02-12-2013, 06:14 PM
"HEY HEY! HO HO! SILVERSTAR HAS GOT TO GO! HEY HEY! HO HO! SILVERSTAR HAS GOT TO GO!" chanted the mob as the marched around the steel and glass skyscraper that served as SilverStar Enterprises's main headquarters. Television news crews lined the street with cameras trained squarely on the protesters while reporters tried to collar anyone willing to give a statement for "on the spot" coverage. Some were happy to oblige, while others simply held up their picket signs to the camera crew.
"I've lived here, worked here and raised my family here," one angry man spat into the microphone. "I ain't gonna let some big fat cat corporation take away everything I worked for! I'm a taxpayer and I know my rights!"
By midafternoon, the SilverStar controversy was national news. Comparisons were made to the Poletown demolition by GM-Cadillac in Hamtramck, Michigan twenty-five years ago on CNN and other news networks. Those who had lived in the area and had been evicted offered sympathy and support to North Las Vegas, parallelling their own plight with their neighbors to the west.
E!News and other entertainment channels made Dimitra's arrest their top story. Criss's brief statement outside the police lockup where he had picked up his mother and Father Stefan was prominently featured. Father Stefan was all but ignored, at least by the networks. They Loyals, however, had made him part of the Angel family, adopting him as their own surrogate spiritual father, offering shout-outs on the boards and even including him in their stories in the Loyal Written Art sections. Father Stefan, of course, was totally unaware of this singular honor, but was grateful for the cards, letters and checks sent in by supportive Loyals for his church. They gave him hope, these fans of Criss Angel, in a time when hope was sorely needed.
A knock on the church office door bought Father Stefan back to reality. He rose from his desk and opened it. Dimitra stood there expectantly, while her son Costa stood a respectful distance behind her. Father smiled at her, beckoning her to enter. Dimitra thanked him and stepped into the office. Costa remained outside, preferring to wait for his mother to finish whatever business she had with the priest and drive her back to the hotel.
Dimitra could not help but stare at the pile of cards and letters on the desk. "My goodness," she said in mild surprise. "What's all this?"
"From your son's fans," Father replied. "They heard about your protest outside the church and sent in their support. Look!" he exclaimed, holding up a sheaf of checks. "They even sent in donations! I've counted over two thousand dollars so far. Thanks to you and Christopher, we gained a great deal of support for our cause!"
Dimitra was almost giddy with relief. "Oh, dear Lord!" she said, quavering. "I had no idea! This is wonderful! I came here to pray for a miracle, and God sent us one already!"
"The Lord would not forsake His church," Father Stefan said. "This is a sign that we will win this battle, Dimitra. We won't lose faith, but keep fighting for our right to exist! God is on our side."
"Amen, Father," Dimitra agreed. "Amen."
Unbeknownst to Father Stefan and Dimitra, Monique Wesley was struggling to bring about miracles of her own with the help of her lawyer, Milton Dewey. Milton shuffled papers while Monique paced around nervously like a caged panther.
"Do you know how many millions I stand to lose if I don't get this hotel built, Milton?" she asked him for the dozenth time that day. "I'm up to my ass in lawsuits, and I've got an injunction against my building anything in North Las Vegas! How the hell am I going to get out of this one? You got to help me, Milt! You're my last, best hope! You've come through for me before! Can't you do it again?"
"I'm trying!" Milton cried as he flipped through his papers in his briefcase. "I'm trying as best as I can! I got some notes here somewhere--just let me look!"
"Well, look faster!" Monique snapped. "I got people out there who want to string me up from the nearest lamppost!"
"Wait a minute!" Milton snatched up a sheet of paper and read it, then tossed it aside. "No, we tried that already," he said with a tone of disappointment. "Maybe...no, that won't work, either. And we tried that already." He closed his briefcase in defeat. "I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do. They're going through the Court of Appeals over those petitions they turned down before, and it's more than likely they'll overturn the ruling. Face it, Monique, you are screwed. Our backs are up against the wall and there's no way out except to fight it out in court."
"Then that's exactly what I'll do," Monique said determinedly. "I've been called a lot of things in my life, but never a quitter! I'll fight them all in court, every single one of them! And you're gonna be by my side, Milton! We'll rake their asses over the coals until there's nothing left of them! The Grand Imperial is going to be built no matter who I have to fight!"
Kris Lee parked her hatchback in the Holy Trinity Church parking lot, surprised and concerned that no one was out there protesting. Did they get arrested like Dimitra did? she wondered. She hoped not. She got out of her car and trotted up to the side entrance of the church. Ever since she had heard of Dimitra's arrest she had felt guilty about leaving her behind when she went to class. She had promised Criss she would look after her, and she was going to keep that promise.
Kris Lee pulled open the heavy wooden door and stepped inside the dimly lit church, its golden icons and murals eerily aglow with the light of dozens of votive candles. She had passed Holy Trinity dozens of times on her way to classes, but this was the first time she had ever been inside. She didn't see Dimitra in the church proper, so she passed the altar and went through another side door into a hallway. To one side, she could see light eminating from a doorway. That must be the church office, she figured.
She walked briskly to the door. In the silence of the church she could easily hear voices from inside the office. One voice she recognized as Dimitra's; the other was a man's voice. The priest, perhaps? The voices sounded happy, almost jubilant, so Kris Lee assumed that it was safe to go inside. She rapped gently on the door, not wanting to startle either one of them.
"Come in," said the man's voice.
Kris Lee entered the office. There was Dimitra, her hands full of mail. Next to her was the priest, Father Stefan, his hands also filled with letters. They smiled at her the minute they looked at her. "Well, hello there!" Dimitra greeted her warmly. "Good to see you again!"
"It's nice to see you, too, Dimitra," Kris Lee responded politely. "I heard you got arrested after I left. I had promised Criss I would take care of you during your protest, and I've been so worried about you. I felt so guilty about abandoning you like that. I should have stayed with you."
"Now, honey, you shouldn't feel guilty about anything," Dimitra assured her. "Father Stefan and I got through it all right. Didn't we, Father?"
"We did," Father said, nodding. "And they let us go without bail, provided we show up for court next month. I don't think anything will come from it, though."
"Are you kidding, Father?" Kris Lee said. "I've been on the fan boards on the 'Net, and everyone is really--" She was about to say (bleeped) off, but she caught herself just in time: there were certain words and phrases one did not use in front of the clergy. "--really upset over what happened to Dimitra. You wouldn't believe the responses they gave over it!"
"I can," Father said, and showed her the pile of letters on the desk. "In fact, we got quite a few responses, didn't we, Dimitra?"
"Oh, yes, indeed we did," Dimitra agreed.
Kris Lee stared at the mountain of cards and letters on the desk. "Many sent in donations as well," Father continued. "Over two thousand dollars from when I last counted. I don't know how they found out about it, but we are grateful for their support."
"Hey, Father," Kris Lee responded. "Dimitra's like our mother, too. We Loyals are always keeping our eyes and ears open for any little news concerning Criss or his family. If anything happens, word gets around fast on the fanboards and everywhere else. Like I said, the Web's full of news about Dimitra's arrest, and they are behind her one hundred and ten percent."
"Well, you go on those fanboards," Father told her, "and tell them I thank them for their support."
"Will do, Father," Kris Lee said cheerily. "You betcha!"
Another tap on the door. Kris Lee opened it and was surprised to see Costa standing there. She was too dumbfounded to speak, let alone move to let him in. Costa was a bit startled to see this strange girl standing there, but he brushed it off with a quick "Oh, hi," and looked over her head toward his mother. "Mom, you ready to go?" he asked casually.
"In a minute," Dimitra replied.
Costa left to bring the car around. Dimitra stacked the letters she had been holding and placed them on the desk. "I have to go now, Father," she said. "Costa needs to get back to work, and he wants to keep an eye on me. All three of my sons are still upset over my demonstration. They worry about me so much they treat me like a child, telling me I need to eat or take a nap or whatever! It's irritating! I'm their mother, not the other way around!"
"Well, that's because they love you so much, Dimitra," Kris Lee said. "They don't want you to get sick, or get hurt, or anything. They just want to take care of you, just like you took care of them in the past."
"Still, it's irritating," Dimitra argued. "I can take care of myself very well, thank you. I'm not that infirm--yet."
"Well, you should thank God you have three loving sons to care for you in case something does happen to you," Father Stefan told Dimitra. "You are a very fortunate woman to have them."
"I do, Father," Dimitra said. "I do, indeed, but still..."
A car horn blared from outside. Dimitra sighed. "That must be Costa," she said. "Well, good-bye, Father."
"Good-bye, Dimitra. And thank you for all your help."
Dimitra kissed Kris Lee. "Good-bye, honey," she said. "And thank you for generating all the support from the Loyals."
Kris Lee kissed her in return. "Anything for you, Mama D," she said. "Anything at all."
Milton Dewey sat in his corner office of Dewey, Scruem and Howe, poring over pages and pages of property law in the state of Nevada, trying to find even the smallest loophole for Monique Wesley to take over North Las Vegas to build the Grand Imperial. Monique was his best-paying client, if not his only one to date; many of his former clients had bailed on him because they didn't like his underhanded methods of getting results. There had been rumors via the legal grapevine that he would be facing disbarment for his unethcial practices, but Milton dismissed them as just that--rumors. After he and Monique won this case, he thought, he would be come out of it smelling like a rose and rich enough to retire to Catalina or some other tropical paradise. Screw the Nevada State Bar, he was going to win this case if it killed him!
But first, he had to find something to back up his client's claim. Nevada law wasn't helping, so he turned to the other forty-nine states. He looked under eminent domain, conversion law, public use. Then, just as he was about to give up, he hit paydirt in the form of a twenty-five year old court case. Elated, Milton copied it down for reference. "Milton, old boy," he said to himself. "You've done it again! We've got them by the short hairs now!"