A Life in the Day -
01-08-2013, 12:24 AM
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm:
The airport cab pulled up to the entrance of the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The driver bolted out of the cab as if it was on fire and dashed to the trunk of the vehicle, pulling out suitcases faster than the hotel attendants could load them on the baggage cart. He was more anxious than usual to get back on the road, and with good reason, for the poor man had to endure an hour's worth of bickering and backbiting from the couple he had just delivered to the hotel, along with their daughter, who had remained silent throughout the trip from the airport, almost to the point of becoming invisible.
The cab driver opened the passenger door with all the caution of releasing a wild animal, steering clear of his quarrellsome passengers. The husband got out first, groaning aloud for the world to hear. "Ohhhhhhh! My God in Heaven!" he bellowed. "About time we got here! Swear to God, that's the last time we take a cab!" He turned to his wife. "I was for getting a rental car, but noooooo! You didn't want to spend the extra money!"
His wife, a scrawny brunette with wire-rimmed eyeglasses perched on her bony nose, emerged from the cab. "We're on a tight budget as it is, Gary!" she snapped at him. "We'll be lucky if we get through the week with what we got--if you don't blow it all at the casinos!"
"I'm not gonna blow it all at the casinos, okay?"
"Famous last words!" The woman turned back to the cab. "Maury! Get over here!" she shouted.
A brown-haired girl-child timidly crawled out of the cab, her faded blue dress wrinkled from sitting for hours in the airplane and another hour in the cab. She had endured her parents' squabbling in stoic silence for the entire trip; indeed, she could not recall a kind word between them as long as she could remember. Many times they were so engrossed in their personal battles, or in their own interests, such as Dad's bowling or poker, or Mom's shopping trips, it was as if she never existed. Only twice in her life did they even remember her birthday, and even then they marred the occasion with their fighting. Maury found that the only way not to incur their wrath was to fade into the background. It was safer that way.
Maury followed her parents quietly and obediently into the hotel, too timid to look around the world's largest atrium and all its attractions. She wished she was home, but then she would have had to stay with Grandma Potter, who was just as bad as Mom when it came to sniping and quarreling. Her parents marched up to the registration desk, where a sunny-faced receptionist greeted them with a smile. "Hi, welcome to the Luxor," she said. "May I have your name, please?"
"Brighton," the man grunted.
"One moment, please," said the receptionist as she entered the name on the computer.
Gary Brighton drummed his fingers impatiently on the desk. "C'mon, hurry it up, will you?" he muttered under his breath.
"For God's sake, Gary," his wife moaned. "Let her do her job."
"Will you just can it, Irene?" he snapped. "I'm tired and I wanna take a shower."
The receptionist handed over a pair of key cards. "Here you are sir," she said. "Room 1279. Enjoy your stay."
Gary Brighton took the cards without another word and left the desk, his wife and daughter in tow. Maury looked back at the receptionist and tried to smile, but after ten years of parental misery, she was way out of practice.
"One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight!"
Lyn Sheppard and the rest of the cast on the stage followed the steps with clockwork precision as the choreographer barked out the steps. They were in the twentieth rehersal for Criss Angel's show, Believe, but it felt like the hundredth. Hours and hours of grueling practice, going over the same steps again and again--you could never stop, no matter how tired you were. The show had to be perfect, especially with Criss' illusions highlighting it. It all came down to timing. One missed cue and the entire effect of his magic would be ruined, not to mention getting fired.
"Five! Six! Seven! Eight! and rest!"
The dancers breathed spontaneous sighs of relief, all but collapsing form exhaustion. No one dared complain of aching muscles or tiredness--that would be unprofessional. The long hours of rehersal, the constant criticism from the director and choreographer, the aches and pains--it was part and parcel of being a professional dancer in Cirque de Soleil. You sucked it up and soldiered on, taking direction without question or complaint, going over the steps again and again and again until your legs felt as if they would fall off--and then do it some more. Only the pros could handle the pressure; crybabies need not apply.
Lyn massaged her long, lean, muscular dancer's legs. She would have sold her soul for a cup of coffee at that moment. She needed the caffene to go on. She had been performing in Vegas, on and off, since her teens. Inspired by her parents, performers themselves who had a thing for King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table and therefore named their daughter Guinevere-Merlyn; she had studied dance in college and was thrilled when she was picked to be in Cirque de Soleil, especially with Criss Angel on the bill. She had anticipated hard work, but not this hard.
The director and the choreographer were conversing with each other in the orchestra pit. Maybe this would be a good time to sneak in a coffee break...? Lyn got up and tiptoed to the wings. Just a quick cup backstage, that was all, and she'd be back in no time. Just for a few minutes. She was almost at stage left when the choreographer shrieked out her name. "Lyn! Where the hell are you going? We got work to do! Places everybody!"
Defeated, Lyn returned to center stage and took her position. Coffee would have to wait.
"From the top!" ordered the choreographer. "And, One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight!"
Karen Delana McPhee, known as "KD" or "Kiddie" to her friends, stood by the practice table as the instructor went over the finer points of dealing blackjack. Her short blond hair was combed back according to regualtions, the red blazer she wore bulked out her slender five-foot-five frame. She had just enrolled into the dealer's course and had shown promise as a top-notch dealer. She knew there was a heavy turnover rate with those who worked the tables--theft and dishonesty were rife among the staff who worked them. Dealing from the bottom of the pack, card counting, and pocketing chips were all too common offenses committed by dealers. The security cameras were vigilant in detecting cheating from both staff and guests in the casinos, and many a dealer lost his or her job due to it. Avarice was a vice all too easy to succumb to in a city where money didn't just talk, it gave orders.
She practiced the dealing routine: show the cards, deal them out from the top, set out the chips, stretch out your hands to show the guest and the cameras that you weren't palming anything, wait for the guest to say "hit me", then deal another card, give the guest his winnings if he won and take the chips if he lost, then repeat. The instructor was impressed. This little girl was a gifted dealer, he admitted to himself.
"Okay, that's really good," the instructor said. "Just remember to smile and keep your palms open. You can start on relief tonight."
Kiddie McPhee smiled. "I'll be here," she said happily.
"And, remember," the instructor added, holding up a warning finger, "they'll be watching you from above, so no funny stuff."
"I promise," Kiddie nodded. "I'll be the most honest dealer in the Luxor!"
"Good. Be here at seven tonight."
Kiddie walked out of the casino on a cloud. She got the job! She was actually working at the Luxor! It was a dream come true.
Of course, to make it really come true would be to meet Criss Angel himself.
Criss Angel, himself, meanwhile, was standing on a stool in his CKs being measured for his costume for the Believe show. It had to be authentically Victorian, but flexible enough to allow for freedom of movement, and light enough to "breathe" under the heat of the lights and the constant movement of his body, not to mention durable enough to withstand performance after performance without ripping or fraying.
The wardrobe supervisor ordered Criss to raise his arms so she could measure his chest. She slid the measuring tape around his upper torso and was chagrined that the forty-inch tape was not long enough to encompass it. She flung it away and found the sixty-inch one. She was more successful this time, writing down his chest measurements on a pad. Criss smiled sheepishly. He had been working out in the gym like a demon for his show, and had bulked up in the process, so much so he had to discard some of his t-shirts because they were suddenly too small; he had ripped a couple just by putting them on.
Arm length, neck, shoulders, waist, hips, thighs, leg length, inseam, even his wrists were measured. The wardrobe super drew outlines of his feet for his authentically made button shoes with spats. Criss was growing bored. He had work to do! Did they really have to measure his entire body for costuming? Couldn't they just take his regular clothes and work from them? They'd probably be measuring his weenie next.
Steve Packard screwed in the last fastener of the slot machine he had just finished reparing. He made a test run to check its function. The machine spun its pictured rollers and stopped randomly with no glitches. Satisfied, he packed up his toolkit and removed the "out of service" sign on the machine. An eager gambler stood by, waiting to try his luck.
"Hey, buddy!" the gambler, a pudgy type in a loud Hawai'ian shirt said to him eagerly. "You rig that thing to win?"
Steve shook his head goodnaturedly. "Sorry," he laughed. "I just keep them running. You're on your own."
The pudgy gambler looked a bit disappointed. Steve walked away, smiling to himself. He headed for the repair room in the back of the casino. Maintaining these machines was a full time job. As with all man-made objects, they malfunctioned at times. Even when they were functioning properly, there were always the tempermental types who took out their frustrations on the machine, when they failed to hit the jackpot. Worse, there were the hackers who tried to subtly manouvre the mechanisms inside with wires or other devices, creating even more damage in the machine and more overtime for Steve.
He checked his repair list on the battered brown clipboard hanging in the repair room. Mid afternoon and everything was going according to schedule. Maybe he'd get off on time for once. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number.
"Hello, Vic? It's me, Steve. Everything's going according to plan. We should have no problem tonight."
Last edited by Veritas; 01-08-2013 at 04:05 PM.