Peaches in the Quorum

Multi-millionaire, multi-level marketer Porter Smith and his uptight LDS wife, Happy, are in jail in Russia in 2002 ostensibly for running a Ponzi scheme. In reality, the Russians want them to persuade Happy’s father, Marvin Shelby, to come to Russia so the Russians can debrief Marvin concerning his top secret defense contracts.

Happy plans to divorce Porter because Happy found Porter has married sister wives around the world. Happy and Porter have four little boys living in Salt Lake City, the oldest of whom, Adam, has a penchant for serious computer mischief and explosives. The only person who can control Adam is Shirley McCain (no L in McCain), a former porn star and prior business partner of Porter. Happy and Shirley have become best of friends.

The U.S. government refuses to help Happy get out of Russian prison. Marvin, Adam, Shirley and a couple of others go to Russia to try to force the Russians to let these prisoners free. An international game of “chicken” follows.


“As a recently returned missionary,” Happy asked Porter, “what are the most valuable things you learned on your mission?”

“I learned to be a leader, a good public speaker, a good time manager, and how to win friends and influence people.”

“Mmm, not exactly what I expected,” said Happy. “I thought you would say you gained a great testimony and an exceptional knowledge of the scriptures. The other returned missionaries usually say those two things plus a greater love of their family. If you had to pick just one very valuable thing you brought home from your mission, what would that be?”

“The mission office Rolodex.”

“What? You stole the mission office Rolodex? Don’t you think your successors might need that? Do you plan to return it?”

“Well, sure they might need it but they also need to put all those thousand names and addresses into the office computer. We’re not living in the 1950’s anymore you know. By me liberating the Rolodex, I will force them to do what has been discussed but not accomplished for probably ten years. If they track me down and ask for the old Rolodex, I’ll send it back to them as soon as I finish entering all the data into my computer. It’s a big job you know. I’ve been working on it for about two weeks in my spare time and I’m only up to G.”

“All I can say is I’m appalled,” said Happy.


“Well, I read dozens of books about rearing children but I somehow missed the main point.” Happy explained to a child development counselor who was trying to help her with Adam.

“What do you think is the main point, Happy? What did you miss?”

“Unconditional love,” replied Happy. “If a child doesn’t feel unconditional love the child will withdraw into a shell or do destructive things to gain your attention. Even punishment is better than indifference for a child seeking attention. I learned from my reading that ignoring undesirable behavior and rewarding desired behavior was the way to mold a child’s choices. That works if you can be with the child all the time. I have three other sons and I can’t give Adam the time that he needs. He’s always getting into mischief so I was spending most of my time ignoring him. He doesn’t know that I love him.”

“You never corrected him when he did something destructive?”

“I’m sorry to say I did exactly that. He didn’t tell you about his most notorious pranks. Last Christmas Adam told my father he wanted a chemistry set. I told them Adam couldn’t have one because I was afraid he would blow something up. My father told Adam he didn’t need a chemistry set to make explosions, he could blow things up with normal household products found in every home.

“I didn’t appreciate the enormity of that comment until a few months later, it was Valentines Day, when Adam asked my permission to build a volcano on our back patio. I gave my permission after he promised me he would not use real fire in his volcano. I checked on him after about an hour and he had built a foot high cone of sand and rocks on our patio. It looked like a very nice volcano and I told him so. He was pleased with his work.

“A couple of hours later a tremendous explosion rocked our neighborhood and broke out many windows. Adam’s volcano made a two feet deep crater in the patio and destroyed our lawn furniture. I’m thankful he set off the explosion from inside our basement and nobody was hurt. Most of the neighbors were very understanding and my insurance handled all the claims. A couple of neighbors called the police. I guess I can’t blame them. I made Adam stay in his room for a week as punishment for the explosion. But even that was a mistake because he spent his time reading several of the Harvard classics and says he really enjoyed it. I spent two weeks dealing with Child Protective Services (CPS).  They recommended I enroll Adam in your school.”

“I appreciate the CPS for making that recommendation. I think we can help Adam but more especially, I think we can help you be a better mother.”

“So you don’t think I’m a fit mother either, do you? You sound just like my mother-in-law, Dawn, who put all her children in childcare from the time they were born. I love my boys and I don’t want to put them in childcare. I want to be a good mother but I just don’t have the time to devote all my attention to each of my sons. What can I do? I’m not doing anything right, am I? You think I’m a complete failure, don’t you? Well I’m not going to let you take my son away from me. I know my rights and I’ll fight you every step of the way.”

    “Happy, please listen to me now. You need help with Adam. We want to help you so you can be a better mother. It is very difficult to raise a boy like Adam who needs special attention. You are a good mother. You love your boys. You just need a little help.


    “Hello? Is this Marvin Shelby?” said Shirley on her cell phone.

“Yes, may I ask who’s calling and how did you get this private number of my satellite phone?”

“My name is Shirley McCain. I got your number from your grandson, Adam Smith. Where are you? I hear seagulls in the background.”

“I’m on a commercial fishing boat about fifty miles south of La Paz, Baja California. How is Adam? Did he blow something up again, the little rascal? You must be the lady he calls Aunt Shirley.”

“What the hell are you doing on a fishing boat at a time like this? Is your wife with you? We’ve got serious problems here and I need your help.”

“What problems? I haven’t watched the news for a few days. Does it concern Happy? Have they let her free? What’s going on? My wife is on her way to Russia to see if she can do anything. Tell me about the problems.”

“If your wife is going to Russia, why are you fishing? She needs your help. You should be with her. No wonder Adam’s head is so screwed up with a man like you as his primary role model. You should be ashamed.”

“Will you please tell me what is the problem? Maybe we can sort out my character flaws over lunch some day.”

“Listen, Mr. Shelby, don’t you think you can start anything with me. You are way out of your league. Okay, sorry, that was uncalled for. I apologize. Here‘s the problem. Adam took over the air traffic control of the Salt Lake City airport a couple of days ago. The FBI caught him hiding at Del and Emma Smith’s home. They took Adam to a hospital and kept him strapped in bed for about twenty hours. Last night Adam broke out of the hospital with my help and we are now sitting in a charter jet waiting to fly to San Jose, California. I want to bring Adam to you for safe keeping but maybe that is not such a good idea.”

“How did he take over the flight control center? Is he okay? It will take me at least two days to get home.”

“Don’t ask me how he did it. I can’t even program a TV remote control. He’s pretty anxious because he thought they were going to lobotomize him at the hospital but otherwise he’s fine.”

“I’m not fine, Grandpa,” shouted Adam, “Aunt Shirley is making me wear a dress. Can we stay at your house for a few days? I’ll be good. I won’t touch any of your stuff.”

“Sure you can stay at my house. Aunt Shirley, write down this number. It belongs to Nasrulla Smith, my assistant. She has a key to my house. She will also meet you at the airport if she has time. I’ll get back as soon as I can.”

“When will that be, approximately?”

“Well we just got started fishing today…”

“Mr. Shelby, I don’t want to sound like a real bitch but you need to get your priorities straight here. You need to get your ass in gear right now and turn that boat around and start heading home immediately.”

“I wish I could but this is a big commercial fishing boat. There are probably fifteen other people fishing for blue fin tuna with me and the fishing is great. I can’t tell them to turn the boat around.”

“Do they have some sort of provision for emergency evacuations from that boat? Does it have a helicopter pad?”

“Yes, it is equipped for rescue flight helicopter landings.”

“Well call the blinking helicopter and get back here.”

“But the emergency helicopter service costs two thousand dollars.”

“If you don’t want to spend the money, I do. I’ll reimburse you. Are you coming home or not?  Mr. Shelby? Are you still there? Speak to me, please.”

“Hang on a second, I just got a bite and it looks like a beauty.”

“Marvin Shelby, do you want to really piss me off? You better cut that line, call a helicopter, and get your ass in gear right now. Not in five minutes. Right now. Do you hear me?”

“Yes, it got away anyhow. I’m coming as quickly as possible. I’ll be there late tonight. Give Adam a kiss for me.”

“Don’t tell her that, Grandpa. She uses purple lipstick and it’s really hard to get off. We’ll be careful at your house, I promise.”


Saturday morning at 9AM everyone except Helga was in the Moscow hotel’s breakfast room. Helga joined them about five minutes later. She looked fine other than red eyes.

“Hello, everybody,” said Helga, “sorry I’m late, I was trying to do something for these red eyes. I probably look like a vampire.” Helga started with Adam and gave everyone a pat or a kiss as she circled the table. She stopped next to Shirley. Shirley stood up and faced her.

“I’m not quite sure I know you,” said Helga, “I’m Helga Shelby and today you are…?”

“Mildred Wolford. I’m sorry for the confusion I caused last night. I hope we can still be friends. I need to stay in character until this mission is over and then we can see what happens next.”

“Of course, my dear Mildred, I too hope we can be friends. Please forgive me for anything I may have said or done last night. You can’t imagine how devastated I felt to have my carefully nurtured prejudices and preconceived notions yanked out by the roots and trampled right before my eyes. As much as I wanted to defend them I had to watch helplessly as those worthless ideas that I treasured for decades were condemned to the trash heap. I’m feeling an overwhelming urge to give you a kiss. Would you permit me to do that without ruining your Ms Wolford persona?”

“Of course my dear Helga.” They embraced and kissed. “Ms Wolford might be a proper British woman but she loves you just as much as you love her because you are a very easy lady to love. What do you want to eat? Please sit here in my place next to Adam and I’ll fetch you some breakfast.”

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