12-25-2011, 04:02 PM
Chaos erupted the moment Criss stepped through the glass doors of the hotel's main entrance: the movie crew broke into applause; Nomi, still in costume, trotted up to him and flung her arms around him, thanking God he was all right; a frantic Dave Mifflin kept demanding where the flaming hell he had been, how long he had to shut down production, and how that moron security guard Macaffey was gonna pay for his screw-up; all the while, Baram kept shepherding his star client to his backstage dressing room to get him ready for his live show going on in ninety minutes. Security was nowhere to be seen. As far as Criss himself was concerned, life had returned to its usual state of abnormal.
He did make a quick stop at the production office to see his mother. Though she was delighted to see her son back safe and sound, she was taken aback by his appearance. His face was still smeared with streaks of stage make-up, and his clothes looked even shabbier than his usual wardrobe. "Go get yourself cleaned up," she ordered him. "You look like a bum."
Criss shook with laughter at his mother's apt observation. "Mom," he said, "I'm supposed to be a bum in the movie, remember?"
He gave her a peck on the cheek and left to get ready for the show, confident he would feel better once he was in his element on stage. The ordeal of the day was nothing but a memory now; he was happy he could finally put it all behind him.
Only when the show was over and he was lying in bed that night (he decided to turn in early because he wanted to get enough sleep for filming in the morning) did the events of the day come back to haunt him. Images of the residents crowded into that warehouse of a shelter kept popping up in his mind, the crushed, hopeless expressions on their weary faces as they shuffled down the chow line to receive their daily ration of tasteless,watery food in the low-ceilinged cafeteria. The images of the children living there especially bothered him; he could still see the pain of hunger and fear in their little eyes, the joy of carefree childhood completely vanished from their pathetic short lives. No child should have to live in such conditions, he said to himself. Hell, I wouldn't let a dog live like that!
He had to do something. That much he was certain. He had to do something to alleviate the misery of those miserable wretches living (if "living" was the term for it) in that shelter. The only question was how to do it. What was the best way to help those scores of homeless people get the help they need? He had already taped an episode there, but it would not air until next season, too late for most of them. No, he had to do something, and do it now. But what?
Pastor Bob's admonition replayed in his mind: You earn more money in one week than most folks earn in a lifetime! You wear enough gold and silver to make Fort Knox want to reel you in! You got enough cars and motorcycles to open your own dealership!
Criss sat up in bed, struck by a flash of inspiration. Yeah, maybe that would work! It was worth a try, anyway. He'd donated customized motorcycles to charity before. This time, it would be on a larger scale, with all the proceeds going to homeless relief. All he needed to do was work out the details. Satisfied with his decision, he settled down to sleep. Maybe Pastor Bob was right after all, he said to himself. Maybe all this did happen for a reason.
The next morning, before filming, Criss was called into the president's office. He did not doubt that Felix Rappaport had heard about what happened the previous day and wanted a full accounting of his disappearance. Though they had been friends for almost six years now, Felix was still the boss; it was his and his investors' money that funded his show and allowed him to tape his series in his hotel. Criss was confident that once he explained the whole was a huge misunderstanding on security's part, all would be forgiven.
Upon arrival at the office, however, it looked as if Criss had to do the forgiving. Felix had summoned Chief of Security Macaffey along with the two guards who had chased him off the hotel property when they mistook him for a vagrant. "Gentlemen," the president said with the air of a school principal who had caught some students in some sort of mischief, "I believe you have something to say."
Macaffey cleared his throat. "Mr. Angel," he began humbly but officiously, "on behalf of my men and myself, we offer a sincere apology for our treatment of you yesterday morning. While we are required to keep trespassers away from hotel property, we were negligent in establishing your identity and so were under the mistaken impression that you were a vagrant. My men here were acting under my orders, so I assume full responsibility for their actions against you as well as my own. Again, my apologies for any inconvenience we had caused you."
Inconvenience, Criss thought bitterly. Nice word for it, Macaffey.Inconvenience. You damn near screwed up my life, you (bleep)hole! "Thank you," he said simply.
Felix held up a letter. "Because of all this, Macaffey here has handed in his resignation as chief of security."
Criss was stunned. One little screw-up on his part and Big Luke was quitting? That wasn't like him at all. For all his bluster and overzealousness, Macaffey had kept the hotel safe from break-ins and other criminal activity. If he did quit, where would he go? Back to the supermax prison? With his back injury, those cons would tear him apart like sharks in a feeding frenzy. A billion-dollar hotel needed tight security, and Lucas Macaffey was the man to provide it. Criss realized that even though he was upset over what he did to him yesterday, Macaffey's place was here at the Luxor.
"I never figured you to be a quitter, Big Luke," he said. "I mean, it was all a big misunderstanding, right? You didn't recognize me under all that make-up I was wearing, right?"
Macaffey's tight lips creased upward in a semblance of a smile. "Your own mother wouldn't have recognized you," he said.
Criss turned to Felix. "Look, I know Big Luke made a mistake, but he shouldn't have to quit because of it," he said. "I know he's used strong-arm tactics before, but you have to admit that crime's gone way down since he's been here. Can't you give him a second chance?"
Felix turned to Macaffey. "You willing to give it another go, Lucas?"
For the first time, Criss actually saw Big Luke smile. "I'm willing if you are, sir," he replied.
Felix picked up the resignation letter and tore it in half. "Now get back to work," he ordered the chief and two guards. "But show a little more care for the people you meet, okay? You don't know who it might be."
While his plan to help the homeless came to him in a flash, putting it into action proved to be difficult. He still had to finish filming Angel Unaware on top of all of his other commitments. Not only that, but the media got wind of his day's adventure and demanded he tell his side of the story, and no other forum proved to be as popular than on The Tonight Show.
"So, I'm in my hobo costume, see," Criss said to Jay Leno, "and the chief of security sees me, and he thinks I'm a real homeless bum, so he yells 'Hey! You can't go in there!'. I'm, like, 'but I'm Criss Angel!' He's, like, 'yeah, and I'm Wayne Newton!', and he throws me out the back door!"
Laughter from the audience. "So there I am, stuck outside the Luxor, and I go around the front, but then there's these two security guys there, and one's got a gun pointing straight at me! I see Chief Macaffey coming, and, believe me, you don't wanna mess with him! So I take off, and I'm running down the street for my life."
"Geez, you poor guy," Leno sympathized.
"Yeah, it was totally unreal!" Criss said. "I mean, I get thrown out of my own home and chased off by guards! Somehow, I kept expecting Ashton Kucher to pop up and tell me I've been punk'd!"
More laughter from the audience. "And so I'm wandering the streets, and I end up in the same homeless shelter where we taped episode two. I call Dave, who had been tearing his hair out wondering where the hell I am; he comes to pick me up and takes me back to the Luxor. So for a few hours, I knew what it was really like to be homeless. It sucks big time, let me tell you."
"Do you consider this a life-changing experience?" Leno asked.
"Every experience is life-changing," Criss replied, "but this is definatly in the top ten."
Laughter and applause. "We'll be right back with more Criss Angel!" Leno announced as The Tonight Show broke for a commercial.
Last edited by Veritas; 12-25-2011 at 04:08 PM.