The commune meeting that week was really difficult.
There was only one item on the agenda: dealing with Dick and Don. But there were lots of feelings.
“I’m not enjoying living here right now,” Cat said.
“Me, neither,” said Patsy.
“I’m sure we can work things out,” said Nancy.
“I’m not,” said Broc. People looked up in surprise. Broc had not spoken up at many meetings. “I am upset that people have complained to me that I was too macho. I would never be as macho as them. They give macho a bad name.”
Don and Dick glared at Broc. It was a short break from them glaring at each other. Almost everyone else was glaring at the two of them.
Luna was trying to facilitate the meeting. She was in charge because almost no one else was willing to do it. “Alright,” she said. “Let’s all take a deep breath.”
“That’s the fifth time you’ve suggested that,” Strange Brew said. “If we do any more deep breathing, I’m afraid I’m going to start hyperventilating.”
“I,” said Sowbug slowly, “don’t… think… I… can… work… with… these… two… any… longer.”
“Me neither,” said Dandelion in one quick breath.
Sal sighed. She looked directly at Dick and Don. “The problem is that you’re both really good workers and you haven’t threatened anyone directly. You haven’t done anything we could give as a reason to ask you to leave.”
“So why even bring the idea up?” asked Dick.
“Because if we don’t do something other people will start leaving,” Sal said.
“Is it my fault that they’re not up for real work?” Dick asked.
A bunch of people started talking at once, all of them loudly.
“Stop!” Luna yelled. When there was quiet again she said, “Okay, Chuck, then Marge, then Viv. Did I miss anybody?” She looked around and spotted more hands. “Alright, and then Ken. Dan, Sal, and Broc, I’m waiting on you because you’ve already spoken.”
The meeting went an hour and a half overtime and only ended because Luna was afraid no one would be awake to work in the morning. Amazingly, no one walked out of the meeting, although several people threatened to.
“What do we do now?” Luna asked Dan as they were headed for bed.
“I think we should talk with Peter,” Dan said. “Maybe he has some good ideas.”
There was a meeting a week later at Peter’s house. Luna, Dan, and Sal were there, having slipped out and telling no one except Nancy.
Besides Peter, Fred, George, Ed, and Ralph were also there.
“We don’t know what to do,” Dan said. “We’re at our wit’s end.”
“I’m really surprised that people haven’t started leaving,” said Sal. “I know that Sowbug and Dandelion have talked about it.”
“We rotated Don and Dick off of the construction crew on to the farming crew for a little bit,” Luna said. “Then we got wise and split them up so one is on construction and one is on farming at any given time. Each of them separately is bad but nowhere near as toxic as the combination of the two of them together.”
“Do you think that they might be actors, put in by the Reagons?” Fred asked. “Like Barbara.”
“Yeah,” said George. “This seems like the kind of thing that they would do.”
“If either Dick or Don is an actor, they’re a really good actor,” Sal said. “I can’t believe that both of them are.”
“Regardless of whether these folks are actors or the real deal,” Peter said, “we’ve got to come up with a plan of what you’re going to do now.”
“Like I said, splitting them up has made some difference,” said Luna.
“Yeah,” Dan said. “Dandelion and Sowbug have stopped talking about leaving. But I know these two are getting on everyone’s nerves. They’re certainly getting on mine.”
“Mine, too,” said Sal.
“And the trouble is that they’re both great workers,” Luna added. “If they weren’t so obnoxious they’d be dream communards.”
“Yeah, but that’s like asking what the pope would be like if he wasn’t Catholic,” Ed said. “They are who they are. The question is what do you do?”
“Yeah, but the point is,” said Sal, “that how good they are and how hard they work is what makes it hard to ask them to leave. Which is what we’d like to do if we could come up with a good reason.”
“They also haven’t threatened anyone or damaged anything or done anything against our policies,” added Luna. “Which is what makes the whole thing so difficult.”
“We can’t toss them out,” said Dan, “and I’m afraid they’re going to destroy us if they stay.”
“Maybe you can suggest that they might want to take a break,” suggested Ralph. “If either or both of them left for a bit it would give everyone else a break.”
“I can’t think of any legal recourse,” said Peter. “As you said, they haven’t violated any rules.”
George looked thoughtful. “Maybe you could…” He paused for a minute and the phone rang.
“Saved by the bell,” said Fred as he answered Peter’s phone. “It’s for you,” he said handing the phone over to Luna.
“Uh-huh,” Luna said. “Oh, no.” She put her hand over the receiver. “It’s Nancy. Broc just walked out. He got into an argument with Don and Dick and he’s gone. She’s pretty sure he’s not coming back.”