Scene 6: [Chloe and her mother, Marion, at home.]
Marion: Chloe, do you plan to mope around the house forever?
Chloe: I may. I find that moping makes me happy.
Marion: That’s ridiculous, moping is the exact opposite of happiness. Go find that boy of yours and make up with him. This has been going on far too long.
Chloe: What could he possibly be doing all this time? I’ve given him two weeks to figure it out. What’s wrong with him?
Marion: That boy loves you more than anything; that’s obvious. He just needs a little help.
Chloe: No! I gave him every conceivable hint at the market. In fact, I told him directly to his face what to do! That was two whole weeks ago!
Marion: Why not forgive each other and embrace? That’s what you both want, isn’t it?
Chloe: Why must he be so dense?
Marion: Why not forgive him?
Chloe: It is hard to believe that he really can’t figure it out. Are all men like that, or only mine? Maybe he’s defective, and I should trade him in.
Marion: He’s a good man.
Chloe: He’s off helping those homeless people and not even thinking about me. I know that’s what he’s doing. It’s just like him to go helping someone he doesn’t know. Helping should always start with those you love, and then help others if you have any left over.
Marion: If that doesn’t prove he’s a good man, what would?
Chloe: Fine. But he’s good for all the wrong people. I want him to be good for me. Sometimes he can be very thoughtful. But he’s being very thoughtless right now. Am I a bad person just because I want him for myself?
Marion: Of course not. Let me help you. I’ll just talk to him and give him a little nudge. I can give him a hint or two to set him in the right direction.
Chloe: Absolutely not! I forbid you to give him any hint whatsoever. That would ruin everything!
Marion: But you’re miserable! I can only imagine he’s even worse off than you are.
Chloe: Good! I hope so. That would show him, and maybe he’ll learn something.
Marion: Unless he learns you’re more trouble than your worth!
Chloe: That’s mean. And untrue. Difficulty only proves one’s value. Difficult people are more worthy of fighting for. In fact, if you make yourself too easy, you are just making yourself easier to overlook.
Marion: But if you are too difficult, he may give up trying.
Chloe: Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having unless it means effort, pain and difficulty?” After I heard that, I’ve tried to model myself on it ever since.
Marion: You can be a pain, I do agree about that.
Chloe: We’re talking about Hugh, not me. It is best for his character development that I am difficult and that I require effort on his part.
Marion: Can you tell me what he needs to do? I’m not sure I understand, even after watching you mope around this house for the past two weeks.
Chloe: What is wrong with people?! Why is it so difficult to understand? I want those shoes and that handbag!
Marion: Dear, do you hear yourself?
Chloe: It isn’t just the shoes and handbag, mother. Ugh! It’s the principle of the thing. They’re symbolic, if you will. They represent a certain understanding between us. They demonstrate the give and take of romance. They are merely the material stamps, making the impressions of love. Hugh’s an ignoramus if he doesn’t understand that. But I mean that in a nice way.
Marion: Of course, you mean ignoramus nicely. Who would misconstrue that, dear?!
Marion: And you think Hugh is going to catch on? You imagine he’s going to figure this out on his own? I think that just a little hint would be a good idea.
Chloe: Don’t you dare! I’ll find out if you tell him, mother.
Marion: Okay, okay! Far be it from me to help you find happiness. I won’t meddle in your well-laid plans to prolong your own misery, and Hugh’s.
Chloe: Thank you. [Exits.]
Marion: [Aside.] But there are ways to give clues without giving clues. Maybe I can help him with what it isn’t, then he can better figure out for himself what it is. And if I err a little on the side of helping, is it a crime for a mother to want happiness for her daughter?
[End of scene.]
Scene 7: [City council chambers. Jace, and Four Councilmembers sit at a long table in the front, facing the audience. The Three Peachsellers, Duncan Collins, Matilda Hawkins & Well-Dressed Man, Hugh, Jean Arnaut and others are in the audience.]
Jace: On to the next order of business, we have a report, an update from the agriculture inspector, Duncan Collins, in regards to the matter of the pesticide levels in the apples being sold by the visitors, led by Jean Arnaut. Currently all sales by said group have been suspended pending further information from Duncan and his testing laboratories. Duncan would you please come to the microphone and address the council at this time?
Duncan Collins: Thank you mister mayor. My name is Duncan Collins and I own Collins-Bracknell Agricultural Testing, we’re an independent testing lab, non-affiliated, and impartial in all matters of scientific inquiry, and scientific conclusions.
Jace: Thank you. Could you report on your findings for us?
Duncan Collins: Yes, mister mayor. Unfortunately, at this time we have inconclusive results.
Jace: And why is that? It’s been two weeks since you took samples.
Duncan Collins: Yes, mister mayor but we had a non-terminal, antithetical breach of protocols at the lab, subsequent to the introduction of the primary sample substrates. More specifically it was a decoupling, gravitational misalignment, which has led to a temporal slow-down of the results.
Jace: Oh, well. Hmph. I’m very sorry to hear about that. I hope nobody was hurt.
Councilmember Two: It sounds like somebody accidentally lost hold of the sample and dropped it on the ground. Is that right?
Duncan Collins: If you prefer. You could say it that way.
Jace: Oh, well! That’s not so bad.
Duncan Collins: We managed to save enough of the sample and cleaned it up, so we’re back on track. We should have results in another two weeks.
Jace: Decided! We’ll revisit this matter in two weeks. In the meantime the apple stand shall remain closed.
Jean Arnaut: Mayor, that isn’t fair! We are suffering undo economic hardship. We shouldn’t be penalized for their ineptitude.
Duncan Collins: I beg your pardon?! I’ll have you know that the occurrence of sample contamination is well within the norms, and is becoming increasingly normative with every passing year. Granted, this may be a dirty little secret in the testing industry. But our honesty about it here and now shouldn’t be mocked by the likes of you. On the contrary, we should be commended!
Jace: Agreed! We all admire and respect your labs procedures, and have the utmost trust in the reliability of your results, regardless of a little contamination here and there. These things happen. The apple stand shall remain closed until further notice! On to the next matter of business. We’ll be hearing from Terrence Cobb, a most illustrious guest of our little peach hamlet, and the brilliant Matilda Hawkins, his personal biologist, as they report on their findings, with respect to whose darn peaches match the scrumptious one that Mr Cobb’s wife first purchased here, several weeks ago, in our wonderful little peach mecca.
Matilda Hawkins: Mister mayor and members of the council. It’s my pleasure to report to you today on this most serious of inquiries. As I’m sure you are all aware, the conclusions of our discovery will have significant and long-term repercussions on the finances of one Harmony peach grower in particular, but will also shed honor and prestige upon your entire township. It is no small thing to become the peach supplier to my clients, Mr and Mrs Cobb, and their worldwide chain of restaurants; so we must be absolutely certain that we are purchasing the very best peaches.
[Crowd grows excited. Cheers here and there, and applause.]
Matilda Hawkins: For this reason I regret to inform the council that the results of our testing are inconclusive. We have been unable to find a direct and certain match between the original peach purchased by Mrs Cobb, and any of the peaches available in the market stands.
[Crowd is crestfallen. Groans and sighs are heard.]
Jace: Forget about a direct and certain match. How about one that’s close enough. There must be someone’s peaches that are a closer match than anyone else’s, isn’t there? Lower the bar a bit, we need a winner here!
Matilda Hawkins: I’m sorry, my clients are uncompromising.
Jace: Well, damnit! Something about this seems un-American, doesn’t it?! Damn elitist, that’s what it is.
Jolene McCue: Honey, watch your mouth!
Jace: I’m piping mad! It’s anarchy. I’ve never heard nothing like it. No winner?! We’re all just a bunch of losers?! I won’t have it, not in my town. Harmony doesn’t make losers!
Matilda Hawkins: Actually, the test results are only inconclusive. This isn’t to say there isn’t a match, or that there won’t be a match once the final results are analyzed. There very well could be a direct match; we are continuing to do testing, and working at it from several angles. It will just take a little more time.
Jace: While your lab is taking its sweet time, we’re all suffering here! I think you should expedite the process, Miss Hawkins.
Matilda Hawkins: It is very important that we maintain sample integrity and take every precaution to ensure accurate and precise results. These things take time. I’m sure you understand.
Jace: No, I don’t. Not really. Duncan’s lab needs more time, sure, but that’s only because they dropped their samples on the floor. That makes perfect sense to everyone here. But you’re doing everything ship-shape and spic-n-span, or so you tell us. If that’s the case, I’d expect results and not delays. We need accountability and standards, Miss Hawkins! Otherwise it’s just anarchy!
Matilda Hawkins: You’re right, mister mayor. There are some unexpected results from our tests that I should share with you and the council and everyone here present. These results were not anticipated when we originally tested your peaches, but they are conclusive and of grave importance to all of you. And you will need to consider what measures you should take in order protect your crops and the public safety.
[A hush falls over the council and crowd.]
Councilmember Two: What have you found Miss Hawkins? Please share with us any and all results from your testing.
Matilda Hawkins: The peach samples tested from peach stand one, owned and operated by Jolene and Jace McCue had inordinately high levels of Imidan, Hatchet and Captan, these are insecticides and fungicidal products. At the current levels these peaches are dangerous to eat and we recommend suspending sales from this stand until mitigation and cleaning measures can be enacted.
[Crowd is surprised.]
Jace: That’s impossible! It’s a racket. We can’t close our stand, you’d ruin us.
Matilda Hawkins: Peach stand two, owned and operated by Penelope Lind is entirely organic, there are no pesticides or fungicides of any kind present in samples taken from this fruit stand. However, because of this, there was an infestation of mites found on the fruit, and microscopic colonies of fungus throughout the insides of the fruit. Care should be taken and measures implemented to prevent the spread of these pathogens.
[Crowd is growing louder and concerned.]
Matilda Hawkins: Lastly, peach stand three, owned by Thomas Collins, is completely free of any pathogens or pesticides, and is therefore healthy to eat without any additional measures needed.
[Crowd cheers. Tommy waves victoriously.]
Jace: I think we’ll need to get a second opinion. This is troubling, but I’m sure there’s been some mistake. I move that we seek another lab to do follow-up testing, and in the meantime that we continue business as usual.
Councilmember Two: Hold on a second. This is not something to be taken lightly, Jace. This is about the integrity of our town’s produce, and the health and safety of the general public. We need to take this seriously.
Jace: Well we can’t shut down our stands, that’s out of the question.
Councilmember Four: I propose that we instill mitigation measures, cleaning stations for the fruit with excess pesticides, and personal protective equipment for the handling of the organic produce.
Councilmember Three: That’s a good idea. I would add that we should also use PPEs for the handling of the fruit with pesticides as well.
Councilmember One: I suggest a color coded system. Use one color for handling organic fruit and another color for handling the treated fruit, to keep them from cross-contamination.
Councilmember Two: Excellent suggestion. We will need to implement this system for all sellers and also all buyers. And we’ll need to purchase in bulk the rubber gloves, the city can front the cost but we’ll add a tax on produce sales to cover the costs.
Councilmember Four: Great idea! Let’s get blue gloves for the treated fruit and green ones for the organic.
Councilmember One: I have no issue with those colors. All in favor?
Councilmember One: All opposed?
Jace: I’m not so keen on these ideas myself.
Councilmember Two: It’s these measures, or we need to shut you down Jace.
Jace: Ah, crap! Alright, aye!
Councilmember Four: We’ll distribute gloves to the vendors for use at the stands and then we’ll also need to hire some additional workers who can roam the market distributing gloves of the appropriate color for customers use. Nobody can buy or sell unless they are wearing the correct color gloves!
Councilmember Three: That’s brilliant! I’m all for it. Good brainstorming, everyone.
Councilmember Two: Let’s get to work. I want to see these measures in place by the end of the day!
[Councilmembers nod in agreement. Crowd cheers.]
Matilda Hawkins: There was one more result I wanted to share with the council. The apple sample given to me by that young man over there, [She points to Hugh.] that sample came back completely clean. There were no pesticides of any kind found on that fruit. The apples are perfectly fine to eat.
Tommy Collins: I object! That’s bad science!
Duncan Collins: Her testing methods are suspect. Reasonable people can’t trust her results!
Councilmember Two: She said your fruit was completely clean too, Tommy. You think she might be wrong about that? Should we re-test your peaches?
Tommy Collins: Uh, well…
[End of scene.]