t know anything. When Pete was here, we all knew everyone. I mean knew them. It’s not like that now.

MAITRE D: What would you like to know?
MARIO: Well, like where do you stay?

MAITRE D: Twenty-first street, near eighth avenue.

MARIO: And who do you stay with?

MAITRE D: Just me. No one else.

MARIO: Alone?


MARIO: Nice place?

MAITRE D: It’s all right for me. Nothing special.

MARIO: And what do the people across the hall think when you shack up for a while?

MAITRE D: I don’t know. I never have. I’ve had women here, but never to live.

MARIO: You never shacked up with no one?


MARIO: But why not?

MAITRE D: Don’t get the wrong idea. I like to live alone.

MARIO: When Pete was here, no one ever lived alone. Like who can you talk to when you live alone? Travel alone….That’s alright, but I always had to live with somebody. You’ve got to. Pete, Harry, we all knew that.

MAITRE D: Now you know about me, huh?

MARIO: That’s what I mean. I asked you all those questions, and I still don’t know a thing about you. That’s why you’re funny.

MAITRE D: You think I’m funny.

MARIO: Well you don’t give out man, like people here used to.

MAITRE D: I’m sorry.
MARIO: Who runs the place now?

MAITRE D: There’s a new owner.

MARIO: They do things the same?

MAITRE D: I think they’re exactly the same as when Pete was alive.

MARIO: He does live then doesn’t he.

MAITRE D: In a way.

MARIO: (Writing in air.) PETE DIMASI LIVES.

MAITRE D: Don’t misunderstand me. Pete is dead. He killed himself.

MARIO: Pete…

MAITRE D: Pete isn’t here.

MARIO: Pete.

MAITRE D: He’s dead.

MARIO: That trip didn’t work. I still feel just as bad.

MAITRE D: He really is dead.

MARIO: He was all that I was. Now he’s gone, and I have bought a new motorcycle. It’s funny how things work out.

MAITRE D: It is.

MARIO: I should really move back here, into the city again. (The light has been growing in harsh white intensity. It steadily increases until the end of the play.)


MARIO: Establish myself.


MARIO: This place could really be something again.

MAITRE D: Maybe it could.

MARIO: Hey, I’ll see you again, when I move back, yes? O.K. Sure. (Mario is near the door. He looks at the Maitre D for a moment. Then he turns to leave. He stops for a moment at the door, lightly punches the wall, and disappears.)

MAITRE D: Sure, I’ll see you again. (The Maitre D is left alone in the harsh white light.)


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