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The Defining Moment

His fingers tremble and fumble as he jams the cartridge into the gun. A sharp click resounds through the air, and he shoves it under his belt, pulling a heavy sweatshirt over his tee shirt to cover the bulge on his clothes. A grey sweatshirt. Plain, bland. Sweat rolls down his forehead as he pulls up the hood, obscuring his face. He tries to keep still as he yanks on his sneakers and walks out of the ratty apartment. The door slams behind him.

A half moon shines down from the night sky as he hails a cab. The theater is a few blocks away. He pays the cab driver, who bids him a pleasant evening. He doesn't respond. The show is already starting as he shoulders his way into the theater. He takes a seat, still shaking, praying nobody notices.

It's about halfway into the first act, and the room is nearly pitch black when he gets up and walks down the aisle on the side of the theater. He pulls a ski mask over his head, hearing whispers on his side as he walks through the grey metal door marked "Stage Crew Only." The trembles and shakes are gone as the door closes behind him. Only calm resolve.

She's sitting in front of a mirror, practicing her lines. A bunch of actors and officials are yelling at him now. They fall silent as he pulls the gun from his belt. He fires it once.

"Everyone down on the ground." He says, calmly, but firmly. They all get down but her. She recognizes the voice. She turns toward him, her eyes filled with fear. Several people are dialing on their cell phones. He pays no attention. Two minutes until the cops are here. Plenty of time. He approaches her, pulling back the gun's hammer. Her voice is quivering.

"Please. No. I'm sorry. I swear to God, I'm so sorry. please." Tears are streaming down her face. He feels nothing but contempt, hatred. She's an actor. Tears are easy for her. She's still mumbling. He holds the gun up, lining up the barrel with her head.

"No! Please! Pleeeasse! I'm Sorry!" He hears doors slamming, voices. Cops are here. He looks her in the eye. Makes a decision.

"No you're not." He pulls the trigger. Blood spurts on the mirror. The police burst through the door and he drops the gun, his face a blank mask as they slam him on the ground and yank the ski mask off. People are standing up and leaving the theater as they walk him back down the aisle. As the officers push him in the squad car, the faintest trace of a smile is visible on his face.



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