The Shooting Star

August 5, 2016
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Everyone turns to the top of the monstrous staircase before them to face her, as she is Marilyn DelRay, once sitting as Queen of Silent Film with her notoriously stubborn appeal and trademark snarl, her hair strikingly dark with eyes so sharp they could break a diamond.
But that isn’t who stands at the top of the staircase now with one hand curled delicately around the banister. This is the shadow of what once was, a walking shell with a dead soul. Yes, she stands tall, her chin raised high, but her eyes, though wide and shining, are clouded with memories of her lavish past. Her hair, once teased and glossy, is now strewn about her head as though it has been struck by a bolt of lightning. She breathes as she once did on the big screen, large sighs through her chest that are revealed when she speaks, a soft, airy voice full of emotion, but the rest of her body is slow to react, her hands beginning to writhe about as she perches atop that staircase. The dress she’s wearing would have looked stunning thirty years ago, a flapper’s dress that is too big for her withered frame, complete with sagging headband, grimy red lipstick, and shoes that force her ankles to lean inward. To the people before her, she is nothing but a washed up star obsessed with trapping herself in her youth. But as her hollow gaze scans the crowd in front of her, she sees not policemen and news reporters. She sees a camera crew, her co-stars, and most fondly her director, Louis DeVieuse, and she rests her eyes on him, her snarl returning to her plastic face. “Set the scene, Mr. DeVieuse,” She says lightly.
DeVieuse glances around nervously to see what to do, and a cameraman leans toward him and whispers, “it’s the only way to get her in the car.”
And DeVieuse nods reluctantly. “My dear Miss DelRay, you’re descending the stairs of the palace, the princess of an Arabian empire.”
She recoils, placing her other hand to her heart. “Of course! How could I forget.” She inhales sharply and steps forward. “I’m ready, Mr. DeVieuse, I’m ready.”
DeVieuse pushes the hot tears back and turns to the cameraman. “Action.”
Marilyn DelRay begins to descend the stairs, her steps steady and light, her hand sliding down the banister with her. She feels a sudden, sharp pain in her arm, but she ignores it, as she knows the show must go on. Suddenly her steps become stumbling, and she looks down in a panic as the ground rushes up to meet her.
A policeman swoops her up before she falls, and is surprised how wilted the thing that was Marilyn DelRay has become.
“Be quick,” the doctor standing next to him says, glancing at the syringe in his hand. “That sedative won’t keep her unconscious for long.”
“Oh, we will be,” the policeman replies, straightening, the woman in his arms. “The asylum is only a few blocks away.” With that, he walks quickly out the front door, not daring to look at the pool to his right. Because there in that pool is a man floating on his stomach with two bullet holes in his back, bullets that came out of the gun that the woman he’s holding was clutching at two o'clock that morning.
Behind the policeman come the reporters, some lugging their camera behind them as the continue to roll, focused on the limp body of DelRay being thrown into the back of the asylum bus, the last time a camera would be on Marilyn DelRay, once the Queen of Silent Film, now nothing but a suicidal murder stuck in her past. And from the back of that bus DelRay has already started to come to, and she grabs the face of the policeman who put her there, and she sees DeVieuse’s face again, spies the cameras aimed at her behind him. And her last words are simply mumblings to the reporters, but they etch themselves in the policeman’s mind and haunt him for the rest of his life.
“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeVieuse. I’ve made my return, and soon I’ll be on the screens again, just like the rest of them. You’ll see, Mr. DeVieuse, you’ll see.”

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