None So Blind
This may prove to be the most controversial story I have ever posted here. I promise to do my best to keep within the guidelines, but I may end up offending someone out there anyway. The following story deals with the issues of race relations and racism, bigotry and prejudice. This is a work of fiction--all characters in this story, save for Criss Angel and his family and staff, resembling any persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Aliziveta Sarantakos stepped cautiously through the exit into the airport terminal, clutching her canvas bag to her breast like a child clinging to her security blanket. She was a small, frail woman somewhere in the middle of her forties, staring at the new world around her with frightened dark eyes. Her faded, shapeless grey dress was wrinkled from hours of sitting in cramped airplane seats from Greece to Hawai'i to Los Angeles to Las Vegas. In two days, she would be in New York, where she hoped to find her family and stay with them. Once in New York, she would be safe at last.
Aliziveta wandered around the terminal, alone and confused. She missed her Uncle Sergio, the last person alive who had been kind to her. She had cared for him for the last ten years of his life until he died at the incredible age of one hundred years. Even as a semi-invalid, he always seemed to find some joy in life, whether it was his favorite fish dinner, a beautiful sunset, or the laughter of children playing in the street. Now, he was gone, and all her other relatives were either dead or living in America. She had considered entering a convent, but the need for family bonding overruled that option. In desperation, she searched through the old family Bible and found a distant relative living in Long Island, New York, USA, and with the small inheritance from Uncle Sergio's estate, she made the long journey from her homeland to America.
It had been a long, roundabout trip, but it was the best the man at the travel agency could do under the circumstances. All the direct flights had been booked, not to mention too expensive for her. This jumping from city to city wore her out. Hawai'i had been nice, but she had been there only for a few hours and so couldn't go and see the sights. Los Angeles had only been an hour's delay, and she almost missed it because she couldn't read or speak English. Now, here she was in Las Vegas for the next two days, with nowhere to go and very little money to live on. Maybe there was a Greek Orthodox church somewhere...?
Bracing herself for whatever was out there, Aliziveta clutched the canvas bag containing her precious few possessions and ventured outside the terminal. She wished she could read and speak English so she could find her way around. Her only guide was Uncle Sergio's battered Greek-English dictionary that she kept inside the pocket of her shapeless dress. At least the signs inside the airport used symbols instead of words. Outside the terminal, Aliziveta looked around at the alien landscape before her. Nothing but black asphalt, concrete and steel. She wished she could see a tree again, or at least a flower. Sighing deeply, she began to walk away, not knowing where she was going, her clumsy shoes creaking with every sorrowful step.
Holy Mother, guide me, she prayed. Help me survive in America. Help me find my relatives so that I may have a home again.
It was growing dark. Aliziveta could see bright lights in the distance from the terminal. One light in particular seemed to stretch all the way to Heaven itself like a glowing blue-white pole. She had never seen anything like it. Curiosity overcame fear as she made her way toward the light. She had thought, or rather hoped, that she could just follow a straight path to it and she would be there. Instead, she found herself lost in a twisting maze of streets she could not recognize, her senses bombarded with loud noises from the cars passing by, and the flashing glare of neon signs. Scantily clad women and gruff looking men sauntered down the sidewalks, oblivious to the poor woman in the faded blue kerchief and shapeless grey dress clutching a canvas bag to her bosom.
Hours passed. The night deepend. Aliziveta was tired and hungry. She hadn't found anyplace to stay nor anyone to help her. Exhausted, she slumped onto a bus stop bench and began to weep, clinging to her canvas bag as if it was her only friend in the world. She felt so alone in the world, so lost and abandoned. If only she was in New York with her relatives; they'd be sitting around a big table right now, feasting and laughing, talking about this and that, warm and safe and happy. But she couldn't go to New York until two days' hence.
Her stomach growled. If she didn't get any food, she thought, she would not live long enough to catch her flight to New York at all.
Criss lay in bed, alone. All alone. For all of the publicity, the adulation of the Loyals, the beautiful women surrounding him at LAX or Body English or any of the other clubs, Criss Angel was probably the lonliest man in Las Vegas. Oh, sure, he had friends, fellow celebrities like himself with whom he hung out, and he had dated some of the hottest females around, but he still felt lonely. Had he spent too much time cultivating his rock-star image that he simply could not find that special someone who would love him for who he really was? He had basked in the glow of applause, savoring the thrill of the crowd's astonishment and delight, but here in his suite on top of the Luxor, where no one was allowed in without security clearance, he felt cut off from the rest of the world. He was the greatest magician since Houdini, accomplishing such spectacular feats of illusion and escape beyond what the legendary King of Handcuffs had done in his time, but he was still a man, with a man's needs.
In an idle moment during taping, Criss had logged onto one of the fansites to read what the Loyals were saying about him. On a whim, he read some of their fanfictions. There was one where he fell in love with a mermaid and found himself being transformed into one, another where he fell in love with his personal assistant, and another where he met this girl from the South who kept calling him "Boo". Many stories had him fathering illegitamate children, to his embarrassment. Some portrayed him as a vampire, or a wizard. There were a lot of stories starring his CSI: NY character, Luke Blade, either as a long-lost twin brother or as an anti-hero (one writer went so far as to actually concoct an entire biography about him!), and even he got lucky with the ladies, for good or ill. Yet they were all pretty much the same--Criss meets girl, Criss dates girl, Criss loses girl, Criss gets girl back, Criss marries girl and has a family. He had quite a love life in fiction, but in reality he had no one. His name had been linked to many famous women in the past--Britney Spears, Miss Nevada, Gisele, among others, but a link was not the same as a bond.
Suddenly his thoughts turned back to JoAnn, his ex. No, he sternly told himself. No remembering. That ship had sailed; JoAnn was history as far as he was concerned. It had been great, but now it was gone. Over and done with. Build a bridge and get over it. He shoved all thoughts of her out of his head like a bar bouncer giving a drunk the bum's rush.
Still, he yearned for someone to keep him company, a warm body and soft hands to caress his aching muscles and a shoulder for him to cry on when he needed it, someone to share his thoughts and dreams as well as his flesh. But every girl he met seemed to lack something he wanted, some quality that he just could not put his finger on. Was he too choosy, too particular? Should he lower his standards a little, be less of a perfectionist in his relationships and more open-minded?
Criss clutched the bed pillow closer to him. Oh, God, how he yearned for female companionship tonight! The sensation of skin on skin, the heightening of the senses between two people, the pure physical pleasure of it all--how he longed for all that! He began to envy his eldest brother, JD, and his wife, Lynn. Criss may have all the material wealth, but JD had the love of a beautiful woman and a real home to go to at night instead of this gilded cage on top of the Luxor Hotel. The lonliness welled up inside Criss' soul at the thought of JD's home and family life until the tears spilled onto the pillow.
Is there no one for me? he asked God as he wept. Is there no one with whom I can share my life? Am I condemned to spend the rest of my life alone? Even Houdini had Bess. Where is my Bess? Where is my special someone?
None So Blind
Mikayla Winslow packed the last of her clothes and other belongings, taking care not to wake her boyfriend--or rather, her ex-boyfriend--sleeping nearby. It was four AM, and she hadn't slept a wink all night, not after finally realizing that the man to whom she had pledged eternal love and devotion was a player and she had been just another filly in his stable of conquests.
Leron had been charming in the beginning, just like all the others, but once again the old pattern of infidelity had repeated itself. At least he wasn't insanely jealous like Darnell, who went ballistic whenever she so much as looked in the general direction towards another man but had played the field with reckless abandon himself. It took a restraining order to keep him away from her, but in the end he moved on to greener pastures, all but forgetting their eight-month relationship.
Leron, however, held the record for tenure: a year and a quarter. Mikki really, honestly, and truly believed that he was The One for her, the cycle of going out with cheaters finally broken and she would be happy at last. In the end, however, the truth was revealed--she had caught him with his pants down in more ways than one with some stripper from a local club in a back alley where she had seen them being more than a little intimate with each other. That happened the previous night, and Mikki said nothing about it, but had made up her mind to leave him right then and there, sparing herself his lies and excuses. Now, as she closed the lid of her suitcase, she began to make plans for her future. She had only one last semester to go before getting her Associates Degree, and she had already put in her resumes with various law firms around the country. She could stay with her sister until graduation, or at least until she found a position, and then she could finally get a place of her own. She had a little money saved up for at least a deposit on a small apartment in North Las Vegas or wherever Fate sent her. One thing was for certain: she was not going to be a victim anymore. No more hooking up with cheating, lying men. From now on, Mikayla Charlotte Winslow was her own woman.
Strengthened with this resolve, Mikki picked up her suitcase and her purse and slipped out of the bedroom. When she reached the living room, she took out a sheet of white legal paper, folded into thirds with Leron's name written on it, and set it on the sofa arm, along with the housekey Leron had given her when she moved in with him. There, she thought. She had severed all ties with Lying Leron for good and always. She opened the front door and walked out of the house she had called home for over a year for the last time, and into her life.
The small Hewlett-Packard Photosmart copier diligently and tirelessly churned out flyer after flyer as it sat on Reed deBlanc's desk. Reed picked up the latest batch and proofread them. No smears, no jumbled lines, just a pure professional finish; even the red and white sword and swastika emblem of the Aryan Church of America came out beautifully. Reed smiled, satisfied over the machine's performance. It beat hell out of the old Xerox machine they used before, that giant behemoth which took up a quarter of the room space and kept jamming up whenever they printed more than four or five copies. This more compact job made only nine copies at a time, but it not only performed more efficiently, but also made color copies and scanned photos into the computer. A hundred dollars well spent, thought Reed.
Reed took another sip of coffee. He had been working all night producing flyers announcing the ACA's demonstration in Sunset Park this coming Saturday, but if it kept Barack Obama out of the White House, it would be worth it. He and his fellow Aryans swore an oath to Almighty God upon the Bible and the American flag that a black man would never set foot in the Oval Office, and took upon themselves the sacred and civic duty to warn Mr. and Mrs. White America away from voting for him. The demonstration would show the country once and for all the perils it faced if Obama was elected.
Reed deBlanc was the official secretary for his branch of the ACA, elected for his superb command of the English language, his writing skills and his almost photographic memory. It was he who logged the minutes for every meeting, drafted the memoranda, produced the monthly newsletter on the Web, and printed out the flyers for the church's demonstrations as he was doing that night. Gary Wimple, the leader and "minister" to the church, had nothing but praise for deBlanc.
"Swear to God, Reed," Wimple would say whenever he delivered the goods, "this church would come to a screeching halt if not for you."
Reed tried not to let such accolades go to his head. Like the rest of the church, he was on a mission, and that mission was bigger than he was. Yet he could not help being a little proud of himself and his accomplishements. He was good at what he did, and if what he did helped the mission, then so be it, he did his part.
The copier stopped rolling out flyers. Reed looked at the small control panel and noted that it was out of toner. Already? he thought. He looked at the stack of flyers already printed and ready to go. There had to be at least a hundred of them, he figured. Yeah, that should be more than enough. Besides, he didn't have another cartridge of toner to spare, which meant another trip to the office supply store come daybreak. Better get some more paper while he was at it. He could expense it on the church's account.
He turned off the little copier machine on the desk and gave it an affectionate pat on its cover. "Good job, little buddy," he said. Then he switched off the lights, locked the office door behind him, and headed for home, tired but satisfied over a job well done.
Okay, that's it! I am NOT going to post anymore until this spambot problem is resolved!!
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