As she walked home alone Jackie noticed several people standing outside of her building. Among those waiting she saw a somewhat familiar face. It was someone she had only met as a fan of her books who persistently asked for her autograph. His name was Eric Steven Walker and though she often saw him as a nuisance she tolerated him with a professional politeness.
A year or so earlier was the first time she remembered having encountered Eric. It was at a book signing for her recent novel and Eric, along with many others waited patiently in line for some time as Jackie autographed each book personally and took the time to speak to each person she encountered.
When Eric reached the table where Jackie was signing books she had no way of knowing he had been to three other book signings. He had a mustache at those signings and now he was clean shaven.
When he handed her his copy of her book she took it and asked him his name for the inscription.
“Eric…and can you sign it, ‘to my number one fan’?” He asked politely.
Jackie smiled and nodded and inscribed the book as he had asked.
“I love your books Miss Hemingway.” He seemed a little shy at that moment.
“Oh why thank you,” Jackie replied.
“I can’t say I agree with your lifestyle choices but your books are wonderful.”
Jackie paused and looked up at her number one fan.
“My lifestyle?” She asked. A moment of concern flashed through her mind.
“Being transgender…and a lesbian.” Eric’s shyness had dissipated and a blank vacant look hung over his face.
“Oh…well I suppose everyone has their own opinion on that.” She was beginning to feel uncomfortable and glanced over at her assistant Brenda who moved in next to Jackie’s side behind the table.
“Ok sir, that’s enough, let’s keep the line moving please,” Brenda instructed.
A smile returned to Eric’s face, “I love your books ma’am.” He nodded and then walked away.
“There’s one in every crowd,” Jackie mumbled to Brenda.
“I don’t like that,” Brenda said motioning for the next person to approach the table. “We need to start having security at these signings.”
Calmness returned to Jackie as she brushed the encounter off and signed the next book. She figured Eric was probably harmless enough and it never crossed her mind again when he would be outside her building asking for an autograph.
Eric Steven Walker was something of a simple and complex individual all in one. A loner most of his life he demonstrated early signs of Asperger Syndrome though never diagnosed. In addition, he displayed anger at people or things he felt did not adhere to or demonstrate behaviors he deemed appropriate or in line with his beliefs or desires.
Not being particularly religious he did not identify with any particular religious belief system and his political identity was centered around the uber conservative right wing spectrum.
In reading Jackie’s books Eric found a way that he could enjoy or experience a release from those foundational beliefs without feeling like he had compromised them in any way – after all, they were just books. He began to identify closely with Jackie almost to the point of seeing himself in her within his own self-awareness and identity.
Though in real life he could not accept the LGBT community, their beliefs and lifestyle choices, when reading Jackie’s stories he often fantasized at what it would be like to be Jackie’s main protagonist character Jack Hemingway, who was in fact Jackie in her prior gender role. He envisioned himself as Jack, the reluctantly masculine Hemingway who struggled with inner self-identity.
As Eric and a handful of others waited while Jackie walked down the sidewalk he thought to the month prior when he was at a gun show in Tampa. He occasionally bought a gun if he felt it would add to his odd collection that was only of significance to him. He had guns either similar to or the same model as those used by Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and a similar gun used by Squeaky Fromme in her attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford.
At the Tampa gun show he came across a pistol that interested him. It was a Charter Arms Undercover .38 Special revolver. It was the same model gun used by Mark David Chapman when he assassinated John Lennon. But it was the gun’s previous owner that intrigued Eric the most.
“This is the same type weapon used by the guy who killed John Lennon.” The gun vendor explained. “I bought it about five years ago from the writer woman there…Hemingway.”
“Jackie Hemingway?” Eric asked almost excited.
“I’ll take it.” Eric said without even asking the price.
“Two hundred dollars,” the vendor stated.
Eric paused a moment as he thought. “How do I know she owned it?”
“I got the receipt she wrote by hand and signed it.” The vendor produced the folded receipt and showed it to Eric.
Eric’s heart raced and his palms became sweaty as he took out his wallet. There were no background checks required to buy a gun from a private seller at a gun show.
“There’s an ATM right over there if you need to get some cash.” The vendor stated pointing across the auditorium.
“I got the two hundred.” Eric took out two hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills and counted them out three times before handing them to the vendor.
The vendor collected the money and made sure the gun was zip tied so it could not readily be used and handed the gun to Eric.
“Got any ammo for it?” Eric quizzed the vendor.
“Nope, but you can get some down that aisle by the entrance.” The vendor looked at Eric for a moment and added, “now don’t go shooting anyone with it.”
“Nah, it’s just for my collection.”
The vendor nodded and moved on to help another customer. Eric bought a box of ammo before leaving the gun show with his new prize.
The revolver had in fact been owned by Jackie for a number of years. She bought it for its compact size and stopping power. As a transgendered lesbian woman in the public eye she did occasionally have to deal with people who vehemently disagreed with how she lived her life. She had been threatened several times both in person and by mail.
She sold the gun when she found out it was the same model gun used by Chapman to kill John Lennon. She said owning it gave her the creeps so she sold it when she had a garage sale. Besides, she knew it would be difficult for her to ever kill another person. She opted to carry very strong military grade tear gas and settled on that as her personal protection.
As Jackie neared the small group of people outside of her building she noticed the doorman James Wilson nod to her as she approached. She nodded back and took out a black sharpie from her purse. She also noticed Eric Steven Walker standing at the back of the group of people. He had arrived last and didn’t want to barge ahead of anyone who had been waiting longer than he had.
Jackie had a rule that she would only autograph books – preferably her own. She would occasionally be asked to sign someone’s favorite Ernest Hemingway book which she would indulge. She glanced up in between autographs and saw that Eric had two books he was holding.
People also often asked to take a selfie with her which she was not fond of, but she would allow. A couple of people meandered off after acquiring their autograph and selfie while a few stuck around as Jackie turned to her number one fan.
Eric smiled and handed her his two books. She smiled back as she opened the cover to her latest novel and paused.
“To my number one fan?” She asked Eric.
He beamed a smile at her. “Yes ma’am.”
She signed it as requested and handed the book back to Eric. She looked at the second book he wanted signed, Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger.
She was puzzled by his request and looked at him.
“Catcher?” She asked. Eric nodded.
She signed the book and for some reason her palms turned sweaty. She was uncomfortable and wasn’t sure why.
“Do you know what today is?” Eric asked, catching Jackie off guard.
“No.” Jackie replied.
She finished the autograph and recalled the date, it was December 8th and as she closed the cover of Catcher In The Rye and read the title again she realized the significance. It was the day that John Lennon was shot and Catcher was the book that Mark David Chapman had in his hands when he killed John Lennon.
As she handed the book back she saw a gun in Eric’s right hand.
“Oh shit,” she murmured as Eric squeezed the trigger over and over.
The first two bullets struck Jackie in the stomach sending her staggering back. It was at this moment that James Wilson reacted and raced towards Jackie and Eric. The few other people who had sought autographs jumped back screaming at the sound of gunfire. The third bullet hit Jackie in the right shoulder as she began to fall turning away from Eric’s line of fire. The fourth bullet struck her in the back as she fell and hit the ground.
James tackled Eric from behind knocking the gun out of his hand before he could squeeze the trigger again. He reached out and grabbed the gun before Eric could retrieve it. Others nearby ducked for cover.
James took the pistol and beat Eric over the head with it a few times. He looked up at a man nearby and yelled for him to call 911. He kept Eric face down with his knee in his back.
“Just twitch muther fucker and I’ll blow you away!” he said as he pressed the gun to the back of Eric’s head.
Eric lay sprawled out with his face on the cement looking over at Jackie.
“You’re not transgender anymore,” he said almost with an air of relief.
“Shut the fuck up asshole!” James fought every urge to put a bullet into Eric’s head.
“God damn you! God damn you!” James was angry and near tears. He liked Jackie a lot and she often stopped and talked with him at length when she left or returned home. She treated James like he was as important as the richest person who lived in the building. She was especially generous towards James around the holidays and was one of the few people who remembered him on his birthday.
Two people had called 911 and with the police station just half a dozen blocks away, they arrived fairly quickly.
Bystanders had gone to Jackie’s side trying to help her while they waited for the police and ambulance to arrive. There was little that could be done at that point.
As she slipped into unconsciousness she stared up at the starry night sky and she could hear the beating hooves of an approaching horse. It was the Ghost Horse that her native Indian ancestors had told her about as a child. It had come to take her to the Spirit World to be with the Ancient Ones. She mounted the wild horse as the last breaths of life left her body.
The paramedics arrived and began to examine her as the police took Eric Steven Walker into custody without any resistance.
A faint smile traced across her lips as her heart slowed to a stop. Jackie Hemingway was dead.
Leave a Reply