“Mr. Shitz is no stranger to wandering bare ass naked in the woods,” Archibald informed us, “this is no cause for alarm.”
“He wanted Allen to kill him with a shotgun, Archie!” I said, “I think concern is warranted here.”
Archibald put his hands up to his face and rubbed his bald head. “What difference does it make?” he asked. “He’ll be dead soon anyway.”
Darla put down the booze and spoke up. “Archie’s right,” she said, “we should let him die the way he wants: balls dangling in the wind.”
“But that’s not the way he wants to go!” I replied. “He wants me to hunt him; he wants us to hunt him.”
“But why, Jim?! Why?!” Allen Funt cried out.
I went to the bar and poured a stiff drink. “Because…,” I said, “because his whole life he’s felt misunderstood. He’s been alone in this world. He wants us to to prove our love to him, by hunting him in the wilderness so we might see his true self.”
Allen Funt continued to bawl his eyes out. “I just want to go home and see my family!” he cried.
“Calm yourself, Allen,” I said, “you’re just as much a part of this as we are.”
Darla, already three sheets to the wind, tried to slur out her words. “And how do you know so much about father, Mr. Grey?” she asked.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” I replied. “None of you would.”
Archibald picked up the shotgun and began loading shells. “Probably not, Mr. Grey,” he said, “but I know what I must do. I’ve been William Shitz’s butler for 47 years. If anyone must put him down, it should be me.”
“That’s your responsibility?” I asked.
Archibald took a long pause. “Yes,” he said. “It’s common knowledge that butlers must take an oath to do what must be done, even if that means mercifully killing his master with a shotgun. It is my sworn duty.”
I walked up to the aged butler and put my hands on his shoulders. “When the time comes,” I asked, “can you do what must be done?”
“Yes, Mr. Grey,” he said as he looked me square in the eye, “and if I can’t pull the trigger, then it becomes your responsibility…and I too must be executed for my dereliction of duty.”
TO BE CONTINUED…