01-18-2013, 07:08 PM
3:00 AM to 4:00 AM:
Security Officer Carl Underwood walked into the security office for his mid-shift break and a much needed cup of coffee. His thoughts kept turning back toward that little girl he had returned to her parents. He remembered how she squeezed his hand when her father opened the door, as if she was scared of him. And the dad's behavior seemed a bit suspicious as well. His speech was hasty, he was quick to make excuses, then he shut the door right in his face. Long experience had taught Underwood it was a sign of guilt. Had he been doing something to the kid? It wasn't standard policy to get involved in family matters among the guests, but if there was any hint of abuse, it would be his duty to report it.
And something else didn't add up, either. The dad claimed that he had lost a lot of money in the casino, which was the cause of the dispute, and yet the kid had told him that her dad had won a bag of money. And why would he bring home money in a bag, anyway? If he had hit the jackpot, the casino would have presented him with a check after determining that there was no cheating involved. The cashiers didn't hand out bundles of cash just like that. What was wrong with this picture?
Underwood made a mental note to review the night's tapes for any suspicious activity. He still had a good enough memory picture of the dad to spot him wherever he was. But first, he was going to get some coffee.
Athene sat in the security ''office", simmering. Everything had been for naught, she said to herself. Her carefully laid plans had gone awry from the start. Criss had spurned her like a strumpet in the street, and now she as being held against her will in this cell. She should have struck him in the face when he was standing there in the doorway with her thong, to get back at him and for the way that old crone he called a mother had treated her. She would also sue the Luxor for every dime they had for their inhumane treatment of her tonight. It was intolerable, the heiress to one of the biggest corporations in the world, being locked up like a common criminal!
It was all Criss Angel's fault! If he had behaved like a proper gentleman and had been more civil toward her, none of this would have happened. And that old witch of a mother of his actually had the nerve to strike her like that! Well, she wasn't going to get away with it! She would definatly press battery charges against Mommie Dearest--that would make them sit up and take notice! No one treated Athene Christopolous like that! No one!
Athene inhaled through her nose, triggering the memory of Criss' bedsheets and the scent of his musk in them. Oh, how it turned her on when she first caught a whiff of it! It was as if he was right there in bed with her! She had breathed in deeply, savoring his masculine scent in the snow white linen, writhing in pleasure. If his smell alone could arouse her, she could only imagine what his touch would do. She had caressed the bottom sheet where his scent was strongest, where his body had lain in repose, alone, yet in Athene's fantasy, he wasn't alone, but with her, carried away with that wicked heightening of the senses as they embraced.
She must have dirfted off to sleep after that, because she later remembered the shock of bright lights and loud shrieking, then the sheets with Criss' scent still on them being flung aside and her clothes splattering all over her. She tried to flee, but felt the sting of that old crone's hand across her ass, the sound of the blow like a whip crack. The dream was shattered; now she had to face the reality of her arrest and detainment here in this room. And how she would make them all pay!
The door of her prison cell opened. It was one of the guards who arrested her. Athene glared at him menacingly.
"Okay, ma'am," Officer Dagmar said to her, "you're free to go. You can claim your belongings at the desk. Just promise to behave yourself from now on and stay out of people's rooms, okay?"
Athene stood up and walked out of the "office". Free at last! Someone had seen reason and sought for her release. Upon entering the lobby of the security office, she saw that the "someone" had been Crito, who stood there before her in the lobby, with her purse already claimed. Dear, faithful Crito. What would she do without him?
"Madame, I was informed of your detainment, and I came as quickly as I could," Crito babbled. "I told them that this was an outrage and these charges they laid against you were--"
"I know, Crito, I know," Athene said dismissivly. "We'll settle this later. First thing in the morning, contact my attorneys. And see to it my bags are packed and suitable transportation is arranged--we are leaving this horrid place!"
"Yes, madame," Crito replied obdiently, "as you wish."
"In the meantime, I'm going back up to my suite," she groaned. "I have a terrible headache."
Vic lay on his cheap double bed in the cheap single room of a cheap motel somewhere in the Nevada desert, a blurry program flickering on the cheap television bracketed onto the ceiling. He didn't care what was on; it was just white noise to drown out the bedspring symphony going on next door. At least someone scored tonight, he thought.
What went wrong, he asked himself for the hundredth time. Were those blind spots they found not so blind as they thought? Did Steve miscalculate the time it took to keep within them? Or did he just plain screw it up? He shouldn't have trusted Steve to do it himself--he should have gone with him. Never send a boy to do a man's job, as they say. At least Steve had given him fair warning when the cops were after him. He did the right thing in telling him to move out. There would not have been time for him to circle around the van and get in. Besides, the passenger door had a tendancy to stick, which would have lost more precious time to escape. He remembered Steve's last words: Too late for me! Save yourself! Go, now! Looking back, Vic realized how noble Steve had been to do that, sacrificing his own chance of escape for him.
Or was it?
Vic sat bolt upright in the dim bluish glow of the television set. Steve wasn't one to give up his freedom for anyone else. Hell, he was as self-centered as they came. If he knew Steve, he would have dived right into the van through the driver's side, pushing Vic aside if need be, and telling him to haul out of there. Save yourself, his ass! He wasn't that self-sacrificing.
Vic analyzed the situation. Maybe there was no screw up, he thought. Maybe that (bleeper) did get the money, after all, and faked the whole pursuit thing just to get rid of him, taking it all for himself. If that was true, then he deserved an Oscar for that little performance, because he had swallowed it hook, line, and sinker on dry land. Now he really regretted not going in with him during the heist. The (bleeper) just couldn't be trusted.
Vic grabbed his cell phone to call Steve, but thought better of it. This matter was better handled face to face, he decided. He shoved his cell phone into his pocket, grabbed his keys and left the motel room. He vowed to get to the bottom of this. If Steve had really been busted, then fine, let him take the rap. But if he was holding out on him, he was going to be one sorry (bleeper).
Gary Brighton lay awake in bed, alone with his thoughts, or rather his thoughts about the money he found in the elevator. How much was in there, he wondered. A million? Two million? Just one of those wads could have choked a horse, for Pete's sake. Man, what he could do with that load! Pay off the mortgage, pay off the bills, and he, Irene, and the kid could start living again. They'd all be set for life, unless Irene went on one of her major shopping sprees and blew the whole bundle, as she probably would. Money went through her skinny fingers like water through a sieve; no wonder they were in so much debt. Hell, they had to get a second mortgage just to come to Vegas.
Gary wondered why he ever married Irene Potter in the first place. It had been all right in the beginning, nothing really serious between them, just a fling. They met in a bar after she had been stood up by a date of hers (smart guy, he thought) and they got to talking and drinking, drinking and talking, then drinking some more. She had actually been pretty then, or maybe he just drank her pretty. They dated on and off for a few months, occasionally shacking up for a little afternoon delight. No commitment, no talk of marriage, just getting it on for its own sake.
Oh, yeah, it was because of the kid, he suddenly remembered. Her (bleep) of a mother insisted he "do right by her" when she discovered he had impregnated her daughter. Why the hell didn't he use a condom? Even back then, they were easy to come by; you could buy them at the supermarket, for Pete's sake! But it was too late. Six months after a quickie shotgun-style wedding, under threat of being cut out of her mother's will, Irene and Gary Brighton found themselves not only man and wife, but also the parents of a seven-pound baby girl. Irene's mother insisted she be named after her own mother, Maureen Elizabeth. Fine, whatever, they had said.
After that, it was all downhill. Gary would have divorced Irene long ago if not for the fact that he'd be saddled with child support payments for the next eighteen years, and that his own mother, God rest her, insisted they stay together "for the sake of the child". And so they stayed together, barely tolerating each other's presence, sleeping in separate bedrooms, married in name only.
But if he had that money for himself, he could divorce Irene and start fresh. Sure there'd be the child support payments, but with the windfall he had, he'd still be set for life. A good attorney would make sure Irene didn't get too greedy about it. But why bother with all the bureaucratic red tape? Why not just take the money and disappear? He had enough cash to change his identity and put as much distance between Irene and himself as this planet would allow. He could probably fake his own death, even, so the kid could at least have the insurance to get through life, and he'd be living la vida buena in no time at all. Freedom would finally be his at last, he thought. No Irene, no kid to worry about, just living it up in Margaritaville for the rest of his natural.
Gary drifted off to sleep, dreaming of lying poolside with an endless supply of cocktails and cold beer, and bikini-clad girls with gazongas way out to there. No work, no worries, no shirt, no shoes, no problems.
Lolly and Pierce drove back to the house they shared on the outskirts of Las Vegas. After their set with Criss Angel, they had been without a drummer, so they played the rest of their gig "unplugged." It was embarrassing, but they got paid anyway. When the gig ended and they had just begun to pack up their instruments, one of the waiters had approached them, asking if they had another drummer, to which they had replied no, they didn't. Filibuster had little or no luck keeping drummers. Jason Loeb had been the third drummer in as many months, and he had drunk his career away. Pierce had been ready to post an ad in the paper when the waiter said he played the drums himself, and had been in a few garage bands that really didn't get too far, and he was sick of working here in the club, despite the excellent tips he got serving drinks, and thought that Filibuster was really a great band, and if they might give him an audition...?
"Dude," Pierce had said, "say no more, you got the job. What's your name, anyway?"
"Rick," he replied. "Rick Martin."
"Glad to meet you, Rick." Pierce shook the new drummer's hand. "And this is Lolly, our bass player."
"Hey, Rick," Lolly shook Rick's hand as well. "Welcome aboard."
Now, an hour later, Lolly and Pierce were home at last. "Man, that was so lucky!" Pierce said, shaking his head in disbelief over the stroke of good fortune that had come the band's way. "I thought for sure it would have been months before we got a new drummer!"
"You think this one will stick around for a while?" Lolly asked.
"Hard to say," Pierce replied, pulling into the garage and shutting off the engine. "But I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth. We can keep on touring without a break. We totally scored on this one." He turned to Lolly, sitting in the passenger seat. "I think it's a sign from God," he said in mock reverence.
Lyn filled the automatic coffee maker with water, scooped a few ounces of the strongest black coffee into the filter and set the timer for seven AM. She was going to need all the caffeine she could get tomorrow after the night she and Stacy had. But it had been worth it, being with Criss Angel at Body English. She had loved the way he had put his arm around her, and how nice he had been to buy her and Stacy drinks. When he stepped up to take the drummer's place after the guy passed out in the men's room, her admiration blossomed like roses in summer. And the way he blew off that snotty (bleep) was so cool! He really took her down a notch, whoever she was. The nerve of that woman, barging in like that! Just because Criss was a celebrity didn't mean he didn't have a right to privacy.
Lyn yawned. The last of the day's supply of caffeine had faded from her system, leaving her worn out and tired. She needed sleep if she was going to get through another day's grueling rehersal. She headed for her bedroom and undressed for bed. She liked to sleep in the nude, in keeping with her free spirited ways. She slid her naked body in between the cool sheets and settled down for what few hours of sleep she could grab. Tomorrow, Criss would be the star of the show again, and she just another nameless extra. Whatever they had shared tonight would be all but forgotten; it would be business as usual. Still, it had been a helluva night.