All names, organizations, characters, etc., in the following are the property of their respective creators, and no connection with same is implied or stated.
Renowned barber Floyd the barber staggered down a shadow-dappled Mayberry street. He lunged for the nearest door he could see, that of his own shop. Inside, he collapsed in a heap in the nearest barber’s chair. He stayed still for a moment, gasping for breath.
A voice spoke, chillingly close. “Don’t ya’ll move a whisker, now.”
Clutching the black leather-padded arms of the chair, the barber froze, turning his head slowly. He had forgotten the cardinal rule of Mayberry: The doors don’t lock.
He could see the silhouette of his attacker framed in one of Mayberry’s streetlights, just inside the doorway. Small, agile, restless. The small man drew a pistol from the waistband of his trousers. They were held up by a piece of rope threaded through the beltloops.
“Y’all shouldna skee-daddled like that.” His accent was difficult to place. “Nowsir, tell me wherdja put it?”
“Oh, I told you,” the barber said, sliding backwards in the chair. “Oh, I don’t think I even know what you mean, you see.”
“Y’all gots a see-cret, and it’s a see-cret you shouldna got,” the small man said. “Now yer a gonna tell me and I’ll have a see-cret too.”
The barber couldn’t breathe. His heart hammered. How could he have known? He stared at the gun, which spent as much time pointed at the ceiling as at him, while the small man agitatedly shifted back and forth in the doorway. “I should have a see-cret too!”
“Well, OK, then,” the barber said, rehearsing the lie he had to tell. When he finished, the small man beamed like a child. “That’s a right nice see-cret, too,” he said. “And now I’m gonna be the onliest one what knows it!”
The pistol barked, and Floyd felt flame sear his stomach. The small man danced a bit on either foot, and then was out the door, capering down the street, singing about his new “see-cret.”
Floyd knew he had one chance to pass on what he knew – the real secret, the one his lie had hidden. Minutes remained before the acids of his punctured stomach seeped into his chest cavity and he digested his own lungs. One chance, because the attacker had chosen to aim low. He started to move, slowly, painfully, realizing that what he had to do would take every second remaining to him. Realizing the irony that the same rule of Mayberry that had left the door unlocked for his attacker had also given him this chance. Guns in Mayberry had only one bullet.