08-28-2011, 09:49 PM
Criss pulled into the motorcycle lot and parked his Harley in its designated spot. He removed his helmet and goggles, stored them away in the saddlebag, and walked toward the Luxor Hotel, craving a Martini from the lounge. Note to self, he said to himself, No more biking in the desert during midday!
He entered the air-conditioned comfort of the Luxor Hotel's famous atrium, the largest in the world. Around him, life went on: guests came and went, staff carried out their duties, the shops and restaraunts lay open for customers. Not a single cow in sight.
He did spot his mother, Dimitra, leaving one of the few boutiques that catered to women her age, her arms laden with shopping bags and shoe boxes. Laughing, Criss strolled up to her. "Whoa!" he exclaimed peevishly. "Someone's been doing some major shopping here! What'd you do, Mom, buy out the whole store? You're gonna bankrupt me at this rate!"
Dimitra looked at her famous son, annoyed at his facetiousness. Taking the nonverbal hint, Criss gathered up some of the bags. "Here, let me help you with those," he offered.
"Thank you, Christopher," she said, pleased with his change of tone. "You can just carry them up to my room."
Criss carried the plastic garment bags of new dresses and suits to the elevator bank. Dimitra followed with the shoe boxes tied together with white string. As they rode up the elevator to her suite, Dimitra asked, "I thought you were going riding today. What made you change your mind?"
Criss hemmed and hawed, not knowing how to explain what he had seen--or what he thought he saw--out in the desert, yet he didn't want to outright lie to his mother. "Well, y'see, Ma," he hedged, "it's, well, kinda hard to explain."
The elevator doors flew open. Criss was thankful for the brief distraction of carrying the bags into the hotel room and hanging them up in the closet. Once that task was done, Dimitra turned to him. "What is hard to explain?" she pressed.
"Well, uh, y'see, uh..." Criss made some helpless gestures, as if trying to conjure an answer. "I was out riding my Harley in the desert, see..."
"Yes, and...?" his mother prompted.
"Well, I looked to one side, and I see...something...out there that, well, looked pretty wierd."
"What was wierd?"
Criss drew a deep breath. "IthoughtIsawacowinthedesert," he blurted.
Dimitra was puzzled. "You thought you saw what in the desert?"
"It was a...a cow."
"Yeah, a real cow. You know, like in those TV ads? Black and white spotted--that kind of cow. Or, at least I think it was a cow."
Maternal instinct immediatly took over: Dimitra reached up and felt Criss' forehead. "Lie down," she told him.
"But, Ma, I feel fine, really," Criss protested.
His mother guided him to one of the beds in the suite. "Lie down!" she ordered, pushing him down on the mattress. "You've given yourself heat stroke from being out in that sun all day."
Realizing the futility of arguing, Criss lay down on the bed. Dimitra went into the bathroom. He could hear water running for a second or two, the his mother reemerged with a damp washcloth folded lengthwise. She laid the cool, wet cloth on his forehead. "There," she said. "Now you just lay there and get some rest. I'll get you something to drink. What would you like: water, juice, a soda?"
"How about a Martini?" Criss suggested. "Dry."
"No alcohol," his mother old him sternly. "That will only make it worse." She patted his hand and crossed over to the minifridge to find a bottle of water. "I'll get you some water instead. That's the best thing for you right now."
Criss lay on the bed watching his mother fetching a small bottle of water for him. So loving, he reflected, and so devoted. She was a mom's mom, that was for sure. Still, all this fussing over him wasn't really necessary. Okay, so he had a brief hallucination out in the desert--so what? It's not like he was going crazy, right? He didn't feel like he had heat stroke as his mother surmised; in fact, he felt fine. He removed the damp cloth from his forehead and sat up. "Mom, I'm fine, really I am," he insisted. "I don't have heat stroke or anything like that, so you can stop the Florence Nightingale routine, okay?"
Dimitra crossed back with the bottled water. "Here," she said, handing him the small plastic bottle. "At least drink this down. I don't want you sick tonight."
"Yes, tonight we're having dinner with George's new girlfriend, Angela, remember?"
Suddenly, Criss remembered. "Oh, oh, yeah, that's right! Yeah, sure, Mom, don't worry, I'll be fine." He leaned conspiritorially to her. "Just, well, don't mention this to anyone, okay? I don't want people to think I'm going crazy or anything."
Dimitra smiled. "I promise."
She took his face into her hands. "But you go back to your room and rest, okay? I don't want you going out into the sun again. You'll make yourself ill like you did before."
"Fine," Criss agreed. He gave her a peck on the cheek. "Love ya," he said, rising from the bed.
"I love you, too, honey," Dimitra returned, hugging him.
Criss hugged back. "I love you more."
Meanwhile, at the highway truck stop, two police cruisers surrounded the demolished remains of the cattle trailer in the truck lot. A police photographer took pictures of the bent, torn metal doors ripped from their hinges, the heavy steel guage bolt dangling from its bracket like a broken arm. The driver, Pete Granholm, paced nervously back and forth, protesting his innocence to the police sergeant and two other officers.
"Gawdalmighty! I just stopped for five minutes to take a leak and get some breakfast, wasn't gonna be long at all, and this happens! Boss is gonna hand me my (bleeps) on a platter for this! If they'd shipped them by rail, none of this woulda happened."
"Where were you taking the cattle, sir?" the police sergeant asked.
"Brighton, Utah," Pete replied. "DairyMaid company. They needed new breeding stock and milkers. I told them to ship 'em by freight train--they got their own rail, and it would've been safer that way--but nooo, they wanted to save money and have 'em delivered by truck! Damn pencil pushers! Don't know nothin' about livestock!"
"All right, Mr. Granholm," the sergeant tried to placate him. "We'll get the cows back somehow. They couldn't have gone far. We'll have Animal Control out looking for them."
"I made damn sure those doors were bolted shut!" Pete fumed. "I mean, that's solid half-inch steel there! I can't believe that bull would bust it down like that! I mean, he just kicked those doors all to hell!"
"You're not to blame for this, Mr. Granholm," the sergeant reassured him. "From the look of that truck, I'd say those cows wanted out pretty bad."
"It was the bull that did it," Pete told him. "Meanest son of a (bleep) you ever saw. They had to load him on last, he was so ornery. He was still kickin' when I left--thought he was gonna bust out right there in the middle of the road."
"Don't worry, Mr. Granholm, we'll find him; him and the rest of the cows. Animal Control will round them all up with no trouble at all."
"The cows ain't no trouble," Pete said. "It's the bull you should be worried about. It's gonna take more'n Animal Control to take him down. Hell, nothin' short of the National Guard is gonna bring down that (bleeper)! I'm tellin' you right now that bull is mean--one thousand pounds mean!"