UNITED STATES—I figured we all needed a vacation. So I am inviting the eternal Jack Benny to guest star in this week’s Miller Time, which will be light and fluffy. Sorta. Which is just what we need. I know Burt Bacharach said the world needs Love, Sweet Love. Maybe it just needs some bad gags to get us through the moment.

Scene: Bank Half past three in the afternoon.

Well, well, Mr. Benny, we haven’t seen you ar the bank for so long.

(The unctuous manager type rushes up and gladhands him.)

“It’s been weeks since this quarantine. The pandemic. I figured my money must be getting lonely.”

“You certainly look well, Mr Benny,“ says a perky teller.

Rochester gestures. At first Jack doesn’t take the cue and then swiftly Benny puts the N95 mask back in place which he has left hanging loose.

“I know. I know!” Jack snaps. “They call it practicing social distancing. Listen Rochester, I’m still practicing.”

“I’ll say,” says Rochester. “Boss, you look 50 percent better in a face mask. We only see half your face.”

“I never though I’d see the day when it would be OK to wear masks in a bank. No stick em up.”

Watch what you say, boss,” says Rochester. “They could see you on a security camera.”
The unctuous bank manager returns: “Now when we let you in the vault, we prefer that you don’t touch the money. The virus has been shown to penetrate latex gloves even. Your life is very precious to us, Mr. Benny,” says the manager.

“Well can you at least let me take off my face mask?”

“Why,” says the manager.

“It sounds like all I can do is take off the mask and drool.”

Then three guys wearing bandannas come into the bank. The guard isn’t back from lunch yet.”

There’s a beefy, ruddy fellow among them.

“Everyone be quiet,” says a voice raw with nerves. “And nobody will get hurt.”

Jack goes over and looks at the beefy fellow.

“Now cut it out,” says Jack.

“This is for real and this is a stick up.”

“I’d know that voice anywhere. It’s Phil Harris,” (up applause).

“What! is this guy kiddin?” as he holds at his pistol.

“I can smell the marijuana downwind here, after the vodka fumes. You’re quite the hep cat, Phil.”

“If you don’t shut up. . .”

“Why don’t you be nice and put down that gun, Phil.”

“I wouldn’t trust the guard coming back from lunch and going a little trigger happy,” says Jack.

“Phil, cut out the act, I’d hate to see something happen you you. We wouldn’t have anyone else around to recycle the old Dean Martin jokes.”

Rochester, “You’ve really got to break down and pay some new writers, Jack.”

Now the bank guard comes back from lunch. “How was lunch?”

“White claw from 7-Eleven.” “Phiil!” gasps Jack.

“Jack! What are you doing here. I thought you were a hypochondriac.”

“I am, but I had to get out of the house. I missed my money. My little darlings.”
“This isn’t you.,” Jack swivels to the bank guard. “Then who is it.”

It must be a bank robber. Phil takes a little airplane booze bottle from his security guard cap.

“What’re you doing here?” Jack asks.

“Moonlighting. With the wages you pay boss, I had to get a side gig.”
“I’m not that cheap.”

“You can leave now, we’ve got it under control,” Phil says. “Beverly Hills’ best are on their way.”

Out on the sidewalk of Beverly Hills a group bicycle cops storms the bank. One says, “Get out of my way you punk-Ass bitch.”

Jack crosses his arms, gives a hurt look, and says, “Well.”

Grady Miller is the author of the organ-trafficking thriller, “Hostages of Veracruz,” available on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2CPQISk

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)