09-04-2011, 11:13 PM
While his famous cousin was enduring his share of indignities at Rose Memorial Clinic, George Strumpolis was going through his own ordeal of pain and suffering as part of his training for the quarter finals coming up Friday. It was his turn in the ring, and his sparring partner was the formidable Christian Ruhr, the Austrian powerhouse with the square jawline and platinum-blond hair. This guy looks like a poster boy for the Hitler Youth, he could not help but think when he first met Ruhr for the first time in the gym over a year ago. Even as time passed, George could never strike up a friendship with him as he did with Tobe and the other boxers; the strapping blond athlete remained aloof, standoffish, though cordial enough not to offend anyone. Guy needs to lighten up a little, be a little more sociable, George thought. He's not going to win any friends with that attitude.
But this was no time for socializing. George was in the ring with Ruhr, dodging blows and returning them with all of his might. The Austrian was relentless, delivering punch after brusing punch while skillfully deflecting George's gloved fists with his arms and elbows. George, however, proved again and again he was every bit Ruhr's equal in the ring: he feinted with his left while pounded Ruhr with his right; he faked an uppercut to deliver a right cut to the chest; he slipped and ducked the nanosecond Ruhr came at him. At the end of the practice bout, Sean Linehan declared Ruhr the winner by a single point, practically a draw but a defeat all the same to George. Still, it did not do to dwell upon his failures; you put on the gloves and went back into the ring, sore but wiser.
"Good fight, Ruhr," George said in the spirit of good sportsmanship.
"Dank you," Ruhr replied with a Mona Lisa smile. "You fight goot, too. We win Friday, yah?"
George nodded. "Yeah, we win Friday."
The two men headed for the showers. Neither man spoke as the stinging hot water soothed away the aches and pains from the bout, but George noticed a ribbon tattoo on Ruhr's right shoulder: Annelise Groten 1918~1989 3875921. He calculated that Annelise Groten had been seventy-one when she died, but who was she to Ruhr? he wondered. And what was the significance of the seven numbers underneath her name? He quickly turned his back when Ruhr finished showering and left him. It didn't do to pry into his personal business; besides, Ruhr would probably break his face if he did.
George finished his shower and padded half-naked to his locker. Across from him, Ruhr sat shirtless on the bench, the mysterious tattoo fully illuminated in the flourescent light. He sat down casually and began to dress. When next he turned to face Ruhr, he was startled to see him smiling--a real smile, not the Mona Lisa one which usually creased his face.
"I see your cousin, Criss," Ruhr said, pronouncing it Criz. "I see his show, yah? He goot mageecian. You work for him, yah?"
"Yeah, I work for him," George replied casually. "So, you saw his live show?"
"Tel-lee-vis-shun," Ruhr replied, enunciating every syllable. "He do crazy stuff, yah?"
"That's an understatement."
Ruhr almost laughed. "I see him in da ring with you. Criz is no boxer, no?"
"No," George conceded, "but he's no weakling, either."
"No, no weekleeng."
George looked at the tattoo on Ruhr's shoulder. "Nice ink you got there," he said casually.
"Ah, yah." Ruhr turned his arm to show it off better. "Is for my grandmama." he pointed at the seven numbers below the name. "This was her number when she was in Dachau. They tattoo it on her arm."
George was stunned. "Your grandmother was in a concentration camp?"
Ruhr nodded sadly. "Took the whole family. Why, she never say. She was the only survivor. Came to America after the war with grandpapa."
"Son of a (bleep)!" George muttered under her breath.
"She keep number on her arm as a lesson," Ruhr went on, tapping the seven digits on his bicep. "Teach everyone about the past, so it does not happen again."
"That's one helluva history lesson," George commented.
Ruhr left the locker room. George remained, lost in thought. Poor guy. When I first met him, I thought he looked like a poster boy for the Hitler Youth. Now I find out his grandmother had survived being in a concentration camp! He shook his head sadly. Mom told me stories about Greece during the war, and I thought we had it rough back then. Now I find out that no one was safe even in Hitler's own homeland! Naziism--that's a helluva legacy to live down.
Costa scanned the YouTube site for the infamous nude video of his brother, Criss, that JD had told him about. It was only eight seconds long, repeating over and over again like an animated avatar on the fansites. YouTube had automatically censored Criss around the hips, concealing his genitals and buttocks, but it was embarrassing all the same. JD had found out that a cameraman named Kevin had taken the video during the Sports epsiode shoot in Criss' gym and had been subsequently fired because of it. Obviously, Kevin had posted it publicly out of pure spite, if not revenge. Well, the damage was done, Costa thought, though he was grateful to YouTube for censoring it the way they did. Criss may have been caught in the shower, but it was Kevin who was really in hot water. Costa hoped that Criss would not cancel tonight's private photo shoot after this.
The office door opened, and JD entered. "Hey, Cos," he said. "What're you doing?"
"Oh, just checking out Criss on YouTube," Costa replied indifferently.
"You mean Kevin's video, don't you?"
Costa nodded. "At least they censored it. Criss know about this?"
JD nodded. "Yeah, and he's plenty (bleeped) off about it."
"Can't say I blame him."
"Look, I gotta pick up Ma at the airport," JD said. "You coming?"
"Nah, I got too much work to do here," Costa said regretfully. "You go on ahead."
JD left the office. Costa logged off YouTube and concentrated on production business. He convinced himself this whole thing would blow over if no one made a big deal about it; the less publicity, the better. He had given the Administrators of the fansites orders to block any reference to the YouTube video to hasten its demise, but he was helpless to erase it from cyberspace altogether. There was nothing Criss or anyone else could do but ride it out and let it fade away over time, like the scandal over his divorce from JoAnn. Criss Angel was not the only famous person to have to suffer public indignity and embarrassment. Exposure was an occupational hazard among celebrities, be it in the form of nude photos, adulterous affairs or criminal behavior. Such was the price of fame, having one's dirty linen aired for public viewing--whether the person involved was wearing it or not.