04-02-2012, 03:38 PM
The afternoon faded into evening. George walked nervously down the twelfth-floor hallway searching for Room 1211. Even though he had presented a suave front when he first met Angela Honi in the security office, he had been on pins and needles for the rest of the afternoon. He had asked her out to dinner--no hesitation, no hemming and hawing, just "You wanna go out to dinner with me tonight? Pick you up around eight." Just like that. And just like that, she had accepted. The moment George hung up the phone he was struck by the enormity of it all. Here was a woman he had just met (by landing on top of him from twelve floors up, for chrissake!), and right out of the blue he asks her out on a date! It was funny, in a way. Now he was scared (bleep)less.
He had managed to excuse himself from a night of after-show clubbing with his famous cousin so he could take Angela out for a nice quiet dinner somewhere. It was a sensible choice in his opinion; Angela didn't seem the party type, so shy and retiring she seemed. Beisdes, it would give him time to get to know her better, and vice versa. There was something about the bashful schoolteacher that appealed to him, though he just couldn't put his finger on it. Was it her watery blue eyes, her Mona Lisa smile, her shy demeanor? Or was it something else? Whatever it was, he was determined to find out.
"Room 1208, room 1210," he muttered under his breath as he passed the row of doors. "Room 1211! Here we are!"
He knocked on the door. "Who is it?" a muffled woman's voice spoke from the other side.
George wanted to respond with something witty or clever, but in his nervous state he simply blurted out "It's me, George!" He wished he had bought flowers or something for Angie. Maybe later on in the evening, he thought.
He could hear the door latch rattling open, as if nervous fingers fumbled with the locks, then the door itself swung open, revealing Angela Honi dressed in a simple silver shift accented with a plain pearl necklace, and her thin blond hair was pinned up formally. "Oh, hello, George," she said.
"You look really nice, Angie," George complimented. He extended his arm. "You ready to go?"
Angela took the proffered arm and went with him down into the atrium. She didn't ask where he was taking her; she wanted it to be a surprise. From the way he was dressed, she could guess it was someplace really special, somewhere with candlelight and soft music. Well, it didn't really matter where they went--they could have gone to McDonald's for all she cared and she would still have enjoyed the evening, just so long as she was with George.
What neither of them expected was the reception they received as soon as they entered the atrium. Cameras flashed in their faces, people applauded them as soon as they saw them. George and Angela looked at each other in bewilderment. "What's going on?" Angela wanted to know.
"Hell if I know, Angie," George replied. "Somehow I think Criss is up to this, but I'm not sure."
The cheering died down as the president of the hotel, Felix Rappaport, stepped forward. "Ladies and gentlemen," he called out. "On behalf of the Luxor Hotel and Casino, it is my pleasure to give you the winner of the Million Dollar Slots, Ms. Angela Honi!"
More cheering and applauding. A large prop check in the amount of one million dollars was hauled out and set in front of a stunned Angela and a bewildered George. More photos were taken, then a microphone was thrust into Angela's face. "Tell me, Ms. Honi," Felix said. "What do you plan to do with your million dollars?"
Angela swallowed hard, trying to find her voice. "Well," she replied tremorously. "I'd like to say, first of all, I want to thank you all for this great honor. I really appreciate it, thank you." Her courage began to trickle back. "And second of all, this money is going to help the homeless at Sanctuary Shelter in North Las Vegas. We're almost out of funding there, and this is going to help quite a bit. Thank you."
"Aw, isn't she wonderful, folks?" Felix crowed enthusiastically. "Let's give it up for Angela Honi!"
A round of applause, then everyone dispersed. The prop check was whisked away. Rappaport turned to Angela. "It's good of you to donate your winnings to the homeless," he said. "Should we make out the check to you or the shelter?"
"The shelter, please," Angela replied. "As soon as I get the account and routing number for the shelter's bank account, you can direct deposit it right to it."
Felix nodded in agreement. "That'll save time," he said. "We can arrange it in my office first thing tomorrow morning."
Angela smiled gratefully. "Thank you, sir."
"You're very welcome." Felix returned.
All three shook hands in farewell, and Felix left. George and Angela walked toward the main entrance on their way to their dinner date. Behind them, Larry and Mona Bobrowski watched them stroll away, arm in arm. Larry shook his head in dismay. "Geez-Louise!" he muttered. "She wins a million bucks at the slot machine, and then she just gives it all away to a bunch of homeless bums!"
"Yeah," Mona said admiringly. "She's a real humanitarian."
"She's a nutcase is what she is!" Larry griped. "I bust my ass working day in and day out earnin' a livin', never gettin' a break from no one, and here's little miss goody two-shoes throwing away a million bucks to a bunch of lazy good-for-nothin' bums! I mean, what's up with that?"
"What's up with that is that she cares, Larry," Mona retorted. "A lot of people are living out on the street because they've lost their jobs and their homes, people who were once as hard-working as you are. They end up in homeless shelters because they ain't got no place to go. By donating her winnings, she's doing more for them than the federal govenment. And if that's being a nutcase, then I say the country needs more nutcases like her."
"I still think she's throwing it away," Larry said. "But, hey, it's her money. I bet she'll be sorry she did give it away someday."
"I bet she won't," Mona said. "As far as I'm concerned, she's doing a good deed."
"So do the Boy Scouts," Larry retorted. "She could've at least saved half of it for herself, donate the other half, and things would've been okay for everybody. That way, she could still live it up a little, get some new clothes, buy a new house or something; she doesn't have to blow the whole bundle on the homeless."
"Larry," Mona said quietly, "some people don't care for living it up. They get greater pleasure helping others than by spending money on themselves. And I think she's one of them. Why else would she donate a million dollars to the homeless?"
"Because she's a total nutcase!" Larry shot back. "Now, c'mon, we're late for the show."
Dinner was wonderful. As a matter of fact, it had been superb. Granted, it had been in a small steakhouse on the outskirts of North Las Vegas, but it had been as wonderful as any five-star establishment in the whole of Nevada. George wanted to take Angie, as he began to call her, away from the glitz and glamor of the Strip. He could tell she was uncomfortable with luxury. And after that ambush in the atrium, he could tell she wanted to get away from there as quickly as possible. The restaraunt itself wasn't too busy, just a few elderly couples out for a late night dinner, but that in itself was a blessing; it meant no cameras, no nosy fans, no interruptions of any kind. Just himself and Angie, alone in a corner booth, dining on prime rib and baked potatoes.
After eating, they engaged in small talk, the kind newly aquainted couples always get into. George told her about his family emigrating from Greece, growing up in New York, what he did working for Criss Angel (throwing in a few embarrassing incidents about his famous cousin for a laugh or two), and things like that. Angela, for her part, told George about her teaching first-graders, and her volunteer work at Sanctuary Shelter for the Homeless, two subjects she delighted in, and her relationship with her sister, Bianca, a subject she didn't.
"How can you stand her?" George wanted to know. "I mean, she tried to kill you! Pardon my French, but if I were you, I'd get the hell away from that (bleep)!"
Angela sighed, "I can't afford an apartment, not on a teacher's salary," she said. "And besides, Bianca's my only surviving relative. Our parents are dead, no grandparents, no cousins, nobody. I know she's...overbearing at times, but she's still my sister."
George leaned closer. "Look, just because she's your sister doesn't give her the right to treat you like dirt under the rug," he pointed out. "You gotta live, too, you know." He took Angela's hand tenderly. "Angie, you gotta start thinking about yourself for a change! Don't let this (bleep) of a sister of yours walk all over you! She threw you over a rail, remember? You didn't bail her out yet, did you?"
"Uh, no, I didn't, but--."
"Good. Don't. Let them keep her in the lockup until she goes on trial for murder. If you bail her out, she's gonna turn on you again. As long as she's around, you are not safe, you got that?"
Angela nodded tremorously. Part of her accepted what George had told her, but another part still remained loyal to Bianca, if only for family's sake. "I'll...I'll think about it," she murmured.
"Well, think about this," George said firmly. "She tried to kill you before; you let her out of jail, she'll try to kill you again. She doesn't give a damn about you, Angie, sister or no sister. All she cares about is herself. You told me yourself she smacked you around just because you forgot to pick up her dry-cleaning. Do you want to spend the rest of your life being Bianca's punching bag?"
He reached over and drew her close to himself. "Just don't do anything about it, okay? Leave Bianca in the lockup and get on with your life. Donate your winnings to the shelter if you want--they'll put it to better use than bail--but put as much distance between yourself and the sister from Hell, okay? You'll stay healthier that way."
Angela looked up at George. "You really care about me, don't you, George?" she whimpered.
George smiled. "Damn right I do," he replied.