Scene 4: [City council chambers. Jace, the mayor, and Four Other Councilmembers sit at a long table in the front, facing the audience. The Three Peachsellers and others are in the audience.]
Jace: Clearly we have a dilemma, and frankly I just don’t see a good solution to it. Those visitors have all the proper paperwork they need to legally sell their damn apples in Harmony. We need a miracle!
Councilmember One: Does anyone know where they came from? Why are they even here?
Councilmember Two: They have a right to be here, just like anyone else.
Jace: Rights! Is it just me or is there just too many rights around here? It’s practically anarchy! Rights, rights, rights. It’s enough to drive one mad, all these rights everywhere. It’s damn inefficient!
Councilmember Three: Mayor, I think it’s time now to open up for public comment. Will everyone who wants to comment please line up and approach the microphone one at a time. State your name and then you’ll have up to two minutes to say what you like. Please be respectful and don’t talk over one another. And please speak directly into the microphone but not too loudly, and try to enunciate clearly. Also, avoid saying your ‘p’s and ‘t’s right into the microphone, as that can be really annoying; especially the ‘p’s really can be grating, am I right?
Councilmembers: Yes. So true. Uggh. Agony.
Councilmember Three: I know, it’s like having someone reach inside your ears and start tapping your eardrums. P, p, p!
Jace: Alright! Enough! Let’s hear from the public now.
Peachseller Two: Umm, my, my name is Pene, Penelope. Sorry, I’ll say it softer. Penelope Lind. Umm, I just wanted to say that I ate one of their apples earlier, and I wish I hadn’t. I got a terrible tummy ache, it’s been just dreadful. And, well, I think there is something off with the apples they are selling. And I think in the interest of public safety, especially for the children, I think it is incumbent upon the council to protect the people of Harmony, and shut down that apple stand!
Jace: Noted! Did you get that down? [Looks toward councilperson taking notes.] That’s very important. Thank you Penelope for sharing that with us. I’m very sorry and I hope that you feel better soon. Let’s hear from the next speaker.
Peachseller One: Hello dear.
Jace: Strike that from the record. Please people, when you address the council, use formal names. We’re trying to run a city here, please!
Peachseller One: Fine. My name is Jolene McCue, I’m the mayor’s wife. Coincidentally, I also had a strange reaction after eating an apple from the visitor’s new apple stand earlier today. I felt terribly nauseous and thought for certain I was going to pass out. I think we are risking something much worse if we allow them to keep selling those apples to unwary patrons. Not to mention the threat to our town’s reputation. I don’t think that is anything any of us want to risk.
Jace: Excellent points! And I do hope you feel better right quickly Mrs McCue.
Peachseller Two: Thank you Mister McCue, I am feeling quite well now I think.
Peachseller Three: Testing, testing! Umm. My name is Tommy Collins, I sell peaches here in Harmony.
Jace: Yes, we know who you are Tommy. It’s a small town. Get on with it.
Peachseller Three: Right. Well, the funny thing is I also haven’t been feeling right since I ate an apple earlier today. But the fortunate thing is my cousin here, he’s right here behind me. Well, he’s, he works in agriculture testing, and he’s a scientist type you know. And he thinks those apples may have a lot of pesticides on them. Like too much, and that’s what is causing everyone to get sick, isn’t that right Duncan?
Duncan Collins: [Leaning forward to speak into microphone.] Yes, that is correct.
Jace: Oh my!
Councilmember One: That’s terrible.
Peachseller Three: So you can see, it’s a real matter of public health.
Councilmember Three: I had no idea. How scary!
Jace: That settles it, I move that we shut that apple stand down, until further notice!
Councilmember One: I second the motion!
Jace: All in favor?
Councilmember Two: No!
Jace: Well, I’m sure you have your reasons. Can’t imagine what they’d be though. Anyway, the motion passes. Let’s get this thing written up and get on over there, and shut them down! Excuse me, Tommy. You’re cousin there, Dunbar is it?
Duncan Collins: Duncan, mister mayor.
Jace: Yes. Ha! Duncan, could you help us draft up a little notice to desist, or some such thing? Put in some sciency jargon like you people use and such, something about pesticide levels, that sort of thing? I think that will really help out. Come over here and take a seat! [Duncan joins the other councilmembers at the table. Jace gestures to Councilmember Three.] There we are, let’s bring him a glass of water. And put some peach slices in that, would ya?! We’ve got some work to do!
[End of Scene.]
Scene 5: [Town square, market. Customers are purchasing from Peachsellers and Jean Arnaut’s group, and are milling about. The mayor and councilmembers enter.]
Jace: Folks, folks! We’ve got some big news here. [Waving paperwork in the air.] It appears these apples are tainted. Several people who have eaten them have recently fallen ill. Yes, that’s right. Sickened!
Jean Arnaut: Impossible!
Jace: It just makes me sick too. Nobody should get sick from fruit bought in Harmony. I take it personally, though I’m not responsible for it in any way, note that. Still, my heart bleeds for the innocent victims. And we need to put a stop to it! Read this! [He hands the paperwork to Jean Arnaut.]
Jean Arnaut: Pesticides! That’s impossible. No, all of our fruit is completely organic. There are absolutely no pesticides on any of our apples! This is a mistake. [He hands the paperwork back to the mayor.]
Jace: ‘Fraid not, my friend. That’s official correspondence there. You keep it and mull it over for a bit. Says you folks are selling fruit, high in pesticides, and you are hereby ordered to cease and desist.
Jean Arnaut: There’s no proof. I don’t believe it.
Duncan Collins: We’re getting proof. We are taking samples and sending them off to the lab. [Councilmembers gather up apples and place in Ziploc bags.] It should take a couple weeks to get results, but in the meantime you are not allowed to sell any of your produce, by order of the EPA, FDA, CDC, and the city of Harmony.
Jean Arnaut: I protest! I appeal. How do we appeal? Is there no due process?
Jace: In matters of health and human safety due process always takes a back seat, dear man. Lives are at stake here. Don’t you understand that? If you want a-peel, cut up one of your apples! Ha, ha! Just a little pun. Folks! It is important to keep things light in times like these. We don’t mean anyone any harm here, we just want everyone to be safe and healthy!
Hugh: This isn’t fair! I myself have eaten many of their apples. Nearly a dozen of them. [Aside to Jean Arnaut.] My dear Chloe did not accept our gift. But more about that later. [To the crowd.] I tell you all, after eating a dozen of these apples I am no worse than before I ate them. In fact, I think I’m much the better for having eaten them! I feel as strong as an ox.
Jace: Son, you’re young! That’s no big surprise. But trust me, if you really ate a dozen apples earlier today, then you’ve got some surprises coming soon! I wouldn’t stray too far from a restroom, if you catch my drift. Ha!
Jean Arnaut: Listen to Hugh. Our apples are fine, there is nothing wrong with them.
Jace: Just tell that to the three folks who got sick eating them. Now let’s move on, take your apples and go back to wherever it is you all are staying.
Jean Arnaut: I want to talk to the people who got sick from our apples. Who are they?! Let me talk with them.
Jace: That is a private matter. We can’t go sharing information like that at the drop of a hat, my friend. That would be anarchy. Sick people have a right to privacy.
Jean Arnaut: Healthy people have a right to justice!
Jace: Justice is determined by those who make the laws, friend. You should remember that! Now don’t go testing the graces and the patience of the powers that be; ’cause that be unwise. Just go now, and make it easy on yourselves, and on all the rest of us.
Jean Arnaut: This is not over! Our apples are organic and perfectly healthy. We’ll be back!
[The Visitors collect the apples and their things and exit. The Well-Dressed Man enters with Matilda Hawkins.]
Well-Dressed Man: I’d like to collect a sample from each stand, and then compare those results to the original peach that my wife purchased earlier. Hopefully we can determine which stand that peach came from, and then I can then contract with them in confidence for our future purchases.
Matilda Hawkins: Don’t worry, my lab will definitely be able to get to the bottom of this for you. Let’s begin here, and then we’ll visit those other two stands across the way. Can we get one peach, please.
Peachseller Three: With pleasure. Only one? There are two of you. Take more.
Matilda Hawkins: One will be fine, thank you. It’s for testing, we won’t be eating it.
Peachseller Three: Testing?! Am I under suspicion?
Well-Dressed Man: Only suspicion of excellent produce! Take it easy. I just want to determine without a shadow of doubt which of you sold my wife that peach the other day. We want to make one of you here, a very wealthy person. But they’ve got to be the right peaches. Trust me, if you knew my wife; they’ve got to be right!
Peachseller Three: Absolutely! Here, take another one just to be safe. Test away!
[Well-Dressed Man and Matilda cross to the other peach stands. Peachseller Three motions to Duncan to join him, Duncan walks to his stand.]
Peachseller Three: That woman over there is a scientist like you. She’s testing our peaches.
Duncan Collins: Let her test away! It shouldn’t be a problem. Just keep her away from the apples.
Peachseller Three: Are you certain your lab will find the pesticides? We don’t want those gypsies back again.
Duncan Collins: Keep cool, stay calm. Our labs will find exactly what they need to find. We have all the protocols in place. It’s legit, it’s believable, and it’s scientific.
Peachseller Three: Not everything scientific is believable. I’d like better assurances.
Duncan Collins: Why worry? Look how smoothly shutting them down was; keeping them shuttered will be even easier. Trust me.
Peachseller Three: You’re right, of course. To be honest, it almost seemed too easy. But it does get me to thinking.
Duncan Collins: About?
Peachseller Three: What if something similar were to befall our friends over there? Just imagine, what if Jolene’s pesticide levels were also a little too high? Or if Penelope’s peaches somehow came down with a fungus? I’m just saying, that would be a shame, if they had to close shop for a while. Maybe mister big-shot over there, with the lady scientist, might have no other choice but to buy our peaches; and sign that big fat contract with us.
Duncan Collins: Yes, that would be a shame for them. I see where you’re going with this.
Peachseller Three: Is it possible?
Duncan Collins: Anything’s possible. I think it’s extremely likely.
Peachseller Three: Highly probable?
Duncan Collins: A sure thing. A statistical certainty!
[Hugh approaches Matilda and the Well-Dressed Man.]
Hugh: Excuse me! Could you also test one of these apples?! Something’s fishy. I’m sure there aren’t any pesticides on these!
Peachseller Three: Hey! Stop that kid.
[End of Scene.]