11-20-2012, 09:23 PM
Big Luke Macaffey, flanked by a squad of guards and members of Las Vegas' Finest, waited in the security office to receive the sniper caught on the third floor, a grim welcoming committtee if there ever was one. Macaffey's hands itched to punch the (bleeper) square in the face, but years of training and discipline held his rage in check. So there he stood, massive arms folded across his barrel chest, simmering as he watched his men haul the sniper's ass into the office, two escorting the perp, a third carrying the weapon, the fourth in the lead, opening the doors for them. Good teamwork on their part, Macaffey thought approvingly. He made a mental note to award them commendations for bravery.
The main doors flew open and in marched the four guards with the perp, a rather large man, almost as big as Macaffey himself, in blue coveralls and a painter's cap, a pretty lame disguise as far as Macaffey was concerned. The face looked familiar. Yeah, it was him, that Brother Bob character who had been gunning for Criss Angel.
"Okay, hand him over," Macaffey ordered.
The two escorting guards shoved Brother Bob forward towards Macaffey and company, causing him to stumble. The former grabbed Brother Bob by the coveralls and pulled him to his feet so that the two men were face to face.
"Okay, 'Brother'," Macaffey sneered. "We want the truth, and we want it now. One, how did you get in here? Two, how come you wanted to kill Criss Angel? And three, what happened to Abby Runyon?"
Brother Bob remained silent. Back in the supermax, Macaffey would have worked him over until he talked, but since he was among civilians, he was forced to step back and let the police handle it. Macaffey turned to his squad. "You search him?" he asked bluntly.
"We found some extra shells in his pockets," said the guard with the gun. "And we also found this."
He held up a keycard clipped to a long WWJD cord. "We're pretty sure he used this to get in and up to the third floor," tje guard said.
Macaffey took the card and looked at it. It was Abigail Runyon's keycard, the very one he had issued to her on her first day of work. He must have stolen it from her purse or something when he killed her, he figured. His earlier suspicions of her seemed sadly ironic in the wake of her murder. She had been an unwilling pawn in life, and in death she had become an unwitting accomplice. Poor Abby, he thought. For the first time in his hard-assed crimebusting career, he actually felt sorry for someone.
Whatever tender feelings he had for Abby faded quickly. He had a job to do. He turned to the LVMPD. "Okay," he growled. "Take him. He's your headache now."
Brother Bob Talbot was formally handed over to the forces of law and order, with rights given and evidence transferred. He was being marched down the corridor to the waiting van to be taken to the county lockup when he and his uniformed escort met Criss Angel and Felix Rappaport halfway.
Brother Bob had remained sullenly silent throughout his ordeal, but the minute he spotted Criss, he flew into a rage. "Devil!" he shouted, "Anti-Christ! God will defeat you in the end! You shall be cast into Hell and burn for all eternity! The Son of God shall slay the Serpent, the Beast shall be destroyed! You may have fooled everyone else with your false wonders, but you haven't fooled me! I may have failed, but God won't! You are going to die, Criss Devil! You hear me? You are going to die!"
Criss looked bemusedly at the ranting man before him. "You ever thought of switching to decaf?" he asked drily.
Brother Bob Talbot was led away, still ranting and quoting from Revelations. Felix shook his head in disbelief. Criss only smiled. "Hey, if you think he's a wack job," he said, "go on the Internet. They got dozens of sites trashing me and my demonstrations."
Felix put a friendly arm around Criss. "Don't pay any attention to him, Criss. For every detractor you have a hundred fans all backing you up one hundred percent."
"Hey, it's my 'detractors' who keep me going," Criss told him. "The more they trash me, the more famous I become. I don't have to prove anything to my fans, because they know I can do the things I do. It's the skeptics and wack jobs like Brother Bob who give me the real challenges in my career."
"Like getting blown up in a hotel?" Felix retorted. "Or catching a flying nail from a nail gun?"
Criss merely shrugged. "Among other things."
"I don't know about you, Criss," Felix said with a sigh. "You're a great performer, and got talent to burn, but I just don't know about you." He patted Criss' shoulder. "Go on back to your suite and get some sleep. It's been a rough night for all of us."
Morning came, and Criss sat at breakfast in his suite, reading the morning edition of the Las Vegas Sun. While his show had received glowing reviews in the entertainment section, the arrest of Brother Bob Talbot had made front page news:
An alleged sniper was arrested in the Luxor Hotel and Casino last night after the performance of Criss Angel's new production, Believe. The suspect, identified as Robert "Brother Bob" Talbot, 48, was detected on video surveillance on the third floor balcony carrying a Winchetster rifle and taken into custody immediatly. Talbot allegedly targeted Angel, accusing him of being the "Anti-Christ". Talbot is on bail for a previous charge of conspiracy to murder, and first degree murder of Abigail Runyon, an employee of the Luxor. Talbot allegedly used Runyon's employee keycard to enter the hotel and make his way to the third floor of the hotel.
Criss was stunned. Thoughts of Abby sprung up like weeds in his mind. First degree murder of Abigail Runyon! Abby's dead? It can't be! I just spoke to her a few days ago! And that (bleeper) murdered her? Oh, dear Jesus in Heaven! He felt the tears welling up in his eyes. Abby! Why did it have to be you? Why? You were innocent! Why? Dear Jesus in Heaven, why?
The County Coroner sent Abby's body back to Littleton, Texas, for burial in the family plot. Criss witnessed the transfer with his brothers, his cousin George, Felix Rappaport, and Lisa Genaldi in attendance. The police chaplain delivered a perfunctory prayer service before Abby's simple white casket, laden with flowers purchased collectively by the hotel staff, was loaded onto the plane.
Mario Mendoza was also present, photographing the grim event for all posterity. His picture of the sniper had been confiscated by the police for evidence, along with the negatives. That picture could have scored me a Pulitzer, he thought bitterly. Now I don't even have a negative to reproduce it! Of all the rotten luck! He took one last shot at Abby Runyon's casket being loaded on the plane and packed up his gear. He'd covered enough celebrity funerals to know when it was time to go. As he loaded his equipment into his SUV, he felt a tap on his shoulder.
He turned and saw Criss Angel himself standing behind him. "I just want to say thanks for saving my life the night of the premire," he said. "If it hadn't been for you, there would have been bloodshed, mine or someone else's"
Mario shrugged. "Forget it," he replied indifferently. "Just, next time you see me on the street corner, don't flip me the bird, okay?"
"When did I ever flip you off, dude?"
"Remember that little prostie you picked up?"
"Tamia? First of all, I didn't 'pick her up', I sent her to the shelter to rescue her. And second of all--was that you I saw across the street?"
"Yeah, it was me. I thought I really had the goods on you that time, you know?"
Criss smiled mischeviously. "Well, the joke's on you, dude! But I am still grateful you saved my life, and everyone else's."
"Yeah, well, it's not gonna keep me from doing my job." He waggled a warning finger under Criss' nose. "I'm gonna keep my eye on you, Angel. You're gonna screw up someday, and I'm gonna be there to get the pictures! You may be the self-proclaimed King of Las Vegas, but I can dethrone you with just one photo. Whaddya say to that, Mr. Hotshot?"
"I say," Criss replied as he held up his middle finger, "(bleep) you."