Hollywood Hack JobBy: Nathan Allen
A different type of music played in here; one with angry urban males using deplorable language whilst shouting at one another over an abrasive instrumental track. After just a few seconds of this, Fr. Gerdtz was thankful that his failing hearing dulled the full impact of this odious racket.
His eyes scoured the room. The décor was kind of retro-futuristic. The bar was made from transparent fiberglass, and the lighting came from thin neon green fluorescent tubes running along the sides of the walls and tables. A black and white art house movie was projected onto one wall, although the VIPs – none of whom appeared to be of particular importance – paid scant attention to it. They were more interested in gulping down their brightly-colored alcoholic beverages and shouting into each other’s ears.
He spotted his target in the far corner, holding her phone out in front of her. She was dressed like an extra from a Carry On film and contorting her face into something that resembled a large fish gulping for air. This was Krystal Blayze; the woman symbolic of an entire generation with an excess of confidence but absolutely no justification for it.
He made his move, striding purposefully towards her. He expected her to look up, but her focus remained solely on her phone. He reached beneath his cassock and removed the Magnum. He wasn’t one hundred percent certain what was happening here. He couldn’t tell if he was doing this all on his own volition, or if he was being compelled by an unseen force. Possibly a combination of the two.
With little hesitation, he aimed the gun and pulled the trigger.
He was completely unprepared for the recoil produced by such a powerful weapon. He lost control the instant it discharged. The force propelled him backwards and his hand flew up, the gun striking him across the face. Clint Eastwood made it look so much easier.
When he regained his balance, he saw that Krystal Blayze was now missing the top half of her head.
Time slowed to a crawl. Fr. Gerdtz stood frozen to the floor, unable to move, staring at the Rorschach-shaped bloodblot trickling down the wall behind Krystal’s inert body.
He waited for the chaos to begin. He anticipated screaming from the other patrons. He expected security to come in with their weapons drawn. He was prepared to be gunned down in a hail of bullets.
But it never came. Nothing happened. He turned slowly to see the party continuing as if nothing out of the ordinary had just occurred. Everyone appeared to be so caught up in their own business they failed to notice the violent murder that had just taken place right in front of them.
He carefully stashed the weapon away, then put his head down and made his way towards the exit.
He would be out on the street and climbing into a taxi before anyone noticed that Krystal Blayze’s head now resembled a novelty punch bowl.
Thirteen hours had passed since the shooting, and Fr. Gerdtz was yet to experience a wink of sleep. He sat alone in the church’s sanctum, the sequence of the previous night’s events playing on a continuous loop inside his head. He struggled to come to terms with what he had done. This wasn’t anything like him. Never in his life had he been a violent person. He didn’t handle firearms, let alone use them to murder another human being. He couldn’t even work up the nerve to jaywalk or put his trash in someone else’s bin. None of this felt real. It was like being trapped inside an extremely disturbing dream.
He removed his glasses and used a Kleenex to wipe the lenses. A slight redness appeared in the tissue, the result of a fine blood mist that sprayed across him after firing the gun. This extinguished any sliver of doubt as to whether last night had happened or not.
He was startled by a soft knocking. He spun around to see Ruth, the church’s octogenarian organist, standing in the doorway.
“Father?” she said.
“What is it, Ruth?”
“Something’s happened. Something ... it’s ... you have to ...” She grasped for the right words. “It’s probably best if you come see for yourself,” she eventually said.
Despite having no great desire to see anyone today if he could help it, Fr. Gerdtz slowly rose to his feet and followed Ruth out. He didn’t know what was going on, but something had clearly affected her.
He was led to the church’s entrance, where he was brought to a complete standstill. It was the last thing he expected to see today.
People were in his church. A lot of people. At least forty, maybe more. This would be a remarkable number for any day of the week, but for a Monday it was unheard of. Even more astonishing was the ages of those in attendance. The majority were under thirty, and many looked to be in their teens. The only gray hair belonged to Jefferson Slade, but even he had made something of an effort. He wore matching shoes, his hair was combed down, and his clothes appeared to have been laundered some time in the past year. He was still heavily intoxicated and on the verge of nodding off at any moment, but a sober Jefferson would have been a true miracle.
“What’s going on?” he whispered to Ruth. “What are all these people doing here?”
“I think it’s because of that young girl, the one who died last night,” Ruth said. “Did you hear about that?”