02-28-2012, 04:58 PM
The infamous magic-and-comedy duo, Penn and Teller, gazed in shock upon the ruins of the Magic Castle, the giant Penn Jilette standing as silent as his diminutive partner beside him. One by one, bits and pieces of the Castle's memorabilia, some still intact, some burned, some damaged by smoke and water from the firemen's hoses, were carried out and loaded into rental trucks to be transferred to storage facilites until the Castle could be rebuilt.
When he had received the news of the disaster, Penn Jillette had risen heroically to the occasion and had contacted the club's owner to transport and store anything valuable that had survived the blast or could be restored in time when the Castle would reopen. Penn would supervise the transfer with the help of his longtime partner, and find anyone who could restore the damaged items. Only when they arrived and saw the full extent of the damage for themselves did the enormity of the task strike home to them.
Penn shook his head sadly. So many memories he had in the Magic Castle, performing their outrageous brand of magic with his silent partner, Teller. So many priceless items accumulated over the years--theater posters, handbills, props from the famous magicians of the past--gone in one horrific flash. Could they ever be restored? Penn wondered sadly. Could they ever be replaced?
Teller pulled out a plain white handkerchief and wiped the tears from his eyes. His characteristic silence was even deeper and more profound in the wake of this recent disaster. Penn laid a giant, comforting hand on his partner's shoulder, as speechless as Teller himself.
"Mr. Penn?" a woman's voice spoke behind him. "Mr. Teller?"
The duo turned around. "I'm Darlene Packard from Channel Three news. Can you tell us what you know about this recent bombing?" The slim, blond news reporter held up the microphone before the giant Penn.
"What the (bleep) can I tell you?" Penn spat out. "I don't know a (bleeping) thing about it! All I know is, some (bleeping) maniac is out there trying to kill us!"
"You offered to store the Magic Club's memorabilia. Is that true?"
"Yes," Penn replied, "I am storing them in an undisclosed location, to prevent any theft or bombings." Teller nodded in agreement and confirmation.
"You know, Criss Angel offered a fifty thousand dollar reward for the Bomber's capture. Do you have any comments or opinions about that? I mean, are you going to offer your own reward as well?"
"Criss offered that reward because his brother was hurt in the explosion," Penn pointed out emphatically. "Personally, I don't blame him. I don't plan to offer any type of reward myself, but I support his decision. All I want is for this (bleeper) to get caught and put in prison where he belongs!" Again, Teller nodded in agreement. Then the duo abruptly turned away, signalling the end of the interview.
Darlene turned to face the camera. "So, the work on the Magic Castle continues, and Channel Three will be covering this and any future developments on this story. This is Darlene Packard, Channel Three News."
"Cancel?" Criss exclaimed. "Whaddya mean 'cancel'? I can't back out now, it's tomorrow, for chrissakes!"
"Criss, there's a maniac going aorund blowing up the Strip, and everyone's scared!" JD argued. "Who knows where this (bleeper's) gonna strike next?"
"First of all, I'm not going to be on the Strip," Criss argued back. "I'm gonna be in the desert--you know, wide open spaces. Anyone who tried to throw a bomb is gonna get nailed for sure, right then and there. And we got the camera crew all over the place--they'd tape anyone doing anything out of the ordinary."
"All the cameras are going to be trained on you, and there's gonna be a crowd of people there as well." JD pointed out. "That guy could be hiding among them and no one would know it, because they'd be too busy watching you."
"We got security, don't we?"
"What little we got to spare. Every security guard here at the Luxor is on red alert, and everywhere else for that matter. We'll be short-handed."
Criss sighed. JD took a calmer approach. "Look, Criss, we'll just postpone it until this whole bomb scare blows over, okay?"
Criss turned his face to his eldest brother. "And when the hell will that be? Huh? If I don't go out there tomorrow and do that demonstration, everyone's gonna think I'm scared. And I am not scared, you understand?"
"If you do go out there and do that demonstration, everyone's gonna think you are tempting fate."
Criss shrugged. "So? I do it all the time. Tell everyone the demo is on for tomorrow, Bomber or no Bomber." He clapped a confident hand on his brother's shoulder. "We are going to show the world we are not afraid. We are not going to live in fear of this psycho like everybody else. Everything is going to be okay, JD. Nothing's gonna happen."
JD shook his head in disbelief. "You are too (bleeping) nuts, you know that? You are just too (bleeping) nuts!"
The release of Costa Sarantakos from the hospital that afternoon gave bomb-weary Loyals reason to cheer. They congregated at the Luxor's only side entrance open to the public, as the main entrance was still closed for construction, carrying welcome signs made of posterboard and glitter. They had posted "shout-outs" and get well wishes for Costa on fan boards and Websites mere moments after news of his injury--and heroism--was made public. Grief-filled letters and heartfelt prayers for his recovery, punctuated with appropriatly weepy emoticons, zipped through cyberspace and were read by fellow Loyals, who added their own wishes and shout-outs. Their shock and sorrow were rivaled by their outrage over the cause of Costa's injuries, many venting their spleen on the Internet. Many of these poison posts were so venemous in their content, they had to be deleted by the Moderators who supervised the sites on which they appeared.
Now, Costa was coming home. Everyone waited eagerly for the wounded hero's arrival. Would he come in a limo? Or one of Criss' own cars? The Lambo? The Viper? Who knew? Only when the sight of a black limosine cruising up to the curb was everyone's curiosity satisfied, the tension of waiting released with cheers and whistles of jubilation.
Costa sat on the long side seat of the stretch Mercedes on his side. His brother, Criss, sat adjacient to him in the back of the car with JD beside him. "Doin' okay, there, bro?" Criss asked.
"Yeah, I'm okay," Costa replied. "For someone who had half a ton of glass pulled out of his ass, I'm doin' fine."
"Half a ton, my ass," Criss sneered. "You just got scratched up, that's all. They just sent you to the ER to check for any infection or whatever."
"I caught a bit of shrapnel here and there," Costa told him. He pointed to his left buttock. "Mostly there."
"We're almost at the Luxor," Criss reassured him. "Won't be long now. You just take it easy, okay?"
"Yeah, like I got anything planned for tonight," Costa retorted with a humorless smile.
JD looked out the window of the limo. "Oh, God," he moaned. "There's a crowd out there."
Criss turned to look for himself. Sure enough, the Loyals had turned up to welcome Costa home from the hospital. To make matters worse, the media were also present.
"Look, I'll handle the cameras," he told JD. "You get Costa inside, okay?"
JD nodded. The Mercedes pulled up to the curb and stopped. Cheers erupted from the crowd, flashbulbs popped. The security detail pushed back the surge of bodies eager to touch their idols.
Criss emerged from the limo to screams and howls of love and devotion, mingled with demands of "Where's Costa?" Microphones were thrust into his face as reporters bombarded him with questions:
"How is your brother, Costa?" demanded one.
"Fine," Criss answered.
"How serious were his injuries?" inquired another.
"He was just lacerated, that's all; he's gonna be okay."
"Is there any long-term disability?"
"No, he's fine, really."
"What about the desert demonstration? Has that been cancelled?"
"The demonstration has not been cancelled. It's still on."
As Criss fended off the press, Costa emerged from the limo onto the curb. The fans cheered at the sight of him, walking briskly toward the entrance, a few hints of scar tissue visible on his neck and arms. He wore shades over his eyes to protect them from the sun and the glare of the camera flashbulbs.
JD and the limo driver waved off the reporters straining to get a statement from Costa about his ordeal. He just kept repeating "I'm okay, I'm okay," while smiling and waving as he made his way into the hotel.
Inside, Costa was greeted with applause from the staff and management of both the Luxor and MindFreak Productions. All Costa saw, however, was his mother, who had waited patiently for her son to return from the hospital. She stepped forward and lovingly embraced him, still worried about the extent of his injuries. He had sacrificed his own safety to protect her from the Bomber, a fact which both grieved and filled her with pride. He was her hero, her guardian angel--he deserved the welcome he had received outside. Now he was home, and she would tend to his injuries as a mother should. God had delivered them both from a horrible death, and she thanked Him for it.
By nightfall, Las Vegas was a city on the edge. The garishly lit Las Vegas Strip was all but deserted, the dance clubs and bars nearly empty of patrons. Many dancers who performed at the strip clubs called in sick or whatever reason they could think of to avoid going to work that night. Celebrities cancelled performances, costing theaters and clubs thousands of dollars in lost profits. Even casinos lost customers; all but the hopelessly obsessive gamblers fled the city in the wake of the bombings. Police patrolled the entire city of Las Vegas more than usual, keeping a sharp eye out for any suspicious activity. At times, a few paranoid types would flag them down and ask them to inspect their cars for any bombs. They would comply, but they usually turned up nothing out of the ordinary.
All employees in every major hotel and casino were briefed on handling bomb threats or sightings. Under no circumstances were they to try and defuse the bomb themselves, they were told emphatically. They were to clear the area and contact the Bomb Squad immediatly. If they did receive a bomb threat over the phone, they were to follow a set of pre-printed questions in a special emergency notebook given to all receptionists and front desk personnel. If they could hold the caller on the line long enough, they should try to trace the call through the call-back system and report it to the police.
Criss Angel's fifty-thousand dollar reward offer was widely publicized through every form of media Las Vegas had at its disposal, along with a special one-eight-hundred hotline for any information about the Las Vegas Bomber, as the media called him. Electronic billborads, Internet pop-ups, television ads during the news, even the humble printed word did their part to bring the Bomber to justice, from newspapers to crudely Xeroxed flyers taped to store windows. But for all the efforts of the citizenry and police to find whoever was responsible for the Luxor and Magic Castle disasters, no suspects were found. There had been a few leads, but they always dead-ended somewhere. Two bombings in two days--would Wednesday make it three?
Last edited by Veritas; 02-28-2012 at 05:02 PM.