08-28-2011, 10:30 PM
Freshly showered and shaved, Criss dressed for the evening's dinner: black long-sleeved dress shirt, black dress slacks, off-black suspenders (for contrast) and a simple jeweled cross to accent the ensemble. It didn't do to go overboard with the bling: this was a family affair, not the MTV Video Awards. Besides, he didn't want to draw attention away from George and Angie. After all, they were the reason this dinner was being held in the first place. He smiled at the thought of his cousin finally having a girlfriend after all these years. He smiled even more at the way they had met: Angela getting tossed over a balcony by her greedy sister (may she rot in Hell!) and landing right on top of poor George who happened to be standing below her. The sister went to jail, and George and Angie became a pair. Talk about poetic justice!
Hammie lay idly on the bed while Criss finished dressing, totally uninterested. Criss gave his cat a final pat on the head and left the suite for his dinner engagement. I just hope they don't bring up the cows, he said to himself as he made his way to Andamo's.
Unfortunatly for Criss, they did bring it up. No sooner did he step into the foyer than his two brothers began jeering at him.
"Hey, cowpoke!" JD drawled. "Back from the roundup?"
"Zip it, JD," Criss grumbled.
"So, get the milking all done?" Costa joined in. "From what we saw on Fremont Street--"
"Just zip it, both of you!" Criss growled.
Dimitra stepped in. "They're just teasing you, honey," she said.
"Look, I had enough of cows for one day!" he snapped. "I just wanna enjoy dinner in peace, all right? No more cow talk!"
"Now just settle down, will you?" his mother pleaded. "I don't want you in a bad mood when George brings in his new girlfriend."
"Yeah," JD chimed in. "We don't want you in a bad moooooooood." He lowed like a cow on that last one.
Criss was about to punch him when George came in with Angie on his arm. "Hey, everybody!" he called out the minute he spotted his relatives gathered in the foyer. "You remember Angela Honi, the girl who fell for me--literally!"
Everyone was struck by how skinny the woman was. Her brownish-blond hair--"dirty blond" some called it--seemed stringy and thin despite being swept up formally with a fake jeweled comb. Her plain face took the shape of her skull, making her doelike eyes appear larger in their sockets. She wore a pastel pink dress nearly two decades out of fashion; it hung on her frail frame like a drycleaner's hangar. Her long, bony fingers nervously clutched a small beaded evening bag. She seemed timid, shy, almost withdrawn. From George's earlier reports about Bianca's brutal treatment of her, it should not have been surprising. She was polite, almost deferentially so, and smiled sweetly when George reintroduced her to his aunt Dimitra, his cousins, Costa and JD, with the latter's wife, Lynn, and daughter, Little Dimitra. Still, Criss could not figure out just what attracted George to this poor, plain, reticient woman in the first place.
"And, of course, you know my cousin, Christopher, also known as Criss Angel," George said to Angie, sweeping her up to his side. "Criss, this is Angie."
Angie shyly extended a bony hand to him. "Hello, Criss," she said softly. "Uh, may I call you 'Criss'?"
Criss took the proffered hand delicatly, for fear of breaking any bones. "Sure, you can call me 'Criss'," he replied. "Nice to meet you, Angie."
The hostess informed them that their table was ready. The family followed her to a secluded corner booth where they would not be disturbed, per Criss' instructions. For this one evening he wanted to shed the Criss Angel persona and just be Christopher Sarantakos enjoying a meal with his family. Fame and fortune had its advantages, but privacy wasn't one of them, he had learned to his regret. It had taken a great deal of persuasion on his part to insure an uneventful evening for his family's sake, and his own--something other people take for granted in their everyday lives.
"So, what do you do, Angie?" Criss asked casually.
Angie blushed prettily, bringing some much needed color to her pallid cheeks. "Well, I teach first grade at Applewood Elementary School," she replied, "and I volunteer at Sanctuary Shelter once a week. That's basically it, until I met George, of course," she added.
"How very nice!" Dimitra gushed. "You know, Christopher did a show at that shelter, didn't you, dear?"
"Uh, I'm sure Angie knows about it already, Mom," Criss said patiently. "She was there during the taping at the time."
"Well, I'm sure the people there enjoyed it," Dimitra said confidently.
"Oh, yes," Angie agreed. "It was quite a treat for the residents, and the staff, too. When is it going to be on TV, anyway?"
"Sometime next summer," Criss replied. "July, maybe."
Angie was perplexed. "July? Why so long?"
"Well, it's a long process, you know," Criss explained. "Editing, pacing, things like that. I mean, we gotta squeeze it all in forty-five minutes of tape. And our season is very brief, just a couple of months at most. It's hard to come up with new material for every new episode. And I'm a perfectionist--I can't churn out crappy magic tricks just to meet a deadline. When I do a show, I make sure it's the best, no bull."
"Speaking of 'bull'," JD spoke up, "I heard you and George had a little run-in with that escaped bull on the highway this morning."
Angie flushed even deeper. George leaned his head on one hand, embarrassed. "Oh, Geez," he groaned.
Dimitra, however, became concerned. "What happened?" she demanded.
"Oh, nothing," George replied drily, "just that there was this bull in the road blocking our way, that's all."
"George threw a plastic bottle at it," Angie told her. "He tried to drive it away, but, well, it drove us away instead."
Dimitra was surprised. "You threw a plastic bottle at a bull?"
"Well, I had to do something to get it to move!" George argued. "That (bleeper) just stood right there in the middle of the road, right there in front of us."
"Yeah, you got it to move, all right," Criss jeered. "Throwing a plastic bottle at a bull--nice going there, George!"
"Look who's talking!" George jeered back. "A guy who went into the ring with a Mexican fighting bull!"
"At least I didn't throw anything at it!" Criss shot back.
Dimitra silenced them both. "Christopher, George, no fighting," she admonshed. "Remember where we are, and why we're here."
Criss muttered an apology. George fell silent. No one spoke again until the waiter brought their preordered dinner to their table: prime rib with baked potatoes and side salads for all. Angie stared wide-eyed at her plate. "Oh, my! I don't know if I can eat all this," she gasped.
"Ah, sure ya can, Angie!" George encouraged her. "Eat up! You need to put some meat on those bones!"
Criss stabbed a piece of beef on his fork and held it up. "This had better come from that bull that trashed my Hummer," he said, and slid the meat into his mouth.
"Nah, I heard they're shipping him to some dairy farm in Utah," JD informed him. "Same with the rest of the cows as soon as they round 'em all up."
George laughed. "Oh, yeah, I heard about your little cattle drive at the church today!" he said to Criss. "Bet Father Stefan wasn't too thrilled with you turning the church into a dairy farm!"
Criss ignored his cousin and turned to his brother. "Wait a minute," he said. "What do you mean 'as soon as they round them all up'? They did round them all up, all four of them!"
"There were six cows altogether," JD informed him. "The one was caught at Fremont Street, then the four at the church. One's still reported missing."
"How do you know all this?" Criss asked.
"It was all on the news today," JD replied. "You just had to tune in and find out."
"So we still got a missing cow."
JD nodded. "Right."
Costa turned to Criss. "Well, pardner," he drawled, "y'all' had better mosey on out there and lasso that critter."
"Will you just stuff a sock in it, Cos?!" Criss hissed.
"Boys! That's enough!" Dimitra warned them. "Remember where we are, and why we're here."
Another muttered apology from Criss, with a threatening glance thrown at his brother for good measure. Costa smirked back at him, then returned to his prime rib. It was times like these that made Criss resent the fact that he was the youngest of the family, the baby brother subject to his siblings' jibes, even though he was the most successful and they worked for him.
"I hope they find that cow soon," Angie spoke up. "Poor thing's probaby starving to death out there, lost in this great big city."
"Ah, they'll find 'im," George said optimistically. "I mean, where can a cow go without being noticed?"