Hollywood Hack Job

By: Nathan Allen

His whole life had been in service to God, and now he feared it would all be for nothing. His entire existence may have been meaningless. At the rate things were going, the world will have moved on from religion within a decade. It would all be forgotten, a relic of a bygone era. Fr. Gerdtz’s legacy would be that he was part of the generation that allowed spirituality to wither and die like a neglected pot plant.

A moment passed, and a sense of helplessness took hold.

He did what he always did during times of uncertainty and soul-searching. He bowed his head and clasped his rheumatic hands together in prayer.

“I don’t know what you expect me to do,” he whispered solemnly. “Am I wasting my time here? Should I give up and simply accept this is how the world is today? Is there anything I can do to make a difference? Or are there better ways for me to devote my energies towards helping people?”

He was silent for a long time.

“Please, Lord,” he said, a ripple of emotion entering his voice. “It’s rare that I ask for help. I know there are many more in much greater need than I. But I just need a sign. I need to know if there is something I can do.”

There was a knock at the door.

Fr. Gerdtz froze. He opened his eyes and looked up at the clock. It was 9:38 p.m. Much later than he thought. His time spent on the internet just sucked the hours away.

He was conflicted about what to do next. Should he answer the door? This was an odd time for visitors, and he wasn’t expecting anyone. But the knock occurred immediately after he asked the Lord for help. Was that a coincidence, or was God actually listening? He often told his followers there were no coincidences in life, and that everything was part of the Almighty’s divine plan. Whoever was on the other side of that door – even if they were unaware of it – would be able to provide guidance in his hour of need.

He rose from his seat and tentatively approached the door. His eye moved to the peephole. There was no one out there. Probably just some kids playing tricks. Tonight was Halloween, after all.

He turned the lock and unhooked the chain, then stepped out into the dark night.

The security light came on, and the area lit up. Funny, he thought. Whoever knocked somehow did so without activating the sensor. He looked left and right, but he could see no one around. Maybe he had imagined it. Maybe his mind was going in his old age. Or maybe it was nothing more than wishful thinking.

A light breeze blew, and a sharp chill brushed against his skin. Today had been a day of unseasonable warmth, but the night air had turned unexpectedly frigid. A shiver rippled through his body.

Then he saw the parcel.

It was right in front of him, inches from his feet. By now he had been outside a couple of minutes, but had only just noticed it. It was almost as if it had materialized out of thin air. A more logical explanation was that it had been there all along, but he had failed to notice until then. He recently had the prescription for his glasses updated, but his eyesight was still poor once the sun went down.

The parcel was about the size of a shoebox. It had no note, or anything else to identify the sender. It was wrapped haphazardly in pages from a softcore pornography magazine.

Chapter 2

Krystal Blayze dropped into one of the plush velvet sofas inside the VIP section at the Aubaine Manor nightclub. She tugged at the hem of her Halloween costume – a skimpy nurse’s outfit that a ten year old girl might struggle to squeeze into – then checked the time on her Sony Xperia 25 Premium phone. It was just past midnight, which meant she still had another hour to kill before her contractual obligations were fulfilled.

She was exhausted from another arduous day of work. She’d had to grimace her way through her fifth meet and greet in the past three days to promote her new book #YOLO, Bitch!. When that was over she reviewed the script and rehearsed her lines for an upcoming episode of Blayze of Glory, her “reality” television show that was about to start filming its third season. Next was a magazine photo shoot and two hours of phone interviews, then on to her appearance at Aubaine Manor. She had been pulling sixteen hour days for the past three months, with no letup in her schedule anytime soon. And there were still ignorant haters out there who had the nerve to dismiss her as “famous for being famous”.

More than anything, it was these nightclub appearances that drained her. So many people assumed it was easy money, but they had no idea what the job really entailed, nor did they understand just what she had to endure night after night. Tonight she had been trolled by a group of basic bitches looking to score their own fifteen minutes of fame, as well as being hit on by about a thousand guys who thought that telling her they’d seen her hacked photos constituted a pickup line. No matter how much she got paid, she was totally made to earn every cent.

The financial rewards weren’t even that great anymore. She had missed the golden age of the celebutante by just a year or two, a fact she lamented every time she turned up to one of these things. She still took home around $70,000 for a single appearance, which could be bumped up to $100,000 if she DJ’d as well (DJing was a process that involved connecting her phone to the console, loading a Spotify playlist, then waving her arms in the air for an hour). But it was a far cry from the quarter of a million some venues were paying not so long ago. Appearance fees had plummeted in recent years as the number of fame-wenches approached saturation point. Now there were miscellaneous “personalities” with the tiniest amount of celebrity status, all these YouTube vloggers and viral news subjects, turning up to clubs for ten grand or less. They were dragging the price down for legit stars like herself.