The Attempted Assassination of Andy Warhol
By Betty Wood, UK (Published in Issue 1)
Andy caught his reflection in the window and grimaced. His brown leather jacket hung limply across his chest, and beneath, his black t-shirt hung to the flesh around his nipples creating the illusion and outline of flaccid breasts. Repulsed, he turned away; his hands thrust deep into the high pockets of his jacket, he rolled the bottle of Obetrol between his fingers. Fat Bastard.
Jed was talking. God he was stunning. He could see the boy’s muscles beneath the translucent white cotton of his vest. He was holding onto some strip lights, and for a second Andy briefly recalled a conversation they’d had about replacing the ones that had blown in the studio. How sweet of Jed to fetch them.
“Andy”. The female voice came from behind him- despite the obvious familiarity, he didn’t recognise it above the din of horns from the gridlocked traffic that was slumping slowly forward along the street towards the traffic light. “Wait up a sec” – turning to face her, he realised it was that awful Solanas woman.
“Oh hi Valerie” he drawled effeminately, pushing his sunglasses down his nose.
The woman looked completely dishevelled. Her black greasy hair hung limp against her neck and disappeared into the thick turtleneck sweater she was wearing. It was black, and between that and the camel trench coat she had pulled around her lumpish middle, it was no wonder she smelled like stale sweat. To cap it off, she’d punctuated the look with a garish slash of red lip-stick and a spattering of mascara on her left cheek beneath the spidery clumps of her lashes.
Appalled, he dismissed her with a flick of the wrist- “Sorry I can’t stop to talk, Jed and I are just going to a meeting”. Andy trotted in through the warehouse door, grabbing his boyfriend by the arm and pulling him hurriedly through the entrance.
“This will only take a minute” she replied, following after them.
Was she gurning?
Her face looked waxy and moist. He turned away from her, unable to look, but likewise he unable to resist the sarcastic dig that dripped off his tongue-
“I see you took my advice” he said, glancing sideways at her out of the corner of his eye. “The red lipstick... it’s very...becoming”.
He sneered back his trademark smile. “Ha ha ha” he laughed out loud, snorting. What a moron.
The lift doors opened, and the three figures stepped inside. God knows how he’d get rid of the woman. At least when they got upstairs, he could send one of the others to deal with her- she’d caught him off guard. It had been a while since he’d had to deal with the unpleasantness of undesirable company.
He shared a knowing look with Jed, who looked away uncomfortably. He was such a good boy. He didn’t enjoy the unpleasantness of his partner's more developed sense of humour. Valerie seemed to fill the lift, although at only 5ft 4”, both he and Jed towered over her. She had manoeuvred herself between the pair, the brown paper bag she clutched in her hands scratching at the material of Jed’s trousers in an irritating way that made Andy’s skin crawl.
Uncomfortable minutes passed interposed only by the grinding and the brilling sound of the cable overhead and the pulleys clunking with the strain of the weight.
She was breathing heavily, air zipping around her nostrils and out with a high-pitched wheeze. It irritated him and made him feel sick at the thought of sharing germ-space with her.
The cab creaked on, the floor appeared at ceiling height, then waist before finally settling level with their feet.
“Thank God!” he exclaimed loudly, stepping out of the elevator and leaving the other two behind him in his wake.
They scuttled after him, Valerie more elegantly than Jed who struggled awkwardly with the lighting strips that had become caught in the door frame.
In the lobby, Valerie waited a few feet away from Andy, standing uncomfortably on the balls of her feet, rocking between her heels. Her face moulded into a concrete grin, a smile that hid the creeping sense of agitation that washed over her and crackled beneath her skin. It wasn’t playing out as she’d intended; she didn’t even have his attention... Andy was gone, lost in conversation on the other side of the hallway with a man who handed him a phone. She muttered under her breath. Fuck this.
“Oh heeey Viva” Andy gushed, rolling his eyes at the pair of men who crowded next to him. One of them Valerie recognised from the film shoot she’d been on- “Mario the Agent” Andy called him- a “terrible bore”.
Covering the mouth piece, he whispered “Two seconds, I just need to get rid of Viva and then we’ll go; she’s at the hair salon. Oh Viva, you’re such a scandal” he roared, dipping seamlessly back into the conversation.
Whilst the phone call dragged on, there was a rambling monologue that played out in the background neither Andy nor Mario paid much attention to, but that worked its way out of Valerie’s mouth like a mantra. It gathered in pace and in volume, slipping off of Valerie’s tongue and hanging in the air like a cloud of noxious gas. “I know you’re in on it with him Andy, and this time you’re not going to get away with it. Do you hear me Andy Warhol?! You’re not going to get away with it this time.”
“Oh, it’s that Solanas woman, just ignore her” he muttered into the receiver, his voice low. The phone buzzed back, and Andy laughed. “I know, she’s fucking crazy”.
“DO YOU HEAR ME? I’M GOING TO KILL YOU, YOU BASTARD”.
She pulled out a .32 automatic from the paper bag and fired. BANG. Andy dropped the receiver in shock. It clattered to the floor, the plastic casing scuffing on the concrete.
Valerie stood only meters from him, the pistol aimed at his chest.
“No! No Valerie, don’t do it!” he screamed, terrified. She pulled the trigger once more. He flung himself to the floor, his kneecaps clattering, sending pain shooting through his legs. He crawled frantically on his hands and knees, scrabbling to get under the protection of the desk.
But he was too slow. She fired a third bullet. It ripped through his chest in what felt like slow motion. He felt the metal tearing through the outer layer of his skin, burning its way through his muscle tissue. The pain was incredible.
The bullet punched through his back, the impact catching him and throwing him roughly against the corner of the desk. He felt himself watching as his body wracked, then folded, disconnected from the pain that spread through his body like poison.
Andy struggled desperately for breath, panicking as he realised he was unable to inhale. Frantic, his lips mouthed desperately for help. But no help came.
Valerie stood shaking for a second, standing over her target. The pistol felt heavy in her hand, but she resisted the urge to drop it.
At her feet, the body of Andrew Warhol wept blood onto the shiny surface of the floor. It licked at the underside of her shoes, and she stepped back, shocked.
She swallowed the metallic thrill of saliva that filled her mouth, licking her dry lips.
She’d done it.