09-04-2011, 10:28 PM
A boxy white truck led by a large black SUV pulled into the gravelly lot of Linehan's Gym around ten o'clock that morning. Criss looked out the tinted window of the SUV at the squat square building covered with gang graffiti on its cinderblock walls and wondered why his cousin George would come here to train to be a boxer.
Criss got out of the SUV and stood looking at the nondescript building that housed Linehan's Gym. Not very impressive, he thought. Looks more like my warehouse. Well, maybe inside will be better.
He waved to the two member cameramen to follow him (Kevin had been summarily discharged for his indiscreet taping of Criss in the shower, so only a couple remained for the rest of the shoot). He turned to his brother, JD. "You got the check ready?" he asked.
JD held up the cashier's check payable to Seamus Linehan for the amount of eight thousand dollars and no cents. Criss nodded approvingly, took the check and walked across the lot to the gym entrance. He halted and held up his hands. "Wait here," he said. "I gotta clear up some business before we start taping."
Criss walked through the metal door of the gym. The smell of canvas, damp towels and leather mingled with the rank stench of sweat hit him squarely in the face, almost knocking him back. "Ugh! My God in Heaven!" he choked. "How can George stand to work out in here?"
Gagging, he braved the foul atmosphere and made his way into the dimly lit gym. He could hear the sound of padded gloves striking leather, vinyl and human flesh. He saw two boxers, their faces concealed in padded helmets, sparring in the ring. But where was George? He looked around, but saw no sign of him anywhere. He looked again at the two fighters in the ring. Could George be one of them? he wondered.
Criss turned to see his cousin standing in a far corner next to a small office. "Oh, there you are, George," he said, relieved. "I've been looking all over for you."
"Did you bring the money?" George asked. "Linehan's been waiting for it all morning."
Criss held up the check. "Right here. Where's Linehan?"
George nodded toward the small office. "Watch yourself," he warned. "Linehan's a mean old (bleeper), and he's never heard of you, so don't expect a warm reception."
Criss went into the office and rapped on the door. We'll see just how warm he'll be when he gets the money, he thought.
"Door's open!" came the gruff voice from inside.
Criss entered. "Mr. Linehan?" he began cordially, "I'm Criss Angel, George's cousin. First of all, I'd like to thank you for letting us use your gym to tape our show, and--"
"Cut the blathering!" Linehan snapped at him. "Ye've got the money or not?"
"Oh, yeah," Criss replied. "Here you go. Eight thousand dollars, just as we agreed upon."
The old man's demeanor warmed a couple of degrees when he looked at the cashier's check. "Good," he said. "Ye kin film all ye want, but don't ye be gettin' in the way of the boxers--these mugs'll take ye down if ye go botherin' 'em. Me office is off limits, and don't ye go askin' me for an innerview--I got too much work to do around here! And stay out of the shower room! I don't want ye filmin' anyone's bare bums fer yer show! I run a respectable place here!"
"Got it," Criss said, taken aback at such a brusque manner.
Linehan waved him away. Criss beat a hasty retreat. George eyed him smugly as he emerged from the office. "Warned you," he said. "This guy doesn't give a damn if you're a celebrity or not--his gym, his rules."
"So I found out," Criss said.
"You ready to shoot?"
Criss nodded. "I'll get the crew. I just hope they don't pass out from the stink in here."
George smiled. "You'll get used to it," he assured him good-naturedly. "I did."
Criss dashed out of the gym to gulp a few lungfuls of fresh air before going back inside. Noting his distress, JD approached him. "How was it in there?" he asked.
"Did you bring a gas mask?" Criss asked, gasping. "I mean, it's rank in there! Whooooo!"
The two cameramen went into the gym to film Criss' entrance. "Suck it up, Criss," JD said, patting his youngest brother on the back. "You've survived worse than this. Remember, you wanted to tape the show here, so you gotta take the bad with the good."
Criss' breathing returned to normal. "Okay," he said, "I'm good. Let's go."
JD entered the gym first to set up the camera angles for Criss' entrance. Criss adjusted his portable microphone and took his last few breaths of fresh air before reentering the reeking atmosphere of Linehan's Gym. Memo to Linehan, he said to himself, upgrade ventilation.
The signal to enter came. "Good to go, Criss," came JD's voice over the tiny earbud headphone Criss wore.
Criss braced himself and entered the gym, valiently trying to overcome the smell. He faced the camera at the end of the corridor and bravely inhaled the air in the gym. "You heard of Brut?" he said with bravado into the camera. Suddenly he doubled over coughing and wheezing. "This is brutal!" he gagged.
"Aaannnd cut!" JD said. "Good one, Criss."
Criss shook his head. "The things I do for my art," he mused glumly.