(1st chapter of a mystery by TA Sullivan)
“I’m gonna count to three, and then I start shooting!” the gunman shouted as he pointed his weapon at the hostages.
Hunkered behind a desk about four cubes away, my partner and I exchanged worried looks.
My partner’s face was drawn as she whispered, “What do we do?”
I opened my mouth to answer, and burst out laughing. A moment later, my partner, joined in.
“Cut…cut,” the director turned to us. “Really?”
“I’m sorry,” I muttered as we continued laughing. “But you have to admit, it’s a bit cliché.” The writing for this show had been getting so insipid lately; not that the show had ever been more than your basic cop drama. I played the rugged, rumpled, and slightly jaded cop, whose instincts were nearly always right; while up-and-coming actress, Pam Brewer, played my over-eager, naïve, rookie partner. As I said, very typical. Still, the writing had never been this hackneyed.
The director gave us several minutes to pull ourselves together, and we set up to do the scene again.
“I’m gonna count to three, and then I start shooting!” The actor playing this week’s crook waved his gun menacingly at the cowering hostages.
I exchanged looks with Pam and we managed to hold it together this time. However, when she opened her mouth to utter her line, it was drowned out by the crack of gun fire. This time when we looked at each other, the confusion and worry were genuine. We were definitely not acting.
I heard a scream echo from across the sound stage, and I jumped to my feet. A moment later, Pam and I joined the rest of cast and crew as they rushed toward the apartment set. At least a dozen members of the cast and crew of “Police Beat” were ringed around the bloody body. I could hear the pounding of racing feet coming up behind me as the rest of the staff came to see what had happened. Pam gagged and turned away, and somewhere behind the apartment set wall I heard someone getting sick. At least they hadn’t vomited all over the crime scene, I thought. Yeah, call me Mr. Sensitive.