SYNOPSIS

A drama about a woman who tries to prevent her husband from committing a crime---he’s in hazardous-waste management and is about to dump toxins in Mexico---and about those around her who find good reasons to act against her and let the crime go forward. 

Faith Perdue must confront the core values of her comfortable life when she learns that her husband Will, founder/CEO of a hazardous-waste management firm, having exhausted disposal options in the U.S., plans to dump toxics across the border in Mexico in two days.

At curtain rise Will, hailed as “the hero of Las Palmas” for removing dioxin from daughter Carrie’s school, announces he has landed another multimillion-dollar deal; Carrie announces her hero father is to address her student assembly; and Faith, newly appointed director of the historical preservation society, announces she conquered her nerves to persuade City Council to save a vintage house.  But when Will presents Carrie with a radar detector for her car and when Faith apprehensively raises her objections, the chink in their marriage is seen.

The play’s action mobilizes when son Guy, who has worked as Will’s partner for three years, informs Faith of Will’s plan.  Faith, visualizing the victims and recalling Will’s earlier settlement of a dumping charge, accepts the upcoming dumping as fact and asks Guy’s aid in dissuading Will.  In this, her odyssey is less one of discovery and more one of action as she seeks allies to confront Will.  However, Faith is obstructed at every turn: Guy, heir to the business, balks, unable to send Dad to prison; her mother, counseling trust, argues that Will must have an explanation; and Abby, wife of Will’s vice-president, accuses Faith of disloyalty, not really loving Will, and, when Faith calls Will’s former lab director to verify if the earlier dumping was accidental, treachery.  Equally destructive is Faith’s sense of her own guilt, which she raises and Abby uses: Faith thought it “fishy” Will settled the earlier charge but she said nothing; she likes the good life, also she is in Will’s psychic and sexual thrall.

Act One presents the ethical dilemma, Act Two the emotional costs of Faith’s struggle: Guy disappears; Mother reveals that she stood by Faith’s physician father in a Medicare fraud; Carrie threatens to run away.  At the climax Faith rejects madness to choose sanity---and finally confront Will, alone.

A note: The play flows from my conviction that our principal national problems are moral and ethical in nature, because people accommodate; what if one person cannot?  Faith asks the right questions (though others have the “right” counter-arguments): “How much do we want to know?” “Maybe personal happiness isn’t the most important thing”; “Wives have Judgment Day too”; and “Why do I have to apologize for compassion?”

(The play’s title is from Coriolanus, with the meaning altered.)



EXCERPTS

CHARACTERS

FAITH---wife, in her late 40s

WILL---husband, in his late 40s

GUY---son, in his mid-20s

CARRIE---daughter, 16

MOTHER---Faith’s mother, in her late 60s

ABBY---wife of Will’s company vice-president, in her late 40s

INEZ---Mexican maid (non-speaking role)

 

SETTING

In the living room of the Perdue family, in the fictional city of Las Palmas in Southern California.

 

TIME

Today.

 

“There is no such thing as evil, just the gradual removal of good until none is left.” --- St. Augustine

 

“The secret of great fortunes with no apparent source is a forgotten crime, forgotten because it was properly carried out.” --- Balzac, Pere Goriot

 

 

EXCERPT I : Scene 1, Act One

 

Setting: The living room of the millionaire Perdue family.  Furnishings are plush and in soft tones.  The art is contemporary.  There are various systems and gadgets (CD player, entertainment center, computer, telescope).  To one side is a section of the kitchen, with counter and stools.  Upstage is a floor-to-ceiling window, with the ocean surf crashing noiselessly on the rocks outside.  Generally to suggest: Easy living, but hard choices coming up.

At rise: Amid much distraction---a violent scene plays soundlessly on the TV, music blares from the CD---CARRIE lies on the sofa, “studying.”  In the background INEZ works quietly, noting Carrie’s studying, but saying nothing.

 

Enter FAITH.  A quintessentially nice woman trying to combine motherhood and career, her manner is distracted, her ever-present smile is nervous.  Here, struggling with groceries, she heads for the counter.  INEZ, very fond of Faith, moves to help her.

 

FAITH

Sweetheart, the noise....  Turn it off, please.  How many times have I told you, Carrie Ann, I don’t want you watching that stuff?

 

CARRIE

Aw, Mom, all the kids watch.  I’ll be underdeveloped if I don’t.

 

FAITH

“Underdeveloped.”  Honey, I care what goes into that sweet head of yours, and that stuff is----

 

CARRIE

I know: “idiotic, perverse, and utterly without socially or morally redeeming value.”  And then Dad’ll say, “Give it a break, Faith, and rub my back.”

 

They laugh and hug.

 

FAITH

That’s Dad all right, but I don’t sound like that.  Do I?

 

CARRIE

Just a little.  Like yeah.  Mom, can I tell you my big news?

 

FAITH

Yes you can tell me your big news, but tell me while you put the groceries away and I make Guy’s cake.  He’s coming over at 7.

 

INEZ motions that she will make the cake.

 

FAITH

No-no, Inez.  For the hundredth time, una madre cooks, even it is a mix.  But gracias.

 

CARRIE

O.K.  Well, here it is: Mr. Yeager wants my illustrious Dad, your illustrious husband, to talk to our school assembly about how he got the dioxin out of the stadium and saved us dear little students from certain death.  And he wants to hold the assembly in the stadium.  Oh Mom, I’ll be so proud.  And he wants me to ask Dad tonight.

 

FAITH

Your Dad would love it, but you know, the disposal’s not done yet.  The clean-up was just a start.  It’d be more interesting to tell the whole story, wouldn’t it?

 

CARRIE

But Mr. Yeager asked.  And he wants Dad to bring his guys in their moon suits.  What a switch: Even jerky old Yeager calls Dad “the hero of Las Palmas,” like everybody else.  And Regina Langley, the cheerleader, you know what her dad said?  “Will Perdue saved us from becoming Love Canal II, get it outa here!”  Now maybe Regina will come to my pool party....(dips her finger in Faith’s cake batter).

 

FAITH

Hey, you get outa here.  You’ll make it fall.

 

CARRIE

I wish Guy still lived with us.  I miss him.

 

FAITH

Me too.  But young men want to be on their own.  You give them roots and wings....

 

CARRIE

Yeah, but he’s gotten so serious, working for Dad.

 

FAITH

It’s a serious business they’re in.  (Tastes)  I’m starved too.  I, uh, evacuated my lunch.

 

CARRIE

You mean you barfed, Mom?  Again?

 

FAITH

At least this time I barfed after my speech and not before.  Grease this pan.  Well, aren’t you going to ask me my big news?

 

CARRIE

Sure, Mom.  So: How’d it go with City Council?

 

FAITH

Ta-da: The McGill-Taylor House is now an official historic landmark.

 

CARRIE

Yay, Mom!

 

FAITH

---and George McGill was one historic robber baron, ta-da....  Anyway, we have to go before the Budget Committee to discuss funding, which means another speech----

 

CARRIE

---which means more barfing.  Mom, I don’t know why you get nervous.  You’re so pretty.

 

FAITH

You think so?  Still?  What’m I thinking of?  Beauty, young lady, is not the point.  (Beat)  I get nervous because, well, I never think I know enough.  It was so much easier when I was the Society’s receptionist.  But: I need to do this, get out there.  I don’t know how your father does it though: speechmaking.

 

CARRIE

“Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, then tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.  Bueno!  (Dips into batter again)

 

FAITH

Honey, please!  Scoot, shoo, vamoose.  (Noting carpet)  Ohhh, somebody tracked dirt on the carpet.  Carrie Ann?

 

CARRIE

Not me, I’m wearing socks.  Aha: It was Inez.  Inez is the culprit.

 

INEZ, embarrassed, protests.  FAITH hugs her and laughs.

 

FAITH

Don’t be embarrassed, Inez, it’s just a joke.  And you, prankster, is your homework done?

 

CARRIE

Not yet.

 

FAITH

What’re you studying?  (Slides cake into oven)

 

CARRIE

The Holocaust.

 

FAITH

(Stops still)  That is a very important subject.  It can’t be studied in one night.

 

CARRIE

I know.  Mom, I don’t understand: How could the Holocaust happen?  So many people dead?

 

SOUND offstage of a car screeching to a halt, door slamming shut.

 

FAITH

I guess you’d have to say---not enough people spoke up.  We’ll talk more about this, later.

 

Enter WILL, with box.  With him Faith’s manner changes: With Carrie she is firm, but with Will she is more pliant.  INEZ, however, does not like Will and shows it.

 

WILL

Listen up, everybody, for a couple of muy importante announcements.  First: Guess who just landed the $30 million-dollar Cody City sludge deal?

 

CARRIE

Oh I don’t know.  Hey Mom, what’s the name of that hot company: Enviro-Fix, Inc.?

 

WILL

You got it, kiddo.  Two or three more jobs like this---and I can go national.  I’ll have achieved the “economies of scale.”  Key concept, Kitten: economies of scale.

 

CARRIE

Boring....

 

WILL

Oh no: exciting!  So, Faith-honey, what do you think of your husband now?

 

FAITH

I think he’s pretty amazing.

 

WILL

We’ve come a long way from the aroma of Tacoma, haven’t we.

 

FAITH

Like a fairy tale.

 

WILL

And it all started, once upon a time, when the guy from the mud flats won the prettiest girl in the biggest house on the highest hill....

 

They kiss.

 

CARRIE

You guys....  Hey Dad, since you always dump on Tacoma, why don’t you clean Tacoma up? 

 

WILL

Great idea, Care.  You should come work for me too, be my Director of Development.  National.

 

CARRIE

I couldn’t direct a thing.  I just want to be a singer, I think.

 

WILL

You know, if I did do that humungous job, we could get on with our dream house.

 

FAITH

This house is dream enough.  I couldn’t go through the nightmare of construction again.

 

WILL

Oh no.  This house is just warm-up.  I want to build us our Versailles, a house so big and drop-dead beautiful, with all those architectural features you talk about---finials, broken pediments?---that a hundred years from now groups like yours’ll be out campaigning, “Save the Perdue House!”----  Hey what an idiot, I almost forgot.  How’d our speech go today?

 

FAITH

“We” were persuasive.

 

WILL

Banzai!  I’ve created a regular Perry Mason.  Come here and collect your prize....

 

CARRIE

So, Dad, what’s your other announcement?

 

WILL

Oh yeah.  Guess who’s the newest member of the Symphony board?

 

FAITH

Oh Will, how wonderful---really.

 

WIL

You’re not the only one around here with culture.  Of course I had to drop big bucks on them. 

 

CARRIE

What I don’t get is why a guy who’s stone-deaf wants to be on the Symphony board.

 

WILL

Hey, how about a little respect for your old man?

 

CARRIE

How about a lot?  My folks are winners.

 

FAITH

Oh honey, that means that other people are losers----

 

WILL

Winning’s the only way to go, it’s a tough world and----  Hey, who tracked in dirt?  Inez?

 

FAITH

Will, please, you’ll hurt her feelings.

 

WILL

Well, tell her to clean it up.  (To Carrie)  Hey, Kitten, got a little something for you.  For your new Alfa.  Open it.  You got the car inspected, right? 

 

CARRIE

Right.  Oh great: a radar detector!  Just like yours, Dad.  Now my car’s “fully accessorized.”

 

WILL

Bueno.  Let’s go install it.

 

FAITH

Uhhh, before you do....

 

WILL

What is it, Faith?

 

FAITH

Oh honey, I just wish, you know, maybe you’d---discussed this with me....?

 

WILL

Faith: not again, O.K.?

 

CARRIE

“Yeah, Faith, give it a break.”

 

FAITH

Carrie Ann Perdue.

 

CARRIE

Sorry, Mom.

 

WILL

Honey, relax.  It’s another red-letter day and this arrived from Sharper Image and, besides, it’s only a trinket, it’s not even a big-time gift.

 

FAITH

But---it’s not a trinket, it’s symbolic of----

 

WILL

The Master of Fine Arts again.  Hon, one more time: It’s protection.  Police radars can be wrong and you need protection.  Lighten up.

 

CARRIE

Dad, be nice.

 

FAITH

But, Will, it’s breaking the law.  They’re illegal in California.

 

WILL

Faith, it’s a dumb law and I’ll bet half the legislature drives around with these things.

 

CARRIE

STOP!  Both of you, just stop!  Let’s forget the whole thing.  O.K.?

 

FAITH

Oh darling, I’m sorry, we’ve upset you.  I’ll stop.

 

CARRIE

Dad?

 

WILL

O.K.  But seriously, I’ll bet you half the legislature does drive around with these hummers and don’t ask me to give up mine.

 

FAITH

Maybe they’re O.K. for you, but Carrie’s just learned to drive and I don’t want my child----

 

CARRIE

I’m not a child and I can decide things for myself, you know.

 

WILL, unnoticed by Faith, catches CARRIE’s attention and mouthes “Later.”

 

FAITH

I know, but I wish you wouldn’t drive around with that thing.  I’m sorry, but it’s what I think.

 

WILL takes Faith in a dance hold.

 

WILL

And that, hon, has been your problem since the beginning.  You think too much.  You know, Kitten, in kindergarten your mother used to ponder about which rug she was going to nap on.

 

FAITH

And how would you know, since you were out on the playground, extending your recess?

 

Enter GUY.  His mood is grim.

 

CARRIE

Hey, my bro!  (Hugging Guy)  Guy, can we go to the movies tonight, like you promised?

 

GUY

I don’t know, Care.  I’ve got things to do....

 

CARRIE

Yeesh, you’re super-serious.

 

FAITH

I’m baking your favorite cake, dear.  Smell?

 

GUY

Thanks, Mother.  Um, hello, Dad....

 

WILL

Hey, buddy!  You should be beaming.  Our son was key to landing the Cody City deal---key.

 

GUY

I just did the stats for the proposal, which ended up in the appendix.

 

WILL

You don’t want to clutter your main message.  But stats clinch your case.  Faith, Guy’s graphs could hang in a museum, they’re works of art.

 

CARRIE

Dad, Guy’s in a bad mood.  Can I tell you my news?  I have major news.

 

WILL

Sure, Kitten, in a sec.  I want to talk to my partner first.

 

FAITH

I’ll start dinner.  Carrie, set the table, please?

 

WILL

So, partner: What’s bothering you?

 

GUY

Nothing, really.  I, uh, didn’t sleep much last night.

 

WILL

Good for you.  Look, I know I’ve been piling the work on you.  You’re beat----

 

GUY

It’s not that.

 

WILL

Hey, if it’s the export deal....  (Beat)  Is it?

 

GUY

Yeah.  Dad, I want to talk to you about that----

 

WILL

Look, I took the con because we need to expedite this one, fast.  But we’re partners, you’re not being excluded.

 

GUY

It’s not that.  It’s....

 

WILL

What, son?

 

GUY

Nothing.  Forget it.  I am beat.

 

WILL

Good.  Oh, and partners keep their business between themselves, O.K.?  Now see what you can do to cheer your Mom up.  She’s upset with me, you know how she gets.

 

GUY

Yeah.

 

CARRIE

Now, Dad?  Now?

 

WILL

Sure.  Tell me out in the garage.

 

FAITH

Will, please....

 

WILL

(Exiting)  We won’t install, we’ll just discuss.

 

CARRIE

(Exiting)  Yeah, Mom.  I have to decide for myself.

 

GUY

Where are they going?

 

FAITH

To install a radar detector in Carrie’s car---which I don’t like one little bit.  (Beat)  You don’t like it either, I see.  Ah well, what can one do?  Where there’s Will, there’s his way.

 

GUY

Yeah....

 

FAITH

Something’s bothering you, dear.  Want to talk about it?  Is it---women problems?

 

GUY

Mom, if you’re going to joke----  Jesus, this family’s great for the jokes.

 

FAITH

Forgive me, dear, it’s that detector business.  Tell me, maybe I can help.

 

GUY

I don’t know if you can.  You two looked pretty cozy when I came in.

 

FAITH

Of course we’re cozy.

 

GUY

On the other hand, you’re not that close, either....

 

FAITH

Guy: What are you getting at....?  Tell me, please.

 

GUY

I want to, but: I don’t know if I can trust you.

 

FAITH

Son, it’s me: Mom.

 

GUY

O.K.  But you have to promise not to tell Dad, I don’t want him to think he can’t trust me.

 

FAITH

I don’t know if I can promise that.  Your father and I don’t keep things from each other.  (Beat)  Actually, we do.  At least your father does....

 

GUY

Agreed then?

 

FAITH

Dear, I don’t like---internal alliances.

 

GUY

Then I’ll just go.

 

FAITH

Guy, I can’t bear to see you like this.  O.K.: agreed.

 

GUY

Inez....?

 

FAITH

Inez, por favor.  En la otra sala?  Si, gracias, gracias.

 

INEZ exits.

 

GUY

I don’t know how you’re going to take this, but....: This afternoon I overheard Dad on the phone----  Mom: Dad’s going to dump the dioxin in Mexico.  I heard him on the phone----

 

FAITH is dumbstruck.

 

GUY

---I heard him talking to---an outlaw trucker---about hauling the dioxin, all 200 barrels, across the border.  He said he didn’t want to know where it went, “just get it outa here.”  He said he’d cook the manifest and labels to say “residuals and neutrals”: “something innocuous”----

 

FAITH

Oh Guy, you’re wrong.  You are very, very wrong.

 

GUY

I wish to God I was.  This is my father we’re talking about.

 

FAITH

Your father couldn’t do such a thing.  You’re still new at the business, Guy, you’ve---misunderstood.  Your father has made some---technical arrangement you don’t know about.

 

GUY

Mother, I’ve been with Dad three years, I’m off probation.  I know dumping when I hear it.

 

FAITH

Don’t say that word!  He is your father.  After all he’s done for you!

 

GUY

For God’s sakes, Mother, I’m not the villain!

 

FAITH

And neither is your father.  Guy, your father wouldn’t do anything---criminal.  This is all a---a joke.  You know how he and Ed joke, about slipping PCBs into each other’s coffee?

 

GUY

This is no joke, Mother.  I heard him clear as a bell---if you want to hear.

 

Long beat.  FAITH finally nods Yes.

 

GUY

Dad sent me to the lab, with Ed, but when I got there I realized I’d left my clipboard in Dad’s office, so I went back.  Carolyn was away, I walked in.  And there he was, his back to me----

 

FAITH

Then you didn’t hear right.  And where would he find an outlaw trucker, in the yellow pages?

 

GUY

Later, when I got back from the lab, Dad announced we were exporting the dioxin ASAP and since we’d never gone the export route before, he’d take care of the details.  But, I checked the details: There’s no EPA notification on file---I do those---and you have to have a bilateral agreement and there hasn’t been time for one, and you have to ensure that the environmental standards of the receiving country are equal to your own and----  Mom: It’s dumping.

 

FAITH

I’ve spent my entire life with him, Guy.  He is my life.  I love that man.

 

GUY

At least he told the trucker to find someplace isolated.

 

FAITH

No-o-o-o!  It’s not possible!  My husband would not dump!

 

FAITH and GUY look at each other.

 

FAITH

Why....?  Why is he doing it?

 

GUY

He’s trapped.  We’ve tried every landfill in this country, but nobody’s taking.  They’re either filled up, or when the community finds out it’s dioxin, they’re out in the streets.  He’s down to Plan Z.  And the deadline’s coming fast: You have 90 days after clean-up to dispose and if you miss it, you take 100% liability.  The stress is unbelievable.  Dad chews antacids like gum.

 

FAITH

Isn’t there some other way besides---dumping?

 

GUY

There’s incineration, but it’s way more expensive than a landfill.  I suggested it---twice---but he said, “No way”---and the second time he drilled it.  (Beat)  You know, Mother, the only good news is: I see you didn’t know.

 

FAITH

Oh Guy, what are we going to do?  What?

 

GUY

I don’t know if there’s anything we can do.  I never win with Dad, and neither do you.

 

FAITH

Guy, this cannot happen.  We’ve got to talk your father out of this.  People are going to die.

 

GUY

Mother, I told you up-front: This is between you and me----

 

FAITH

But if both of us went to him----

 

GUY

Then he’d know I couldn’t keep a business confidence----

 

FAITH

What’s that matter if people die?  I---don’t understand you.

 

GUY

That’s not the only thing----

 

CARRIE enters in a rush.

 

CARRIE

Dad’s going to do it!  He’s really going to do it!

 

FAITH

Uhhh, what’s he going to do, sweetheart?

 

CARRIE

Speak at my school assembly.  And he wants me right there---beside him!  It’ll be the most perfect day of my whole entire life so far.  (Beat)  Something’s wrong here, I can tell.  What is it?

 

FAITH

Nothing, dear.

 

CARRIE

It doesn’t feel like “nothing” to me.

 

GUY

That’s because you’ve got a hyperactive imagination, Kitten.

 

CARRIE

I’m not a kitten.  I can handle---stuff.

 

FAITH

Dear, Guy and I were discussing a personal problem.

 

CARRIE

Whose?  (To GUY)  Yours?  Does she have a name, this personal problem?

 

GUY

Yeah she has a name.  It’s Nosey.  End of discussion.

 

CARRIE

O.K., O.K., I’m going.  Oh Mom, Dad says he’ll be in for dinner later.  He’s----

 

FAITH

He’s installing the radar detector, isn’t he?

 

CARRIE

Yeah, but I sort of decided it was a good idea.  It is protection.

 

FAITH

But you don’t need protection if you’re going the speed limit.

 

CARRIE

Dad’s taking precautions.  He’s hiding the sensor in the grill and the receiver in the glove compartment----

 

FAITH

Why “hide” anything?  Honey: It is wrong.

 

CARRIE

Then why is it O.K. for Dad?  I don’t understand.

 

Silence.

 

CARRIE

Sorry?  (Exiting)  I gotta go help Dad.

 

FAITH

What a weak, dumb woman I’ve been----

 

GUY

Mother, don’t.

 

FAITH

Well, one very big symbol---Will’s radar detector---of a not-so-small problem has been sitting in front of me all these years---me, in the go-along-and-make-nice passenger seat---and I have failed to do anything other than wrinkle my nose and whimper.

 

GUY

Mother, you’re not to blame.

 

FAITH

Aren’t I?  I buzz around so “interested” in things, and so blind.  And yet, not so blind.....  This propensity of your father’s to cut corners is not a surprise.

 

GUY

Mother, Dad’s going to be back here soon.

 

FAITH

What words did he use, Guy?  How did he say it?  Did he actually say “dump”?

 

GUY

No.  Is this important?

 

FAITH

I’m trying to see the man I’m married to.  Do you know---if your father has---dumped before?

 

GUY

I don’t know.  I don’t think so.

 

FAITH

Five, six years ago there was that settlement.  Diablo Flats.

 

GUY

That was before I got there.  All I know is, the office is jammed with EPA stuff: notifications, approvals, inspections.  Dad bitches about the EPA “clowns” and their paperwork, but we file it.

 

FAITH

Except this time.  (Beat) Son: “Business confidence” is no excuse for us not to----

 

GUY

Mother: The only way to stop Dad now is to blow the whistle and throw him in jail---and I’m not sending Dad to prison!  You can’t ask me to do that, Mother.  I love him.  He is my father.  And....: There’s something else to consider.  The business will be mine someday, mine to run.  Dad’s been teaching me the ropes.  It’s one tough world, and Dad knows how to deal with it.

 

FAITH

But, Guy----

 

GUY

We pulled in $150 million last year.  Business is booming and it’ll keep on booming, but with more competitors every day and the media making a circus of everything, blowing the whistle would mean blowing everything to smithereens.

 

FAITH

So would dumping. 

 

GUY

Not if nobody says.

 

FAITH

Good God, people are going to die!

 

SOUNDS of WILL and CARRIE returning.

 

FAITH

Why did you tell me this?

 

GUY

Share the misery, I guess.

 

CARRIE

Let’s eat!  We are famished.

 

[SCENE CONTINUES]

 

 

EXCERPT II : from Scene 2, Act One

 

[Preceding action: Scene 1 ends with Will forcefully establishing with Faith his “territory”---she is to stay out of his business---after which he leads her off to “their” territory, the bedroom.  Also established is Faith’s dramatic objective: finding allies.  Scene 2 opens with Mother assuring Faith that Will must have his reasons to export.  Enter Abby, wife of Will’s v.p., whom Faith has invited over because she knows more about company “ops” than Faith and Will says she’s “sharp.”  Faith gets right to the point: Guy has told her Will plans to dump.  Abby defends Will, that he would not dump.]

 

ABBY

But why am I defending your husband?  You should be doing that.  Where’s your loyalty?

 

MOTHER

Exactly.

 

FAITH

Speaking of loyalty, Mother....  So, Abby: It’s dumping, isn’t it.

 

ABBY

Maybe Guy’s hearing is off.  Has he had it tested lately?

 

FAITH

Abby.....

 

ABBY

O.K., you’re right, Guy’s right!  It sounds like dumping, it sounds like dumping.  Are you happy?

 

FAITH

No.  But thank you for the confirmation.

 

ABBY

Confirmation?  I just said it sounds like dumping.  Will has an explanation.

 

MOTHER

Thank you.

 

FAITH

Mother: Would you like to go freshen up?

 

MOTHER

No I’m fine as I am.

 

ABBY

I need a drink.  Did somebody mention a drink?  Where’s your maid?

 

FAITH

I gave her the day off, considering.  Inez is Mexican.

 

ABBY

Mexican?  I thought she was Philippino.

 

MOTHER

I’ll do it.  What would you like, Abby?

 

ABBY

A margarita.  Real salty and real fast.

 

FAITH

Ah yes, wonderful Mexican import, the margarita.  For which we’re going to pay back with one pip of an export.

 

ANNY

Well, Mexico sends us drugs.

 

FAITH

Abby!

 

MOTHER

Faith, something to drink?

 

FAITH

Nothing. I’m getting a stomach-ache.

 

MOTHER

I’ll fix you a Bromo.  I always carry some in my suitcase.

 

ABBY

Faith: If you understood business realities better, you’d know there are winners and losers.

 

FAITH

But must there be victims?  It could by your Joshua and Kyle.

 

ABBY is silent.

 

FAITH

And besides hurting innocent people, it could hurt the company too---if it got out.

 

ABBY

Jesus, Faith, you’re not thinking of---leaking?

 

FAITH

There wouldn’t be any need to, if.....  Abby: Would you go with me to talk Will out of it?

 

ABBY

What??  Wives don’t do that kind of thing.  You promised you wouldn’t ask me to do anything.  That’s---that’s entrapment, Faith, entrapment.

 

FAITH

Then what does a wife do when she knows her husband is about to dump?

 

ABBY

Your husband, not mine.  Ed’s not involved in this, so why should I get involved?

 

FAITH

Will would listen to you.  He always says you’re “so sharp.”

 

ABBY

He does....?  I’d have to think about it and decide.

 

FAITH

But you can’t “decide” dumping is wrong.  It just is.

 

ABBY

Don’t go dictating morality to me.

 

FAITH

You like to “keep busy.”  Let’s get busy about something really important: life and death.

 

ABBY

Thanks for judging the way I run my life.  Look we----  You still don’t know for sure it’s dumping.  There’s got to be an explanation not even Guy knows.  Hey: Why don’t you get Guy to go with you, to discussion your “impressions,” huh?  Huh?

 

FAITH

(Beat)  I can’t reach him.

 

ABBY

Oho, the eavesdropper has disappeared?

 

FAITH

He’s having a hard time believing his father could dump.

 

ABBY

He should be having a harder time about snitching.  Snitching and disloyalty, that is the worst.

 

FAITH

Worse than killing?  What a peculiar set of priorities.

 

ABBY

I’m outa here.  I’m not going to sit here and be insulted.

 

FAITH

Wait.  One more thing.

 

ABBY

I’ve already had more fun than I can stand, Faith.

 

MOTHER

Faith, your guest wants to leave.

 

FAITH

It’s about the settlement, Abby.

 

ABBY

WHOA!  What’s that got to do with this?

 

FAITH

I need to know if this---if dumping has happened before.

 

ABBY

Christ, Faith, what do you think our husbands are---a couple of crooks?

 

FAITH

Then why didn’t they fight the charge?  Why did they settle Diablo Flats rather than fight?

 

ABBY

Because of the expense and the headache of a protracted trial.  Faith, the settlement is settled.  Actually, I was sorry we didn’t go to court.  I’d gotten a terrific wardrobe for the TV---TV colors---and then all your friends get together and throw you a support dinner.

 

FAITH

Another strange American custom.

 

ABBY

There you go getting moral again.  What makes you so holy?

 

FAITH

When there’s dumping, some moralizing is necessary.  Abby: Will and Ed didn’t fight the charge because they dumped, didn’t they.  (Beat)  We can find out by calling Darrell.

 

ABBY

WHAT??

 

MOTHER

Who’s Darrell?

 

ABBY

A competitor.  Faith Perdue, what kind of destructive burr is under your saddle?

 

FAITH

Before Darrell became a competitor, he was Will’s lab director.  And he left around the time of the settlement.  I remember, because Will was angrier about Darrell than anything else, kept calling him a Judas.

 

ABBY

Darrell didn’t leave, Faith.  Will fired him.

 

FAITH

Why would Will fire a man he was so thrilled to land in the first place, with all his degrees?

 

ABBY

They had to move fast and Darrell was one big delay.  They called him Speed-bump.

 

FAITH

I have a feeling Speed-bump has the information we need.  We just have to decide how much we want to know.  How much do we want to know, Abby?

 

ABBY

O.K.  You don’t have to call Darrell.  Faith, don’t get crazy, but: Something did happen.  It was an accident---an accident.  The guys did not know what they were disposing.  The chemical company that contracted them---Silva Chemical---Silva lied to them about what was in the barrels.  Lucky for everybody, the guys disposed out at Diablo Flats and not around a population center.  Faith: They did not know what they were disposing.

 

FAITH

Do you really believe that?

 

ABBY

Of course!  I’m not in the habit of doubting my husband.

 

MOTHER

Good for you.

 

FAITH

Mother!  Abby: How---if they had a laboratory and they had Speed-bump for a lab director---how could they not know what they were disposing?

 

ABBY

Maybe they thought Darrell was wrong.

 

FAITH

Let’s find out, Abby.  (Moves to phone) 

 

[Faith calls Darrell, while Abby and Mother protest vehemently.]

 

FAITH

(Hanging up)  I knew it: Will knew.  And so did Ed.  Ask and ye shall perceive.

 

ABBY

Ask a competitor and ye shall hear lies.

 

FAITH

Do you want to hear, Abby?

 

ABBY

No I don’t want to hear, Benedict Arnold.

 

MOTHER

---Ladies----

 

FAITH

Abby, our husbands had knowledge.

 

ABBY

“Had knowledge”: Christ, you sound like the Holy Bible----  Whoa!  Just now, when you hung up, you said, “I knew it....”  Mrs. Forsyth, didn’t she say that?

 

MOTHER

I believe you did, dear.

 

ABBY

What did you mean, Faith-of-the-Suspicious-Mind?  Huh?

 

FAITH

Well, I thought perhaps it was a little fishy that Will settled----

 

ABBY

And when did you have this knowledge?  Just since Guy unloaded last night---or at the time of the settlement?

 

FAITH

(Beat)  At the time of the settlement.  Look, I’ve already castigated myself about that----

 

ABBY

Oh honey, let me help!

 

[SCENE CONTINUES, to end of Act One]


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