10-25-2012, 07:33 PM
Mahmood Musavi drove his cab up the street to the shelter where Criss Angel had directed him. He knew the place well enough, though he had never been inside. It was the only refuge for the homeless beggars wandering the streets of Las Vegas; for many it was the only home they would ever know. It had been an abandoned warehouse converted into a Christian run mission dedicated to relieving the misery of poverty, drug addiction and abuse. It struck Mahmood as curious that there was so much poverty in a country as wealthy as America. When he and his family came here for Syria, he had believed that everyone had a big beautiful house with a car to drive, and they would want for nothing. The reality was that the big beautiful houses belonged only to a few fortunate people, and there was as much want here as there was back in his own country. But he adapted, learned English, and got a job driving a cab. It paid well enough, with tips, to keep body and soul together.
But the tip he received this evening would do more than keep body and soul together, thanks be to God and Criss Angel. Oh, yes, he knew who it was that gave him fifty dollars for an eight-forty fare--he had seen his face on the billboards and television ads often enough. He had even seen him perform on the street once; a girl not much older than the one in the back of his cab had been chosen from the crowd of people and made to float before their very eyes! There were no wires that he saw, nothing that betrayed any trickery on his part. She just hung motionless in the air in a complete trance. That had taken place a few months ago, and it still astonished him.
Of course, as a devout Muslim, he had been taught that such acts of magic were the work of the djinn, or demons. But even the sultans of old had the Magi to not only entertain, but to give counsel in other matters, for they were holy men devoted to knowledge as well as mysticism. Criss Angel would have been in great demand in any royal court for his skills. True, he did not practice "magic", but created illusions to fool people into thinking they had witnessed miracles. And he had fooled them well.
But his kindness to the girl sitting in his cab, well, that was no illusion. Mahmood had become skilled in reading people's faces after seven years of driving a cab; he could tell just by looking that Criss' concern for this unfortunate child was genuine. To give him fifty dollars to deliver her to the Christian mission showed his generosity as well. May God reward his good deed, he thought.
Mahmood pulled up to the entrance of the shelter with practiced ease. He got out of the cab and opened the back door to let the girl out. "Come along," he ordered her impatiently. "I don't have all night."
The frail girl with the overly made up face emerged from the cab slowly, unsure of her new surroundings. Mahmood took her by the arm and pulled her to the front doors of the shelter. He pulled open the glass door and entered with the girl in hand.
The matronly volunteer stared curiously at the pair. "May I help you?" she asked warily.
"I was told to bring this child here to a Pastor Beaman," he explained bluntly. "She is to stay here with him."
The volunteer looked at the sullen girl hiding behind a face full of makeup and sighed inwardly. Another teen prostitute, she thought. Lord knew how many girls the Pastor had rescued from a life on the streets, and yet they kept on coming. "We'll make room for her here," the volunteer told him. "Lord bless you for bringing her here. Uh, how much do we owe you for the fare?" She began to open the cash drawer.
Mahmood held up his hand. "Not one penny," he said. "Her fare has already been paid by the one who sent her here."
The volunteer closed the cash drawer. "Well, Heaven bless whoever it was!" she exclaimed. She then turned to the girl. "Young lady, you should thank God that He sent an angel to look out for you." She turned to Mahmood. "Who sent her here, anyway?"
Mahmood could not help but laugh. "You answer your own question, mum!"
The volunteer looked at Mahmood bemusedly. "What are you talking about?" she demanded.
"You say God sent an angel to help this child," he smiled, chuckling, "and you are right. He sent an Angel--Criss Angel! Hee! Hee! Criss Angel send her here!" And with that, Mahmood walked out of the shelter, laughing at his little joke.
Mario Mendoza waited by the cab where he saw Criss Angel throw the girl in. He had watched as the driver took the girl into the shelter, speak to some lady inside, and leave. Now he was coming back to his cab. Mario waited patiently as the driver, a Middle Eastern type approached. Mario hoped he spoke English well enough, if at all.
Mahmood saw Mario standing by his cab. "Need a ride, Mister?" he asked.
Well, his English was good enough, Mario thought. That was a relief. "I just want to know who it was you drove here," he replied.
"What business is it of yours?" Mahmood snapped.
"I noticed it was Criss Angel who put her in your cab," Mario replied. "You know who he is?"
"Yes, I know, and what business is it of yours?" he repeated irritably. "I got work to do! You need a ride or not?"
"Just answer me this," Mario said patiently. "Why would a big star get involved with a teen prostitute. You know she is a prostitute, don't you?"
"He tell me to take the girl here to the shelter, that's all. He tell me to take her to the Pastor Beaman. Now, you need a ride or not? If you don't, get away from my cab!"
Mahmood slipped back into his cab and sped off, narrowly missing running over Mario's foot by inches. Mario stood there, stewing. Well, he wasn't much help, he thought. Maybe inside the shelter, that lady he was talking to--maybe she could shed some light on this mystery. He turned and went into the shelter. The lady the driver spoke to was still there.
"May I help you?" she said to him.
"Uh, yeah, I need to know about that girl that cabbie just bought in. You know anything about her?"
The volunteer shook her huge head. "No, we don't have a record of her yet," she replied. "I do know that Criss Angel arranged to bring her here. He paid that cab driver himself to bring her here. He's such a good man, that Criss Angel," she sighed wistfully. "You know, he sold two of his fancy sports cars to raise money to build this shelter? Yes, he did! Raised a quarter of a million dollars! And now he rescued that poor child from the streets! He certainly lives up to his last name, that's for sure!"
Mario sighed defeatedly. Here he had what he thought would be a big scoop, a major scandal involving the most famous magician in the world and an underage prostitute, and he turns out to be a Boy Scout! Mario couldn't win for losing.
Randy Winterfield drove his van to the temporary Gideons headquarters in a local motel. He had had a busy day, with that visit from Criss Angel, the magician, being the highlight of his afternoon; he was still freaked out over it. Now all he wanted was a bite to eat and a good night's sleep, for tomorrow would be even busier. The Gideons had arranged for new Bibles to be placed in the suites of the Luxor Hotel and Casino. As large as it was, it would take him all day to deliver them to each suite.
Randy entered his single room, crowded to the ceiling with cartons of Bibles and New Testaments, leaving barely enough room to walk around. He flopped down onto the mattress, exhausted. Lord, thank You for the blessings of the day. May those who read Your Word find salvation and peace. Amen.
Suddenly he shot upright. He had forgotten to make one very important delivery to the Sancutary Shelter for the Homeless, and he had promised he'd make good on it. He got up, grabbed the keys to his van, and shot out of the door. Pastor Beaman was counting on him, and he wasn't going to let him down.
In his dingy home fifty miles from Las Vegas, Hiram Block was reading the same Word of God for his own purposes. The deeper he delved into Scripture, the more convinced that the Lord wanted him to get rid of Criss Devil. He read on, reaching the fifth chapter of St. Matthew:
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into Hell.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into Hell.
Hiram pondered on these two verses. He had known them from his earliest boyhood, but now the meaning was clear. Cut off the source of the sin and cast it away, so as not to contaminate the whole. Root it out like a weed on the lawn, or it would grow back.
He set aside his dog-eared Bible and pulled open a small drawer under the lamp table. He reached in and took out a revolver, freshly cleaned and oiled just yesterday. His father, God rest his soul, had bequeathed it to him on his deathbed, instructing him to use it only if he absolutely had to. He had so promised, and now the time had come to fulfill it. Tomorrow, he would cut off the right hand of Satan and cast him into Hell. It would be profitable for him, indeed.