Angel of the Lakes
Author's note: I'm stalled with my new story, Beyond Belief, and I don't want to lose my fan base, so while I'm waiting for my Muse to tap me on the shoulder again, I've decided to repost the very first story (with some updates) I ever wrote on the Criss Angel fansite. It's not as good as my later works, of course (didn't get much of a response when it first came out), but I hope you enjoy it all the same.
"Gather 'round, me hearties, and I shall spin you a tale of..."
Okay, okay, I'll drop the old salt routine and just tell you about my experiences on the Lakes with one very extraordinary magician who goes by the name of Criss Angel.
First, allow me to introduce myself. I'd like to protect my privacy on the Internet so you can just call me Vicky. I live by the coast of Lake Huron in Alpena, Michigan. If you open your right hand and look at the first knuckle joint of your index finger, that's where Alpena is on the Lower Peninsula, roughly. My father's family lived here for generations as farmers and other professions.
I own a pleasure crusier which I charter to anyone willing to pay--the Angel of the Lakes. My niece, Andi, was thrilled with that choice of name because she is a rabid Criss Angel fan. I just picked it out because the other names I wanted had already been taken. I won't bore you with the details of size, dimensions, or all that, because I have a tendancy to put people to sleep when I do that. Picture a floating RV, that's all. It's got a small galley (kitchen), a couple of bunks and a very tiny bathroom. It can go up to 20 knots, but I never pushed it that far. I just go at a leasurely pace for all my passengers. It's a nice boat, if you want to lease it for a few hours, or a three-day weekend.
The reason I'm telling all this is that after what happened that fateful weekend Andi has no doubt been denouncing me on her Facebook page, and I just want to set the record straight. You'll find out as this yarn spins along.
Anyway, this whole thing started when my brother, Rich, his wife, Vy, and my niece, Andi, were up for the weekend, visiting. Actually, Vy and Andi were visiting--Rich was laying some new carpet in the house. My cell phone went off. so I answered it. I have a special tone for those who want to charter the boat, and I really needed the money because insurance was due. A boat like mine, it's not cheap to maintain.
I was a bit taken aback when it was from Nevada, of all places. Some outfit called "MindFreak Productions" wanted to charter the Angel for a TV show; I was to transport the star of said show, along with a couple of cameramen, to the Mackinac Bridge. Why, they didn't say. I wondered why they didn't just drive up there, but, as I said, I needed the cash, and if this guy wanted to go by boat and is willing to pay, okay by me.
I had a hell of a time negotiating a price because the very nanosecond I mentioned "MindFreak Productions", Andi went ballistic! She absolutly had to speak to whomever was on the other end of the line. I kept waving her off, her mother kept pulling er back, but she would not be deterred.
I succeded in closing the deal for Labor Day weekend (just in time for the annual Bridge Walk), and turned to Andi, demanding to know just what her major malfunction was.
"Aunt Vicky!" she squealed, "It's MindFreak Productions!"
"So?" I replied
"Don't you get it?! MINDFREAK PRODUCTIONS!!"
"So what the hell is MindFreak Productions?" I demanded.
She stared at me incredulously. "MindFreak Productions is the people who produce Criss Angel! CRISS ANGEL IS GOING TO BE ON YOUR BOAT!!"
I was suddenly overcome by a feeling of impending doom. If I was transporting Andi's big crush, there was no telling what was going to happen. I drew a deep breath, looked at Andi straight in the eye, and resolved to be firm. "Look," I told her. "This is strictly business, and if you do anything--anything!--to blow this, so help me I'll..."
"I won't do anything, I promise!" Andi crossed her heart. "I'll be good! We'll all make sure Criss has a good time."
"Wait a minute!" I said, holding up my hand to stop her. "Time out! Who's 'we'?"
"Well, you know, you, me and..."
"Hold it right there, missy!" I halted her. "There is no 'we' on this trip. It's just me and the three passengers booking this trip. You have to start school, remember?"
"But, Aunt Vicky...", Andi whined.
"No buts!" I replied firmly. "We'll all do fine without some giddy teenage girl going all starry-eyed and getting underfoot."
Andi turned to her mother with an appealing look on her face. Vy upheld my decision with a shake of her head. Andi responded in the usual manner of all teenagers: she stormed out of the room. I heard a door slam. I sighed. Vy assured me I had done the right thing, even if Andi crossed me off her Christmas list for life.
I came up with an idea to what I hoped would smooth Andi's ruffled feathers. "She can come help prep the boat, at least." I offered.
Vy agreed, offering to run it past Andi once the storm blew over.
Rich finished laying the carpet and came in to where we were sitting, wanting to know what all the fuss was about. Vy said she'd explain on the way home. Rounding up Andi (who was still in a snit), they said their goodbyes and drove away.
I went into my newly-carpeted office, still smelling of burlap and glue, and logged onto my "ship's log", as I call it. It's just business records, inventories and such. I had to prepare for the Mackinac trip.
Keep it going I'm hitting a wall myself with my story too Vertias
It was a Tuesday evening, nothing going down, so I settled in for a bit of channel surfing when I came across Criss Angel's show, MindFreak. Since I would be hosting this guy, I thought, I'd better check him out just to find out what Andi saw in this bozo. I tuned into A&E and settled back.
It was an episode entitled "Naked Jail Escape". Criss would be imitating Houdini, his idol (hey, what magician doesn't idolize Houdini? The man set the gold standard for magicians and escape artists everywhere!) by escaping from a nineteenth-century jail cell somewhere in the Southwest after shaking off several pairs of handcuffs, all in two hours--stark naked, as Houdini had done. The editors did blur out his block and tackle, though--after all, this was national television.
There was a small audience at the jailhouse, all women--not so much to see Criss Angel perform a spectaclar escape from a near impenetrable cell as to see him stripped down to his after-shave, which they would if he didn't get out in time. They even bought camera phones for the momentious occasion, to be downloaded on the internet. Oh, the joys of modern technology!
Well, to make a long story short, he pulled it off and pulled his clothes on in the nick of time, to the disappointment of the ladies present. The "Houdini with a little weeine" line was a good one. After it was over, I decided to call it a day and get some rest; I had work tomorrow and needed my beauty sleep. Still, it was a hell of a trick. Houdini would have been proud.
The week wore on as it always does when you work the nine-to-five, but Friday finally showed up. I spent the evening gathering cleaning supplies and making out a list for what would be needed for the trip. Andi finally got over her little snit and resigned herself to helping me prep the Angel for the Labor Day weekend. She would spend the night at my house because we would be starting off at five AM. It's about an hour's drive frim my house to the marina, barring road construction and traffic, especially during Labor Day weekend as the Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk takes place there at the same time. I figured they would hold this show during that time since the bridge is closed to traffic that day anyway. Convenient.
Andi was still moping about not meeting CA, even when I promised her breakfast at Bob Evans (That would have cheered anyone up. Man, I love their biscuits!). Anyway, she arrived at my doorstep with a huge cube-sized gift box bound with a wide purple ribbon. A peace offering? I thought. Or a bribe? When I asked her about it, though, she rather testily replied that it was for Criss; she and some fellow fans got together during the week and made him a gift package. If she couldn't be on board, she would show her devotion some other way. Fine, I thought, she can leave it in the cabin, and yes I promised cross-my-heart-hope-to-die that Criss would get it.
We ordered pizza and turned in early. She settled in on the sofa bed in the livingroom with her iPod (did I spell that right?) and myself in my own bedroom with the latest John Grisham novel.
Saturday morning, five AM. I roused myself and Andi for the trip to the marina. Well. I roused myself, anyway; Andi needed more encouragement: usually she sleeps until noon on the weekends. I tried knocking on the door, shaking her, everything except rolling her out of bed like a drill sargent. Then I hit upon the magic words: "Criss Angel". I sang into her ear.
That did the trick! She snapped awake for about a full moment and then rubbed her face and wrenched herself out of bed, remembering why she was here. "Hustle! Hustle!" I urged her. "Come on, Kiddo! Get moving! We're buring daylight here!"
Showered, dressed, and ready to roll, I waited in the pickup while Andi went to fetch her gift box which she suddenly remembered just after I locked the house. I told her to make it snappy as she dashed back into the house, grabbed her precious gift box, dashed back outside, then ran to the front door to lock it, ran back to the truck, stowed her parcel in the truck bed and covered it carefully with the tarps I keep back there.
Finally, we were on our way. Day was breaking as we pulled into the Bob Evans restaurant for breakfast. If I was going on a long trip and work on the boat, I needed sustinance. So did Andi--that girl was as skinny as a rail! I picked up a paper from a vending machine outside. I always check the weather forecast for the day when I head out to the boat to see if it's going to be clear or whether there's a storm coming in or not. It'll be hard to work on the boat in choppy waters.
We were seated and given menus, but I didn't bother to read it; I ordered my usual (two eggs, ham, homefries, juice and, of course, biscuits with honey) while Andi ordered cereal and milk. No sense of taste, that girl While we waited for our breakfast, I opened the paper for the weather.
Something on the front page made Andi jump. "Looklooklook!" It's him! It's him!", she squealed in delight.
"Who?" I inquired.
Andi grabbed the paper from me, turned it to the front and pointed to a small sidebar with a picture of Criss Angel and a few lines of print about his upcoming appearance on the Mackinac Bridge, story on page 1C in the Entertainment section. To placate her, I forked over Section C for her to drool over, hoping to get some peace.
Bad mistake on my part--she had to read the whole damn article to me: how he was appearing on the Bridge to shoot a "MindFreak" episode, doing some sort of "demonstration" (whatever that would be), a brief bio, the usual celebrity-type interview. She even pointed out a creepy looking photo of the guy. It did tell me the reason he chose the Mighty Mac. though: Brooklyn, St. Louis, San Francisco and other cities with landmark bridges all turned him down, claiming it was unsafe. I think the Gov got together with the Bridge Authority, thinking this would generate revenue for Michigan's ailing economy, to boost tourism, or to at least create publicity.
I settled Andi down so as not to create a scene. Her big blue eyes watered. "Please, Aunt Vicky," she begged. "Why can't I go with you?"
I sighed. "Sweetie, I already told you, I don't want you getting in the way. These people are paying me good money for this and you'd be all clingy and googly-eyed to do anything useful."
"I won't be clingy!" Andi protested, "and I won't be googly-eyed! I'll work real hard! I promise!."
"Just like you promised to take care of the neighbor's cat, and it ran away and we had to go to the animal shelter to pick him up?" I reminded her.
"Okay, okay," she snapped, "but I was just a dumb kid back then.
"And how many months ago was that?"
I was spared a snappy retort when the waitress showed up with our order. We swept the papers we were reading to make room. The minute the waitress left, Andi returned the charge. "All I'm saying is that I've grown up since then," said she.
I had doubts, but decided to call her bluff. "All right," I said, pouring honey on a fluffy biscuit. "I'll just see how 'grown up' you are and how hard you are willing to work when we get to the boat today."
No response form Andi, just a stunned look. I tucked into my breakfast, leaving her to mull over my words.
I wonder how many people wish that they could of seen Criss's 'package' when that episode air? :rolleyes:
Someone's spent too much time in the rubber room! ;)
We arrived at the marina around seven-fifteen or so. I opened the truck tailgate and pulled out the wet-dry vac, a box of rags, a caddy full of cleaning solutions, a mop, a bucket and the day's supply of fresh water. Andi just retrieved her gift box.
I wheeled everything onto the dock with the hand truck and transferred everything onto the boat. I directed Andi to put her parcel in the cabin, then gave her a dust cloth and furniture polish to clean the cabin and bunks. She wasn't too enthusiastic about it, but I recalled the magic words: "Remember, this is for Criss Angel".
Down she went. I went up to the bridge to polish the brass on the instrument panel.
"Aunt Vicky,' Andi called up. "Do you think these bunks are big enough for Criss? They're awfully small."
"He'll be fine," I assured her, still going over the instrument panel. "When you're done with the cabin, do the bathroom, too." No answer. Well, no arguements, so I should be grateful. Cleaning the tiny lavatory is no fun, I admit, but if Andi was going to prove herself grown up, she had to take on grown-up responsibilites and do the dirty work.
After polishing the brass, I made the standard safety inspection required by the US Coast Guard: lights, guages, horn (I scared Andi half to death with that one!) radio, sonar, engine. No damage to the hull, none on the window glass. Life jackets stored away in seating compartments, ready for use. I went over that boat with a fine-toothed comb--"good enough" has never been in the USCG vocabulary. I knew from experience that on Labor Day weekend, Coast Guard ships would be out in force, ever on the lookout for every infraction from not having a life vest on to boating under the influence, especially with a big name celebrity showing up. God only knew what he would bring with him--or who.
Stepping down into the cabin, I was amazed at the transformation. The woodwork shone, the brass gleamed, even fresh linen on the bunks. Andi's gift box sat prominantly on one of the bunks; there was even a lollypop on one of the pillows (and to think her mother couldn't even to get her to clean her room!). The lavatory was clean enough to perform surgery: fresh towels, new roll of toilet paper, everything. I had to admit, Andi did a hell of a job. But where was she? Crashed out on one of the deck chairs above after a hard morning's work. Well, I guess she deserved a break. I congratulated her on a job well done.
We spent the better part of the morning prepping the boat, finishing around eleven. Pretty good time, but then, I had a pretty good helper. As we drove home, Andi once again pleaded to go on the Labor Day trip with Criss Angel. I debated with myself as I drove: on the one hand, I thought, she was too young and she'd just be in the way. On the other hand, she did prove some responsibility in cleaning the boat with me, and did a great job, too. In the end, I decided to hinge a little and turn to parental authority.
"Tell you what," I said. "When we get home, I'll talk to your mom and see if she thinks it's okay."
Andi was elated. "Oh, thank you, Aunt Vicky!", she squealed. She hugged my neck, making it difficult to drive. "Thank you a hundred million billion times!" She laid a big wet one on my cheek and launched into everything I needed to know about Criss Angel but never bothered (or cared) to ask.
Well, when we arrived at Andi's house, I talked to her mom as promised. Of course, Vy said no. She was too young, she insisted, and she did not trust this Criss Angel guy at all. He could be a drunk and a pedophile for all she knew, and there was no way on God's green earth she was going to allow her precious little girl to come in contact with such a vile fiend as he. Andi would be safer at home, Vy decreed, and that was the end of the matter.
Andi was crushed, her dreams of a shipboard romance with Criss Angel sinking like the Edmund Fitzgerald. She reacted in the customary manner of all teenagers: sran sobbing to her room. I merely shrugged and headed on home. Those were the breaks, I thought. Like Mick Jagger sang, you can't always get what you want.
The day before the trip I got out my to-do list and got to work. I'm one of those people who likes to do things ahead of time, from doing my taxes to planning a trip. No last-minute stuff for me--more time, less stress, that's my motto.
I had been given a hundred-dollar food allowance from MindFreak Productions so I decided to give Criss a taste of Michigan: Archway chocolate chip cookies, Better Made potato chips, UP-made beef and chicken pasties, Faygo soda in all flavors, and, of course, a chunk of Mackinac Island fudge. I could not resist indulging in that little slice of heaven when I got home. Take it from me: Mackinac fudge is, in my opinion, the last affordable luxury! I also picked up two twenty-four cases of bottled water and a couple of bags of ice to preserve it all.
Food packed, first aid kit stocked and ready, cell phone fully charged, insurance confirmed--I left nothing to chance. But I could not find my flashlight. Must have left it on the boat, I thought, as I finished my preparations.
Later, I got a call from my brother, Rich, that evening. Nothing dire, just a hello and bon voyage. Andi was still sore about not being able to go, but she'd get over it, he said. I thanked him and hung up. Poor Andi, I thought. She wants to go more than I do. But, the decision was made, and there was nothing she or I could do.
Eight AM. I arrived at the marina after an hour's drive. Seems everyone wanted to get the jump on the holiday weekend. I unloaded all the provisions onto the hand truck and wheeled it down the dock. I unloaded everything onto the deck and transferred it into the galley.
As I was stocking the galley cupboards, I opened one and my flashlight tumbled out, almost conking me on the head. How the hell it got there, I'll never know. Worse, the batteries were dead, so I would have to go all the way to the bait shop for more. It slowed me down a bit, but damned if I was going out with a dead flashlight. Fortunatly, the bait shop opened at six AM, so I was able to get in and get out without delay.
After that quick trip, I assured myself all was ready. Nine AM was my first moment to relax. Criss was not due until ten AM. I pulled out my John Grisham novel and settled back on one of the bunks. I was so absorbed in the plot I lost track of time.
Something in my brain went off like an alarm clock and I checked my watch. Nine fifty-five. Jeez! I bolted up from the cabin and onto the deck, looking for my passengers. No one, I sighed with relief. I did not want to create a bad impression.
I spied a long, black limo snaking it's way into the marina. That had to be him, I thought. Well, he was on time, anyway. It pulled up before the dock, the driver got out and opened the door, and two cameramen, laden with all this technical stuff, some guy in a suit and the star himself emerged. Criss was suited up more for water skiing than magic in a half wetsuit. I stepped forward to greet them.
The suit (turned out ot be Criss' manager) introduced me to hem and we shook hands all around. I guided them to the Angel. Criss said he loved the name, by the way. I told him my niece, Andi, thought I named it after him, but it was just a name that popped into my head at the moment. He was flattered by the association, anyway. Nice guy, Criss.
We all boarded and I gave a brief safety lecture before departure, like the flotation devices in the storage compartments, etc. I won't bore you like I probably did Criss and company, but as the owner of a charter boat, I am required by law to do this.
I gave them a quick tour of the boat. Criss was really into the control panel and wanted to know how to "drive". I obliged by showing him the throttle, the lights, the horn (which he immediatly tried out, scaring the hell out of everyone on board) and what-all. "Steering a boat isn't like driving a car, you know," I told him, "especially one as large as the Angel. Ask anyone who owns one, they'll tell you."
Finally, we were on our way. I pulled out cautiously from the launch and steered her into position, Criss hanging onto my every move. He really wanted to steer the Angel. Once we were on open water, I let him take over, making sure we stayed on course.
The weather was beautiful. There's nothing like summer on the Great Lakes! The shimmering water, the bluest sky you will ever see, the shoreline in all its natural beauty. It was worth all the money I invested in the Angel of the Lakes.
Criss was really into boating by this time. I like to think I made a sailor out of him, but don't quote me on that. As much as he wanted to stay on the bridge, he had a show to tape, so I resumed my position at the wheel as Criss went down to the main deck. I began to relax, cruising at a moderate pace, enjoying the scenery and the weather. Not many days like this left, I thought. Winter hits early and it hits hard in Northern Michigan. Warm summer days are precious here, and the minute the temps hit even the seventies, out come the boaters, the waterskiiers and the jetskiiers in force. Labor Day weekend is to Northern Michigan like Mardi Gras is to Louisiana--the final blowout before the big chill.
Suddenly, I heard a commotion down on deck. I cut the engine and went down to investigate. What I saw jolted me out of my senses. There, standing beside Criss Angel with a sheepish smile on her face, was my niece, Andi. Criss merely smiled. "Seems we have a little stowaway here", he said jovially.
I was furious. "Andi! How did you get here?" I demanded.
"I'm sorry, Aunt Vicky," she stammered, "but I wanted to meet Criss so much, I hid in the truck and..."
"You are in a lot of trouble, young lady!" I scolded. "Your parents must be worried sick!" Turning to Criss and company, I apologized for all this and promised I'd get her back as soon as possible. I was so embarrassed by all this, I was ready to do a complete one-eighty and go back to the launch. Production scheduling, however, would not allow it, I was told.
So here I was, with not only my passengers to worry about, but now I was stuck baby-sitting my love-struck niece on top of all else. God! What a trip this was going to be!
I had a feeling she was going to do that :)
I was never so embarrassed,or so furious, in my life. Here I thought Andi was fianlly showing some maturity, and then she pulls a stunt like this! What was she thinking? I wanted to bend her over my knee and give her a good spanking, but she was almost as tall as I am and I have an arthritic knee. Andi's eyes pleaded for Criss to intervene on her behalf as I dragged her down into the cabin for a "talk". Criss, for some reason, probably out of curiosity, followed.
I demanded an explanation. Weeding out all the "like"s and the "you know"s, the gist was that Andi had bicycled all the way to my house in the dead of night, hid herself in the truck, and slipped on board the boat. She had hidden herself in the bathroom until Criss opened the door and surprised her. I did not remember seeing her at the marina. She must have stowed away while I was out getting flashlight batteries.
I was torn between continuing the trip and turning around, but MF management made that decision for me. We had to keep shooting, they said. Criss graciously offered to take care of everything and leave Andi to him. Yeah, right, I thought. Leave my thirteen-year-old niece with some strange man? No way in hell. I told him to bring Andi up on deck so I could keep an eye on them both. In the meantime, I was calling her parents.
I was back at the helm, navigating the boat with one hand and dialing on my cell phone with the other. Rich answered, as frantic as any dad would be if he found his only child missing. His reaction to my explanation of his daughter's sudden disappearance can be pictured by anyone with even a limited imangination. I promised I'd get her home as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, out on deck, Andi was receiving a kinder, gentler version of what I wanted to tell her about her actions from her heartthrob. I don't remember all the details, but it was basically this:
"Andi," he said, "you know, running away like that was not the smartest thing. You could have been hurt, or kidnapped or something, an no one would have known about it. You could even have been killed. Now, I appreciate you wanting to meet me and all, and I loved your gift box from you and your friends, but you should have left it at that. Now you've caused a lot of worry for those who love and care about you."
"Are you mad at me, too?" she asked. "Please don't hate me, 'cause I couldn't bear it!"
"I'm not mad at you, and I can never hate you," he replied. "I do hate your disobeying your parents and running away. I was raised on the Ten Commandments, especially the one that says 'Honor Thy Father and Mother'. I've tried to keep them all, but that one especially, since I have always loved my mom and dad."
"Preaching to the choir on that one", Andi smiled.
"Am I?, Criss replied. "When your folks said you couldn't go with us, it wasn't that they didn't care about your happiness, they cared about your safety. They loved you enough to say 'no' to you. It's hard, sometimes, to refuse something your child wants, but it's for a good reason."
Well, whatever he said, he moved Andi to tears. I couldn't have handled it better myself. Maybe this Criss Angel guy wasn't such a bad sort after all.
We were near Cheboygan when our stomachs began sending us signals that it was feeding time. I still had to steer the boat to the Straits of Mackinac, so I put Andi in charge of dishing up the grub--hey, if she was going to be on this trip, I was going to put her to work. Andi fussed as never before, heating up the pasties, arranging the bags of potato chips, the bottles of Faygo, the packages of cookies. She's got a future in catering, I thought.
Meanwhile, Criss was looking over the pasties. He picked one up and read the label on the cellophane wrapper. "Pasties?", he I heard him say, puzzled. " Aren't those what strippers wear on their...you know...".
I cut the engines and came down from the bridge. "Those are paysties", I told him. laughing. "These are pahsties. They're meat pies the copper miners ate for lunch in the UP."
"You pee?" asked Criss.
"Upper Peninsula," I explained. "The bridge you are going to connects both Upper and Lower Peninsulas."
He shrugged, dug into a pasty, and pronounced it delicious. After that, he took a package of cookies and flung it to Andi, which she gleefully caught. Then another to me, and everyone else on board. He even juggled a few packages for the cameras, quite deftly, I must admit. He should have been in a circus. When he was though tossing his cookies, he kicked back on one of the lounge chairs on deck. Andi wanted to sit next to him, but I put her to work cleaning up after lunch. Grudgingly, she complied, but only after I reminded her that as a stowaway, she had to earn her keep.
Back on the bridge, I scanned the horizon for the Straits. Another large watercraft was sitting on the lake; people were dashing about frantically from what I could see. I got out my binoculars. Criss had decided at that moment to join me, probably for another boating lesson.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"I don't know yet," I replied. "That boat over there..."
Something was wrong, my gut was telling me. I looked carefully at the boat across the water from us. There was a man waving his shirt like a flag. A woman was clutching a crying child to her bosom. From what I could see, the boat was listing to one side. I immediatly sized up the situatuon.
"That boat over there!" I turned to Criss. "It's sinking!"
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