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The Perfect Town

High Moment

The Perfect Town

Mar 28 1956



CAST:

WILLIAM HOWARD PERFECT, who is perfect

THEODORE WIXBY

REPORTER

BIG MIKE SCOFFLAW, gangster-type

NARRATOR

MRS. O'BRIEN, Irish accent

PLUMBER, working class criminal

MRS. TILLMAN, cheerful society lady

MR. McTEAGUE, Scottish accent

HILLIGAN (1 line)

McGUIRE (1 line)

JENKINS (1 line)

ANDERSON

MRS. BUGALESI, bored and annoyed

MAHONEY, dumb guy

and a CROWD


NOTE: This transcript omits announcements. The series was usually a serious dramatic program, but this change-of-pace episode is a lighthearted comedy fable with very broadly played characters.




SOUND: MURMUR OF CROWD ... QUIETS BEHIND--


WIXBY: Ladies! Gentlemen! And fellow voters of Hoytsville, U.S.A.! The candidate that I am privileged to present to you tonight needs a lot of introduction!


SOUND: AMUSED CROWD REACTS BRIEFLY


WIXBY: Does he offer us good government?! No! Does he offer us better government?! Again, no! What he offers us is perfect government! And I present him to you now -- the Perfect Government Voters' Association's candidate for mayor of Hoytsville; the perfect man to make Hoytsville the perfect community -- Mr. William Howard Perfect!


SOUND: CROWD CHEERS ... BASS DRUM POUNDS AS BAND PLAYS A LIVELY "THERE'LL BE A HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN TONIGHT" ... ALL GROWS QUIET BEHIND--


PERFECT: (ENTHUSIASTIC AND GENIAL) Oh, no, no! Say, thank you! Thank you. Ha! My old friend Mr. Theodore Wixby's praised me very highly, but I must say, in all honesty, that I don't think he has overstated my qualifications one iota! (LAUGHS)


SOUND: CROWD LAUGHS, TOO


PERFECT: It is customary, I believe, for a candidate to try to persuade his potential supporters that he is a simple man and in no way different from themselves. I'm afraid, however, that I cannot possibly represent myself as such. I am not a simple man. I am a highly complex man and you should be grateful that I am. Now, no simple man could possibly extricate this city from the corruption into which it has been plunged by the present mayor, His Honor Big Mike Scofflaw! Now, I am sure the people will seize their opportunity at the polls tomorrow and throw the rascals out!


SOUND: CROWD CHEERS AND APPLAUDS


MUSIC: TRANSITION


REPORTER: As the defeated candidate, Mr. Scofflaw, we would like to know your attitude toward the election.


BIG MIKE: (DISGRUNTLED) Well, right now, everybody thinks that Perfect is perfect. But if you wanna know Big Mike's attitude: I think he's a bum!


MUSIC: TRANSITION [...] ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: William Howard Perfect was sworn in as mayor on a fine bright day, and a fine bright era began for Hoytsville. He did more than live up to his promises. Mayor Perfect lived up to his name. He overlooked nothing, he fell short in nothing. For example, patronage:


PERFECT: (CLEARS THROAT AT LENGTH, THEN PLEASANTLY) And is there a reason why your son should be put on the police force, Mrs. O'Brien?


MRS. O: Well, Your Honor, we worked for you like the deuce we did, all during your campaign.


PERFECT: Yes, yes, and very virtuous of you, dear lady. Ah, but I fail to see the connection between that and the police appointment.


MRS. O: Well, shouldn't virtue be rewarded, Your Honor?


PERFECT: Well, now -- at the risk of coining a cliché, Mrs. O'Brien -- "Virtue-- Virtue is its own reward."


MRS. O: Do you mean to sit there and tell me that your supporters are to expect nothin' at all for their pains?!


PERFECT: Mmmm. (CHUCKLES) Ah, but they have something already, my dear.


MRS. O: What?


PERFECT: Well, they have me.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: As for graft, it vanished like the dew of the morning under His Honor's relentless scrutiny and no matter was too small for his personal attention.


SOUND: PHONE RINGS ... RECEIVER UP (PERFECT ON FILTER)


PLUMBER: (INTO PHONE) Halcyon Plumbin' Company. Good mornin'.


PERFECT: (POLITE) Um, I - I have before me your bill, uh, sent to the Department of Parks for maintenance of the city's, uh, birdbaths.


PLUMBER: (WARY) Er, with whom do I have the pleasure--?


PERFECT: Er, this is the mayor. (CHUCKLES)


PLUMBER: (UNEASY) Er, the mayor?! (STAMMERS NERVOUSLY) It ain't a very big bill, Your Honor.


PERFECT: Well, notwithstanding, I should like a precise definition of the service that you render.


PLUMBER: Er-- (CLEARS THROAT NERVOUSLY)


PERFECT: Are you there?


PLUMBER: Well, uh-- We got a contract from Mayor Scofflaw to keep the birdbaths in repair. That's all, Your Honor.


PERFECT: Yes. And might I ask who gets them out of repair?


PLUMBER: Who?


PERFECT: Yes. Who damages them in the first place? The birds?


PLUMBER: Well-- I don't have to tell ya, there are some pretty tough birds in this part of the country.


PERFECT: Now, see here, I want an itemized and detailed report of every job you've done for this community.


PLUMBER: Er, why, sure, Your Honor. Only, uh--


PERFECT: Only what?


PLUMBER: Couldn't you, uh, leave the details to us, huh?


PERFECT: Why should I?


PLUMBER: Mayor Scofflaw always let us take care of 'em.


PERFECT: Yeeeessss. Yes, I'm sure he did. And, by way of reprisal, the people took care of Mayor Scofflaw, huh? (CHUCKLES) Yes, consider your contract at an end, sir.


PLUMBER: But the birds--!


PERFECT: Good day.


SOUND: PHONE DISCONNECTS (PLUMBER'S PERSPECTIVE)


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: Yes, the city of Hoytsville loved William Howard Perfect and felt itself as safe as a babe in his trustworthy, competent hands. (MUSIC: BRIEF LULLABY FOR AN ACCENT) Complaints fell to an all-time low, but His Honor did his best to cope with the few that did arise with effective promptness. And when Mrs. Laura Tillman, chairwoman of the local women's club, appeared in his office on one memorable morning, he sat behind his desk and listened with eager alertness.


MRS. T: I think I may safely say, Your Honor, that you have no more ardent admirers than myself and the ladies of the women's club.


PERFECT: (TICKLED) Oh, well, well-- Ah, you're too kind, Mrs. Tillman.


MRS. T: Oh, I'm not as kind as all that.


PERFECT: Oh, yes, yes, but I think--


MRS. T: I haven't come to compliment you, unfortunately. I've come to register a complaint.


PERFECT: (GOOD-NATURED) Mm, well, intelligent complaints, dear lady, are the raw material of civic progress. Do go ahead without hesitation or restraint. Go ahead. Go, go.


MRS. T: I shall, I assure you. I've brought Mr. McTeague along in order that he may tell you exactly what he told the women's club at last Wednesday's meeting.


PERFECT: Yes.


MRS. T: Do proceed, Mr. McTeague.


PERFECT: Yes! Yes, Mr. McTeague, I beg of you, go ahead.


McTEAGUE: Er, well-- (CLEARS THROAT) In essence, Your Honor, I said it was a shame while you're workin' and slaving to save the city every cent ye can, that over two hundred thousand dollars a year is dripping and oozing out of the treasury.


PERFECT: (HEMS AND HAWS WITH SURPRISE) Dripping and - and oozing, did you say?


McTEAGUE: Just so, sir.


PERFECT: Ah.


McTEAGUE: This city, with all you've done for it, still has an antiquated water-purifying method that costs twice as much to operate as the new, improved McTeague and Company system.


PERFECT: Are - are you serious?!


McTEAGUE: For a single cost of five hundred thousand dollars, I can absolutely save the city two hundred thousand annually.


MRS. T: Mr. McTeague is willing to guarantee it, Your Honor.


PERFECT: (CROWS HAPPILY) My, my! This is a high moment for me! Of public service at its pinnacle -- if this is verified! Oh, if I accomplish no other thing beyond this economy, I would rest content with my contribution to Hoytsville's welfare. (HEARTFELT) Oh, Mrs. Tillman, how can I ever thank you?


MUSIC: TRANSITION


PERFECT: I - I don't understand you, Wixby, I don't.


WIXBY: What's to understand, Your Honor?


PERFECT: Well, you said yourself it was a good idea.


WIXBY: I said it was a perfect idea.


PERFECT: (CHUCKLES) Well, why shouldn't I invest the five hundred thousand dollars?


WIXBY: I didn't say you shouldn't. I said you can't.


PERFECT: Can't?


WIXBY: Not without a bond issue, Your Honor. City Charter, By-law X-Two-One-Two-Oh under Article Nine-W-N.


PERFECT: Yeah, what, my dear Wixby, is By-law X-Two-One-Two-Oh under Article Nine, uh, uh--? (GIVES UP) Go 'head, go 'head. Yes.


WIXBY: It says right here the spending of the sum of fifty thousand dollars or more is prohibited without submitting the decision to a public bond issue vote.


PERFECT: Oh, wow! But this is of such obvious benefit to the community--


WIXBY: Don't look at me, chief. The idea was the founding fathers'.


PERFECT: (LOW RELUCTANT GRUMBLE) Oh, well-- Oh, that means we'll have to have a bond issue vote, I suppose.


WIXBY: Positively. (BEAT) So--?


PERFECT: (EXHALES) So! (SOUND: POUNDS DESK WITH FIST) We'll have one. We'll have one! And I'm sure that after I explain the facts fully, the people of Hoytsville will vote unanimously for this further perfection of our fair and beloved city! (CHUCKLES)


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: On the eve of the election, His Honor dreamed a happy dream of his own. He dreamed of himself as a knight of old, doing valiant battle through radio appeals and press conferences with a clanking, grinding, hissing dragon that looked somehow like an antiquated water system. (MUSIC & SOUND: GURGLE, CLANK, HISS OF ANTIQUATED WATER SYSTEM) Next day, refreshed and confident, he cast his vote -- and then proceeded serenely about his usual labors. He was at peace with the world, certain that his constituents would do the right thing -- until, at five-thirty, his office door opened-- (SOUND: OFFICE DOOR OPENS) --and he looked up to see Wixby's unhappy face before him.


PERFECT: (EAGER) Well? Well, boy?


SOUND: OFFICE DOOR CLOSES BEHIND--


WIXBY: (RELUCTANT) I, er-- I got something to tell you, Your Honor.


PERFECT: Well, tell me. Tell me, boy, what is it?


WIXBY: It always gives me heartburn to bring bad news.


PERFECT: (HEMS AND HAWS UNHAPPILY) It's - it's bad?


WIXBY: It could be a lot better.


PERFECT: They voted against the bond issue?


WIXBY: No.


PERFECT: No?


WIXBY: They didn't vote against it, Your Honor.


PERFECT: Well, then they must have voted for it.


WIXBY: They didn't vote for it, either.


PERFECT: What are you talking about?


WIXBY: The fact is, they practically didn't vote at all.


PERFECT: Huh?


WIXBY: Your Honor, less than eight thousand people altogether even so much as went to the polls today.


PERFECT: Why-- Eight thousand--?


WIXBY: That's more than a hundred and ninety-two thousand short of one-third of the registered voting population.


PERFECT: (STRICKEN) Oh--!


WIXBY: And without at least a one-third vote, an election is null and void.


PERFECT: Wixby--!


WIXBY: I looked it up in the City Charter, By-law P-Four-Six-One under Article Eight-F-J.


PERFECT: But - but why?! What's caused this? What kept them away from the polls?!


WIXBY: Don't ask me, but I can tell ya this. As long as they stay away, you can forget about saving that two hundred grand a year.


MUSIC: TRANSITION 


PERFECT: (DISAPPOINTED) So, Mrs. Tillman and Mr. McTeague, it seems to me that those who voted voted the way I'd asked them to, but-- Well, they didn't constitute a drop in the bucket. (FRUSTRATED EXCLAMATIONS) I suppose it's somehow my fault.


McTEAGUE: (DISAGREES) Oh, no, Your Honor.


MRS. T: You haven't failed.


PERFECT: Oh, but I must have, Mrs. Tillman.


MRS. T: No. The problem is that you succeeded all too well.


McTEAGUE: Yes.


PERFECT: What?!


MRS. T: They feel that their government is so good that they've ceased to worry about it. Their welfare is in safe hands -- and since it is, they've grown too indifferent and lethargic to make even the effort of voting.


PERFECT: (AGHAST) Oh, no!


MRS. T: I feel absolutely certain of it.


McTEAGUE: Don't take it so hard, Your Honor.


PERFECT: But don't you see what it means? I've - I've defeated my principles by serving them too conscientiously! Because my government was efficient and benign, they -- the people -- forgot that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom! (PAUSE, PORTENTOUS AND GRIM) You know what this town needs?!


MRS. T: (PUZZLED) What - what do they need, Your Honor?


PERFECT: Shall I tell you?


MRS. T: Yes.


PERFECT: (SLOWLY) What the people of Hoytsville need is a good hot political scandal!


MRS. T: (GASPS)


MUSIC: TRANSITION 


WIXBY: (WORRIED) Look, chief -- the best thing you can do is to take it easy and just--


PERFECT: (REASSURING) Ah, now, now, now -- for the tenth time, Wixby, I haven't gone off my rocker. No, sir. (CHUCKLES)


WIXBY: (SKEPTICAL) But, er, can a fellow be in his right mind and send somebody out looking for trouble?


PERFECT: (INTENSE) Now, Wixby, Wixby, boy, boy -- I want you to organize an investigation of my regime. I want you to have the boys comb through the records of everything I've said or done since I've been in office until you find every possible error, contradiction, misusage, or injustice!


WIXBY: Now, chief--


PERFECT: Now, listen to me, boy, listen. I want you to list them along with every flaw, big or small, that they can find in the Hoytsville city government. And then -- I want the list given to every city editor in town -- on the condition that he turn it into headline copy! (CHUCKLES)


WIXBY: That's what you want done?


PERFECT: Yes! That's what I want done!


WIXBY: You really mean it?


PERFECT: Yes! I really mean it!


WIXBY: (EXHALES) Okay, chief. Whatever you say. But if you haven't got a mental breakdown, let's hope you never get one.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: Wixby shook his head, but he did as His Honor told him -- and in a matter of hours the dragnet began phoning in its reports.


HILLIGAN: (FILTER) Hilligan reporting. Spotted a faulty stoplight on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Walnut Street in Stony Hill Heights. Worth anything to you, Your Honor?


PERFECT: Oh, yes! More than I can say, Hilligan.


MUSIC: ACCENT


McGUIRE: (FILTER) McGuire reportin'. There's a condemned buildin' bein' used for a skatin' rink on Blackstone Boulevard in Oak Gardens. Is that the kind of thing you want, sir?


PERFECT: That's just what the mayor ordered!


MUSIC: ACCENT


JENKINS: (FILTER) Jenkins reportin'. I found a school in Brook Falls section where they run the classes in double sessions. Is that any good to you, Your Honor?


PERFECT: My dear Jenkins, it's better than I dreamed!


MUSIC: ACCENT AND TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: That evening, alone in his office, above the twinkling lights of Hoytsville, Mayor Perfect assembled his material with eager hands. Then reconnoitering with a city map and a telephone directory-- (SOUND: RECEIVER UP, PHONE DIALED) --His Honor set about the salvation of his constituents!


SOUND: FINISHES DIALING ... PHONE RINGS AND CONNECTS (CALLER'S PERSPECTIVE)


ANDERSON: (FILTER) Hello?


PERFECT: Ah, is this, ah--? Arthur W. Anderson?


ANDERSON: (FILTER) Yeah, this is me.


PERFECT: Uh, do you live on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Walnut Street?


ANDERSON: (FILTER) Sure. Why?


PERFECT: Do you realize that there's a faulty stoplight at that highly dangerous intersection?


ANDERSON: (FILTER) Why-- Why, yes, I notice the thing's been on the blink for a while. What's this all about?


PERFECT: Well, do I have to tell you, sir, that such negligence on the part of the city government could lead to untold tragedy?


ANDERSON: (FILTER) Huh?


PERFECT: Think of it, Mr. Anderson, and take steps while there is yet time.


ANDERSON: (FILTER) What - what can I do?


PERFECT: You can protest. You can start a club. You can organize community meetings and write to your daily paper!


ANDERSON: (FILTER) Who is this talking?


PERFECT: This, er -- is a friend.


ANDERSON: (FILTER) But what is--?


SOUND: RECEIVER DOWN


PERFECT: (CHUCKLES MADLY)


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: Relentlessly, the calls went on. A phone rang in the Brook Falls section.


MRS. B: (FILTER, ANNOYED) Sure, sure, I know they're running the school on a double-sessions basis. They're short on teachers, they say.


PERFECT: (INSINUATING) Do they, indeed?


MRS. B: (FILTER) Yes, they do, indeed.


PERFECT: And you accept that as an excuse?


MRS. B: (FILTER) What do you want from me?


PERFECT: Action, Mrs. Bugalesi! Action!


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: A phone rang in Oak Gardens.


PERFECT: (HIGHLY INSINUATING) And how do you think they manage to run a skating rink in a condemned building, Mr. Mahoney?


MAHONEY: (FILTER) I got no idea.


PERFECT: And it hasn't crossed your mind that they may be paying off the mayor?


MAHONEY: (FILTER) The mayor? Why-- Why, Mayor Perfect wouldn't go in for stuff like that!


PERFECT: No? How well do you know him, Mr. Mahoney?


MAHONEY: (FILTER) How well do I know him? Why, I don't know him at all! Do you?


PERFECT: I know him like a brother.


MAHONEY: (FILTER) Say, who is this?!


PERFECT: A friend, Mr. Mahoney. A friend.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: And His Honor sat back and waited, and he didn't have long to wait. Within a few days--


REPORTER: This is your Daily Globe reporter with his comments on the news! A citizens' committee has been formed on Stony Hill Heights to investigate alleged negligence of this administration in regard to traffic hazards! And a deputation from the voters' league of Oak Gardens is calling tomorrow at the mayor's mansion to demand the removal of a skating rink from a condemned building on Blackstone Boulevard! Rumor has it that Mayor Perfect will be forced to send spokesmen out to neighborhood town meetings to counteract charges of vice, graft, and fiduciary malfeasance!


MUSIC: ACCENT/TRANSITION


REPORTER: We'd like a statement from you, Mr. Scofflaw, on the sensational disclosures of misgovernment by this administration.


BIG MIKE: I said it before and I'll say it again. The guy's a bum.


REPORTER: Shall we print that verbatim, Big Mike?


BIG MIKE: No, sir! You print it just the way I said it!


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: (HAPPY) A month later, another bond issue election was announced, and the polls were jammed this time to capacity! The appropriation for the new water system was passed by an unprecedented majority and that evening, in his usual sunset broadcast, His Honor's voice, in contrast to his words, held a strangely triumphant ring.


PERFECT: Now, as you know, my administration is presently being investigated by a coalition of the voters' groups of Hoytsville, and who can say what deplorable evils they may bring to light? (QUIET CHUCKLE) I shall, of course, defend myself, but whatever they may discover to my discredit, you have only yourselves to blame. 


Be it on your own heads that you allowed your faith in me to supplant the healthy distrust and vigilance which ever was the heritage and burden of free people at all times and everywhere! I am perfect, yes. But I am only one man. You out there are many men, and when you act together for the greatest good of all, your action is transmuted into a political perfection beyond the highest aspiration of the most illimitably incorruptible individual. Beware, Hoytsville! Beware, I say! Your fate is in your own hands. And neither I nor any leader shall fail somehow to distort it if you relax your grip upon it.


(CHUCKLES) Ah, you will censure me, I suppose, that I -- a man under fire -- dare raise my voice in criticism of his constituents. If so, then I beg forgiveness on the grounds that I value the guarantees of democracy more highly than I value the goodwill of even my most loyal and beloved friends. This is William Howard Perfect, your mayor, wishing you a pleasant evening -- and happy dreams!


MUSIC: CURTAIN ...

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