08-28-2011, 09:55 PM
Wabeek Veterenary Hospital was a squat, square building sitting several blocks from Fremont Street, far away from the electronic extravaganza that was the Fremont Experience, with its overhead projection screens and dazzling light show. The only color the nondescript stucco cube was its sign posted out front, its logo accented with a picture of large South American macaw, its rainbow-hued feathers forming a forward-facing bracket around it.
Criss wheeled his Harley into the parking lot of the clinic. Behind him was a specially designed pet carrier, customized to fit on any of his motorcycles in case he wanted to travel with his cat, Hamlet, known affectionatly as Hammie. The gray and white tiger-striped tabby was beloved by Criss' fans, the Loyals, as much as Criss himself, so much so that his furry feline face was a favorite subject of online banners and fan signatures. Hammie was Criss' surrogate child, his main object of affection next to his mother; he was always cuddling him, giving him little treats, and giving him the run of the suite so long as he didn't scratch up the furniture and regularly used his litter box.
Two days before, Criss had taken Hammie into Wabeek Hospital for a routine check-up, only to discover that the cat had developed an ear infection that required treatment and observation. "We're glad we found it in time," the vet had told Criss. "If it had been left untreated, it could have damaged the inner ear." The infection would require regular doses of some special medication, he said; if it didn't clear up within forty-eight hours, surgery would be necessary.
A worried Criss had handed over Hammie, kissing him good-bye. "Take good care of him, Doc," he had said. "He's really special to me."
Now, forty-eight hours later, Hammie's ear had healed completely, and Criss was free to pick him up. He walked into the clinic, signed the release papers, paid the bill, claimed his cat, and walked out again, all within the space of five minutes. He slid Hammie into the carrier, mounted his Harley, and rode off.
On his way back to the Luxor, he noticed some sort of disturbance on Fremont Street. There wasn't any smoke, so it wasn't a fire, and there were no screams, so it wasn't a fight. Just some laughter and squeals from the crowd circling something. Criss pulled in closer to see what it was that held everyone's interest. He removed his goggles to get a clearer view--and nearly dropped them in surprise.
There, in the middle of Fremont street, was a black-and-white cow, just like the one he had seen in the desert that morning. It merely stood there bemusedly, its large head swiveling slowly from side to side.