SHORTS FROM THE SHELF features short serialized fiction by author Shannon Muir, administrator of SHANNON MUIR’S THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF, that may be later released as part of e-book or print collections. The story line featured over the next  fifteen days is “Beyond the Shining Stars”. This is part 14 of 15.

The security guard now showed a gun, and pointed it at the two of them.

“Oh, Randy. Sweet Randy. If I can’t have you, no one can.”

“What did you do to her?” Sam demanded.
“Absolutely nothing,” the security guard said. “You just made the mistake that when Randy ran back to find his friend, my other associate was waiting for instead. We’d been scoping the place out hoping you’d come in the area sometime. My associate fooled you into thinking he was your friend, and claimed to be working with the police, and so you brought my associate – fully wired and reporting back to me – to the prop warehouse, all the while totally allowing me to learn your plans. Then my associate sent you back so we could ambush you. This game of changing identities has all been way too fun. Fortunately, your uncle plays by the book as a private investigator. And now that we know our original target is still alive and working with the police, we need to do a little something about you!”

On that cue, the associate previously dressed up as the drag queen – now back in his regular clothes –  stepped in, gun drawn. Except he pointed it at the security guard and showed a badge, stepping in between Sam and Randy.

“Detective Streeter, LAPD. We’ve got police surrounding you outside, so I suggest you put the gun down. And if you think of shooting me, I’ve got a vest on underneath. I’m far from the dummy you believed me to be.”

“Did you know?’ Sam whispered to Randy.

Randy shook his head from side to side, and Sam saw the young man clearly didn’t know what to think.

“You,” the security guard said harshly. “You betrayed me.”

“I worked another case involving the murder of a young woman named Kiara Wentwood. She lured in people new to town to use and abuse them, and one of them killed her. I knew she wasn’t the ringleader, so I followed the money trail to your boss, Kiara’s father’s business partner. Her parents died young and she inherited the money, but then the business partner blackmailed Kiara to work for him or he’d tell the truth. You were the security guard hired to keep an eye on Ms. Wentwood, but you had your own ambitions. And when she went dead, you went rogue.”

“I just wanted to be happy,” the security guard protested. “When I failed at protecting Wentwood, he promised to make my life a living hell. I needed to escape, but I didn’t want to leave without the person I cared about.”

The security guard reached his free hand out toward Randy.

“Please, Randy, come with me. You can see now I can be everything you desire.”

“No, you can’t,” Sam heard Randy’s response. “The person I love is the person under the wig and makeup and clothes, not who you’re dressed as being. You can never be a replacement.”

“Then no one will!”

Before the security guard could get off the shot, Detective Streeter fired back, and the security guard crumpled to the floor.