View Full Version : A Life in the Day
01-08-2013, 12:24 AM
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm:
The airport cab pulled up to the entrance of the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The driver bolted out of the cab as if it was on fire and dashed to the trunk of the vehicle, pulling out suitcases faster than the hotel attendants could load them on the baggage cart. He was more anxious than usual to get back on the road, and with good reason, for the poor man had to endure an hour's worth of bickering and backbiting from the couple he had just delivered to the hotel, along with their daughter, who had remained silent throughout the trip from the airport, almost to the point of becoming invisible.
The cab driver opened the passenger door with all the caution of releasing a wild animal, steering clear of his quarrellsome passengers. The husband got out first, groaning aloud for the world to hear. "Ohhhhhhh! My God in Heaven!" he bellowed. "About time we got here! Swear to God, that's the last time we take a cab!" He turned to his wife. "I was for getting a rental car, but noooooo! You didn't want to spend the extra money!"
His wife, a scrawny brunette with wire-rimmed eyeglasses perched on her bony nose, emerged from the cab. "We're on a tight budget as it is, Gary!" she snapped at him. "We'll be lucky if we get through the week with what we got--if you don't blow it all at the casinos!"
"I'm not gonna blow it all at the casinos, okay?"
"Famous last words!" The woman turned back to the cab. "Maury! Get over here!" she shouted.
A brown-haired girl-child timidly crawled out of the cab, her faded blue dress wrinkled from sitting for hours in the airplane and another hour in the cab. She had endured her parents' squabbling in stoic silence for the entire trip; indeed, she could not recall a kind word between them as long as she could remember. Many times they were so engrossed in their personal battles, or in their own interests, such as Dad's bowling or poker, or Mom's shopping trips, it was as if she never existed. Only twice in her life did they even remember her birthday, and even then they marred the occasion with their fighting. Maury found that the only way not to incur their wrath was to fade into the background. It was safer that way.
Maury followed her parents quietly and obediently into the hotel, too timid to look around the world's largest atrium and all its attractions. She wished she was home, but then she would have had to stay with Grandma Potter, who was just as bad as Mom when it came to sniping and quarreling. Her parents marched up to the registration desk, where a sunny-faced receptionist greeted them with a smile. "Hi, welcome to the Luxor," she said. "May I have your name, please?"
"Brighton," the man grunted.
"One moment, please," said the receptionist as she entered the name on the computer.
Gary Brighton drummed his fingers impatiently on the desk. "C'mon, hurry it up, will you?" he muttered under his breath.
"For God's sake, Gary," his wife moaned. "Let her do her job."
"Will you just can it, Irene?" he snapped. "I'm tired and I wanna take a shower."
The receptionist handed over a pair of key cards. "Here you are sir," she said. "Room 1279. Enjoy your stay."
Gary Brighton took the cards without another word and left the desk, his wife and daughter in tow. Maury looked back at the receptionist and tried to smile, but after ten years of parental misery, she was way out of practice.
"One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight!"
Lyn Sheppard and the rest of the cast on the stage followed the steps with clockwork precision as the choreographer barked out the steps. They were in the twentieth rehersal for Criss Angel's show, Believe, but it felt like the hundredth. Hours and hours of grueling practice, going over the same steps again and again--you could never stop, no matter how tired you were. The show had to be perfect, especially with Criss' illusions highlighting it. It all came down to timing. One missed cue and the entire effect of his magic would be ruined, not to mention getting fired.
"Five! Six! Seven! Eight! and rest!"
The dancers breathed spontaneous sighs of relief, all but collapsing form exhaustion. No one dared complain of aching muscles or tiredness--that would be unprofessional. The long hours of rehersal, the constant criticism from the director and choreographer, the aches and pains--it was part and parcel of being a professional dancer in Cirque de Soleil. You sucked it up and soldiered on, taking direction without question or complaint, going over the steps again and again and again until your legs felt as if they would fall off--and then do it some more. Only the pros could handle the pressure; crybabies need not apply.
Lyn massaged her long, lean, muscular dancer's legs. She would have sold her soul for a cup of coffee at that moment. She needed the caffene to go on. She had been performing in Vegas, on and off, since her teens. Inspired by her parents, performers themselves who had a thing for King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table and therefore named their daughter Guinevere-Merlyn; she had studied dance in college and was thrilled when she was picked to be in Cirque de Soleil, especially with Criss Angel on the bill. She had anticipated hard work, but not this hard.
The director and the choreographer were conversing with each other in the orchestra pit. Maybe this would be a good time to sneak in a coffee break...? Lyn got up and tiptoed to the wings. Just a quick cup backstage, that was all, and she'd be back in no time. Just for a few minutes. She was almost at stage left when the choreographer shrieked out her name. "Lyn! Where the hell are you going? We got work to do! Places everybody!"
Defeated, Lyn returned to center stage and took her position. Coffee would have to wait.
"From the top!" ordered the choreographer. "And, One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight!"
Karen Delana McPhee, known as "KD" or "Kiddie" to her friends, stood by the practice table as the instructor went over the finer points of dealing blackjack. Her short blond hair was combed back according to regualtions, the red blazer she wore bulked out her slender five-foot-five frame. She had just enrolled into the dealer's course and had shown promise as a top-notch dealer. She knew there was a heavy turnover rate with those who worked the tables--theft and dishonesty were rife among the staff who worked them. Dealing from the bottom of the pack, card counting, and pocketing chips were all too common offenses committed by dealers. The security cameras were vigilant in detecting cheating from both staff and guests in the casinos, and many a dealer lost his or her job due to it. Avarice was a vice all too easy to succumb to in a city where money didn't just talk, it gave orders.
She practiced the dealing routine: show the cards, deal them out from the top, set out the chips, stretch out your hands to show the guest and the cameras that you weren't palming anything, wait for the guest to say "hit me", then deal another card, give the guest his winnings if he won and take the chips if he lost, then repeat. The instructor was impressed. This little girl was a gifted dealer, he admitted to himself.
"Okay, that's really good," the instructor said. "Just remember to smile and keep your palms open. You can start on relief tonight."
Kiddie McPhee smiled. "I'll be here," she said happily.
"And, remember," the instructor added, holding up a warning finger, "they'll be watching you from above, so no funny stuff."
"I promise," Kiddie nodded. "I'll be the most honest dealer in the Luxor!"
"Good. Be here at seven tonight."
Kiddie walked out of the casino on a cloud. She got the job! She was actually working at the Luxor! It was a dream come true.
Of course, to make it really come true would be to meet Criss Angel himself.
Criss Angel, himself, meanwhile, was standing on a stool in his CKs being measured for his costume for the Believe show. It had to be authentically Victorian, but flexible enough to allow for freedom of movement, and light enough to "breathe" under the heat of the lights and the constant movement of his body, not to mention durable enough to withstand performance after performance without ripping or fraying.
The wardrobe supervisor ordered Criss to raise his arms so she could measure his chest. She slid the measuring tape around his upper torso and was chagrined that the forty-inch tape was not long enough to encompass it. She flung it away and found the sixty-inch one. She was more successful this time, writing down his chest measurements on a pad. Criss smiled sheepishly. He had been working out in the gym like a demon for his show, and had bulked up in the process, so much so he had to discard some of his t-shirts because they were suddenly too small; he had ripped a couple just by putting them on.
Arm length, neck, shoulders, waist, hips, thighs, leg length, inseam, even his wrists were measured. The wardrobe super drew outlines of his feet for his authentically made button shoes with spats. Criss was growing bored. He had work to do! Did they really have to measure his entire body for costuming? Couldn't they just take his regular clothes and work from them? They'd probably be measuring his weenie next.
Steve Packard screwed in the last fastener of the slot machine he had just finished reparing. He made a test run to check its function. The machine spun its pictured rollers and stopped randomly with no glitches. Satisfied, he packed up his toolkit and removed the "out of service" sign on the machine. An eager gambler stood by, waiting to try his luck.
"Hey, buddy!" the gambler, a pudgy type in a loud Hawai'ian shirt said to him eagerly. "You rig that thing to win?"
Steve shook his head goodnaturedly. "Sorry," he laughed. "I just keep them running. You're on your own."
The pudgy gambler looked a bit disappointed. Steve walked away, smiling to himself. He headed for the repair room in the back of the casino. Maintaining these machines was a full time job. As with all man-made objects, they malfunctioned at times. Even when they were functioning properly, there were always the tempermental types who took out their frustrations on the machine, when they failed to hit the jackpot. Worse, there were the hackers who tried to subtly manouvre the mechanisms inside with wires or other devices, creating even more damage in the machine and more overtime for Steve.
He checked his repair list on the battered brown clipboard hanging in the repair room. Mid afternoon and everything was going according to schedule. Maybe he'd get off on time for once. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number.
"Hello, Vic? It's me, Steve. Everything's going according to plan. We should have no problem tonight."
01-08-2013, 01:12 AM
ooooooooh this seems intersting
01-08-2013, 04:20 PM
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm:
The grueling rehersals went on. Lyn was in total caffene withdrawl by now. She felt that she would absolutely die if she didn't get a cup of coffee soon. But she was stuck on the stage, endlessly going over the dance steps with the rest of the cast. She was reaching the boiling point when the choreographer blew the whistle and yelled "Okay! Take twenty!"
At last! Lyn dashed for the break room in spite of her aching legs, hoping a pot of fresh-brewed coffee would be waiting for her. Her caffeine jones was the joke of the troupe. It was said there was two coffeemakers backstage, one for Lyn and the other for the rest of the cast. If none was made, look out! Lyn would go ballistic if she didn't have her fix.
Lyn didn't care what the others said. She would have drained an entire pot of coffee at that point. It kept her going and calmed her down. It was her lifeblood, her fountain of youth. It was the element in which she swam. She was the first to arrive at the break room.
"JAAAAAVAAAA!" she yelled the minute she caught sight of the black brew steaming from the glass pot on the warmer. Lyn siezed the biggest mug she could grab and dumped half the contents into it. As the hot liquid streamed down her throat, she felt life returning, surging through her veins in a glorious rush. It was bliss, pure unadulterated bliss, the ultimate legal high.
A couple of dancers could not help but be amused by the look of ecstacy on Lyn's face. "Oh, man," joked one, a lean, muscular male named Josh. "Lyn's tripping out on caffeine again!"
"Yeah," laughed Kwame, a tall African American in blue leotards, "she's just, like, whooooooo!"
Lyn sat on the couch, ignoring if not totally oblivious to the two men's teasing, savoring the warm sensation only coffee could bring. She drained the last of her mug and rose for a second round. "Wait! Whoa!" Josh laughed as he stopped her. "Save some for the rest of us, okay?"
Lyn backed away reluctantly. From now on, she was going to bring an extra-large Thermos of coffee just for herself, so she would not have to share with her fellow performers. She cared for them deeply, no question about that, but two small pots of coffee for thirty people just didn't work for her.
She was just beginning to settle down when the choreographer came into the break room. "All right! Break's over! Everyone back on stage!" she shouted.
Already! It seemed as if they had just gotten here! Reluctantly, Lyn set aside her giant mug and trudged back onto the stage. At least with coffee in her veins, she could once again function like a normal human being.
JD Sarantakos waited for his mother at the airport terminal. It was almost four-thirty; her flight had been delayed by thunderstorms back east by an hour and a half. He had read all the newspapers lying around the waiting area, had a cup of coffee, checked his cell phone for any messages (there were none), watched the overhead television screen tuned into CNN, had another cup of coffee, flipped through a copy of Newsweek from the previous month, went to the men's room to relieve himself of the two cups of coffee he had, returned to the waiting area, sat on one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs and cleaned his nails with a corner of a magazine subscription card he found on the floor.
"Flight 507 from New York, now arriving at gate twelve," came the announcement over the PA system.
Finally! JD shot up from his seat, waiting for the double doors to open and his mother to step through. The gate attendant unlocked the doors, releasing a stream of arriving passengers. JD craned his neck over their heads, searching.
He spotted her, a small woman with long black hair and a gentle face, a little wrinkled with age but no less beautiful than she had been in the past, at least to her sons. "Ma!" JD called out.
His mother, Dimitra, looked up. "Darling!" she smiled, reaching out to embrace him.
"How was your trip?" JD asked almost routinely.
"Fine," she replied just as routinely. It had in fact, been miserable. An hour and a half delay due to thunderstorms, too much turbulance, the passenger beside her white with terror, threatening to vomit, the dinner lukewarm at best--she was relieved to be free at last.
"The limo's waiting," JD informed her. "Let's go get your bags."
Dimitra smiled. Her Christopher always sent a limo instead of a cab whenever she came to Las Vegas. Ever since he made it in showbusiness, he had been spoiling her outrageously. Expensive jewelry, designer clothes, her own hotel suite. Even Criss' fans held her in the highest esteem, called her Mother Angel, or Mama Angel, or simply Dimitra. Every Mother's Day bought hundreds of greetings from Loyals. When she had emergency heart surgery two years ago, the fansites were flooded with prayers and get-well wishes for her. The Loyals had adopted Dimitra as a second mother, and cherished her as deeply as Criss and his brothers did. In Vegas, Dimitra Sarantakos was Queen Mother of the Luxor, with all rights and privileges therein.
Her suitcase retrieved from the carosel, JD and Dimitra made their way to the main exit where the limo was waiting. Dimitra was temporarily blinded by the bright desert sunshine; she pulled out her sunglasses from her purse and slid them over her eyes. Mac, the limo driver, took her baggage and stored them safely in the trunk. Then he opened the side door and allowed Dimitra and JD to enter the cool dark interior of the limo.
All this was witnessed by Tracy Cullen, a sixteen-going-on-seventeen Goth chick with elbow-length curly henna-colored hair and a deep tan from too many visits to the tanning salon. Recently emancipated from her parents, she lived with her best friend, five years her senior (whom her parents said was a "bad influence" on her for her Gothic dress and indifferent attitude towards school), and she desperately needed the work to pay her share of the rent. Las Vegas hotels paid very well, she had heard. When she spotted the Sarantakos' at the airport exit, she spotted her opportunity. Maybe they could give her a lift to the Luxor, arrange for her to get a job, she thought.
But it was too late. The limo door closed, the driver got in, and the car drove away. Disappointed, Tracy realized she was on her own again.
Maury Brighton realized she was on her own again as well when her parents took off for the afternoon, Dad to the casino, Mom to the shops, and there was no food in the suite except the courtesy basket of fruit and chocolate covered strawberries. Well, it was better than nothing. She pulled off the cellophane wrapping and picked up an orange, her favorite fruit. She found the TV remote and turned on the set. Television had been her lifelong companion, her escape from the harsh reality of her home life. It kept the lonliness at bay, drowned out the angry shouting of her parents' fighting. There were times when she wished she could crawl through the screen and join the characters on the screen, leaving the real world with all its strife behind her.
She finally located Nickelodeon and settled down to watch SpongeBob SquarePants, one of her favorites. The chipper sea sponge never failed to cheer her up with his upbeat attitude and goofy looks. The hotel television was much better than the one back home, she thought. Free at last from her bickering parents, she began to enjoy her own little vacation as she munched on juicy orange slices and watched SpongeBob annoy his uptight neighbor, Squidward Tentacles, once again.
Athene Christopolous stepped out of the stretch Mercedes in all her resplendant glory, as befitting the heiress of one of the biggest technological corporations in the world, Omicron, Inc. She had no idea just what Omicron, Inc., produced, much less cared. All that mattered to her was the prestige, the fame, and, of course, the money and all it could buy. It existed only to provide her with the things she wanted most, and she was a woman who was accustomed to getting what she wanted when she wanted it.
At this moment, as she stood in the giant atrium of the Luxor Hotel as attendants busied themselves with her mountain of luggage, what she wanted most was Criss Angel himself. Ever since she saw one of his shows from her last visit to Las Vegas (he had performed at the Excalibur at the time), she was intrigued, then attracted, then infatuated with this darkly mysterious man who could work such unbelievable magic. She immediatly booked a suite as close to his as possible (paying extra for the privilege, but it was worth it), and had arrived from Los Angeles where she had been hobnobbing with the Beautiful People.
Athene swept aside her long, silky black hair and waited as her personal assistant made the arrangements for her check-in at the front desk. She hated waiting, even for a minute. Delayed gratification was not in her vocabulary; she ordered, people obeyed.
Crito, her personal assistant, a mousy little man with a slight Mediterranian accent, scuttled up to her with her key card and presented it to her as if it was the Hope Diamond. "What kept you?" she demanded sharply.
"Forgive me, madame," Crito apologized in his faint European accent. "The clerk at the desk, she was too slow."
Athene took the card and ordered him and the staff to the elevators. She was tired after her long trip and felt the beginnings of a headache. She fished around in her handbag for some pain reliever and found none.
"Crito!" she snapped. "Go and get me some Tylenol or something, and be quick about it! I have a bursting headache."
"At once, madame," Crito aquiesed and scuttled off to find a pharmacy.
Athene was whisked away in the elevator to her suite, as close to the top as was possible, just beneath Criss' own penthouse. She smiled at this. It was apropos to be beneath the man she loved, even if it was only one floor below him. Soon she would be below him in more ways than one, she thought wickedly to herself.
It had been a long day, and Criss was feeling the strain. He needed to get out, have some fun. He hadn't been to Body English for a while; maybe he should go there for the evening. He hoped they still had those drink specials, not that it really mattered. Being the biggest star in Vegas to date, he practically drank for free anywhere he chose to go. Of course, that in itself posed some danger--the last thing he wanted was a DUI charge. It would ruin his career, not to mention set the show back, costing millions of dollars in lost profits. He had been on a rigorous fitness program since Believe went into rehersals, curbing his alcohol consumption and exercising every day in the gym instead of partying all night. He had to be on top of his game for this show. The Luxor was expecting a healthy return on their investment in him.
Still, one night out couldn't hurt. All work and no play made Criss a dull boy, not to mention an irritable one. He had been in overdrive for months, planning, rehearsing, organizing, building--he deserved a little R-and-R. A few hours at Body English, just to relax and be waited on was just the ticket. Two drinks would be his limit, and back to the Luxor via limo; he dared not drive, just in case. He hoped they got a good band tonight. Body English didn't book crap acts, true, but still...
Suddenly, he remembered, slamming the heel of his hand on his forehead, angry at himself for forgetting. His mother was due today from New York. He had to be there when she arrived. Damn! How could he have forgotten? He'd have to forgo Body English for the night.
Or did he? He calculated that his mother would be too tired to go out for the evening after her long trip, and at her age she would not be up to any late-night entertainment. Unlike her famous son, Dimitra kept regular hours and went to bed at the same time every night. Dinner at a nice restaraunt, some early evening family bonding, and the rest of the night was his. As much as he adored his mother, he had a life of his own and wanted to live it to the hilt. Body English didn't really get going until tenish anyway. It would work out after all.
01-08-2013, 07:01 PM
Why don't we hook up Lyn with an IV of caffiene?
01-09-2013, 11:13 PM
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm:
Steve Packard's cell phone went off in his pocket. He pulled it out and flipped it open.
"Yeah, what is it?"
"Everything ready for tonight?"
"Yeah, no problem."
"Good. I'll have the van ready around two."
"You working late tonight?"
"No, I'm going home after this shift."
"Yeah, bye." Steve flipped off his phone. He gave his to-do list one last look. Everything was kosher as far as he was concerned. No last minute repairs of any description. He clocked out and went to his car. He needed to go home and get some rest--tonight was going to be a busy night.
The parking valets sprang into action when they saw the long black limo glide to a graceful stop in front of the Luxor. One valet crossed over and opened the passenger door, breaking into a big smile when he saw who was inside. "Welcome back, Mrs. D.," he greeted Dimitra cheerily. "Nice to see you again."
He extended his arm to help her out. Dimitra took it with a smile of thanks and stepped out of the limo. Meanwhile, two other valets and the driver wrestled with her luggage, piling it onto a polished brass baggage cart. JD was all but ignored, but he didn't mind. In fact, it amused him how the hotel staff fell all over themselves whenever his mom showed up. Of all the celebrities and other VIPs who came here, Dimitra Sarantakos was a staff favorite, and not just because of the generous tips Criss doled out to ensure her comfort. She was the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful lady ever to grace the Luxor; she never made any outrageous demands, she never raised her voice in complaint, and she always said "please" and "thank you" with a sincerity that was all but extinct in the twenty-first century. To the younger staff members, it was like having their own grandmother coming to visit.
Dimitra, for her part, was still bemused about all the fussing and fawning over her whenever she stayed at the Luxor. Even after five years since her son, Christopher, signed that ten-year contract with the Luxor, she was still unaccustomed to such overwhelming luxury. She had too many memories of hardship and privation to succumb to avarice and pride. Her childhood in war-torn Greece had been marked with fear and hunger; her family's emigration to America had been difficult if not terrifying. True happiness came at last when she met and married John Sarantakos and gave birth to three beautiful sons, John, Jr., whom everyone called JD, then Costa, and finally, Christopher.
They never overindulged their sons, but, like all first- and second-generation Americans, instilled in them a stern work ethic and a sense of responsibility at a young age, both of which they all carried to adulthood. It would be her youngest, however, who would carry them to the extreme as he climbed the ladder of fame and fortune, and in turn overindulged his mother. Criss showered her with gifts of jewelry and fashionable clothes, reserved the best suites the Luxor had to offer, and treated her to meals at five-star restaraunts that cost the equivilant of a week's worth of groceries for a family of four.
And there he stood, her youngest son, shabbily dressed as usual with his torn jeans, grey t-shirt, and his collection of medallions around his neck, waiting in the giant atrum for her to arrive. He walked over to her, arms outstretched to embrace her.
"Mom!" Criss exclaimed as he wrapped his muscular arms around her slight form. "How ya doin'? Okay?"
"I'm fine," she replied. "Just a little tired from the trip, that's all."
"Well, we'll get you settled in your room, then you can rest up for dinner, okay? Andamo's sound okay to you?"
"Fine." It didn't matter which restaraunt Criss took her. They were all very nice as far as she was concerned. Very expensive, but very nice all the same.
JD, meanwhile, had taken care of the check-in arrangements and was now walking towards his mother with her hotel keycard. "Here you go, Ma," he said, handing the small plastic rectangle to her.
Dimitra read the room number. 1280. Usually she had a room booked near or just below Criss' suite, and now she was on the twelfth floor? Why so far away? she wondered.
"Something wrong, Mom?" Criss asked.
"Oh, nothing, darling," she replied airily. "Nothing at all."
Criss caught a glimpse of the room number on the card. "1280? Why is she all the way down there?" he asked JD.
"Well, it seems that Athene Christopolous and her entourage has the upper floor below yours fully booked," JD explained. "and this being the busy season, this was the best I could get."
Criss looked irritated. "Oh, don't worry about it, darling," Dimitra told him. "All the rooms here are nice. It makes no difference where I stay, so long as I am with my family."
Meanwhile, in the Luxor casino, Gary Brighton wasn't thinking about his family at the moment, focusing instead only on the numbers on the roulette table where he had placed his markers. The large wheel spun with stately grace in the center of the table as the small white marble rolled along the circumferance in the opposite direction. Gary crossed his fingers for luck. Win! Win! Win! he chanted to himself.
"Twenty-three black," the dealer called out.
Gary slumped in defeat. Son of a (bleep)! I was this close! Just this close to winning!
Undeterred, he lay another fifty on several more numbers and waited for the little white ball to land on its mark.
Again the bitter agony of defeat. Okay, one more shot, then I'm out of here. He laid a hundred this time. He had to win. He just had to.
"Twenty nine black."
Two hundred gone already. Maybe he'd have more luck at the slots.
Rehersal wrapped up for the day around six. The cast of Believe were in their locker rooms, changing into their street clothes. Stacy Hausman sat next to Lyn Sheppard on a bench, pulling on her stockings.
"Doing anything tonight?" Stacy asked Lyn.
Lyn laughed. "You asking me out on a date or something?"
"Ha, ha. Anyway, you doing anything tonight?"
"I dunno. Why?"
"Wanna go to Body English tonight? They got a really good band over there--Filibuster. You can burn off all that extra caffeine there."
Lyn thought about it. It did sound enticing, and it certainly beat an evening at home with her menagerie of pets; though she loved them all dearly, she needed the company of people as well. "Sounds good," she said. "Meet you there around eight or so?"
"Sounds like a plan," Stacy agreed.
Athene Christopolous lay on the huge, sumptuous bed, her dark eyes covered with a soft sleep mask to allow the skin tighteners and lotions to work. She hated growing older. It took a great deal of evading and misinforming to keep her real age a secret, not to mention the thousands of dollars she spent on spas and salons to keep herself looking young and beautiful. She had not yet reached the point of cosmetic surgery, but she had a list of the best surgeons on file, just in case. Meanwhile she kept a rigorous program of fitness and skin care: she had a standing reservation at La Costa, she bought her own hair stylist who knew every strand and follicle by heart, and avoided cigarettes like the plague (nicotine stains under the nails were so disgusting, not to mention the smell on the clothes). She drank only spring water; she hadn't touched tap water in years. Her diet consisted of organically grown fruits and vegetables and sushi, or micro meals in fashionable restaraunts with names that took longer to pronounce than it did to eat them.
The Tylenol Crito had bought finally kicked in. Pain free, she now concentrated on her quarry, the man who lived upstairs just above her. She had done her homework before coming to the Luxor; from scanning the entertainment pages and by indirect inquiry, she learned of his habits and where he liked to go in the evenings. It would not do to seem overanxious, though. She would do it in a roundabout way, subtly make herself known to him. Pursue him in such a way that her didn't even know he was being pursued. Athene was a past master at this. It wasn't the kill, she thought, it was the thrill of the chase. When it was all over, Criss would never know what hit him.
But first, she had to find her prey. She sat up, removed the sleep mask, and drew out her laptop case. No one, not even her faithful assistant, Crito, was permitted to even lay a fingernail on her laptop. She guarded it jealously, for therin lay such intimate information about her the tabloids would have sold their souls to the Devil to aquire. It had a voice-activated combination lock which only she alone knew, with a series of passwords that rivaled the CIA in complexity. She never opened it in the presence of others; it was her life encased in silicon, and no one on the face of the planet was allowed to read it.
Athene spoke into the microscopic microphone on the edge of the laptop case. "Clio1, Erato2, Thalia3, Urania4."
The case latches flew open. She opened the laptop computer with the care of a jeweler lifting the cover of a velvet-lined box containing a priceless necklace. It was wireless, so there was no need to plug into the computer line. She switched on the laptop and waited for it to boot up. It took only a fraction of a second, which pleased Athene. She entered her secret password into the computer: Pandora.
Welcome, Athene, the words on the screen read. She fingered the mousepad to locate her file on Criss Angel and clicked "enter". The file flashed onto the screen. There, the list of clubs in Las Vegas he liked to frequent. Which one should she choose?
Body English. Hmmmm. That looked promising. She would start her search there. If he wasn't there, well, there were the others. She could be patient if she wanted to be, but she was determined to get her Angel into her arms (and her bedroom) if it was the last thing she would do.
She pulled out her cellphone. "Crito," she said. "Arrange transportation for me tonight. I am going to the Body English club." She quickly hung up. The hunt begins, she thought.
01-10-2013, 05:42 AM
If you have Sandra in this story can we say cat fight which I think Criss would enjoy seeing two women fight for him:D
01-10-2013, 06:19 PM
Hmmm, sounds too risky, and I don't think Criss would want Sandra getting into a fight with anyone for his sake...
6:00 pm to 7:00 pm:
Irene Brighton stumbled through the doorway, exhausted, her arms laden with packages. She flung them down by the door and collapsed onto the bed, slinging her arm over her eyes. Her feet ached from an entire afternoon of shopping, and she felt another migraine coming on. The only things on her mind were a long, luxurious hot bath and a dose of painkillers.
Maury turned off the television and sat on a chair as far from her as possible. Experience taught her that whenever her mother was lying down with her eyes covered, her head was hurting her really bad, and when her head was hurting, she was in no mood to talk or do anything. It would be like approaching an angry bear, and Maury had no intention of getting mauled. If she kept still, and didn't make any noise, her mother's mood would, hopefully, improve.
So, there she sat, waiting uneasily for any response from the prone figure on the bed, her fear overshadowing her natural need for maternal love and affection. Maury could not remember receiving a hug, or a kiss, or even a single instance of hearing the words "I love you" spoken in her home. She could not remember speaking those three words herself. Even on the best of days there was only grudging acknowledgement of each other's existance. It suddenly occured to her that she knew very little about her mother. In fact, she seemed like a total stranger to her. She went to "work" some days, whatever that was; Irene seldom spoke of her job except how rotten it was. She seldom saw her cook anything; her dad always said that the only thing her mother knew how to make for dinner was reservations. She saw her mother smile only once in her entire lifetime, and that was at a party next door with a bunch of other grownups one summer. Someone had said something funny that she was too young to understand at the time and could not now remember. Seeing her mother in a cheerful mood had surprised her. Why couldn't she be more like that at home? she had thought.
Her father was just as irritable, and even more distant. He was always going somewhere with his friends to play poker or go bowling or to the bar. When he was home, he just sat on the couch and watched TV. When the need for physical contact became too strong to bear, Maury would creep up to the other side of the sofa and curl up next to him, silently waiting for some sign of recognition of her existance. If she was lucky, his hand would drop onto her side, but there would be no affection behind it; she was no more than an armrest for him. He showed signs of life only when he and her mother were arguing.
Anything could spark an arguement between her parents: a sock on the floor, a bill in the mail, a missing item no matter how insignificant it was. Even when it was announced that they'd be going to Las Vegas for a vacation the yelling and fighting continued over every little detail. Maury was surprised that they remembered her at all, let alone took her with them. At home, she was just another subject for them to fight about, if they ever thought about her at all. Lately she started having fantasies about they're not being her parents at all, that she had been kidnapped from her "real" family and forced to live with these people. As they continued to fail to address Maury's need for affection, she was even more convinced that her "real" parents were somewhere out there, looking for her.
A wild hope siezed her. Maybe they were here in Las Vegas, she thought. Lots and lots of people came to Las Vegas every year; maybe she could find her "real" family here. It was a longshot, as her father (or the man who claimed to be her father) liked to say, but to escape the misery she had endured for almost eleven years, it would be worth it.
Kiddie McPhee arrived at six-forty five, fifteen minutes early for her first night at the blackjack tables. She didn't want to be late, and she so wanted to make a good impression. She took the time to familiarize herself with the casino layout: the roulette wheels, the blackjack tables, the security cameras around and above, the emergency exits, and, of course, the ladies' room. She had to be extremly careful how she conducted herself here; the eyes in the sky were watching her every move. It was no secret that the Luxor had the tightest security that money could buy--indeed, there wasn't a hotel, casino, club, bar, shop or even a parking lot in Las Vegas that wasn't under scrutiny twenty-four-seven. Kiddie remembered a television show on the History Channel about the rise of Las Vegas as a gambling and entertainment mecca, stating that the video surveillance in the casinos were so sophisticated that it set the standard for the CIA and other government organizations dealing with national security. With millions of dollars exchanging hands every second, Big Brother was never more welcome than in Sin City.
Five minutes to seven. Almost time to clock in. Kiddie dashed to the back to report for duty. The casino manager directed her to a table near the slots. She would be there an hour until the regular dealer got back from break. Perching herself on the tall stool, she waited for her first customer.
She didn't have long to wait. A middle-aged man approached her and sat down at the blackjack table. Kiddie greeted him with a smile. The man read her name tag.
"Kiddie?" he said, laughing a little. "Yeah, you look like a kiddie. You sure you old enough to be working here?"
"Oh, yeah," she smiled back. "It's short for KD, my initials. I kinda like it."
The man held out his hand. "Name's Gary," he said.
Kiddie shook it. "Nice to meet you, Gary," she greeted him cheerfully. Be nice to the customers, she reminded herself. "Shall we play?"
"Deal." Gary laid down his bet.
Kiddie dealt the cards as she had been taught, brushing her hands and flipping them over to show the eye in the sky she had nothing to hide. Gary studied the cards he had been dealt carfully. He had a ten-card, a Jack of Clubs. All he needed was an ace.
"Hit me," he ordered.
Kiddie dealt a card face up, not looking at it. It was an ace! Gary could not believe his luck.
"Holy (bleep)! I won!" he exclaimed.
"Wow!" Kiddie was astonished. Her first customer won at blackjack. "You're good, Gary. Really good."
"How about another round, sweetheart?" Gary said jovially. "I am hot tonight!"
"Anything you say," Kiddie said. "You're the boss."
Dinner at Andamo's was wonderful, as always. The Sarantakos family had a nice view of the Strip, the piano music was soft and soothing, and they had the same waiter from Dimitra's last visit serving them (she remembered him because she had dropped her sunglasses under the table and he had retrieved them for her, returning them just as she and Criss were leaving). The management made sure they had a private booth so as not to be disturbed.
The usual pleasantries had been exchanged, and the latest family news reported: this aunt had minor surgery, this cousin had jury duty, and so on. It was just another family gathering, a mother, her sons and nephews, enjoying an evening out. No talk of shows or other entertainment business allowed. Criss Angel had been checked at the door; it was Christopher Sarantakos who sat at the table beside his mother now.
That brief illusion of family privacy faded when Felix Rappaport, President of the Luxor Hotel and Resort, strolled up to their table. No one resented the intrusion, however; Felix was not only Criss' employer of sorts, he was also a family friend. Yet, Criss hoped that he would not bring up business during this rare family gathering. He needed some private time away from his very public life. Simple, everyday activities such as dinner with his family, helped keep him grounded in the real world.
Still, it didn't do to brush off the president of the hotel; Criss offered Felix a chair and invited him to join the family. After being assured he was not interrupting anything, Felix accepted with a word of thanks and a smile--or what seemed to be a smile at first. It was more like a grimace, as if from pain. Felix's clutching his abdomen comfirmed it.
"Felix?" Criss asked. "Is something wrong?"
Felix straightened himself in his chair. "I'm okay," he said cheerily with a dismissive wave of the hand. "Just a little stomach trouble, that's all."
"Something you ate, perhaps?" JD suggested.
Felix waved at him frantically but discreetly. "Keep it down, willya?" he hissed. "Folks here will here you; it'll be bad for business if you go around saying that!"
JD mumbled an apology. Felix changed the subject. "So, Dimitra," he said with a smile, "nice to see you back in Vegas. Planning to stay long?"
"Not long," Dimitra replied, "just a few days. I can't take this desert heat too long. I may have to come during the winter months when it's cooler."
Everyone nodded in agreement. Triple-digit temperatures were dangerous if not lethal to elderly people--the risk of sunstroke was higher for anyone over sixty. "Just stay indoors and you'll be fine," Felix advised her.
They chatted about their day and their plans for the evening: Criss would be going to Body English, JD would be taking in a show, Costa wanted to work on his photography, Dimitra simply wanted to rest. After a while, the topic of Athene Christopolous came up. It had started when Criss asked about the suite downstairs, the one he normally reserved for his mother, had been taken. "And who is this Athene Christopolous chick anyway?" he wanted to know.
Felix felt his stomach churning again. He had dealt with pushy, overbearing guests in his many years in the hospitality business, but Athene Christopolous took the grand prize. She had demanded the suite in no uncertain terms, adding a list of amenities the Luxor usually didn't provide: heated towels, unlimited access to theaters and clubs, a standing reservation at the spa, and so on. The concierge had bent over backwards to fulfill her every wish without breaking hotel policy. Felix began to believe that she was the cause of his gastrointestinal troubles.
"All I know is that she's an heiress to some big name corporation," he answered, fighting down the pain in his gut.
"An heiress?" Criss said, cocking an eyebrow. "You mean, like Paris Hilton or something?"
Felix nodded. "Yeah, in more ways than one."
Costa gave JD a sideways glance. "Sounds like trouble."
"You don't know what kind of trouble she is," Felix mumbled, clutching his abdomen again.
The waiter arrived with the family's dessert orders. Felix took this as his cue to depart. "Well, I got to get going," he said, rising from his chair. "Enjoy the evening!"
The family bid Felix good-bye as he left. Outside the restaraunt, a little man waited behind one of the pillars until the hotel president had passed, then scuttled away to the elevators, a faint but satisfied smile on his moonlike face...
Crito approached his mistress with characteristic humility. Athene looked up at her assistant. "Well, what did you find out?" she demanded.
"You were right as usual, madame," he replied deferentially. "Mr. Angel will definatly be at the Body English club tonight. I heard--"
Athene waved a dismissive hand. "Never mind from where you heard it, Crito," she said. "The important thing is that he will be there. You have transportation ready?"
"Yes, madame, with all the usual accoutriments. It will be here at exactly the time you specifed: eight o'clock."
"Good. And my clothes for the evening?"
"It is hanging in the wardrobe now, madame, cleaned and pressed."
"Very good. That will be all for now, Crito. I will call when I need you."
"Very good, madame." Crito bowed and walked backward out of the suite as if leaving the presence of a queen.
Athene smiled to herself. She loved it when she was right. It would have been a great disappointment to go all the way to Body English and find out Criss wasn't there. She would have had to change her plans if he wasn't. She had trusted Crito to make discreet inquires as to where her Angel would be, and he had come through satisfactorily. He had a gift of seeking out information in a manner government intelligence agencies would have envied, and Athene used it to her full advantage.
She looked up at the clock. Almost seven. It would take her an hour to prepare for the evening. She summoned her hairdresser, Antoine, to her suite to fix her hair at seven-thirty. Meanwhile, she would bathe her body in creams and oils to ward off the desert dryness, and decide what jewelry to wear. She also needed to make her plan of attack. The direct approach would do no good--she had to draw him to her, not force him. Subtlety was the best motive. She had to lure him to her, like the Sirens of the Iliad. He would be enchanted by her beauty, enticed by her charms, and seduced by her desire for him. Once in her arms, he would be putty in her hands, just like all the other men she had known. Her snares would be impossible for even a skilled escape artist such as Criss Angel to free himself, assuming, of course, he even wanted to.
Lolita "Lolly" Jones, bass player for the band, Filibuster, was tuning her bass guitar for the night's performance at Body English while the rest of the band and their small crew made sound checks and secured the equipment. Of all the members of the band, she was undoubtedly the busiest; not only did she play bass guitar, but also ran the band's online forum and co-ordinated fan-related activities such as meet-and-greets, Street Team mailings, and contests.
She had always sought to be different, to stand out from the crowd. She favored both polka-dots and plaids, sometimes wearing both. Her silky brown hair was dreadlocked in black and purple stripes, and she wore heavy black boots with silver buckles. Her classmates back in Chicago shunned her for her radical appearance and her interest in obscure sci-fi novels. Her teachers were critical as well, even though she was a straight-A student with a fierce determination to learn all she could about the world. She was gifted in both art and music, learning guitar from her folk musician father, and studying graphic art and web design for two years before dropping out to join Filibuster, to the disappointment of her family.
She saw the set list lying on one of the amps and picked it up to read it. It was pretty much the same as all the other clubs. She put it down again and set her guitar on its stand, then left to get a bottle of water for tonight. Performing under those hot lights would give a lesser person heat stroke, and she needed to keep herself hydrated.
As she made her way backstage, she heard two bar waitresses talking and giggling like schoolgirls in a corner. Normally Lolly paid them no heed--it reminded her of high school--but the words "Criss Angel" caught her attention.
"It's true," said one of the waitresses to the other. "Criss is definatly going to be here tonight!"
"Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!" gushed the other waitress. "I hope he gets one of my tables!"
Lolly kept walking casually by, pretending not to hear, but secretly she was thrilled. She adored Criss Angel; he was almost a kindred spirit to her, with his semi-Gothic attire, his punk-rock hair, and his rebellious attitude against convention. She had never met him in person. Now, he was coming to this very club where she and her band were playing. This was too good to be true!
01-10-2013, 09:55 PM
I have a feeling Felix is getting an ulcer
01-11-2013, 08:57 PM
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm:
The hot shower caressed Lyn's body like a personal masseur, soothing away the aches and pains of the day. Despite years of performing, developing her body to near perfection, sore muscles were still an occupational hazard, along with pulled tendons, twisted ankles and an occasional fracture. She took it all in stride. She had to, if she wanted to keep working.
Twenty minutes later, she emerged from the steamy shower, savoring the feeling of relief. She toweled herself dry and combed through her wet hair. She didn't feel like styling it, so she just stooped over and blow-dried it, giving her "dirty-blond" hair a wild frizzy look, perfect for Body English. Lyn eschewed makeup, save for black eyeliner around her hazel eyes, feeling no need to cover her medium-light complexion, and chose her favorite outfit: a brown and green Madras skirt and a white peasant blouse, topping it off with her favorite French beret. She put her license, her keys, some money and her credit card inside her "secret" wallet tucked inside her bra (Vegas was full of thieves and pickpockets, she had learned from hard experience).
One final cup of coffee for the road, and she was good to go. She locked the door behind her and made her way to her car. She only hoped they didn't raise the parking fees again. Las Vegas was an expensive place to live, and an even more expensive place to party. But in the end, it was all worth it; you never knew whom you might meet.
Antoine, the hairdresser, put the finishing touches on Athene's jet-black hair, painstakingly combing and rearranging every strand with long, delicate fingers until it was in its proper place. Finally finished, he handed a wide hand mirror to his star client for her approval.
Athene appraised Antoine's latest creation in the mirror. Her shining sable tresses were fashionably teased and swept in the right places, very rock and roll, perfect for Body English. "Yes," she purred, "this is perfect. Thank you, Antoine. This will do nicely."
Antoine smiled ingratiatingly. "Thank you, madame."
She rose from her chair, teetering on her black Manolos, and gave herself a last minute check in the full length mirror. Her strapless red bustier emphsized her ample bosom (the tabloids had the nerve to accuse her of having implants!), and her long shapely legs, the result of early childhood ballet lessons and daily aerobics as an adult, stretched from under a black belted miniskirt. A handbag the size of a paperback novel hung from a long gold chain from her bare shoulder. Satisfied that all was ready, she pulled out her sell phone and summoned Crito.
"Is the limo here, yet, Crito?" she inquired in an impatient tone.
"Not yet, madame, " Crito replied. "But it will be here in ten minutes, I assure you."
"Call me when it arrives," she ordered. Then, "No, never mind. I'll go down into the atrium and wait there. If you do see it, call me at once."
"Yes, madame." Crito said.
Athene hung up her cell phone and stuffed it into her tiny handbag. Yes, that would be the better plan. Chances were good that Criss would be down there himself, on his way to Body English. She would saunter over, strike up a conversation with him, casually ask him what plans he had for the evening. Oh, what a coincidence, she would say, she was going to Body English herself, and then graciously offer him a ride in her limosine, complete with champaigne and other delights. It was an offer he would not be able to refuse.
She dismissed Antoine, reminding him to lock the door behind him, then swept grandly out of her suite to the elevator. It took all of ninety seconds for it to arrive on her floor, but even that was too long a wait for Athene Christopolous. She tapped her foot and drummed her sculpted nails on the elevator door. When one of the cars finally chose to show up, she sighed in frustration and walked in. Then came the intermimable descent, with irritating pauses to pick up other passengers who had the gall to summon the same elevator as hers. Hurry up! She wanted to scream at them. If she missed seeing Criss Angel, it would be all their fault.
Maury saw that her mother was asleep. That meant she would have to find dinner for herself. The fruit basket was just about empty (she had been living on it for the entire afternoon) and who knew when she'd get another meal. Best to save it for later, she thought. Besides, she wanted a real meal. If she was back home, she could have foraged for something in the fridge, but they were here in Las Vegas, and there was no food save for the fruit basket. If she could find her father, maybe he'd give her some money for a hamburger or something.
She found her mother's keycard, stuffed it in the pocket of her faded blue dress, and headed out the door. It took a while, but she found the elevators and pushed the "down" button, then waited. Her stomach began to grumble. Dad had to get her something to eat. She didn't want to go to bed hungry--again.
It was seven-thirty Las Vegas time, but Dimitra was still attuned to New York time, three hours later. Jetlagged, she sought the comfort of the hotel bed. Criss had given her an affectionate good night kiss and left his mother's suite for a night at Body English. He sauntered to the bank of elevators. As he turned the corner, he was a bit surprised to see a little girl in a faded blue dress standing all alone in the foyer.
Maury, in turn, stared curiously at this tall man with a lot of funny looking necklaces around his neck that jangled when he moved. She had been instructed never to speak to strangers, but her lonliness overrode any parental warnings to the contrary.
"Hi, there," Criss said to her. "What's the matter? You lost?"
Maury shook her head. "No," she mumbled shyly.
"Where's your mom and dad?" he asked.
"Mom's sleeping," she replied, "and I think Dad's down in the casino."
Criss grew more concerned. "Is there anyone else with you?"
Maury shook her head. Criss was going to ask her why she was all by herself, when he heard a rumbling sound. He looked down at the little girl, who clasped her stomach with bony arms.
Geez! he thought. This kid must be starving to death! "Are you trying to find your dad?" he asked.
Maury nodded. "Okay," Criss said, "we'll find your dad, and he'll get you something to eat, okay?"
She nodded again. The elevator door slid open. Criss took Maury by the hand and led her into the elevator. It felt good, having someone hold her hand like that. Her mother was in the habit of grabbing her by the wrist and yanking her along, whereas her father simply nudged her. This man's hand was soft and comforting, with all sorts of pretty rings on his fingers that sparkled. Maury began to wish that he was her dad instead of the man she called her father. She looked up at him. He had different colored hair: brown, black and blond. The brown was almost like hers, she noticed.
Brown hair just like her? Could it be possible that he was her "real" dad? He had the same hair, almost, and he was very nice, almost loving to her, and he held her hand so tenderly that he had to be someone's daddy. It was wishful thinking, she knew; she would need more proof.
"What's your name?" Criss asked.
"Maury," she responded shyly. Then, screwing up her courage, she asked, "What's yours?"
"I'm Criss. Criss Angel."
Angel? she thought. What a pretty name!
Once they arrived at the atrium floor, Criss took Maury to the casino entrance. Knowing that she was way too young to go in, he summoned one of the security guards.
"Could you page a Mr....uh, what was your dad's name again?" he asked Maury.
"Brighton," Maury answered. "Gary Brighton."
Criss turned back to the security guard. "Could you page a Mr. Gary Brighton, please? His daughter is waiting for him."
The guard entered the casino. Soon a voice was heard over the PA system. "Attention, please. Would Gary Brighton please report to the main desk? Gary Brighton."
Gary Brighton looked up from his slot machine. What the hell do they want me for? he wondered. He gathered up his tokens and headed for the desk. There was a security guard waiting for him.
"Mr. Brighton?" the guard said.
"I'm Gary Brighton."
"Your daughter is waiting for you outside."
Gary sighed irritably. What the hell does she want? Can't her mother take care of it? He strode over to the entrance. There was Maury all right, with some wierdo beside her. Gary wondered what the hell was going on.
"You her dad?" the wierdo asked.
"Yeah, what about it?" he retorted.
"Well, I think it's time you got her something to eat by now, don't you think?"
Gary turned to his daughter. "Where's your mom? Why can't she get you something to eat?"
"She's got one of her migraines, and she's sleeping now."
"Oh, geez," Gary groaned as he pocketed his tokens. "C'mon, let's go," he said grudgingly, nudging her to one of the cafes.
Criss thanked the guard, who nodded and returned to his post. Geez! Does she have a great dad or what? he thought sarcastically.
The atrium floor. Finally! Athena pushed her way out of the stifling elevator car past the few other guests with her, oblivious to their indignation over such treatment. She stepped briskly to one of the seats near the main entrance, sat down, and waited for either the limo or Criss Angel, whichever came first.
She spied the latter emerging from the very same elevator bank as she had, to her delight and to her chagrin--she should have been a bit more patient. She also noticed he had a little girl with him. Puzzled, she approached with caution. It would not do to be seen spying on him--the tabloids would have a field day. Pretending to window shop among the boutiques, she kept an eye on him through the reflection in the windowpanes.
Criss was speaking with one of the security guards outside the casino; he seemed to be discussing the child who was with him. The guard entered the casino. A few minutes later, he returned with some middle-aged man; Athene guessed it was the child's father. Criss seemed a bit upset with this man, almost accusatory. The child's father nudged the little girl and left the casino, heading for one of the smaller cafes. Criss thanked the guard and walked away.
Athene smiled. Now was her chance. Displaying her most radiant smile, she strolled up to him casually. "Ah, such kindness to a helpless child," she purred.
Criss spun around. Athene poured on the charm. "And to think I heard such disparaging rumors about you, accusing you of being egotisical and self-centered. But I can see there is no truth to them, no truth at all."
Criss was taken aback. "Who the hell are you?" he asked point-blank.
Now it was Athene's turn to be surprised. How could he not know who she was? Her photos had been splashed over every news magazine and celebrity website the world over, and he didn't even recognize her? But, patience, patience. Let him discover her.
She extended a long, shapely hand. "Athene Christopolous," she answered regally.
Criss took her hand and shook it limply. "Charmed," he grunted.
Athene looked at him in bewilderment. Didn't this man have any social graces at all? Or was he too "working class" to know how to treat a lady? Or maybe he was simply too stunned by her beauty to respond properly. Yes, that must be the reason. It was best to back away a bit. She did not want to intimidate him.
"Ah, that poor little girl," she said piteously. "It is so easy for anyone to get lost in a place like this. But she was so fortunate to have a guardian Angel to watch out for her."
"What are you driving at?" Criss asked abruptly.
"Oh, nothing, nothing at all," Athene demurred. "It's just that I could not help but admire your goodheartedness, especially in a city full of selfish people." She stepped closer. "Of course, you must possess so many other good qualities as well."
Criss's irritation grew. "Look, lady," he said, backing away, "I don't have time for this. I gotta go, okay? I'm busy." With that he strode toward the main entrance where his car was waiting, glad to be away from her.
Athene was outraged. How dared he brush her off like that! How dared he! No one ever--ever!--spoke to Athene Christopolous in such a manner. She vowed to make him regret it, and regret it he would!
Her anger was rudely interrupted by a call from Crito. She flipped it open. "What do you want?" she snapped.
"Madame, the limo has arrived," Crito informed her.
Athene was momentarily at a loss at what to do. Criss would be at Body English for sure, but after their first meeting, she wasn't sure she wanted to see him again. Cunning, however, won in the end.
"Thank you, Crito," she said. "I'll be right there."
01-11-2013, 09:17 PM
You can tell Criss doesn't like a woman like Anthene. She's got to chaange her attitude if she wants Criss's heart
01-12-2013, 04:18 PM
8:00 pm to 9:00 pm:
Maury looked all around the ginormous atrium for Criss Angel. He had to be here somewhere, she thought. Dad had bought her the first decent meal since their arrival in Las Vegas, a burger, fries and Coke, then retuned to whatever grownups do in casinos. They were pretty noisy places from what she had seen, sort of like Chuck-E-Cheese for adults. At any rate, she would not have to go to bed hungry tonight.
But she still wanted to find Criss Angel. She wanted to find more evidence that he was her "real" daddy. He had to be somewhere, but where?
The casino? She peered into the entrance from behind a pillar, the closest she could get without the blue-jacketed guard seeing her. He would be easy to spot, with all his necklaces and his funny haircut, she thought. But it was so crowded in there she could not see anyone she could recognize, not even her father. Maybe she should wait for him? She definatly did not want to go back up to the hotel room with her mother, and she was not allowed in the casino. If only she knew where Criss was...
Criss was on his way to Body English, his encounter with Athene Christopolous and Maury's father souring his mood as he drove his Lambo down the Strip.
A city full of selfish people, Athene had said. Well, she was right about that, though it was a case of the pots calling the kettles black. He had heard of the Omicron heiress; she was one of those celebrities who hadn't really done anything to achieve fame but were famous for being famous. Tonight was the first time he had met her, and he hoped it would be the last. Damned publicity hound (bleep)! Anything to get her face published! She thinks she's all that because Daddy Warbucks runs some big-(bleeped) corporation! I know she's had more hands up her skirt than the Muppets! Well, forget it, Athene baby! You're not putting me in your stable! Uh-uh! I am a free man!
He promptly dismissed Athene from his mind. In her place floated the image of Maury Brighton, pale and faded as her dress, her thin arms clutching her empty belly. The memory of her tugged at his heart. He had visited children's hospitals, entertained terminally ill kids who looked a lot better than she did. Geez! What kind of parents would forget to feed their own kid? Are they drunk or something? That dad of hers seemed to resent it when I bought him his own daughter! Well, he doesn't get my vote for Father of the Year, that's for sure. But, I'm starting to wonder...are they abusing her? Neglect is bad enough, but if they're beating her--or worse...?
Criss pulled up to the valet booth of Body English. He stopped the car, got out, tossed the keys to the valet, claimed his ticket, and entered the club. It did no good to be dwelling on such negative thoughts, he told himself. If there's any trouble, security will handle it. Maybe that dad of Maury's got the message when he reminded him of his little girl's needs. He hoped he did.
"Lyn!" Stacy called out from a booth somewhere in the club. "Over here!"
Lyn spied Stacy's flailing arm and wove her way through the crowd of partygoers and wait staff to reach her. Eight o'clock and Body English was already jammed--and jamming. Recorded music blared from loudspeakers above their heads, colored lights danced on the walls and floor. The fashionably attired wiggled and pranced on the dance floor, or lounged with friends, sipping overpriced drinks.
"So, what'd I tell you?" Stacy gushed. "Is this the place to be, or what?"
Actually, Stacy didn't tell her anything of the sort, Lyn thought. She was here because she didn't have any other plans for the evening. It was just another Vegas club: loud, flashy, and expensive. Lyn began to wonder why she even agreed to come here in the first place.
Suddenly, Stacy jumped up excitedly. "Oh, my God! Look over there!" She pointed towards the entrance.
Lyn turned to look. "What? Where?" she demanded.
"Over there!" Stacy squealed. "It's Criss Angel!"
"Where?" Lyn demanded again, more eagerly this time.
This time, she spotted him, his bling reflecting the overhead lights like tiny mirrors. Despite the fact that she and Stacy were performers in his show, and had actually worked alongside him during rehersals, it was still a thrill when she saw him.
"Wanna go see him?" Stacy almost dared Lyn. "I mean, after all, we do work with him."
"Well, I dunno..." Lyn hesitated.
"C'mon, Lyn!" Stacy urged. "Go for it!"
Before Lyn could utter another word, she found herself dragged along by Stacy to Criss' table. Lyn put up almost no resistance. The thought of mixing business with pleasure began to appeal to her.
Athene Christopolous arrived at Body English at exactly eight o'clock, alone. The champaigne remained unopened, the chocolates untouched. Her plan to entice Criss into her limo had failed miserably. She had oozed charm for him, played coy, but that cretin had blown her off like a Las Vegas streetwalker. His rebuff still burned in her dainty little ears: Yeah, but not with you.
Well, she was not deterred, not by a long shot. She was going to get back at him if it was the last thing she did. She had planned to come on to him, tempt him, seduce him into her arms--and her bed. She was going to lavish him with gifts, allow him to escort her to the finest places, romance him at her private resort on the Mediterranean. Earlier, she had considered him a worthy pursuit. Instead, he had spurned her. He had treated her with such contempt it galled her to the marrow. Well, it seemed the gentle approach was not going to work on this Angel; now she was going to have to crack the whip. She would make him sorry for his cold shouldering. She would make him beg forgiveness on his knees. Of course, she would mete out justice, but temper it with mercy--she was not that cold-hearted. She would make the punishment fit the crime, no more, no less.
She swept into the club, scanning for her prey. He had to be here, somewhere. Crito said he would be. Well, if he hadn't arrived yet, she would be waiting for him. And when he did, he was going to get a nasty surprise...
Lolly Jones carefully applied eyeliner to the edges of her eyes. Filibuster was due on stage at nine, and she wanted to take her time getting ready. Her plaid and polka-dot clothes did nothing to slim down her stocky five-foot-two frame, nor did the heavy combat boots boost her height. She was no beauty queen, granted, but she was attractive in her own way. She had disdained the anorexic types who were so popular in school, those fashion conscious Barbie-doll clones who obsessed over their appearance to the point of near self-destruction. Lolly had all but flaunted her chunky petite self in their faces, just to get back at them. Unlike the rest of the girls in her class, she dared to be different.
And that difference had paid off, at least in her opinion. After high school, she had gone to art school, where she could express herself freely, then joined Filibuster two years later (bass players were in high demand, but in short supply, so the band was more than willing to take on a female guitarist). She was a free spirit, living by her own rules. Conformity was not in her vocabulary.
There. Makeup was done. She would have done without it, but under the lights she would have looked washed out. She still had half an hour until showtime. She decided to relax and catch up on the latest sci-fi novel, Zero O'Clock. It was a really good one about all the clocks in the world stopping and everyone couldn't know what time it was. It made her think about how time-obsessed society was. God! She couldn't wait to finish it!
Julia, the bartender, was setting up some more clean glasses when one of the waiters showed up, an anxious look on his face.
"Hey, Julie," he hissed.
Julia spun around. "It's Julia, dipwad! What the hell do you want."
"You know who just showed up?" the waiter asked conspiratoirally.
"Wait, let me guess," Julia retorted sarcastically. "Paris Hilton."
"Close. It's Athene Christopolous."
"I'll alert the media." Julia said drily, turning back to her glasses. As if she cared about Athene Christopolous, whoever the flaming hell she was. As much as she enjoyed the Vegas nightlife, some of the members of the Cult of Personality were better off unknown. Now, someone like Criss Angel over there, for whom she had just made a Martini--there was someone of interest! He was worthy of all the adulation and celebrity. He was somebody.
She finished stocking glasses and turned to the bar again. The waiter was still standing there, all googlyeyed over this Athene chick.
"Don't you have tables to wait on?" she reminded him. "If you're all so hot for this Thermopolous babe--"
"That's Christopolous, Julie," the waiter corrected her. "Athene Christopolus."
"Whatever," Julia grumbled. "Go take her drink order or something."
The waiter left, finally. People come and people go, Julia reflected, no matter who they were. Meanwhile, she had work to do. Julia Smith was the independent type, and proud of it. She had saved her own money and owned a house in Vegas, an achievement of which she was proudest. Her petite five-foot-one frame belied her tough-as-nails nature. No one pushed her around, not even the biggest name celebrity in Vegas.
She spotted the waiter next to a tall, black haired woman with an imperious air about her. So that's the girl he was talking about, she thought. She looked like a damn snob. Well, she may be some fancy-pants celeb, but to Julia, she was just another customer. If she caused any trouble, Julia would have security toss her out on her shapely little ass.
01-14-2013, 04:20 PM
9:00 pm to 10:00 pm:
"Gooooood eeeeevening, ladies and gentlemen! Hope you're having a great time tonight! Okay, let's give it up for...Filibuster!"
Lolly and her band climbed up on stage, picking up their instuments as they took their places. Jason, the drummer, counted time with his drumsticks and pounded away on the skins for the band's first number, a hard-driving cacophany with all the angst of teen life behind it.
As she thumped out her part of the song on her bass guitar, Lolly spied Criss Angel himself sitting not too far from the stage, fruity drink in hand, with two women by his side. She almost flubbed a note or two, but quickly recovered, reminding herself why she was there. She'd hook up with him later, between sets.
"Hey, Criss!" Stacy called out over the loud music. "Remember us?"
Criss was at a loss to recall the two lovely ladies approaching him. He had met so many during his career they all seemed to have the same face. He smiled gamely and invited them to sit down with him. "Sooooo," he said, trying to save face. "What brings you two here?"
"Same as you," Stacy replied. "We needed a break from rehersal, you know, have a little fun."
"Yeah," Lyn chimed in. "we didn't see you today in the theater. Where were you, anyway?"
A light went on in Criss' head. Of course! They were dancers from the Cirque show! He still didn't know their names, though. "Oh, well," he flustered, "I had to have a costume fitting, and there were some other things I had to do as well."
They seemed satisfied with that. Criss relaxed, letting the thundering bass and drums of the band pulse against his chest. He drained the last of his drink and set the empty glass aside. As much as he wanted another, he sternly reminded himself that not only was he driving, but that he was under a strict diet and fitness regimen for the show. If he failed his Body by getting drunk, he would fail the Mind and Spirit as well.
Lyn sidled closer to Criss. Stacy, not wanting to be outdone, snuggled next to him, too. Criss suddenly found himself firmly in the middle of a girl sandwich; enticing though it was, his discomfort grew. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and he quickly thought of one.
"Say!" he smiled, extricating himself from his predicament, "how about a drink! My treat!"
Lyn and Stacy smiled back, accepting the generous offer. Criss flagged down a waiter and ordered an iced coffee for Lyn and a Sex on the Beach for Stacy. "And hold the 'beach'!" Stacy quipped laciviously.
The waiter left to fetch their orders. "Aren't you having one?" Lyn asked Criss in a disappointed tone.
"I'm driving," he quickly replied.
Meanwhile, the band played on. Die-hard Filibuster fans mobbed the floor in front of the stage, pumping air to the rhythim of the beat with their fists. It was the last number of the first set. Lolly was all but dehydrated. The water bottle sat patiently by the amplifier where she had set it; it seemed to beckon her with its coolness.
She knew a different kind of thirst as well. Criss Angel sat there, so near and yet so far. She so wanted to meet him, but there were two other girls with him, crawling all over him like a rash. If she could somehow get him alone...
If Athene Christopolous had been put out by Criss' attitude at the Luxor, she was outraged as soon as she arrived at Body English and spotted him sitting there with a girl on each arm. She couldn't believe it! He blew her off for those...those bimbos? It made no sense! She was ten times more attractive and one million times wealthier than they were! That man had no taste whatsoever!
Well, she was here to teach him a lesson, and teach him she would. She'd show him that no one brushed off the heiress of the Omicron empire. What she wanted, she got, and no questions asked.
She glided seductivly towards Criss' booth. She could sense the heads of the other patrons turning as she passed by. They knew who she was, she thought, as well they should.
Alarm bells went off in Criss' mind the minute he saw Athene approaching. He swore under his breath and braced himself for the worst. Who was this (bleep) anyway? he wondered. And why the hell is she coming onto me?
Lyn and Stacy couldn't help noticing the overwhelming presence of Athene Christopolous, either. Too stunned to speak, they gawked at her in stunned silence. Criss, however, retained his composure and eyed her warily, keeping his guard up.
"Hello, again, Criss," Athene purred. Criss gave a barely perceptable nod in reply.
Athene turned to Lyn and Stacy. "If you don't mind," she said imperiously, "Criss and I would like to be alone."
The two women stared at each other in disbelief. Who was she to order them around? They had every right to be here as anyone else. Lyn rose to the defense. "Why?" she demanded. "We were here first."
Criss smiled at Lyn's chutzpah. "Sorry, lady," he said, not in the least apologetic, "but it seems I'm already taken." He put one arm around Lyn and the other around Stacy, thrilling them both to the core.
Athene stood there, fuming. After all her planning, the money she spent just to be close to him in his hotel, the hours she spent on her appearance--he'd rather spend his time with a couple of unknowns instead of her? Criss must have taken too many blows to the head performing his stunts! Irate and insulted, she stormed away. If he wanted to spend the evening with a couple of cheap floozies, fine! There were better venues for her to spend her time and money, men who would do anything she asked. She could buy the whole city of Las Vegas if she wanted.
Yet, deep down inside, what she really wanted was Criss Angel.
Maury woke up on the bench outside the casino. She looked outside through the glass doors of the main entrance. It was night, and there was no Criss. Alarmed, she realized she had to get back to the hotel room or Mom and Dad would be mad at her. Besides, she had Mom's keycard.
She dashed to the elevators and pressed the UP button frantically, over and over again. After an eternity, an elevator opened and she jumped in, pressing Twelve. The car moved so smoothly and quietly that Maury wondered if she was stuck. Then the doors slid open, revealing the twelfth floor. Maury ran to the hotel room, slid the card in the slot in the door, and pushed it open with all her might.
Silence. Mom was still asleep. Dad wasn't there. It was as if she had never left. Grateful that her absence hadn't been noticed, she set the keycard by her mother's handbag and got ready for bed. She removed her faded blue dress and slipped on her threadbare cotton nightie. There were two beds in the suite, but Mom slept in one and Dad the other, just like at home, so Maury was left with the sofa. She took her blanket and pillow and curled up to sleep.
But sleep didn't come so quickly. There was a nagging fear that the minute Dad came back from the casino, Mom would start yelling at him for being out so late, and it would go around and around, just like their other fights at home. They never hugged and kissed like the moms and dads on TV; they just yelled and yelled until one of them left the room or the house altogether. Maury wondered why they got married in the first place if they didn't like each other.
She retreated into fantasy. Criss Angel would come in and rescue her, and take her to his house, one of those big fancy ones like on TV, with a media room and a huge kitchen with lots and lots to eat. Did he have a wife? If he did, she would have to be just as nice as he was. Maybe she was her "real" mommy! And Criss was her "real" daddy! They could be a "real" family again, reunited at last! And she and Criss and her "real" mommy would live happily ever after in their big fancy house.
Maury drifted off to sleep, dreaming of her "real" daddy Criss and her "real" mommy, whoever she was, smiling, loving, laughing, playing in bright summer sunshine, no yelling, no fighting, nothing bad happening at all. Her belly was full and her heart was light. She wasn't lonely anymore. She was safe. She was loved.
01-14-2013, 05:39 PM
My kind of dream I feel so bad for this kid
01-15-2013, 12:07 AM
10:00 pm to 11:00 pm:
Lolly drank her water carefully in little sips. She had learned the hard way that gulping cold water after a heavy set would lead to cramping. Filibuster was on break after the first set, and water never tasted so good than after a long jam session. She had tried alcohol, but it left her even more dehydrated than ever, so she made a firm rule for herself: water onstage, booze off.
Refreshed, she decided to seek out Criss Angel. By now the club was packed with partiers, but he was still easy to spot--right there on the sofa, with two women flanking him on both sides. They were attractive and slender, but they didn't look like supermodels or any celebrity she knew of, but they looked harmless enough. She casually strolled over to him, just to say hello, of course.
Criss looked up and smiled at Lolly, which secretly thrilled her to the core. He saw me! Lolly squealed to herself like a schoolgirl. He saw me onstage! She barely managed a "hi" when she stopped at the sofa and stood before him.
Criss invited her to sit on an adjacent cushioned chair. Lolly was only too happy to accept, but she kept her cool; she didn't want to come across as just another lovestruck fan. She was with the band, and wanted to give the impression that she was a professional.
"Great set, there," Criss complimented, breaking the ice. "What's your name, anyway?"
"Lolly," she answered. struggling to keep her cool. "Lolly Jones."
"Lolly?" Criss repeated. "Nice to meet you." He shook hands with her. "I want you to meet Lyn--"
"Hi," Lyn said, shaking Lolly's hand.
"--and this is Stacy."
"Hey," Stacy waved, smiling a little, just to be polite.
"They're in the Cirque show with me," Criss explained. "We were just unwinding after rehersals," Criss told Lolly.
"Wow, that's awesome," Lolly responded. "So, what exactly do you two do, anyway?"
"We're dancers," Lyn explained. Stacy nodded in confirmation.
"You do any of those aerial acts, like on those long ropes or something?" Lolly asked.
"Oh, no, no," Lyn laughed a bit nervously. "We're firmly on the stage. I'm terrified of heights."
"Me, too," Stacy laughed.
"I'd love to see your show," Lolly said. "But I got the band, and our fansite to monitor and a bunch of other stuff as well.
"Well, the show's not until September," Criss informed her, "I'm sure you can fit us into your busy schedule."
Lolly smiled at that. You bet I will.
Gary Brighton was hot! And it was all thanks to that little Kiddie girl at the blackjack table. Throughout the evening, he had scored three jackpots from the slots, a hat-trick at roulette, and even another game at blackjack at another table where she was dealing. It was as if Kiddie was helping him win, though he knew that was not possible. Every blackjack table was strictly monitored by video surveillance from above.
He learned that she was a "relief" dealer, subbing for the regulars when they went on break. Well, she certainly bought him a good deal of relief! Whenever he was with her, or even near her, whether at the blackjack tables, by the slots, the craps, or the wheel, he always scored. True, there was that little interruption by his kid begging for something to eat (why the hell didn't her mother take care of her? he wondered irritably. That was her job, wasn't it?), but as soon as he spotted Kiddie, he was high-rollin' once again. She was his good-luck charm, it seemed. And not bad to look at, either. She was a cute litle blond, five-and-a-half if she was an inch, with the deepest blue eyes he had ever seen--a beach bum's fantasy girl if there ever was.
He played it cagey, of course. These casinos were lousy with security cameras, and if they saw him paying a little too much attention to her, they'd nail him for a stalker. Play it cool, keep it friendly, and whatever you do, don't let on that she's helping you win, he said to himself. It'll put the kibosh whatever magic she's got!.
He saw Kiddie leave the table where she had been dealing when the regualr dealer, a balding middle-aged man with a pony-keg for a stomach returned from his break. He stood before one of the slot machines, slipping in a token and pushing the button, all the while keeping an eye on her. He watched as she disappeared into the back. Oh, no, no, no! Don't leave me! I need you, Kiddie! Gary pleaded with her mentally. I need you to bring me good luck.
The slot machine's rotors stopped spinning. All lemons, no jackpot this time. Gary's heart sank.
Okay, maybe she went on her own break, he reasoned. I'll just grab a bite to eat at the buffet and wait until she comes back. Not a problem. I've won plenty this evening, more than enough to cover one loss. No big deal.
Steve Packard couldn't sleep. He tossed and turned between sweaty sheets, wishing he had a girl with him. Sex was the best sleep aid he could get without a prescription. Even a quickie would have helped him relax.
In three and a half hours, he would meet Vic behind the Luxor and carry out their plan. They had gone over every detail for two weeks, casing out the area, locating the security cameras and their "blind spots," and how to open the safe. The planning was easy--it was putting it into action that made him nervous.
He rehersed his plan, step by step, in his mind. He would enter in the back, using a master keycard (his own would be a dead giveaway), wearing his usual workclothes. If questioned, he could plausibly say that he had been called in for an emergency repair on one of the slots. This was not uncommon, as slot machines became jammed by cheaters using slugs or other devices, and a malfunctioning machine lost a casino money in downtime.
By dodging the security cameras by keeping within the blind spots, he could enter the Accounting Office and where the safe was. Sliding by the wall under the camera facing the safe itself, he would disconnect the wires from it (he discoverd this during his usual delivery of slot cash on the job. An electrician had been working on the wiring that day and left the camera wires exposed). Once disconnected, he could get the safe open by punching in the code he had surreptitiously discovered, thanks to an accounting clerk who had stood sideways while she punched it in, allowing him to watch. Then he'd take the bag and stuff it full of cash, reconnect the camera before security knew what happened, then keep in the blind spots again as he made his escape to where Vic was waiting. He'd leave it clean, the door closed, and wear gloves and hospital slippers so as not to leave any forensic evidence.
Vic had promised him half of the take if he was successful, yet Steve could not help but wonder why he should have to do all the dirty work. If he got caught, he'd go to prison and Vic would walk away scot-free, totally denying his involvement and let Steve take it on the chin. But if he was successful, he could leave Las Vegas and start a new life somewhere, like in LA. Or even Hawai'i. Even with half the money in the safe, he'd be set for life. But why stop there? Why not take it all? After all, he was risking his ass doing all the work while Vic was just sitting there in the van. If he didn't show up, Vic would just assume that he had gotten caught. He bloody well couldn't go in and ask what the hell was taking so long. Knowing Vic, he'd deep-six him in a heartbeat if he knew he'd gotten busted.
Oh, yeah, Steve was going in, all right, but he'd find his own ride home.
Time flew by at Body English so fast it was time for Filibuster's second set. Neil, the lead singer, tapped her on the shoulder and jerked his tumb towards the stage. Lolly was startled, then annoyed, then embarrassed at having lost track of time.
"Look," she said to Criss apologetically, "I gotta go. Nice talking to you." She trotted back to the stage area, waving good-bye.
"Catch you later," Criss called out after her. He started to settle back, but he began to feel the drink special working his way through his kidneys.
"Excuse me for a moment, willya?" he said to Lyn and Stacy. "I'll be right back."
He got up and headed for the men's room. It was quieter in there, and brighter; at least here he had some semblance of privacy. He headed for the urinal in the farthest corner of the men's room for reasons known only to men, relaxed, and allowed one of Body English's overpriced mixed drinks to go down the drain.
Relieved, he reassembled himself and turned to leave, flushing the urinal behind him, but was stopped short by a human arm lying on the floor under one of the stalls. Concerned, Criss opened the stall door.
The arm, it turned out, belonged to Jason Loeb, the drummer for Filibuster, who now lay unconscious in the stall. Criss wasn't sure if he had overdosed or was simply drunk. At any rate, he had to get help. He dashed out of the men's room and flagged down the first waiter he could see.
"The drummer's passed out in there," he told the waiter. "You gotta get help."
Alarmed, the waiter dashed over to the manager's office and relayed Criss' message. Criss watched as the manager snatched the phone and punched 9-1-1. Unable to do anything more, he returned to the sofa where he had been sitting. Stacy and Lyn were still there, keeping his seat warm for him.
"We missed you," Stacy purred as Criss sat down.
Lyn, however, sensed Criss' distress. "What's the matter?" she asked.
"Oh, nothing," he replied, "just that the drummer's passed out in the men's room."
"Oh, my God!" Lyn exclaimed. "Is he all right?"
Criss shrugged. "I dunno, they called 9-1-1 already."
"Think someone should tell Lolly?" Stacy suggested anxiously.
Criss realized that she was right. Someone should inform the band about their drummer. "I'll be right back," he said, and left again.
It was only eleven PM and Athene was already bored--and frustrated. By now, Criss Angel and she should have been dancing the night away, the hottest couple of the evening, the only question on their minds being "Your place or mine?" Instead he was wasting his time with a couple of cheap tarts he had just picked up along the way, leaving her alone. And Athene hated being alone. Sitting in the limo, watching the Strip go by, she raged inwardly over his callousness.
There had to be a way to get back at him. There just had to be. She racked her brains for a suitable method of revenge. She didn't want to physically hurt him, of course--she wouldn't dream of marring that gorgeous body of his. No, she had to strike back in such a way that he would burn with shame, just as she was burning with rage. She had to hit him where he lived.
And he lived at the Luxor, just above her, she recalled. Athene pondered this fact, a cruel smile slowly creeping over her perfectly madeover face. She had her plan, ready made as it was; now she had to put it into action. But she would have to do it on her own, with no help from Crito or any other member of her entourage. There was no sense implicating them; besides, they had no business interfering, anyway.
She picked up the limo phone. "Driver, take me back to the Luxor," she ordered.
"Yes, ma'am," the driver replied obediently.
Athene hung up the phone and sat back. A wicked little giggle escaped from her ruby red lips. This was going to be good, she thought.
01-15-2013, 03:38 PM
This isn't going to be good
01-15-2013, 04:38 PM
11:00 pm to 12:00 pm:
Twenty five hundred bucks! Gary couldn't believe it. He had won twenty-five hundred bucks in the casino! He gleefully watched as the cashier counted out the bills for him. Somebody Up There liked him, that was for sure. He was tempted to wave his winnings around, but common sense overruled that. Places like these were lousy with thieves and pickpockets just waiting to relieve you of your wallet or purse. He quickly stashed his cash in his billfold and secreted it into his pants pocket, the one with the button on the opening. He buttoned it tightly and patted his pocket smugly. It made a comfortable bulge.
Gary looked around for Kiddie. Not at the blackjack tables, not at the wheels, nowhere. He checked his watch. Eleven-thirty. Well, maybe she went home for the evening. She looked pretty young. Maybe she was only a part-timer, working her way through school or something like that. Ah, well, the night was still young, and he bloody well didn't want to go back to Irene and the kid. Hell, this was Vegas, for crying out loud! The Entertainment Capital of the World! He had twenty-five hundred burning a hole in his pocket, and he was going to live it up!
But what to do first? Hmmmm, let's see what they got lined up around here, he mused. He left the casino and walked over to the marquee on the wall, advertising all the shows and other attractions the Luxor had to offer. One attraction caught his eye immediatly: Fantasy. A very hot, very sexy show, and it was on right now. Ohhh, yeah! That was the ticket!
Gary was admitted, seated and served in just over a minute. He couldn't stop smiling at the curvaceous women wiggling their smooth, firm, bare asses on the stage. This was the closest he would ever come to Heaven in this life, he thought.
"Where the hell is Jason?" Pirece Holmes, Filibuster's lead singer, wanted to know. "We're due back on in two minutes."
Lolly shrugged her shoulders. "Dunno. Last I saw, he was heading for the john."
There was a knock on the dressing room door. "Who is it?" Lolly called out, rising to answer it.
"It's me, Criss Angel." came the reply.
Criss Angel! It couldn't be! Lolly nearly ripped the door from it's hinges opening it. Sure enough, there stood Criss himself. Lolly's heart skipped a beat the minute she saw him.
"I got some bad news for you," Criss said.
"What?" Lolly said, still in awe.
"You're drummer passed out in the men's room," Criss told them. "They're taking him to the hospital now."
"Oh, that is just (bleeping) great!" Pierce moaned. "That (bleepbleep) couldn't stay sober for one (bleeping) night!"
Lolly kept her eyes on Criss. "Is he going to be all right?" she asked.
"Can't say for sure right now," Criss replied, shrugging his shoulders.
"Well, it doesn't (bleeping) matter!" Pierce stormed. "That (bleeping bleeper) is out of the band!"
Lolly whirled around, appalled. "Pierce!"
"I mean it, Lolly! Jason's been holding us back with his boozing! If he can't get his (bleep) together, then he's history!" Pierce slumped down on a chair by a dressing table. "We're gonna have to cancel the show now. We ain't got a drummer."
Lolly looked at Criss again. An idea, or at least a wild hope, surged into her brain. "You play drums, don't you, Criss?"
Criss looked bewildered. "Well, yeah, but..."
"Maybe you could cover for Jason," she suggested. "We got his parts written down right here."
She picked up a loose-leaf notebook and handed it to him. "What do you say, huh? Please?"
"Well, I don't know," Criss remained hesitant. "This is kinda short notice, don't you think?"
"All we ask if for one set, that's all. They're real easy, just basic rhythims. You can do it, Criss. I know you can."
Criss turned to Pierce. "What do you think?"
"Hey, dude," Pierce said with a disbelieving laugh. "You've pulled off some crazy (bleep) in your career. If you can pull this off, my hat's off to you!"
Criss flipped through the notebook. "Okay, one set," he said finally. "I got rehersals tomorrow and I have to get home, okay?"
Lolly threw her arms around Criss. "You rock and rule!" she squealed in delight.
Meanwhile, out on the floor, Lyn and Stacy were growing impatient with Criss' prolonged absence. What was he doing anyway, making out with Lolly or something? Suddenly the house lights dimmed, signalling the return of Filibuster.
"Ladies and gentlemen! Let's give it up for Filibuster!"
The audience cheered. The spotlights illuminated the stage. To Lyn and Stacy's astonishment, Criss was seated behind the band's drum kit. What's he doing up there? they wondered.
"Thank you," Pierce boomed into the mike. "And please welcome our very special guest drummer, Criss Angel!"
Even louder cheering broke out as Criss waved to the crowd with his sticks. Lyn and Stacy looked at each other bemusedly.
Criss tapped time and the band exploded into its first number for the second set. Man, he's good! Lyn thought. On top of everything else, he's a drummer? This guy is awesome!
Steve did it by himself, of course. Vic wasn't bringing the van until two, but (bleep) him--he could sit there until Hell froze over for all he cared. He checked his watch. Eleven-forty-five. Way early, but still late enough. Bank pickup wouldn't be until nine tomorrow. By then, he'd be long gone. He slipped on his latex gloves and the keycard into the slot. The door gave him the green light to enter. He pulled on hospital slippers to cover his tracks and went in.
He paced himself, timing the cameras' blind spots for when he could move and when he should take cover. He got in with no trouble; if they checked the entry records, it would just read MASTER. Dodging the cameras, he made it to the Accounting Office. Using his master keycard, he slipped in and headed for the safe, hoping against hope they didn't change the combination again.
In the office where the safe was kept, he slid along the wall just under the camera. The wires were still there. Donning insulated gloves, he unscrewed the cable connectors carefully. He looked up at the camera. No flashing light. It was off. Good. Now the fun could begin.
Steve took off his insulated gloves, leaving on his latex ones. He had memorized the combination for a week now, and he knew it as well as his own telephone number. He punched it in, hit ENTER, and crossed his fingers as he pulled on the lever.
It gave! Victory was his! Steve opened his bag and emptied the safe of the mountain of cash stored inside. There had to be at least a million, two millon maybe. Didn't matter, because Steve Packard was set for life!
He slung the bag on his shoulder and stepped to the camera wires. Redonning his insulated gloves, he reconnected the camera wires, starting at the sparks they made when they touched. He rescrewed the connectors and set everything back into place. Then he slid along the wall to the door and made his exit. Instinct told him to run, but the cameras would spot him. He had to be careful.
Meanwhile, Athene Christopolous had returned to the hotel and to her suite. She looked up at the ceiling. There had to be a way in, she pondered. It irritated her that the help could go into Criss' suite but she couldn't.
Athene had stayed in hundreds of luxury hotels as she jetsetted all over the world. She knew that housekeepers kept master keys to enter all the rooms for cleaning. It was just a matter of finding out where they were kept. She left her room and searched the corridors carefully.
There. That door in the center. HOUSEKEEPING, it read. Athene tried the door. It was unlocked. So far, so good. She slipped in and flicked on the light. Now, where were the keys?
A steel cabinet caught her eye. She opened it quickly and found a neat, organized set of master keycards for the maids to use. One in particular stood out from the rest: PRESIDENTIAL SUITE ONLY.
Athene snatched it greedily. The Presidential Suite was where Criss Angel lived. No one was allowed even to ride up to the floor without security clearance. She was delighted that her plan was coming together so perfectly; it was almost too easy.
She slipped out of the housekeepers' closet and dashed to the elevators. She jabbed the UP button frantically, impatiently. The doors finally slid open, allowing her to enter. She slid the keycard and pushed the top button to Criss' suite. The elevator complied with her wishes and transported her there in an instant. As soon as the elevator doors opened, she stepped out of the car and stood before the gates of Heaven.
Athene slid the magic card into the door slot and turned the handle. Happily, it gave way and Athene was at last in the Realm of the Angel. She quickly closed the door behind her and drank it all in. That suite downstairs was a cheap motel room in comparison. She gazed at the spaciousness, the elegantly modern furniture, the row of awards lined up behind the sofa. This was how she was meant to live.
A sudden movement caught her eye. A black and white cat stood on the back of the sofa staring at her with feline wariness, its back arched defensivly. Athene loathed nearly all animals save horses, which she rode with masterful skill. Yet she had learned from her research that Criss was very much attached to his cat--what was its name again? Didn't matter, it was still in the way.
She walked over to the sofa, scooped up the cat, carried it to the door and tossed it out of the suite. There, now since that was out of the way, she could put her plan into action. She couldn't wait to see the expression on Criss' face when he saw the surprise she had in mind for him!
01-15-2013, 05:08 PM
That's a give away that someone in his suite if Hammie is outside
01-15-2013, 08:12 PM
12:00 am to 1:00 am:
Hidden deep in the heart of the Luxor Hotel was the video surveillance room. Banks of monitors lined the walls, showing images of every square inch of the hotel, from the atrium to the apex and beyond. The casinos were heavily watched, not only for cheaters or troublemakers, but for any signs of dishonesty among its own employees. Even the most inocuous areas, such as the corridors to the hotel rooms or the elevator foyers were under constant scrutiny. If there was even a hint of suspicious activity, the alert went out and the situation bought under control, usually with someone ending up in handcuffs. Almost nothing escaped the "eye in the sky", as the overhead cameras were commonly called.
"There's a possible misdeal on Fifty-One. Please confirm."
"Confirm accident on Forty-Seven, copy?"
"Minor slip and fall, no injuries."
"Negative on Fifty-One. Dealer error."
"We got a B and E in the Top Suite. Female, dark hair, seen entering using keycard. Please investigate, copy?"
"We got a D and D on Thirty-Two, two males in a fight. Copy?"
"Copy, we're on it."
"Uh, we've lost visual on Twenty-Seven."
"Damn! That thing was supposed to be fixed! Call the damn electrician again!"
"Maintenance? We lost visual in the Accounting Office, can you reconnect?"
"Top Suite, door opening. Someone's throwing something out the door."
"Can you get a fix on it?"
"Right there. It's a cat!"
"That girl probably tossed it out. We got someone on it?"
"Wait, we got visual back on Twenty-Seven again."
"Anything out of the ordinary?"
"Must have been a glitch. Have that electrician check on it, anyway."
Hammie gazed around in bewilderment. He had been napping on the back of the sofa, as was his habit, when some stranger came in, scooped him up and tossed him unceremoniously out the door. Instinctivly landing on his feet, he recovered his bearings and padded down the hall, exploring his surroundings.
Walls. Everywhere, walls. No cushions, no pillows, nowhere to perch. Hammie padded on, turning a corner to the elevator foyer. More walls, but there was one little room that was open. Curious, he padded inside, sniffing for any clues to tell him where he was. Suddenly, two doors slid shut, trapping him inside. Hammie paced around and around, looking for a way out. The walls were solid. Hammie yowled and yowled again, but no sound could penetrate the thick steel elevator car. He was a prisoner.
Filibuster was going strong, especially with Criss Angel on the drums. He played his parts so well it was as if he had been a long-time member of the band. And he was having fun!
Lyn and Stacy were rocking along with him, busting the best moves they knew. It was liberating to dance just for the sake of dancing, instead of being drilled by a choreographer. Lyn spun in caffiene-induced ecstacy, while Stacy was almost serpentine in her moves. Criss was good, they thought. Hell, he was better than good! He was great!
Julia, the bartender, was also amazed. She knew that Criss Angel was a magician, but that he also played the drums was news to her. Geez! Wasn't there anything this guy couldn't do? she wondered. Impulsivly she mixed a fruit drink for him, just for bringing in more business. She summoned a waiter and asked him to deliver it to him, and to tell him it was on the house.
The set finished to loud applause. "Thank you!" Pierce called out loudly. "We are Filibuster! With special guest drummer, Criss Angel!"
Criss stood up and took a bow, the spotlight squarely on him. The waiter slipped up behind the stage and offered Criss the drink. "From Julia, the bartender," he said. "On the house."
"Well, thank her for me," Criss smiled gratefully and drained it in a few gulps, his thirst from drumming seeming to rise up like a tsunami. Suddenly, he felt a bit light-headed, realizing that his drink had some alcohol in it. He should not have drunk it so fast, and he already had his quota for the evening. Criss was worried. Would he be sober enough to drive back home? The last thing he wanted was a DUI charge, or worse, but he couldn't very well leave an extremely expensive sports car here at the club just to take a cab.
He looked at the two dancers from his show, Lyn and Stacy. Maybe they could help, he thought. He slipped away from the drumkit and trotted up to them.
"Look, you gotta help me," he pleaded.
"Sure, Criss," Lyn assured him. "Anything you want."
"I need you to drive me back to the Luxor," he explained. "I had two drinks that's gonna put me over the limit, and I can't risk it."
Lyn looked at Stacy, who nodded. "Sure, no problem. When do you want to go."
"Now," he insisted.
Steve's heart pounded as she snaked his way past the security cameras, keeping well within the blind spots. It had been easy planning the break-in, but he never thought the breaking out would be so nerve-wracking. Where was he? he wondered.
He pictured the layout in his mind. He had diagrammed his entry, but he had fumbled the escape. All he saw was blank wallspace all around him--it seemed Accounting didn't go for interior decorating. He had to move fast; his blind spot was shrinking.
He slipped out the nearest door he could find. Once he got his bearings, he looked up and cursed himself for his blunder. Instead of the back exit, he was in the hotel offices themselves, and they were monitored three-hundred and sixty degrees by security cameras.
Steve thought fast. He'd been in the offices before, to check in for repairs to the slots. He could fall back on his emergency-repair alibi if questioned. He just had to stay cool and not act suspicious. He pretended to go to the desk, but finding no one there, he stepped out casually into the atrium. The leather bag of money seemed to weigh him down like an anchor--or was it his conscience?
He had to get to the back door. If he went through the repair room, that would allay suspicion, he figured. He kept his head down and walked briskly to the service entrance. So far, so good, he could--wait! A security guard was coming! Panic clouded his judgement--he had to ditch the money and fast!
He saw a baggage cart laden with suitcases not too far away, belonging to some late night arrival or checkout. He sidled up to it as discreetly as he could and slipped the bag of money on the cart, out of sight of the guard, then strolled casually to the service entrance. So far, so good. It was a guard who knew him by name, fortunatly. Maybe he could bluff his way past if he was cool enough.
The guard kept walking. "Hey, Steve," he greeted him in a friendly tone.
Steve pasted on a smile. "Hey, Jerry! Good to see you."
"What are you doing here this time of night?" Jerry asked.
"Oh, you know, the usual," Steve shrugged indifferently. "Some (bleeper) tried to trigger the release mechanism on one of the slots and (bleeped) up the works!"
"Funny, I don't remember getting a call on it."
"Oh, they caught him red-handed, just like that," Steve said quickly, snapping his fingers for emphasis. "Anyway, management's got a bug up its ass to get it fixed. A broken slot machine doesn't make money, you know."
Jerry nodded. "Well, I'll let you do your job; I gotta get back to mine."
Steve smiled. "Okay, later."
Jerry waved back and returned to his rounds. Steve breathed a sigh of relief. Then he looked for the baggage rack. It was gone.
Man! What a show! Gary said to himself. He was tired, but it was a good tired, a satisfied tired, not the tired he felt coming home from his dead-end job, dreading another showdown with Irene. If he was lucky, she'd still be asleep when he returned to the room.
There was an elevator open, with an attendant struggling with a luggage rack. Gary was feeling so good he did something he seldom did in his life: he actually helped another human being. Steadying the rack for the attendant on the other side, it slid into the elevator with ease. The attendant thanked him.
"Mind if I squeeze in?" he asked.
"Not at all," said the attendant.
The elevator doors closed. Gary pressed Twelve. "Nine, please?" requested the attendant.
"Sure." He pressed Nine. The two men swiftly rode up the elevator until it stopped at the ninth floor. The doors slid open.
"Need a hand with that?" Gary asked.
"Nah, I got it," replied the attendant. "Thanks anyway."
The doors slid shut already. It was only three more floors up, and Gary was on the twelfth floor. He moved to leave the elevator when his foot struck something on the floor. He lookd down and saw a large leather bag at his feet.
Holy cow! Gary thought. That guy dropped this! I'd better see who it belongs to.
Gary picked up the bag and stepped out of the elevator. He examined the bag for any ID tags, but found none. Then he noticed the bag was open. Pretty careless. He decided to look inside, just to check for some sort of identification, of course. He opened the bag wider. His jaw dropped to the floor when he saw the contents. [My God! he exclaimed mentally, It's full of money! Holy (bleep)! I'm rich!
01-16-2013, 03:08 AM
01-16-2013, 05:33 PM
1:00 am to 2:00 am:
Steve sat in the repair room, gathering his wits. He cursed himself for losing all that money in a moment of blind panic, dropping it onto that luggage rack and leaving it there, and now it was gone. To look for it would draw suspicion; he already had one close call with Jerry from security. How the hell was he going to explain this to Vic? Hey, Vic, a funny thing happened on the way to the exit. I set the bag on a luggage rack and the bellhop took it! Oh, yeah, Vic was really gonna get a big laugh out of that, for sure--if he didn't break his kneecaps with a baseball bat first.
If the bag was on the luggage rack, then whosever's luggage was that must be in that person's room. But what was Steve going to do, go up to that person's room, knock on the door and ask for it? Hi, my name's Steve. I do believe you have a bag that belongs to me--black leather, shoulder strap, has two million dollars in it? You do? Oh, gee, thanks! Yeah, like that was going to happen. He'd get busted for sure. Whoever had it probably found it by now and was whooping it up over their newfound riches, or was returning it out of some Boy Scout sense of honor. Either way, Steve Packard was screwed.
Or was he?
By morning, the cash would be reported missing. If whatever good luck Steve still possessed held, the cash would be traced to the person whose luggage had been delivered. He had kept in the camera blind spots, so no one knew it was he who stole the money. He could walk out of here clean, and that poor sucker would be left holding the bag. They wouldn't find any of his fingerprints because he had worn gloves; the only prints they'd find would be on the guy who picked up the bag.
But what if that poor sucker decided to come clean himself, do the right thing and return it all to the hotel? Well, he was still undetected, and the hotel would get its money back, safe and sound, and no charges would be pressed. The last thing the Luxor brass wanted was a breach of security to be made public; it was supposed to be impenetrable, especially where its cash reserves are concerned. No one wanted to stay in a hotel where the money's not safe. It'd all be returned, and the whole affair kept hush-hush, no questions asked. In the meantime, he'd keep behind the scenes, doing his job repairing slot machines in the shop, totally beneath suspicion.
But what to tell Vic? He bloody well couldn't tell him he lost it. He'd be crippled for life, assuming Vic let him live. Not even a little white lie, such as saying they had changed the combination would placate him. Suddenly, a workable scenario played in his mind: he would dash over to the van, panicked, out of breath, saying that security had spotted him, that they were hot on his heels, there was no time to save him, but go! Save yourself, he'd tell him. Knowing Vic, he wouldn't hesitate to save his own skin. Yeah, that might work.
That would solve one problem. The money was the other. If only he knew who had it...
I'm rich! I'm so bloody, stinking rich! At last, things are going my way! Twenty-five hundred at the casino, and now a fortune falls at my feet! Gary Brighton, you must be living right!
Gary was walking on air all the way up to his hotel room. He playfully tapped out a drumbeat along the walls of the corridor, humming to himself. He couldn't remember a time when he felt this good, at least not when he was sober. Only when he stopped at the door of his suite did reality come back to haunt him. He stood there, undecided.
What the hell do I tell Irene? That greedy, selfish (bleep) would blow the whole wad! I gotta be careful! I gotta hide this somewhere where she'll never find it. But where?
He slid his keycard in the slot and entered. The whole suite was dark. He could make out Maury's sleeping form on the sofa. No sign of Irene anywhere. His luck still held, he thought. He slipped in, quietly closed the door, and allowed his night vision to adjust to the shadows of the room. Once he got his bearings, he looked around for a suitable place to hide the money. Forget the bedroom. The bathroom was no good, either. Under the sofa was too obvious. There had to be someplace...
Hold the phone! There was a little kitchenette just off to the side there. That would be the last place Irene would look for anything. Irene hated to cook, and when she did attempt to make a meal, it was a disaster; the only thing she knew how to make for dinner was reservations. She'd never find it there.
Gary tiptoed carefully to the kitchennette. He was halfway there when his luck ran out. He tripped over the leg of a side table and went crashing down onto the floor. A lamp tumbled on top of him, conking him on the head. Gary let out a few choice words for the Luxor's arrangement of its furniture as he untangled his legs. All of a sudden he was blinded by the light, turned on by a startled, angry Irene. Gary winced at the sudden brightness.
"Gary!" Irene cried out, storming up to him. "What the hell is the matter with you? Do you have any idea wh--?"
She stopped in mid-nag at the sight of wads of cash spewed all over the floor. Maury, startled awake by all the commotion, peeked over the sofa arm at her father lying on the floor with a lot of money. Both mother and daughter stared in amazement at this windfall. Gary groaned in pain and disappointment over his discovery. "Gee, Daddy," Maury said, wide-eyed. "Did you win all that?"
Daddy thought fast. "Uh, yeah. Yeah, I sure did, sweetheart," he answered, playing to the hilt. "Daddy won all this money tonight." He faced Irene with a threatening look on his face. "Yeah, it all belongs to Daddy, doesn't it, Mommy?"
Irene was not intimidated in the least. She faced him squarely, steeling herself for a fight. "It may belong to 'Daddy'," she retorted through gritted teeth, "but he still has to share it with 'Mommy', no matter what."
Gary struggled to his feet. "Oh, really?" he sneered.
"Yes, really," Irene snapped. "Aren't you forgetting something? For richer, for poorer, and all that? I stuck with you 'for poorer', now comes the 'richer' part of the deal! You got a family to consider, remember?"
"Oh, like you care!" Gary shot back. "You couldn't even take time to feed our kid today! I had some security guard call me out because she was out there, starving to death!"
"I had a migraine headache!"
"Ah, you and your migraines! You're (bleep)-poor excuse for a mother, you know that?"
"That's right, Gary," Irene challenged. "Bring it on!"
Maury could tell that another fight was brewing. She knew from firsthand experience that when her parents fought about money, it would be the equivilent of an F-5 hurricane, and she had to take shelter fast. But where could she go? If she was at home, she could have gone to her room, or down the basement, or even under the big pine tree, her favorite spot in the whole world, and waited for the all clear. But she was here in Las Vegas, no room or tree anywhere.
She slipped out of the suite unnoticed as her parents battled it out, closing the door behind her softly. It was quiet in the hall. That was the nice thing about this hotel, she thought. It was nice and quiet. Maury trotted to the elevator bank and pushed DOWN. Maybe she could find her "real" daddy, Criss Angel.
The elevator in front of her opened. To Maury's surprise, there was a cat in there, a pretty one, white with black, brown and gold speckles. It looked at her, just as surprised as she was. For the first time since she could remember, Maury felt a smile spread across her thin face. She always wanted a cat of her own, but her mother always said no.
"Hello, kittycat!" she said, kneeling down and stroking the animal's soft fur. "What's your name?"
Kittycat didn't respond in words, but accepted the child's caresses willingly.
"Wanna go downstairs and look for Criss Angel?" she asked the cat. "You do? Okay, let's go look for him."
Maury picked up the cat and pressed the button for the main floor. "He's really nice, you know," she went on. "I think you'd like him!"
Dimitra awoke with a start. She looked at the clock on the bedside. One-thirty AM. She did a quick mental calculation: it was four-thirty AM New York time. She has always been an early riser; over the years she had risen before the sun rose, even in summertime, to fix breakfast for her husband before he went to open his cafes, then for her sons before they went to school. The three-hour time difference had thrown her out of kilter.
Well, there was no use going back to sleep now. She rose and turned on the bedlight, then fished around for that novel she had been reading on the plane. She pulled out her small toilet kit, a clear plastic zippered bag, to ease her search. She found the novel, but upon replacing the bag, she discovered that through some oversight she had forgotten her Omega-3 pills.
Dimitra was concerned. Since her heart operation, the doctor recommended Omega-3 to maintain good cardiovascular health. She didn't want another heart scare like the one two or three years ago. She sighed heavily. Dima, you're getting forgetful in your old age!
Well, since she was wide awake, she might as well go down and get some more. The pharmacy was closed, but there was a small sundry shop in the lobby. Maybe they had some. Normally she would have been uneasy about going out at this time of night, but she was safe here at the Luxor. Safe as Heaven, her Christopher had told her on her first visit, and almost as beautiful. Indeed the Luxor Hotel was beautiful, so she could forgive that bit of blasphemy on his part.
Dimitra dressed and picked up her purse. Making doubly sure she had her keycard, she stepped out of the door, walked to the elevator banks, and rode down to the atrium. Now, where was that shop again? She'd been there before. Ah, Dima! You are getting old! Maybe you should take those vitamins that improve your memory as well!
As she walked around the atrium, she noticed a little girl in a thin nightdress, barefoot, holding a cat that looked a lot like Hammie. Wait! It was Hammie! It had to be! Hammie was the only cat in the entire hotel. How did that little girl get hold of him?
Dimitra walked up to the child. Her face, arms and legs were almost as thin as her nightie. Too thin, conjuring up memories of the war years back in Greece. No, she told herself. No remembering. It was sixty years ago, it is all in the past. It was a different time then.
She stooped over to speak to the little girl. "Hello, darling," she greeted the child. "Are you lost or something?"
"No," she said. "Kittycat and me are looking for Criss Angel. We wanna see him."
Dimitra sighed inwardly. Such was the fame of her youngest son. "Where's your mother?" she asked. "Does she know you're out here? She must be very worried about you."
The little girl's face fell. "Mom and Dad are fighting over a big bag of money he won in the casino."
"Oh, dear!" Dimitra murmured. It must have been a terrible fight to force a young child out of the room like that, she thought. Now what should she do?
"Excuse me, ma'am?" a man's voice spoke up firmly but politely.
Dimitra rose. A security guard stood there. She knew his face--indeed, she knew most of the staff either by name or face in the years she had been coming to the Luxor. The entire staff, on the other hand, knew her almost as well as her own family, thanks to Criss Angel's television show.
"Is there a problem here?" the guard asked.
Help at last. "Yes, this little girl wandered off from her hotel room, and it seems she found my son's cat as well. Could you help us, please?"
"My pleasure, ma'am." The guard stooped down to the child's eye level. "What's your name, sweetheart?"
"Well, Maury Brighton, what are you doing down here? Don't you know it's past your bedtime?"
"Well, Mom and Dad are fighting again," Maury explained, "over Dad winning a big bag of money."
The guard nodded. "Oh, I see. You know what room you're in?"
"Well, I think maybe they've patched things up by now, so let's get you back, okay?"
Maury doubted it, but she nodded anyway. She looked up at Dimitra. "Is this your kittycat?" she asked her, a twinge of sadness in her voice.
Dimitra scooped up the cat, smiling. "This is Christopher's cat," she replied.
Maury's eyes widened. "You mean, Criss Angel's cat?"
"Yes, it's Criss Angel's cat. His name's Hammie. Now, you'd better get back to your room before your parents get worried about you."
"Come on, sweetheart," the guard said. "Let's go."
"Good-bye, Hammie," Maury called out as she followed the guard. "Good-bye, Mrs. Angel."
"Good-bye," Dimtra said, waving. "Good night, Maury, take care."
Maury gave Dimitra a feeble wave in reply as she was led away by the guard to her parent's suite. Satisfied over her good deed, Dimitra turned to the business of returning Hammie back to her son's suite.
"Now how did you get out, Hammie?" she asked the cat. "Hmmm? Did Christopher let you out? Or did you escape? Well, we'd better get you back. He'll be very upset if he sees you running around like this."
She carried Hammie to the elevators. Then she realized she didn't have a special pass to get to Criss' suite. Oh, dear. Well, she was well known enough to convince the security guards to let her up, just to return his cat. In fact, two were approaching her now.
Dagmar and Royce saw her, the Queen Mother, standing by the elevators, Criss' cat in her arms. That was a great suspicion: usually Hammie remained in the Top Suite, coming down only with Criss himself. It must have something to do with the break-in.
"Good evening, Mrs. D.," Royce greeted her politely.
"Good evening," Mrs. D. responded. "Could you help me get Hammie back up to Chris' suite? I don't know how he got out."
"Yes, ma'am," Royce agreed.
Dagmar, however, got to the point. "There was a break-in in the Top Suite, ma'am," he told her. "That's probably how the cat got out."
A break-in! "Oh, dear," Dimitra said fearfully. "Oh, dear Lord!"
"We're going up to investigate, ma'am," Dagmar said. "You think you could see if anything was stolen?"
"Well, I'll...I'll try."
"Don't worry, Mrs. D.," Royce assured her. "We won't let anything happen to you."
Up to the Top Suite they went. Dagmar accessed the door and entered first, telling Dimitra to stay put just in case. Casing the room, he saw nothing amiss. He waved his partner inside. Royce entered, searching for any signs of theft or damage, but found nothing amiss.
"Okay, Mrs. D.," Royce said. "You can come in, now."
Dimitra entered the suite, clutching Hammie fearfully. She looked around her son's suite. Nothing seemed to be missing--his awards were lined up behind the sofa, as usual. Nothing was broken as far as she could see. Maybe the bedroom...?
She crossed over to the bedroom and opened the door. If the door was closed, it meant Christopher was in there, and she didn't want to disturb him. She peeked inside with a mother's careful eye, checking on her sleeping son to see if he was all right.
There was someone sleeping in bed, but it was not Christopher. She flicked on the light and dropped Hammie in shock. She saw the naked figure of Athene Christopolous in her son's bed. The naked woman stirred, turned over, then bolted upright, clutching the bedclothes in front of her.
Dimitra's shock turned to outrage. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?!" she shrieked. "GET OUT! GET OUT OF HERE AT ONCE!"
Dagmar and Royce bolted to the bedroom. Dimitra flung away the covers, exposing Athene's nude body for the two guards to see, then started scooping up her clothes to fling at her. "OUT!" she screamed angrily. "OUT! GET OUT!"
Athene received a faceful of silk and leather. She bundled her clothes in front of her--no time to put them on--and ran out of the bedroom as fast as she could, but not fast enough to avoid a painful smack! on her bare behind from an outraged Dimitra. Athene yelped, whirling around to face her attacker. "How dare you!" she snarled.
Dagmar and Royce looked at each other knowingly. Each had a decade of service keeping the peace here at the Luxor, and just when they thought they had seen everything, here was the famous Athene Christopolous in Criss' suite. Never a dull moment around here.
Dagmar returned to the business at hand. "Ma'am, you'll have to come with us."
"But I was invited by Criss himself," she explained. "He arranged for me to be here."
Royce could tell by the expression on Mrs. D.'s face that Athene was lying through her pearly white teeth. Dags wasn't buying it, either. Royce took Athene by the arm and pulled her to the door.
"Come along, ma'am," he said in that firmly polite tone of all security personnel.
"No! I won't!" Athene stormed. "I'm not going, and that's final!"
Her words ended in another shriek of pain caused by the back of Dimitra's hand on her ass. The force of the blow propelled her towards the door. Clutching her bundle of clothes, Athene was forcibly escorted out of the suite. As the door opened for her, she glared at Dimtra one last time.
"This is all your fault, you old crone!" she snapped as she stumbled out of the hallway, only to receive another spank from an enraged Dimitra, in full view of the eye in the sky. She watched as Dagmar and Royce frogmarched the naked and disgraced heiress to the elevator.
Lost children, runaway cats, strange women in my son's bed--what a night! Dimitra thought. And she never got her Omega-3, either.
01-17-2013, 04:02 AM
I had a feeling that was going to happen. Criss would of laughed if he saw that
01-17-2013, 05:15 PM
2:00 am to 3:00 am:
"Okay, Gary," Irene said, squaring off for another round. "For the last time, where did you get that money?"
"Does it (bleeping) matter?" he replied, exasperated. "I found it, finders keepers. Let's just drop it, okay?"
"A load of cash like that, it had to be stolen," Irene observed.
"Well, I didn't steal it, if that's what you mean. No one saw me steal anything. I just found it and bought it here. It's no one's business but ours."
"So, what are we going to do with it? If it's stolen, and they find it here, you go to jail."
"Well, they're never gonna find it," Gary said finally. He got up and scooped up the cash into the bag. "We're gonna hide it somewhere where they can't find it. We'll hide it in the kitchen here." He took the bag into the kitchenette and stuffed it under the tiny sink cupboard.
"Oh, yeah, real safe, Gary," Irene said sarcastically. "They'll never think of looking in there!"
"Just can it, Irene," Gary growled. "I'll figure out something else later." He closed the cupboard door. "There. Snug as a bug in a rug!" He crossed over to his sullen spouse. "This is the start of something big, Irene," he gloated. "We're set for life! You, me and the kid can start living the American Dream at last. No more dead-end jobs! No more fighting over bills! We got it made in the shade!"
A knock on the door brought Gary back to earth. Who could it be at this hour, they wondered. There was a second knock, more insistant this time. "Security," spoke a voice from the outside.
The Brightons froze. They were onto them! They knew they had the money! Irene looked to her husband in panic. "Uh, just a minute, here, okay?" Gary called out with forced courtesy. "I gotta get my robe on!"
He motioned Irene to remain where she was. "Don't panic," he whispered, "I'll handle this." He walked over and answered the door. A security guard stood there, with Maury beside him, holding her hand in his.
"We found your daughter wandering around the atrium," the guard told him. "She said you and your wife were arguing about money or something, so she ran away."
Gary squatted down and grasped Maury's shoulders. "Maury!" he said, astonished. "What are you doing, running off like that."
Maury remained silent, too petrified to speak. She squeezed the guard's hand in terror, not wanting to let go. Gary stood up, smiling in feigned paternal gratitiude. "Well, we're grateful that you bought her back to us," he said to the guard. "It'd be terrible if anything bad happened to our little girl, you know." He nudged Maury into the suite.
"So, no more fights about money?" the guard asked.
"Oh, we promise, you won't have any more trouble from us, nosirreebob!" Gary replied hastily. "It's just that the wife, here, got all ticked off about me being in the casino for so long." He leaned closer and murmured conspiratorially, "Lost a lot of money. You know how wives are."
The guard nodded indifferently. "Well, good night, folks," he said.
Gary slammed the door quickly. He leaned against it, breathing a huge sigh of relief. Then he looked at his trembling daughter. He wanted to scream at her, take her over his knee and spank her, but there were more important things to consider. He approached her calmly and led her to the sofa, then sat down beside her. "Okay, kid," he said evenly. "Just what did you tell that guard?"
Maury swallowed hard. "I...I said you and Mom were...fighting about the money." In her fear, she choked on "the money"; it came out just "money".
"And that was all?" Gary asked. "You didn't go into too much detail, did you?"
Maury shook her head no. Gary was relieved. So was Irene. It seemed a plausible enough excuse. Kid gets freaked out over her folks' fighting over money, so she takes off. Couples argue over money all the time, no biggie. Hundreds of couples have probably had a few marital donnybrooks over cash being gambled away in this hotel alone, no doubt.
"Okay, kid," he said, patting her on her bony shoulder. "We're good. Let's just keep this our little secret, okay? We don't talk to strangers about our money situation, understand? No more mention about money of any kind, okay?"
Maury nodded. "Good," her father said. "Now, we're all gonna go to bed and get some sleep."
Irene nodded in agreement. She felt one of her migraines coming on, anyway; she could use some rest. So for the first time in their tulmultuous marriage, the Brightons went to bed quietly, with no arguing.
Maury lay on the sofa and waited until the lights went out. Then the tears started to fall. They weren't worried about her, she realized. They were more worried about the bag of money than they were about her. It wasn't fair! For ten years, going on eleven, she had been pushed to the sidelines of her parents' lives, ignored and neglected. There had been days when it was as if she didn't exist in their eyes. When Dad found that bag of money, they shut her out completely; they didn't even know she was gone until that guard had bought her back. And they didn't even express any concern for her welfare, but asked only about the money. They didn't want her to tell anyone about it, to keep it a secret. They didn't love her at all.
She felt a new emotion welling up inside her. It was hate: hate for the people she called Mom and Dad, hate for that bag of money, hate for her miserable life. They weren't her real parents--Criss was her real dad, she decided. And she was going to find him and live with him in his big fancy house with Mrs. Angel as her real grandma, and live happily ever after.
Maury reached over and turned on the lamp on the side table. She got up from the sofa and started to dress herself. The faded blue dress she had worn was the only one in her sparse wardrobe that still fit. She had outgrown the rest of her clothes, and her mother (or the woman she had called her mother), couldn't be bothered to buy her new ones, though she spent enough for her own. She gathered her few belongings in her tiny sleepover bag which had never been to a sleepover and made her way to the door, vowing this time never to return. She looked back one last time, at the sofa with its single blanket and pillow. They didn't even bother getting her a bed, she realized. They just tossed her a pillow and blanket and made her sleep on the sofa while they took the two big beds for themselves. God, how she hated them!
Maury stepped out the door, closing it quietly behind her. She stood in the hallway, overwhelmed over the enormity of her decision to leave the two people she had grown up with. Where should she start? Where should she go?
A small Ford Escort pulled up to the main entrance of the Luxor Hotel. A young valet leapt up as if by reflex and trotted toward it. Then he stopped short, astonished to see Criss Angel climb awkwardly out of the passenger side. How could that be? he wondered. Just five hours ago, he himself had delivered Criss' Lamborghini for him to drive, and now he was coming back in a beat-up old Escort? What was the deal?
Criss stooped down to the car window. "Thanks for the ride, Stacy," he said. "See you tomorrow."
" 'Night, Criss," said Stacy.
" 'Night, Criss," said Lyn from the back seat.
Criss straightened himself, waved good-bye to the departing Escort, and turned to enter the hotel. The valet was still standing there, mouth agape.
"What?" Criss shrugged. "They gave me a lift, that's all."
He entered the hotel and strode to the elevator bank. Halfway there, he saw his mother coming out of one of the elevators, an angry look on her usually gentle face. Criss was taken aback for a moment. What was she so upset about? It couldn't be that he had been out late; he was way too old for a curfew. And he wasn't falling down drunk, either, just a couple of drinks, that was all, and he had been driven home, so there was no DUI to hassle about. Why was she so mad?
Criss strode over to his mother. "Hey, Ma," he greeted her. "What's up?"
Dimitra's anger subsided a little upon seeing her son, but it surged back when she told him about Athene's little caper in his suite.
"She did what?" Criss roared.
"It's true," Dimitra confirmed. "I found her in your bed, no clothes on. Here." She handed him a black lace thong. "I found this in the hallway. She must have dropped it when they took her away."
Irate, Criss stormed off to the security office. His suite was supposed to be the most secure in the entire hotel. No one, but no one, was allowed into it without his express permission. To think that someone like Athene Christopolous could just waltz in and climb into his bed...! Felix Rappaport was going to get an earful when Criss saw him come daylight!
Criss burst into the security office. "Okay, what's the deal?" he demanded. "Where is she? Where's that (bleep) Athene!"
"In one of the 'offices' ", Security Officer Jerry Rand answered. "We were going over the tapes of her little break-in right now. Care to see them?" Rand asked with a lewd smile, as if he had invited Criss to view some X-rated videos.
Criss ignored the vulgarity and hunkered down in front of the video monitor. The black-and-white images on the screen, a bit grainy but still clear enough to idenify faces, revealed every detail, with time and date digitally printed in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
"Okay, there she is," Rand pointed out, "going into the housekeeping closet. That must've been where she got the card to get in. Now, she's going into the suite. Okay, the door's opening again, and she's--"
"That's Hammie!" Criss exclaimed. "She threw out my cat! That (bleep)!"
"Okay, fast forward." The date and time flicked rapidly on the screen until the image of Dimitra, Dagmar and Royce appeared at the doorway. Criss watched as the two guards cautiously entered the suite, while Dimitra stood in the foyer, clutching the cat.
"At least, Mom found Hammie," Criss muttered.
Dimitra stepped into the suite. The door remained open. A minute and a half of stillness, then there was a flurry of activity at the door. Criss watched as Athene was hauled out by the two guards, naked, clutching her clothes in front of her. Dimitra suddenly appeared, quite agitated, drawing back her arm and landing the back of her hand squarely on Athene's rump, causing her to jump and whirl around, exposing her entire bare backside to the camera. Criss and the security officers laughed uproariously.
"Whoa!" Criss shouted, laughing. "Way to go, Mom!"
The two guards pulled her away from view. Dimitra stood there, clearly furious at her, then closed the door behind her and walked away, stopping momentarily to pick up a black object off the floor.
"What'd she pick up there?" one of the officers asked.
Criss held out the black lace thong. "This," he answered.
Rand held up the thong for all to see. "Woo-woo!" Officer Royce hooted gleefully.
"Knock it off, Royce!" his supervisor ordered.
"Think we should give it back to her?" someone in the back suggested.
Criss took the thong from Officer Rand. "I'll give it to her," he said.
Athene sat in one of the "offices", security personnel's polite term for holding cells in which offenders were detained until furthur action was taken. She had hastily dressed herself in the elevator on her way down, heedless of the stares from the two guards. Her carefully coiffed jet-black hair was tumbling down around her eyes. In her rock-and-roll miniskirt ensemble, she looked like a Vegas streetwalker instead of an heiress.
The "office" door opened. Athene looked up, hoping to see a lawyer, the manager, the CEO, or at least Crito. Instead, Criss Angel appeared before her, leaning against the doorframe, looking none too happy to see her. He extended his arm, dangling her black lace thong in her face with one finger.
"I believe these are yours?" he asked casually with a hint of malice.
Athene snatched the thong out of his hand, snarling.
"Just what the (bleep) were you doing in my room?" Criss demanded. "What the hell do you want with me, anyway?"
Athene drew herself up seductivly. "I tried to be nice to you, Criss," she purred. "I wanted us to be together. I would have been good for you. But you chose to spend your time with cheap bimbos off the street! You could have done better than that."
"They weren't 'cheap bimbos'," Criss argued. "They were dancers in my show."
Athene shrugged. "Same difference."
"Look, lady!" Criss said sharply. "I don't know what kind of game you're playing here, but it's over. You hear me? Game over, no replays! And if I ever catch you even near my suite again, I'll beat your ass worse than my mother did!"
Athene sneered laciviously. "You'd enjoy that, wouldn't you?"
"I know you would," Criss retorted, and with that, he walked out, slamming the door behind him.
Officer Royce stood by to escort Criss out. He couldn't help overhearing that little conversation Criss had with Athene, and he couldn't help smiling about it. Criss wanted to tell Royce where he could go, but he had been one of the arresting officers, and had all the juicy details.
"Did she put up much of a fight when you busted her?" Criss inquired.
"Yeah, some," Officer Royce said. Then he chuckled a little. "Your mama beat her ass good when she found her in your bed! She really smacked her good!"
"Hell, I'd have done the same."
"Your mama ever beat your ass when you was a kid?"
"No, Dad was in charge of the ass-beatings," Criss replied casually, "Mom usually sent us to our rooms to 'think about it'."
Royce laughed at that. "Yeah, but your mama's still a good lady."
"Damn straight." Criss concurred.
The elevator stopped on the twelfth floor, and the "good lady" Dimitra stepped out into the hallway. It was almost three AM, Las Vegas time--six AM in New York. Sleep would be hopeless until she got over her jet lag. Well, there was still her book. She walked towards her suite. Suddenly, she stopped. In the hallway next to her suite stood the same little girl she had found in the atrium, this time fully dressed and carrying a small suitcase. Maternal instinct once again rose to the occasion; Dimitra stepped up to her to find out what the problem was this time.
Maury saw her coming. It was true after all! She was her real grandma! And she was coming to take her to Criss' house to live with him! Maury dropped her sleepover bag and reached out to embrace her. To her joy, Mrs. Angel embraced her back, not pushing her away as others did. It felt so good, she never wanted it to end.
"Darling, what are you doing out here?" Dimitra asked her. "You should be back with your parents."
"They're not my parents!" Maury insisted. "They never loved me! They only care about that bag of money Dad bought home."
"Oh, that's not true," Dimitra protested.
"Yes, it is!" Maury insisted, tears streaming down her face. "They weren't worried about me at all like you said. They were more worried about that man finding out about the money. That's all they want, that big bag of money."
She flung her arms around Dimitra's neck and cried. "I want Criss to be my dad!" she wailed. "I want you to be my real grandma! You love me, don't you, Mrs. Angel?"
Dimitra sighed, hugging the sobbing child in her arms. She could feel her ribs. Maybe there was some truth to what she said. Maybe they were too self-absorbed to tend to their child's needs. She pulled out a tissue and wiped Maury's eyes with it. It was late, the poor little thing was tired and stressed out over the tension between her parents. She needed sleep, and a good breakfast in the morning, then, when she had calmed down, she could tell her the truth.
"Come along, darling," Dimitra said, smiling. "You can stay in my room tonight."
Maury needed no furthur encouragement, but grabbed her bag and followed the older woman to her room, just next door to her own, she was surprised to learn. If she had known that the wonderful Mrs. Angel had been right next to her, she'd have gone there sooner. What a stroke of luck!
The suite was pretty much the same as the one she left, but it was tidier. Dimitra guided the little girl into her own bedroom and told her to get ready for bed, it was way past her bedtime. Maury unpacked and redressed in her thin nightie, then clambered into the big bed that Dimitra had vacated well over an hour ago. It felt good being in this big bed--it made her feel like a princess. Dimitra entered the bedroom, crossed over to the bed, and, to Maury's surprise and delight, tucked her in. No one had ever tucked her into bed before. It was worth more to her than all the amenities the Luxor had to offer. She was too happy to sleep.
"Do you want to hear a story?" Dimitra asked.
A story, too? This was too good to be true! Maury nodded eagerly, giving her undivided attention.
"Well, once upon a time, the Bee, the Turtle, the Wasp and the Spider were all brothers. They had one Mother, who cared for them deeply. Now, there came a time..." (1)
Someone who didn't need a story to fall asleep was Criss. He was tired, he was feeling the effects of his evening out, his ears still rang from his impromptu drum gig, and he was still (bleeped) off about Athene. He looked at the time. Hell, it was well after two in the morning. He had to get up in four hours and go to work. He stumbled to his bedroom and crashed onto the bed, falling asleep where he landed, not even bothering with the bedclothes.
A sharp pain in the abdomen jolted Felix Rappaport awake. It's starting again, he thought irritably. The burning, stabbing pain in his gut had been tormenting him on and off since yesterday afternoon. Something was wrong, no doubt about it, but what? He hated the thought of having to go to a doctor, but if worse came to worst, well...
In desperation, Felix rose from his sumptuous bed and plodded to the bathroom for some antiacid tablets. He shook out a couple of pastel-colored wafers and chomped them down. It worked before, so it should work again, he reasoned. It should at least hold him until morning.
Vic drummed his fingers impatiently on the dashboard, waiting for Steve. What the hell was keeping that guy? he wondered irritably. He showed up at two, just as they agreed on, and Steve was nowhere in sight. Vic grew antsy as he kept an eye out for security. It was all he could do to find an inconspicuous place to park. There wasn't a square inch of space in Las Vegas that wasn't illuminated or under video surveillance--Big Brother was alive and well in Sin City.
If that (bleeper) got caught, and he probably did, Vic could only hope that he kept his mouth shut about his involvement. If he ratted him out, Steve would find it very hard to fix slot machines with ten broken fingers. Well, maybe he didn't get caught, just delayed, hiding out until it was clear. Or there was a snag, they changed the combination on the safe (the Luxor did that periodically, for security reasons), or he took a wrong turn, or anything at all. Only when the three o'clock hour began to creep up did the possibility of capture seem more likely.
A sudden movement in the rearview mirror caught his eye. It was Steve's reflection growing bigger as he ran breathlessly toward the van. Vic stuck his head out the window.
"You got the money?" Vic wanted to know.
Steve slammed against the van door. "They're onto us, man!" he panted. "We gotta run!"
Vic swore under his breath and shifted it into gear. "Get in the van!" he ordered. "Now!"
Steve shook his head. "Too late for me! Save yourself!" He pounded the side of the van. "Go! Now! Before they nail you, too!"
Vic didn't argue but sped off with tires squealing. Steve dashed away and hid behind a concrete berm. Once secluded, he peeked over the barrier. Vic and the van was gone. And Steve laughed to himself.
(1) See "Three Tales from Grandmother Dimitra"
01-17-2013, 06:15 PM
I wonder how long it's going to take those people to realize their daughter is gone?
01-18-2013, 07:08 PM
3:00 AM to 4:00 AM:
Security Officer Carl Underwood walked into the security office for his mid-shift break and a much needed cup of coffee. His thoughts kept turning back toward that little girl he had returned to her parents. He remembered how she squeezed his hand when her father opened the door, as if she was scared of him. And the dad's behavior seemed a bit suspicious as well. His speech was hasty, he was quick to make excuses, then he shut the door right in his face. Long experience had taught Underwood it was a sign of guilt. Had he been doing something to the kid? It wasn't standard policy to get involved in family matters among the guests, but if there was any hint of abuse, it would be his duty to report it.
And something else didn't add up, either. The dad claimed that he had lost a lot of money in the casino, which was the cause of the dispute, and yet the kid had told him that her dad had won a bag of money. And why would he bring home money in a bag, anyway? If he had hit the jackpot, the casino would have presented him with a check after determining that there was no cheating involved. The cashiers didn't hand out bundles of cash just like that. What was wrong with this picture?
Underwood made a mental note to review the night's tapes for any suspicious activity. He still had a good enough memory picture of the dad to spot him wherever he was. But first, he was going to get some coffee.
Athene sat in the security ''office", simmering. Everything had been for naught, she said to herself. Her carefully laid plans had gone awry from the start. Criss had spurned her like a strumpet in the street, and now she as being held against her will in this cell. She should have struck him in the face when he was standing there in the doorway with her thong, to get back at him and for the way that old crone he called a mother had treated her. She would also sue the Luxor for every dime they had for their inhumane treatment of her tonight. It was intolerable, the heiress to one of the biggest corporations in the world, being locked up like a common criminal!
It was all Criss Angel's fault! If he had behaved like a proper gentleman and had been more civil toward her, none of this would have happened. And that old witch of a mother of his actually had the nerve to strike her like that! Well, she wasn't going to get away with it! She would definatly press battery charges against Mommie Dearest--that would make them sit up and take notice! No one treated Athene Christopolous like that! No one!
Athene inhaled through her nose, triggering the memory of Criss' bedsheets and the scent of his musk in them. Oh, how it turned her on when she first caught a whiff of it! It was as if he was right there in bed with her! She had breathed in deeply, savoring his masculine scent in the snow white linen, writhing in pleasure. If his smell alone could arouse her, she could only imagine what his touch would do. She had caressed the bottom sheet where his scent was strongest, where his body had lain in repose, alone, yet in Athene's fantasy, he wasn't alone, but with her, carried away with that wicked heightening of the senses as they embraced.
She must have dirfted off to sleep after that, because she later remembered the shock of bright lights and loud shrieking, then the sheets with Criss' scent still on them being flung aside and her clothes splattering all over her. She tried to flee, but felt the sting of that old crone's hand across her ass, the sound of the blow like a whip crack. The dream was shattered; now she had to face the reality of her arrest and detainment here in this room. And how she would make them all pay!
The door of her prison cell opened. It was one of the guards who arrested her. Athene glared at him menacingly.
"Okay, ma'am," Officer Dagmar said to her, "you're free to go. You can claim your belongings at the desk. Just promise to behave yourself from now on and stay out of people's rooms, okay?"
Athene stood up and walked out of the "office". Free at last! Someone had seen reason and sought for her release. Upon entering the lobby of the security office, she saw that the "someone" had been Crito, who stood there before her in the lobby, with her purse already claimed. Dear, faithful Crito. What would she do without him?
"Madame, I was informed of your detainment, and I came as quickly as I could," Crito babbled. "I told them that this was an outrage and these charges they laid against you were--"
"I know, Crito, I know," Athene said dismissivly. "We'll settle this later. First thing in the morning, contact my attorneys. And see to it my bags are packed and suitable transportation is arranged--we are leaving this horrid place!"
"Yes, madame," Crito replied obdiently, "as you wish."
"In the meantime, I'm going back up to my suite," she groaned. "I have a terrible headache."
Vic lay on his cheap double bed in the cheap single room of a cheap motel somewhere in the Nevada desert, a blurry program flickering on the cheap television bracketed onto the ceiling. He didn't care what was on; it was just white noise to drown out the bedspring symphony going on next door. At least someone scored tonight, he thought.
What went wrong, he asked himself for the hundredth time. Were those blind spots they found not so blind as they thought? Did Steve miscalculate the time it took to keep within them? Or did he just plain screw it up? He shouldn't have trusted Steve to do it himself--he should have gone with him. Never send a boy to do a man's job, as they say. At least Steve had given him fair warning when the cops were after him. He did the right thing in telling him to move out. There would not have been time for him to circle around the van and get in. Besides, the passenger door had a tendancy to stick, which would have lost more precious time to escape. He remembered Steve's last words: Too late for me! Save yourself! Go, now! Looking back, Vic realized how noble Steve had been to do that, sacrificing his own chance of escape for him.
Or was it?
Vic sat bolt upright in the dim bluish glow of the television set. Steve wasn't one to give up his freedom for anyone else. Hell, he was as self-centered as they came. If he knew Steve, he would have dived right into the van through the driver's side, pushing Vic aside if need be, and telling him to haul out of there. Save yourself, his ass! He wasn't that self-sacrificing.
Vic analyzed the situation. Maybe there was no screw up, he thought. Maybe that (bleeper) did get the money, after all, and faked the whole pursuit thing just to get rid of him, taking it all for himself. If that was true, then he deserved an Oscar for that little performance, because he had swallowed it hook, line, and sinker on dry land. Now he really regretted not going in with him during the heist. The (bleeper) just couldn't be trusted.
Vic grabbed his cell phone to call Steve, but thought better of it. This matter was better handled face to face, he decided. He shoved his cell phone into his pocket, grabbed his keys and left the motel room. He vowed to get to the bottom of this. If Steve had really been busted, then fine, let him take the rap. But if he was holding out on him, he was going to be one sorry (bleeper).
Gary Brighton lay awake in bed, alone with his thoughts, or rather his thoughts about the money he found in the elevator. How much was in there, he wondered. A million? Two million? Just one of those wads could have choked a horse, for Pete's sake. Man, what he could do with that load! Pay off the mortgage, pay off the bills, and he, Irene, and the kid could start living again. They'd all be set for life, unless Irene went on one of her major shopping sprees and blew the whole bundle, as she probably would. Money went through her skinny fingers like water through a sieve; no wonder they were in so much debt. Hell, they had to get a second mortgage just to come to Vegas.
Gary wondered why he ever married Irene Potter in the first place. It had been all right in the beginning, nothing really serious between them, just a fling. They met in a bar after she had been stood up by a date of hers (smart guy, he thought) and they got to talking and drinking, drinking and talking, then drinking some more. She had actually been pretty then, or maybe he just drank her pretty. They dated on and off for a few months, occasionally shacking up for a little afternoon delight. No commitment, no talk of marriage, just getting it on for its own sake.
Oh, yeah, it was because of the kid, he suddenly remembered. Her (bleep) of a mother insisted he "do right by her" when she discovered he had impregnated her daughter. Why the hell didn't he use a condom? Even back then, they were easy to come by; you could buy them at the supermarket, for Pete's sake! But it was too late. Six months after a quickie shotgun-style wedding, under threat of being cut out of her mother's will, Irene and Gary Brighton found themselves not only man and wife, but also the parents of a seven-pound baby girl. Irene's mother insisted she be named after her own mother, Maureen Elizabeth. Fine, whatever, they had said.
After that, it was all downhill. Gary would have divorced Irene long ago if not for the fact that he'd be saddled with child support payments for the next eighteen years, and that his own mother, God rest her, insisted they stay together "for the sake of the child". And so they stayed together, barely tolerating each other's presence, sleeping in separate bedrooms, married in name only.
But if he had that money for himself, he could divorce Irene and start fresh. Sure there'd be the child support payments, but with the windfall he had, he'd still be set for life. A good attorney would make sure Irene didn't get too greedy about it. But why bother with all the bureaucratic red tape? Why not just take the money and disappear? He had enough cash to change his identity and put as much distance between Irene and himself as this planet would allow. He could probably fake his own death, even, so the kid could at least have the insurance to get through life, and he'd be living la vida buena in no time at all. Freedom would finally be his at last, he thought. No Irene, no kid to worry about, just living it up in Margaritaville for the rest of his natural.
Gary drifted off to sleep, dreaming of lying poolside with an endless supply of cocktails and cold beer, and bikini-clad girls with gazongas way out to there. No work, no worries, no shirt, no shoes, no problems.
Lolly and Pierce drove back to the house they shared on the outskirts of Las Vegas. After their set with Criss Angel, they had been without a drummer, so they played the rest of their gig "unplugged." It was embarrassing, but they got paid anyway. When the gig ended and they had just begun to pack up their instruments, one of the waiters had approached them, asking if they had another drummer, to which they had replied no, they didn't. Filibuster had little or no luck keeping drummers. Jason Loeb had been the third drummer in as many months, and he had drunk his career away. Pierce had been ready to post an ad in the paper when the waiter said he played the drums himself, and had been in a few garage bands that really didn't get too far, and he was sick of working here in the club, despite the excellent tips he got serving drinks, and thought that Filibuster was really a great band, and if they might give him an audition...?
"Dude," Pierce had said, "say no more, you got the job. What's your name, anyway?"
"Rick," he replied. "Rick Martin."
"Glad to meet you, Rick." Pierce shook the new drummer's hand. "And this is Lolly, our bass player."
"Hey, Rick," Lolly shook Rick's hand as well. "Welcome aboard."
Now, an hour later, Lolly and Pierce were home at last. "Man, that was so lucky!" Pierce said, shaking his head in disbelief over the stroke of good fortune that had come the band's way. "I thought for sure it would have been months before we got a new drummer!"
"You think this one will stick around for a while?" Lolly asked.
"Hard to say," Pierce replied, pulling into the garage and shutting off the engine. "But I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth. We can keep on touring without a break. We totally scored on this one." He turned to Lolly, sitting in the passenger seat. "I think it's a sign from God," he said in mock reverence.
Lyn filled the automatic coffee maker with water, scooped a few ounces of the strongest black coffee into the filter and set the timer for seven AM. She was going to need all the caffeine she could get tomorrow after the night she and Stacy had. But it had been worth it, being with Criss Angel at Body English. She had loved the way he had put his arm around her, and how nice he had been to buy her and Stacy drinks. When he stepped up to take the drummer's place after the guy passed out in the men's room, her admiration blossomed like roses in summer. And the way he blew off that snotty (bleep) was so cool! He really took her down a notch, whoever she was. The nerve of that woman, barging in like that! Just because Criss was a celebrity didn't mean he didn't have a right to privacy.
Lyn yawned. The last of the day's supply of caffeine had faded from her system, leaving her worn out and tired. She needed sleep if she was going to get through another day's grueling rehersal. She headed for her bedroom and undressed for bed. She liked to sleep in the nude, in keeping with her free spirited ways. She slid her naked body in between the cool sheets and settled down for what few hours of sleep she could grab. Tomorrow, Criss would be the star of the show again, and she just another nameless extra. Whatever they had shared tonight would be all but forgotten; it would be business as usual. Still, it had been a helluva night.
01-18-2013, 08:00 PM
Can't wait to see what happens next
01-19-2013, 12:47 AM
4:00 am to 5:00 am:
Steve Packard awakened to the sound of loud persistant hammering on the door of his flat. Bleary-eyed and still half-asleep, he rubbed his stubbled face with his hands and wrenched himself out of bed, wondering who it could be at this hour.
"Who is it?" he croaked.
"It's Vic! Open the (bleeping) door, (bleepbleep)!"
Steve's drowsiness vanished in an instant. Oh, (bleep)! he thought wildly, he's onto me! "Okay, just a sec!" he said loudly as he fumbled with the latch. He had to think and think fast. Vic wasn't the forgiving type; anyone screwed him over and they faced serious payback in the form of a baseball bat, a crowbar or whatever else was handy to break bones with. Steve succeeded in opening the latch and had barely turned the knob when Vic burst into the room, grabbing Steve by his hair and slamming him against a wall. "Okay, you lying (bleeper)," Vic hissed in Steve's face. "Where's the money?"
Steve screwed up his courage and faced his assailant squarely. "I told you, they were onto me," he insisted. "They saw me, I panicked and took off."
"What about the money?" Vic persisted. "Did you get the money or didn't you?"
He twisted Steve's hair until it felt as if it would rip right out of his scalp. "Let go already!" Steve squealed in pain.
Vic slammed Steve's head against the wall. "The money, Packard! What did you do with the (bleepbleep) money?"
In excruciating pain, Steve blurted out, "I dropped it! I dropped the bag!"
"You dropped it?!" Vic hammered Steve's head against the wall. "Where the hell did you drop it? Huh? Where?"
"If you let go of me, I'll tell you, okay?" Steve pleaded.
Vic thought about it for a while. "You'd better be straight with me, Packard," he threatened. "Or else."
He released Steve and stepped back. "Talk," he ordered.
Steve massaged his aching scalp and swallowed hard. "Okay, here's what happened," he began. "I got into the office where the safe was, just like we planned. I found the safe, and disconnected the camera, and got the cash from the safe."
"How the hell should I know?" Steve threw his hands in the air, exasperated over such a question. "I didn't stick around to count it. I had to get the hell out of there."
"Okay, okay, so what happened next?"
"So, I'm making my way out when I got spotted by a guard. I got out as fast as I could, and I threw the bag on my way out. It was weighing me down, man!" he said helplessly. "If I hadn't dropped it when I did, we'd be busted for sure."
"You mean you would be busted," Vic pointed out. "I'd have gotten away. And by the way, that little scene in the parking lot? That was quite noble of you, telling me to forget you and save myself. What the hell was that all about?"
"Oh, that?" Steve said. "Well, I guess you could say it was a diversion of sorts. I figured if they saw the van pull away like that, they'd go after it, thinking I was in it. Meanwhile, I could go back and get the money."
"And keep it all for yourself?" Vic sneered.
"Hey, man, a deal's a deal. We're partners. Fifty-fifty, down the middle, remember?"
"Yeah, right. So did you get the money or not?"
"No, I didn't. It's gone. You want it, look for it yourself. I did my part, now you do some of the dirty work."
Vic wanted to punch Steve a good one, but thought about his words. Well, why not? If he did find the bag where Steve tossed it, the whole bundle would be his. Who needed a partner, anyway?
"Okay," Vic nodded. "I'll find that bag myself." He leaned closer. "But if it turns out you've been (bleeping) me over, so help me, God, you're road pizza!" He headed for the door.
"Fine," Steve snapped. "Go look for the (bleeping) bag yourself! I'm going back to bed! Good-night and go to hell!"
"So, the dad says he lost money in the casino; that was why they were fighting," Officer Underwood told his superior, "Big Luke" Macaffey. "But the kid said he won a big bag of money. Doesn't make sense."
Macaffey nodded. "No, it doesn't. Did the kid say how big the bag was, or how much was in it?"
"Nope, just a big bag of money, that's all she said."
"Well, I'm not gonna jump to conclusions at this point. He could have stuffed it in an envelope or something, and kids do have a tendancy to exaggerate. Besides, he probably did lose a lot of cash, probably more than he won."
"Probably," Underwood concurred.
"And God knows how many couples get into fights about money, especially in Vegas." Macaffey gave one of his rare smiles. "Hell, I remember one couple here--swear to God they gambled away every cent they had. He said it was all her fault, she said it was his, yada, yada, yada. They were gonna kill each other, swear to God! We had to go into the casino and break it up!"
Underwood nodded. "But, anyway, write this down in your report," Macaffey told him. "Just in case this leads anywhere. Maybe it's something, maybe nothing, but I'd like a record of it, just to be safe."
"Got it," Underwood grunted in reply. He left to patrol his assigned area. Maybe the boss is right, he thought. Maybe it is nothing to get worked up about. Husbands lie to their wives, parents to their kids, kids to their parents--it was basically human nature. Maybe the dad did lie to his kid about winning, the wife found out the truth, they started going at it, and the kid got freaked out and ran off. It was a domestic dispute, pure and simple.
Or was it? That guy seemed pretty nervous when he showed up with his kid. One could say he acted suspiciously, as if he had something to hide. Maybe the dad was lying about the money he either won or lost. Maybe that dad of hers was lying to him.
Don't jump to conclusions, Underwood told himself. Just write it up in the report and let it go for now. Whether it was something or nothing, either way, it'll all come out in the wash.
The pain was back. Felix Rappaport, CEO of the Luxor Hotel and Casino, doubled over, clutching his abdomen with his hands as if he was trying to rip out whatever had been tormenting him for the past twenty-two hours. The burning sensation was worse than ever. Again, he got out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom, fumbled for the lightswitch, grimaced at the sudden brightness when he turned it on, then flung open the medicine chest for the antacids. He'd been eating them like candy since the pain started. They helped for a while, but it was turning into a losing battle. He would need something stronger. First thing in the AM, he would go to the hotel pharmacy and ask about it. He hoped it wasn't anything too serious; he had a hotel to run.
He found the bottle of Pepcid and shook out a couple of tablets. He popped them into his mouth, chewed them a bit and swallowed. Sighing, he switched off the bathroom light and headed back to bed. Maybe it was that acid-reflux disease he had heard about on television. Or maybe it was just job-related stress. A lot of people think he just sat at his desk, counting the money that rolled in from the casino or the clubs or from Criss Angel's show, but no one realized just what it was like to be in charge of one of the most popular hotels in Vegas, if not the world. Felix had his eye constantly on the bottom line, accounting for every penny coming in or going out, keeping that big black pyramid out of the red. Wages, taxes, food, equipment, maintenance, security, sanitation--hell, the electric bill alone ran into the upper four digits every month! Thank God for the auxilary generators.
Felix lay down in bed again. The Pepcid was kicking in; the burning subsided once again. Now, maybe he could get some sleep. He had a busy day tomorrow. What the hell was he thinking--every day he was above ground was a busy day! Even when he went golfing, he rarely played for the sheer fun of it; he always had a client or some VIP to entertain. Felix Rappaport, the eternal host, providing every conceivable luxury and amemity money could buy, yet unable to enjoy any of it. The CEO of the fabulous Luxor Hotel and Casino in fabulous Las Vegas was too busy to enjoy what it had to offer. How was that for irony?
Athene Christopolous was safely in her suite again, but she could not sleep. He humilation at the hands of that (bleeper) Criss Angel still burned within her. She had waited for him in his room, ready to offer him such sensual delights as her experienced body could offer, only to be driven out by that old witch of a mother of his. She had been infatuated by his dark, menacing, sultry good looks, his hazel eyes lined in black like an Egyptian god, his chiseled torso like a living Adonis. Now she despised him, saw him for what he really was--a working-class commoner who clawed his way to the top by defrauding the public. If only she could expose him to the world...
Athene flung the covers away and pulled on her dressing-gown. Then she pulled out her top-secret laptop computer from its case. "Clio1, Erato2, Thalia3, Urania4" she spoke into the voice-activated lock.
The latches flew open at her command. She booted up the laptop and entered her password: Pandora. Welcome, Athene, the words on the screen greeted her as usual. She clicked onto the Internet, then paused. Where should she start first? she wondered. Should she use Criss' own website, or the myriad of sites his legion of fans had set up? No, it was best to use a public forum, to reach a bigger audience.
Ah, yes, of course! Celebnooz.com, the most yellow of all gossip sites, past master of making hamburger out of sacred cows. Perfect! God knew how many times that fly-by-night site had splashed her face on its pages, relating every lurid detail of her private life with brutal relish. She had even come close to suing them once over their exposure of her naked backside while she was on holiday in the South of France. There had been no love lost between Celebnooz.com and Athene Christopolous over the years. But now, in her quest for revenge, she was willing to bury the hatchet.
And, God willing, it would be right into Criss's heart.
01-19-2013, 05:46 AM
She'd have better chance on finding Bigfoot than dirt on Criss :D
01-19-2013, 04:12 PM
5:00 am to 6:00 am:
Criss was dreaming of his father.
It had been ten years since his father succumbed to cancer at the age of sixty, but in his dream he was still alive and well. He was sitting in his favorite chair in the living room of their home in East Meadow, Long Island, New York. Criss was sitting opposite him, telling him about his new show in Las Vegas. His father nodded approvingly, but did not smile. He seemed concerned about something, sensed trouble ahead for Criss. His face loomed closer towards him, like a movie close-up.
"You must always be on your guard, Christopher," his father said to him in his dream. "The higher you rise, the greater will be your fall. Many have helped you up, but it takes only one person to bring you down. Only those who are there to catch you are your true friends." Then the image receded into a misty void. Criss reached out for him, calling out "Dad! Dad! Come back!"
"Dad!" Criss blurted out as he was jolted back into the real world by the loud electronic buzzing of the alarm clock. Remembering where he was, he reached over and shut off the annoying device, then rose from the bed. He looked down at himself and was surprised to find that he was still wearing his clothes from last night. Geez! Didn't even bother to undress, just crashed as soon as he got home. He rubbed his face, trying to stimulate circulation, and scuffed the skin on his palms against his five o'clock shadow. A quick shower and shave would make him human again, he thought.
As the warm water of the shower cascaded down his firm, toned body, Criss reflected on his dream. What was his father trying to tell him? Was he setting himself up for a fall? Had he become so proud that he disregarded signs of his own ruin? What were these signs, anyway? He had his share of detractors throughout the course of his career, from critics accusing him of fraud to right-wing extremists denouncing him as the spawn of the Devil. Yet he always came out on top, brushing them all aside like dust, seeing them for what they really were, jealous types and crackpots. No matter how much mud they flung at him, Criss Angel remained unstained.
Yet his father's message needled him. Many have helped you up, but one person can bring you down. That was true enough. President Clinton had been brought down by Monica Lewinski, Jessica Hahn brought down Jim Bakker and the PTL, and even David Copperfield had fallen from grace because of that rape scandal in the Bahamas or somewhere. Criss would be the first to admit he wasn't perfect, but at least he had no sex scandal to his name, or any other scandal for that matter. He was no Boy Scout, but he wasn't that depraved, either. At least, he hoped not.
Criss stepped out of the shower and toweled himself off. He took a can of shaving cream and squirted a handful of white foam onto his hand, then carefully spread it over his jaws and neck. He carefully drew the safety razor over his face, rinsing it as he went. Again, his father's warning came back to mind. The higher you rise, the greater will be your fall. Only those who catch you are your true friends. Yeah, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Criss was the biggest star in Vegas right now. His fall, when and if it came, would be like base jumping off the Grand Canyon without a parachute--bouncing off the rocks, left broken and bleeding, wondering who would catch him as he fell.
Who would catch him? Who were his true friends? Aquaintances were a dime a dozen in this business, but true friends were as rare as Nevada rain in summer. Who could he really count on when the chips were down? They couldn't all be fair-weather friends, could they?
Criss finished shaving and wiped his face with a towel. He looked more like himself now. He had to dress and head for the gym. It was his fitness day, and he wanted to start early before rehersal. He had a vigorous exercise program to keep himself in shape. His career demanded it. There was no way he could perform the extreme demonstrations for which he was so famous if he let his body go flabby. At an age when men approach the metallic stage in life (gold teeth, silver hair and lead bottom), Criss had the physique and metabolism of a twenty-five-year old. Barring catastrophe, he could live to his nineties and still be as active as he was now. God forbid he should suffer the same fate as his beloved father, dying at sixty from cancer.
His father. Again, the memory of his dream came floating back. It had been so vivid that Criss still remembered every detail, every word spoken. It was as if his father was still advising him, guiding him, warning him against danger from beyond the grave. The ancients believed dreams to be messages from God. Was the Heavenly Father speaking to him in the guise of his earthly one?
Criss shook his head to clear such thoughts out of it. This was getting a little too deep, he thought, and he had too much to think about already. He had to get on with his own life, here in the real world. It was just a dream, that was all. Just a dream.
Gary Brighton had a dream, too--a dream of a life free of that (bleep) of a wife, Irene, free of that dead-end job he had worked at for almost eleven years, free to live the high life he felt he deserved. All he needed was that bag of money hidden in the kitchenette cabinet. It would be easy, he thought. Just take the money and run, leave it all behind, start a new life. All it took was nerve.
He got up and stepped quietly to the other bedroom where Irene slept. She was dead to the world as far as he could see. Those painkillers she took for her migraine headaches could knock her out cold; nothing short of a pistol shot could wake her in that state. He returned to his room and dressed quietly but in haste. He packed his belongings in his one suitcase (Irene had insisted on bringing her entire summer wardrobe with her, forcing him to pay extra in baggage handling fees). Then he headed for the kitchenette to retrieve the money bag.
He opened the cabinet and took out the bag. He secured the straps on the flap, resisting the urge to take it out and count the money inside. Plenty of time for that later, he figured. He bought his suitcase out to the living room of the suite and slung the bag of money over his shoulder. Taking care not to trip again, he tiptoed quietly to the door, pulled it open, stepped into the hallway, and gently closed it again, making no noise. He drew a deep breath. Free at last! He strode to the elevator bank to head to the atrium. He'd get a cab to take him to the bus station--if he went to the airport, that bag of cash would be revealed in the scanner, and he'd be nailed for sure. No one would suspect him at the Greyhound depot. It was probably cheaper, anyway.
Vic searched diligently for the money Steve had dropped. Where the hell was it? Not in the corridors, not in the parking lot, not anywhere. Could it still be in the accounting office? Probably that or they found it and returned it to the safe. If that was the case, then he'd have to start over again. Or maybe Steve was still yanking his chain, hiding it somewhere so he could retrieve it later. Yeah, that must be it. Well, Vic was just going to have to teach Steve a lesson in honesty with the help of that crowbar he kept in the van. No one held out on Victor DeAngelo.
He heard someone coming down the corridor. Some tourist type with a big suitcase and travel bag, making his way to the parking garage. But that travel bag looked somewhat familiar to him. Too familiar. Vic pulled out his knife and pressed his body against the wall, concealing himself from view. As soon as the tourist with the bag passed him by, Vic sprang into action, seizing his victim by the neck in a headlock and holding the tip of his knife at his throat. The man gasped, struggling to free himself.
"Just hand over the bag, buddy," Vic said calmly, "and you won't get hurt."
The shoulder bag slid to the floor. Vic released his victim, grabbed the bag and ran out the door. Once in the van, he threw the bag onto the passenger seat and, gloating over his victory, tore it open to see his newfound wealth. Instead, he found boxer shorts, a toilet kit, undershirts, and other common items. He had grabbed the wrong bag! Vic railed at the Diety for his error.
A hammering on the van door interrupted his tirade. Vic found himself surrounded by security guards with guns drawn and aimed right at him.
"Get out of the van!" they shouted at him. "Get out of the van, now!"
Defeated, Vic opened the van door and stepped out. He was pulled to the concrete, his arms pinioned behind him as handcuffs clenched his wrists. His rights were read to him, but all Vic could think about was how much he wanted to get back at Steve Packard. Maybe he could plea bargain his way out. After all, Steve was the one who actually stole the money in the first place. He had nothing to do with it. The return of the hotel money would be worth more than some poor (bleeper's) luggage.
In the atrium, Gary Brighton felt his stomach sending him signals that it was feeding time. It was early, he thought. Plenty of time to get some breakfast before heading out. He checked the hotel directory to see what restaraunts were open at this hour. The big-name restaraunts were all closed, but there was an early-bird buffet at six AM. He'd have to wait until then. Oh, well, he'd just get a paper and wait until six. No problem. He walked over to the sundry shop and bought a copy of the Sun. He stowed his luggage behind a large potted tree and settled down to read. Irene wouldn't be up for hours yet--he'd be long gone by then. And no one would be the wiser.
Gary opened the paper to the sports section, the only part worth reading without getting too depressed. He was halfway through the feature article about Tiger Woods' latest victory when he began to yawn. It was still too early, he hadn't had any coffee yet, and he hadn't had much sleep, having been up fighting with Irene and the kid running off like that. Hardly anyone knew he was sitting there by that big tree in the lobby. A quick nap wouldn't hurt, he figured. He leaned back, covering his face with the paper, and dozed off.
Around him, the hotel staff was changing from night to morning shift, preparing for another day. In the kitchen, chefs and their assistants prepped for the morning breakfast buffet and for special room service orders. Clean linen, freshly folded, was shipped up to the housekeeping rooms on each floor for the maids to change the beds. The cashiers in the casinos tallied the night's receipts and sealed up the cash in bank bags to be sent to the Accounting Office to be counted and sorted by machine, then bundled up for the morning bank pickup. Up in the security office, the graveyard shift turned in their reports to the supervisors before the official changing of the guard. All this went on quietly and efficiently while the guests slept in their suites. As far as everyone inside the big black pyramid was concerned, it was the beginning of just another day.
01-20-2013, 07:43 PM
Vertias did you ever work in a casino before?
01-20-2013, 09:49 PM
No, I never did. Why?
6:00 am to 7:00 am:
While the hundreds of other guests in the Luxor slumbered on, Criss was in the gym, pumping iron. His fitness routine called for forty-five minutes of cardio a day when he was not performing--that alone was ninety minutes worth in itself. His father before him had been a former Mr. Universe, a veritable Adonis, unconsciously passing on the Athenian tradition of health and fitness to his sons. Clad only in white shorts, his light olive skin glistening with sweat, Criss could have passed for an ancient Olympian athlete in the arena rather than a stage performer in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The gym in which he exercised had been specially built for him by the Luxor Hotel. It was not so much a perk as an investment to keep him fit and healthy--and the profits flowing into their coffers. Criss Angel's name drew more people into the Luxor than all the millions of dollars spent in advertising, and they wanted to keep that name with them for as long as possible. A small gym was worth the time and effort to build and maintain if it kept the money rolling in.
And, my, how the money rolled in! The Luxor Hotel and Casino had never been more popular since Criss had signed his now famous ten-year contract with them to tape his show MindFreak, and the upcoming Cirque show Believe. Everybody wanted to see Criss, touch Criss, take pictures of Criss, experience Criss' special brand of magic. Hundreds of girls (and women) wanted to sleep with Criss--their personal photos, letters and e-mails would have kept the soft-porn industry in business for the next millenium. To them, Criss was a one-man Chippendale revue who did magic on the side. Elvis in his heyday couldn't hold a candle to him. But then, Elvis never stripped to the waist and allowed himself to be run over by a steamroller while lying on broken glass, either.
Criss set down the weights and walked over to the treadmill for his twenty-five minute run. Jogging outdoors was out--the Nevada desert sun reached triple digits before noon. People died from such heat, especially the elderly. Criss would have been risking heat stroke, if not dehydration, if he ran outside. No, it was better to run inside the gym in air-conditioned comfort. He programmed the treadmill for his usual speed and time and began trotting on the rubberized strip rotating under his feet. For this brief twenty-five minute period, he could forget he was a star and be a man of flesh and blood, emptying his mind of all stressful thoughts and distractions. He felt his heart pounding in his chest, his lungs expanding and expelling air, his blood coursing through his veins, his muscles flexing and straining as he ran. Sweat beaded his brow, clinging to the fringes of his hair.
He felt pain as other men do, but he did not shy away from it. He accepted pain; it was proof that he was alive. Pain was part of life, giving balance to it, for how could one know true pleasure without knowing pain? Too much pleasure made one jaded. Too much pain made one bitter. Life was sour as well as sweet. One had to experience sadness in order to appreciate happiness. Criss himself had his share of sadness in his life: his father's death, his uncle's tragic drowning, his relationship that went sour, his mother's heart scare two years ago. The sadness kept his life in balance. There would be sadness in the future, he realized. His beloved mother would die someday, something could happen to either one of his brothers, or he himself could face disease or injury. He would need all his inner strength to face it head-on, so he could overcome it. Never let it be said that Criss Angel turned down a challenge, he thought to himself as he ran on the treadmill, no matter how daunting--or how personal.
Dawn was breaking over the Las Vegas valley. The garish neon signs that were Sin City's trademark flickered off for the day. Night owls headed home while the early birds took wing for their day jobs. Las Vegas was a twenty-four-seven city like other major metropolitan centers; it never slept, never shut down, but kept on going.
One part of the city that had to keep going no matter what happened day or night was the Las Vegas Municipal Police Department, which had just received a call from the Luxor that a mugger had been arrested on the premises. Security held him in custody. A cruiser with two officers were promptly dispatched to bring in the perpetrator to be formally charged with theft and assault with a deadly weapon. This was all too common in a city where the main economy was money itself--thieves, pickpockets and muggers crawled like vermin around the strip, all too ready to relieve decent citizens of their money and valuables, at gun or knifepoint if need be. This was one of the reasons that Las Vegas was number one in surveillance technology, one picture being worth a thousand words--especially in a court of law.
The police cruiser glided around the back. The officers marched up to the security office entrance, specially reserved for the transfer of suspects without alarming the general public. So many cheaters, thieves and other lowlifes had passed through the Luxor's Point of No Return that the police and security personnel were on a first-name basis with each other.
"Hey, Jerry," said one of the police officers.
"Hey," Jerry greeted him back.
"I thought you were off duty by now."
"Yeah, but I gotta check up on something else first."
"So, who is it today?"
"Victor DeAngelo, thirty-seven, unemployed, busted for assault with a deadly weapon and attempted theft," Jerry told him as he escorted the officers to the security office. "The usual."
The officer nodded. The usual. "Anyone get hurt?"
Jerry shook his head. "He just grabbed the old man's bag and ran into his van. We busted him in the back lot."
Jerry opened the door to the security office and led the police to one of the "offices" where Vic was incarcerated. "Okay, DeAngelo," he called out. "Time to go."
Vic sat there with a defiant look on his face. If he wasn't handcuffed, he'd give them the finger. The two officers flanked him on either side.
"Okay, you have the right to remain silent; if you choose to waive that right, anything can and will be held against you in a court of law..."
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Vic knew the drill. He'd seen enough episodes of Dragnet to have the Miranda rights down pat. Just get him the damn lawyer and get him out of here.
"You understand what we just told you?" the officer asked.
Vic grunted assent. He was hauled up by the forearms and dragged to the waiting cruiser, where he was crumpled into the back seat and sealed in. At least they never found the money. Let Steve take the rap for that. He washed his hands of the whole robbery. If he wasn't linked to it, he'd just get five years at most. If questioned, he could plausibly deny it. After all, Steve did it all by himself, didn't he?
Back in the security office, Jerry Rand was going over the night's security tapes, especially Camera Twenty-Seven which had blanked out for a few minutes. The electrician had reported nothing out of the ordinary where the wiring was concerned. The before and after pictures looked the same. What had happened?
The others, meanwhile, were still hooting and howling over Athene Christopolous' naked rear end getting spanked by Criss Angel's mom. They played that one segment over and over again, catching every little detail.
"Okay, right there. Aaaaannnndd...whack!"
"Ooooohhh, that's gonna leave a mark!"
"Think she liked it? I bet she liked it."
"She probably liked it better if it was Criss Angel doin' it."
"You think his mom ever smacked his ass like that when he was a kid?"
"Hmm, probably. If he was my kid, I'd probably have taken him over my knee a few times myself."
Laughter all around.
"All right!" Jerry bellowed. "Break it up, it's time to go to work, gentlemen!"
The knot of men dispersed reluctantly. Jerry rewound the tape to the beginning and removed it form the machine. He stored it in its specially labeled case and dropped it in the tape bin for storage. Then he slid a fresh videocassette into the recorder for the day's events. Fun and games were over. It was time to get back to work.
Steve Packard wanted to run. He wanted to get away from Vegas, money or no money. He had put his ass on the line for Vic, and now all he could expect in return was a pair of broken kneecaps. Vic was never going to find that money no matter how hard he looked. It went up with somebody's luggage, and with the hundreds of rooms in the Luxor, the odds of finding it were worse than winning at blackjack.
But whoever had it would either be framed for the theft or would have returned it by now. Steve had kept out of camera range as best he could, or bluffed his way around them. So long as they got their money back, he was in the clear. It was with Vic that Steve was up (bleep) creek without a canoe, let alone a paddle. He dodged a major bullet last night when his angry partner came over to his flat and used his head as a battering ram. Once Vic found out there was no money to be found, Steve was dead meat.
He could head for LA, maybe. Or up north to Colorado, or Washington State. Maybe even to Mexico. Anywhere was better than sweating it out here. If he wanted to live another day, he had to run.
Steve grabbed his battered Samsonite suitcase and stuffed it with his meager belongings: three work shirts, three pairs of work pants, his one "good" white shirt with the telltale ring around the collar, his jeans, his CDs, a few changes of underwear, his toiletries from the tiny bathroom, and a few favorite porno mags. His tools and other possessions were already in his car. He'd swing by the bank and get his money out of his account, assuming he wasn't overdrawn again. Then he'd head for Anywhere, USA and put Vic, Vegas and his past behind him. Maybe one of his former girlfriends would be willing to take him in for a while. Yeah, and maybe the moon would fall out of the sky.
He slammed down the lid of the suitcase and snapped it shut. There, he was good to go. He remembered having a few bucks on him, enough for gas. Maybe later he could--
A loud, shrill beeping pierced the morning stillness. Steve almost jumped out of his skin. Collecting himself, he shut the thing off and looked at the tiny LED screen. LUXOR, it read. That meant another repair job. It also meant returning to the scene of the crime.
Okay, he said sternly to himself. Remember the plan. Someone else has the cash. No one saw you take it. You didn't leave any evidence, not even a fingerprint. Keep cool, do your job, don't say nothing to no one. Then you can disappear. A small ray of hope shone through the darkness. This way, you can claim your last paycheck and have more travel money. Yeah. There you go! Besides, if you don't show up, they will become suspicious. Just grab your gear, stow it in the trunk, go to work and act like it's any other day. Once it's done, you're out of there. Don't freak out like you did before. Play it cool.
It was two hours before the morning bank pickup, and Katie Lazlo, a chubby, bespectacled woman with grey and brown streaked black hair was making her way to the safe with the night's receipts. She slid her security card into the door slot and waited for the green light to come on, allowing her to enter. The tiny green nub glowed like a fairy light, welcoming her into the vault.
She entered the room, walked over to the safe, punched in the combination and opened the safe. To her surprise, the safe was empty. That was odd. The morning pickup wasn't until nine o'clock. Had the contents been transferred somewhere else?
Katie stowed the night's receipts in the safe and closed the door. She had to talk to Mr. Guiffria, the accounts manager, about this. She left the vault, closing the door behind her according to standard procedure, and walked to Mr. Guiffria's office. Upon arrival, she saw that his door was open, and he was not on the phone. Good. She knocked softly on the door frame so as not to startle him. He had a heart attack a couple of months ago and didn't want to give him another one, poor man.
"Mr. Guiffria?" she called out.
The manager looked up from his spreadsheet. "Yes, Katie, come in."
Katie entered. "I was taking the night's receipts to the safe, and when I got there, the safe was empty," she explained. "Do you know anything about it?"
Mr. Guiffria looked alarmed. "Empty?" he echoed. "How could that be?"
"I don't know, sir," Katie replied, shrugging her shoulders. "Were the contents of the safe transferrred or something?"
"There was no transfer of anything to my knowledge," Mr. Guiffria told her. "Everything was accounted for when I left last night."
Katie felt a chill creeping through her bowels. "Well, I...I found it empty just a few minutes ago."
Mr. Guiffria quickly picked up the phone. "Security? I want to report a robbery."
01-21-2013, 09:19 PM
7:00 am to 8:00 am:
The coffeemaker on the kitchen counter sputtered to life at exactly seven AM. Water in the resevoir flowed through the tubing, around the heating coils, over the coffee grounds and through the paper filter, exiting into the glass coffeepot below as fresh-brewed java. The strong scent wafted into the bedroom where Lyn Sheppard slept. There had been no need to set the alarm; the smell of coffee alone was enough to get her out of bed. Her eyes flew open as her nose caught the first whiff of it, and she flung away the covers with a single sweep of her arm. She rose, pulled on her robe and made a beeline for the kitchen and the rejuvinating black beverage she thrived on. Lyn couldn't imagine starting her day without at least one cup of coffee; before she did anything else, even before showering and dressing, she had to have her morning coffee or she couldn't function like a normal human being.
Grabbing a novelty coffee mug from the cupboard (a Christmas gift from Stacy, featuring a cartoon duck in hair rollers and chenille robe with the caption I Don't Do Mornings) and poured a quarter of the coffeepot into it. Morning coffee was the best in her opinion: it was hot, it was fresh, and it gave her the biggest rush of all. Lyn savored the warmth flowing down her esophagus and into her stomach. A few more sips, and she was ready to face whatever the world would throw at her.
She checked the time. Seven-oh-five. She had to be at rehersal at eight. She headed for the bathroom, sipping her coffee along the way, stripped, showered, toweled off, and blow-dried her hair. Another swig from the mug as she dressed in jeans and tank top (her dance clothes were at the theater in a locker), pulled on her Nikes, then, after another swallow of coffee, tended to the needs of her three cats, Sable, Ebony and Yin-Yang. She looked at the clock on the stove. Seven-twenty-seven. She drained the last of her coffee and set the mug in the sink. She looked at the remaining contents of the pot. She had to get to rehersal, but she hated to see good coffee go to waste. Suddenly a thought struck her. Lyn began searching frantically through the cupboards until she found what she was looking for: a large metal Thermos she used for outings and picnics. She emptied the pot into it, screwed the lid on tightly, and carried it with her out the door. She was ready to face the day.
"You sure about this?" Luke Macaffey, chief of security at the Luxor asked Mr. Guiffira as he stood in the manager's office.
"I am positive," Mr. Guiffria confirmed. "Every dollar in that safe was counted and recorded at the usual time. If there was a withdrawl of any kind, it would have been recorded on the accounting sheet."
Macaffey turned to Katie Lazlo. "Did you check the sheet he's talking about before reporting it?"
"I did," Katie nodded. "When Elaine made the evening deposit in the safe, it was full. Nothing had been removed according to the sheet. When I made the night deposit an hour ago, the safe was completely empty."
"Elaine Wozniak works the swing shift in the cashier's office. She's off duty now." A sudden feeling of dread came over Katie. "You don't mean to say that--"
"We're not pointing any fingers at anyone, ma'am," Macaffey said. "We just want to confirm your part of the story. I'm sure she's innocent. If there was a theft, we'd have it on tape. We'll get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, keep a lid on this for now, and let the pros handle this."
Macaffey strode out of the accounting office. Katie turned to Mr. Guiffria. "What are we going to do?" she wailed. "How are we going to explain this to Mr. Rappaport?"
"Now, now, Katie, don't despair," Mr. Guiffria tried to calm her. "I'll deal with Mr. Rappaport. You just go back to your window and do your job. If it was only a few hours ago, the thief couldn't have gone too far, and the cameras probably caught him in the act. Everything's going to be all right, Katie. They'll have that money back in no time at all."
Macaffey dismissed Katie and Mr. Guiffira with a nod and a wave. They left the office still murmuring to each other over the crime and how it occured. Macaffey wondered as well: How the hell did it happen? How in God's name did the safe get robbed right under their very noses? There was a camera trained right on the safe itself; someone must have seen something going on. Either someone was asleep at the switch, or the robber was one clever (bleeper) to evade the cameras. If it was the former, it was going to be that person's job; if it was the latter, it would be that person's nuts on a platter. Either way, someone was in deep (bleep).
Macaffey headed for the video surveillance room. Dispensing with pleasantries, he demanded to know what camera covered the safe in the accounting office. Twenty-Seven, they answered.
"I want the tape from last night from that camera," he ordered. "We had a robbery."
The tape was fetched from the bin, it not having been shelved yet. Macaffey took the cassette and shoved it into the VCR. He fast forwarded it to save time, stopping only when there were signs of life. Seven PM, employee deposit, safe full. Fast forward to ten PM, employee deposit, safe full. It was around midnight that something happened; the screen showed nothing but static for about two minutes, then returned to normal. Nothing was out of the ordinary in the office, in the vault, or anything. No sign of anyone having been there.
"Anyone from the last shift still around?" Macaffey called out.
Jerry Rand stepped forward. "Yeah, what do you need?"
"I need you to explain this." Macaffey pointed out the two minute blank on the tape. "You know anything about this?"
Rand shook his head. "No, but I can check the report."
"Do that," Macaffey ordered.
Rand went to fetch last night's reports. He flipped the pages, searching for any mention of a camera malfunction. "Let's see," he mumbled under his breath. "Yeah, here we are. Approximatly twelve-fifteen AM, Camera Twenty-Seven experienced malfunction, causing loss of visual. Electician called in to repair problem. Twelve-seventeen AM, visual was restored. Electrician reported no problem with wiring."
Macaffey analyzed this in his mind. If it wasn't a mechanical problem, he thought, then it had to be tampering. He had no idea what the vault layout looked like; he had never set foot in there in all the time he had been working here at the Luxor, so he had no clue as to how the camera had been tampered with. Well, maybe the CSI guys could figure it out.
"Leave that tape here," he told Rand. "We're gonna need it later."
His workout finished, Criss went back to his suite to prepare for the day ahead: a morning of Believe rehersal and an afternoon of taping MindFreak. But first, breakfast. He saw the gleaming chrome cart standing alone in his suite, crowned with covered dishes hiding his breakfast. Hammie stood on the arm of the sofa, staring longingly at them; he knew instinctivly that the big metal domes contained food, and he was hungry.
Criss couldn't help but laugh. "You think that's for you, don't you, Hammie?" he crooned affectionatly, stroking the cat's neck. "You think that's all for you, don't you? You're a spoiled little kitty, you know that?"
He nudged Hammie aside and sat down on the sofa to eat. Undeterred, Hammie leapt up back on the arm, stretching his sleek body towards the bounty on the cart. Criss laughed again, chagrined. "Hammie! This is my breakfast, okay? Now get down from there."
Again, Hammie was pushed off the sofa. In a change of tactics, Hammie leapt up on the other side of the sofa and padded to Criss' side, purring and making his most pitiful face to win sympathy and get a bite from the cart.
Criss sighed in defeat. "Okay, you win," he said. "Here." He pulled off a bit of egg and held it in front of the cat's face. Hammie sniffed it and snapped it up quickly, licking his chops.
"Now that's all you're gonna get, okay?" Criss told the cat. "I gotta eat too, you know."
Hammie watched sourly as Criss ate his breakfast, or, rather, his breakfast as far as his feline reasoning was concerned. Every morning the Food Person bought the big, beautiful cart full of delicious food for him, but Criss was the one who ate it all. It just wasn't fair!
Criss finished eating and headed back into the bedroom to get ready for work. Rehersal started at eight, and today he would be working on the levitation/aerial act, possibly the most dangerous part of the show. It worked well on paper and on the computer simulation, but in real life, anything could go wrong, even with every safety precaution in place. He knew from hard experience that no matter how careful you were, accidents can, do and will happen. He breathed a prayer for protection as he donned his trademark bling. Good to go, he turned to leave, but as he did so his eyes fell upon the bed. It triggered the memory of last night when he came home from Body English, when his mother told him about Athene Christopolous being caught in that very same bed. The image on the videotape of her being chased off by his mother like that made him smile a little. Still, he found it offensive that his privacy had been invaded like that. Athene deserved what she got, he said to himself. I just hope they change the sheets.
"Morning, hon," JD Sarantakos greeted his wife, Lynn, in the kitchen of their Las Vegas home, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her on the neck.
"Morning," she cooed. She leaned back and planted a big wet one on her husband's lips.
JD released Lynn long enough to get some coffee and breakfast. "What are your plans for today?" he asked.
"Your mother wants to spend some quality time with Dima and me today," she replied. "Thought we'd do a little shopping, maybe go out to lunch."
"Oh, that's right," JD said, suddenly remembering. Living almost a continent away, Dimitra didn't get to see her only granddaughter very often. When she wasn't tying herself up in knots over his famous brother's death-defying demonstrations, or being fawned over by his fans who practically adopted her as their own mother, she spent as much time as she could with Little Dimitra, or Dima as she was commonly known. The Sarantakos clan were as tightly knit as they came, bound by old-world ties and values, as was the case with many immigrant families coming to America. No matter how far they were apart, they were always together in heart and spirit.
Their daughter, Dimitra, came into the kitchen. "Morning, Mom," she said, "Morning, Dad. What's for breakfast?"
"The usual," her mother, Lynn, replied. "Your Grandma Dimitra is in town, you know. She wants to see you again."
"When are we going to see her?"
"This afternoon. In the meantime, you need to clean your room and help out around the house."
Dima pouted. Like other teens, she hated housework, especially cleaning her room. Why did Mom have to clean the house so much, anyway? It looked fine to her. Mom could be so OCD about these things, she thought.
Her father sensed her discontent and gave her a warning nudge. "Hey, you heard your mother, okay?"
Dima nodded grudgingly, once again submitting to parental authority. JD rose from the table. "Call if you're going to be late," Lynn told him.
"Sure." He gave Lynn a peck on the cheek, then gave one to his daughter. "Later," he said, walking out the door.
Steve entered the hotel through the service entrance. He went to the repair shop and clocked in, then went into the casino through the back way. He found the manager waiting for him.
"Hey, Phil," Steve said, "What's the problem here?"
"Some idiot tried to trigger the coin release in one of the slots with a wire and screwed up the whole works," Phil answered. "Number fourteen."
Okay, Steve thought. It's a routine job. No big deal. You've handled worse than this. Get it fixed, get your money, and get out of here. Just play it cool, don't arouse suspicions. He picked up his toolkit and walked over to slot machine number fourteen, standing lifeless among its flashy companions like a corpse at a funeral. He took out the master key and opened it wide, exposing the inner workings of the machine. With a tiny pinlight he examined the coin hopper, the release mechanism, the funnel leading to the tray, and all the wires connected to them. Modern slot machines were designed to shut down automaically if anyone tampered with them in any way, while at the same time sending an alarm to security, resulting in an instant arrest. Yet no matter how sophisticated these machines were made, someone always tried to beat the system for an instant win. It kept security personnel hopping and Steve himself fully employed.
There, those two wires on the release mechanism--they had been disconnected somehow, probably by a hook or a coat hangar, the usual weapons of choice. Steve unscrewed the the connecting screws, reattached the wires, then rescrewed them into place. He reset the control panel of the machine and closed the whole thing up again. Once the front was locked into place again the machine came back to life, rebooting its circuits to normal mode. Steve sighed with satisfaction. Another job well done, and he hoped it would be the last.
He left the casino floor and went back into the shop. He wanted out so bad he was going nuts about it. But just as he thought that freedom was in his grasp, he looked on the board and saw two more jobs on the to-do list. Steve groaned inwardly, but if he ran off now, they'd be suspicious. Best to get these over with as fast as possible. Then he was going to take a very long lunch break, never to return. Who knew? Maybe he'd find the money from the safe somewhere along the way.
Inside the MindFreak production office, two assistants sat next to each other at their PC terminals. It was early yet, time enough to check out the latest celebrity gossip on the Web. Jennifer looked at Ashley's monitor with contempt.
"Celebnooz?" she sniffed. "I hate that site! Everyone knows that it's all trashy lies."
"Yeah, I know," Amber concurred. "But Criss is on it."
Her interest piqued, Jennifer leaned over for a better look.
CRISS ANGEL USES AND ABUSES HEIRESS!!
Omicron heiress Athene Christopolous was physically abused by famed illusionist Criss Angel in his luxury suite at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. She had been invited by the magician to spend the night with him, but she later claimed that he became violent after drinking heavily and struck her several times after she refused his advances. He allegedly tore off her clothes and tried to sexually assault her, causing her to flee from the suite. No charges have been pressed at this time.
"That is (bleepbleep)!" Jennifer exclaimed. "Criss would never do such a thing! That (bleep) is lying!"
"Should we tell him?" Ashley asked with a hint of fear in her voice.
"No," Jennifer said. "I wouldn't bother him with it. Like I said, Celebnooz is a lot of (bleeepbleep). No one is going to believe it. If we make it public; it'll just spread the lies more. Best to let it die. Ignore it, and it'll go away. There's no proof, anyway."
"Yeah, maybe you're right." Ashley closed the Celebnooz window and went on E!.com. They were a more reliable source. If there was any truth to the whole Athene business, they'd have it for sure.
01-22-2013, 05:32 AM
I guess she's never had a guy that didn't like her and I would of burned those sheets
01-22-2013, 03:43 PM
8:00 am to 9:00 am:
The heavy steel doors of the Clark County Detention Center slowly opened, squealing on their worn metal tracks. Two police officers escorted a handcuffed Vic into the Processing office. Vic could hear the deep metallic kuhchung! as those same doors closed behind him, the sound of no turning back. This, he thought with resentment, was going to be his home until his trial. He couldn't come up with the bail money, not even a downpayment to the bondsman, so there he was in the county lockup on charges of assault with a deady weapon and petty theft. At least they didn't find the money, he consoled himself again and again.
(Bleeping) Packard! he cursed inwardly. If he hadn't chickened out like that, I'd be rich and free, living it up in Mexico, instead of being stuck in this dump! That (bleeper) is probably on his way to the border right now, with all that money, while I'm rotting away in here! Man, if I ever get out of here, I'm gonna hunt down that (bleep's) sorry ass and put him in the ground!
Vic and his uniformed escorts stopped at the Processing Office window, a three-quarter inch thick clear barrier with a single round steel vent to allow audible speech set in the center. The Processing Officer, a rotund woman in the standard khaki colored uniform of the Clark County Sherriff's Department, sat grimly on the other side, fingers poised over the computer keyboard. "Name?" she droned officiously.
"DeAngelo, Victor," said the senior of the two officers.
Vic stood there silently as his personal information and charges against him were typed into the computer databank. The handcuffs chafed his wrists, and he needed to take a leak. C'mon man, let's get a move on! he thought irritably.
After Processing, Vic was moved into the "examing room" to be searched. His clothes were removed and impounded, orange scrubs given to him in their stead. He was body searched for hidden drugs or weapons, and handed a vial for him to "fill" for drug testing. Well, at least he finally got to relieve himself, he thought, even if he had to fill it in front of the officers.
From the "examining room" came "orientation". Vic sat with a large group of other offenders on steel folding chairs lined up against a wall as another uniformed officer barked out the rules and regulations of the lockup: rising at six AM, morning shower for those who were assigned showers for that day, cell cleanup for those who weren't, breakfast at six-thirty in the mess hall, assigned work detail, recreation hours, one phone call per week per inmate, smoking in designated areas only, no fighting, no gang signs, lights out at nine PM, no communication after lights out, and so on. Vic let it all flow in one ear and out the other with nothing to block traffic, distracting himself with the myriad of gang tattoos on the flesh of the majority of his fellow inmates. From the bored looks on their faces, he could tell that this wasn't their first visit here.
Vic was herded along with the others, single file, to their cells, mere eight-by-eight foot closets with two bunks bolted to one wall and a steel sink-and-toilet combo by the door. His new roommate was a scarred veteran of the streets, a foot soldier in one of Vegas' lesser known gangs from his earliest youth. His real name was Emmanuel Odding, but he answered to OddMan or simply Odd. But there was nothing odd about his attitude toward Vic; it was quite obvious that he didn't care for him being in the same cell with him. For Vic, the feeling was mutual. It was going to be a long stay for both of them.
Felix Rappaport still felt a bit nauseous as he suited up for the day. Maybe he just needed a bit of breakfast, he thought. Last night's attack was a bad one. Keep it light today, lay off the booze, and he'd be okay. Just some fresh fruit and a bit of cereal would do the trick. Always had in the past. Everyone on the Board of Directors drank coffee and got fat, while he, the CEO, ate breakfast and stayed healthy. Go figure, he thought facetiously.
After his "light" breakfast, Felix headed for his executive suite in the Luxor. Whatever had been bothering him had gone away. Maybe it was a fluke, he thought. Something he ate that disagreed with him. He was going to have to watch it from now in, he warned himself--he wasn't getting any younger. He had reached the age where he had to read the labels on everything he bought for sodium, sugar or fats; gone were the days when he had the metabolism of a blast furnace, when he could eat and eat and not gain an ounce. Circle of life and all that.
He had barely reached his office when he was hit by a double whammy. It seemed Athene Christopolous, the Omicron heiress staying at the Luxor, had decided to spend the night in Criss Angel's suite--without his permission. Two guards, with Criss' mother accompanying them, had found her sleeping in his bed, completely nude, and had taken her into custody. Needless to say, Criss was very upset about it. That was the good news. The bad news was that the hotel safe had been robbed last night, he was informed by security staff. Nearly half a million dollars vanished without a trace.
Felix felt his gut rumbling like a volcano about to erupt. A spoiled heiress he could handle, but half a million dollars gone, just like that? The word "embezzlement" quickly came to mind; it had to be an inside job. Fighting off the pain in his stomach, he called security, demanding what the hell happened last night. About the money, he meant.
Chief Macaffey assured him that the CSI was on the case; they were going over the secruity tapes this very minute. They were doing everything they could to gather evidence to catch the thief, and that he couldn't have gone too far, and so on and so on. Felix wasn't appeased. This wasn't a case of a missing billfold, this was half a million dollars belonging to the hotel, money he himself was responsible for. This was grand larceny, and he wasn't going to stand for it.
"Look, Macaffey!" Felix thundered, his burning gut about to explode, "I want that money back in that safe in twenty-four hours or it's your head on a platter! Got that?"
"Got it, Mr. Rappaport," Macaffey acknowledged. He couldn't blame the boss for getting all (bleeped) off about it--hell, he was just as (bleeped) off about it himself. Half a million dollars stolen on his watch. It was intolerable, not to mention inconceivable.
Felix slammed down the receiver. The pain was worse now, even more than last night. It didn't improve when he received word that Criss Angel was waiting to see him outside his office. "Send him in," he groaned.
Criss walked into the office, concealing his indignation for the time being. After all, Felix Rappaport was technically his employer and really a good friend. No sense biting his head off over something that wasn't his fault. "Hey, Felix," Criss said.
Felix looked up, grimacing in pain. Criss' anger over Athene turned to concern for his friend. "Felix? You okay?"
"I'll be fine," Felix replied, clutching his abdomen. "Just a bit of gas, that's all." He straightened up in his upholstered chair. "Look, I know you're upset about Athene Chrostopolous in your room last night--"
"Damn right I am," Criss retorted. "How the hell did she get into my suite in the first place?"
"I'm sure I don't know, but I'm going to find out. Right now, we got an even bigger problem."
"Half a million dollars was stolen from the safe last night," Felix gasped out, the pain in his stomach worsening by the second.
Criss stood there, not knowing what to do or say. Here was his friend in pain, and the hotel money stolen to boot. Something in his mind clicked in place, making him realize that a man's life was more important than money. Let the cops handle the theft--that was their job. Felix needed help.
Suddenly , Felix began coughing violently. He covered his mouth with his hand, but was unsuccessful in keeping the blood he regurgitated from streaming out between his fingers. Alarmed, Criss snatched the office phone and pressed the Emergency button.
"Nine-One-One, what is your emegency?" the operator responded mechanically.
"We have a man here coughing up blood," Criss told the operator. "Executive office, Luxor Hotel and Casino. Send help, now!"
Meanwhile, the CSI team was going over the security tapes of the previous night, looking for clues as to the identitiy of the robber. The corridors leading to the Accounting office showed nothing unusual, except for that two minute glitch after midnight. Not even a hint of a break-in. It was as if the perp made himself invisible to the camera. The forensics experts could not find any footprints nor fingerprints, except for the cashier's, and the video proved her innocence.
Investigator Tom Yancy, videographer expert, watched the surveillance tape with a practiced eye, searching every nanosecond of tape for any hint of the perp, however minuscule. As he scanned the tape, a theory or at least a hypothesis began to shape in his mind. Rewinding the tape and playing it back again, his theory proved correct.
"Over here," he called to the others.
The rest of the crew, along with Macaffey and other security officers, gathered around the monitor. Yancy rewound the tape again.
"Okay," he said. "The camera is pointed here, and then it goes around here. But when it's pointed in one direction, it creates a blind spot on the other side...here." He pointed at the screen with the tip of his pen. "The perp must have known this, so he kept in the blind spot to get to the office. Where are the other tapes?"
The rest of the tapes were bought in and inserted into the VCR. Yancy scanned them as he did the first. "Okay, see? There's another blind spot, and another right there. The perp must have timed them just right in order to get to the safe."
"Damn!" Macaffey swore under his breath. "That is one clever (bleepbleeper)."
"What about the vault itself?" Inspector Grissom asked. "That camera was trained right on it."
"You sent an electrician to check it out, didn't you, Macaffey?" Yancy asked.
"The night shift sent him out as soon as we lost visual," Macaffey told him. "He said there was nothing wrong."
"Were the wires exposed?" Grissom asked.
Macaffey thought about it, then remembered. "They had been doing some rewiring in that part of the office, as a matter of fact," he said. "They must have forgotten to seal it up."
"So, the perp must have disconnected the camera wires, robbed the safe, then reconnected it when he was done." Grissom said.
CSI Investigator Lise Howard spoke up from the other monitor. "Over here. I got something."
Grissom, Yancy, and the others transferred to the second monitor. "Here, in the main office. I got someone."
The grainy image of a workman carrying a shoulder bag walking around the office and then leaving played before them on the screen. Macaffey snapped to full alert. "Hey, I know that guy!" he exclaimed. "That's Steve Packard, the slot machine repairman. What the hell is he doing there?"
"My guess is that he was there to rob the safe," Yancy opinioniated. "Rewind for a second, willya?"
The tape reversed itself, then progressed normally. "And...freeze!"
The tape stopped, freezing the image of Steve Packard in mid-escape. "See that, right there?" Yancy pointed to Steve's feet with his pen. "He's wearing hospital slippers." He turned to Macaffey. "Does your repairman always wear those on the job?"
"Not that I know of," Macaffey replied. "and he don't work nights, either."
Maury woke up in the big bed to sunshine and silence. There was no screaming or fighting to make her hide her head under her pillow, no television blaring to drown out the angry words, no wishing to become invisible when her mother came to get her out of bed (when she wasn't having one of her migraines, that is), just blissful silence and the luxury of the big comfy bed. It wasn't just the beginning of a new day for Maury, but the beginning of a new life with her real family.
She clambered out of bed and trotted to the door. Opening it, she saw Mrs. Angel on the sofa, reading a book. Maury walked over to her, partly to give her a good-morning hug, and partly to find out what she was reading. The book, it turned out, was one of those big grown-up paperback novels with very small print and not very interesting to her, but that didn't matter. She stretched out her bony arms and hugged Mrs. Angel. By instinct, she expected to be pushed away. To her joy, Mrs. Angel actually put down her book and hugged her back.
"Good morning, darling," Mrs. Angel said to her.
"Morning, Mrs. Angel." Maury answered back, smiling.
"Well, we'd better see about taking you back to your parents," Mrs. Angel said. "This running away isn't very good, you know."
The smile faded from Maury's face. "But, I want to stay with you," she protested. "I want you for my real Grandma and Criss to be my real dad."
Dimitra sighed and sat Maury down beside her. "Now, Maury," she said sternly. "You know I'm not your real grandmother, and Christopher is not your real daddy, and pretending won't make it so. I don't know anything about your real parents, but you belong to them, not to me."
"But I thought you cared about me!" Maury wailed.
"I do, darling," Dimitra said to her. "I really do. And I want to do what is right for you. Right now, we have to take you back to your mother and father." She lifted Maury's face in one hand. "If there is any more trouble between you, I am right next door, all right? Now, get dressed."
Maury nodded sadly. She knew it was too good to be true. She was going back to that lion's den that was her parents' hotel room to endure more misery, deprived of the heaven with Mrs. Angel of which she enjoyed only a taste. Nothing good ever happened to her. She seemed doomed to a lifetime of sorrow with the two people she hated most.
She pulled on her faded blue dress and packed her things, then slowly walked out of the bedroom like a condemned prisoner. All of Mrs. Angel's reassurances did nothing to make her feel better. If only she knew the truth about those people she called her parents...
Out the door, down the hallway and they were standing at room 1279. Dimitra knocked on the door gently. "Mrs. Brighton?" she called out.
A shrill "What?" came out in reply. Dimitra was startled. Maury clung to her guardian's legs, terrified. Dimitra patted the trembling child's shoulders.
"I have your little girl with me," Dimitra said, trying to remain calm.
The door flew open, revealing a witchlike figure in a pink chenille robe and disheveled hair. Maury cowered behind Dimitra, unable to face the horror standing before her. Dimitra could only stare in disbelief. This is that poor child's mother? she thought. No wonder she ran away twice in one night!
"Who the (bleep) are you?" she growled, glaring at Dimitra with painkiller-glazed eyes.
Dimitra was shocked, then indignant. No one had ever addressed her in so vulgar a manner, not even before her Christopher became famous and moved here to the Luxor. Good grief! Didn't this woman have any sense of civility?
Maury's mother looked down at her terrified daughter. She grabbed a bony arm, dragging the child before her. "You go running off again?" she demanded loudly. "Huh? Did you? Answer me!"
"Mrs. Brighton--" Dimitra began to protest.
"You keep the (bleep) out of this!" Mrs. Brighton snapped at her. "This ain't any of your business!"
One look at the horror on Maury's pale face, tears streaming down her huge sunken eyes, and Dimitra realized that yes, it was her business. No child should have to endure such abuse in her opinion.
Suddenly, Irene Brighton began shaking Maury violently. "How many times have I told you not to run off like that? Huh? Answer me!"
"I'm sorry," Maury sobbed.
"Yeah, well I'm sorry, too!" her mother shouted. "I'm sorry I ever had you! You've been a pain in the ass for me ever since you were born!"
Dimitra was aghast. "Mrs. Brighton!"
"You don't wanna stay here?" she shrieked. "Fine!" She threw the sobbing child at Dimitra. "You can stay with her if you want! Just get out of my life! We got enough money to start over without some snot-nosed kid hanging around our necks!"
The door slammed shut in their faces. Dimitra took Maury by the hand and led her back to her suite. Oh, Lord, she prayed, what am I going to do with this child?
Security guards pushed the crowd of people back to clear the way for the paramedics wheeling Felix Rappaport on a gurney to the ambulance waiting outside. The CEO lay semiconscious on the gurney, a respirator clipped into his nostrils, an IV bag dangling from a hook above his head. Criss held his hand all the way, murmuring words of encouragement. "You're gonna be okay, Felix," he said. "These guys pulled me through lots of times, haven't you?"
The paramedics smiled at the joke, but remained focused on their victim on the gurney. The doors opened automatically, allowing them to wheel Felix to the back of the ambulance unimpeded. He was lifted into the ambulance, the doors shut and secured, then with a wail of sirens, Felix Rappaport was transported to the hospital. Dear Jesus, Criss prayed silently, be with Felix right now. Make him well again. It's all in Your hands. Amen.
"Criss!" It was JD, running up to him. "What happened?"
"I dunno, man," he shrugged. "I was in his office, and he started coughing up blood all of a sudden. I dialed nine-one-one and they came to take him to the hospital."
JD sighed. He couldn't help but share Criss' concern. Felix Rappaport wasn't just their employer, he was a family friend as well. He had done so much for the Sarantakos' family while they were in Vegas, and he had been especially gracious to their mother. Now he was terribly sick, almost dying. JD, too, breathed a prayer for Felix's recovery.
The ambulance vanished from view. There was no sense standing around anymore. "C'mon, man, let's go," Criss said to his brother.
JD nodded. "Yeah, I gotta go see Ma first, okay?"
"Sure," Criss replied absently. He had to go to the Believe rehersal himself. He was already forty-five minutes late, yet after what happened to Felix, it didn't seem to matter much.
Gary Brighton awoke with a start. He pulled the newspaper away from his face and looked around. There were people milling everywhere in the atrium. He saw an ambulance by the main entrance. Some poor guy must've had a heart attack, he thought. His stomach growled. He checked his watch. Holy Geez! It was almost nine o'clock! He had overslept. Well, it wasn't the end of the world. Irene would probably sleep until noon at the latest; she took enough painkillers to put the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in a coma. The buffet would be in full swing, so he'd just grab a quick bite and head for the bus station.
He looked at the bag of money, stashed behind the plant. If he took it with him, he'd get nailed for sure. If he left it here, it'd get stolen for sure. If he checked it with the desk, he may as well surrender himself to the police. Gary looked around for an answer.
There. His suitcase. He discreetly positioned it by the potted plant, concealing the bag from view. He wouldn't be gone long, no one would notice, then he'd be on his way. He was good to go. His stomach rumbled again. Okay, okay, pal! he said silently to his belly. Let's get some breakfast already. He headed for the buffet in the big dining room, his mouth watering. Yeah, it'll be good to have a decent meal for a change, instead of the crap Irene ususally serves up. Oh, man! Am I going to enjoy this!
01-22-2013, 04:48 PM
Can we say social services Dimitra
01-24-2013, 01:11 AM
9:00 am to 10:00 am:
The cast of Believe was already into an hour of dance rehersal and no sign of Criss. The choreographer was growing impatient. What could be keeping him? she wondered. Just because he was a big-name celebrity and this was his show didn't mean he should keep everyone waiting. Today they would be rehersing the levitation act with the aerialists, the trickiest part of the show. What happened? Did he lose his nerve or something?
She watched the dancers on the stage, pleased with their progress. Months of practice and the show was finally getting into its final shape. Still, there was much to be done before opening night. It had to be perfect, right down to the last detail, or it would fail. In the cutthroat business of Las Vegas entertainment, failure was not an option.
The choreographer heard the heavy theater doors clang open, then thud shut again. It had to be Criss--finally! she thought. She halted the dancers in mid-routine and waited for the star of the show to appear.
Criss strode onstage. "Sorry I'm late," he apologized, "but we had an emergency in the offices. Felix Rappaport had to be rushed to the hospital this morning."
Murmurs of worried concern rippled through the troupe. "Is he all right?" Lyn Sheppard asked anxiously.
"He'll be fine, I'm sure," Criss replied with some confidence. "They're the same people who took care of me when I got hurt, so he's in good hands."
Lyn wanted to know exactly what was wrong with the CEO, but the choreographer clapped her hands for order. "All right!" she shouted. "Places, everybody! Aerialists! Take your positions! Criss! Center stage! This is the most risky part of the show, so focus, people! All right, Criss! Five! Six! Seven! Eight!"
The aerialists took flight on their satiny "webs" as Criss preened mystically before his audience, his graceful movements promising something amazing. As much as he tried to focus, the image of Felix coughing up his own blood in his office stayed fixed in his mind. What was wrong with him? he couldn't help but wonder. He hoped it wasn't anything life threatening. But he had to focus on the show. Felix was counting on him. Believe was Criss' creation, but the Luxor was bankrolling it.
Felix, he said to himself, but directed at his friend, this is for you.
Tracey Cullen arrived at the Luxor, full of hope and optimism. Today, she would land a job here at the big black pyramid--she was certain of it. Though she was only sixteen-going-on-seventeen, she was confident that she would soon be employed in some capacity, even if it was the lowest, dirtiest job there. She had to get a job here; she needed to pay her share of the rent of the apartment she shared with her best friend Nessa, five years her senior. Her parents thought her a bad influence on Tracey because of Nessa's punk-Goth style of dress and behavior, the very qualities Tracey admired most. Her outright rebellion led to her emancipation from her parents a few months ago; she was now her own person, free at last from family pressure to be "a proper young lady".
But that freedom came at a cost. She had no high-school diploma, no source of income, no place to live and no one to rely on except Nessa. Tracey struggled with odd jobs here and there, now and then, but it wasn't cutting it. Then, one day, as she was taking the bus back to Nessa's apartment, she passed the magnificent Luxor Hotel. Knowing Criss Angel, her idol and love of her life, lived there, she determined to find work there. It would pay the rent, and--who knew?--maybe get her closer to her Angel.
She had toned down her Goth look for a more "professional" apperarance to have better success in finding employment, wearing a white top and beige slacks sans piercings and other jewelry. No one took notice when she entered the huge atrium. Tracey could not help but stare in wonder. She had heard that the Luxor had the biggest indoor atrium in the world, but she had never believed it could be this large! It was bigger than the entire apartment building she lived in!
Tracey wandered around the huge atrium. Where was the employement office? she wondered. She walked up to the main desk and waited while the receptionist finished checking in an elderly couple and handing them their room keys. The old man must have been deaf as a post, because he kept asking the receptionist to repeat everything she said. Tracey realized this was going to be a while, so she looked idly around, hoping to find the employment office.
Her eyes fell on a large suitcase by a potted plant. No one was nearby. Maybe someone had forgotten it? That was dangerous, as she well knew. She once forgot her purse in a restaraunt back home, and when she went to fetch it, she saw some guy run off with it. He was never caught, and Tracey never forgot it. From that moment on, she made sure her bag was with her at all times.
She walked over to the suitcase, thinking she could find the owner if there was a name tag on it. Sure enough, there was one, right on the handle, from the airport. And there was a black bag beside it as well, but no tag. Carry-on, she thought. She read the tag: Brighton, Gary. But Brighton, Gary was nowhere in sight.
Tracey spied a blue-jacketed official looking person standing nearby. He would know what to do, she thought. She walked up to him and said, "Excuse me, sir."
The blue-jacketed guard looked at her expectantly. "Yes, ma'am?"
"Someone left their luggage by that big plant over there," she said, pointing to the potted plant in the corner of the waiting area.
The guard said nothing, but walked over to where Tracey pointed. Yes, there was the suitcase, and no one nearby, with a black shoulder bag. Good set up for theft, he thought. He picked up the bag and the suitcase. "Thank you, young lady," he said. "We'll take these to the security office for safekeeping."
"Sure, no problem," Tracey said. "Oh, and by the way, where's the employment office?"
"Employment office?" The guard looked bewildered at first. "Oh, you mean Human Resources. That's just down that corridor to your right."
"Thanks a lot." Tracey said, waving goodbye as she headed down the corridor. The guard smiled and carried the bags to the security office, thinking no more of it. He did his job, that was all there was to it.
Dimitra cradled Maury as she cried in her arms. She shushed the sobbing child, patted her head, sang the same little lullabies she had sung to her sons when they were infants, but Maury was disconsolate. She had been cast away by the parents who had raised her, with no one to turn to for help except for Dimitra herself.
That wretched woman! she thought bitterly. What kind of a mother would cast out a poor, defenseless child like that? Was she drunk or somethng? And what about her father? Where is he? Maybe he can talk some sense into her. If only I could find him.
She felt Maury's bony arms around her neck. Poor child must be starved! Let's see...I think they have a buffet downstairs. I can at least make sure she gets something to eat. Yes, she'll feel better with some food in her stomach.
Dimitra dried Maury's eyes with a tissue. "Now, darling, everything is going to be all right," she assured the little girl. "We'll go downstairs and get some breakfast, hmmm? They have all kinds of good things to eat down there, you'll love it. Now, go wash your face and we'll go get some breakfast, all right?"
Maury nodded tearfully. She walked to the bathroom and wiped her face with a damp washcloth. Maybe it would be all right as Mrs. Angel said, she thought. Maybe now Criss and Mrs. Angel would have to take her in now since her mother didn't want her anymore. Besides, where could she go? She was in a strange city, hundreds of miles from home. Who else could take care of her?
Refreshed, Maury and Dimitra left the suite and made their way to the breakfast buffet in the main dining room. While in the elevator, Maury tried to cheer herself up by telling Mrs. Angel about finding Hammie in the elevator last night, and how they were going to find Criss, but she didn't know that Hammie was his cat, and how she always wanted a cat, but her mother didn't like them.
"How did Hammie get into the elevator in the first place?" she asked Dimitra.
Dimitra hesitated. She couldn't very well tell a child about some strange woman breaking into her son's suite, stripping off her clothes and climbing into his bed. It would not do at all. She waffled a bit before answering.
"Oh, he probably slipped out when Christopher left for the evening," she replied airily. "Cats do that, you know."
The elevator door slid open, and they stepped out of the car into the atrium. Chrome-framed signs directed them to the buffet room. Maury looked around the giant dining room with childlike wonder. It was so pretty in there, like a palace fit for royalty. She felt intimidated at first, a poor girl in a faded blue dress surrounded by so much abundance. She never experienced such luxury in her short life, and had never been this close to so much food outside the supermarket back home. And it was all hers for the taking! Maury was so overwhelmed by the vast array of dishes she didn't know where to start first.
Dimitra helped her with her plate, filling it with eggs, bacon and toast, and got her a glass of orange juice. As she did so, Maury noticed that the people who worked there knew her by name. So did a lot of other people getting food at the buffet. It seemed everyone knew and liked Mrs. Angel, and who could blame them? She was the nicest lady in the world. Maury felt lucky to know her.
Maury ate her breakfast ravenously. Her breakfast at home usually consisted of stale cornflakes and milk that she fixed herself. She never had a cooked breakfast before. Maybe she'd be allowed seconds?
Mrs. Angel was talking to some man that had just come in. Not wanting to interrupt, she took her plate and went back into the buffet line to wait her turn. As she stood, she drank in the sights: the snow-white linen tables, the white jacketed waiters and waitresses bringing in food and taking out dirty dishes, the man in the tall white hat carving a huge ham under orange lights, the murmurs of grown-up conversation sprinkled with laughter--it was heaven on earth for a little girl who could not recall a single mealtime without parental strife.
"Excuse me," a polite voice spoke above her head.
Maury looked up. A white-jacketed server looked down at her in a friendly manner. "Is that your plate you're using?" he asked.
Maury nodded. "Well, you can't use the same plate twice. Health laws, you know. You have to use a clean plate every time."
"Oh." Maury responded as she surrendered her dirty plate. She didn't know that she had to use a clean plate every time. They were very clean here, she realized. It was cleaner than home--much cleaner, she thought. Back home, Mom just threw things in the closet or cupboards and went to lie down. She wondered what the health laws were like where she lived.
Maury was nearing the buffet table when she spotted a familiar figure wolfing down a pile of food on his plate. Was it...? Yes, it was! "Dad!" she called out, breaking from the line to greet her father.
Gary Brighton took his face out of his food and looked up. To his surprise and chagrin, there was Maury running up to meet him. He hoped Irene wasn't with her; it would blow his plans for escape. Maury ran up to his side, looking at him expectantly.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded. "Is your mother here with you?"
"Nope," she replied. "She threw me out. She said she didn't want me in her life anymore, so I've been staying with Mrs. Angel next door."
Gary thought fast. The good news was that Irene was still in the suite. The bad news was that he was now stuck with the kid, and that would really cramp his style.
Or would it? The kid said she was staying with some lady named Angel next door to them, God bless her. Maybe he could still make good his escape if he played it cagey enough. He leaned forward toward Maury.
"Okay, sweetheart," he crooned. "You stay with Mrs. Angel for a while longer while Daddy straightens this all out with Mommy. Your Mommy gets sick a lot, and says a lot of things she doesn't really mean, you know? The pills she takes makes her a little crazy. Daddy's gonna go back and talk some sense into Mommy. Now, you go back to the nice Mrs. Angel and stay with her, okay?"
Maury nodded. "Okay, Dad," she said.
Maury skipped back to the buffet line, remembering to take a clean plate with her, just as the man in the white jacket said. Gary downed the last of his coffee and made a quick exit. He had to get out of here, fast.
Dimitra smiled when she saw her eldest son, JD, approaching, and reached out to embrace him. JD, in turn, embraced her back.
"How's it going, Ma?" JD asked.
"Oh, dear, how do I begin?" Dimitra laughed. "It's been quite a night, and this morning!"
JD listened to his mother give a Reader's Digest version of the events of the past six or seven hours: discovering Maury in the lobby with Hammie, chasing "that horrid woman" out of Criss' suite, then her encounter with Maury's mother and her total rejection of her daughter and how she became her unofficial guardian. JD could only shake his head, amused and bemused.
"Wow!" he said, chuckling. "You had quite a night there, Ma."
"I know," she nodded wearily. "But now, what am I going to do with poor Maury. I can't keep her with me, but to take her back to that mother of hers...I just can't do it."
"Look, Lynn and Dima's gonna be here this afternoon," JD told her. "Maybe by then the situation will have resolved itself. If not, we'll call Child Neglect, okay?" He gave her a peck on the cheek. "I gotta go to work. Later."
"All right, dear." Dimitra gave JD a quick hug and let him go back to the office. Maybe the situation will have resolved itself by this afternoon, she thought. She'd hate to have to call the authorities, but if worse came to worst, there would be no choice.
Meanwhile, the CSI team were still analyzing the security tapes from the safe robbery. The more blind spots Yancy and Grissom found, the angrier Macaffey grew. By the time they found them all, the Luxor's chief of security was fit to be tied.
"I don't give a (bleep) how much it's gonna cost the hotel!" he thundered. "We're gonna upgrade that security system! Three hundred and sixty degree coverage, that's what's it's gonna be! The Prez is really gonna (bleep) a brick when he sees this!"
"You know where this Steve Packard lives?" Grissom asked Macaffey.
"Check Personnel," he replied. "They got his info on file."
Thumping and bumping drew Macaffey's attention away from the monitors. He saw Harry Whyte lugging someone's suitcase and a black shoulder bag into the office. "What d'ya got there, Harry?" he asked.
"Someone left these in the waiting area," Harry answered. "Girl reported it."
Macaffey strode over to Harry and the luggage. "Okay, let's see what we got here," he mumbled. He read the luggage tag on the suitcase. "Gary Brighton. Call the desk on that one. What about the other bag?"
Whyte dropped the shoulder bag onto the floor. The flap was not securely buckled, and Macaffey could see a hint of green inside the bag as it fell. He snatched it up and fumbled it open.
"Hey, Grissom!" he called out. "Hey, everybody! Come here for a second, willya?"
The CSI team and the other guards in the office gathered around the open bag. "My God!" Yancy exclaimed. "It's the money! It's gotta be the money from the safe!"
"Who is this guy?" Macaffey demanded. "I want his ass in here yesterday!"
"Now hold on a minute, there, Chief," Grissom said. "We know Packard stole the money, so he probably set it there to hide it. We got no proof that Mr. Brighton stole it. Don't jump to conclusions here."
Macaffey drew a deep breath. "Yeah, maybe you're right," he conceded. "It could be a set up. But find Mr. Brighton and tell him we got his suitcase anyway," he ordered Whyte. "If it is a set up, he won't mention the black bag, he'll just want his suitcase."
"Got it," Whyte said, and marched out to carry out his orders. Macaffey let out a huge sigh of relief. His ass was finally out of the sling. He got the money back, just as he had promised the boss. All they had to do was bust Packard, and everything would be just fine. But there were going to be changes around here, he vowed. Major changes. This wasn't going to happen again.
01-24-2013, 04:36 AM
How's Felix's doing?
01-25-2013, 04:16 PM
10:00 am to 11:00 am:
As JD made his way to the production office, his mind kept replaying what his mother had told him about what happened in Criss' suite last night. How the hell did that Athene woman get in there in the first place? he wondered. Security is supposed to be tighter than that. Not even JD himself was allowed in there without notifying Criss first. If that woman could get in, then anyone could, and that could prove dangerous in the long run. Something was wrong, and he was going to find out.
JD made a quick detour to the security office, determined to get some answers. He strode up to the desk where a uniformed officer sat and demanded to see the chief of security. The officer picked up the phone and called Macaffey's office. JD stood at the desk, fuming as he waited.
Macaffey entered the security office foyer. "What can I do for you?" he asked brusquely.
"I want to know what happened last night in Criss' suite," JD demanded. "How did that Athene What's-Her-Name get in there in the first place?"
Macaffey's face creased into a sour grin. "Athene Christopolous? Yeah, seems she swiped a housekeeper's pass and decided to wait for Criss in his bedroom, wearing nothing but a smile on her face. Your mom chased her out, though--she smacked her ass good. We got it all on tape if you care to see it."
"Okay, I'll see it," JD grudgingly agreed. "But this better not happen again. If anyone can just slip into his suite like that, there's no telling what'll happen."
"Oh, we got that under control, no problem," Macaffey assured him. "It's just a case of securing the housekeeping passes a little better."
"What about Athene? You press charges or something?"
"Nah, she's out of here by noon today. The publicity will do more damage than an arrest for that kind of woman. Come on and see the tape--the guys here are still laughing about it."
JD followed Macaffey to the back of the office where the CSI team was still sifting through last night's surveillance for more evidence to convict Steve Packard. Macaffey sorted thorugh the videocassesttes to find what he was looking for. "Let's see...no...no...ah! Here it is." He held up the cassette. "You'll have to view it somewhere else, though," he said. "We're in the middle of an investigation here."
"What kind of an investigation?"
"Safe got robbed last night," Macaffey told him. "We got the money, now we gotta find the guy who did it. Bring that back ASAP, okay? It's hotel property."
"Sure." JD walked out with the cassette in hand. A robbery, a break-in--these guys had a busy night, he thought.
Felix Rappaport emerged from oblivion to find himself in a hospital bed. What the hell happened? he said to himself. His stomach felt sore, but he was no longer in the searing pain he had felt earlier. What had happened to him? He tried to remember where he was last. The hotel, in his office. Criss was there, but he could not remember why. He had been coughing up something warm and runny--not vomit, but something else. The rest was a blur.
It was a woman's voice he heard. A nurse, maybe? He tried to raise his head, but his whole body felt like a lead weight. All he could do was groan in response. A stout, dark haired woman in a white doctor's coat loomed over him.
"I'm Dr. Shelley Greenburg," the stocky woman said. "How are you feeling right now?"
"Well...a bit sore down there," Felix managed to get out.
"Do you feel nauseous? Any other pain?"
He shook his head no. "Good," said the doctor. "You had a bleeding gastric ulcer in your stomach. We had to remove the damage to your stomach lining and seal it up again. You're going to be on a liquid diet for a while, but you came out of it just fine."
An ulcer. Why wasn't he surprised? Given the stresses of his job, it was a wonder he wasn't eaten up alive by now. A gastric ulcer wasn't an ailment in Corporate America, it was an occupational hazard. "How long am I going to be in here?" he rasped.
"For a week at least," the doctor told him. "Don't worry, the world won't come to an end without you."
"It's not the world I'm worried about," Felix retorted weakly. "It's the Luxor Hotel. Someone robbed it last night--half a million dollars."
"Now, Mr. Rappaport, you just relax and get some rest," Dr. Greenburg said soothingly. "Let the police handle whatever happened to the stolen money. You concentrate on your recovery."
Felix sighed. Easy for her to say, he thought bitterly. She didn't have to answer to the Board of Directors.
Gary Brighton managed to slip out of the dining room as unobtrusivly as he could. He casually strolled over to the potted plant where he hid the money, trying not to attract attention. He saw the potted plant, the chair he had napped in, and the newspaper he had been reading, but the suitcase and bag were gone.
Gary froze. Panic began to set in. He recalled with sudden horror that his name and address were on the luggage tag that was still attached to the suitcase. If anyone found it, he'd be tied to the money and it was good-bye freedom. He'd be heading for prison instead of Margaritaville. God, I am so screwed now, he thought.
"Mr. Brighton?" a man's voice spoke behind him.
He whirled around. A security guard stood there beside him. Gary swallowed hard. Okay, don't panic, he told himself. Maybe you can bluff your way out of this. "Yes?" he said, hiding his anxiety behind a mask of nonchalance.
"We found your luggage here in the lobby," the guard said. "It's in the security office. We'd like for you to come and identify it if you could."
Gary faked a grateful smile. "Oh, man, I can't thank you enough!" he babbled, shaking the guard's hand. "I thought I'd been robbed! God, I must be getting forgetful in my old age, you know? Sure, I'd be glad to go! Lead the way!"
The guard turned and led Gary to the security office. Whew! That was close! he thought. Keep up the act, Gary, and you'll get out of this mess yet. Just play it cool. Whatever you do, don't blow it!
Gary entered the security office with the guard. Macaffey and Grissom stood there, waiting for them. "Hey, guys!" Gary greeted them jovially. "The man says you found my bags in the lobby. I know it was boneheaded of me to leave them there, but I didn't want to lug them in the dining room, know what I mean?"
"Mmm-hmm," Macaffey grunted. "Just for security reasons, can you describe your luggage and what was in them?"
Gary was momentarily paralyzed, but quickly recovered. "Sure, pal, sure," he said, still struggling to conceal his anxiety. "I got a large yellow suitcase, kinda old model, got it from my dad years and ages ago, got my name tag from the airport on the handle. It's got the usual stuff--clothes, underwear, copy of my boarding pass, stuff like that."
Macaffey nodded. "Okay, we got that here. Anything else?"
Now what? Gary thought. If they find out about the money, I'm cooked! Wait! I got an idea! "Well, I do have a black carry-on bag," he said, "kinda beat up. Just more of the same that was in the first, plus some stuff I got for my little girl."
"Any identification on it?" Macaffey asked.
"No, no," Gary replied. "It was a carry on, so I didn't think it was necessary. They already scanned it in the airport terminal, so you won't find any bombs or stuff like that."
"Okay, Mr. Brighton," Macaffey said. "If you would just step this way, please?" He escorted Gary to one of the "offices", opened a door to one, and guided him in.
Gary was perplexed. "Hey," he said, bewildered. "What's going on? Where's my suitcase? What are you guys doing?"
"Just a precaution, Mr. Brighton," Macaffey said to him as he closed the door. "We'll only be a few minutes."
Macaffey left Gary in the "office", still protesting. "I want last night's reports," he told Whyte. "Something about that guy rang a bell when he mentioned his kid."
Meanwhile, in the MindFreak Production office, the entire staff huddled around the television screen watching Dimitra spank Athene Christopolous again and again and again, cheering her and laughing all the way. Johnny Thompson, technical advisor and part of Criss' surreal MindFreak "family" came in.
"What the hell's going on?" he asked curiously.
"Well, it turned out that somebody's been sleeping in Criss' bed," JD replied, "and it wasn't Goldilocks."
Johnny was perplexed. "Huh?"
JD pointed to the screen. "Check it out."
Johnny leaned down to see the screen. Athene Christopolous dashed out the door for the hundredth time, clutching her clothes in front of her naked body, as Dimitra landed yet another smack on her bare ass, to the infinite delight of the staff.
"Who the hell was that?" Johnny asked.
"Some chick, Athene Christopolous, I think," JD replied indifferently.
"You know her?"
"Yeah, she's been making headlines in the tabloids for years. Hell, I remember when she tried to get her claws into Elvis when he performed at the Flamingo in the Seventies."
JD looked up at Johnny. "Elvis?!"
Johnny nodded. "That's right. She bent over backwards to be Queen to the King--literally! She would have succeeded if he hadn't died suddenly. Lucky break, I'd say."
Now it was JD's turn to be bewildered. "That was...what? Thirty years ago? Then, she's gotta be...what? Forty? Forty-five?"
"She's fifty if she's a day!" Johnny said.
JD's jaw dropped three inches. "Fifty?!"
"She's been lying about her age for thirty years, acting like she's still twenty. She's been through three husbands and God knows how many lovers!"
"And Criss was next on the list," JD said grimly. "Geez!" He rewound the tape and ejected it from the machine. "Jennifer? Get this back to the security office, willya?"
Jennifer nodded, taking the videotape from him. "Okay, everybody," JD called out. "Fun's over, we got work to do."
As soon as the MindFreak office settled down to the morning business routine, Ashley sidled up to Jennifer with a conspiriatorial air.
"You still have that tape?" she whispered.
"Right here." Jennifer held up the cassette.
Ashley looked around warily. "You know, I have a YouTube account," she told Jennifer. "I can transfer that tape onto it and...well...you know..."
Jennifer clapped her hand over her mouth to keep from squealing in delight. "Ohmigod! You are so wicked!"
"Hey, after that BS on Celebnooz.com, and you know it is, I think a little payback is in order."
Jennifer was suddenly struck with a thought. "You know what? I bet Athene made up that crap about Criss to cover up her little, you know, 'indescretion', just to make herself look good."
"And to make Criss look bad," Ashley added. "Well, payback is a (bleep). So, what do you say?"
Jennifer handed the tape over to Ashley. "Just make sure it gets back to the security office before anyone finds out."
"Not a problem," Ashley said. "Leave everything to me."
01-25-2013, 07:39 PM
This is going to be fun
01-26-2013, 01:07 AM
11:00 am to 12:00 pm:
The aerialists twirled and stretched their lean, limber bodies on their silken ropes as Criss levitated above their heads. Earlier that morning it had been just another rehersal. Now, with Criss onstage, it became more magical, more surreal. They ceased to be a dance troupe, to be mere mortals, but beings of a fantasy world--Criss' fantasy world. The real world, with all its problems about how they were going to make the next rent payment, or the dental appointment next week, of if they remembered to feed the dog before they left, or the phone call from Mom asking when they were going to get a real job simply vanished with a wave of an arm. It was bliss, it was pure, rapturous joy.
Lyn could only stare at Criss floating above her like his namesake spiritual being. She had to take a pose of exaggerated awe, with outstretched arms toward him, but the awe she felt inside was genuine enough. She had seen episode after episode of MindFreak, yet her admiration for him never waned. Now, here her was, in person, and she was part of his act. No, not "act", that diminished it--the experience that was Criss Angel's Believe. It was a privilege to be on the same stage as Criss Angel, to be part of the unique experience only he could bring.
Criss floated down gracefully to the stage floor, ankles crossed to ease the impact on landing. He seemed to curtsey as his feet touched the wooden floor of the stage, standing still as if he could hear the roar of the crowd. The aerialists slid smoothly down their silken "webs", touching the floor as one.
"Perfect!" cried out the choreographer, jolting Lyn and the rest of the troupe back into reality. "Criss! You were great! You were better than great! All of you! You did just great! Remember to focus on the timing, and don't get distracted. Okay, we're gonna take a break now--be back in thirty!"
Lyn picked herself up from the floor. Her coffee jones was kicking into high gear. Her fellow dancers seemed to sense this, and began to jeer,"JAAVAAA!"
"Lyn's gotta have her jaaaavaaaa!" someone called out behind her.
"Hey, Lyn!" another called out to her. "Save some for the rest of us, willya?"
Lyn pulled out her Thermos. "Don't sweat it! I bought my own." She unscrewed the cap which doubled as a cup, lifted the pour spout and poured out the morning's coffee, still hot and strong since early that morning. The rush of caffeine was pure ecstacy as she drank her magic elixir from the steel Thermos cup.
One female dancer looked at her in chagrin. "Girl, all that coffee is going to rot your gut!" she said.
"Hey, I've been drinking it for years," Lyn countered. "I'm doing fine. It's better than doing drugs, that's for sure!"
While the troupe relaxed, Criss walked out of the theater to visit his mother in her suite; it would be the only chance he would get to see her all day. He'd swing by the production office to see how things were going, then he'd check in with the hotel office to see if there was any word on Felix Rappaport. Again he hoped it wasn't anything too serious. Maybe later he could visit him in the hospital if they'd let him, assuming the worst hadn't happened.
Once out in the atrium, Criss was delighted to see his mother there; it saved him a trip up the elevator, anyway. He was also a bit surprised to see the same little girl in the faded blue dress he saw yesterday standing next to her, holding her hand. This merited an investigation, so Criss waked over to them.
"Hey, Mom, how's it going?" he greeted her in the usual manner.
"Ah, Christopher, how are you?" Mother and son embraced as Maury looked on with envy-tinged yearning. Criss released his mother and looked down at her. "Hey, sweetheart, how ya doin'? Huh?"
"This is Maury," Dimitra told him. "I found her last night here when I went to get some pills. She was carrying your cat."
"How did you get hold of my cat?" Criss asked.
"I found him in the elevator, and we went down to look for you," Maury explained. "I didn't know he was yours."
Criss did a quick memory search and recalled the security tape of Athene Christopolous tossing Hammie out the door. He must have gotten stuck in the elevator when she found him, he thought.
"Now, we have a bigger problem," Dimitra said.
"What's that?" Criss asked.
"Her mother must have been drunk or something, but she cast the poor child out, saying she never wanted to see her again."
"Whaaaaaat?" Criss was appalled. "Man, someone's gotta talk some sense into that woman!" He bent down to Maury's level. "Don't worry, honey, we're gonna straighten this all out. Your mom didn't mean to say all those things she said. She...wasn't feeling well."
"Yes, she did," Maury argued, bursting into tears. "She's always sick with migraines. They never cared about me, they only care about the big bag of money they found! I want to stay with you and Mrs. Angel! I want you to be my real dad!"
"Maury, honey," Criss said softly, trying to placate the child. "I can't be your real dad. Your own dad is your real dad. He may not be perfect, but he's still your dad. Same with your mom. I bet she's really sorry for what she said to you earlier. You're worth more than all the money in the world to them. No bag of money can take the place of a daughter."
Bag of money?
Criss stopped suddenly. The money in the hotel safe! It had been stolen last night, and Maury's mom and dad have it! Were her parents the robbers? Or, if not, how did they get hold of it?
Criss stood up. "Come on," he ordered. "We gotta go to the security office."
Tom Yancy reviewed the last few segments of security tape. He had followed Packard through the Accounting Office into the atrium. He watched as Packard manouvred to a luggage cart loaded with suitcases, and discreetly drop the shoulder bag onto it, then walk away. Later, a hotel employee wheeled the luggage cart to an elevator, unaware of the extra bag it carried. That was all that Yancy needed. Now, it was just a question of whose luggage it was that was carted up by the employee.
Macaffey came in. "Good news, Yancy!" he crowed triumphantly. "We got the bag!"
"Great," Yancy said. "And I got the guy who took it."
He rewound the tape in the machine. "You see here," he said, pointing at the screen with his pen, "Packard was in the Accounting Office--must have taken a wrong turn or something--and then all of a sudden, he's in the lobby. Now, here he is, by that luggage rack, see, and he drops the bag onto it. Now, here comes a bellhop, takes the rack to the elevator with the bag still on it to whatever room he's supposed to."
"So that's how Brighton got the bag," Macaffey said. "Special delivery."
"When did Brighton check in?" Yancy asked.
"We'll check at the desk. But there's something else."
"It seems last night Brighton's kid was found down in the atrium--said her folks were fighting about a 'big bag of money' as she put it. Underwood put it all in his report."
"You got the report?"
"We got it all right. According to Underwood, when he took the kid back up to her folks' room, she told him that her dad won a lot of money in the casino and bought it back in a big black bag. When they got to the room, however, the dad said he'd lost money, instead."
Yancy thought about it. "What room are they in, do you know?"
"I'll look on the report."
"Good. Call the wife, if you can get hold of her. Don't let on about the money, just tell her she needs to come down and deal with her husband. Don't say why, tell her it's pesonal."
"Got it." Macaffey left the video room. As he entered the main foyer, he spotted Criss Angel, the Queen Mother, and a skinny little girl entering. What now? he groaned inwardly.
"Hey, Big Luke," Criss hailed the chief of security. "Felix told me you had a robbery last night."
"Yeah, and we found out who did it," Macaffey retorted. "And got the money back to boot."
"Really?" Criss shrugged. "Well, it's just that little Maury here said her dad got a big bag of money last night and--"
Macaffey held up a massive hand. "Hold the phone!" He bent down to face Maury. "Is your name Brighton, little girl?"
Maury nodded. "Maury Brighton."
"Okay, Maury, why don't you sit over here and tell me everything you know about that big bag of money, okay?" Macaffey guided Maury to a chair by his desk. Dimitra and Criss sat on two plastic chairs by the wall.
Macaffey picked up Underwood's report about Maury and skimmed through it. "Now, Officer Underwood said you were in the atrium last night. Can you tell me why you were down there so late? And, remember, if you don't tell the truth, you and your parents are going to be in a whole lot of trouble."
"Mom and Dad were fighting about the big bag of money Dad bought back from the casino." Maury explained plainly. "When they fight about money, it gets really bad, so I left. They're always fighting about something, but money is the worst."
"Okay. Did your dad say how he got the money?"
"He said he won it in the casino."
"Mmm-hmm. And when Officer Underwood took you back to your hotel room, what happened then?"
"I gave Mrs. Angel Hammie back. I found him in the elevator and wanted to find Criss. I didn't know Hammie was Criss' cat, honest!"
"Okay. The cat doesn't really matter," Macaffey assured her. "What did your dad say to the guard about the money?"
"I don't remember that part," Maury said, shaking her head. "But Dad said not to talk about it to anyone, it was our secret."
Macaffey nodded knowingly. "What about your mom? Did she say anything about the money, to return it to its rightful owner, or anything like that?"
"No, she said something about Daddy having to share it with Mommy."
Again, a knowing nod. It all fell into place: Packard steals the money from the safe, Brighton finds it and decides to keep it for himself, the wife is an accomplice. Cut and dry. "So, what are you doing here now all by yourself?" Macaffey asked.
"I'm not by myself," Maury told him. "I'm with Mrs. Angel here. She let me spend the night in her room next door."
Macaffey looked up at Dimitra. "Ma'am?"
Dimitra told Macaffey about finding Maury with Hammie, then finding her again in the hallway, what Maury said about her uncaring parents, and letting her stay in her suite until morning, then her hostile encounter with Mrs. Brighton, who totally rejected her child in a fit of rage. She had just taken her to breakfast and was on her way back up to her suite when she met up with Christopher.
Criss wore an expression of complete shock at hearing what his mother told Macaffey. He remembered Maury's dad in the casino, annoyed because he had been interrupted by so mundane an issue as his daughter wanting to be fed. And now her poor excuse of a mother throws her out? It was worse than he thought, poor kid.
Dear Lord, thank You for my beautiful, wonderful, sweet mother, who loved us and cared so deeply for us, she put our needs before her own. It's been almost fifty years, but she still has enough maternal love within her to take in a child who had not been so blessed as we had been. And thank You for our wonderful father, who provided us with all our needs, physical, emotional and spiritual as well. I'm only sorry that poor Maury Brighton here hadn't been as fortunate as we had been.
Whyte stuck his head through the door. "We just got hold of Mrs. Brighton," he said. "She says she'll be down in a few minutes."
"Good," Macaffey grunted.
"You gonna question them both at the same time, or what?"
"From what the kid here tells me," Macaffey said, "it would be like putting two junkyard dogs in the same kennel. Keep them separate for now. In the meantime, bring in Grissom."
Whyte disappeared from view. Macaffey turned to Dimitra. "You think you can baby-sit the kid a while longer?" he asked. "Just until we can iron this out? We want to keep her out of the line of fire, if you know what I mean."
"Of course," Dimitra agreed. "Come along, darling."
"Yeah," Criss said. "I gotta be going, too. Later." He left without another word.
Dimitra guided Maury out the door of the security office. Maury looked up at her unofficial guardian with smiling eyes. "Can I play with Hammie now?" she asked eagerly.
Irene Brighton got the call well after eleven. Still reeling from her last migraine, she answered the phone with an irritable "What!?" Her mood did not improve when she was informed that her husband was in the security office, but didn't tell her why. Slamming down the receiver, she pulled on the first thing she saw, the same outfit she wore on the plane, and headed for the security office. What the hell did Gary pull now? she wondered angrily. If he thinks he can pin anything on me, well, he's got another thing coming!
Irate, she stormed into the security office, demanding to know what was going on. Officer Whyte calmly explained to her that her husband had been taken into custody because he picked up the wrong bag on his way out, that's all, and she was needed to identify it, and would she follow him, please?
Irene was livid. "Wrong bag? On his way out? Where the hell was he going, anyway?"
Probably away from you, you mad-dog (bleep), Whyte thought to himself. "Just come this way, ma'am."
Irene followed Whyte into the office. Macaffey met her halfway, but before he could get a word out, she vented her spleen before anyone within earshot about her no-good louse of a husband running off like that and where was he so she could give him a piece of her mind. As Macaffey and Grissom listened to the angry woman's tirade, a plan began to form in the latter's mind.
"Is there audio-visual in that office?" he asked Macaffey.
"I got an idea. I don't think we need to question these two at all."
Macaffey nodded and motioned for Whyte to take Irene into the office. He closed the door behind him while Grissom pulled out his cell phone and pushed a single button on the keypad, then held it up to his ear.
"Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department." came a staticky voice over the tiny receiver.
"We need a warrant against one Steve Packard. Works here at the Luxor fixing slot machines. We caught him on tape robbing the hotel safe last night around midnight and one AM."
"Also, we may be pressing charges against a couple here, Gary and Irene Brighton, attempted theft. Wife is an alleged accomplice."
"Got it. We're on our way. Where are they now, in the security office?"
"The Brightons are, but Packard's still on the loose. He could be in the hotel repair shop. If he is, we'll hold him until you get here."
Meanwhile, in the quieter atmosphere of the Human Resources office, Tracey Cullen was filling out a job application for her future career at the Luxor. It was three pages long and worse than any exam she had ever taken at school; every detail of her life had to be written down on the form, truthful to the best of her knowledge and belief, on penalty of perjury. But if it meant a steady paycheck and seeing Criss Angel, she'd fill out three hundred pages of forms if they wanted to. She had to get a job here, she just had to!
The last page. Finally! All it needed was her signature and today's date, and she was done! She signed and dated the form, then handed the application to the receptionist. Her hand felt cramped from all the writing. She wished she could have done it online. It would have saved her a trip and would have been neater as well. But, it was over, and all she had to do was wait.
The receptionist thanked her and said if there were any openings, they'd call her. That was it. With nowhere else to go, Tracey decided to browse the shops. Who knew? Maybe they were hiring in there. Tracey's hopes rose like a rocket. Maybe they were hiring in the MindFreak shop! Yeah, then she'd be closer to Criss than ever! She'd fit in like a glove there!
Tracey looked up the MindFreak Outlet Store on the wall directory and all but sprinted there. She spotted a clerk at the cashier's counter and asked if there were any jobs available. To her disappointment, the clerk said no. Her hopes dashed, Tracey trudged out of the shop. Not knowing where she was going, much less caring, she found herself in front of the Production office. A tiny quiver of hope stirred within her. Maybe here...?
The door was locked, but Tracey saw a woman get up from her desk and walk towards the door. This was her chance, she thought. This would be better than some shop job. She'd actually be part of the show!
The woman opened the door. "Excuse me," Tracey said, "but I'd like to--"
"Sorry, Criss isn't here," the woman said. "No visitors allowed in the office."
The woman brushed past Tracey and briskly walked on. Tracey was miffed. Damn snob! she thought. Just because she works for Criss Angel doesn't give her the right to be rude! She saw the door about to close again; Tracey grabbed it before it locked again and entered the office. There was another woman sitting in front of a computer, typing away at something. She looked up at Tracey. Ashley, read the name on the plate sitting on her desk.
"May I help you with something?" she asked.
Well, this one was a little more polite than the other one, Tracey thought. "Hi, I'm looking for a job around here," she said. "You have anything available?"
Ashley thought about it as she sized up Tracey. She looked too young to do much of anything, she thought. But, maybe...?
"I think we have an opening in the mail room," she said. "I don't know for sure, but if you leave your name and number, I'll let you know this afternoon." She handed Tracey a pen and sticky notepad.
Hope surged again. Tracey scribbled down her name and phone number on the pad and returned it to the woman at the computer. "Thanks so much," she said. "I really look forward to hearing from you."
"My pleasure," Ashley said, returning to her YouTube account to finish downloading the security tape of Athene Christopolous' little break-in and Dimitra's spanking her bare ass.
While all this was going on, Criss had escorted his mother and Maury back to the suite. "You gonna be okay, now?" he asked.
Dimitra smiled. "We'll be fine. Maybe this whole thing will teach the Brightons how to be better parents."
"Yeah, maybe it will," Criss replied distantly. And maybe the moon will fall out of the sky.
"Lynn and Dima will be here this afternoon," Dimitra informed him. "You come by and see them, yes?"
"Sure I will." He looked down at Maury. "Don't worry, everything's gonna be okay. You got the best with my mom here."
"I know," Maury said, nodding. "I wish I could live with you and Mrs. Angel instead of..." Her voice trailed off.
Criss knelt down in front of Maury. "Look, Maury, I know your folks aren't the greatest parents in the world, but they're still your mom and dad. Maybe the security people will straighten them out, just like Mom said."
He saw the doubt on the child's face. It was no use putting a positive spin on it, he realized--Maury didn't deserve to have parents like the Brightons. They wouldn't even take the time to feed her. Hell, they were practically thieves. Criss embraced Maury with a heavy heart, though not as heavy as Maury's, he thought.
"We'll work something out," he said. "I promise."
01-26-2013, 02:58 AM
I hope that little kid is taking away and adopted by people who will love her as much as Criss and his mother have shown that child
01-27-2013, 07:39 PM
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm:
"Madame?" Crito called out as he tapped on the door of Athene's suite. "All is ready now, madame. The limosine will be here to take you to the airport soon."
"Good," said Athene from the other side of the door. "I'll be down in a few minutes. Make sure my bags are downstairs and ready to go."
"Yes, madame." said Crito.
Athene put the finishing touches of cosmetics on her face, scanning every inch of her face for telltale signs of aging or any other imperfections. Beauty such as hers required a high level of maintenance, and Athene was vigilant in that respect. "Art steps in where Nature fails," her mother had told her. She had perfected that art over the years, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in creams, lotions, foundations, skin tighteners, moisturizers and cosmetics to highlight her best features and conceal the worst. She had been to the finest beauticians all around the world in her quest for eternal youthful beauty. She had kept a physical fitness program that would have exhausted a Marine sergeant. Not an ounce of fatty food passed her lips; she was as slim as a supermodel, and just as firm.
And for what? she wondered. To be cast aside by that ingrate Criss Angel? To be beaten and humiliated by that old witch he called his mother? Well, that little news bulletin she had posted on Celebnooz.com would be the perfect revenge. Even if he denied it, as he surely would, it would tarnish his angelic reputation enough to satisfy her need for justice. No one treated Athene Christopolous in such a manner--no one!
There. Her makeup was perfect. Satisfied, she picked up her handbag and laptop case and left the suite, vowing never to return. when questioned by the media, she would give them a very unflattering review of the Luxor and her unfair treatment there. Bad publicity wourld do more damage than a lawsuit, with less time and money. She would move on, leave this all behind her, let Criss think about what he had missed, find a new conquest who would appreciate her more than he ever would. She was Athene Christopolous, heiress to the Omicron Empire. She would overcome!
She walked to the elevator bank and pressed DOWN. She waited and waited, drumming her fingers on her laptop case. What was keeping that thing? she thought irritably. What was taking so long? She had to get downstairs immediatly. The sooner she got out of this Godforsaken place, the better. Couldn't these elevators go any faster?
Finally, a ding, and the doors of one slid open. Athene stepped into the elevator, jabbed the button for the main floor and waited while the car quietly descended.
Criss took his leave from his mother's suite, still sorrowing over Maury's plight. He mulled over the past events and the child's future as he made his way to the elevator bank. Did her parents really steal that money? No, they couldn't have. They were greedy, granted, but they didn't have the smarts to pull off a robbery like that. The eye in the sky would have nailed them in a minute's time. The dad just found it somewhere and kept it for himself. If he had turned it in, things would have gone better for everyone, Maury included. They couldn't go to jail for keeping something someone else stole, could they?
But what if Maury's mom and dad went to jail, anyway? Criss wondered as he pushed the DOWN button. What would happen to Maury? Were there relatives she could stay with? If not, more than likely she'd end up in a foster home, living with complete strangers who would probably treat her no better than her original parents did. Criss shook his head in despair. So much grief for such a young child to bear. He could only hope for the best, comforting himself with the fact that she was with Mom right now, probably the only lucky break that poor kid ever got in her life, he thought. If only there was something he could do...
A ding from the elevator brought him back to the present. The doors of the elevator on the opposite side opened. Criss went over to the waiting car to enter, but stopped short when he saw who was already in there. Criss swallowed his bile and suppressed his rage.
"Hello, Athene," he said.
Athene gave a brief nod in reply. Criss stepped into the elevator car, keeping as much distance from her as space would allow. It was only twelve floors down, but with her on board, it would be like sinking into Hell itself. There were a lot of things he would have liked to say to her, most of them four-letter epithets, but he prudently held his tongue in such a confined space as this; he'd get his chance in the open air of the atrium.
The descent was mercifully quick; the doors slid open, and Criss shot out of the elevator like a bullet. Normally, he'd have allowed the lady to step out first, but this, he thought maliciously, was no lady. Athene, for her part, was appalled at such lack of courtesy; it was furthur proof of his vulgarity. She stepped out quickly with a disdainful air, high heels clicking on the tile floor like castanets.
Criss watched her as she brushed by him, her pert nose in the air like a pampered show dog. He could see her retinue falling all over themselves to please her, handling her mountain of luggage as if precious artifacts were packed inside. In a moment of spiteful mischief, he decided to get in one final dig.
"Did you remember to pack your panties, Athene?" he sneered.
Athene whirled around to face him, furious. Criss couldn't resist smiling smugly. "You seem to be quite careless where you leave your lingerie," he went on. "Not to mention forgetting what suite you were booked in."
Athene stormed up to him, livid with rage. "At least I was spared contracting some disease from you after your night with those filthy (bleeps) at the club!" she shot back. "To think I wasted my time trying to make your aquaintance!"
"Oh, really?" Criss retorted. "You have quite a way of 'making an aquaintance' with someone, breaking into their rooms and sleeping nude in their beds! You were lucky security let you off with a slap on the wrist--or, rather, a slap on the ass from what I saw on the video!"
Athene stared at Criss, completely flabbergasted. "Yeah, that's right," he said, gloating. "They caught the whole thing on tape--and they're still laughing about it in the security office! Just be grateful it was my mom who caught you in my bed. If it had been me who caught you, you wouldn't have been able to sit down for a week!" He thought about that last statement. "But then, you would have considered that foreplay, wouldn't you?"
"I should file assault charges against that mother of yours!" Athene snarled. "If I had my way, that old (bleep)--"
Now it was Criss' turn to snap. "Hey! You watch what you say about my mother! She's a better lady than you'll ever hope to be! As far as I'm concerned, you deserved what she gave you--in spades! You may think you're all that, but you're nothing but a (bleeping) brat who doesn't know how to act her age, whatever that is!"
Athene drew back her hand and slapped Criss smartly on the face. Criss didn't flinch, or even reel from the blow. "Was that supposed to hurt?" he asked casually. "I felt something, but I'm not sure what it was."
"Get out of my sight!" Athene commanded angrily. "I never want to see you again!"
"That's the nicest thing you ever said to me, Athene," Criss retorted. "Back at you."
Athene spun around and sailed out of the atrium to her waiting limo, her assistant, Crito, shooting Criss a dirty look as he accompanied his mistress out the main doors. Criss flashed an extended middle finger and walked away. He had to get to Production for the new episode of MindFreak.
Tracey Cullen had stepped out of the MindFreak Outlet shop where she had been browsing until it was time to call about the mail room position in the Production Office just in time to witness the altercation between Criss and Athene. She wished she had a camcorder or even a camera phone to capture every deliciously sordid detail. Instead, she had to rely on memory, and she was grateful to have such a good one. She couldn't wait to post this on the LC website.
Criss had mentioned a videotape about Athene being in his room in the nude, and Dimitra catching her and slapping her on her ass. Oh, God! That would be too awesome for words! She would have sold her soul for even a glimpse of that videotape! If she ever had the good fortune to run across it on the Internet, she'd download it in a heartbeat, and forward it to the whole Loyal Community. Who knew? Maybe someone would--or already did.
Jennifer skipped up to Ashley's desk gleefully. "Did you get the download finished yet?" she asked eagerly.
Ashley clicked on the YouTube thread she had created. The three major scenes of Athene entering, Athene tossing out Hammie, and Athene's spanking from Dimitra were condensed into thirty seconds of playtime. It was enough as far as Ashley and Jennifer were concerned.
"Beautiful!" Jennifer lauded her friend. "Now we just sit back and watch the fun!"
Still in the repair shop, Steve was itching to escape. No sooner than he finished one machine that another cropped up in its place to be fixed. The last one needed a replacement part that he didn't have in the shop and which had to be ordered by phone. He hoped that it would be at least a day, so he could put it off and make good his getaway, but as bad luck would have it, the parts warehouse specializing in slot machines happened to have it in stock and would bring it over in forty-five minutes, causing another delay for Steve. If he didn't get out of here soon, he was dead in the water, either by the cops or by Vic. He couldn't make up his mind which was worse.
There was a knock on the shop door. God, he hoped it was the parts guy! Steve walked over to the door and opened it without bothering to ask who it was. Once he saw who was standing there, he wished he had.
"Steve Packard?" said Grissom.
Steve nodded feebly, all hope of escape vanishing like a Criss Angel act. It was over, he kept repeating again and again to himself. It's over, it's all over. He felt the cold steel of police handcuffs grip his wrists behind his back. It's all over, o-v-e-r over.
"You're under arrest for major theft. You have the right to remain silent..."
Meanwhile, Gary and Irene Brighton sat together in the security "office", alone.
"So, where do you think you were going?" Irene wanted to know. "You were just going to leave me and Maury, weren't you?"
"Can it, Irene," Gary growled.
"You just couldn't share any of that money you got, didn't you?" Irene went on. "No, you had to take it all for yourself and make a break for it! Well, you're in a lot of trouble now, mister!"
"I said can it!"
Irene laughed derisivly. "You're the one who's gonna get 'canned', dipwad! How much was in that bag, huh? Enough to put you away for a very long time."
"At least I'll be away from you!" Gary shot back. "And anyway, what are you going to do about it?"
"Hey, I can claim innocent spouse relief," Irene told him. "I can say I knew nothing about the cash you found, or stole, or however you got hold of it, and I'm free and clear!"
"Like hell you are! You wanted that money almost as bad as I did! You're in Dutch, Irene. You're an accomplice."
"Prove it! It'll be your word against mine. Single mother with a little girl, no means of support, her husband a thief--I'll make out like a bandit! You, on the other hand, are screwed like a lightbulb!"
"Hah! You threw Maury out of the suite, remember? You said you never wanted to see her again! She could testify against you in court, you know!"
"She could testify against you, too, Gary. I could plead temporary insanity because of prescription pills, you know."
"They won't buy it."
"Like they won't buy that excuse you gave them about the money, that you got the 'wrong' bag by 'mistake'? I saw you, Gary. You stuffed that bag in the kitchen cabinet to hide it. Then you took the money and ran like the coward you are. Well, you're not going to get away with it, Gary Brighton! I'm gonna make sure you get what you deserve!"
"Yeah?" Gary countered. "Well, I'm gonna make sure you get yours, Irene. Child neglect and abandonment, that's gonna cost you plenty, sweetheart! They could send you to rehab for your little 'drug problem' as well."
"I don't have a drug problem!"
"Oh, yes you do, sweetheart! You were willing to plead insanity caused by prescription pills. You admitted it yourself, remember? Tossing out your own kid like that while you were on drugs? They'll nail your skinny ass good for that! And once they see that little pharmacy you carry around in your purse...well, say hello to Betty Ford!"
"That's minor compared to stealing almost a million dollars cash!"
"I didn't steal it, I just found it, that's all."
"Found it and kept it for yourself? That's theft!"
"Oh, aren't you such a Girl Scout! If it had been you who got hold of that bag, you'd have blown the whole bundle!"
"It's a wonder you didn't blow the whole bundle yourself in the casino!"
"No, I had better plans."
"Like what? Running off God knows where and sticking me with the kid and the hotel bill? You're a louse, Gary. You always have been and always will be. Always thinking about yourself, not giving a damn about me or the kid."
"Like you give a damn about the kid yourself."
"(Bleep) you, Gary."
The door opened. Macaffey and two other officers entered the room. Gary and Irene stood up.
"Okay, folks," Macaffey said. "We're gonna take a little trip downtown. Both of you are charged with second degree theft."
"Hey, wait a minute!" Gary protested. "You have no proof!"
"Oh, yes we do," Macaffey retorted.
He pointed at a small videocamera bracketed on the ceiling. "Smile! You're on Candid Camera!" he sang out. "We got the whole thing on tape! Didn't have to grill you at all. So, you might as well come quietly. We have new accomodations for you in the county lockup!"
The phone rang in Dimitra's suite.
"Hi, Mom, it's Lynn. We're downstairs in the lobby!"
"Oh, hello, Lynn! Yes, I'll be right down! Good-bye!"
Dimitra hung up the phone. She had all but forgotten about Lynn and Little Dimitra coming over today, what with the business of Maury and all. Well, she'd just have to make the best of it.
"Come along, darling," she said to Maury, who had been sitting on the floor watching SpongeBob SquarePants on television. "We have to go downstairs and meet someone."
Maury looked up. "Who?"
"My granddaughter and her mother. Now, let's not keep them waiting."
Maury rose and went downstairs to the lobby with Dimitra. Once there, she saw a lovely blond woman and a dark-haired girl a head taller than she was standing there waiting for them. Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law embraced warmly, then the dark-haried girl hugged her grandmother. Maury started to feel forgotten again. Her own grandmother was nowhere near as nice as Mrs. Angel. She never hugged her Grandma Potter--she hated hugs and she always stank like cigarrettes.
"Lynn, Dima," Dimitra said, drawing Maury close to her. "This is Maury Brighton. She's staying with me for a while because her parents are...well, they got into a bit of trouble."
"Hello, Maury," Lynn said, smiling. "Nice to meet you."
"Hi," Maury choked out. She couldn't get over how beautiful Lynn looked. She looked like an angel in the lonely little girl's eyes, with her blue eyes, blond hair, and beautiful face with its radiant smile. She was almost a princess--an angel princess, she thought.
"And this is my granddaughter, Dima." Dimitra said.
Dima. What a pretty name, Maury thought. Dima had to be the luckiest girl in the world to have an angel princess for a mother and Mrs. Angel for a grandmother. Would there be any room for a nobody like herself with this enchanted family?
"Well, how about some lunch?" Dimitra suggested. "You must all be starved by now."
"Okay, but someplace simple," Lynn suggested. "Nothing fancy."
"Fine. We can go to the deli and have a sandwich."
All agreed. As they made their way to the deli, Dima turned to her mother. "That little girl is awfully skinny," she commented in a semi-whisper. "And her dress looks kinda old."
Lynn held up a silencing hand. "Hush, dear. Let's not be rude. She's a guest with Grandma, so let's be nice to her."
"I'm not being rude," Dima countered. "I just noticed, that's all. I think her mom and dad don't care for her."
"Well, let's just keep a lid on it for now," her mother whispered. "We don't want to pry into anything that's none of our business."
01-27-2013, 08:00 PM
I wonder what's going to happen to her now that mom and dad are going up the river so to speak
01-28-2013, 08:43 PM
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm:
"So I took Maury back to her parents' room the next morning," Dimitra explained to Lynn over lunch in the deli, "and I knocked on the door, and this...woman came out, shrieking at the poor child, saying she didn't want to see her again and all that. It was terrible! I had no choice but to take her in."
"You did the right thing, Mom," Lynn said. "Maybe by now her mother'll be more clear-headed and she can go back."
"I don't know about that," Dimitra said doubtfully. "It seems her parents are tied up in some sort of theft. They could go to jail, and then what will happen to Maury, here?"
"Well, she'll probably be sent to a home somewhere."
A "home"? What sort of "home" would she go to? Dimitra wondered. She looked at Maury's frail form, the bony limbs, the large, sad eyes, the faded dress she was beginning to outgrow--hadn't this poor child suffered enough in her young life already? How could God forsake an innocent child such as she? It was fortunate that her suite and the Brighton's were next to each other, or else Lord knew what would have happened to her.
That particular train of thought led to a more significant destination in Dimitra's mind: their suites were right next to each other, she found Maury in the atrium last night, and then saw her in the hallway, her mother had thrust Maury into her hands, and now they were in police custody, and Christopher had found her by the elevators trying to find her father in the casino so she could get something to eat. It all made sense! It had not been a coincidence Dimitra had found Maury twice in the same night, but the hand of Providence had been at work. God in His Infinite Wisdom had given this neglected child to her, Dimitra, to raise as her own. She could not doubt it as she gazed into those large eyes, filled with a lifetime of suffering and neglect. She would see to it that the "home" Maury would live in would be her own.
Ashley's YouTube thread had barely merged onto the Information Highway than it was siezed upon by eager Loyals. One such Loyal was Lolly Jones, bass player for Filibuster. She was perusing the YouTube site to critique her band's music video when she came across MAMA ANGEL SPANKS ATHENE! Oh, this she had to see! She clicked it on and read the premise:
Athene Christopolous broke into Criss Angel's suite one night, threw Hammie out, and was caught by Mama Angel herself. Dimitra spanked her ass good! Payback for the lies on Celebnooz.com. This is the acutal security tape.
Lolly clicked on the sight and watched all twenty seconds of Athene Christopolous's humiliation at the hands of Mama Angel. Then she clicked on it again. And again. And again. She couldn't get enough of it! But why keep it to herself? A quick log-in to her account on the LC website, a few fill-ins, and it was off and running. She couldn't wait to see the reactions her fellow Loyals would have when they saw this.
Meanwhile, it the Production office, Tracey Cullen waited nervously while Ashley went over her makeshift application. She had to get this job, she thought anxiously. She just had to!
Ashley looked up. "Can you be here at eight tomorrow morning?" she asked.
Tracey's heart leapt. "Yes!" she all but shrieked.
"Okay, we're gonna try you out in the mailroom," Ashley told her. "Since you're under eighteen, you can only work twenty hours at most. I would advise you to get your high school diploma as soon as you can. You're not going to make it without it."
"Oh, I promise! I'll be here! Don't worry, I'll work really hard for Criss!" Tracey skipped out of the office, her heart soaring on angel's wings. I got the job! she said to herself. I got the job! I got the job! Maybe God rewarded my good deed this way when I found that person's suitcase for them, she thought.
JD entered the deli, partly to see his wife and daughter, partly to tell his mother that security wanted to see her concerning Maury. Dima was the first to see her father. "Dad!" she called out, "over here!"
JD waved back and approached their table. "Hi, hon," he said to his wife, kissing her. Then he turned to his mother. "Macaffey wants to see you and--Maury, is it? He wants to see both of you in his office."
Lynn looked at her husband. "Is it serious?" she asked.
"With Big Luke, it's always serious," JD replied. "Maury's mom and dad were busted for theft. He wants both of you in his office."
"In the middle of lunch?" Dimitra said, a bit annoyed.
"In the middle of right now, Ma," JD told her. "Macaffey's not a man who likes to be kept waiting. This was a guy who worked fifteen years in a supermax prison as a guard; he barks, you jump." (1)
The two women and the girls got up from their table and followed JD to the security office. Dimitra was still miffed about the interruption of an otherwise pleasant afternoon. Chief of security or not, he could have waited until later.
(1) (See "The Cave of Sorrow" LC Written Arts section)
"You seen JD anywhere?"
"He got called to the security office for some reason. I think it has to do with Mom and that kid she found."
Criss was taken aback. What was the deal? he wondered. Better go check it out. He left the Production office and headed for security. There, in the hallway, he came across JD, his little family, mother Dimitra and little Maury. "Hey, guys, 'sup?" he asked.
"Ask Macaffey," JD retorted. "He's the one calling this meeting."
They all went in the office. Macaffey stood there like a rock, arms folded across his barrel chest, waiting.
"Okay, Big Luke," JD said, "we're all here. What's the deal?"
"The deal is that Gary and Irene Brighton were charged with possession of stolen property: half a million dollars of hotel cash which had been stolen by a slot machine repairman named Steve Packard," Macaffey explained. "The charges of theft itself was dropped when Packard was identified on tape. If they had returned it, they wouldn't be in this mess. But they wanted to keep it for themselves, and now they're facing jail time. But that's not why I called you here."
Macaffey strolled over to his desk and sat down. "We have to make arrangements to take Maureen here to a foster home, since her folks are going to be in the county lockup until bail's posted." He turned to Criss. "It was nice of your mother here to care for her, but--"
"NO!" Dimitra shouted angrily, clutching Maury to her side.
Everyone looked at her in surprise, the security staff included. Dimitra had almost never raised her voice like that, at least not as far as they could remember. Why was she so defensive all of a sudden?
"I won't have this child taken away from me!" she insisted. "God gave me this little girl to care for, and I'm going to! It was no accident that I found her in the atrium--it was God's will! This all happened for a reason. Maury will stay with me!"
"Mom," Criss murmured hesitantly. "I...I never knew you cared..."
"I do." she said firmly.
"Uh, ma'am," Macaffey spoke with uncharacteristic calmness, "you know, the law don't allow single people to be foster parents, and I know for a fact that you're widowed, I'm sorry to say, so, uh, Social Services gotta find a couple for her to live with."
Criss couldn't help but notice the crushed look on his mother's face, and it stabbed him in the heart. She firmly believed that God had given Maury to her to care for, and now the law said she couldn't because Dad was dead. Couldn't they make one exception in this case? The stony expression on Macaffey's face told him no. The law was the law in Big Luke's eyes, and no amount of sentiment would change that.
Lynn turned to JD. "Hon, do you think we could...you know..."
"What?" JD shrugged.
"We could take in Maury ourselves," she suggested. "Your mother told me all about her in the deli, and she really loves her."
"Take in a strange kid into our home?" JD wondered, unsure.
Take in a total stranger just like that? We can't just take in a child like a stray puppy! It wouldn't work out. And what about Dima? She's too used to being an only child. Would there be any conflict between them? Probably. And yet, he pondered inwardly, Mom did really care for the poor kid, and Maury would get lost in the system if she was sent to a foster home. God knew who would take her in, and how she would be treated. Well, if Lynn was willing...
JD turned to his daughter. "Dima, honey, your mother wants to take in Maury here for a foster child. Are you willing to go along wth it? It'll mean giving up some privacy, but it'll only be for a while."
Dima looked up to her father. " If Mom and Grandma want her, then it's okay with me. I don't mind."
JD smiled. "Good. Then it's settled. Macaffey!" he said aloud to the chief at his desk. "You can call Social Services and tell them my family's willing to take in Maury ourselves. It'll save them time and paperwork."
Dimitra embraced her eldest son. "Oh, thank you, JD, darling! May God bless you!" She turned to Macaffey. "Maury can stay with me for the rest of the day until you get everything worked out. You can call me in my suite if you need me."
Macaffey shrugged. "Fine with me," he said. At least he'd be spared a visit with Social Services. It was out of his hands. "You work it out with the SS office. I got work to do."
As the Sarantakos family left with their newest member, Criss turned to his mother. "You got her clothes with you?" he asked.
Dimitra thought for a moment, trying to remember. "I think that's all she has, what she has on already."
Geez! Criss thought, appalled. Not only don't they feed their kid, they don't even get her any clothes! They should tack on child neglect on top of all the other charges against them! He pulled out his wallet and withdrew several large denominations. "Here, go buy her some new clothes, willya? She looks like a rag doll." he told his mother.
Dimitra's eyes widened at the sight of so much money. Back in the day, she could have clothed her sons with a small fraction of what Christopher had given her. Children's clothes couldn't be that expensive, could they? she wondered.
Criss felt two skinny arms wrap themselves around his hips. He stooped to pick up Maury in his strong, muscular arms. The sad little face he had seen by the elevators the previous day was now smiling at him.
"You know, I wanted you to be my daddy," Maury confessed. "and Mrs. Angel to be my grandma."
"Me?" Criss was flustered. As much as he loved children, fatherhood was a step he never bothered to contemplate, or was afraid to. "Well, I can't be your daddy, but I can be your foster uncle."
"So, can I call you Uncle Criss?"
Criss smiled brightly. "Sure, you can!"
Maury hugged her Uncle Criss' neck. "I love you, Uncle Criss."
Criss felt a lump rising in his throat. "I love you more, Maury."
The steel doors of the county lockup rumbled open. Two guards escorted two of the latest arrivals to their cells, their footsteps echoing loudly as they trod slowly down the long cinderblock corridor. Steve Packard, arrested for grand larceny and breaking and entering, and Gary Brighton, charged with possession of stolen property. His wife, Irene, had been taken to the women's cell block in the other wing on the same charge. Neither had given any thought as to the fate of their daughter, Maury. At least he didn't have to put up with her nagging anymore, Gary told himself, trying to cheer himself up.
The two prisoners were unshackled and pushed into their cell. The heavy door boomed shut behind them. Gary sat on the bottom bunk, Steve swung his legs up to the top. There was an awkward silence. Neither felt like making conversation at that moment.
I wonder if they got Vic, Steve thought to himself. I know he didn't get the money, but he'd be held as an accomplice. It was his idea originally to rob the safe in the first place. Now he's free and I'm rotting in jail. This blows!
If I hadn't overslept like that, Gary said to himself, I'd be free as a bird! They had that room bugged all the time we were in there and they heard everything! How the hell was I to know that money belonged to the hotel? If I had all that money, my problems would have been solved. This blows like beans for lunch!
Steve turned on his stomach. I still don't know what happened to that bag of cash. Did the guy whose luggage was on the rack return it to the hotel? Or did the bellhop take it for himself? Guess I'll never know.
Gary lay down on his bunk. Okay, the hotel got its money back. You'd think they'd let me off already. Geez! They should thank me for finding it for them. Bust the son of a (bleep) who actually stole it and let me out! I'm innocent already!
How did they find out it was me, anyway? Steve wondered. I kept within the blind spots. Where did I slip up? I blew it!
How did they find out I had that bag, anyway? Gary asked himself. I hid it behind the plant. Who found it there? I blew it!
Felix Rappaport awakened to the sound of his cell phone deedling away. It had taken all his powers of diplomacy, honed from years of working in the hospitality business, to get it from the nurses who had insisted he just take it easy and rest.
"Hello?" he answered groggily.
"Hey, boss!" It was Macaffey, sounding unusually upbeat. "Heard you were under the weather. How'd the ulcer surgery go?"
Word gets around fast, Felix thought. "I'm okay," he rasped.
"Well, here's something that'll make you feel better," Macaffey crowed. "We got the money stolen from the safe back and the guy who stole it! Turned out to be the slot machine repair guy, Packard."
Felix managed a smile. "That's great, Macaffey. You're the best. Keep up the good work."
"Don't you worry about a thing, Mr. R.," Macaffey assured him. "Everything's under control. I took the liberty of upgrading the video surveillance around the Accounting Office. We need to open up a few blind spots; we got total visual now."
"Good, Luke. Good job."
"Now you take it easy and get some rest, Mr. R. God's in His Heaven, all's right with the world! Get well soon--all the guys here are pulling for you."
"Thanks, Luke. 'Bye."
Big Luke Macaffey hung up the phone. He drew a big, satisfying, relieved sigh, the kind of sigh that followed a tough job well done. It was good to have the pressure off, at least for a while. Fifteen years at a supermax prison had taught him not to be complacent. Even in his semi-retirement career as chief of security at the Luxor Hotel, there were problems. Hell, after last night, it was a wonder he didn't have an ulcer!
01-28-2013, 10:53 PM
I had a feeling she was going to end up with JD and his wife
01-29-2013, 06:02 PM
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm:
"Hello?" Felix groggily answered on his cell phone.
"Hey, Felix," Criss' voice came from the other end. "How ya doin'?"
"Hey, Criss, I'm okay. The docs say I'll be out in a week. How's everything in the hotel?"
"Fine. That money that got stolen last night's safe in the bank, and the guy who robbed you is in jail. Typical Hollywood B-movie ending."
Felix smiled a little; he was still too weak to laugh. "How's the show coming along?"
"Show's great, coming along fine. Look, don't worry about a thing, okay? Just get better soon. We're all praying for you."
"Thanks, Criss. See you in a week."
Macaffey watched as the electricians reattached the overhead cameras to the ceiling of the Accounting Office. It had been so simple, no major expense required (which pleased the beancounters among the Board of Directors), just some refocusing and magnifying around the blind spots. The door leading to the safe was now on visual, and the combination lock was upgraded with a thumbprint digital scanner programmed to read the prints of only those with approved access to the safe. Master keycards would no longer allow access to the office or the safe. Only those who worked directly with cash, such as accountants and cashiers would be permitted, and even they were subject to the greatest scrutiny.
Macaffey called the surveillance room. "How's visual on Twenty-Seven?"
"Good," came the answer. "Better than ever. You're coming in clear. If you could move to the corridor on the right, we can check for any blind spots."
Macaffey stepped to the right corridor, one of the blind spots the camera crew uncovered during the investigation. "Okay, how's that?"
"We got you on visual, no problem. Looking good."
"Roger that." Yeah, they were looking good now. Still, he wished it had been better in the first place. Why hadn't these blind spots been discovered before? If they had been covered as they should have been, Packard would have been busted within five minutes instead of a couple of hours ago. It was inexcusable that a lousy repairman could just walk in like that and help himself to half a million dollars of hotel money--especially on his watch.
Macaffey made his way out of the Accounting Office and to his own. Well, it wouldn't happen again, that was for sure. Fifteen years of guarding gangsters and murderers in one of the nation's supermax prisons taught him that no matter how digilant you were, someone would find a way to beat the system. Mechanical errors were easy: find it, fix it, forget it. But no matter how technologically sophisticated your surveillance equipment was, human error would always worm its way through. It took only a split-second to miss something on the monitor only to be discovered later with the hindsight of videotape. A guard couldn't look in front and in back of him at the same time; he could be dealing with one crisis while an even bigger one was taking place. His men were tough, disciplined and well-trained, but they were still human, and criminals knew that. They could be distracted, they could be conned, they could be overtaken with weapons, they could even be offered bribes, but they could overcome all that and more with the help from the eye in the sky. His men weren't perfect, but they were the best he had.
Macaffey sighed. Well, live and learn, he thought. It was like his what his Dad told him years ago: If you're not making mistakes, you aren't doing anything. It was good advice, God rest the old man's soul. From the small errors he made, he became a better guard, both in the prison and here in the hotel. Still, he wished he had had some of the high-tech surveillance they had now in the hotel installed in the prison when he first worked there fifteen years ago. It would have made his job a lot easier. Oh, well. Life goes on.
Ah, well, Athene Christopolous thought to herself as she boarded her plane for LA, life goes on. It was Criss Angel's loss, not hers. There were plenty of young men who would love to be seen with her. So many up-and-coming young actors with muscular young bodies and devilishly good looks to choose from. What was one vulgar, uncouth magician compared to them? Chalk it up as a mistake and get on with life. He wasn't worth losing sleep over.
High in the sky over Nevada, Athene took out her laptop and logged in. She wanted to see how her little smear campaign against Criss was coming along. In the op-ed page of Celebnooz.com, there were no responses. Well, it was early yet; she had only posted last night. All in good time, she thought.
As she scrolled down the page, her name caught her eye alongside a YouTube thread: MAMA ANGEL SPANKS ATHENE! Shocked, she clicked on the site. There, on the Internet for all the world to see, was the security tape from her break-in and her humiliation from Criss' mother. Athene watched in horror as her naked body was shown in black and white, uncensored and unedited, her bare behind getting slapped sharply by that old witch, Criss's mother, Dimitra.
Athena screamed all the way to LA.
Lyn Sheppard and her friend, Stacy, were on their afternoon break from rehersal. Lyn sipped her third cup of coffee of the day while Stacy stuck to bottled water as they lounged on the ratty sofa in the green room.
"Still thinking of last night?" Lyn asked Stacy.
Stacy nodded dreamily. "Mm-hmm. God, I wish we could do that again. With Criss, I mean."
"Hey, you don't want to be mixing business with pleasure, do you?"
"With Criss Angel, what's the difference?"
Both women laughed. They were still giggling like schoolgirls even when they were called back to rehersal, to the bemusement of the rest of the cast.
It was the Filbuster's first rehersal with Rick Martin, their new drummer. To Lolly and Pierce's surprise and delight, Rick was not only a talented drummer, but a quick study--he had the drum parts down after a single reading! Not only that, he had a few original songs he had written himself that were sheer masterpieces. Between the three of them, they had enough material for a new CD. This guy istoo good to be true, Lolly thought.
Yeah, she reflected somberly. Too good. Even without Filibuster's high turnover rate with drummers, it was a distinct possibility that a guy this talented could go solo and be successful in his own right. Was Rick using them as a stepping stone to his own fame and fortune?
Lolly shook her head. No, it couldn't be true. Rick had been a waiter before this--he wanted to be in a band so bad and the opportunity came up when Jason became suddenly unavailable, so he took advantage of it. It was a lucky break for both Filibuster and for Rick Martin. Maybe it was fate, or good karma, or divine intervention that Rick came into the band when he did. Why question good fortune?
"Okay!" Rick called out, holding his sticks aloft. "One, two, three, four!"
The band crashed into their number, perfectly timed, perfectly performed. No doubt about it, Lolly thought as she thumped on her bass guitar, they clicked!
"MindFreak Productions, may I help you?"
"Hi, this is the manager from Body English. Could you send Criss over to pick up his car sometime? He left it here last night."
"He left his car there? How did he get home?"
"Someone drove him home because he thought he was too drunk to drive. We've been keeping an eye on it since. This thing's too expensive to keep here, so could you either call a wrecker or have him come over and pick it up?"
"I'll give him the message."
"Thank you. Good-bye."
"So, what are you in for?" Gary Brighton asked his cellmate.
"Grand larceny and bee-and-ee." Steve replied drily. "You?"
"Possession of stolen property. I...found this bag of money, see..."
Steve shot bolt upright. "Bag of money?" he echoed. "Where? How much?"
"Well, it fell off a baggage rack in the elevator, and I took it back to my hotel room. I dunno how much was in it, but it was a helluva bundle. Close to a million, I'd say."
"What'd you do with it?"
"I...misplaced it somewhere, and security pinned it on me 'cause it was next to my suitcase."
"You mean you were trying to take the money and run, you mean."
"Hey, I found it and now the hotel's got it back, okay? So, just drop it! I got pinned for it, and now I'm going to jail for it while the (bleeper) who really stole it is still on the lam!"
Steve could not help but smile. "You want in on a little secret?"
"Like what?" Gary grumbled irritably.
"I'm the (bleeper) who stole it."
Gary rose out of his bunk and faced Steve, astonished and outraged. "You?!"
Steve nodded. "Yeah, me."
"You son of a (bleep)!" Gary exploded. "You set me up! You framed me, you (bleeper)!"
"No, no, no, I didn't set anyone up," Steve protested. "I just set it on the cart because security was crawling around, then it disappeared. I didn't even know you until now. You set yourself up when you found that money and kept it for yourself. What were you going to do with it, huh? Run off to Mexico or something?"
"I oughta kick your sorry ass, you (bleeper)! Because of you, I'm getting sent up the river, along with my wife!"
"Ohhhhhh!" Steve purred. "Wifey's involved too, huh?"
Gary wanted to strangle his cellmate, but realized it would be futile. No matterh what he did, it wouldn't change things. "Ah, can it!" he snarled.
He slumped down onto his bunk again. "If she had gotten her hooks into that dough, she'd have blown the whole bundle in a day. Then where'd I be? Stuck in the same dead-end job with a (bleep) of a wife and a snot-nosed kid, that's what!"
"She get busted, too?" Steve asked.
"Yeah, she got busted, too. Cops heard and recorded everything we said while we were in custody, so she can't file for innocent spouse relief. She's going up, just like me."
"What about your kid?"
"Ah, I couldn't tell you," Gary shook his head. "She'll be fine, I guess."
She was fine, indeed. In fact, Maury Brighton couldn't be better off. The Clark County Social Services office, Child Neglect division, were all too happy to grant JD and Lynn temporary custody of her "until furthur notice" as they put it. It spared them the tedious wading through lists of potential homes and endless contacts and screenings of families. Criss gave JD the rest of the afternoon off for him and Lynn to fill out the paperwork and arrange the amount of the monthly foster care stipends. Not that the Sarantakos actually needed it, of course. JD's income working for Criss was more than sufficent to raise another child, and Criss himself volunteered his support to help Maury. The poor child had nothing, not even a decent dress to wear, and no niece of Criss Angel's, foster or otherwise, was going to go about in rags starving to death.
While JD and Lynn negotiated the terms of Maury's foster care, Dimitra took her new foster granddaughter out shopping for a much needed new wardrobe. Dima accompanied them, pointing out what was hot and what was not when it came to fashion: The punk-rock look was out, she said, but glam-rock was very in, especially pink. California surfer colors were really hot, especially Crocs shoes. L. L. Bean was good, but kinda pricy, as was Abercrombie and Fitch. Gap Kids was so out! she said, so stay away from there. Her grandmother, however, completely ignored her, choosing to stick with the basics. It was good enough for her sons when they were growing up, it was good enough for Maury. Indeed, it was better than whatever came Maury's way, and that was little enough as it was. The clothing allowance Criss had given her was generous enough, but Dimitra still kept an eye out for bargains. Old habits died hard, especially when it came to spending money.
Maury was overwhelmed by the huge selection of clothes in the store where Dimitra had taken her. She honestly didn't know where to start. Dimitra held up some nice summer dresses in front of Maury's skinny body to see how they would look on her. She was lucky enough to find some cooler weather clothes on the clearance rack that would fit her as well. Then it was on to the shoe department. Dima found some Skechers sneakers for her, while Dimitra had her try on a pair of black Mary Janes, "for church", as she explained. Maury didn't argue with any of the choices made for her; it was the first time she had anything new to call her own. It was a thrill just to be there in the store, let alone have anyone buy anything for her.
Outerwear was next, as desert nights could be so cold. Maury skipped along with her new grandmother and foster sister, happy as a lark. Her misery was past; she had a new family now, and not just any family, either. Though she had wished for Criss Angel to be her daddy, he became the next best thing instead: her uncle. And Mrs. Angel was her grandmother, just as she had wished. Now she was getting new clothes and everything. For the first time in her short life, Maury Brighton had a reason to smile, and it felt good.
And how was your day?
01-29-2013, 07:29 PM
That's interesting a grandmother like Dimitra that knows what's in and what's out. That's a cute story Veritas Thumbs up
01-29-2013, 11:28 PM
05-12-2013, 07:01 PM
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05-12-2013, 08:52 PM
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05-12-2013, 10:14 PM
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