12-08-2011, 08:21 PM
The week passed quickly. Casey was on her last day of her fill-in job at the Luxor, and again was assigned Criss' suite to clean that morning. The housekeeping staff lost interest in teasing her about her inheritance once they found out the will was to be probated in two weeks. Instead, they sympathized with her for getting a bum break.
"Shake hands with a pauper," said one.
"So, who's gonna get the money?" asked another. "The ex-wife or the son?"
"Smart money's on the son. No way is the ex gonna get nothin'."
"I dunno 'bout that. She had a daughter by him, so she might get something."
"I'll tell you who's gonna get the money--the IRS, that's who! It's all gonna get eaten up by taxes, just you wait and see. That poor girl ain't gonna get nothin'!."
"Well, the guy was a mobster, and a lot of those old mobsters were charged with tax evasion, so you may have a point there."
"Geez! You find out that you inherited nine million dollars, then they turn around and screw you over in court! Poor kid, what she must be going through."
"Hey, nobody said life was fair."
"But, still, she must be taking it pretty hard."
Actually, Casey was taking it in stride as she pushed her cleaning cart up to Criss' suite. The thought of being sued for money she didn't have unsettled her, but she took Mr. Close's assurances to heart and tried to convince herself that everything would work out for the best. She did not even dream of the money she was set to inherit; the chances of the will being upheld and she receiving nine million dollars were, well, Las Vegas odds. Things like that only happened in the movies, not in real life. Still, it was nice of Mr. Piccucci to remember her like that. It showed that he was a really nice man despite his shady past.
Casey arrived at the door of the suite and knocked. "Housekeeping," she called out.
Th her surprise, the door opened. Criss Angel himself stood there, dressed in tight biker shorts and a tank shirt, ready for the gym. "Oh, hi, Casey," he said, "come on in."
Casey wheeled her cart into the suite. It looked much better than the first day, she thought: no litter on the floor, no empty cartons. The bathroom was probably a different story, though. Well, Criss was only human, and humans do what humans do when they're in the bathroom.
"I'll be down in the gym," he said. "There's a baggie of cat litter I need you to throw away. Other than that I--"
Criss hesitated. He looked down at Casey's cleaning cart. "Hey, what's that?" he asked curiously.
Casey was puzzled. "What's what?"
"This thing right here, behind the vacuum cleaner."
Casey removed the vacuum cleaner and saw what Criss was talking about, the strange device with a digital alarm clock wired to what looked like road flares wedged into the side of the cart. "Wh--what is that thing?" Casey stammered.
"It's a bomb!" Criss shouted. "Get out of here, now!"
Casey screamed. Criss got on the hotel phone and punched the red emergency button. "This is Criss Angel!" he snapped into the phone. "We got a bomb up here! Send someone up here now!"
He slammed down the receiver. "We gotta get out of here!" he cried. "God knows when that thing'll go off!"
Criss grabbed Casey by the arm and dragged her out of the suite. Suddenly, Casey stopped him. "What about Hammie?" she reminded him anxiously. "You can't leave him behind!"
Criss swore aloud and ran back into the suite. "Hammeeee!" he called out. "Where are you?"
"Please, Criss," Casey whimpered, "hurry! That bomb's going to go off any second now!"
Frantically, Criss searched for his beloved cat. Not in the living room, not in the small kitchen, not in the bedroom. He looked in the bathroom and found Hammie lounging in the basin, oblivious to the danger. Criss grabbed his cat and dashed out of the suite. He could hear the fire alarms going off in the suites below despite the hotel's soundproofing. They barely made it to the elevator in time before the doors shut and were deactivated.
Casey shook violently, her face wet with tears. "Mr. Angel, I swear I--"
"Did you see anyone put that bomb on your cart?" Criss demanded.
"No, I swear I didn't!" Casey sniffled. "I just picked it up like always. I had no idea there was a bomb on it, I swear!"
Criss gave Casey a hug. "It's okay, Casey," he said quietly. "We'll let the police handle this."
The elevator doors opened to reveal chaos. The entire hotel was being evacuated; staff and guests were being herded out of all available exits. The blaring emergency sirens echoing through the atrium were deafening. Criss clutched Hammie close to his chest for fear the animal would leap out of his arms and get lost in the crowd. Casey looked around and spotted the service entrance corridor, free of congestion. "This way!" she shouted to Criss, motioning him to follow her.
They threaded their way to the service corridor and made their way to the exit. A few desperate types spotted them and followed, fearing for their lives. Once outside, Criss and Casey found a spot by the dumpsters to wait out the impending disaster. Criss slumped down on the curbside, his adrenalin rush draining away.
"God, that was close," he panted. "Are you sure you didn't see anyone put that bomb there?"
"I'm positive, Mr. Angel," Casey confirmed. "I arrived at my usual time, punched in, got my room assignments, took the cart and went to your suite. The only people I saw were the housekeepers and maintenance. Please, you've got to believe me!"
"I believe you, Casey, I believe you. It's just that I can't figure out who wanted to kill me, that's all."
"Who'd want to kill you?" Casey asked innocently.
Criss shrugged, still holding Hammie. "I dunno, but whoever left that bomb there left his fingerprints on it, unless he wore gloves or something. But, anyway, you gotta talk to the police. They may take you in and fingerprint you, but that's just for investigative purposes. Once they determine you didn't do it, you'll be okay."
"But I didn't do it!" Casey protested. "Besides, I don't know how to make a bomb! And even if I did, I wouldn't use it on you, or anyone else for that matter! I'm not a hitter!"
"Gangster lingo for hitman," Casey explained. "My former employer, well, he used to be a gangster back in the Forties. I learned a lot of Mafia words from him: hitter, whacked, packing heat, bumped off, things like that."
Criss looked at Casey warily. "Gangster, huh? What was his name?"
"Mr. Piccucci," Casey answered him.
"What did you do for him when you were working for him?"
"I was his caregiver. He was a very sick old man, and I would come in and take care of his needs, keep him company, things like that. He died about a week ago. Now I'm working here, but I'm just on call."
Criss searched his memory to link what Casey had just told him to what sounded familiar to him. His searching matched what his brother JD had read from a newspaper last week: Here's something interesting. Says here that some former gangster left his entire fortune to his caregiver. And get this--she works here at the Luxor.
"Were you the one who inherited that gangster's fortune?" Criss asked with a tinge of trepadition.
Casey sighed dejectedly. "Oh, you read about that, huh? Well, I--"
"Who else was involved?"
"Who else was involved in the estate?"
"Oh. Well, there was Mr. Piccucci's son, Michael, Jr., and his ex-wife, I forgot her name, and Mr. Springer. But Mr. Springer got half a million dollars. The rest weren't even mentioned. I didn't find out about it until last week."
Criss pondered this new information, then turned somberly to Casey. "Casey, I don't think I'm the target here," he said.
"I think someone's trying to bump you off to get Mr. Piccucci's money."
Casey was stunned. Criss laid a hand on her shoulder. "Look, I know it's a shock, but you got two family members with mob connections who got cut out of the old man's will, and they want it all back--even if they have to kill you for it!"
"But I didn't want Mr. Piccucci's money!" Casey cried. "I thought for sure Michael, Jr., would get it for sure!"
"Well, he didn't," Criss told her. "And he's prime suspect number one."
Criss rose to his feet. "Come on," he ordered. "We got to talk to the police about this."
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Bomb Squad positioned themselves all around the top floor of the suite. Only a remote controlled robot wheeled into the suite itself and located the bomb on the cart. Captain Harding monitored the robot's movements on the computer screen a safe distance from the suite.
"There it is," he muttered. "It's got a digital timer. Can you read what it says?"
"Five-fifty-five," replied the officer beside him. "I'm guessing that thing is going to go off in five minutes."
Captain Harding manouvered the mechanical arms of the robot to grasp the bomb and withdraw it from the cart. "Steadeeee, steadeeee...Got it! Move in with the can!"
Two Bomb Squad officers trotted in with a large, insulated metal drum to store the bomb. They set it down as close to the entrance as was safely possible. The robot carefully backed away with the bomb in its metal claws toward the officers with the can. The machine slowly turned backward to the left, then turned forward toward the can and carefully deposited the bomb into it, then withdrew its arms and waited for its next command from Captain Harding on the controls.
"Package is secured," one of the officers with the can reported to Harding.
"Good! Let's get it out of here!" Harding barked. "We got four minutes before that thing blows!"
The two officers carried the "package" to the waiting freight elevator and secured themselves inside. The trip down was tense but swift with no stops on the way (hotel management made sure of that). With only two and a half minutes to go, the bomb inside the can was quickly transferred to the Mobile Disposal Unit for deactivation. News cameras and photographers present caught the action for the twelve o'clock news, while bystanders took pictures of the squad with cameras, camcorders and camera phones for keepsakes. Hundreds of people--guests, hotel and casino staff, and passersby--huddled in apprehension over what would happen next. Would the bomb go off? Would they defuse it in time? Was there even a real bomb in that container, or was it a hoax?
The seconds ticked by, a seeming eternity to those outside. Many of the guests were impatient, wanting to go back to their rooms or the casino. Others clutched their loved ones in terror; murmured references to the World Trade Center rippled through the crowd. Still others struck up casual aquaintences with those next to them, chatting idly about friends and family and other, familiar things. Some Loyals, fans of Criss Angel, searched the perimeter for any sign of their idol, hoping and praying that he got out safely with his family.
Captain Harding waited for word from the MDU. Years of discipline had instilled patience when it came to deactivating a bomb, yet he knew that time was of the essence as far as public safety was concerned. Once the "package" was safely delivered into the MDU, the worst was over, but there was still the risk of the wrong wire being cut and the whole truck would blow to hell.
There was a crackle on his radio receiver. "MDU. Package deactivated. All clear."
All clear. Screw the poets, he thought. To Captain Harding, those were the two most beautiful words in the English language. He contacted hotel security. "All clear," he announced.
The word was out--all clear. There were cheers and applause as everyone made their way back into the hotel. The crisis was over, but for Criss and Casey, the nightmare had not yet ended. They approached the first uniformed officer they spotted and flagged him down. The officer walked briskly to the uniformed housekeeper and the athletic type clutching a cat in his arms.
"We think we know who planted that bomb," Criss said.