(For this evening’s performance, the part of “Reg” will be played by Robert Picardo. )
He’d been the perfect houseguest for the whole two weeks.
He’d charmed them with his sunny smile and elegant good looks. He’d amused them with his dry witticisms and uplifting anecdotes. He had flattered them with his highly obervant compliments and artistic appreciation of theri mansion’s architecture. He’d impressed them with his archery skills and top notch horsemanship. And he had soothed their ills with his alert listening and sympathetic advice.
Now it was time to see if it all was worth it.
Because one of them was about to invite him to do what he had been fantasizing about fdoing or the whole time he’d been at Broadmoor Hall.
“Speech! Speech!” cried Uncle Billy, aka the Reverend Billy Thorpe of the Church of God’s Golden Glory, Incorporated.
Soon, everyone else joined in – even the icy Danera Thorpe, whose name from her father’s expecting a boy he would name DeNiro.
“Yes, give us a speech before you go!” said Bradford Thorpe, asserting what he thought of as his paternal authority.
“You simply must!” said Heather “Mommy” Thorpe, not willing to let her husband get ahead of her on this.
“How could I refuse? ” said Reginald “Reg” Tolstead as he rose to his feet. In his mind, an archer smoothly nocked a thick hickory arrow into his sturdy yew bow.
“Well the first thing I’d like to say is that this had been a wonderful two weeks.”, said Reg, ” I have never been treated better in my life. Everyone here has been very good to me, and for that you will always have my humble gratitude. ”
“Think nothing of it, dear man. ” said Bradford, grinning ear to ear.
“You’ve been a most delightful guest!” said “Mommy”.
“It’s a damned shame you have to go so soon! ” said Billy.
Danera, as usual, said nothing, but blushed prettily.
“Thank you all. ” said Reg. “But I wouldn’t feel right leaving you without one last bit of observation from little old me, so here it is. ”
The archer drew back the arrow.
“You are all terrible, terrible people. ”
The arrow flew through the air.
“WHAT? ” roared Bradford.
“How dare you!” said “Mommy” with poisonous vehemence.
“That’s not funny, buddy. ” said Billy.
Nenara cried into her lambskin gloves.
“I’m sorry, but it’s true. ” Reg said in a tone of mock sympathy. “Over the last two weeks I have gotten to know each one of you quite well, and you are, quite simply, the most repugnant bunch of dirty filth sinners I have ever been unfortunate enough to meet.
“Now you see here, you ungrateful son of a bitch… ” said Billy.
“Yes, let’s start with you, the Reverend Without Being Revered Billy. First of all, you need to drop that corn-pone accent of yours. If you’re Southern, I’m Martian. ”
“See here! ” said “Mommy”, “There’s no need to be so… ”
“Personal? ” said Reg. “Oh but there is. I said you were horrible people, and I intend to prove my case. And while we’re on the subject, you need to lose your phony accent too. You talk like an idiot’s imitation of the Queen of England, and you’re not even British. ”
“Now then, where was I? Oh yes, the Most Holy Reverend Billy. I want to ask you a question, and I mean this sincerely…. have you even read the Bible?”
“Read it? ” Billy yelled, ” you son of a bitch, I got a doctorate in divinity! Of course I’ve read it! Have you?”
“Extensively, and with great pleasure. And your doctorate is from the Pine Hills Institute of Theology, which operates out of the back of a van and whose final and only exam consists of one simple question : How much money do you have? ”
Billy grunted but didn’t deny it. That arrow hit home.
“But you can prove me wrong by just answering this simple question : what is the lesson a thoughtful Christian should learn from Christ’s storming of the temple?”
Billy glared at Reg as he tried to think of an answer.
“Uh… that people should be nice to each other. ” said Billy defiantly.
“Wrong. ” said Reg. “So very wrong. But I don’t blame you. A lot of rich people are stupid. The lesson, Billy Boy, is that it’s wrong to make money from religion. That’s what made Jesus so angry. The merchants and money-changers were profiting from religion, and that was so great a sin in God’s eyes that the Prince of Peace was driven to commit acts of violence. ”
“So? ” said Billy truculently. “So what?”
“The ‘what’, you ass, is that your little corporate empire makes all its money by promising poor people that God will make them rich. That is about as un-Christlike as it gets. In fact, if you look up ‘Jesus’ in the dictionary, it says ‘the opposite of that'”.
Billy glowered at Reg, seething with hate. “Are you let him talk to me like that, Dad?”.
“Hmm? ” said Bradford. “Actually, I think he makes a rather good point. ” Then, upon seeing the look on Billy’s face, he harumphed, and said “I mean… listen, you are a guest in this house and as such, you are expected… ”
“… to toe the party line?”, said Reg, ” I’m sorry, that’s the one thing I have never been any good at. But let’s take a good look at you, Pater Mi. In my prescene, you have ordered illegal drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, authorized the theft of over one hundred million dollars from your employee’s pension fund, fired an underling for not knowing that when you asked for toast, you meant melba toast, and chatted with a friend about how poor people are the worst and the country would be better off if they were all gassed. Now does any of that sound like something Jesus would do?”
“But… that’s just good business! ” Bradford protested.
“Yes, and I am sure the merchants and money-changers at the Temple were doing ‘good business’ too. I’ve noticed that rampant sociopaths like yourself always bring up ‘good business’ when confronted with your evil deeds. As if the only justification needed for the even the most unspeakable of acts was ‘I get more money that way'”.
“Well…. ” said Bradford, flatering. But he soon rallied. “That certainly doesn’t make me a god damed sociopath!”
“Doesn’t it? ” said Reg. “Well there’s a simple test. When was the last time you did something that was not to your advantage? ”
Bradford tried to form syllables but did not reply.
“That’s what I thought. ” said, Reg, “Normal people do it all the time, Bradford. They take their turn, make sacrifices for the betterment of others, and behave morally even when there is nobody watching. That’s because they have a conscience, Bradford. You do not. That’s what makes you morally defective. ”
“Listen here, I have a fidu-” said Bradford.
“Fiduciary responsibility to maximize profit, yes, we’ve all heard that before. It’s bullshit, Brad the Dad, and poor quality bullshit at that. Your bunch is fond of saying that coporations are people. Well there is a word for people who maximize their gain at all times, Bradford. Can you guess what it is?”
“Sociopath. ” said Denara. At first, she looked guilty about her outburst. But then she responded to her family’s outraged looks with her usual icy indifference,
“It speaks! ” said Reg, “Welcome to the conversation, o Queen of Winter. I was just about to give you your turn. Don’t think that you are off the hook merely because you don’t say much. ”
Denara did not visibly react except to grow even frostier.
“Too dead inside to react, eh? ” said Reg. That’s understandable. Well then you won’t mind me telling you what a malicious, malignant, vile, vituporous, and downright evil person – and I use that term loosely – you are. ”
Denara turned a very cold shoulder to Reg, pretending to ignore him.
“Oh no, now I won’t be able to bask in the glow of your affection any more. ” Reg said sarcastically. “Listen, Miss Prissy, in my presence you have broken up one “friend”‘s relationship via misleading texts, sabotaged the wedding of another “friend” by sending a gift you knew she would hate, and punished a third “friend” for paying attention to her child and not you by waiting till she was out of the room then teasing the poor child till the boy was crying his eyes out, then pretending you had nothing to do with it when your “friend” came back. ”
“You, little lady, are just plain mean. “, said Reg, “The men in your family might be horrible, but at least they don’t do it out of malice like you do. You are a cancerous poison and all who meet you are the worse for it. Do the world a favour and bite yourself so you can die from your own poison, you ghoulish ghost. ”
Denara didn’t react. Or at least, didn’t think she reacted. The venom in her glare at Reg was so palpable an autistic child would have felt it, and Reg could tell that she really wanted to unleash her verbal venom on Reg, but was too committed to her ice queen persona to do it.
Choke on it, thought Reg.
“Mommy” cleared her throat.
“Do you have something you’d like to contribute, “Mommy” dearest? ” said Reg.
“No. ” said Heather in a tone so cold one could almost see the icicles hanging from the words. “I just wanted to ask for the salt. ”
“Oh, good one. ” said Reg in the exact same tone. “That sure shows me. And to think, for a second there I thought you might actually be ready to jump down my throat in defense of your poor little girl. But I should have known better. Any maternal act like that would be your first. You’re about as maternal as a guppy eating its young”.
“I will have you know… ” she said, “that I happen to be the chair of… ”
“About a half dozen children’s charities, yes, I know. ” said Reg. “But those aren’t really charities, are they? Surely you know this. They exist entirely to assuage whatever dull twitch of the mind you call a conscience when it bothers you about how little you love your own children, and apart from that, “Mommy”, you couldn’t care less about the children. And God knows, you’ve tried. ”
“Well if I am such an awful person, ” said Heather hotly, ” then why have I spent so many hours working on… ”
“…throwing parties for your friends? To show them how much better than them you are, of course. That’s the whole point of those little luncheons, isn’t it? They certainly aren’t about helping children. Do you know how much those events cost?” said Reg.
“I’m sure I have absolutely NO idea. ” said Heather haughtily.
“Exactly. ” said Reg. “you don’t know and you don’t care. And yet, you are perfectly willing to spend the charity’s money on them. Which means you don’t care about how much money actually goes to the children, and that means you don’t care about said children. See how simple that is? It’s easy if you care. ”
“And to think I actually went to church with you demons. To be honest, I was half-expecting you to burst into flames upon entering. ”
Reg walked to the door, then turned to face the room one last time. “Well folks, I’ve had a wonderful time, but this wasn’t it. Spending two weeks with low trash like you without going on face-slapping rampage has been the hardest thing I have done in my life. But don’t worry…the looks on your faces right now made it all worth it. You are all horrible, horrible people, and all I want to do right now is to go home and take a thousand showers to get the stink of you off me. I’d say farewell, but I’d prefer you didn’t. So I will just tell you this : save God some trouble and go directly to hell. Bye!”
And with that, Reg got onto the back of a waiting motorcycle, and sped off into the crisp air of that fateful November night.
“So how did it go? ” asked Shirley as she massaged Reg’s back.
“Mmmm. YOu do that so well. ” moaned Reg. “Have I mentioned lately how you’re the best girlfriend in the world?”
“Only around seventeen times. ” she replied. “Tonight. Now answer the question. ”
“Oh, it went perfectly. Flawlessly. In fact, it went better than I could have dreamed. They all hopped on Twitter to bitch about how mean I was, and what I had said to them. Now all my deadly memes are circulating freely for anyone to use against the billionaire class. And when their friends read about it, they will get infected too. I never dreamed it would go so well. I have truly set the cat amongst the pigeons, and I don’t feel even the slightest bit bad about it. ”
“Well I feel bad for one person. ” said Shirley.
“Who?” said Reg.
“The cat. Can you imagine having to eat a pigeon that dirty? ”
They both laughed, then made love, watched some Netflix, then called it a night.