He smiled, flashing his bleached teeth at the front row, sure the glare from the stage lights would blind anyone unfortunate enough to look right at them. He waved as he approached the podium and, despite telling himself he wouldn’t, glanced behind him. It was a quick flit of his eyes, and he corrected it immediately, knowing that someone would notice if his gaze lingered. They noticed everything, yet they saw nothing. They would notice the lapse in his attention, but they wouldn’t see what was right in front of them.
At the podium he paused to let the applause die down. The roar gave him a moment to take a deep breath and steady his shaking hands. He hadn’t felt like this on stage in years. The whole game, the whole world of celebrity had lost its shine years ago. The fans, once his reason for being, were now only shallow, one-dimensional figures that cared more about this best-actor trophy than their own presidential election. Bonded to each other in ignorant unity. They didn’t care what he did as long as he smiled, waved, and delivered performances that made them forget their meaningless lives. He’d grown numb to it all.
But tonight? Tonight he felt it all anew. Tonight he’d heard his name, and his heart dropped into his gut as the man in front of him hit the floor. The music began to play, signaling his call to the stage, and his heart pounded as he wondered if someone would discover him. If he didn’t go accept the award, would someone come looking for him? He was supposed to be in the crowd, not backstage. Would they notice? And if they found him, what would they say? When they caught him mid-act, the rope still in his hand, the body strewn at his feet, would they finally see what he had been trying to tell them all for months? Or would they remain blind? Like when that actress went missing from his party. The evidence should have been damning. But, they’d looked right at it and simply ignored it. He was their golden boy; he was perfect in their eyes. So they’d read the signs, come to the wrong conclusion, and he’d walked away without one scratch on his shiny reputation. It was then, after that first one, he began to wonder . . . how far could he go?
Tonight, he’d found out. He’d killed right under their noses but they remained blissfully ignorant. Then he had simply dropped the rope on top of his latest victim, stepped over the body, brushed off his hands on his Armani tux, and completed his victory march to the podium, exhilarated.