Shooting Stars

Morgen Knight

Kevin heard the sound of someone entering the home and lost count of how many stars he could see. The tally had already amassed four digits, encroaching a fifth. He tongued the gap left by his missing front tooth as the sounds drew closer. His hand tightened around the pistol in his lap, but his face remained slack. Empty-looking eyes stared up through the floor-to-ceiling glass wall, not counting this time but tracing figures through the pinpoint lights as footsteps approached.

Lights came on, washing out the night. Kevin’s back was to the room now reflected off the glass, he saw the man he was here to kill, standing beside a beautiful woman. Even limited to this ghostly reflection, he could tell that she was striking, her dress shimmering as she laughed at something the man in the suit had said.

Kevin pressed his tongue against the sharp edge of a tooth then stood. Then woman screamed, the man took a deep, steeling breath. “Shut up!” Kevin barked at the woman; the pistol never left the man’s chest. It was him he was here for.

“What do you want?” the man said. “Take anything, just don’t hurt my wife.”

“You shut the fuck up,” Kevin growled. He walked around the large chair in which he’d been sitting.

“Take what you want,” the man said, head lowered to avoid eye contact.

Kevin smiled wide. “You ain’t so tough now, are you, ya treacherous son of a bitch.”

“What?”

The pistol didn’t waver or shake. So far this was going exactly how he’d seen it going. He’d been building to this moment since the funeral. “I know you thought you’d get away with it. I watched you cover your tracks. How many witnesses have you killed? Destroying evidence. Men like you don’t deserve to be cops.” Someone had to stop him, someone had to make him pay.

“Oh my god,” the man said. “You don’t understand.”

“I said to shut the fuck up!” Kevin screamed, spittle spraying among the words.

The man lifted his hands to show he was no treat as he cowered, and Kevin wondered how much mercy to show. This man had shown Cooper none. Kevin had watched his friend die, a man he’d known for seven years, a man that had been there for him through his divorce, his unemployment, the loss of his home and family. Cooper had inspired him—a tough-minded, uncompromising guy. Kevin had seen himself in Cooper’s battles against personal demons. He’d deserved better than a Mark David Chapman kind of assassination.

The gun held steady, but Kevin’s eyes watered as he thought about it. Cooper’s death was like losing all hope.

“Do you understand what you’re doing?” the man asked.

“You killed Cooper. I’m here to straighten the world out.”

“I didn’t do that,” the man insisted. “It’s a TV show.”

“I watched you kill him.”

“I’m an actor. That was my job. Cooper—Vince who plays Cooper—is fine. I can call him right now!”

Kevin shook his head. “I loved him like family. Do you get that? And you killed him!”

“I didn’t kill anyone.” The man whined, his cowering wife crying. “I didn’t think it up, plot it or write it. All I do is act out what others come up with. And we do a damn good job for you to care this much. So, please, put the gun down.”

“Shut up! You don’t wiggle you’re way out of this!”

“But I didn’t do anything. I’m an actor. It was just acting.”

“Well,” Kevin said with a shrug, “maybe you shouldn’t play the bad guy.”

Then he avenged his friend’s death.

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