07-07-2012, 07:55 PM
Criss could only stare at Springs' retreating backside. "Uh, yeah, sure," he mumbled bemusedly. "Uh, have a nice time."
The old man walked out of the lounge and headed for Adamo's. His pace was brisk for an eighty-eight year old man, but it was slower than from his younger days, and he tended to shuffle a bit. At least he never needed to use a cane or a walker like many of his generation still living. So many people his age or younger were confined to nursing homes or assisted living facilities, unable to feed themselves or even go to the crapper without help. Springs gave his deceased friend, Rob Bluseman, the accountant of the Guys, a mental note of gratitude for helping him become financially secure enough to stay independent. Good ol' Blusey, he mused, don't know what we'd of done without him.
"Excuse me, sir."
Springs turned and faced a brown-haired hippie type in a dirty grey t-shirt and grungy jeans holding out a white sheet of paper. Unpleasant memories of anti-Vietnam protesters and civil rights activists flooded into his brain. He wanted nothing to do with this punk and whatever cause he was supporting, and besides, Didi was waiting for him at the restaraunt. "I ain't got time for all this," he grumbled, brushing away the flyer, "get outta here."
The hippie was not to be deterred. "Sir," he said, trailing behind Springs, "do you realize that NASA has been deceiving the American public for over forty years? They've created the biggest hoax in history with a phoney moon landing!"
Springs halted in his tracks and twisted his head around. "Whaddya mean, hoax?" he said.
"But it's true!" the hippie insisted. "The entire Apollo 11 moon mission was a fake! They didn't even go to the moon! It took place right here on Earth!"
Springs looked squarely at the shaggy-haired young man. "Son," he said paitently, "I don't know what dope you're on, but I think you need to sober up and reread your history books. You may be too young to remember the moon shot, but I was there, and I saw it. There ain't been no hoax, no way, no how, and they got the pictures to prove it."
"That's just it!" the hippie cried. "All those photos, all that film footage--they were all produced in a Hollywood-type sound stage! It was all a set-up from the start! If you look closely, you can see the fakery..."
Springs began to wish he did have a cane, so he could beat some sense into this nutjob. Instead, he grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him closer. "Listen, pal," he said in his best mob-enforcer voice, "I don't know what game you're playin' here, but there ain't been no hoax, got it? There. Ain't. Been. No. Hoax. The moon shot was real, real as we're standin' here. Now, if I were you, I'd get my sorry ass outta this hotel--or else!" He released him with a shove. "Now, beat it!"
The hippie stumbled away, muttering curses under his breath. Springs headed for Adamo's, muttering curses under his. Damn hippie punks! Gotta turn the whole effing world upside down, just to cause trouble! The nerve of that guy, saying the Apollo mission was a hoax! Why, that was a slap in the face of the whole country and everything it stood for! America busted its collective ass getting those three astronauts (he couldn't recall their names at the moment) to the moon and back, and this was the thanks they got? Buncha effing Commies, that's what they were! They should go back to effing Russia, if that's how they feel!
His sour mood did not lessen when he arrived at Adamo's, despite the professional courtesy extended to him by the staff. He sat down at his table with a grumbled thanks and ordered a glass of white wine. In spite of his irritation, he pragmatically chose to lay off the cocktails before lunch; God forbid Didi should think he was a lush.
His eye caught a list of events hosted by the Luxor. For lack of anything else to do besides drink himself into a stupor, he picked it up and skimmed it over idly.
There was that strip show, Fantasy, but Springs had long ago lost his taste for such erotic entertainment; age and two failed marriages had seen to that. There was that red-headed comedian, Carrot Top, a wierd looking character whose very appearance would have had an audience screaming with laughter; he would have been a hit in vaudeville. On the serious side, there was that human body exhibit Springs found too gruesome for his taste: he'd seen too many freshly killed bodies in his time to care about some dissected, preserved ones.
And, of course, there was Criss Angel's MindFreak with Cirque de Soleil. He had seen it with Didi when they had first met and he had been bowled over by it. Quite a show: it was big, it was loud, and it was snappy, a far cry from the old vaudeville pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat-variety magicians he had seen back in Queens as a kid. Still, Angel could have done with a better wardrobe. Those ragged jeans and t-shirts--hell, he didn't dress any better than that hippie he had run into. Didi should talk to her son about his personal appearance if he was going to stay in show business, he thought.
Springs looked around the restaraunt. What the hell was keeping Didi? Did she forget? Nah, her memory wasn't that bad, even at seventy-five. Maybe she stopped to talk to her son after all. He smiled as he imagined the scene. Christopher! When are you going to get some decent clothes? Here you are, the most famous magician in Las Vegas, and you dress like a bum! I should have Danny introduce you to his tailor--at least he knows how to dress!
Springs looked up and saw Didi standing before him, a vision of lovliness in a light blue summer dress. His sour mood about the hippie sweetened at the sight of her. Ever since he had met Didi (her real name was Dimitra; she had a tongue twister of a Greek surname which he always had a hard time recalling), his long, lonely life had become brighter, or at least more bearable. They had gone out to dinner together, seen the shows (and not just her famous son's, either), strolled the grounds of Springs' estate. She had even been his escort for the grand opening of the mob museum. It wasn't romance they were after, not at their ages. Besides, Didi was a widow who still harbored feelings for her late husband, John, and Springs was twice divorced; love and marriage was out of the question for both of them. They were just two lonely old people seeking companionship.
Remembering his manners, he stood up and pulled out the chair opposite from the one in which he had been sitting. Didi took her seat, smoothing the skirt of her dress as she did so. Springs sat down across from her. "Sorry I'm late," she said.
"Oh, no, no, no," Springs said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "It's a woman's perogative. And, anyway, it was worth the wait."
Didi blushed. "So," Springs began, "howya been, Didi?"
"Oh, fine," she replied, "and you?"
"Well, I'm still kickin'," he said. "You're lookin' good, as always."
"Oh, well, thank you," Didi said, blushing even deeper.
A waiter in a starched white shirt with a black bow tie arrived. "May I take your order?" he asked politely. "Would you like something from the bar?"
"Uh, yeah," Springs said. "I'll have another white wine. Didi?"
"I'll have the same," she said.
The waiter gave a little bow and swept away to fetch their drinks. "No Manhattan today, Danny?" Didi asked.
Springs shook his head. "Had one at the lounge already," he said. "Met your son and future daughter-in-law over there."
"Yeah. She's a little thing, ain't she?"
"Oh, she's almost as tall as I am, really."
"So, when's the big day?"
"Well, they promised me to keep it a secret for now," Didi replied. "They want to avoid a media circus. But I promise to send you an announcement at least," she added quickly.
The wine arrived in flawless crystal goblets. Didi ordered a pasta salad while Springs went for the salmon fillet. "Doc says I gotta eat more fish," he explained. "Good for the old ticker, y'know."
They chatted about this and that as they waited for their orders, the tone of their voices blending in harmoniously with those of the other diners. Soon, the topic of conversation turned to the subject of Springs' little run-in with the hippie conspiracy theorist. "That guy had some nerve," Springs said, shaking his head, "saying the moon shot was a hoax. Hell, I saw the whole thing on the tube, and I'm tellin' ya, it was no Hollywood soundstage, that was for sure! You saw it yourself, didn't ya, Didi?"
Didi smiled. "I remember some of it," she began, "but I was too busy putting Christopher down for his nap. He was only a baby at the time, you know." Her tone turned more serious. "But I do agree with you, yes," she said. "I don't know where that young man got such a silly idea, but I'm sure Buzz Aldrin will straighten him out when he gets here."
Springs was puzzled. "Buzz Aldrin is coming here?"
"Why, yes, of course he is," Didi said. "It's right here on the program." She handed him the card he had been perusing earlier. "You can read it for yourself."
He looked at the program card more closely than he did before. Sure enough, there was the announcement of Dr. Buzz Aldrin's ShareSpace lecture and exhibit coming this very weekend to the Luxor. "Hm," he grunted, "how about that?"
"I'm sure Buzz can prove that it wasn't a hoax," Didi said confidently.
"Well, I hope so," Springs said, setting the program aside. "I got a funny feeling in my gut that that hippie's gonna cause trouble when he gets here."
"Do you think we should tell security?" Didi suggested.
Springs thought about it. "Nah," he said. "This joint's got more cameras than a TV station. If that punk even looks like he's gonna make trouble, they'll nail 'im on the spot. Hell, they probably got 'im already, hassling people in here, handing out flyers--which, by the way, I know is against the rules here." He sat back with a sigh of contentment. "I don't think we'll have to worry about the likes of him anymore."
Last edited by Veritas; 07-08-2012 at 05:30 PM.