12-06-2011, 04:34 PM
Mick Piccucci's funeral Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church was a small affair, consisting of Michael, Jr.'s, family; Danny Springer, Tina LaRue Piccucci and her daughter, Heather; Mick's few surviving friends and aquaintances; his caregiver, Casey Worth, and his lawyer, Richard Close. A reporter for the Las Vegas Sun was also present to cover the service for the Names and Faces section for tomorrow's edition. The priest's voice echoed through the near empty church.
"I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body..."
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Michael, Jr., thought irritably. Ashes to ashes and all that crap! Plant the son of a (bleep) already, okay? I got a one o'clock tee time!
"We bought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out," the priest continued. "The Lord giveth, and the Lord hath taken away..."
The Lord giveth, all right, Tina said to herself smugly, but I'm the one who's gonna be taking away! When all this is all over and the will is read, I'm gonna take away what's mine and move to Beverly Hills, and no one's gonna stop me!
"From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: even so saith the spirit; for they rest from their labors."
Yeah, Mick, Springs thought sorrowfully, rest in peace, pal. You deserve it. I'll be seeing you soon. Just have a brandy waiting for me, just like old times, okay?
"Let us commend our brother, Michael Antone Piccucci, Sr., to the mercy of God," the priest intoned with upraised arms. "The Mass is ended. Go in peace."
"Thanks be to God," everyone spoke in unison. Yeah, thank God it's over! Michael, Jr., said inwardly. Now let's get the money already and get on with our lives!
A recorded choir sang Libera me, Domine, as the mourners filed past Mick Piccucci in his heavy wood-grained casket smothered in floral tributes. Springs was first by the side of his late friend and partner in crime. "So long, Mick," he said, trying to smile a little. "I'll see you later."
Casey was next. She dabbed her eyes a little as she paid her last respects to her former employer. "Good-bye, Mr. Piccucci," she sniffled. "I know you did a lot of bad things in the past, but you were really a good man, really you were. I never thought of you as a criminal, just as...well, you know. Rest in peace, Mr. Piccucci."
A few others filed past the casket, some blessing themselves as they passed. Tina LaRue Piccucci, swathed in black lace and clutching a white hankie, gave an Oscar-winning performance as the bereaved widow as she approached the casket. "Oh, Mick," she wailed. "I can't tell you how much I miss you! I know we had our differences, but in the end I loved you more than any man on this earth! I never got to tell you how much I still love you, and now--sniff--it's too late! I'll visit your grave every single day, Mick! And that's a promise!"
Tina doubled over sobbing, or appeared to be sobbing as she was led away by her daughter, Heather. Michael, Jr., rolled his eyes in disgust. "Got any eggs to go with that ham, Tina?" he growled under his breath.
He looked down at his father's body. "So long, Pop," he said unemotionally. "Wherever in hell you are, it's where you deserve to be."
He herded his wife and two sons out of the church. "C'mon, let's get something to eat and get outta here," he said curtly. "I got business to attend to."
"But what about the drive to the gravesite?" Pamela wanted to know. "We can't leave until your father's interred."
Michael, Jr., swore under his breath. "You go on ahead," he told her hastily. "I'll catch up later."
Pamela took a boy in each hand and went outside where the limo was parked. Michael, Jr., strode quickly to where Richard Close was standing and faced him squarely.
"Mike, I'm really sorry about your father--" Close began.
"Never mind that," Michael, Jr., interrupted him. "What about the will? You got the will?"
"Yes, I got the will," Close answered. "Everything's all been taken care of--signed, sealed and delivered. The reading is tomorrow at ten AM in my office."
"Tina's not getting anything, is she?" Michael, Jr., asked anxiously.
"I told you, everything's all been taken care of," Close insisted. "Just come to the reading tomorrow and don't be late, okay?
Michael, Jr., sighed. "Okay, tomorrow it is," he said, and left to join Pamela and the kids in the limo. Tomorrow, he thought. Tomorrow he would be a rich man, only a day away from being free of his problems forever. In twenty four hours he would revert to the lifestyle he had once known and enjoyed, with no nagging wife, no bratty kids, and no debt collectors hounding him day and night. Just twenty four hours away lay freedom.
But there were still those hours to get through. Right now, he had to join Pamela and the other mourners to the gravesite and bury the old man next to his mother in the cemetary. Once that was over, he could grab a quick snack at the wake and head for the golf course to make his one o'clock tee time, shoot a few holes, then come home for dinner and bed. Then tomorrow would arrive, and he'd be at Close's office, bright and early, go through the formalities of the will, claim his inheritance, and it was good-bye Vegas, hello Cabo! Michael, Jr., felt like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to arrive. Well, Mike, old buddy, he said to himself, looks like Christmas is coming a little early this year!
Casey Worth didn't go to the gravesite ceremony, having no car to drive and no one to give her a lift. She relied heavily on public transportation to get to work and back, even if it meant getting up at six AM to catch the bus to get to Mr. Piccucci's house. And anyway, she had done her duty to Mr. Piccucci simply by attending the funeral Mass; the rest was the family's business. Now she had to move on with her life.
Her tiny cell phone rang in her purse. Casey felt embarrassed that she had forgotten to turn it off during the service. Thank God it didn't ring in church, she thought. She pulled it out and looked at the tiny screen to see who was calling her: MOM, it read. "Hi, Mom, what's up?" she spoke into the phone.
"Oh, hi, honey," her mother's voice came over the receiver, "am I interrupting anything?"
"Oh, no, no, Mom," Casey said, "the service is over, so it's okay."
"Good. Listen, I got a call from the Luxor Hotel. They want you to come in for a whole week. Some housekeeper's got to go into the hospital for something--they didn't say what. Anyway, you're to come in on the morning shift, starting tomorrow."
"Got it, Mom. Thanks."
"You're welcome, honey. See you."
Casey turned off her phone. Well, she had a job for a week, anyway. After that, who knew where her next paycheck was coming from? She sighed heavily. With the economy the way it was, she'd be lucky if she found another job anywhere, let alone a caregiving job. Maybe at one of the nursing homes? But you had to be certified to do that, and Casey was not yet certified, though she was working on it. All she could do was hope for the best. Something would come up, she was sure of it.
Criss Angel's live show, Believe, was drawing rave reviews from the critics, but the box office take was less than encouraging, barely above the break-even point. Despite assurances from the Luxor's president, Felix Rappaport, that the economy was to blame, Criss felt it reflected badly upon himself as an artist. The show was supposed to be his magnum opus, the culmination of years of hard work and creativity. He had hyped the show to the whole world, only to perform in a theater with half-empty seats. What was he doing wrong? Why wasn't it selling out? Where was everybody?
"I just don't understand it, Felix," he said as he sat at the bar waiting for his Martini. "I put Mind, Body and Spirit into that production and hardly anyone's come to see it. I know not everyone thinks it's great, but there are those who really like it." He rubbed his face with his hands. "I don't know what to do anymore, Felix. I really don't."
Felix put his arm around Criss' shoulder. "Look, Criss, it's not you, okay?" he said. "The economy's taken a nosedive and tourism's gone with it. People don't have as much to spend as they used to. It's just bad timing, that's all. You don't think I'm feeling the pinch? Even with online discounts, half the rooms here are empty. It's not your fault, Criss, so don't take it personally."
The bartender set Criss' Martini on a coaster before him. Frustrated over the lack of ticket sales for his show, Criss picked up the glass and drained it in one swallow. "If only there was something I can do to get people coming in again," he mused.
Felix laughed a little. "When you do find something, let me know," he said. "I'd like to hear it."
He patted Criss' shoulder. "Cheer up, Criss. Things will get better soon, just you wait and see. In the meantime, you still got your health, and you still got your family. And you still got your room here at the Luxor, which is better than some people who are losing their homes to foreclosure. You're luckier than you think, Criss. Just keep that in mind when you're down."
Criss looked up at Felix and smiled. "Thanks, Felix."
"Buy you another drink?" Felix asked.
Criss shook his head. "No, no, I'd better not," he replied. "I don't want to drown my sorrows in booze. Like you said, I got my health, and if the economy tanks any furthur, I'd like to keep that as long as I can."