PRETTY PEGGY AND SCARFACE AL

Peggy Scanlon is a very nice old lady who has been a columnist for the Wall Street Journal since 1957. Her heart is pure, and her mind is still sharp. She just forgets things sometimes. Please comment nicely!

Pretty Aunt Peggy put pen to paper, pouring out her heart with sweetness, sincerity, sadness and longing.

"Why must these horrible school shootings keep happening? Why is our permissive, secular culture so full of death? Why can't we go back to the days of simple values, when everything was about family, faith, and fundamental truths? Why can't we hold on to the things that really matter – a heart, a cross, a flag?"

"That's the stuff, sister! You tell 'em, doll." The voice was rough, hard-edged, but full of sympathy and admiration.

"Ronnie? Is that you?" Pretty Peggy looked up from her antique writing desk, her gently lined face lit up with love and devotion. Ninety-nine years ago, when she was just a girl, she'd served as a speechwriter for the greatest American president who ever lived – not Abraham Lincoln or George Washington, but the Great Gipper himself, Ronald Reagan.

"Sure, doll. It's me. I've come back for you, just like I always said I would." Gruff and warm, the male voice called to her from the shadows, promising bliss and eternal peace.

"Ronnie? Come into the light?" Pretty Aunt Peggy peered into the corner of the room, feeling a troubled desire.

"Sorry, beautiful. You have to come to me. It's time."

"I understand, Ronnie." With timeless wisdom, the well-preserved old woman rose from her seat. "I always knew that in this modern world, so full of sex and sin and dirty ideas, there wasn't any place for true love, for true devotion. My life on earth is finished, but I'm ready to be with you forever in heaven."

"You said it, doll. Let's go for a little ride."

Peggy stepped closer, and then drew back. "I know you!" she cried. "You're not the Gipper, you're . . . you're . . ."

"Al Capone, sugar plum. But you can call me Scarface Al." The fat, swarthy gangster tipped his Panama hat in salute. But then quick as a flash he snatched Aunt Peggy's hand. "No backing out now, baby doll. You wanted a one-way ticket to the past. Now you're going to get it."

"Where are you taking me? What are you doing? Where are we going . . . oh, no!"

"These kids today," Al Capone chuckled, tying Peggy to a telephone pole in the middle of nowhere. "All that senseless violence, it just makes me sick. I never killed anybody without a damned good reason. I mean, nobody ever made a dime shooting up a school. Now in my day, people respected schools. And we respected the church, too. Do you have any idea how many flowers I sent to Dion O'Banion's funeral? I mean, what's a funeral without flowers and priests? It's like a ballgame without hot dogs!"

"Why are you tying me up? You're not leaving me here, are you? It's dark and cold!" Pretty Peggy batted her long lashes at the famous mobster, who was charming and Catholic. Really he wasn't so different from the Gipper.

"It'll be warm in a minute, doll. Believe me. Did I mention how much I love hot dogs? Well, we're going to have a little wienie roast." Scarface Al was busy piling up big heaps of firewood all around the pole and up under Aunt Peggy's skirts. He hummed "Ain't We Got Fun" the entire time.

"No, no, you can't do that! It's not possible! No one could be so evil!" Peggy couldn't understand what was happening to her. That was because she had spent her whole life lying about who she was and where she came from. The terrible truth about her church's history was something she sidestepped with charm and style, always changing the subject to street crime and sex and the menace of other religions. Only now, with the wood piled up high all around her did she see how much wrong she had done in the world, simply by sentimentalizing the past. "I don't believe this," she sobbed. "This isn't what I worked for, what I prayed for. I want Mary! Mary, Queen of Heaven, where are you?"

"Will the Queen of England do?" A fat woman all in black stepped forwards, holding aloft a blazing torch. "My name is Mary Tudor, and I was England's last Catholic queen. I was the dread of heretics, known to history as Bloody Mary."

"Don't do it! Don't burn me! Don't, don't, don't, don't! I'll do anything. I'll say anything. I'll sign anything. I'll support a ban on assault weapons!" Conservative columnist Peggy Scanlon begged for her life, sniveling and sobbing, knowing only too well what the church she adored did to its enemies in the past. It was a truth she had concealed with the utmost charm and ingenuity all her life.

"Hot dogs and mustard," Al Capone said, as the flames began to crackle. "They go together, you know what I mean?"