Message discipline

Interview with a "skeptic"

[Outdoor seating at a suburban North Carolina Starbucks. HERMIONE WEZICK, 33, with short, curly hair, modishly yet modestly dressed in a jacket, shirt, skirt, and flats, carrying a nice bag, and wearing a face mask and smart-person glasses, crosses to a table at which are seated HAZEL GOSSELWORT, 36 — hair permed, wearing a “FAUCI IS A FRAUD” T-shirt, cargo shorts, sandals, and no mask — and WALTER DUBBIN, bald, in a decent grey suit, aviator glasses, and a mask. DUBBIN rises when he sees WEZICK.]

WEZICK: Hazel Gosselwort?

GOSSELWORT: [Blandly] You got her.

WEZICK: Hi, Hermione Wezick from the New York Times. So nice to meet you. Are you still up for the interview?

GOSSELWORT: Sure.

WEZICK: [To DUBBIN] And I’m sorry, you are —

DUBBIN: Walter Dubbin. I’m Miss Gosselwort’s media representative.

WEZICK: Oh. Okay, and — [looks back and forth between the two of them] can I ask what you see your role here as being?

DUBBIN: Sure. Hazel sometimes has trouble framing her thoughts, and we know how it is with the media, so I’m here at her request to help out.

WEZICK: [To GOSSELWORT] Well, if that’s okay with you?

GOSSELWORT: [Shrugs] I’m easy.

[WEZICK sits, as does DUBBIN; WEZICK scoots her chair back a little, whips out a notebook, starts scribbling.]

WEZICK: Okay! I see you’re not wearing a mask, Ms. Gosselwort. Can I ask why not?

GOSSELWORT: I do not wear the face diaper because COVID-19 is a psy-op played by the Democrat Party to get rid of Donald Trump by scaring voters.

WEZICK: So you don’t believe COVID-19 exists, or that it's —

DUBBIN: Hazel believes the settled science on COVID-19 transmission, but she feels it’s been overblown by the media.

WEZICK: Miss Gosselwort, is that right?

GOSSELWORT: Call me Hazel. Look, I believe in science. Got a B+ in biology two years running.

WEZICK: So you believe COVID-19 exists but it’s overblown by the media?

GOSSELWORT: Well, no offense, Mis Wezick, but —

WEZICK: Hermione, please.

GOSSELWORT: Hermione, look at the lies the media tells — they said them BLM riots were peaceful, they said Trump didn’t win the election, they said Hunter Biden wasn’t a Chinese spy. And don’t get me started on George Soros! So why should we trust them when they tell us a little tiny germ is why we can’t sit down and eat at Chipotle?

DUBBIN: [To WEZICK] Hazel’s not saying she believes one thing or the other about these controversies, they’re just examples of, well, controversies that have caused her to have trust issues with the media. On account of the controversies. [To GOSSELWORT] Isn’t that right, Hazel?

GOSSELWORT: That’s the gist.

WEZICK: Hazel, what about the vaccine? Do you — well, have trust issues with that?

GOSSELWORT: [Leans forward conspiratorially] Now lemme tell you something about these here shots. I have a friend who’s a nurse, okay, over to County General. She knows all about it. You know the videos where them monsters from Planned Parenthood admit they chop up poor little babies and sell the pieces to laboratories? Well, my friend says that’s what’s in the shots.

DUBBIN: Which is another controversy, she’s not saying one or the other, intelligent people disagree —

GOSSELWORT: [To DUBBIN, hissing] Stacey says it and I believe it!

DUBBIN: [To WEZICK] Miss Wezick, I think they called Hazel’s and my drinks, would you do us a favorite and go in and pick them up for us? My hands have got arthritis.

WEZICK: Oh, certainly, I’ll be right back. [Leaves]

DUBBIN: [To GOSSELWORT] Hazel, what are you doing? They’re going to make you look like a lunatic! You’ve got to follow my lead!

GOSSELWORT: [To DUBBIN, in a lighter and better-educated voice] Relax, Walt, relax. I’ve done my homework on Wezick. She’s gonna bend over backwards to make me look good.

DUBBIN: Yeah, what makes you so sure?

GOSSELWORT: For one thing, she’s always interviewing Trump voters and kissing their asses. Hell, she sent me an email for an interview a few years back but I was busy helping Judy with the prom.

DUBBIN: I already know that. So what? Now that Trump is out —

GOSSELWORT: And she goes out with one of those columnists that’s always talking about cancel culture.

DUBBIN: Really?

GOSSELWORT: You didn’t know that? Some “media consultant” you are. This lady eats up this poor-little-redneck shit. Why, I could tell her COVID was engineered by the CIA to make Republicans’ dicks fall off and she’d call me a “skeptic.” [Peering off where WEZICK left] And now I’m gonna seal the deal. So you follow my lead, and if this thing comes off like I think it will, remember, I want your vote for county chairman, got it?

DUBBIN: OK, Hazel, it’s your party.

[WEZICK returns empty-handed.]

WEZICK: They said they didn’t have your order. Do you want me to get you something?

GOSSELWORT: [Back in her previous vocal mode] Never you mind, Hermione. Have you a seat.

[WEZICK does.]

You know, Hermione, there’s something else about this vaccine thing and why I don’t want to take it — I been watching Biden on TV, and I notice he’s always wearing a mask, pretty much. Now, I ask you: If he’s all vaccinated like they say, and he’s still wearing a mask, don’t it stand to reason that the vaccine don’t work? And if it don’t work, then why in the Sam Hill should I take it?

[WEZICK looks awestruck. She sets aside her notebook, pulls her iPhone out of her bag, and sticks a mini-mic in it.]

WEZICK: Can you please repeat that for me, Hazel, so I can get it on my recorder? I don’t want to miss a word of this. That is, if Mr. Dubbin doesn’t mind.

DUBBIN: Walter, please. And not at all!

WEZICK: Just a second.

[As she sets up the app, DUBBIN and GOSSELWORT shoot each other a look. BLACKOUT.]