Hollywood Hack Job

By: Nathan Allen

Fr. Gerdtz answered with a nervous shake of his head.

“Oh, it was awful. Some total stranger walked up to her in a nightclub and shot her. Just like that! For no reason at all! It was a completely random attack. It makes you wonder what the world is coming to.”

“How dreadful,” Fr. Gerdtz said quietly.

“I know. Just as she was starting to pull her life together, too. She had checked out of rehab last month, then she dumped her fiancé after she found out he had cheated on her with her best friend. Such a tragic loss.”

“So all these young people ... they came here to mourn her?”

Ruth exhaled quietly. “I suppose in times of trouble the youth of today need somebody they can turn to.”

Fr. Gerdtz nodded in agreement. Despite having a smorgasbord of digital stimulation at their fingertips, the relationship was still very much a one-way affair. TMZ and E! News wouldn’t be there for them in their hour of need.

He found it astonishing that this was what it took to get people back in touch with their spiritual side. Earlier in the year, when a flesh-eating virus claimed the lives of tens of thousands of the world’s poorest people in Southeast Asia, it barely caused a blip on the average person’s radar. But one quasi-celebrity eats a bullet and the world responds as if the Rapture was imminent. Perhaps it was time for some much-needed perspective. Perhaps celebrity deaths should become so commonplace that they no longer seemed remarkable.

He smoothed down his cassock with the palms of his hands, then took a deep breath and made his way inside.

The rest of his day was spent comforting those in mourning. He answered their questions, as best he could, about why a loving God would allow such a terrible thing to happen to such a beautiful person. Much to his surprise, they hung on his every word. They listened to what he had to say, gave deep consideration to the role God played in their everyday lives, and questioned what was truly important to them. For many, this was the first time they had experienced grief or loss in any form. At no point did anyone reach for their phones.

It was almost dark by the time he arrived home. He took a serving of shepherd’s pie from his refrigerator and placed it in the oven, then sat down at his computer as he waited for it to heat.

He logged on to Twitter and discovered that he now had fifty-five followers.

The murder of Krystal Blayze remained unsolved. An investigation was launched as to how her killer was able to smuggle a loaded firearm into the club, and how he managed to leave without apprehension. It was concluded that poor lighting and malfunctioning equipment allowed the gunman to avoid identification on the club’s CCTV cameras, while most patrons and staff present that night mistook the gunshot for part of the hip hop track being played at the time.

Police had few leads to work with, but suspect the shooting may have been drug-related. This theory was supported by the amount of cocaine found in Krystal’s possession, while a toxicology report confirmed the drug present in her system at the time of death. For the most part, the media chose to ignore these facts and portray this as the result of an obsessed Justin Bieber fan (Krystal had received numerous death threats from enraged tweens after photographs of her and Bieber catapulted her to stardom). They also failed to pick up on the fact that while Krystal had previously spoken out about fashion labels exploiting workers in Asian sweatshops, and she supported the banning of cosmetics testing on animals, she appeared to have no qualms in contributing to the narcotics trade – an industry that murdered thousands of impoverished third-world citizens every year.

At a memorial service held in her honor, Krystal was remembered as a fun-loving free spirit who was deeply passionate about her humanitarian work. This was evident in the hundreds of socially-conscious hashtags she retweeted each year, drawing attention to causes ranging from domestic violence to inner-city poverty to the double-standards women faced when walking red carpets at award shows. She was a committed anti-bullying advocate, frequently drawing attention to the online body-shaming models suffered on a daily basis.

Despite their immense grief, Krystal’s family consoled themselves with the knowledge that she died doing what she loved most – photographing herself and being paid to party. In fact, her final ever selfie happened to capture the exact moment the bullet struck her face. The family decided to upload this image to Instagram. They believed this was what Krystal would have wanted.

The image attracted a record 8.4 million likes.

Sleep eluded Fr. Gerdtz for the next three nights. The initial excitement of the nightclub shooting and the subsequent increase in both church attendance and Twitter followers quickly wore off, and he struggled to reconcile his actions with his long-held beliefs. No matter how much warm milk and chamomile he consumed before bedtime, it failed to put his mind to rest and allow him to forget that he had broken a commandment. One of the big ones, too. One that no amount of Hail Marys and Our Fathers could ever absolve. Irrespective of how many times he tried to justify what he had done, he simply couldn’t look past the fact that he had taken an innocent life. Even if he was able to get away with it – and so far, there had been no indication that the police even considered him a suspect – he couldn’t run from his own conscience. He would have to answer for his crime sooner or later. If not to the law, then to God.