Holy Crap!: The Truth Comes Out
Randy Bechtel
Holy Crap!: The Truth Comes Out

Below is the opening of a speech drafted by the Reverend Vlad Tepes, pastor of the Romanian Baptist Church in El Segundo. Vlad left his homeland of Romania to be installed in his new post in August 2021.  He would deliver his speech at the Inglewood Senior Center on September 16, 2021. It is said that Vlad had the genius to teach himself English and the misfortune to do it watching Jimmy Cagney movies:

It’s a cinch that growing old makes many of us feel like we’re on the lam. That’s because old mugs and dames can be bumped off any time. On the other hand, being worked over day after day by bum health is a jam that makes curtains finally seem swell, see?

Sure, a few mugs and dames take the punches and cash in their chips with their chins up. But fewer still figure they’ll go to Easy Street when their tickets are punched. These mugs and dames run with the Jesus Christ mob, see?

The speech was the first drafted by Vlad that my sister Vivian would edit. Recently separated from Gary Adams, her husband of 45 years, my sister resides alone in a hillside home in the posh SoCal community of Newport Beach. How she met Vlad is beyond me, but beginning with the Inglewood Senior Center speech, Vlad never delivered a sermon or speech not edited by Vivian. Below is her version of Vlad’s paragraphs above:

As we grow old, many of us feel more and more alone. This is to be expected as we realize we will be alone when we meet Death. Many find solace in the fact that, as old age inflicts our bodies with one ailment after another, we will see Death as a release.

But despite their physical torment, a brave few refuse to go quietly into the night.  Fewer still, however, are those who neither feel alone nor believe their destination is night. Their solace is everlasting life promised to His faithful by Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I should qualify something I stated above, namely that Vivian edited every public address that Vlad delivered beginning with his September 16 speech. In fact, their collaboration ended last Monday when Vivian discovered Vlad on top of his office desk with a girl called Dodo somewhere in between.

The original and edited paragraphs of the September 16 speech were given to me to read by my wife Jane, who extracted and printed them from an email sent her by Vivian. When I finished reading, Jane said:

“It’s obvious what happened.”

It wasn’t obvious to me, but I made a guess:

 “Vivian is more of a translator than an editor. And more is discovered than lost in her translation.  Not to mention Vlad would have lost his audience referring to Christians as mugs, dames and mobsters.”

Jane made a sour face and said: “You’re not seeing the forest for the trees. Clearly these two became involved. I can’t imagine anything at our time in life more romantic than a man and woman combining to express poignant thoughts that neither of them could have expressed alone.”

“Romantic maybe,” I said, “but apparently not erotic enough for Vlad.“

Jane shuddered and said, “Vivian told me this Dodo is barely sixteen!”

This Dodo? I wondered how many other Dodos Jane knew of.

I asked: “Vivian knows Dodo is a minor for a fact or is she guessing? At our age everyone appears younger than they are.  People I think are 16 turn out to be 30.”

“All I can say is that Vivian is not only heartbroken but torn as to whether she should report Vlad to the police.”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s a good idea!”

“Good. You can tell her that when she arrives here tomorrow.”


“I told her she could stay with us as long as she wants. Clearly she needs some TLC.”

“What she needs is a reality check.”

“Reality check—from you? What reality would that be?”

“Love affairs between old bitties and pedophiles are doomed.”

Jane sighed and said, “With TLC like that your sister will stay here six months out of spite, With Gary gone, she'll have you to torment.” She rose from her recliner and said enroute to the kitchen: “I need a glass of wine. Do you want one?”

I declined. News of Vivian’s impending visit warranted a triple scotch poured after I snorted a snoot-full from the bottle. That could wait.

Instead, I decided the time had come to reveal a secret that for two years I had struggled to keep to myself. Rather than try to justify the two-year delay I opted to introduce truth with a lie.

“Do you remember Miles Bunt?” I said when Jane returned.

Her eyes narrowed. “The name sounds familiar,” she said.

“He worked with Gary when Gary was doing TV news in Sacramento.”

“That’s right! He’s the one who looked like Lou Costello.”

“Miles Bunt looks nothing like Lou Costello.”

“Maybe not now, but he did then . . .  Oh my gosh, it’s been more than 40 years! Still, I can clearly picture him doing sports.”

“Bunt did the news, not sports.”

“Are you sure? You forget, back then I was a big Giants fan.”

“Occasionally Bunt may have subbed as a sportscaster, although I doubt it.”

 “The Miles Bunt I knew did sports and he did it looking like Lou Costello.”

“I think the Miles Bunt you knew was Lou Costello.”

“What? No . . . How? Was Lou Costello still alive then?”

“Close enough. And he and Bud Abbott did a routine about baseball.”

“Oh my God! Could I be picturing Lou Costello on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show?’”

“Could we please move on?”

Jane shrugged and said,“Sorry. I’m all ears.”

“Stay that way." I said. "I need a scotch!”

I returned minutes later with a drink and feeling much better. I said:

“Last week I ran into Bunt at Raley’s.”

“You? Grocery shopping? You never shop—unless it’s to get cheap Gatorade at Winco. What did you buy?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

“I saw no debit charge made last week that wasn’t mine.”

“I paid cash. It was a spur of the moment thing.”

“You bought scotch, didn’t you? I wondered how one bottle could have lasted almost a month.”

“Fine, I bought scotch. Could we move on?”

Jane shook her head disapprovingly, but otherwise let the subject drop. She said: “So tell me, how did you recognize Miles Bunt after all these years?”

“I ran into him at the meat counter and exclaimed, ‘Holy shit! Aren’t you Lou Costello?’”

“Very funny. Ha, ha.”

“Actually, I’ve seen Bunt a few times over the years when I tagged along with Gary.”

“Tell the truth. Bunt looks a little like Lou Costello, doesn’t he?”

“You never give up, do you?  I guess he does a little. If Lou Costello’s head were a two-week-old jack o’ lantern, there would be a slight resemblance. The years haven’t been kind to Miles Bunt. Can we move on?”

“Don’t let me stop you. You were at the meat counter to buy scotch when you met Miles Bunt.”

I ignored this and the smug smile that it came with. Instead, I benefited from a swig of scotch, then launched into the truth:

“You probably don’t know this, but Miles Bunt recommended the genealogist Gary invited to our house to trace our family trees.”

“Some professional, that Mr. Fuji!” Jane said with a surprising tilt of sarcasm.

“Professional yes. Genealogist no. Fuji was a professional actor hired by Bunt and a few other old buddies of Gary to play a joke on him. Everything Fuji told us—including his name—was false.”

With a thoughtful expression, Jane looked beyond me left, then beyond me right, then straight at me and snickered.

“What’s so funny?” I snapped.

“It’s not funny—really. More of a relief. Thinking you and Vivian are direct descendants of Jesus was a good reason to be an atheist.”

“It's not funny to me. I don't appreciate being the butt of a joke!”

“What about poor Gary? He thought he was related to two presidents only to be told his ancestor John Adams was a serial killer and the serial killer’s son, John Q. Adams, was really John Qball Adams, a horse thief named after a billiard ball.”

“Are you saying you feel sorry for Gary?”

Jane laughed. “I don’t feel sorry for either of you. Don’t tell me you didn’t have a teensy-weenie doubt about what Mr. Fuji told us.”

“All I cared about that night was that the night end as soon as possible. Anyway, I don’t recall you questioning anything Fuji said.”

“Why should I? It wasn’t my family tree he was talking about.”

“Well, what’s done is done. Now it’s time to straighten Vivien out. This idea that her lineage is— What did Vlad call it? Divine? Holy? Anyway, the idea went to her head and found plenty of empty space to grow there. Before that night, she never would have given someone like Vlad the time of day. It’s time she knows the truth.”





Jane’s eyes pinned mine down as she said, “This is the rule: You do not, when your sister is in the midst of a divorce from her husband of 45 years, and a week after she discovered her boyfriend cheating on her with a 16-year-old Dodo—you do not tell her that, contrary to what she’s believed for two years, she is not a direct descendant of Jesus Christ.”

It was a rule so complicated that I wondered whether it had ever applied to any other instance of human existence. Even so, it seemed a sound rule.

Copyright © 2022 by Randy Bechtel

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Email Randy Bechtel at rbechtel@rkbechtel.com