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Target Unexpected

by Mark Leinwand

part 1

This is where the real evil happens, the sniper thought to himself. Here at these expensive “celebrity” nightclubs, not with some low-rent hooker walking the streets of Hollywood. Those shallow, self-professed men of God railed against the obvious signs of sin, with no insight beyond that.

Jesus knew better. He forgave the simple prostitute. Things are more complicated now. If Jesus could see the spectacle these useless famous nobodies put on for the world to see today, and the terrible example they set for young people, the sniper was sure he would not be so forgiving.

Deep in the shadows at the back corner of the Beverly Hills parking lot, covered from the view of the valet parkers by darkness and the brick wall he was hiding behind, he watched the front door of the nightclub through the telescopic sight on his rifle. The gun rested on top of the wall, making it easy and comfortable for him to wait.

People have to know there’s a price to pay for what they do, the sniper thought. Evil must be purged. God demands it. Here it is, two in the morning, and these people have nothing better to do than drink and laugh and take drugs and dance and pick up strangers for the night and pose for pictures with smug looks on their faces that tell the world that they’re better than everyone else.

And there’s the system that enables them, he thought. The hordes of photographers that massed around the door, judging who’s worthy of their attention, anointing the ones whose faces would be put before the eyes of the common people, with the message that this is what people should aspire to.

A flurry of flashes came from the paparazzi as someone whose face they knew came out of the door of the club. Bodies were pushed too close together for the sniper to see who it was before the cause of the excitement and the requisite entourage moved out of view. The loud music that had come blasting out of the club when the door was open faded as it slowly swung shut.

The sniper knew this was what God wanted him to do. Send messages, one at a time, until the world of sin began to notice that its practitioners were not safe. Not safe anywhere. He moved around, never more than one purging in a city until he might return to it later, with no fixed route.

It would be a nightclub like this one in Beverly Hills or Hollywood. Or a gay bar in San Francisco or San Diego. Or the target-rich gambling, anything-goes cesspools of Reno or Las Vegas.

He didn’t want to be predictable, or make police investigations too easy. That’s what those other guys had gotten wrong a few years ago. They stayed in the same place too long, doing hit after hit. No wonder they got caught. He’d been in Reno and San Francisco recently, so another visit to L.A. seemed right. Here he was.

Some of the shootings, rumors of snipers, had been in the news. He’d read that police in the various cities were starting to compare notes. At first they’d been looking for motives that were personal to his targets. By now they probably knew that all the bullets for those targets came from the same gun. That was fine with him. The ballistics of his rifle were not on file anywhere. He was happy that the police and the public would now be thinking about what the targets all had in common.

When people started noticing what was happening to these sinful creatures of the night, maybe they’d reconsider their empty, immoral lives. It was important and righteous work that he was doing.

Some model type was arriving with a small group. The sniper could see her posing and preening for the photographers, flashes strobing in the night. The girl smiled and pouted and pursed her lips and pretended to laugh until the flashes died out.

Not her, the sniper decided. I might be able to get a better-known face here. The girl finally realized her moment was over, and went into the club with her friends in tow. Again the burst of music through the door and the slow fade.

He was in no hurry. What counted was getting it right.

His escape route was well-planned and easy to execute. His car was nearby, on the first side street. He could reach it in seconds. His best advantage, he thought, was that he used a silencer. There was no noise from the shot to tell anyone where he was. As soon as the target went down, he took off. He didn’t need to watch the aftermath. By the time the confusion settled down and the police got there, he would be long gone.

He took pains to be as smart about all this as he could, and not get swept up in his own virtue and glory. He took his satisfaction in private, when his actions made the news. But even then he tried to stay humble, reminding himself that pride was a sin.

A limousine pulled up in front of the nightclub. When the doors opened the paparazzi moved in. The first couple of people out, early 20’s he guessed, were nobody he recognized. But then an actual current celebrity whose face he did know emerged — a 20-something actress who had once seemed to have genuine talent and potential, but who had lately fallen into the Young Hollywood scene and become more famous for her partying than her acting.

Aha, thought the sniper, with rising excitement, here’s someone on the wrong path. The main part of her life now was appearing in the tabloids, gossip magazines, and those repulsive TV “entertainment news” shows. A good object lesson. He took a tighter grip on the rifle, watching her through the scope.

The target smiled and waved and posed as the photographers bathed her in flashes. She weaved a little, as if the party had started before she got there. She laughed and leaned forward, her breasts falling out of the skimpy top of her little party dress. She laughed even harder at that, making only half-hearted attempts to tuck herself back in.

More camera flashes. Another brazen bitch from a generation without standards, the sniper thought. He switched on the electronic sight. I think I can arrange for her next picture in the tabloids to be a lot different from what she’s expecting.

The target and her entourage were making their way slowly to the door of the club through the crowd and the paparazzi outside. It gave him enough time to set up the shot. He’d prefer the symbolic value of getting her in the heart, but she had moved further into the crowd and now, from his position, he could see only her head. It would do. Through the scope he lined up the red dot of the sight on her forehead and slowly pulled the trigger.

The top of the girl’s head exploded in blood. Screams erupted from the crowd. One of the photographers behind her also fell from the force of the large bullet. A bonus hit, he thought. Truly the Lord is with me. People started running away, shouting, panicked.

He had seen enough. This one would get headlines. Time to go. He held the rifle against his body and hurried to the car. The gun went quickly into the trunk, he dashed behind the wheel, and the car took off into the night.

He went down Beverly Drive to Olympic, then east to La Cienega, and then down again to the Santa Monica Freeway east, heading out of town. He always left town immediately after a purging, before the authorities could get an investigation going.

Traffic was light on the freeway in the middle of the night. He already knew where he was going next. He hadn’t been to Las Vegas in a while. He hated the very air in Vegas. It reeked of everything he detested, everything that was unnatural and ungodly. He couldn’t stand being there. But he would have to just suck it up. It was a city that needed his attention for those very reasons. It was his duty.

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Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2017 by Mark Leinwand

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