12-06-2011, 03:47 PM
Criss strode into the production office just barely after six-forty-five AM. The usual office staff wouldn't arrive until eight-thirty, so a heavy silence hung in the air. A pair of bluejeaned legs were propped up on one of the desks, their owner hidden behind the morning edition of the Las Vegas Sun.
"Morning, JD," Criss said.
JD Sarantakos, Criss's elder brother and MindFreak production co-ordinator, mumbled his greetings of the day without looking up from his paper. Criss sat down at one of the desks to go over the itinerary for the day.
"Anything of interest in the news today?" Criss asked casually.
"The war in Iraq's stalled, the economy's tanked, GM and Chrysler want government bailouts, Obama's still looking for a First Dog, interest rates dropped--the usual," JD replied. "Oh, hey, you remember Athene Christopolous?"
Criss remembered Athene Christopolous all right, like he remembered the pain from his failed demonstration with that pneumatic nail gun. The heiress of the Omicron Corporation had tried to add Criss to her stable of conquests by sneaking into his suite at the Luxor and hiding in his very own bed, completely nude, only to be driven out by his mother, Dimitra, and the hotel security staff. He still relished the memory of the videotape images of his mother smacking Athene squarely on the ass as she made her escape clutching her clothes. Somehow that tape made it onto the fanboards, and the Loyals couldn't get enough of it; it became the number one requested clip on YouTube. Amusing as that had been, he still found the whole experience distasteful. "Yeah, what about her?" Criss grumbled.
"Says here she died," JD replied indifferently.
Criss sat up, surprised at this sudden turn of events. "Died? How?"
"Complications from surgery," JD read. "Seems she went in for a little nip and tuck and something went wrong." He lowered the paper a few inches. "Did you know she was fifty-three when she died?"
Criss remembered Johnny Thompson's words when he mentioned that she had been seen with Elvis. She's fifty if she's a day! She's been like that for thirty years, acting like she's twenty! She's been through three husbands and God knows how many lovers! Criss was wiser than he knew when he resisted her advances as he did. Now she was dead and gone. He felt no grief, of course, but he felt no sense of triumph either. If anything, he felt sorry for her in a way. Athene had spent a fortune trying to preserve her youthful beauty with makeovers, special diets, vigorous fitness routines, trips to expensive European spas, and now plastic surgery, but in the end it had all been in vain. In the final decades of her life Athene created the illusion of eternal youth, but she could not completely reverse the natural aging process itself. She could fool Mother Nature, but she couldn't fool Father Time.
"That's too bad," said Criss.
JD grunted in reply. Then a memory struck him. "Oh, you know what? I got a letter from Maury. Remember her?"
Criss smiled. Now there was someone worth remembering! Maury Brighton, that sad, neglected little waif whose greedy parents were now serving three to five years for their part in the theft of the Luxor's safe had been JD and Lynn's foster daughter for about three months until Social Services located an aunt and uncle somewhere in the Midwest willing to take her in. For that brief span of time Maury had practically been a member of the Sarantakos clan, going to school, accompanying her foster father to "Uncle" Criss' tapings of his show, listening to "Grandma" Dimitra's wonderful stories from Greece--it had been Heaven on earth for a child who had known nothing but storm and strife from her own parents. When she learned that she was going to live with her Aunt Elaine and Uncle Bryan, she was heartbroken. It took a great deal of convincing on her foster parents' part to accept her new home. Criss had given her a small circle-A pendant as a farewell gift. "I'll always be your 'Uncle' Criss," he had told her before she boarded the plane.
"What's she got to say?" Criss asked.
"Says she's doing well in school," JD replied. "She's in sixth grade now, likes to log onto the fanboards but can't join until she's thirteen. Her aunt and uncle sound like pretty decent people; same with her cousin who's about ten or so. All in all she's adjusted pretty well, it seems. Still misses us, though. She wants you to give Hammie a kiss for her."
Criss had to laugh at that. "Did she say anything about her folks getting out of the slammer?"
JD shook his head. "Didn't even mention them. It's like they never existed."
Criss shrugged. "Just as well," he said. "They weren't the greatest parents in the world, you know."
"They weren't parents at all, Criss," JD said. "They cared more for themselves than their own daughter. Some people just shouldn't have kids."
"Will she have to go back to them once they're paroled?"
"If I was her aunt and uncle, I'd sue for custody. The Brightons shouldn't be allowed to keep a dog, let alone raise a child. Take it from me, she's a helluva lot better off where she is right now."
Criss nodded and let the matter drop. The MindFreak staff was filing in for the production meeting. It was time for business, if it could be called that--production meetings usually started out in all seriousness, but as time wore on they broke down into either buffoonery or brawling. Criss could only pray today's meeting would not end up with the latter.
"What the hell do you mean you can't get my divorce annulled?!" Tina LaRue Piccucci demanded. "I gave that (bleeper) the best years of my life, and he dumped me! That lousy pre-nup I signed wouldn't pay the rent, let alone let me live like a normal person!"
Her attorney sighed wearily. "Well, if shopping for designer clothes and shoes every day, a eleven-hundred-dollar-a-month penthouse apartment on Flamingo, and driving a late model Mercedes-Benz is your definition of 'living like a normal person', then no, it wouldn't," he replied. "According to the divorce papers that you yourself signed, you agreed to the terms of the pre-nup, waiving all rights of rescension. You are legally divorced, Mrs. Piccucci. Only if you remarried your ex-husband would you be considered his lawful spouse."
Tina stared despairingly at him. "But I have a daughter to support!" she cried. "Our daughter! Mick's her father, for chrissakes! Surely he would remember her in the will!"
"That I can't say, Mrs. Piccucci," the lawyer said, shaking his head. "You'd have to contact your ex-husband's attorney to find out about that. Other than that, I can't help you. Good day, Mrs. Piccucci."
Tina's mouth flapped open and shut like a goldfish. The lawyer didn't even flinch when, defeated, she picked up her Gucci handbag and stormed out of the office, slamming the door behind her. So, that (bleeper) thinks he can cut me out of the will, does he? she thought. Well, I'm gonna give him a fight to remember! I'll take the whole (bleeping) family to court if I have to, but I'm gonna get my piece of the pie--a big piece! Not just for me, either, but for Heather as well. We're gonna get what's coming to us if it's the last thing I do!
Last edited by Veritas; 12-06-2011 at 03:51 PM.