12-10-2012, 09:54 PM
The telephone rang in Stella Strumpolis' house. Stella picked up the receiver after the second ring. "Hello?' she said.
"Aunt Stella, this is Costa."
"Oh, hello, Costa! How are you?"
"I'm fine. Listen, we've got Artie Creed saying Mom got arrested."
Anut Stella laughed in surprise. "Arrested? For what? And who is Artie Creed?"
"Some loudmouth deejay on the radio," Costa explained. "Anyway, he's spreading the word that Mom stole money from the foster home and got arrested for it. You know anything about it?"
"No, nothing." Stella replied, perplexed. She had helped Dimitra with the foster home from day one, and she'd never do anything like that, not in a million years. "I could call her and find out what happened."
"You do that," Costa said. "Let me know what you find out."
"All right," Stella said. "I'll talk to you later."
"Yeah, 'bye." Costa flipped off his phone.
"Arrested?!" Dimitra was aghast. "Who said such a thing about me?"
Stella had phoned Dimitra at the foster home as soon as Costa had hung up and told her about Artie Creed's accusations over the radio. Dimitra could hardly believe her ears. Mr. Webber had stolen the money, not her. And she had not been arrested for anything.
"Well, he is lying!" Dimitra huffed. "I did not steal anything from the home. It was Mr. Webber. He embezzled funds from the county. I reported it to Social Services."
"Well, you'd better call Costa and tell him that," Stella said to her. "This man is trying to ruin you, and this could ruin Christopher as well."
"I will," Dimitra resolved. "Thank you, Stella." She hung up the phone and activated the speed dial for Costa. In her haste, she dialed Criss' number instead.
Criss had emerged from the black Lambo to face a mob of cheering, chanting Loyals. He could see the posterboard signs they held aloft proclaiming Dimitra's innocence. They were on his side, he thought. They know the truth.
Station security and local police struggled to keep the surging crowd at bay. It was like trying to hold back a tsunami. Criss greeted as many Loyals as he could reach while pressing on into the station building. But no sooner did he pass through the main entrance than he was overwhelmed by the media gathered in the lobby, barking questions, thrusting microphones into his face, nearly blinding him with flashbulbs as they photographed him. He waved his arms to restore some semblance of order.
"I just want to say that Artie Creed is a liar!" he shouted over the din. "My mother is not a thief! She's innocent! She never stole anything in her life! In fact, she spent a fortune of her own personal money to help those kids! I even helped her out with my own money as well! If she had been arrested, I would have heard of it by now! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some personal business to attend!"
The media were not satisfied. They wanted more, and they kept on pressing Criss for it. Somehow he survived the gantlet of reporters and photographers and slipped into an elevator, fending them off until the doors slid shut in their faces. Criss breathed a sigh of relief, glad to be alone, if only for a few seconds. He needed to conserve energy when he met Artie Creed. He leaned against a wall in the elevator car, collecting his thoughts. He had warned Creed about dissing his mother before this, and now he was going to pay big time. He was glad Brenda had left him when she did. It served him right.
He recalled his last words to Creed. He had mentioned Brenda leaving him, saying she was too good for him. Artie Creed did not even know that Criss had been to Artie's house and spoke with her. Did Brenda tell Artie about him when she left? Had Criss overplayed his hand when he told Artie about his knowledge of Brenda's departure? Well, the damage had been done. He'd just have to make the best of it. Artie knew that Criss knew Brenda had left him.
The elevators slid open. As Criss stepped out, his cell phone rang. He quickly pulled it out and asnwered it. "Hello?"
"Christopher?" It was his mother. "Oh, I meant to call Costa. Well, since I got you, I have something to tell you."
"Sure, Mom, what is it?" No matter how pissed off he was at Artie Creed at the moment, his mother came first.
"This Mr. Creed," she began, "he says I had been arrested for stealing money from the foster home."
"I know that," Criss said. "That's why I'm here at the station. Mom, tell me--what really happened?"
"I did not steal any money, first of all--"
"Yeah, I know that."
"It was Mr. Webber's fault. He had been embezzling county funds from Social Services. I saw the check stubs. They were three times what he said they were."
"Did you get arrested?" Criss asked.
"No," she replied. Criss smiled with relief. "I went to Social Services and filed a complaint. I do not know how Mr. Creed knows about this, but you can tell him the truth now. Mr. Webber is in trouble, not me."
"Oh, I'll tell him all right!" Criss nodded. "Gotta go, love ya, good-bye!" He hung up. So his mother really was innocent! She had blown the whistle on this Mr. Webber for his theft. But how did Creed find out about it? Someone was setting her up. But who?
Morty Bernhard was pacing up and down his office like a caged panther before feeding time. He was fuming over Creed's latest and, as he saw it, worst episode ever. Not only did Creed piss off the public again, there was a lynch mob outside the station! Hell! They had even stormed the studio! He swore by all that was holy and sacred he was going to hand Creed his nuts on a platter for this! Bernhard didn't need this aggravation. He had an ulcer the size of the Grand Canyon because of Creed. The station was losing advertising dollars because of Creed. The Latino Anti-Defamation League, the National Organization for Women, and the FCC were riding on his ass because of Creed. The whole damn station was in the red, and facing loss of it's licensing, all because of Creed! He knew Criss Angel could file a defamation suit against KLOL. If Berhard was lucky, maybe he could be talked into a settlement. If only he had fired him when he had the chance!
His assistant buzzed him on his phone. "Yeah, Shiela, what is it?" he answered, momentarily concealing his agitation.
"The two applicants for the internship position have arrived," Shiela told him. "Shall I send them in?"
Morty sighed. He'd forgotten about the intern position interviews in the heat of this current crisis. "Tell them to wait. I got bigger fish to fry." he ordered.
"All right," Shiela said. Morty hung up the phone. Where the hell was Creed? he wondered. He'd better get his sorry self into this office in the next minute or he was going after him.
Shiela buzzed again. "Criss Angel is here to see you, Mr. Bernhard."
Morty felt his ulcer eating away more of his gut. "Send him in," he groaned, reaching into his desk drawer for his medication.
He managed to down a couple of pills with the help of a cup of lukewarm coffee before Criss barged into the office, furious. Morty Bernhard tried to placate the star magician. "Look, Criss..." he began, almost pleadingly.
"No! You look!" Criss shot back. "Creed lied about my mother! She didn't steal that money, the man who ran the home did! She was the one who reported it to the authorities! And she had never been arrested! Either you get Artie Creed off the air or I will! Even if I have to sue you!"
Morty sighed. "Look, Criss, I'm as upset about this as you are--"
"Upset?!" Criss exploded. "You're damn right I'm upset! I was able to look the other way when he dissed me, but now he's attacking my family! He's crossed the line this time, and I want him out! Where the hell is he, anyway?"
"I sent for him a few minutes ago," Morty told him. "He should be here by now. Would you like a cup of coffee or something?"
Criss took a seat. "No, thanks," he muttered through gritted teeth. "I just want Artie Creed."
At that moment, the figure of the infamous shock jock materialized at the office door. Criss shot up from his seat and lunged at him. "You lying son of a--!" he screamed at Creed, grabbing him by the shirt. "I'll kill you for what you said about my mother!"
"You and what troop of Boy Scouts?" Creed retorted sarcastically.
Criss slammed Creed against a wall. "You think I'm BS-ing, right? Huh? You think I'm just blowing smoke in your face? Well, lemme tell you something, Creed! My mom was never arrested for anything! She was the one who reported the theft by the man who ran the place! In fact, she spent her own money--and mine--on those kids! I don't know how or where you got that story, but I'm telling you right now it was all a pack of lies!"
"I got that story from a reliable source," Creed argued.
Now it was Criss's turn to be sarcastic. "Oh? Who? Elvis? Your 'reliable source' is full of it, Creed. I just got through talking with my mother, and she told me the truth about the whole thing."
Morty tried to pry the two men apart. "Okay, okay, that's enough. Creed, you sit over there." He pointed to a chair on his left. "Look, Criss, we're sorry about all this. On behalf of the station, I'd like to apologize--"
"Oh, geez, Morty!" Creed spoke up. "Sucking up to him like that! I had a tip over the phone about his mother. Of course she's gonna deny it!"
"You shut the hell up, Creed!" Morty snapped. "You're in enough trouble as it is!"
"Not as much as Criss, here," Creed sneered. "You knew about my wife, Brenda, didn't you, mama's boy? You knew she left me. What's going on between you two, anyway? You sleeping together, or what?"
Criss remained silent. To make any type of reaction would be to show guilt. He had to remain calm, as much as he wanted to kill him. Morty, however, was livid. "You just don't let up, do you, Creed?" he growled. "You just don't quit!"
He strode over to the window and yanked open the blinds. "Look at them down there!" He pointed to the mob of Loyals in the street, still protesting. "You really done it this time, Creed! I warned you and warned you, but you just don't listen! We've got advertisers pulling out left and right! The station is practically bankrupt! Not that you give a damn--you never gave a damn for anyone in your life! Well, this is it, Charlie! You have had it! I'm having your license revoked! I want you out of this building yesterday!"
"I can sue you for the remainder of my contract, Bernhard." Creed countered. "You know how much that will be?"
"Your contract?" Morty jerked open a drawer in his file cabinet and fished out some papers. He waved them in Artie's face. "Here's your contract, Creed!"
He switched on a paper shredder by his desk and fed Creed's contract into the hopper. The metal teeth of the shredder chewed the contract to packing material. "Your contract is cancelled," Morty said, "and so are you! You're fired!"
Artie glared at Criss, as if his recent misfortune was his fault. "This isn't over, Angel! I know you've been sleeping with my wife!"
"Prove it," Criss challenged.
"I don't have to prove it!" Creed retorted. "I know you have."
"Like you knew my mom had been 'arrested' for theft?"
"I can sue you for alienation of affection, not to mention adultery! You've been guilty of that before, remember?"
That was hitting below the belt, in more ways than one, but Criss was not down for the count yet. "Why accuse me of alienation of affection?" he shrugged. "You did that on your own. I went to your house to see you, and I found Brenda crying. Crying because you smashed her violin. She gave up her dreams of playing in the Symphony for you, Artie. Bad mistake on her part--she should have dumped your ass a long time ago. But I did not sleep with your wife."
Criss rose from his seat and began pacing the room slowly. "Now, we can do one of two things to rectify this situation," he said with the air of a prosecuting lawyer. "I can either bring a defamation suit against the station, charge you with libel, wrongful accusation. harassment--take your pick. We can drag this through the whole legal process, perhaps taking weeks, even months, costing thousands of dollars for both of us. Or..." he leaned down, face-to-face with Creed, smiling smugly. "Or, you can apologize."
Last edited by Veritas; 12-10-2012 at 09:56 PM.