Calvin’s heart raced. “So Shea is-”
“Dead,” said Brody, before taking a peek at his Rolex. “Right about… now.” He laughed in his face, blood sputtering from his lips.
“No,” said Calvin. He shook his head, reached into Brody’s jacket, then yanked out the gun. “No!” He stood up and stormed into the club.
It was like swimming through Miley Cyrus’ earhole – Strobe lights bashed the swerving bodies with split-second flashes of blue and red. Bass blasted like bombs were exploding in the speakers. Sweaty bodies, sequin gowns, cocktails in the air.
Calvin’s legs felt like jelly. The sweet ingredients of love that had been swirling in his gut earlier had been poisoned with fear, worry, and knowledge -knowledge that Bridgette had no intention of killing him. Her target was Shea, the woman whose existence sparked Calvin’s future but burned Bridgette’s to ash.
He tucked the handgun into his waistband. As he strolled through he kept his eyes trained for a blonde woman in a red dress. Luckily for him, both women matched that description. Two women in red party dresses sat talking at the bar. One had her hand behind her back, and appeared to be holding something.
Too many dancers blocked Calvin’s line of sight – impossible to get a clear view of her face.
“Move!” he said.
He pushed a few drinkers out of the way, then cracked his knuckles as he motored through the crowd. Brody had said Shea was already dead, but Calvin refused to believe that. He wasn’t too late – he could feel it in his soul.
Calvin’s breath drew heavy as he closed in on the bar. He reached back into his waistband and swiped out the handgun. He hid the barrel up his white sleeve, and concealed the bulky handle with his fist.
Someone popped out at him – an adorable brunette.
“You’re cute,” she said.
“Watch out,” said Calvin.
The two blondes at the bar were facing the counter, backs to him. The one holding something extended her other arm and hugged the blonde beside her into her chest. She raised her other hand like she were going for the girl’s neck.
“Don’t be rude!” said the brunette.
Bridgette was going to slit Shea’s neck.
“Shea, no!” Shouted Calvin.
He jolted forward and took aim. The brunette tripped into his line of fire-
The two girls he had yelled at swiveled around, gazed at him, and blinked like owls. Calvin lowered his gun when he noticed the girl’s hand – she was holding a crumpled napkin, probably with some guys number on it.
Calvin shook his head and tore around. Where were they?
Every clock-hand tick meant Bridgette was closer to killing Shea.
Calvin’s eyes dotted around the packed house again. A few blondes, some red-dresses, but none of them Bridgette nor Shea. Calvin had to strike more than he needed to think. They wouldn’t have left the club, the plan was to kill Shea inside. But where?
Upstairs! Like finding keys in a front jean’s pocket, the obvious location struck Calvin in the forehead. Before he’d gone outside with Shea, he’d spotted Bridgette and Brody hovering over the top balcony. If there were any private place to kill someone in a club, it was the VIP room, and Brody had reserved it.
Calvin rushed through the dancers again.
“Move!” he said.
He plowed through. A guy hitting on a girl blocked his path.
Calvin shoved them to the ground, raced forward to the stairs, then sprinted up the flight. He breathlessly broke through Brody’s party guests’ circle. They quit drinking and mingling.
“Where is she?” Calvin said. “Where is she!”
The guests dismissed Calvin by rolling their eyes and returning to their conversations.
Calvin flipped around. The VIP room in the back wasn’t entirely blocked – a curtain of jewelry beads hid it from view. He could make out moving bodies on the couch inside it.
Calvin rushed inside, smacking away the beads with his gun drawn.
A girl in a black skirt was riding some guy on the couch. She jumped off, and the guy held his hands up.
“Never told me dude! I swear!”
Calvin circled around, gun at his side. The freaked-out couple were panting and staring at him like he were a twisted serial killer. Calvin could care less about how he looked – he needed to save Shea, and too much time had already passed.
“She didn’t say she had a dude!” said the guy.
“I don’t,” said the girl.
Calvin paced with one hand scratching the back of his head, the other holding the gun.
“Oh, well.. It’s a private room, so uhh…”
“Use a goddamn stall then!” said Calvin. He stopped pacing. “Oh my God.”
Calvin bolted out the VIP room and flew down the stairs. He caught a pair of familiar eyes glaring at him during his descent.
They belonged to Big Fella, who seconds later fired a barrage of bullets into the ceiling. DJ killed the music, and panicked yells shook the dance floor as frightened patrons fled to the exit.
Calvin hauled ass over to the bathrooms, running against the tide of club-goers who were gushing out in the opposite direction. He stole a glance over his shoulder – Big Fella was chasing him, gaining ground every stride.
“Move!” Calvin said to people blocking his path.
Calvin pushed his way through, and reached the women’s restroom – door was locked.
“Stop!” He screamed, then kicked it. “Shea! Shea, are you alright!”
The door wouldn’t budge. Calvin loaded the gun, then fired a shot into the bolt. It broke off. Calvin stomped the door – something still jammed it shut from the inside.
Calvin rotated his body then charged, shoulder first. He made some headway, but only a crack. He could hear their voices – Shea and Bridgette were shouting in a heated argument.
“Help Calvin!” said Shea. “Hurry!”
“Trying to!” said Calvin. He backed away, then charged again – he banged it open enough to barely slide his arm through. Calvin hurried back one more time. He sprinted forward, turned to crash, then caught sight of Big Fella, holding his glock.
Big Fella fired but missed.
Calvin busted through and fell on the tiles of the women’s restroom.
“Let her go!” screamed Calvin.
The two blondes fought near the far wall, backs to Calvin. They were nowhere close to the mirror, and both had red dresses and blonde hair. The one closest to the wall was on her knees, struggling to escape the neck-brace of the women behind her. Calvin couldn’t tell who was who.
“It’s finished god-dammit! Get off her!”
The woman standing up raised a knife. She was on the verge of slitting the other girl’s throat. Somebody kicked the bathroom door open – Big Fella.
“Duck Shea!” said Calvin.
He pulled the trigger, and fired a bullet straight into the back of the woman with the knife.
“Oh… shit,” said Big Fella, stopping behind him.
The blonde women with the knife crumbled to the tile. She dropped the girl she’d been choking, and the knife fell from her loosened grip. It was Shea, and she lie on the floor, clutching her bleeding heart.
“No,” said Calvin. “God… no. There’s no way…”
Bridgette stood up, coughed to clear her throat, then fanned herself.
“Curious, didn’t you realize we wore the same dress and I didn’t say anything? You should have known we needed to get rid of both of you to be married. Now you’ll be in jail, and she’ll be a corpse.”
“How… no. This isn’t happening.” said Calvin.
“It is, sorry bae.” Bridgette rubbed his cheek, kissed him by the temple, then left the restroom, as did Big Fella.
Calvin walked forward like he were knee-deep in mud. “Get up,” he said. “Get up and be okay.”
The club music was off – looping police sirens took its place.
Calvin reached Shea. Blood poured out from her chest wound – the bullet went straight through her. Her eyes turned up as she gasped for air.
“Cal.. Calvin?” she said.
He slid down against the back wall, then tugged her onto his lap by her armpits.
“It doesn’t end like this,” he said. “No, no. It can’t.”
“Don’t be!” he said. “It’s my fault!”
She coughed, then smirked. Tears welled up in Calvin’s eyes. He clenched the knife handle, then leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Don’t die.”
Police barged in.
“Put the knife down!” One shouted. “Put the knife down!”
“Please,” she said.
Calvin sniffed. “I won’t.”
“Get on the ground! Now!”
“Forever.” Calvin pressed his lips into hers, then plunged the blade into her neck.
Police fired away until both were riddled with holes. They died in each others arms, lips joined together.
- * *
Brody and Bridgette did a series of joint interviews following the tragedy that made national headlines. Security footage proved Calvin slugged Brody across the face then robbed the him of the gun he used to murder Brody’s wife.
Choked up with tears, Brody spoke about how blissful life could have been had he only won that fight, and interviewees and the American audience sympathized with his loss. Bridgette invited the public to share with her as she grieved, and many understood how disturbed she felt to discover her husband had kissed the women shortly before ruthlessly murdering her.
When Bridgette and Brody tied the knot, wedding gifts poured in from around the globe, and business boomed for Brody’s car dealership. They accumulated widespread fame from their against-the-odds love that blossomed into marriage, which proved to so many that not even a destructive mad-man could permanently destroy the lives of blessed good people for long.
The sudden influx of funds from Shea’s family fortune certainly helped Brody’s chain of dealerships thrive, but Brody always insisted he’d trade the tens of millions he’d inherited from Shea for even a day of her descension back to earth, even if it only meant holding her in his arms one more time.
When asked about the century old knife Calvin had used to carve into Shea, Brody informed viewers that the knife had belonged to her great, great, great, great grandfather, who had used it to peal a grapefruit he gave to a girl that became his future wife. They began the billion-dollar company together, and the knife had been passed down from generation to generation. Brody added, with tremendous difficulty, that Shea and he had always hoped to have children, and the knife would have gone to their firstborn. Because Calvin slaughtered her to soon, Shea died as the last surviving member of her incredible family.
*On a curious note, the shooter and his victim were buried in the same graveyard, despite specific orders and a never-ending outcry from the public. Shea and Calvin’s gravestones were placed side-by-side, in a remote area under some sycamore trees. The graveyard director position became a revolving door, and each new person hired for the job resigned within their first week, swearing “Forces beyond their control” prevented Calvin and Shea’s gravestones from ever being separated.
- Thomas M. Watt
Hope you’ve enjoyed the series! Check in tomorrow for the official cover release for Master, my novel about a former football star’s quest to save his family from the deranged psychiatrist who infiltrates his dreams.