Hollywood Hack Job

By: Nathan Allen

Lance shot his daughter a stern look, imploring her to show some manners. Briony failed to take the hint. “Can we go now?” she whined.

“In a minute honey,” Colleen said.

“But we’re going to be late!”

“Briony, it doesn’t start for another four hours,” her father said.

“Only the first two hundred people through the doors will get to meet Krystal!”

“Calm down, sweetie,” Colleen said. “There’s still plenty of time.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down!”


“You know how much this means to me! If I miss out it’s all your fault!”

Briony stormed off towards the family car. She climbed into the back seat and slammed the door closed.

“Teenagers, huh?” Fr. Gerdtz said with a raised eyebrow. It was his attempt at lightening the mood, but at that moment he was relieved to have taken a vow of chastity.

“We’re taking her to see Krystal Blayze after this,” Colleen said by way of explanation. “She’s been talking about this non-stop for weeks.”

The vacant look on Fr. Gerdtz’s face suggested he didn’t have the slightest idea who Colleen was talking about.

“You don’t know Krystal Blayze? Oh, she’s a massive star. She’s doing a book signing at the Beverly Center today.”

“She’s an author?”

“No, she’s ... well, she has released three books. But she’s so much more than that. She’s a model, a DJ, a lifestyle blogger, she has her own TV show, a skincare range. She designs swimsuits, she’s appeared in a Chris Brown video. She’s across all media, really. Young people totally love her.”

There was a marked rise in enthusiasm as Colleen spoke. She appeared almost as excited about meeting this Krystal Blayze woman as her fourteen year old daughter. Fr. Gerdtz got the impression Colleen was turning into one of those mothers terrified of middle age; the type who believed that by sharing her daughter’s interests and being her best friend she could cling to the last vestiges of her fading youth.

The family departed a few minutes later, leaving as soon as they’d invested the minimum amount of small talk so as to not appear rude. The last of the congregation milled around until about eleven a.m.

Fr. Gerdtz was about to head back into the church when his attention was drawn to the guttural sounds emanating from around the corner. He looked across to see Jefferson Slade, now up on his feet and somewhat conscious, hunched over the newly-planted daffodils and dry-retching every few seconds.

He briefly considered ignoring this unpleasant distraction and continuing on inside, but decided the Christian thing to do would be to check in on Jefferson and make sure he was alright.

A sigh of exasperation spilled from his mouth as he made his way over. He knew he was supposed to welcome everybody into his church with open arms, but Jefferson was a never-ending test of his patience. He wasn’t alone in feeling this way; the police often picked him up following complaints from local residents and businesses regarding his offensive behavior. They would leave him in the care of a nearby nursing home, but he never stayed long. He would stick around for a day or two, mostly to harass the nurses and antagonize the other residents, then disappear in the middle of the night. These days the police mostly left him alone, just so long as he didn’t push his luck too far.

“Are you feeling alright, Jefferson?” Fr. Gerdtz asked in a tired voice.

Jefferson heaved. Unintelligible noises blurted from his mouth; a cross between a dead language and gobbledegook. It was the indecipherable dialect of a man at the lowest point in his hangover. A string of brown bile hung from his chin. He smelled like dumpster refuse.

Fr. Gerdtz looked away in distaste. “Do you need me to call someone?”

Jefferson spat twice on the grass and staggered off towards the road, no doubt looking for someone else to torment.

Fr. Gerdtz watched him as he left. He was becoming more and more convinced that Jefferson had been sent by the Lord as a test of his faith.

Fr. Gerdtz arrived home mid-afternoon. He put out some fresh food for Samson, the long-haired Angora kitten he had recently adopted, and phoned his local pharmacy to arrange a prescription refill for his arthritis medication. He then switched on his computer and set about figuring out how to sign up for a Twitter account. This wasn’t something he especially wanted to do, but many of his colleagues within the clergy had been on his back for some time about the need to embrace new media strategies. He’d put it off for as long as he could before finally giving in. It was a last-ditch attempt at staying relevant, a kind of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude. He figured any medium that helped spread the word of God was worth investigating.

Creating his Twitter profile took less than ten minutes. This was something he was quite proud of. He had always found modern technology to be rather intimidating, but the computing for seniors classes he had taken in recent years had gone some way towards demystify it all.

He gained his first follower a few minutes later. It was Fr. Jenkins from the nearby United Church, one of the colleagues who had encouraged him to join social media. Fr. Jenkins had been on Twitter for several years now, and had amassed more than five hundred followers in that time. This played a large part in Fr. Gerdtz deciding to take the plunge and join up. It had been some time since he last addressed five hundred people at once.