Keeper of the Castle: A Play in One Act


E: Writer. American. Early 30s. Breathtakingly gorgeous.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Pensioner. Early 60s. Italian. Haunts the bar where E goes to write. Scatters outrageous, unsolicited advice like so much birdseed.

MARCO: Policeman. Italian. Mid-40s. MARCO was once one of E’s interview subjects for an article she was planning to write.

FRANCESCO: MARCO’s friend. Italian. Also mid-40s.

DOMENICO: The owner of Bar Girasole. Italian. Mid-40s.

MASSIMO: Barrista. Italian. Early 20s. Jacked, handsome, painfully shy.

GENOEFFA and CINZIA: Local girls. Italian. Early 20s. In heat.


Bar Girasole, where E goes to write and OLD MAN AMBROGIO apparently spends every hour of his retirement. Modern day. Terracina, Italy. E is sitting at her usual table, working on Chapter 28 of her novel and drinking a strawberry-flavored hot chocolate. OLD MAN AMBROGIO enters the bar.


E: Ciao, Ambrogio.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: E, where’s Adam?

E: Excuse me?

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Adam, you know. Your Adam. Your original man.

E: I don’t know where he is.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Are you serious? Are you fucking with me? A woman like you hasn’t found her Adam? Are all the men in this town gay?!

E: I don’t know.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: If I were 30 years younger, I’d show you how the snake eats the apple.

DOMENICO: Ambrogio! Leave E alone! Can’t you see she’s working?

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Aoooo, pipe down! E likes it when I come visit her!

[Enter GENOEFFA and CINZIA. GENOEFFA is tall and blonde. CINZIE is small and dark. They sit at their usual table, too – directly facing the bar.]

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Aoooooo! Massimo! Here come the two girls who are always staring at you.

[GENOEFFA and CINZIA are apparently unperturbed but behind the bar, MASSIMO is bright red. He nearly drops a champagne glass.]

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Aooooo! Girls! Have you told him you love him yet?

[GENOEFFA and CINZIA leave the bar. MASSIMO angrily wipes down cappuccino cups.]

DOMENICO: Ambrogio! Stop embarrassing my staff and my customers!

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: What? Love is meant to be out in the open! They’ll all thank me some day.


OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Ciao, Marco and Francesco.

FRANCESCO: Ciao, Ambrogio.

MARCO: Ciao, Ambrogio.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: What do you two dumbasses have to say for yourselves?

[MARCO and FRANCESCO sit down at the table next to E.]

MARCO: Well, I’m just sitting down right here, next to my girlfriend.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Girlfriend! Hah! Go on, give us another one! E is working, can’t you see?

MARCO: I was just going to ask her if she was busy tonight and if she wanted to accompany me for a stroll.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: You must be joking me!

MARCO: … I’m not.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Well, she doesn’t want to.

MARCO: How do you know she doesn’t want to?

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: She’s not for you.

MARCO: How do you know?

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Because you’re a bum! You’re always depressed, you never change! You’re uncouth! This girl do you know why I talk to her all the time? Because she’s intelligent. Because she’s refined. Because the face she shows is different to what’s inside of her. If she were just as she seemed, I wouldn’t waste my time with her. But she’s not.

MARCO: Well, let her decide.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Oh, just stop! You – you’re just a slob! She needs someone refined, someone intelligent, someone to discuss the Etruscans with. You boor, what would you even talk to her about?

MARCO: I don’t know. The mountains, the sea.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: What the fuck does she care about the mountains and the sea?!

MARCO: I don’t know. She’s artistic. Maybe she cares.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: You and your stupid nighttime stroll – what kind of an amateur are you? She’s a woman of class. How about taking her to dinner?

MARCO: I could do that, too.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Oh, yeah? And how would you pick her up?

MARCO: In a Rolls Royce.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Hah! You mean a beat-up Fiat Punto. Why don’t you just leave her alone?

MARCO: Why are you talking for her? She’s a grown woman.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Not as grown as you! Why don’t you call your younger brother or something? Go to the gym. Get rid of the gut. You’re too old and out of shape for E. She’s not for you.

MARCO: Why don’t we let her decide?

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Has she said a word? No! Because she agrees with everything I’m saying! E, am I wrong?

E: Well, I wouldn’t put it quite in those words….

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: She agrees with me. She’s just being polite. See how refined and genteel she is? Get out of here. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

[MARCO stands to leave and puts his money down on the table.]

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: No, your coffee is on me tonight. Consider it free advice.

MARCO: I’ll come back and ask her when you’re not around.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Go ahead and try it! She’ll just tell you the exact same thing!


OLD MAN AMBROGIO: That dumbass.

E: So if not Marco, who?


E: If you know what kind of man I need.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Well, you need someone intelligent, like you. Someone refined, like you. Genteel. Someone you can talk to for hours.

E: Of the men you know, the men my age, do you know anyone like that? Someone who would be good for me?

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: I know everything. I know every decent man in this town. I know who’s right for you. I know –

[OLD MAN AMBROGIO’s cell phone rings.]

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Excuse me. I have to get this.

[Exeunt OLD MAN AMBROGIO. E types at Chapter 28 of her novel. The whirr of the espresso machine. The clinking of metal spoons.]


OLD MAN AMBROGIO: This world is full of assholes. Everyone wants to use you. No one cares about anyone but themselves. Do you understand me, E? The world is fucked and we’re all fucked with it. Massimo, give me another espresso. Did you set up a date to sleep with the girls or what?

MASSIMO: You didn’t have to talk to them. I can talk to them myself.

OLD MAN AMBROGIO: Hah! Maybe when you finally get some hair on your dick! Now what was I saying to you, E?

E: Nothing.


Translation to English by E.


11 Comments Add yours

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      That’s one way to put it….

      I kid, I kid. I’m actually becoming very fond of Old Man Ambrogio. I worry if he’s not at the caffe one day, because I’m afraid he’s pissed someone off and sleeping with the fishes.

  1. Katja says:

    I love this. That is all.

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      Me, too, Katja. 🙂 I love my “office”!

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      You can count on it!

  2. chuckyd4 says:

    This is amazing. I would read this for hours.

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      Thanks, Chucky!!! I live this for hours…. every day from 5-8. Who knows what those folks have in store for me today…?

  3. Lauren says:

    Haha! This is fantastic.

  4. Kao says:

    You’re right I didn’t read it *ashamed* but now I did! I DID and I liked it and am amused and now still have two hours left of work to do~ But yay 😀 ♥

  5. Iason says:

    Beautiful! Love it.

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