12-18-2011, 05:04 PM
The shopping scene went well. Mifflin was finally satisfied with the results and called for a fifteen-minute break before shooting the next scene. Criss invited Nomi to his dressing room for a bottle of water and a bit of light conversation. Nomi, desiring to get to know her co-star better, happily accepted.
In the privacy of Criss' dressing room, the two sat together on the small sofa, sipping spring water and going over the scene they had just completed. "So, tell me, seriously," Nomi said, "how did you do that disappearing act in the hallway?"
Criss held up an admonshing finger. "A good magician never reveals his secrets," he told her.
"Aw, come on, Criss," Nomi pleaded. "You can tell me. I swear I won't tell a soul."
He leaned closer to her. "You swear?"
"Cross my heart and hope to die," Nomi replied, crossing her bosom with a finely manicured finger.
Criss looked around conspiratorially, then leaned toward her ear. "Before I do the trick," he murmured.
"Yes?" Nomi said eagerly.
He paused for effect, then said, "I cover my whole body with invisible ink."
Nomi slapped Criss on the shoulder. "Oh, you do not!" she exclaimed.
Criss laughed out loud, enjoying his joke. "You are so full of it!" Nomi said. "Invisible ink! Phfft! No, seriously, I want to know how you really did it!"
Criss shook his head. "Sorry, not telling," he said.
Nomi pouted. "Fine!" she said petulantly. "Be that way!"
Neither spoke until they finished drinking their water. Nomi looked at Criss a little more genially. "Oh, by the way," she said casually, "Holly says hi."
Criss turned his head. "You still see her at the mansion?" he asked.
"No, not at the mansion," she replied, "but she still keeps in touch with Kendra and everybody."
"Oh, that's nice," Criss replied drily. "If you see her again, send her my regards."
He drifted into a melancholy reverie. Holly. Holly Madison. Hugh Hefner's--and Criss'--former girlfriend. They had been so happy together, Criss and Holly, but their respective careers got in the way of their relationship. In the end, they had to break it off. There was no animosity between them; they still remained on friendly terms. It was just a scheduling conflict, they told the press; they just couldn't get together as often as they wanted to. Still, Criss felt a twinge of sorrow at the thought of losing Holly. She had been the first woman with whom he had had a serious relationship since his divorce several years ago.
Nomi looked at Criss, concerned. "Criss? You okay?"
Criss shook himself back into reality. "Hm? Oh! Oh, yeah, I'm okay," he said, putting on a brave front. He quickly changed the subject. "So, how's Hef doin' these days?"
"He's fine," Nomi said. "Still parading around in those silk pajamas. Pretty spry for an eightysomething-year-old man."
"Well, when you're surrounded by beautiful women all day, you'd be 'pretty spry', too!" Criss retorted, laughing.
Nomi smiled a bright, beautiful smile with perfectly straight, pearly white teeth. She looked straight out of a Pepsodent ad, he thought. He wondered if she had done any modeling before landing in the Playboy Mansion. Most likely she did.
"So, what did you do before hooking up with Hef?" he asked casually.
"Oh, the usual," Nomi replied. "Photo shoots, clothing ads, movie extras, things like that. Then I auditioned for Girls Next Door, and I made the cut." Her smile took on a nervous twitch. "I'm still not used to living in such luxury," she admitted. "I've lived in one-room apartments most of my life, just barely able to make the rent. I always seemed to be one step ahead of living on the street. Now, I'm living in this ginormous mansion, with servants and butlers and everything. It's like a dream living at the Playboy Mansion, but there are times when I feel I don't deserve to be there, know what I mean?"
Criss laid a hand on Nomi's shoulder. "Nomi," he said gently. "Don't sell yourself short. I'm sure you worked hard to get where you are right now. If you didn't have the talent and the determination to make it, you wouldn't be where you are right now. Hell, you wouldn't be here making this movie if you didn't! You're not just another pretty face, Nomi. You got something special about you that goes beyond looks. Make the most of it."
Nomi's eyes shone with tears. Criss smiled tenderly. Their faces approached each other as if under their own power, their lips drawing nearer and nearer like two magnets, their minds empty of all thought save each other's presence, closer and closer, feeling each other's warmth, their hearts beating faster in anticipation...
A knock on the dressing room door jolted them apart. "Criss! Nomi! You're wanted on the set!" someone called out.
Criss swore under his breath as he launched himself off the sofa. Nomi rose after him, as disappointed as he was. "Well, I guess it's back to work," she said resignedly.
She took a quick glance in the mirror to check her make-up and primp her hair. Criss didn't bother checking his. He was supposed to be a bum, and bums don't care about their appearances. "You go on ahead," he told her. "I'll catch up with you later. I gotta take a leak."
Nomi flashed her dazziling smile and left the dressing room. Criss regretted using the "take a leak" phrase in front of her. It made him sound vulgar, uncouth; he should have used something more discreet, more polite. Oh, well, it was too late now, he thought. She didn't seem put off by it, though. Maybe she used it herself.
He shook off his faux pas and headed for the men's room down the corridor. He wished he had a private lavatory installed in his dressing room instead of having to make the trip down the hall to go to the bathroom. Maybe later he could talk to Felix Rappaport about--
"HEY!!" a man's loud voice shouted down the corridor.
Criss whirled around and saw Chief of Security "Big Luke" Macaffey standing not two yards away. "You can't go in there!" he bellowed. "That's for hotel guests only!"
Criss was flabbergasted. "But...!" he protested.
"But nothin', pal!" Macaffey snapped, grabbing Criss by the collar of his ragged tweed coat. "Clear outta here--now!!"
Macaffey shoved him toward the service exit. "I said MOVE IT, buster!!"
"But I'm Criss Angel!!" Criss cried out desperatly.
"Yeah, and I'm Wayne Newton!" Macaffey sneered. "Now, beat it!!"
"Macaffey!" Criss screamed. "Hey!!"
Macaffey flung Criss out of the service entrance. He landed with a thud onto the concrete, scraping his hands as he tried to break his fall. He scrambled to his feet and made a run for the service entrance, but it was too late--the heavy metal doors slammed shut, locking him outside. He hammered on the doors with his fists. "Macaffey!" he cried, "It's me! It's really me, Criss Angel! I live here, remember? Somebody open this door!"
No answer. "Son of a (bleep)!" Criss spat, slapping his palms against the metal doors. "Now what the hell am I gonna do?"
It seemed his only option was to circle around to the front and get in that way. The camera crew in the would recognize him for sure, he figured. Macaffey's so gonna hear it from me after this! he thought bitterly. He is so fired for this!
Criss trudged along the perimeter of the hotel, mentally damning the Chief of Security for throwing him out of his own home with every step. Along the way, he caught a glimpse of his own reflection in one of the mirrored panels of the giant pyramid. He sniffed in rueful amusement at his image. Great job, Marjorie, he thought. You really made me look convincing enough to be mistaken for a real homeless bum! I just hope I'm not too unrecognizable when I get back inside.
He made it to the front of the hotel, but as bad luck would have it, there was Macaffey, patrolling the entrance, two of his men flanking him on either side. "There's a vagrant in the area!" he bellowed in his foghorn voice. "I caught him inside the hotel! I threw him out on his ass, but if you see him around here, you nail him! We can't have any bums scaring off the guests! President's orders!"
President's orders? Did Macaffey already report him to Felix? But he must know that they were shooting a movie in there, and that he, Criss Angel, was in it. How was he going to get past Macaffey's goon squad and back inside the hotel? He wished he hadn't left his cell phone in his suite; Mifflin had insisted that Criss divest himself of all things modern, from his cell to his watch, in order to make his character more "believable". Criss had agreed, not anticipating the emergency he now faced.
A flash of hope burst into his mind. His keycard! He still had that with him, didn't he? He felt around his ragged clothing for the keycard that would prove his true identity and allow him back inside. But with every empty pocket he reached into, hope faded into despair. He then recalled he had left it in his billfold, and his billfold was with his personal assistant, Tom, for safekeeping. Oh, Jesus! he groaned inwardly. I am so screwed right now!
He glanced toward the main entrance where Macaffey's men patrolled. In his hobo costume, he would be nailed for sure, and he didn't want to risk facing the wrath of Big Luke again. By now, the chief would have alerted his troops to watch out for the "vagrant" on the premises, so he could not get into either of the side buildings, with or without his keycard. With no cell phone, no keycard, no wallet, and no money, he could not contact anyone inside for help. Dear God, he prayed. What am I gonna do now?