11-29-2012, 10:30 PM
"Gooooood Morning, Sin City! This is Artie Creed on KLOL, Las Vegas, bringing you the show that tells you where it's at!"
Artie Creed was the Southwest's least liked yet most listened to disc jockey, an opinionated loudmouth with a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease, for whom freedom of speech was not a right but a continuous obligation. His take-no-prisoners approach to broadcasting had earned him the ire of many of Las Vegas' notables, as well as the listening public in general. One of his favorite targets for his venomous barbs was Criss Angel, whom he derided as a fraud, a phoney, and a mama's boy. Criss's fans, the Loyals, found him irritating at best, like a case of poison ivy. Creed's most recent gabfest had included a quip about Criss' near-fatal murder attempt by the Vegas Bomber. While it seemed Creed had shown a modicum of sympathy for Criss' welfare, he reverted to character and stated that "Criss may have to trade his kittycat for a seeing-eye dog!"
That had lit up the station's phone lines like the Vegas Strip at midnight. Dozens of angry Loyals vented their wrath over the airwaves, but were always cut short by Creed. He only took calls from those who agreed with him. Dissent was screened out. Still, this did not deter the Loyals--they made their case known on the KLOL website, as well as all the other websites dedicated to Criss Angel. The management had pleaded with Creed to "tone it down". Creed was unrepentant, as usual. He cited the First Amendment, which to him was the equivalent of the First Commandment. He had the power of the airwaves, and he would wield it at his whim.
Artie took another sip of coffee from his jumbo-sized mug. "In the world of entertainment, it seems David Copperfield showed a girl in the Bahamas his magic wand and what he could do with it. If he wants to keep performing, he'd better disappear and soon!"
The recent flak about David Copperfield's sexual assault accusation on the Bahamas had been too good for Artie to pass up. Copperfield claimed he had cancelled his shows because he had not been paid, he stated. Or was it? Creed posed that question to his listeners. The phone line lit up. "Hello, you're on the air!" Creed crowed.
"Listen, Creed," the voice on the other end said. "I say David Copperfield is innocent. If that girl was raped by him, why did she wait until she was in the US to report it?"
"I'd say, I don't care what you say." Creed hung up. "Next caller. Hello, you're on the air."
"Yeah, what the hell have you got against celebrities, anyway? They're people, like you and me, you know?"
"Maybe they're like you, but not like me--a bunch of morons!" Another hang-up. "Next caller, you're on the air!"
"You know, Creed, on of these days, you are really going to--"
"Next caller! You're on the air!"
"Hey, Costa," Criss greeted his brother in New York over the phone during a rare break from taping MindFreak. "How's Mom been doing? Is she still acting, you know, weird?"
"No, the weirdness is gone," Costa answered. "I got her into counseling. She's still in a bit of a shell, though. Not very sociable."
"You think she'll be okay in time for George's wedding?"
"The counselor says she's making good progress. It was a one time thing, so it'll be easier to overcome. Aunt Popi and Aunt Stella are staying with her in the meantime."
Criss was relieved. He was confident his mother would be all right. His aunts would give her all the support she needed. Maybe get her out of the house, take her to a movie or something. The wedding wasn't until late June, so it would give her plenty of time to heal.
But the wedding was in Vegas, the scene of the crime. Would returning to Las Vegas trigger a relapse? The bomb damage in the Atrium had been repaired so well it was as if it hadn't even been hit. The sites of the Bomber's last two attacks on Ubeck street had been leveled and repaved. His hideout was a vacant lot. Every sign of the Vegas Bomber had been erased; nothing remained to remind anyone of the horror back in February. The Board of Directors had launched a promotional advertising blitz to try to lure tourists back to the city, that Las Vegas was still the place to go for fun, entertainment and gambling. They had to make up for all the revenue lost because of the Bomber's attacks had driven away so many paying customers. Criss himself had starred in these ads, doing his best sleight of hand and turning on the personal charm which had melted so many female hearts. Yet, scars remained in the city's psyche. Dozens of people walked the Strip, traumatized by what they had experienced. Some avoided the Magic Castle after witnessing its near demolition. A few still could not turn the ignition of their cars without trepedition, fearing it might detonate a car bomb. Las Vegas could not exorcise the ghost of the Bomber from its collective soul.
"Is Mom there?" Criss asked.
"No, she and Aunt Popi went shopping. They'll be back in an hour or so."
Shopping. That was a good sign. It meant Mom was getting out and rejoining the rest of the world. Criss smiled. "Just tell her I called, and tell her I love her, okay? I want to see her at the wedding."
"Sure," Costa agreed. " 'Bye."
A pounding on the RV door brought him back to reality. "Criss, we're ready to start shooting."
"Okay, I'm coming!" Criss yelled as he rose and stepped out of the RV, ready to perform.
Calliope and Dimitra returned home, laden with shopping bags from an assortment of department stores. Costa offered to help carry them in with a derisive laugh. "Geez, Ma, what'd you do, buy out the whole mall or something?"
"Blame your Aunt Popi," she retorted. "Once she starts, she doesn't stop."
The bags were set on the dining room table. Dimitra collapsed onto the sofa. "My feet hurt so bad. Why did you drag me all over the place?" She looked accusingly at Calliope.
"You needed to get out," she replied simply, "I take you out."
Dimitra glanced at the mountain of shopping bags on the table. "Too much stuff," she said, shaking her head. "Too much stuff."
Stella entered the room. "You're back," she smiled. "Good! I have something to tell you, Didi."
Dimitra looked up. "What?" she asked tiredly.
"You know they said you should do some volunteer work."
"They suggested I do volunteer work, yes."
"Well, I found an ad in the paper today." Stella produced the classifieds. "It says here there's a home for foster children who need someone to look after them. It's not too far from here, and you'd be perfect for the job."
Caring for foster children? Dimitra pondered. True, she had plenty of experience, mothering three sons, but caring for children she knew nothing about would be a challenge. She was not that young anymore; it took a lot of stamina to care for even one child, let alone a whole group. Yet, time hung so heavily on her hands now that her own boys were grown. She spent most of her time worrying about Chris doing his dangerous "demonstrations". And the doctor said she needed to go outside of herself.
"Mom, I think it's a great idea." Costa said. "You're a great mother, and these kids need you. You'd be the best thing that ever happened to them."
"Dima, darling," Popi curled her arm around her. "You can't spend the rest of your life cooped up in this house. I know you went through a terrible ordeal, but now it is time to live again. Helping these children will help you."
Dimitra looked up at her sisters and her son. "Let me think about it," she said. "I'll give you an answer in the morning."
Last edited by Veritas; 11-29-2012 at 10:34 PM.