A country road, late at night. Dr. Lisa Leeland is driving down the road, talking on her cell phone.
Lisa: Yeah, I just crossed the county line into Iwillcheatyou Perish. I’m approaching a town called Conformity. I’ll be their by tomorrow afternoon.
(She crashes into a police car pulled over at the side of the road. A police officer comes out.)
Police Officer: Looks like you done smashed into my vehicle. (Turns toward car) Chief, I think you better come on out and handle this one.
(Chief Thomas Lester steps out of the car and walks toward Lisa’s car)
Thomas: Step out of the car, ma’am, and let me see your license and registration.
Lisa: Is there a problem, Officer?
Thomas: Just step on out of the car, ma’am.
(Dr. Leeland steps out of the car and hands Chief Lester her papers.)
Thomas: You done wrecked our only police car. Yer sure in a heap o’ trouble.
Lisa: Please, Officer, I can pay. If I can just get to my destination I can get the cash together and---
Thomas: Well, since I’m also the town judge, and in fact, mayor of this place as well I could allow that, but instead I think I’m gonna throw the book at you.
Lisa: Please, Officer, look---
Thomas: I hereby sentence you to three days of community service. I noticed on your license it says Doctor Lisa Leeland, and since the town doctor, which just so happens to be moi, is getting old, I need you to help out.
Lisa: OK, then. Where’s the nearest hotel?
Thomas: There isn’t one. I used to be the town hotelier, but it was getting to be too much with all my other duties so I burned it down, collected the insurance and retired from that particular business. Meantime, you can sleep in the county jail. Officer Smith will escort you. Report to my doctor’s office in the courthouse tomorrow at nine sharp.
Dr. Thomas Lester’s office. Lisa enters. Thomas is sitting at his desk.
Lisa: Good morning. Here I am, ready to begin my three days of court-appointed slave labour.
Thomas: That’s something I always like to hear.
Lisa: What do you want me to do first?
(The phone rings.)
Thomas: You could start by answering the phone.
(Lisa answers the phone.)
Lisa: Good morning, Dr. Lester’s office. … Uh huh. … Uh huh. … All right, I’ll check his appointment schedule and get right back to you … Thank you. Bye. (She hangs up the phone) That was Officer Smith’s mom. She wants you to go over to her house and give her cat his shots.
Thomas: Sure, and after I do that I might stop off at the drugstore for a malt. What era do you think this is?
Lisa: So do you want me to phone and tell her to bring the cat in or tell her to take it to a vet or---
Thomas: Don’t even call the old biddy back. Say, how you fixed for dinner tonight?
Lisa: What restaurants are around here?
Thomas: Well, the ohnly place to eat in this town was in the hotel, but you’re welcome to come to my daughter’s house for dinner tonight.
Lisa: Thanks. I appreciate that.
Thomas: Where else could you have gone.
Mandy’s house. Dr. Leeland enters. Judge Lester is in the living room with his family.
Thomas: Good to see you, Dr. Leeland.
Lisa: Thank you.
Thomas: Meet my family. This is my daughter Mandy, her husband Jeff and their daughter, Kimberley.
Lisa: What grade are you in, Kim?
Kimberley: I’m not in a grade; I’m homeschooled.
Lisa: I bet you’re really smart, then.
Mandy: No, it’s because she’s mentally retarded.
(A knock is heard.)
Thomas: Oh, that must be the final member of our party. (Officer Smith enters) Dr. Leeland, this is my son, Officer Smith.
Lisa: Oh, hi.
Mandy: Well, I think dinner’s ready. Let’s eat.
(They go into the kitchen and sit down at the table.)
Officer Smith: So, Lisa, how do you like our little town so far?
Lisa: It’s different.
Officer Smith: Oh, so it’s not all exciting and fun like the big city, is it.
Lisa: It’s not that. It’s just, it seems like everyone around here is pressured to conform.
Officer Smith: So, then, your problem is with conformity?
Kimberley: Conformity’s not bad, it’s good.
Lisa: I think I’ll starve for tonight. Thank you, Mandy, for what would have been a lovely meal if you’re brother hadn’t shown up.
Thomas: There’s a pancake breakfast at the church tomorrow.
The church. Dr. Leeland is sitting in a pew with Judge Lester’s family. Judge Lester is in the pulpit.
Thomas: This morning I’d like to follow up on the sermon I preached last Sunday about how God will solve all our problems. I told you that God would solve whatever problem we had, no matter how big or small, because He’s a loving friend, our Shepherd, who is always present. Well, this morning I’d like to expand on that message and add to what I said last week by telling you that we can’t expect God to solve any of our problems. In fact, most of our problems are too miniscule in His eyes for Him to even bother batting an eyelash. He’s God. He’s got the whole universe to take care of and even if you have an enormous, insurmountable difficulty, God doesn’t care about it or you, for that matter. So, as we close this morning remember both that God is truly an ever-present help in time of trouble, and that He doesn’t care for you in the slightest.
The church basement. Everyone is sitting at tables, eating pancakes. Kimberley is shoveling food into her mouth with her hands.
Mandy: Kimberley Aloysius Brown, how many times have I told you to eat slowly. Goodness, even someone with as low an IQ as you shoulda clued in by now.
(Kimberley starts choking. Dr. Leeland jumps from her seat, rushes over to Kimberley and performs the Heimlich.)
Lisa: There, she’s going to be OK.
Mandy: Gee, thanks, I guess.
Thomas: Lisa, I really admire you doing that.
Lisa: Oh, it was nothing.
Thomas: No, no, I’m quite impressed. That’s why I think it behoves me to tell you the real reason I wanted you to do community service in my practice. See, remember when I said I was getting old?
Thomas: Well, it’s not just old age that’s getting to me. I’ve got a bad heart condition. The doctor in Lafayette says I could go any time. If I die, this town will die, too.
Lisa: Look, Doctor Lester, Your Honour, Pastor, I have plans. I’m on my way to New York to be an on-call physician to the rich and famous. I’ve got a man there I love and whom I’m planning to marry. You can’t expect me to just forget about my plans and my life just because I happened to come across your path and---
(Judge Lester grabs his chest.)
Thomas: That’s what you think.
(He falls to the floor, dead. Dr. Leeland rushes over and feels for a pulse.)
Lisa: He’s dead.
The funeral parlour. Officer Smith is standing at the front of the room with a piece of paper in his hand.
Officer Smith: Since Dad was the town coroner and mortician, there’s no one to bury him, so we, as a town, decided long before Dad died that, in this eventuality, we’d just let his body rot on a bench in the park so that all might pass by and remember this man who delved so deeply into the matters of each of our lives. Now I will read the will. (Reads) I, Reverend Doctor Pastor Doctor Thomas Lester, G.E.D., being of sound mind do declare this to be my last will and testament. To my son and daughter, I each leave fifty percent of my estate, my hot plate and electric kettle excepted. I wish that, after my death, Dr. Lisa Leeland, a woman I picked up tonight for wreckless driving, should have her sentence of three days of community service extended to the rest of her natural life. To her I leave a cell in the town jail for her residence, as well as my kettle and hot plate.
Kimberley: Oh, Dr. Leeland, you’re staying.
Lisa: But he can’t, … this is totally illegal. It’s beyond illegal, … I’m going to fight this.
Officer Smith: You hush now, perpetual jailbird.
(He and a couple burly men grab Dr. Leeland and start dragging her back to jail.)
Mandy: (Calling after Dr. Leeland as she’s escorted out of the room) See you tomorrow, Doctor. We’re so glad you’ve decided to spend your life in Conformity.
Based on “Finding Normal”, Hollmark Movies, 2013.