Scene 3: [Town council meeting: The Mayor and other Councilmembers sit at the front. Peachsellers, Duncan Collins, Terrence Cobb, Matilda Hawkins, Jean Arnaut, and Three Health Workers sit in the audience.]
Jace: Before continuing with the next order of business I would just like to take a brief moment to congratulate all of you, the people of Harmony, for really coming together these past several weeks. I know it hasn’t always been easy, but your community spirit has been an inspiration. Look at what we’ve accomplished together, we successfully drove out the apple sellers and kept the integrity of our peach festival intact! That alone merits some applause, but beyond that, together we’ve also been tackling the health issues affecting our peaches. These protocols haven’t been easy on any of us but they’ve been worth it! Granted, they haven’t had any effect on the actual spread of peach fungus in any tangible way, and many of us aren’t completely sure why we’re doing it all, but more important than that, it has broken down the divisions between us. We are working in unity now against a common enemy, and it has made us all better people. We wear our rubber gloves, our goggles and our nose plugs proudly, and by these things we all know that we are citizens of Harmony! There may be a small cost to pay for these measures, in money and in comfort, but what we are gaining is priceless!
[Several cheers, and applause.]
Jolene McCue: Dear, I’d like to add something if I may?
Councilmember Three: Yes, please approach the microphone and state your name.
Jolene McCue: My name is Jolene McCue, I’m the mayor’s wife. I agree with what the mayor has said however, I don’t think we’ve gone far enough. I’m encouraged, very encouraged, by the way that everyone has really gotten behind these protocols, such as wearing goggles and nose plugs while eating peaches, and I’m very appreciative of all the Health Workers who have descended upon our little town to help us all out. But I feel as though, for many of us, there is still a bit of a disconnect, it’s as though our hearts aren’t really in it. I’d like to see more genuine spirit in our efforts. Voluntarily. I’m wondering if we could implement a few more measures to help us all make the extra effort, and inspire us to greater conformity, no, I mean more uniformity of purpose!
[Several people clap.]
Councilmember One: This is really great to hear. Thank you Jolene. I for one would find this sort of thing very inspirational!
Councilmember Four: What if we had pins made that said, “I’m proud to wear the gloves.” Or something like that?
Councilmember Three: That’s good. And bumperstickers that say, “I support swim-gear while eating!” We could make shirts too!
Jolene McCue: Exactly! Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. If I saw people wearing pins like that, and cars with bumperstickers, or shirts that said that, I’d feel so much more supported in my own efforts. I think it could really help.
Councilmember Three: I’m all in! All in favor of making and distributing these inspiring pins, shirts and bumperstickers, say Aye!
Jace and other Councilmembers: Aye!
Councilmember Three: All opposed?
Councilmember Two: No!
Jace: Always a naysaying Nellie, aren’t you?! Approved! Let’s get those made and distributed right away. Good thinking everyone!
Jace: Okay, the next item on the agenda is hearing from Matilda Hawkins with any updates on the source of that peach. I know we’re all dying to hear the results of her testing!
Health Worker #1: Mister Mayor, I apologize for interrupting but we have something important to say, and I think now would be a good time for us to do that. Before you move on to Miss Hawkins.
Jace: Oh, well. That’s a little unusual, but I don’t see any harm in that. Okay, please proceed.
[All three Health Workers come forward to the microphone.]
Health Worker #3: We agree that everyone has been doing a really good job wearing their gloves and everything. But as your health care overseers we are going to need to implement a further measure to help ensure the public safety. We had a very scary event happen just the other day, in which a customer slipped and fell, and nearly died! It was peach juice that had escaped somehow, and landed on the ground. Fortunately this customer was okay, and they were able to get up and walk away on their own, but it clearly demonstrated to all of us, just how fine the line is between health and something terrible happening.
[Crowd nods in agreement, several outbursts of approval.]
Health Worker #2: Fortunately, we three have been working on a solution to this problem.
[They pull out a head-gear similar to those used in orthodontics, with a tray connected to it.] We’ve invented a tray that goes over the head like this [Putting it on as a demonstration.] with a tray that sits just below the mouth like so. Once you have it in place you are able to eat a peach, or anything that’s juicy for that matter, without concern because the tray will catch any juice that accidently escapes your mouth as you’re eating. Watch as I eat this peach. [Demonstrating.]
Health Worker #1: Notice how the tray catches the juice?
Jace: I’m just not sure I want to wear a funky spittle-tray every time I eat a peach!
Health Worker #3: It’s not a spittle-tray, mister Mayor. We call them ‘Juice Buddies’. It’s a simple juice buddy that catches juice, which you’re then free to drink after you finish eating, or you can dispose of the juice from the tray into the accompanying ‘Juice Jammer’ which is basically just a disposable baggie.
Jace: I see. So this Juice Buddy contraption is just to keep peach juice from falling on the ground? That’s it?
Health Worker #3: It isn’t simply peach juice. We in the health profession call it biohazardous material. It’s peach juice while it remains inside your mouth, but the moment it hits a public surface, it becomes a public hazard, and a public concern.
Health Worker #1: That’s right. It’s no longer a private matter between you and your fruit. It becomes a community matter that involves all of us.
Councilmember One: This makes sense to me. I just hadn’t thought about it before.
Councilmember Four: It does seem to be a bigger problem than I had realized. You say that someone nearly died from this?
Health Worker #3: That’s correct, councilmember.
Councilmember Four: Well, then, isn’t this a no-brainer? I mean we have to do something about this!
Health Worker #3: As we’ve said, fortunately we have been on this problem proactively and we’ve already got a manufacturer, who has already made several hundred of our Juice Buddies and Juice Jammers, and we can have them delivered to Harmony, express, and they will arrive later today. And we will place an order for several thousand more, to get us all through the peach season. Those could be here as early as next week. They’ll only cost the city $20 per unit, that’s a 25% savings under retail, since we are purchasing bulk.
Councilmember One: Frankly, I’m relieved! I think this is a really important issue. I want to say that I really appreciate your foresight about this matter. That seems like a fair price too.
Councilmember Four: I agree. Thank you!
Jace: I’m still not too thrilled about wearing one of those contraptions just to eat a peach!
Councilmember Three: Mayor! It’s for the good of the community. What were you just saying?!
Jace: I know, I know. You’re right. Okay, all in favor of Juice Buddies and Juice Jammers say Aye!
Councilmember Two: No!
Jace: Of course. Approved! Let’s get these things out there pronto, for the public safety.
Health Workers: Thank you, mister Mayor! Thank you, council! [They high-five each other.]
Jace: You’re welcome. Okay, now let’s hear from Miss Hawkins about the origin of that peach. Who is going to be the lucky grower?!
Matilda Hawkins: Mister Mayor, councilmembers, I regret to say that I have conclusive results now. However, none of your peach stands produced a match with the original peach that Mrs Cobb purchased. Her peach didn’t come from any of your orchards. None of you are going to be the lucky winner.
Jace: What!? No winner!? This is anarchy, how many times do I have to say it?! No, it’s worse. It’s communism! That’s what this is! I’m piping mad!
Matilda Hawkins: Our labs have done extensive testing. Every conceivable genetic test, as well as testing for trace elements found in the soils of your individual orchards, comparing with trace minerals found in the original sample. We even looked into the water supply in your orchards and there are some unique characteristics found in Mrs Cobb’s original peach which aren’t found in any of the other peaches from your orchards, nor in the water used to irrigate your trees. There is simply no match. I’m sorry.
Jace: Dunbar?! Where’s that Dunbar Collins? There he is, what do you have to say about this?!
Duncan Collins: I’m sorry, mister Mayor. But my lab wasn’t able to get any sample material from the original peach to do any testing.
Jace: Get some from Miss Hawkins! Miss Hawkins give some of that peach to Dunbar here so we can get a second opinion! We need a second opinion.
Duncan Collins: Unfortunately, it’s too late. There isn’t any more available, it all was used up. Even if there was any left, that material would be expired now. We couldn’t use it even if we wanted to.
Matilda Hawkins: He’s correct, mister Mayor. I’m sorry.
Jace: Anarchy, anarchy, anarchy. And communism too. Unbelievable! What a mess.
Duncan Collins: While we’re on the topic of testing, my lab did find high levels of pesticides in the apples being sold by Mr Arnaut and his gang. This is in contradiction to Miss Hawkin’s findings that their apples were clean.
Jace: Ha! I knew it. At least that’s some good news.
Jean Arnaut: That’s impossible! We don’t use any pesticides. It’s a lie.
Duncan Collins: You’re the liar, Mr Arnaut!
Jean Arnaut: Never! But fine, let’s say you found pesticides! So what?! Even if our apples had pesticides, which they don’t, but even if they did. Just make people wear gloves like they’re doing at the other stands.
Councilmember Two: That’s a fair point. Why don’t we just do that? Let them sell their apples, as long as people wear rubber gloves and clean the apples, like we’re doing with the peaches.
Jace: Where’s the fairness in that?
Councilmember Two: I think that would be the definition of fairness.
Jace: Well, life isn’t fair! Live with it. Anarchy!
Councilmember Two: Why should we have one set of rules for the peach growers and another set for the apple growers? That isn’t right.
Jace: They’re not the same thing! Can’t you see that? Apples aren’t peaches, are you blind?!
Councilmember Two: What’s the difference?
Jace: Completely different fruit!
Councilmember Two: Obviously! But what is the material difference between them, related to this argument? Why can peaches be sold with pesticides on them, but not apples?
Jace: Science! That’s why. I’m done with this. We’re not bringing back the apples and that’s final. I’m the mayor and I’m invoking my executive privilege. Some lines just can’t be crossed, and this is one of them. End of discussion! No apples at a peach festival. No apples in Harmony. No apples, no apples, no apples! Like it or not!
[End of Scene.]
Scene 4: [Chloe and Marion are outside their home.]
Chloe: Is Hugh ever going to figure it out?! How long do I have to wait for him?
Marion: How long are you willing to wait?
Chloe: For Hugh, I could wait forever.
Marion: Good, that was going to be my answer.
Chloe: Why is it so difficult?!
Marion: I like Hugh. I like him a lot, Chloe. He is perfect for you dear, but he isn’t very bright.
Chloe: I know. I wouldn’t like him if he was very bright. But I don’t want him to be very dim either. When it comes to intelligence, I want him to be perfectly average.
Marion: That’s Hugh.
Chloe: But when it comes to understanding me, he needs to be perfectly brilliant.
Marion: That’s a lot to ask of anyone, dear. And certainly too much to ask of Hugh, I think. Poor boy!
Chloe: Oh, no! It’s Hugh! [Chloe runs into the house, and hides just inside the door.] Tell him I’m not home!
Marion: I think he already saw you.
Chloe: Make something up!
Marion: Good morning, Hugh.
Hugh: Hello, Marion. I need to see Chloe. I have something for her. Well, I have a question for her. A question that isn’t a question. If you know what I mean. [He winks.]
Marion: Oh, dear. I’m afraid I do.
Chloe: [Whispering to her mother through the door.] What question? What is he talking about?
Hugh: And I suspect that we all know what her answer will be as well. If you know what I mean. [He winks again.]
Marion: I’m not sure that I do.
Chloe: [Whispering.] Answer to what? What’s the question?
Hugh: So. Can I see her?
Marion: Um. She isn’t home right now, Hugh. I can give her a message if you like.
Hugh: But I saw her run inside as I was walking up to the house. I swear that was her.
Marion: Oh, that girl? That was my helper. She helps me clean. She was just leaving to go home.
Hugh: But she ran inside your house.
Marion: She had to get her jacket, and her purse.
Hugh: Why hasn’t she come back out?
Marion: She went out the back door. Her house is that way. Out the back.
Hugh: Oh. That’s strange. She looked so much like Chloe.
Marion: Everyone says that. I’m always getting that from people. It’s like I have two daughters! Twins! Ha!
Hugh: Darn. It’s such a shame. I got her something I know she’ll love. It’s exactly what she’s been wanting.
Chloe: [Coming out of the house.] Oh, Hugh! What are you doing here? I had no idea you were here.
Marion: Oh my goodness! Where did you come from, Chloe?! When did you get home?
Chloe: I just did. I came in through the back.
Hugh: Did you see the cleaning lady?
Chloe: What? Oh, yes. She was just leaving as I arrived. Why are you here? Do you have something for me?
Hugh: Yes, as a matter of fact. I do. Um. Marion, would you mind if Chloe and I had some…
Marion: I’ll just go inside. I have some things to do in the house. I’ll leave you both alone.
[She goes inside and listens just inside the door.]
Hugh: Chloe, I want to first apologize for taking so long to figure this out.
Chloe: You really did take a long time, Hugh. I was afraid you’d never figure it out.
Hugh: But you really set a difficult riddle for me to solve.
Chloe: But you finally did solve it! I’m so pleased, I am sure I’m going to like it quite a lot!
Hugh: Yes! Well, are you ready?
Chloe: I’ve been ready for several weeks now, Hugh. Can we move it along a little faster?
Hugh: Yes, of course. [He pulls out the ring, and kneels.] Chloe, will you marry me?!
Chloe: Marry you?! You got me a ring?! I can’t believe it.
Hugh: I know, it’s magnificent, isn’t it? I can hardly believe it myself. But Chloe, tell me. What is your good answer?
Chloe: My good answer?! I can’t believe you got me a ring! Why would you think to propose while we’re right in the middle of a fight?
Hugh: But Chloe, it’s a rhetorical question. We both know the answer. We’ve always talked about getting married. I figured it out, your riddle. This is what you wanted!
Chloe: You haven’t figured out anything! Hugh, you may be a lot dumber than I thought. And I’m trying to say that in the nicest way possible.
Hugh: I’ll try to take it that way. I just thought…
Chloe: No, you didn’t think at all, Hugh. How could you have thought?! You are so frustrating! I can’t talk to you right now.
[She turns and runs into the house. Marion barely avoids being run over. Marion comes outside.]
Hugh: That didn’t go at all as I expected.
Marion: I’m sorry.
Hugh: What did I do wrong, Marion? I was certain that was the good answer, and the question that wasn’t a question. I assumed she and I both knew the answer. It was rhetorical. It was obvious she’d say yes. But she didn’t. She got very angry.
Marion: Hugh. I was told not to give you any hints. So I’m not going to give you any. But this whole situation has gone on long enough. I can’t take it anymore. So I’m just going to tell you outright, exactly what the girl wants. She wants new shoes, and a handbag. Just get her a purse and some shoes, for the love of God. Please!
Hugh: No, that can’t be…
Marion: Yes! Yes it is! Yes. New shoes! A new purse! That’s it, that’s exactly it. That’s all it is. That’s all she wants! Come on, Hugh. Please. You can do it! For all of our sakes, just do it already!
Hugh: I’m surprised.
Marion: Of course you are, dear. I understand. Chloe is very surprising, you’ve said it yourself. I know. But there it is. She’s a girl of simple wants and needs. You should be glad.
Hugh: I am. I’m very glad, Marion! If that’s the answer, I am more glad than you’ll ever imagine. Certainly, I can buy Chloe new shoes and a handbag. And I will, right now. I’m going right now to buy them. Thank you Marion. Thank you so much. I just wish I understood what she meant by a good answer and a question that isn’t a question. That is even more baffling now than it was before.
Marion: Hugh, dear. Let it go. It doesn’t matter. You know what she wants, you know what you need to do. Make us all happy now. Just go shopping!
[End of Scene.]