All names, organizations, characters, etc., in the following are the property of their respective creators, and no connection with same is implied or stated.
Ernest T. and Andy’s bodyguard stood behind the chair where Andy sat. Andy looked at Barney and Thelma Lou with resigned sadness in his eyes. Barney knew that while he might overpower one of the two men, the other was sure to fire before he could finish. And that would leave them plenty of time to reload and eliminate Thelma Lou. He bided his time.
“Barney, Barney, Barney,” he said. “I’m sure sorry you got mixed up in this. Darn that Floyd!”
“Mixed up in what?” Thelma Lou said.
“Well, Thelma Lou, it’s like this,” Andy began. “Mayberry’s a wonderful town, but it’s got a dark secret. Just a few people know it…”
“I knows the see-cret!” Ernest T. crowed. “Kin I tell it? Kin I kin I kin I…”
“Enough!” Andy barked. “Ernest T., you just hush right now.” He smiled back at his prisoners.
“It’s kind of an open see-cre…secret, really,” Andy said. “I’m sure you noticed that I raised Opie myself, didn’t you?”
“But what you didn’t know was that I wasn’t always by myself.”
“What do you mean?” Thelma Lou asked.
“I mean that I wasn’t solely responsible for bringing Opie into the world,” Andy said. He stopped for a second, watching Barney nod and waiting for Thelma Lou to understand. Suddenly her eyes widened.
“Do you mean to tell me that Opie had a mother?” she asked incredulously.
“Of course, my dear,” Andy said. “The vast majority of educated people are well aware that children have mothers as well as fathers. This revelation would be no shock to them.”
Thelma Lou shook her head, and looked at Barney. “Is what he’s saying true?” she asked. “Did you know?”
Barney nodded. “It’s a pretty well-accepted fact,” he said.
“But we never saw her,” Thelma Lou protested.
“She died,” Andy said.
“But Aunt Bea?”
Andy made quotation marks with his fingers. “‘Aunt Bea’ was a much later creation, forced upon an unwilling group of people by the rich and powerful. Floyd knew that. And he knew that if anyone ever found out that ‘Aunt Bea’ never existed, then they would be forced to accept the conclusion that Opie had a mother. That could have shaken the structure of civilization as we know it. Floyd was a part of the secret Priory of Mt. Pilot, an organization dedicated to keeping that secret.”
He nodded at Ernest T. “So he had to be killed so he wouldn’t share the secret with anyone.”
“That makes no sense,” Thelma Lou said. “If he knew the secret but was part of a group that wanted to keep it a secret, and if you want to keep it a secret too, then why kill him?”
Andy started to answer, then blinked in confusion. When he did, Barney leapt into action. He hurled his iced tea glass with terrific force at the slow-moving bodyguard, diving at the wilier Ernest T. His ruse worked, and he disarmed them both. He stared all three men down.
“Barn,” Andy said dangerously. “There are three of us, and you’ve only got two guns and two bullets. You can’t get us all.”
Barney smiled dangerously. “But you forgot, Andy,” he said, reaching into his shirt pocket while handing one gun to Thelma Lou. “I still carry my bullet, too. Thelma Lou, call the deputy.” He looked at Andy. “What’s his name again?”