11-02-2012, 03:27 PM
It was almost noon, and hundreds of Loyals had gathered in front of the Luxor to greet Criss when he returned from the hospital. Cameramen mounted their heavy videocameras on their shoulders to document the momentious event for the upcoming episode of MindFreak. Security personnel cordoned off a path leading to the main entrance with the ubiquitous velvet ropes, while uniformed policemen patrolled the perimeters, being extra vigilant for any signs of trouble. If not for the tragic circumstances which led to this homecoming, it would have seemed more like a Loyalfest.
Crystal and Hayley stood in the front of the crowds, right by the front entrance. They had missed their chance before; they were not going to blow it again. This time they were really going to meet Criss Angel! They peered anxiously down the cordoned pathway for any sign of a limo, a Viper, a Lambo, or whatever was carrying The Angel back to them. Even though they were excited to see their idol return home, they couldn't help but notice the large number of uniformed security personnel in the area, almost twice as many as there had been during the demonstration. It didn't upset them; they accepted the fact that after Criss' near fatal shooting no one wanted to see it happen again. It made them feel safe, in a way.
To pass the time, the two read the posterboard "Welcome Home Criss" signs held up by fellow fans, admiring the artwork on them. They waved nad blew kisses at a roving videocamera spanning the crowds for a wide angle shot, shouting their love and devotion for Criss for all to see and hear. The fans began to grow restless as they waited for The Angel to show up. Chants of "Criss! Criss! Criss! Criss!" rose and fell at intervals, recorded by the camera crew. Suddenly, a loud cheer rose as a long black stetch limo pulled up to the curb. The chanting grew louder as it stopped in front of the hotel.
A half hour before, Criss was officially discharged from the hospital, walking out on his own two feet instead of being wheeled out in a wheelchair as the hospital staff insisted. He knew where his ride was--the hotel limo taking up three-quarters of the driveway in front of the exit, JD standing casually next to it. Well, if he was going home, he might as well do it in style, he figured.
The brothers embraced, then climbed into the limo. The hospital staff seemed nonplussed about the whole thing--this was, after all, Las Vegas. Everything, even being discharged from the hospital, was done with class.
Realizing this would be the only private moment he would have as the huge limo tooled down the Strip, Criss took the time to call his mother on his cell phone.
"Hey, Mom, how's it goin'?" Pause. "Yeah, I'm fine, I just got out of the hospital. I'm going back to the Luxor now." Another pause. "Did you get the security system installed? Good. How about the window? Did you get that fixed? Good. Just send me the bill and I'll take care of it."
JD tapped Criss' knee. "Ask if they caught the guy who broke into the house yet." he said.
"Hey, Mom? JD wants to know if they caught the guy who broke into the house yet." He lowered his phone and turned to JD. "She says not yet," he told him, then turned back to the phone. "But you got a good look at him, right? You know what he looks like, don't you?"
He turned back to JD. "They got a profile on him already," he told him. Then, back to his mother. "Look, Mom, I gotta go, we're almost at the Luxor. You take care of yourself, okay. I love you more. 'Bye."
He flipped off his phone. "So the new security system is installed," he told JD. "It'll cover break-ins, fire, or whatever. Mom's safe now, so we don't have to worry."
JD sighed with relief. "Well, that's two close calls we had. You almost getting killed by some maniac, and Mom almost getting robbed by some punk. I'd say you were both lucky."
Criss pondered his brother's words. JD was right. They had been very lucky. If not for the New Testament in his jacket pocket, he'd be riding in a herse as the guest of honor at his own funeral instead of simply going back to his suite at the Luxor in the hotel limo. And if not for his mother's quick arrival to catch that dirtbag breaking into her house--and his turning tail breaking out again--God knew what would have happened.
But maybe it wasn't luck, he thought. Criss had been taught since earliest childhood that everyone had a guardian angel to watch over them and protect them from harm. He recalled George's quip that someone Up There had his back. Perhaps he did have a guardian angel watching over him that day, as did his mother when she encountered that burglar.
Maybe...maybe it was his dad? he thought hesitantly. Criss had always claimed that his father was watching him from Heaven. His presence was as real to him as it had been while John Sarantakos walked the earth. If his father had been watching over him and his mother during the past twenty-four hours, then he had gone above and beyond the call of duty in protecting his nearest and dearest from bodily harm.
He had no time to ponder this mystery furthur. The limo glided up to the Luxor's main entrance. Through the tinted windows Criss could see the throng of fans waiting to greet him. He had wondered what kind of a welcome he would get when he returned, but he didn't expect this!
"He's here! He's here!" eager fans shouted. "CRRIIIIIISSSSSS!"
Crystal hopped up and down excitedly. "Ohmigodohmigodohmigod! He's back! Criss is home!"
Shrieks of ecstacy rent the desert air as Criss Angel climbed out of the limosine and rose to his full height. "How you all doin'?" he called out, to be answered by even louder cheers and screams. Their adulation washed over Criss like soothing jets of water in a hot tub. He met and greeted everyone within arm's reach, shaking hands, hugging, kissing, drying tears from weeping faces, even signing a few autographs. In this manner he progressed to the entrance of the hotel.
Crystal tensed up. He was coming! He was coming her way! "Oh, God!" she shrieked. "Criss! Oh, God! Thank God you're all right! I saw them shoot you!"
Criss came up to Crystal and Hayley, and--miracle of miracles!--actually came in physical contact with them in the form of a brief handshake for both of them. Hayley was so excited she forgot to take a picture of it. Crystal wanted to pull Criss to her and plant a big wet one on his lips, but he pulled away from them and went into the hotel. She stood there, reeling in the afterglow of the encounter. For one fleeting moment, she had been touched by an Angel, and it had been heavenly!
Cole Shoope had craftily dodged the mob outside and made his way into the Luxor itself. There was a gaggle of reporters and photographers waiting for him in the atrium, but that was to be expected. Once Criss ran the gantlet of the media, he could meet one on one with the Master. Time was on his side.
He would approach him, not as a starry-eyed fan such as those outside, but as an acolyte, an apprentice in magic. He would offer him his services in any way possible. He would beg Criss to teach him the ways of the MindFreak, and he would study diligently at his feet. He would strive to prove himself worthy of his tutelage, no matter how long it took.
He looked around to find a better vantage point to see Criss. As he searched he spotted a familiar figure creeping around from the back of the service corridor. Cole studied him carefully, then almost fainted from shock. No! It couldn't be him! It couldn't be!
Up in the surveillance room, the video monitors displayed all the goings on in the hotel and the casino. Extra-careful attention was given to the situation down in the atrium and the main entrance. Things seemed to be pretty much under control outside, and the mini-press conference was quiet and orderly. Nothing to report up front.
But what about the back? A sharp-eyed surveillance monitor caught someone who didn't look like a hotel employee sneaking up the service corridor to the atrium. Someone with a familiar face. The monitor "spotlighted" the trespasser's face and ran a "make" on him in the files. Once the match was made, he immediatly alerted all available personnel to the presence and location of Hiram Block in the service corridor leading to the atrium.