01-01-2013, 03:04 AM
As much as I hate shortchanging my readers, I don't know how to continue this story, so I'm just going to skip to the final act.
"Hi, Mom! How's it going?"
"Oh, hello, Christopher, how are you?"
"I'm okay. You coming to my End of the World birthday party this weekend?"
"Mom? You okay?"
"Oh, I'm fine, honey. It's just that Danny's not doing very well, that's all."
"Is it his heart?"
"Oh, you heard about it?"
"Yeah, he told me before."
"Well, I'd like to keep him company this weekend. You know, just in case."
A pause, then, "Okay, Mom, you do that."
"You don't mind, then?"
"Nah, I think Springs needs you more than I do."
"Thank you, Christopher."
"No prob. Hey, give him my regards, okay?"
"I'll do that."
"All right. Have fun at your party. Love you."
"I love you more. 'Bye."
"Boone? That you?"
"Yeah, it's me. Just wanna know if you're preparing for Friday."
"Why? What's Friday?"
"What's Friday? Ma! It's the end of the world! You know, the Mayan prophecy? It's been on TV practically all year!"
"Boone, you know perfectly well I don't believe in that stuff!"
"Boone! Wake up and smell the coffee! It ain't gonna happen, okay? People's been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of time, and so far nothing's happened--we're all still here!"
"But the Mayans--"
"I don't give a rat's ass what the Mayans say! There ain't gonna be no end of the world, and that's that!"
"Ma, for God's sake, just listen--"
December 20, 2012:
"This is Sharon Worth, Mr. Springer's housekeeper?"
"Oh, yes, Sharon! How are you?"
"I'm fine, thanks, but I'm calling about Mr. Springer."
"Danny? What's wrong?"
"He had a bad siezure last night, and they had to take him to the hospital."
"Oh! Oh, dear! Is he all right?"
"Well, he's in a pretty bad way. I think you should go and see him; I think he'd like you to be there with him."
"I'll be right there."
"What room is he in?"
"Room 3874, cardiac wing, Rose Hospital."
"I'll be there as soon as I can. And, Sharon?"
"Thank you for telling me."
"You're welcome. I'll meet you there."
"Good. I'll see you later, then."
In the sterile atmosphere of Rose Hospital's cardiac wing, two women kept vigil on either side of a blue-sheeted hospital bed where the frail form of Danny Springer lay, a resperator tube clipped under his nostrils. There was no sound save for the gentle beeping of the EEG measuring the old man's heartbeat. Outside, the hospital staff went about its business, quickly, quietly and efficiently as usual.
Sharon and Dimitra had been sitting beside Danny for the better part of the day. They each held a withered hand in a desperate attempt to comfort him in what they feared would be his last moments on earth. Neither spoke, but they could not help but recall the circumstances which had bought the three of them together: Mick Piccucci's will, leaving Casey Worth, Sharon's daughter, his entire fortune; Dimitra's son, Criss Angel, getting himself unwittingly mixed up in the fallout of the battle for the estate; the casual meeting of Dimitra and Danny Springer which had blossomed into friendship (no more, despite the tabloid photo of them together, hinting of romance); and the probate trial settling the notorious Piccucci Affair once and for all. Sharon went to work for Danny, at first to help out Casey, who had been hired as caregiver, then full time when Casey married Jordan and had the twins, Chris and Nick.
Over time, her duty to her employer had grown to something more profound. It wasn't that she was attracted to him, but her concern for his welfare had deepened to a kind of love for him, as for an elderly relative. Indeed, the twins considered Danny their grandfather. Danny himself never had any grandchildren, having lost his only son in Vietnam, so being a surrogate grandparent to Casey's children had cheered the old man greatly. That, in turn, pleased Sharon. The twins made Danny happy, and that made her happy, too. It was like starting over with a new family, especially after the dismal thirty-odd years she had spent with Phil and Benny.
Sharon looked over at Dimitra. She had known Danny almost as long as she herself had, but she had been his companion of a different sort: a social one, a friend who went out with him on occasion, someone who loved him in a different manner than she did. There was no sex involved, not at their ages, of course, but Dimitra had provided an affection that Sharon could not give him. Sharon was the housekeeper, the caregiver, the one who provided the physical comfort Danny required, but Dimitra had provided the emotional and social support he needed. Sharon felt no jealousy toward Dimitra about it, nor did Dimitra about Sharon; it was just the way things had worked out, and they had accepted it. Sharon and Dimitra had become good friends through their relationship with Danny Springer. Together, they were like a wife to him.
Now they were together, keeping a silent vigil over the man they both cared about so deeply. Except for an occasional sigh, there were no words between them. No words were necessary, for they both knew what they were thinking. They were losing the man who had bought them together, watching him sink away into oblivion.
A snort startled them out of their thoughts. Danny turned his head, first at Dimitra, then at Sharon. "Why the long faces?" he rasped. "Somebody die or somethin'?"
Both women managed to smile at Danny's off-the-wall remark. "We just wanted to keep you company," Sharon said.
Danny gave them another quick glance. "Hey, I don't mind," he said. "I love being surrounded by beautiful women."
Dimitra blushed. Sharon giggled like a schoolgirl. "I'd sure go for a Manhattan right about now," Danny said.
"Sorry," Sharon said, "but they don't have a bar here at the hospital."
Danny's lips grimaced in a shrug. "Ah, well," he said, "they're better at the Luxor, anyway." He looked at Sharon. "How long you two been here?"
"Almost all day," Sharon replied. "I called Dimitra this morning, and she came right away."
Springs looked at Dimitra. "You did that, Didi?"
Dimitra nodded. "Geez," Danny said, "neither of my two ex-wives woulda done that for me."
"Danny," Dimitra said, "don't talk. Rest."
Danny sneered, "Ah, I'll rest in my grave. When I'm with company, I wanna enjoy it."
A soft voice came over the PA system. "Attention, please. Visiting hours are now over. All visitors must leave the facility in five minutes."
Dimitra looked grieved. Danny just smirked. "Hmph! Time flies when you're having fun."
"We still have five minutes," Sharon said eagerly. "Anything you want to say, you want to talk about?"
Danny thought about it for a moment. "What's to say?" he rasped. "I said it all in my book. I ain't got nothin' to say that's worth sayin'."
The PA gave another gentle reminder for visitors to vacate. "Guess it's time for for me to go," Danny said.
Dimitra looked at Danny, startled. "What did you say, Danny?"
"I said I guess it's time for you to go," Danny said.
Dimitra shook her head. "No, Danny," she said, "you said 'it's time for me to go'."
Danny looked perplexed. "Did I say that?"
"Yes, you did," Dimitra replied.
As if to confirm what Danny had said, the EEG began blipping erratically. Danny's breathing became shallow. "Oh, Christ!" he gasped. "Oh, Christ!"
"Danny!" Sharon cried.
The old man shuddered in his bed, grimacing in pain, then his body relaxed, his head drooped to one side, his mouth agape. Danny lay still as a stone on the bed, not breathing, no sound except the steady whine of the EEG flatlining.
Dimitra approached the bed and touched Danny's neck. "Is he...?" she murmured.
Sharon nodded, bursting into tears. "I'm afraid he is," she said softly.
The two women stood there, staring at the body of Danny Springer, not knowing what to do next. Only when two attendants from the morgue arrived with the gurney to take him away did they move out of the room. Sharon mumbled something about calling Casey, and Dimitra nodded. They embraced, and Sharon left for the elevator bank. Only Dimitra remained, fighting back tears unsuccessfully. For the second time in her life, she felt like a widow.
December 21, 2012:
"Oh, hey, Mom, how's it going?"
"Mom? You okay?"
A sniff, then, "It's Danny."
"Danny? You mean Springs?"
"Well, last night, he took a turn for the worse...he's gone, honey."
"He died? Springs died?"
"I'm afraid so, honey."
"Oh, geez, Mom! I'm so sorry."
"Well, he was almost ninety, and he lived, well, maybe not a good life, but..."
"A long one."
A pause. "You want me to come home?"
"Oh, no, no, no. You got your show to do. I'll be all right."
"I'll be fine, don't worry about me."
"Does Sharon know?"
"She was there, too."
"Oh. Anything I can do?"
"Not right now."
"Well, keep me posted."
"I will, honey. Love you."
"I love you more."
Criss flipped off his phone and stuck it in his pocket. Springs was gone. He had joined his former partners in crime in whatever afterlife he had gone to. He remembered how jealous he had been when his mother had begun seeing Springs on a regular basis. It had been foolish of him, granted, but the thought of his mother remarrying, especially a former mobster, had repelled him. In hindsight, her relationship to Springs had been good for her, and vice versa. Maybe having Springs for a stepdad wouldn't have been so bad after all...
He had been the last of the Las Vegas mobsters, practically the only one who had seen it all and lived to tell the tale. Now, there was no one, nothing left of the golden era of Sin City but memories stored in Springs' book and the exhibits at the mobster museum. Criss' eye fell on a calendar on one of the desks in the production office. December twenty-first. Doomsday according to the Mayans. Well, it may not have been the end of the world in general, but after the passing of Daniel "Springs" Springer of the Guys of Glitter Gulch, it was the end of an era.
The Mindfreak staff attending the production meeting could not help noticing the somber look on Criss' face that afternoon. Criss's elder brother, JD, ventured to find out what was wrong by asking if everything was all right. Criss simply nodded, then said, "Mom went to see Springs last night. Not at his house, though."
"Where is he now?" JD asked.
"Having a brandy with Mick and The Guys."
Everybody in the room was startled. "He died?" JD gasped.
Criss nodded. "Mom and Sharon were there with him when it happened."
"So, what're we gonna do now?"
"Oh, I dunno. Wait for the funeral, I guess."
Meanwhile, cooped up in the underground bunker, Boone and Charley played yet another hand of cards. It was the Day of Doom prophesized by the Mayans, and they sat there waiting patiently for the apocalypse that was sure to come. They were well prepared with food, bottled water, and other supplies needed for survival after whatever cataclysm would strike the earth. It would be just a matter of time, that was all. Just a matter of time...
A loud banging on the heavy metal door of the bunker interrupted their card game. Boone instinctively rose to answer it, but Charley stopped him. "Don't go out there!" he warned. "They could be after our supplies."
Boone sat down again. The banging persisted. Unable to concentrate on the game, Boone got up again and went to the door in spite of Charley's protests. "Who is it?" Boone yelled.
A faint, familiar voice made its way through the metal door. "It's me, Roxie! Come on, Boone, open up!"
Boone turned to Charley. "It's Roxie," he said, "my sister. Can't I let her in? I mean, she's family and all."
Charley pondered for a minute, then nodded assent. Boone heaved the heavy beam securing the door and pulled it open. Outside, Roxie stood there, her tattooed arms crossed over her tiny bosom. "Whaddya want?" Boone asked.
"I just wanna tell you the world didn't come to an end," Roxie told him. "You and your friend can come out now."
One week later:
The funeral service for Daniel Springer was a simple affair, attended only by Sharon Worth; her daughter, Casey; her husband, Jordan; Dimitra, Criss, JD and Costa. A reporter and a photographer from the Sun was there to cover it for next morning's edition; the loss of the last surviving mobster from Las Vegas' shady past was newsworthy as far as the editors were concerned.
There was only one bouquet of flowers, unlike the lavish floral displays of mob funerals of yesteryear. The eulogy was brief and to the point, sprinkled with admonitions of the wages of sin and the seeking of redemption. Criss got up and read the poem, "Old Gangsters Never Die" from Springs' book, a fitting tribute to the old enforcer's criminal past. (1) Then Springs was laid to rest in a mausoleum next to his son, Brian, per his last instructions. The photographer snapped a few photos of the coffin, the herse, and those in attendance, especially Criss, being the only celebrity present, making the event even more newsworthy. A final prayer for the deceased was delivered, and everyone dispersed. The reporter approached Criss and asked for a statement.
"What can I say?" Criss said, shrugging. "I know the guy had been a mobster, but really he was a nice guy in the time that I knew him. What's past is past, that's all I can say. He was good to Mom, and that makes him all right in my book."
(See "A Mobster's Halloween")
From the last will and testament of Daniel William Springer, dated October 12, 2011:
I, Daniel William Springer, being of sound mind and body, do hearby make my last will and testament, all others being null and void.
To Sharon Worth, my housekeeper, I bequeath the total sum of three million dollars, plus the house and all its contents.
To Casey Worth Mellon, I bequeath the total sum of three million dollars, plus the royalties of my book in perpetuity.
To Dimitra Sarantakos, I bequeath the total sum of four million dollars, liquidated from any and all stocks and bonds I hold in possession.
To Christopher Sarantakos, aka Criss Angel, I bequeath my 1959 Porsche and my 1998 Lincoln towncar, in appreciation for saving my life.
I name Richard Close, Esq., as executor of my estate.
Signed this day, October 12, 2011.
Daniel William Springer.
JD and Costa stared at Criss in astonishment. "Four million dollars?" they gasped.
Criss nodded. "That's right," he said, "Springs left Mom four million dollars from his estate. Didn't know the old man was that loaded."
JD shook his head. "Four million bucks," he said. "Mom's set for life!"
"Well, we gotta see what's left after taxes," Costa pointed out.
"Well, yeah," JD concurred, "but still, Mom's gonna be sitting pretty after this." He turned to Criss. "And all you got were his cars," he said.
Criss shrugged. "I can live with that," he said. "I just think it was nice of him to remember me in his will, that's all."
"A rather nice belated Christmas present, if you ask me," JD remarked.
"Yeah," Criss murmured, nodding, "but, you know, I'm really starting to miss the old man. I really liked him, y'know."
"Yeah," JD chuckled. "He was a real character."
"Mom's gonna miss him, too," Costa added somberly.
"She already does," Criss said. "She's gonna go to his crypt this Sunday. It's like she acting the same way when, you know..."
JD divined what Criss was going to say. "When Dad died?" he hinted.
Criss nodded. "Yeah, kinda like that. I mean, it's tough losing one man in your life, but two? That's really rough."
"Well, life goes on," JD said in a philosophical tone, "in spite of everything, whether it be war, disaster, or even Mayan doomsday predictions, we just keep on going, no matter what. She'll get over it in time, I know she will."
"Yeah," Criss agreed. "She'll get over it. We all will. It's tough to lose someone close to you, but it's not the end of the world."
His two older brothers shook with suppressed laughter at that last remark. Criss suddenly realized what he had said and began to laugh as well. It felt good, he thought, it felt good to laugh. After all the doom and gloom prophecies of the past year, it felt good to laugh. It made them all feel alive. The world was still here, and they were alive to live and enjoy it, and that was all that mattered.
Last edited by Veritas; 01-01-2013 at 08:58 PM.