02-26-2012, 04:22 PM
The morning did come, but no one was the wiser about the identity of the Luxor Bomber despite the meticulous combing and gathering of every scrap of evidence the investigators could find, including the three hundred and sixty degree photographing of the blast site vertically and horizontally. Nor from the few witnesses whose recollections were hazy at best, each claiming "it had happened so fast" that none were really sure about anything.
The wreckage of the car bomb was cleared away, hauled out piece by blackened piece by waste management. The hotel management hired a company specializing in cleaning and repairing in the wake of crime scenes; it was too difficult and too gruesome a task for the regular housekeeping staff. Contractors set to work replacing the demolished windows and sliding glass doors of the main entrance.
"Jeeeeeezuss!" one of the window men exclaimed, "That (bleeper) blew out the whole damn front!"
"Hell, he blew out half the damn hotel!" one of his coworkers retorted as he pried out a bent window frame with a crowbar.
"Who the hell would do this, huh?" the first worker asked.
"Damned if I know," his companion growled. "That (bleeper) killed three people in there. He's gonna get the death penalty, sure as hell."
CAR BOMB EXPLODES IN HOTEL, 3 DEAD
blared the headlines in that morning's edition of the Las Vegas Sun, with photos of the burned out atrium and bloodied victims for emphasis. The press conference and Criss Angel's fifty thousand dollar reward offer was printed in a sidebar on the front page. Still, no suspects had been found or even identified.
Carey laid down the paper on the restaurant table. Such gory stories didn't exactly whet the appetite for breakfast, but being hypoglycemic, she had to eat something or she'd get the "shakes" from low blood sugar.
Whoever did it was a pro, she thought. He had covered his tracks so efficiently not even the best investigative minds could find him. What was missing? she wondered. Something must have been overlooked. What am I doing? I'm supposed to be on vacation, not chasing crooks! To hell with this, I'm going shopping!
After a quick breakfast of eggs and toast, she strapped on her sunhat and headed out to discover what the fabled Vegas Strip had to offer. She was going shopping, see the sights and for once enjoy herself, Bomber be damned!
She had to leave through one of the side entrances, the main one closed due to reconstruction. Walking around the huge pyramid, she noticed a group of mostly young people huddled around near the crash site, with posterboard signs and Criss Angel MindFreak t-shirts, ball caps and other merchandise. Carey walked up to them, thinking that Criss Angel was going to make a special appearance or something. If he was, they didn't look too excited about it. Curious, she approached a girl of about twenty or so and tapped her on the shoulder. "Excuse me," she said politely. "Can you tell me what's going on here?"
The brown-haired girl turned her tear-filled eyes to her. "We are holding a vigil for Costa, Criss' brother." she explained. "He was one of the victims of the bomb that went off yesterday."
"Oh, yes, I remember seeing him in the ballroom yesterday," Carey told her. "He was lying on a mattress, pretty badly cut up with all that broken glass he caught."
"You saw him?" the girl asked anxiously. "Was Criss in there with him, do you know?"
"Well, yes, in fact his whole family was in there, a couple of other men and I think his mother was in there, too" Carey recalled. "An older woman, long black hair, spoke with an accent."
The brown-haired girl nodded. "That was Dimitra, their mom" she confirmed.
"I see." Carey said
"Yeah," the girl nodded. "Funny you should say that; it's Criss she usually worries about, what with all his demonstrations and escapes. Never thought it would be about Costa."
"Other people suffered in that attack as well, you know," Carey reminded her. "Shouldn't you be concerned about them?"
"We are concerned, really," protested another fan, a slim blond high-school girl in an Affliction t-shirt tied up to her bosom. "It's just that Costa is the only one we know personally. We want all the victims to recover, but Costa especially, because he's Criss' brother."
"Hey," a stocky fellow with a cheap circle-A medallion dangling from his neck spoke up suddenly. "You think they are going to cancel the demonstration for Thursday because of this?"
The group looked at each other as they pondered this question.
"What demonstration?" Carey asked.
"Oh, Criss was going to do this motorcycle demonstration in the desert this Thursday, but after the bombing and all..."
"Criss did the Quad Drag escape when his mother was going into heart surgery," the stocky man pointed out. "you think he's gonna let Costa's injuries stop him?"
"Hmph! If I had been Criss, I would have cancelled and gone to the hospital to be with her!" Carey sniffed indignantly.
"He wanted to, and his mom was in New York at the time, and he left right after." the brown-haired girl argued. "In fact, he dedicated the whole episode to her."
"Criss ain't gonna cancel," the stocky man insisted. "He doesn't want to disappoint his fans."
"Well, I don't know about you, but I am going shopping, no matter what," Carey told the vigil keepers. "So, it was nice meeting you, uh..." she turned to the brown-haired girl.
"Amber. Amber Woods." Amber shook Carey's hand.
"Carey Conner. I'm from Detroit." she said. "Well, if we do meet again, I hope it will be under more pleasant circumstances. Have a nice day."
"Later," Amber waved good-bye along with the rest of the group as Carey made her way to the parking garage for her car.
A few years ago, Carey Conner would have walked past window displays of fashionable clothing and other goods without so much as a glance, knowing she could never afford to buy any of it. Now, with the success of her book, she could indulge a little, savor a taste of the good life, actually buy those items in the store windows instead of letting them blend into the scenery. Ah, shopping! Carey thought to herself. America's favorite form of therapy! Nothing like running up a huge credit card bill purchasing overpriced merchandise you don't really need to soothe the soul!
She entered one store that reputedly was having a sale. Of course, in Carey's experience, the term "sale" was relative. In Las Vegas, it would be marked half-off and still be expensive as far as she was concerned. She missed the days when she shopped in Windsor, Canada, when the exchange rates were so favorable that everything was half off in US dollars, and crossing the border meant just a few basic questions of citizenship and purpose of visit, and they waved you in. Now, the US dollar was weak to the Canadian one, and you needed a passport to get into and out of the country.
Well, this is definatly not Windsor, she thought to herself, though it was even more foreign to her than Detroit's neighbor across the river. She drew a deep breath and plunged into the shop.
The first thing she saw was a London Fog raincoat, on sale for ninety dollars, hanging on the clearance rack. It was the right shade of tan, had a hood, and was actually her size. She snatched it up and bought it. Score!
Her purchase safely stowed in the rental car, she headed out for more bargains. Instead, she found herself at the famous Magic Castle. Well, it was almost lunchtime, so she stopped in.
Seated next to a small stage, she received a drink menu, but ordered a lemon-lime soda instead. She undid her sunhat and was about to look for a place to hang it up when a curly-haired buffoon of a man snatched it up and placed it on his own head, batting his eyes coquettishly to the amusement of the other customers. He twirled it, showing the audience that it was indeed empty, and suddenly produced a small white rabbit from it.
Carey was startled, then amused. It was usually a top hat from which magicians pulled our rabbits, she recalled. But this fellow was pulling out rabbits not just from hats, but other people's shopping bags, under jackets, even a kid's souvenier plastic pirate's chest from the Pirates of the Carribean show. Rabbits were springing up everywhere, it seemed.
Well, she thought, I knew rabbits could multiply, but this is ridiculous!
Her server came with her drink. "Say," she asked the waitress, "who is that guy?"
"Oh, that's Willie Ginsmore," she answered. "He's performing here for the week. He's really funny. He's deaf, so his assistant has to translate for him."
Interesting, Carey thought. I should catch his show later. For now, however, she wanted to make hay while the sun shone and get on with her shopping. Magic could wait. She finished her soda, strapped on her hat, and headed out the door, struggling to remember where she parked. Her capricious memory frustrated her. She could quote whole passages from Shakespeare yet forget where she parked her car! Maybe she should try that Ginko Biloba that was supposed to be so good for memory enhancement--
A giant, invisible hand seemed to smack her down with a mighty force, sending her sprawling onto the pavement. She cried out in fear and astonishment, but was drowned out by a deafening roar. Bits and pieces of glass and mortar showered her as she lay stunned on the street.
Coming to her senses, Carey pulled herself up to her feet and assessed the scene around her, or what she could see through the thick cloud of dust and smoke. She shook off dust and debris from her clothes and cleaned her bifocals as best she could with a small cloth from her purse. Donning them again, she saw the entrance of the Magic Castle in smoldering ruins, just like the Luxor the day before. Whoever could still walk clambered over the rubble, some bleeding, some burned, some both. Others were hauled out by passersby and security personnel from nearby hotels and casinos. Sirens wailed, announcing the arrival of the LVPD, EMS and the LVFD to the rescue.
It's the Luxor all over again! Carey thought. He did it again! God help us! The Luxor Bomber has struck again!