UNITED STATES—“Rabbi Goldwyn,” said Rhett, hardly the voice of a man on his death bed. “Let’s begin with you. You guys got the edge on just about everyone, including the Chinese. Together you all must go back 10,000 years, which I more than I can say for myself, though there’re times I feel like I’ve lived that long.”

The rabbi cleared his throat as a way of ascertaining that Rhett had spoken his piece. Then he explained:

“In our tradition we have a prayer of confession, as part of the last rites,” Rhett listened with a foxy look. “We offer it so that the moribund person had get something off their chest.”

“Final confession,” Rhett gulped. “That’s heavy.”

“Don’t worry, it’s more of a formality and we have ways of getting around it, for instance, if the loved one is incapacitated.”

“Gosh, oh mighty kadoodle,” Rhett mused.

“First of all before you and all heaven, I’ve got to say sorry to my old buddy Luke Skywalker because I had a little thing with Calista Flockhart.”

“I think you’ve got your Star Wars crew mixed up,” said Eliza. “I think you’re thinking of Hans Solo.”

“I jus wanna say, sorry ol’ Buddy for what happened. It didn’t mean a thing. . .”

Father Daniel looked at Eliza who was looking at Rabbi Goldwyn, who in turn was looking at Margaritte, the cook and housekeeper who was looking at Rhett. (Margaritte was worried about making a phone call to Boca Raton, Florida and peddling some smut to the supermarket rag for enquiring minds, accessorized by properly distressed looking photos of the celebrities involved in Rhett’s confession.)

Rhett went on with his confession:

“Now I am really sorry about a little Philly in Hickory Ridge, South Carolina. This pretty lil Philly was the prettiest member of the Rhett Thornton Fan Club of Hickory Ridge, South Carolina. There were only two members of the club. One was a perfect blond with a great figure and Doris Day smile, but Gert was a little dumpy and maybe hadn’t taken a bath for the last three days, but there’s no explaining for the mysteries of lust.”

Rhett explained he kind of run out on that lil Philly without saying goodbye. Because if the depth and profound nature of their relationship, Brett wondered if there had been some progeny.

Rhett could see Father Daniel was reddening. Eliza, the ever faithful, personal assistant had to look away. Rhett of course was alive and kicking, but as a veteran ham, he had died so many times for the cameras, by gunshot, by cancer, by heart failure, by poisoning, bow and arrow, streetsweeper rolled to a pancake, car crash, jumping over the cliff at Pacific Palisades, expiring of a broken heart and being trapped on a plunging elevator and softly sighing away on a hospital bed. He just couldn’t go without letting the dead-scene juices naturally kick in.

Meanwhile, he rolled over the remote and the TV went mute. One of the coaxial cables fed by the consorting engineer stoned on skunkweed, doing a faux weather forecast for the verisimilitude of his and Eliza’s grift, went out into the airwaves, disseminated that the terrorist organization F.A.K.E. had perfected technology that allowed the geriatric bomb an extended payload of now 60 years. This was intended to put the screws to their main mark –Rhett—to get him to cough up some dough.

As a result of crossed cables: The threat now went beyond Rhett’s living room and into a gullible city.

To be continued. . .

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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)