12-09-2011, 07:32 PM
The Bomb Squad had long since left, the guests had returned to their rooms or went back to whatever they had been doing before the alarm went off, and the staff returned to their posts, but the press remained in the hotel lobby waiting for Criss Angel to return from the police station so they could get a statement regarding the bomb scare in his suite. Felix Rappaport, the president of the hotel, was doing his level best to keep order among the journalists, cameramen, photographers and newspaper reporters crowding the atrium. No, there had been no injuries, he said, and the Bomb Squad had handled the emergency with calm, professional efficiency. He was not going to point fingers at anyone, least of all the housekeeper who brought the cart with the bomb in it, until the police had issued a formal warrant for her arrest; in fact, she was at the station now with Criss Angel, offering her testamony about the incident. There was nothing to be afraid of, Felix went on. Everything was under control. The hotel management and security division were working in full co-operation with the police regarding this matter, and he was confident that the truth would soon be revealed.
Felix had just about reached the threshold of his patience when Criss walked into the atrium, holding his cat, Hammie, in his arms. The press did a one-eighty turnaround to meet him, barking questions and flashing cameras in his face.
Criss handled the press with practiced ease. "First of all, the 'bomb' found on the cart was a fake," he stated. "It was just a digital alarm clock tied to some road flares with piano wire--completely harmless. Second of all, the housekeeper who bought it in is completely innocent of any criminal charges. The fingerprints on the fake bomb weren't even hers, or anyone else's in the police files. They're still looking for the person or persons responsible. I can't say if it was a prank or what it was, but I thank God it wasn't a real bomb. That's all, thank you."
The media, however, weren't satisfied. They kept yammering away for more information, but Criss brushed them aside as he headed for his room. Felix Rappaport, however, met him halfway.
"Good job, Criss," he said drily. "So where's the housekeeper?"
"I dropped her off around back," Criss told him. "She said employees weren't supposed to enter through the front."
Felix couldn't help but smile a little. "If you see her, tell her I want to see her in my office," he said. "Both of you. I want to know just what the hell happened."
Criss nodded. "She's probably back with the housekeeping staff," he guessed. "Lemme drop Hammie off and I'll get back to you."
Felix agreed. Criss rode the elevator back to his suite, released his cat inside, then closed the door and rode down to the level where the president's office was located. It was then he remembered that he was still in his workout clothes. Should he go back up and change? Well, it was too late now, he figured, because he was already there at the office. Felix wouldn't mind, he thought. So long as he was wearing something at least halfway decent there would be no objections. He entered the office foyer and asked to see Felix. The secretary let him in without demur. Felix welcomed him inside and offered him a seat. "Casey should be here soon," he told Criss. "I contacted housekeeping to send her up."
Criss could only guess what poor Casey must be feeling at that moment; no doubt the same fear and dread a kid would feel when being told to report to the principal's office at school. He hoped she wouldn't get fired over this; it really wasn't her fault. In fact, she was the victim, not the perpetrator.
There was a gentle rap on the office door, and Casey timidly entered the president's spacious office. She was offered a seat next to Criss, which was some consolation for her. She didn't want to face whatever the president had in mind for her alone.
Criss explained the whole situation to Felix: the fact that Casey was the sole heir to the Piccucci estate, cutting out the son and ex-wife out of the deal, causing them to file a suit against her; the mob connections Mick Piccucci had in life; the threatening letter attached to the fake bomb ordering Casey to give up the inheritance or else; Casey's innocence proven by the results from the police lab. Felix listened attentively, then leaned back to ponder his next move. Casey sat there, clutching and unclutching her hands nervously.
Felix finally spoke. "Well, the important thing is that no one got hurt," he said. "And you are just a fill-in, aren't you, Casey?"
"Yes, sir," Casey squeaked. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Yes, sir," she repeated more clearly.
"How long are you filling in?"
"This is supposed to be my last day for this week, sir."
Felix leaned forward. "Well, I am convinced that you are innocent, Casey," he said, "however, due to this whole estate situation that you are in right now, I think it best that you stay away from the Luxor for the time being."
Criss sat bolt upright. "Hey, wait a minute--"
"Now, Criss, I'm not firing her," Felix told him. "It's just until the probate court decides the matter and if Casey gets the inheritance or not. When is the court date, Casey?"
"Two weeks from today, sir."
"Okay, I don't see any need for any fill-ins among the housekeeping staff for the next two weeks, but all the same, I'd advise you to seek some private employment, so you won't be a danger to the public. I'd like to keep you on, but I have the safety and the security of the guests to consider. You understand, don't you?"
Yeah, I understand, Criss thought angrily. You want to cover your own ass at the expense of Casey, don't you, Felix?
"It's all right, Mr. Rappaport," Casey said quietly. "I have a caregiver job lined up for a friend of Mr. Piccucci's."
Felix smiled, relieved that she had taken it so well. "Good. Then that's settled. Just remember to hand in your keycard to the office before you leave, okay?"
"Yes, sir," Casey replied, rising.
Criss rose, too, still a bit angry over Felix's seemingly crass behavior. He's just looking out for the bottom line, he thought nastily. It's not the safety and security of anyone, it's the insurance he's worried about! It's all about the bottom line!
He strode out of the office without another word. Casey nearly shrank when she saw how angry he was. "Mr. Angel?" she ventured timidly. "Is anything wrong?"
Criss turned to Casey. "No, it's not you, Casey," he said. "It's just that I think Felix is more worried about his insurance rates going up than he is about your safety."
"Don't feel that way, Mr. Angel," Casey said comfortingly. "I don't want to put anyone here in danger--especially you. It's better this way, really it is. I got a job taking care of Mr. Piccucci's friend, Mr. Springer. He'll be going into the hospital soon, and he'll need a caregiver to stay with him."
Criss turned to Casey. "A friend of Mr. Piccucci?" he repeated. "Was he a gangster, too?"
"Well, yes, he was, as a matter of fact," Casey replied. "But he's the last surviving member of The Guys, and he's retired, too."
"The Guys of Glitter Gulch," Casey explained. "They were quite notorious back in the Forties and Fifties."
"Yeah, I bet they were."
"Anyway, now that Mr. Piccucci is gone, he's the only one left," Casey went on. "And he's sick with stomach cancer, and he knew me when I took care of Mr. Piccucci, so he's going to hire me on."
Criss sighed. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, he thought. She leaves one mob family only to get mixed up with another. This is going to make her situation worse. "Well, okay," he said with a shrug, "if that's what you want to do. Just be careful, okay? I'm not going to be around to protect you, you know. Just watch your back, okay?"
Casey nodded. "I promise."
"Can I walk you to the door at least?" he offered. "Just to make sure you're safe and all."
Casey smiled, flattered over such a gallant gesture, but insisted she had to turn in her keycard and change into her regular clothes, and would he mind waiting if it wasn't too much trouble? Criss said he didn't mind, and waited patiently while she took care of business. She was a bit reluctant to exit through the main lobby--employees were supposed to enter and exit through the service door out back. "But you're not an employee any more, right?" Criss reminded her.
"Well, no..." Casey replied hesitantly.
"Then we go this way," he insisted.
The atrium buzzed with the usual activity of any busy hotel; the press had finally been dispersed by the security detail. Criss and Casey walked across the huge atrium to the main entrance, the latter looking wide-eyed around herself. Such luxury! Such spaciousness! She could not imagine staying in a place like this, even for a single night, even if she did receive her nine million dollar inheritance. And to think that Criss Angel actually lived here, day after day, night after night! Just how rich was he, anyway? she wondered.
"Hey, sweetheart!" a gruff but familiar voice spoke up beside her.
Both Casey and Criss turned to see a stocky old man in a decent grey suit, fingering a cigar. Criss had no idea who he was, but Casey recognized him immediatly.
"Hello, Mr. Springer," she said cheerfully.