01-28-2013, 08:43 PM
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm:
"So I took Maury back to her parents' room the next morning," Dimitra explained to Lynn over lunch in the deli, "and I knocked on the door, and this...woman came out, shrieking at the poor child, saying she didn't want to see her again and all that. It was terrible! I had no choice but to take her in."
"You did the right thing, Mom," Lynn said. "Maybe by now her mother'll be more clear-headed and she can go back."
"I don't know about that," Dimitra said doubtfully. "It seems her parents are tied up in some sort of theft. They could go to jail, and then what will happen to Maury, here?"
"Well, she'll probably be sent to a home somewhere."
A "home"? What sort of "home" would she go to? Dimitra wondered. She looked at Maury's frail form, the bony limbs, the large, sad eyes, the faded dress she was beginning to outgrow--hadn't this poor child suffered enough in her young life already? How could God forsake an innocent child such as she? It was fortunate that her suite and the Brighton's were next to each other, or else Lord knew what would have happened to her.
That particular train of thought led to a more significant destination in Dimitra's mind: their suites were right next to each other, she found Maury in the atrium last night, and then saw her in the hallway, her mother had thrust Maury into her hands, and now they were in police custody, and Christopher had found her by the elevators trying to find her father in the casino so she could get something to eat. It all made sense! It had not been a coincidence Dimitra had found Maury twice in the same night, but the hand of Providence had been at work. God in His Infinite Wisdom had given this neglected child to her, Dimitra, to raise as her own. She could not doubt it as she gazed into those large eyes, filled with a lifetime of suffering and neglect. She would see to it that the "home" Maury would live in would be her own.
Ashley's YouTube thread had barely merged onto the Information Highway than it was siezed upon by eager Loyals. One such Loyal was Lolly Jones, bass player for Filibuster. She was perusing the YouTube site to critique her band's music video when she came across MAMA ANGEL SPANKS ATHENE! Oh, this she had to see! She clicked it on and read the premise:
Athene Christopolous broke into Criss Angel's suite one night, threw Hammie out, and was caught by Mama Angel herself. Dimitra spanked her ass good! Payback for the lies on Celebnooz.com. This is the acutal security tape.Lolly clicked on the sight and watched all twenty seconds of Athene Christopolous's humiliation at the hands of Mama Angel. Then she clicked on it again. And again. And again. She couldn't get enough of it! But why keep it to herself? A quick log-in to her account on the LC website, a few fill-ins, and it was off and running. She couldn't wait to see the reactions her fellow Loyals would have when they saw this.
Meanwhile, it the Production office, Tracey Cullen waited nervously while Ashley went over her makeshift application. She had to get this job, she thought anxiously. She just had to!
Ashley looked up. "Can you be here at eight tomorrow morning?" she asked.
Tracey's heart leapt. "Yes!" she all but shrieked.
"Okay, we're gonna try you out in the mailroom," Ashley told her. "Since you're under eighteen, you can only work twenty hours at most. I would advise you to get your high school diploma as soon as you can. You're not going to make it without it."
"Oh, I promise! I'll be here! Don't worry, I'll work really hard for Criss!" Tracey skipped out of the office, her heart soaring on angel's wings. I got the job! she said to herself. I got the job! I got the job! Maybe God rewarded my good deed this way when I found that person's suitcase for them, she thought.
JD entered the deli, partly to see his wife and daughter, partly to tell his mother that security wanted to see her concerning Maury. Dima was the first to see her father. "Dad!" she called out, "over here!"
JD waved back and approached their table. "Hi, hon," he said to his wife, kissing her. Then he turned to his mother. "Macaffey wants to see you and--Maury, is it? He wants to see both of you in his office."
Lynn looked at her husband. "Is it serious?" she asked.
"With Big Luke, it's always serious," JD replied. "Maury's mom and dad were busted for theft. He wants both of you in his office."
"In the middle of lunch?" Dimitra said, a bit annoyed.
"In the middle of right now, Ma," JD told her. "Macaffey's not a man who likes to be kept waiting. This was a guy who worked fifteen years in a supermax prison as a guard; he barks, you jump." (1)
The two women and the girls got up from their table and followed JD to the security office. Dimitra was still miffed about the interruption of an otherwise pleasant afternoon. Chief of security or not, he could have waited until later.
(1) (See "The Cave of Sorrow" LC Written Arts section)
"You seen JD anywhere?"
"He got called to the security office for some reason. I think it has to do with Mom and that kid she found."
Criss was taken aback. What was the deal? he wondered. Better go check it out. He left the Production office and headed for security. There, in the hallway, he came across JD, his little family, mother Dimitra and little Maury. "Hey, guys, 'sup?" he asked.
"Ask Macaffey," JD retorted. "He's the one calling this meeting."
They all went in the office. Macaffey stood there like a rock, arms folded across his barrel chest, waiting.
"Okay, Big Luke," JD said, "we're all here. What's the deal?"
"The deal is that Gary and Irene Brighton were charged with possession of stolen property: half a million dollars of hotel cash which had been stolen by a slot machine repairman named Steve Packard," Macaffey explained. "The charges of theft itself was dropped when Packard was identified on tape. If they had returned it, they wouldn't be in this mess. But they wanted to keep it for themselves, and now they're facing jail time. But that's not why I called you here."
Macaffey strolled over to his desk and sat down. "We have to make arrangements to take Maureen here to a foster home, since her folks are going to be in the county lockup until bail's posted." He turned to Criss. "It was nice of your mother here to care for her, but--"
"NO!" Dimitra shouted angrily, clutching Maury to her side.
Everyone looked at her in surprise, the security staff included. Dimitra had almost never raised her voice like that, at least not as far as they could remember. Why was she so defensive all of a sudden?
"I won't have this child taken away from me!" she insisted. "God gave me this little girl to care for, and I'm going to! It was no accident that I found her in the atrium--it was God's will! This all happened for a reason. Maury will stay with me!"
"Mom," Criss murmured hesitantly. "I...I never knew you cared..."
"I do." she said firmly.
"Uh, ma'am," Macaffey spoke with uncharacteristic calmness, "you know, the law don't allow single people to be foster parents, and I know for a fact that you're widowed, I'm sorry to say, so, uh, Social Services gotta find a couple for her to live with."
Criss couldn't help but notice the crushed look on his mother's face, and it stabbed him in the heart. She firmly believed that God had given Maury to her to care for, and now the law said she couldn't because Dad was dead. Couldn't they make one exception in this case? The stony expression on Macaffey's face told him no. The law was the law in Big Luke's eyes, and no amount of sentiment would change that.
Lynn turned to JD. "Hon, do you think we could...you know..."
"What?" JD shrugged.
"We could take in Maury ourselves," she suggested. "Your mother told me all about her in the deli, and she really loves her."
"Take in a strange kid into our home?" JD wondered, unsure.
Take in a total stranger just like that? We can't just take in a child like a stray puppy! It wouldn't work out. And what about Dima? She's too used to being an only child. Would there be any conflict between them? Probably. And yet, he pondered inwardly, Mom did really care for the poor kid, and Maury would get lost in the system if she was sent to a foster home. God knew who would take her in, and how she would be treated. Well, if Lynn was willing...
JD turned to his daughter. "Dima, honey, your mother wants to take in Maury here for a foster child. Are you willing to go along wth it? It'll mean giving up some privacy, but it'll only be for a while."
Dima looked up to her father. " If Mom and Grandma want her, then it's okay with me. I don't mind."
JD smiled. "Good. Then it's settled. Macaffey!" he said aloud to the chief at his desk. "You can call Social Services and tell them my family's willing to take in Maury ourselves. It'll save them time and paperwork."
Dimitra embraced her eldest son. "Oh, thank you, JD, darling! May God bless you!" She turned to Macaffey. "Maury can stay with me for the rest of the day until you get everything worked out. You can call me in my suite if you need me."
Macaffey shrugged. "Fine with me," he said. At least he'd be spared a visit with Social Services. It was out of his hands. "You work it out with the SS office. I got work to do."
As the Sarantakos family left with their newest member, Criss turned to his mother. "You got her clothes with you?" he asked.
Dimitra thought for a moment, trying to remember. "I think that's all she has, what she has on already."
Geez! Criss thought, appalled. Not only don't they feed their kid, they don't even get her any clothes! They should tack on child neglect on top of all the other charges against them! He pulled out his wallet and withdrew several large denominations. "Here, go buy her some new clothes, willya? She looks like a rag doll." he told his mother.
Dimitra's eyes widened at the sight of so much money. Back in the day, she could have clothed her sons with a small fraction of what Christopher had given her. Children's clothes couldn't be that expensive, could they? she wondered.
Criss felt two skinny arms wrap themselves around his hips. He stooped to pick up Maury in his strong, muscular arms. The sad little face he had seen by the elevators the previous day was now smiling at him.
"You know, I wanted you to be my daddy," Maury confessed. "and Mrs. Angel to be my grandma."
"Me?" Criss was flustered. As much as he loved children, fatherhood was a step he never bothered to contemplate, or was afraid to. "Well, I can't be your daddy, but I can be your foster uncle."
"So, can I call you Uncle Criss?"
Criss smiled brightly. "Sure, you can!"
Maury hugged her Uncle Criss' neck. "I love you, Uncle Criss."
Criss felt a lump rising in his throat. "I love you more, Maury."
The steel doors of the county lockup rumbled open. Two guards escorted two of the latest arrivals to their cells, their footsteps echoing loudly as they trod slowly down the long cinderblock corridor. Steve Packard, arrested for grand larceny and breaking and entering, and Gary Brighton, charged with possession of stolen property. His wife, Irene, had been taken to the women's cell block in the other wing on the same charge. Neither had given any thought as to the fate of their daughter, Maury. At least he didn't have to put up with her nagging anymore, Gary told himself, trying to cheer himself up.
The two prisoners were unshackled and pushed into their cell. The heavy door boomed shut behind them. Gary sat on the bottom bunk, Steve swung his legs up to the top. There was an awkward silence. Neither felt like making conversation at that moment.
I wonder if they got Vic, Steve thought to himself. I know he didn't get the money, but he'd be held as an accomplice. It was his idea originally to rob the safe in the first place. Now he's free and I'm rotting in jail. This blows!
If I hadn't overslept like that, Gary said to himself, I'd be free as a bird! They had that room bugged all the time we were in there and they heard everything! How the hell was I to know that money belonged to the hotel? If I had all that money, my problems would have been solved. This blows like beans for lunch!
Steve turned on his stomach. I still don't know what happened to that bag of cash. Did the guy whose luggage was on the rack return it to the hotel? Or did the bellhop take it for himself? Guess I'll never know.
Gary lay down on his bunk. Okay, the hotel got its money back. You'd think they'd let me off already. Geez! They should thank me for finding it for them. Bust the son of a (bleep) who actually stole it and let me out! I'm innocent already!
How did they find out it was me, anyway? Steve wondered. I kept within the blind spots. Where did I slip up? I blew it!
How did they find out I had that bag, anyway? Gary asked himself. I hid it behind the plant. Who found it there? I blew it!
Felix Rappaport awakened to the sound of his cell phone deedling away. It had taken all his powers of diplomacy, honed from years of working in the hospitality business, to get it from the nurses who had insisted he just take it easy and rest.
"Hello?" he answered groggily.
"Hey, boss!" It was Macaffey, sounding unusually upbeat. "Heard you were under the weather. How'd the ulcer surgery go?"
Word gets around fast, Felix thought. "I'm okay," he rasped.
"Well, here's something that'll make you feel better," Macaffey crowed. "We got the money stolen from the safe back and the guy who stole it! Turned out to be the slot machine repair guy, Packard."
Felix managed a smile. "That's great, Macaffey. You're the best. Keep up the good work."
"Don't you worry about a thing, Mr. R.," Macaffey assured him. "Everything's under control. I took the liberty of upgrading the video surveillance around the Accounting Office. We need to open up a few blind spots; we got total visual now."
"Good, Luke. Good job."
"Now you take it easy and get some rest, Mr. R. God's in His Heaven, all's right with the world! Get well soon--all the guys here are pulling for you."
"Thanks, Luke. 'Bye."
Big Luke Macaffey hung up the phone. He drew a big, satisfying, relieved sigh, the kind of sigh that followed a tough job well done. It was good to have the pressure off, at least for a while. Fifteen years at a supermax prison had taught him not to be complacent. Even in his semi-retirement career as chief of security at the Luxor Hotel, there were problems. Hell, after last night, it was a wonder he didn't have an ulcer!