Tuesday, 8 November 2011

SHOOTING STARS by Graham Smith

Our friend Graham's back...

Shooting Stars

I nestled the butt of my Parker Hale M-85 against my shoulder and checked my range once more. I was perhaps half a degree off, so I adjusted the sights and peered once more through the telescopic sights.

Street artists were plying their public trade with gusto and aplomb. I could see jugglers, human statues and street dancers. A mime artist came into view pretending he was stuck behind a glass wall. God this guy was original! I’d never cared for mime artists. All that being stuck in a box or descending imaginary stairs bored me rigid and the stupid expressions on their faces were more nauseous than comical.

I lifted my aim to spot the flag blowing on the cinema’s roof. I used it to gauge the correction necessary for windage.

Some snipers modified their rifles. I had never been in favour of changing something so carefully crafted, so lovingly designed. The only concession I had made to my beloved rifle was the fitting of a sound suppressor which would also reduce muzzle flash.

I wasn’t concerned about the noise as the world would soon hear all about my intended victim’s death. My concern was with the telltale muzzle flash which would betray my position to all the bodyguards and security people at tonight’s première.

To further conceal my position I had retreated to the back of the room and was shooting from a prone position on top of a sturdy kitchen table. The open window I’d be shooting through would afford me two seconds to shoot the Hollywood starlet who’d mocked me all those years ago.
Two seconds was all I’d get and would be all I’d need. Second one would be spent identifying the target and drawing a bead on her temple. Second two was when I’d put the extra ounce on the trigger and send my bullet on its murderous way.
My rifle was as always loaded with just one bullet. I’d never needed a second shot and as the distance was only one hundred metres I knew I would not miss. Having just one bullet was my secret trademark. If they escaped my single bullet. I let them live.
I’d crafted a special bullet for this one. This was an area where I did modify. I trusted no one to make the alterations but myself. I had taken the round apart and had weighed out the powder to my own exact specifications. I wanted the bullet to mushroom on impact with her skull, to do the maximum amount of damage to her brain without coming out of the other side and hurting an innocent bystander.
I was always stringent with my preparations and the one rule I had in my career as an assassin was that I would never incur innocent casualties. This trait had nearly got me caught once or twice during high speed getaways but I held my stance rigidly.

I checked my watch. Seeing that she was due to arrive in a further five minutes I went into my pre-shoot routine. Stretching first legs and then arms into suppleness, I then flexed my fingers in the manner of a classical pianist preparing for a virtuoso performance.
My breathing was already under control but I used the routine as a way of relaxing my nerves and slowing my heartbeat so that breaths could be taken as shallowly as possible.
My apprentice looked across from the other window where he stood. His job was to act as my spotter and give me notice as to what my target was wearing and what colour her hair was today.
By the time my days work was done, I could guarantee her hair would be blood red in at least one place.
‘She’s here.’ There was an excited shrillness in his tone. I would have to work on that.
‘She’s wearing a luminous green dress. Three bodyguards who are all muscle and no skill. Christ, she looks good in that dress!’
I brought my eye slowly to the scope, willing him to concentrate and took in the view. Other celebs were making their way towards the red carpet. Waving, laughing and flashing some of the most expensive teeth known to man. The street artists were performing in the background but were largely being ignored by the stars who were more concerned with the paparazzi below me.
‘She’ll be in your sights in five, four, three, two, one.’ As the apprentice hit one, I saw Jessica in the flesh for the first time since she had publicly berated me for my impotence.
I centred the cross hairs on her head as she moved from left to right and then she stopped dead in her tracks. She waved to the mime artist and beckoned him over. I’d forgotten how she loved those silent freaks.
I re-acquired my target as her sudden stop had thrown off my tracking movement. Her bouncers had peeled away and I had a clear view of her. My finger tightened on the trigger and just before the bullet left my gun, her co-star who was also her latest beau leaned towards her so they could kiss for the amassed cameras. My bullet went so close to her that she must have felt its passage.
The mime artist was not so lucky. I saw the bullet hit him bang in the sternum. He clutched his chest, blood oozing between his fingers. His knees wobbled, eyes went blank and he fell theatrically. First to his knees and then face first onto the recently swept pavement.
And as for Jessica? Well she’d just laughed at the man dying in front of her, thinking it was all part of his act.
The irony was not lost on me. I’d just shot a mime artist with a silenced bullet and he got a round of applause as he died.

© Graham Smith 2011

Graham Smith is married with a six year old son. He lives at and manages The Mill Forge hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green. He has been a book reviewer for Crimesquad.com (http://www.crimesquad.com) for the last two years and he has recently been featured At The Bijou (http://at-the-bijou.blogspot.com/2011/11/november-goes-noir-at-bijou-presents_04.html) with his Noir debut.
He has only recently started writing short stories and when not working, reading or writing he enjoys spending time with family and socialising.


  1. Fantastic work Graham. Really enjoyed reading it. And a great ending!

  2. Brilliant stuff, Graham. Loved the build, and those little things - the apprentice, the moral code, the mime artists - and the ending was, literally, a killer.

    Top stuff, sir.

  3. Thoroughly entertaining read

  4. Great job with the details, had e thinking you just might have some expertise in the profession ;)

  5. Was right there, in the moment through the whole chess match preparation down to the last tasty morsel of mime. Cool.

  6. Very slick! Great sense of building tension, with enough hints at the back-story to get us up to speed. Fine writing, with excellent word-play - this is top notch stuff, Graham.
    Well done!

  7. Thank you all very much for your kind comments. I'm delighted that you've all enjoyed my humble efforts.

    @Sean no expertise but I have read a lot of books where sniping takes place.

  8. "Having just one bullet was my secret trademark. If they escaped my single bullet. I let them live."

    Well *congrats* indeed Graham. You fleshed out (no pun) the silencer of the mime shot plot from earlier 100'word Status Story scribing. Loved it then, Dig it more in fuller story glory. Your reference works wind well into scaring Sean Patrick to always be more than 100 meters away. My fave though were that the street performers had gusto and aplomb.

    World needs more gusto and aplomb I always say. And great writer man, creator of Detective Harry Charters in premiere NOIR, AT THE BIJOU. I salute you. Before the authorities come'round, you'd better haul assassin ass outta there. (continuing story? agita at the aide? bullet-secret trade? -- Yes, I see it shooting forth)

    ~ Absolutely*Kate
    AT THE BIJOU . . . and beyond

  9. it's hard to get a new take on situations but you did it in style with this one! Good read!

  10. Great story Graham I loved reading it
    You have a great way with words

  11. I agree with all the positive comments. And...it was a nice touch that the mime died without uttering a sound.

  12. {{ Zelda's cracks in the veneer always leave me speechless too }}

  13. Nice work, excellent descriptions. Very believable.

  14. Enjoyed that Graham; there must be a book in there

  15. Thank you very much everyone. I'm delighted with all your comments.

  16. You know what takes this story out of the realm of "average?" It's the ending.

    The character is very well developed throughout, and his motivation is crystal clear, but it's the fact that in the moment of truth, he comes up impotent with her again that makes this story great.

    Well done.

  17. Great pace; love his revelations as the story progresses and the final irony is indeed a mighty one.

    Well done Graham.

  18. Nice one, Graham. A great story.

  19. Thank you all for your incredibly kind comments.