Miss Pauling slid the last bullet into the chamber, and with a flick of her wrist, set it into place, the revolver locked and newly loaded. She gave another glance towards the cave, still making small noises of acknowledgement as she pinned the phone to her shoulder with her ear, listening to the Administrator ramble about her plot.
“Ms. Pauling! Oh my God-are you certain this is it?” the director called out from within the cave. Even his sigh was audible. “The things, things, I have to work with. Your line of work is absolutely vile, Ms. Pauling. Do you know that? This ‘Mann Co.’ could do with some serious sprucing up...”
“Sprucing up, indeed,” she called into the cave, voice bouncing off the rocky walls, “not only of the facility but of the merchandise, too, am I right? I bet if you put an umbrella in a brim, it could probably sell as a ha--what’s that, ma’am?” Her voice lowered. “O--oh, we’ve done that. Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am.” Miss Pauling pulled back the hammer, releasing it with a click. “Yes, of course, ma’am.”
The director stood squarely in a wide tarp, back facing the cave entrance. He held his arms up and imitatied a frame with his hands. “Ms. Pauling, this simply cannot work. There’s no room for lighting, no crew. You cannot conduct a proper production of any caliber without a crew! And for the love of, please tell me you at least have chairs. It’s simply not like the director to stand around like some meddling coffee boy. I’m telling you, there’s simply shot that will work!”
Keeping herself from rolling her eyes, Miss Pauling maintained a relaxed, yet brisk pace as she followed him into the heart of the cave, gun held aside with one hand, a massive excuse of a cellular phone in the other. “We’re going to a more natural setting, Director. Though, if you’re worried about lighting, we’re working on a skylight. If you’ll hold still a moment, I can show you its exact placement.”
“Ms. Pauling, I have worked in some truly hopeless settings,” the director said, speaking dramatically with exaggerated hand motions and sways, as if consciously compensating for the fact that he was not actually looking at his audience. “...and I’ve salvaged productions on the morning the screenwriter spilled battery acid all over the finished script! I’ve salvaged productions on the morning the screenwriter spilled battery acid all over the unfinished script! Unfinished, as in blank! Dozens of blank, acidic pages Ms. Pauling. And do you know what I did? I directed, because that’s what I do. What is that you do, Ms. Pauling? Because whatever menial strings of tasks your job description represents, I’m certain you’re not fulfilling duty; this is all an entire, utter failure. I’ll be sure to speak to this administrator about all of this.”
“Oh, the Administrator won’t be able to speak with you anytime soon,” she replied, voice still professional and chipper from the darkness behind him. As he had his back turned, she shut an eye and pointed the revolver at the back of his head, sticking her tongue out slightly in her effort to aim. “Buuuut, if you’d like to leave a message, I will be sure it gets forwarded to our suggestion box as soon as possible.”
Ms. Pauling quietly reflected about how she had always wanted to say something like that. And then she squeezed the trigger. She waited for the echoing gunshot to settle before continuing her phone conversation.
“Sorry about the noise Administrator. Yes ma’am, it’s taken care of. Oh, that won’t be a problem, Mister Conagher leant me a bag of calcium oxide.”
Ms. Pauling tossed the smoking revolver onto the corpse, lying face down on the white tarp. Blood oozed throughout the white material.
“Mhmm. Yes ma’am, he’s quite a gentleman. Of course not ma’am, we aren’t friends. Yes Administrator, I know the word makes you cringe. No ma’am, you have nothing to worry about.”
Pauling reached down and gripped one end of the tarp and folded it over the body.
“With all due respect Administrator, I’m more aware of the consequences of friendship than you are.”