Vera Faulkner stuck a hand inside her purse, and closed her fingers around the bottle of pills she placed there that morning. She was sitting in the old Aztec theater, after 50 years this would be its final weekend. It was a place that held many wonderful memories for Vera —and it would also be the place where she would end her life.
The former High School Valedictorian, and the girl everyone thought would most likely succeed, had turned into a recluse, who would spend her last hours watching a Quentin Tarrantino double feature, in the outdated movie theater of her youth.
There was a full house on hand for this last hurrah, and Vera jealously watched the happy people streaming in. Her plan was to take the pills at the beginning of the second feature, and hopefully expire by the time the ushers were sweeping up the last stale popcorn that would ever grace the sticky floors of The Aztec.
Vera was lost in thought when the first ‘pop-pop’ sounds rang out. Like most of the moviegoers she was confused at first; but when the usher crumpled to the floor like a rag doll, than the man with the giant tub of popcorn fell flat on his face, and others fell —dead before they hit the ground, confusion turned to panic, and there was a mass exodus for the doors.
The shots were coming from the balcony, and instinctively Vera got on her stomach and crawled under the seats for cover. ‘Funny behavior for a woman who wanted to die just a few short moments ago,’ she thought. Vera saw bodies falling all around her, and heard the gunfire growing louder as the shooter moved from the balcony to the main level, picking off anyone unlucky enough to still be inside the theater.
Vera heard someone pleading with the killer, than the familiar pop-pop was followed by the unmistakable sound of a body hitting the floor. Vera knew it was only a matter of time before he found her. Then a sudden and surprising calm took her over —she laid still and pretended to be just another dead body among many.
Vera was lying on her stomach, eyes closed as she tried to slow her breathing so the killer would think she was one of his victims. She could hear his calm, measured footsteps coming closer, and it took every ounce of strength for her not to scream.
He walked up and down each row, until he was standing directly over Vera. She thought she looked perfectly dead, but he nudged her with his foot, ‘Was he on to her?’ The murderer used his heavy boot to push her onto her back, just as police burst through the front and rear doors.
“Put the down gun!” Someone yelled.
At that moment the shooter decided he wanted to die. Vera opened her eyes, and even though his face was in shadows, she swore he smiled as he pointed the rifle at police. Vera watched his body convulse backwards as it was riddled with bullets. His arms fell to his sides limp and heavy, he slid to the ground next to Vera, his dead eyes looking directly at her.
An officer rushed to where the killer lay dead, and was surprised to find Vera lying next to him very much alive. He said his name was ‘Captain Duncan,’ and he told her that she was safe. Vera will always remember his kind smile.
* * * * * * * * *
The brightness of the afternoon sun hit Vera hard as she exited the theater, and she quickly brought her hands up to shield her eyes. There were reporters everywhere as details of the slaughter made the rounds. Microphones were shoved in her face, a cacophony of questions were being yelled at her. Captain Duncan did his best to keep them at bay.
One question did make it out of the din. “Miss, can you tell us how you survived such a horrific ordeal?” Vera looked at the tall reporter in the gray suit, and after an uncomfortably long pause she straightened up, looked directly into the camera and said, “I wanted to live, I just wanted to live.”
Photo Courtesy of Solstice Eco Urban Living