12-09-2011, 02:16 PM
In the computer lab at St. Benedict's Acadamy, Alicia sat before her assigned terminal ready to log onto the Criss Angel fanboards. She hoped her recently posted poem had received postive reviews (except for that snooty Veritas who always had to nit-pick everything. What was she, an English teacher or something?), or that some juicy bit of gossip found its way onto the General Discussion forum, or the latest developments on Loyalapalooza.
It had taken a great deal of courage and cunning, but Alicia did succeed in selling Little Women for fifteen dollars at the used book store, and Kyle's "obsolete" video games for thirty at Play it Again, a secondhand game store, which bought the total to forty-five dollars. Adding the twenty-seven she had already saved up, she was seventy-two dollars closer to Loyalapalooza. Maybe she could convince her dad to come up with more, using the Manresa Youth Retreat as a cover. She still had to figure out how to get there without raising suspicion from her mother, or even her brother who would squeal on her in a heartbeat. And how long would it take to get there from Iowa, anyway? Would she have to leave early? And how much would it cost? She had to factor in food as well; she didn't want to starve while she was there.
Oh, well, she still had two more weeks, plenty of time to plan her trip. In the meantime, she had some serious business to attend to on the boards. She logged onto the Internet as usual, then waited for the AOL homepage to appear on the monitor. After a few seconds delay, the famliar AOL logo appeared with little windows of ads and newsclips. Normally, Alicia ignored the whole thing and went directly onto the fanboards, but Criss Angel's name in the news section caught her eye. Curious, she read the blip of a head line: "Bomb found in Criss Angel's suite..."
A bomb?! Alicia hastily clicked the headline and waited anxiously for the article to download. The plain black text on the blindingly white screen next to a standard press photo of Criss told her the whole chilling story:
March**. A time bomb was discovered in the hotel suite of illusionist Criss Angel at approximatly seven AM (PST). The device was allegedly brought into the suite by a hotel maid in her cleaning cart, and discovered by Criss Angel himself. The hotel maid, whose identity has been withheld by local police, claims she had no knowledge of the bomb in her cart, nor had witnessed anyone placing it there. The bomb squad was able to retrieve the bomb and disable it after guests and staff were quickly evacuated from the hotel. No injuries were reported. Rumors are circulating that the attempt may be linked to organized crime, but authorities will neither confirm or deny such allegations.
Alicia was shocked. Someone had tried to kill Criss! Who would do such a thing? And why? What did that maid have against Criss in the first place? But maybe she was innocent. Had that maid been bribed by someone? How could that maid not have seen a bomb on her cart in the first place? Wouldn't the ticking give it away? The mind boggled.
Frantic with worry, Alicia logged onto the Loyal Community Message Board, her only trusted source for all things MindFreaky. She clicked onto the General Discussion forum and scanned for any mention of the bomb. There was none. With grim determination and a sense of duty to her fellow Loyals, she clicked on New Topic and began to type her message:
RoseRed13: General Discussion > Bomb in Criss's room!!!
THEY FOUND A BOMB IN CRISS'S ROOM!!!! Some maid sneaked a bomb in Criss's room today and tried to kill him! Soem maid who worked there bought it tin his room but Criss saw it and they had to get everyone oru of the hotel so the bomb squad cold get in and get rid of it. No one got hurt but itwas scary all the same. anybody got andy ideas what happened?
Alicia clicked Post and sent her message on the way without even bothering to check what she wrote. All that mattered to her was that the Loyal knew what happened. She had to protect her beloved Criss at all costs; nothing must happen to him.
Criss and Casey sat side by side in the interrogation room at the LVMPD headquarters. Hammie the cat lay on the cold metal table before them, totally unconcerned. Criss held Casey's hand to comfort her while Detective Jim Meridian questioned them both. Meridian could see that Casey was nervous, but it was an honest nervousness, not the type someone showed when they were concealing something. She had obviously never been in a police station before. Angel, on the other hand, was calm and cool as a pond in summer. For a guy that found a bomb in his room, he didn't seem to rattled about it. Meridian reasoned that a guy who made a living trying to kill himself for entertainment, the fear factor must have diminished.
"Okay, let me get this straight," Meridian said to Casey, "you came in to Angel's suite around seven in the morning to clean up, and you had no idea that there was a bomb on your cleaning cart, right?"
"It's true, Officer," Casey responded with a nod. "I just grabbed my cart and went up. I swear I didn't place that bomb there! I don't even know how to make one!"
"Okay, okay, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt for now--at least until the results from the lab show up." Meridian turned to Criss. "How long has she been cleaning your room?"
"About a week now," Criss answered. "She's just a fill-in for the regular housekeeper."
"You didn't notice anything unusual during the week?"
Criss shook his head. "Nope, nothing at all. Nothing stolen or out of place. Casey's a really nice girl. But I think this has to do with the Piccucci estate."
"Meaning that Casey here was Mick Piccucci's caregiver before he died," Criss explained, "and the old man left her the whole estate, cutting out his own son and his ex. Piccucci was an ex-gangster with mob connections."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know who Mick Piccucci was," Meridian said dismissively. "So whoever planted that bomb wasn't after you, but Casey here, right?"
"Makes sense to me," Criss retorted.
Meridian thought about it for a moment. "I'm gonna call down to the lab to see if we got any results yet," he said, rising. "You two stay put for a while. And don't let that cat make a mess--the chief will have my jewels on a platter if he finds out I let you bring 'im in."
Criss nodded, and Meridian left. Casey turned to Criss with her eyes shimmering with tears.
"Criss, I'm sorry I got you into this," she sniffled. "I didn't want you to get involved."
Criss smiled. "Hey, it's okay," he said softly and with a smile. "If that bomb went off while we were still up there, who knows how many innocent people would have been killed besides us." He brushed her tears away with his fingers. "Now, don't worry about a thing, Casey," he whispered.
"You do believe me when I said I didn't put that bomb there, don't you?"
"Of course I do. You're not the type to go around killing people." He laughed a little. "Your former boss, maybe, but not you."
Impulsively, Casey threw her arms around Criss, then, realizing the inappropriateness of such an action, quickly withdrew. Criss laughed again at her embarrassment. "You are the bashful type, aren't you?" he said.
He leaned back. "So, tell me about yourself," he said casually. "You married? Single?"
Casey smiled, blushing. "No, I'm single," she said, beginning to relax a little. "I'm just trying to support my family, that's all."
"You support your whole family?" Criss asked.
Casey nodded. "Yeah. My dad's on disability because of a work-related accident--he was unloading some crates from a freight car, and somehow he got sandwiched between some machine parts and crushed half his spine. He's in a wheelchair now."
"That's too bad," Criss said sorrowfully. "What about your mom?"
"Well, she's got a part-time job in a liquor store now, but that barely covers the cable bill. She wants Dad to have a TV to keep him company."
"Any brothers? Sisters?"
"Well, I do have a brother, Benny. He's older than I am and, well, he...hasn't found a job yet."
"Because he can't?" Criss wanted to know. "Or because he won't?"
Casey sighed. "I don't know. Benny doesn't have much...ambition...beyond TV and strip clubs. I can't say what his real talents are because he just...doesn't do anything. He never had any career goals or anything like that. He's just seems...discouraged. And with the economy the way it is..."
"How old's Benny?" Criss asked.
"He's not 'discouraged', Casey," Criss said, shaking his head, "he's just too (bleeping) lazy to get off his ass and do something with his life. He's got no ambition because he'd rather sponge off your dad's disability and your paycheck than get a job. If he were a real man, he'd be pulling his weight rather than parking it in front of the tube."
He leaned closer. "You got to stand up to that pathetic excuse of a brother of yours and lay down the law. Tell him that you are sick and tired of being the breadwinner in the family--and I can tell that you are--and for him to get off his lame ass and get a job! You got a life to live, too, you know. You don't need Benny sponging off you for the rest of your life. He's a parasite, Casey--it's time you realized that. And him, too. He wants money, he's got to earn it himself."
"How can I help him find a job?" Casey asked timidly.
"You can't," Criss replied. "He's got to do it himself. He's got to make the effort on his own. The economy's no excuse. He's the only thing holding himself back."
Casey was about to respond when Detective Meridian strode into the room. "Okay, we got good news," he said. "First of all, that 'bomb' was a total fake--just some road flares, some wire and an alarm clock."
Criss and Casey were dumbfounded. "A fake?" Criss exclaimed. "You mean we called nine-one-one, cleared out the whole hotel, and got everybody panicked over a fake?"
"Well, it seems that way," Meridian said calmly. "Bomb squad gets a lot of false alarms. You did the right thing, though. And the fingerprints don't belong to Casey, here, or anyone else in the files, for that matter."
Casey breathed a sigh of relief. Criss massaged her shoulder in congratulations. Meridian, however, wasn't through yet.
"We did find this wrapped around the 'bomb', however," he said, laying a sheet of paper with cut-out letters glued onto it like a ransom note:
This iS a wARNING ! gIVE UP The InherITance Or Else !
Criss read the note with wide eyes. "Who the hell sent this?"
"Well, we got two prime suspects already," Meridian said. "It's just finding out which one it is."
Casey began to cry, and Criss held her close.