11-29-2011, 04:46 PM
It was nearing closing time at Uncle Bernie's Discount Toys. Joy decided to spend her final break doing a bit of Christmas shopping of her own. With the ten-percent employee discount on top of the already cut-rate prices, she knew she could save a bundle buying toys for her nieces and nephews. Yes, sir, getting a job at Uncle Bernie's was the smartest thing she ever did!
The shelves were half-empty, but there was still enough merchandise for her to pick out suitable gifts: a soft-bodied baby doll for four-year-old Lyssa, complete with layette; a hook-and-ladder fire engine for six-year-old budding firefighter Kyle (she made sure to get batteries for the lights and siren, of course); a junior tool kit for ten-year-old craftsman Taylor; and a Fisher-Price Happy Apple for two-year-old Cole. She didn't bother with buying wrapping paper or bows--Mom had all that in abundance. Her five-minute shopping spree completed, she pushed her cart to the service desk to pay for her purchases and claim her employee discount.
As she wheeled up to the front of the store, her eyes fell upon the donation bin. Her thoughts fell back to the conversation she had with the red-haired customer about the theft of the radio station's toy drive truck being stolen. Her normally sunny demeanor clouded with indignation. How could someone be so callous, so selfish, to rob from those who had so little? Who could be so blind to others' needs? People spent part of their hard-earned dollars to buy those toys for needy kids only to have them stolen by some unscrupulous character! Whoever was responsible had out-Grinched the Grinch in her opinion.
Joy paid for her purchases at the service desk and was delighted to find that she had several dollars more than she thought she would have. Again she looked at the donation bin, secure in its open spot just by the entrance. Well, at least a few kids were going to have a merry Christmas, she thought, thanks to Mr. Bernie.
She was seized suddenly by an impulse to donate a toy herself. She hesitated at first, being a starving college student and all, but it was Christmas after all, she rationalized, and she should do her part to bring some holiday cheer to someone who needed it most. Not only would it be a good deed, it would be good PR for Discount Toys.
Back to the shelves Joy flew like a flash, and returned with the first toy she found on one of the display tables in the main aisle: a plush white teddy bear set in a cardboard display carton and sealed in shrink-wrap. The package had been smashed in at one corner and the shrink-wrap was torn, but it was still in good enough condition to donate. She paid for it using her discount, crossed over to the bin and, with a smile of satisfaction, dropped it in. She hoped that Mr. Bernie was watching her on the store surveillance camera. He would be so proud of her.
Back at the Luxor, Macaffey was winding up his shift for the day with the usual paperwork. He still wrote out his reports by hand as he had ever since he was a guard at the supermax; his typing skills were negligible at best, and he knew practically next to nothing about computers. He left all the technological business to Officer Rollins, a five-year man on the staff who knew how to use a PC so well he could have run Microsoft from his living room if he chose to (asking him if he had broken into the Treasury yet had become a running joke among the security staff), and so let him type up his notes and enter it into the system. Macaffey's job was to enforce law and order, not sit in front of a machine all day.
Macaffey finished up the last report and laid it in the Out bin on his desk for Rollins to pick up. He stretched his beefy limbs and rose to sign out for the day. Aside from someone's kid who had wandered off and ended up in the toy store, it had been a good day for him: quiet, no hassles. Even his back injury, the result of an inmate's attack on him with a piece of lead pipe during a prison riot, had given him no trouble during his shift. No need for a dose of asprin for the trip home. He signed out and headed for the locker room, whistling "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" as he went.
Inside the locker room, he saw Rob Houghton, his second-in-command, getting ready to take his place as top cop for the night. Rob looked up at Macaffey and smiled. "Well, someone's in the holiday spirit!" he said cheerfully.
Macaffey shrugged good-naturedly. "Can't help it," he said. "It's contagious."
"You have a quiet shift?"
"Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse," Macaffey quipped.
Rob laughed, but he could not help being a bit puzzled. Macaffey wasn't usually so jovial, not even when clocking out for the day. He was always so gung-ho about enforcing law and order around the hotel to the point of being militant. Guess it's true what they say about Christmas bringing out the best in people, he thought.
"Well, hope yours is as quiet as mine was," Macaffey said as he pulled on his coat. "Have a good one, Rob."
"Have a nice night, Luke," Rob said, waving good-bye.
Macaffey left the locker room and crossed the lobby to the parking garage. On his way, he saw none other than Criss Angel himself standing by the carport where his prized autos were on display. Of course, that in itself was no surprise: they were his cars, after all. What puzzled him was the glum look on the magician's face. Curious, he walked over to Criss. "Why the long face?" he asked. "Something wrong?"
Criss looked up at Macaffey. "Everything's wrong," he muttered. "You know that guy who's been going around stealing toys from those donation boxes?"
"What about him?"
"Well, it seems he struck again, big time this time around. He made off with the entire KLUC toy truck filled with all the toys that I donated over a week or two ago!"
Macaffey's good humor faded. "That son-of-a-(bleep)!" he hissed.
"I don't know what to do, Big Luke," Criss said helplessly. "I just don't know what to do."
Big Luke laid a hand on Criss' shoulder. "You let the law handle this," he said. "They'll get it back."
Criss's face creased in a sad smile. "Thanks, Big Luke."
"Now, you go do your show or whatever and don't worry about a thing," Macaffey said. "Things will work out okay, just you wait and see."
"I hope so, Luke," Criss sighed. "I hope so."