09-04-2011, 11:33 PM
The next four days passed uneventfully enough, save for the nude video of Criss on YouTube. The most embarrassing eight seconds of Criss' career had become one of the most requested topic on that site for the past week. Criss' manager, Dave Baram, went on the warpath against Kevin, the former cameraman who had taped his star client in the shower and subsequently posted it on the Web for all to see. Baram found Kevin's address, went to his apartment in North Las Vegas, and put the fear of God into him by threatening legal action on the grounds of invasion of privacy, unauthorized use of film footage from a copyrighted series, and emotional damages on Criss' behalf. He would also make sure he never got another job as a cameraman again by reporting him to the union for his actions.
Kevin, broke from his loss of income and about to be evicted from his apartment for lack of rent, insisted it had just been a joke. He meant no harm from posting that videotape of Criss in the shower, honest to God he didn't. He liked Criss, really he did; he was willing to apolgize if it meant getting his job back. There was no need to go to court over it. Besides, it was too late, anyway--the tape was now the property of YouTube, and there was no way of retracting it. Couldn't he give him a break?
Baram wasn't about to give Kevin any sort of break. He had violated the trust placed in him by MindFreak Productions, he said, and the union was going to hear about it. "You'll be lucky to be taping wedding videos after this!" he snapped as he stormed out of the apartment. "I don't know what the hell you were thinking, if you were thinking at all, but after what you pulled, you'll never work in television again!"
"Hey, I said I was sorry!" Kevin shouted after Baram.
"Sorry won't cut it, kid!" Baram shot back. "You're through!" The stairwell door echoed through the empty corridor as it slammed shut, then silence.
Sitting at his desk in his personal office, Criss reflexively snatched up his cell phone the second he heard the ringtone play. "Hello?" he said.
"Hey, hey, hey, Criss!" came an irritatingly jolly voice from the other end. "Guess who this is?"
"Very funny. It's the Amazing Johnathan!"
"What do you want, AJ?" Criss droned.
"Oh, nothing, just calling to say hello," AJ said, "and to tell you I saw that bareassed video of you on YouTube!"
Criss grimaced. "So, what about it?" he said casually.
"Well, it seems you got all high and mighty about my mooning that mother(bleeper) two weeks ago," AJ went on, "now it's your best side that's showing! How's it feel to be exposed on camera, huh?"
"I didn't get 'high and mighty' about it," Criss argued. "And I wasn't the one who posted that video--someone on my crew did, and I fired him for it. And anyway, YouTube censored it, so there's really nothing worth seeing."
"You're telling me, Houdini with the little weenie!"
"At least I didn't do it on stage like you did!" Criss pointed out. "You're a (bleep)hole, AJ! Always have been, always will."
He flipped off his phone and shoved it in his pocket. "God!" he breathed. "Sometimes I wonder why I ever talk to that (bleeper)."
"Talk to what (bleeper)?"
Criss looked up and saw Costa standing in the doorway. "Oh, hi, Cos," he said glumly. "I was just talking to AJ, that's all. He saw the video."
"You know, the one of me on YouTube."
"The shower one?"
"Yeah, the shower one. He's getting back at me for ragging him about his mooning his audience."
"Ah, let it go, bro," Costa said, smiling. "Once the novelty's worn off, they'll forget all about it. Besides, they didn't show much, did they?"
Costa set down a large envelope. "Anyway, your pictures are in," he said. "Care to look at them?"
Criss opened the envelope and examined the photos Costa had taken. "Man," he gasped, "I have to admit these are really good!" He put them back in the envelope. "Personally, I'd like to see the ones you took of Tuburi."
"Swing by the house sometime, and I'll show you," Costa said. "Oh, speaking of swinging--you going to George's boxing match at the Excalibur?"
Criss showed his disappointment. "No, I can't," he said regretfully, "I got to do a live show tonight."
"It's on at five," Costa told him. "You'll be back in plenty of time to do your show."
Criss did some quick mental calculation. "Well, if it doesn't go into extra rounds, I'll go," he said. "I'd love to see George in action."
Costa brightened. "Great!" he said happily. "Mom's going, and so's JD--we can make it a family affair!" Suddenly he grew somber. "Speaking of family," he said, "did JD give you an envelope of Dad's pictures?"
"Just a minute." Criss pulled open a file drawer and removed a worn Manila envelope. "This it?"
Costa opened the envelope and took out the photo stills of his father's Mr. Universe days. "Yeah, these are the ones," he said, holding back his emotions. "Even though I didn't take these, of course, I'd still like to put them in my collection, if you don't mind."
"Sure, Cos," Criss agreed. "No problem. I already have them downloaded into the files, so they're yours to keep if you want."
Costa smiled. "Thanks." "Just take good care of them, willya?"
"You know I will."
Costa replaced the photos back into the envelope. "Thirteen years," he mused sadly. "Thirteen years and I still get choked up when I see his pictures. Tell you the truth, I didn't even know these existed."
"Me neither," Criss said. "It was a surprise for me, too. I almost cried like a baby when JD showed them to me." "You using them on your show?"
"Damn right I am! I want the world to see what kind of man Dad had been before the cancer took him away! I want them to see the real John Sarantakos, not the invalid he was before he died! I want--" Criss' throat constricted before he could finish his sentence. His eyes brimmed with tears over the memory of his late father; he bit his lip to keep from crying out loud.
Costa reached over and embraced him. "It's okay, Criss," he said soothingly. "I know why you want to show them."
Criss brushed away the tears and pulled himself together. "Right," he said, clearing his throat. "Now, c'mon, we got a boxing match to get ready for!" The two brothers left the office, shoulder to shoulder and smiling, looking forward to their cousin's match. The two envelopes containg Criss' and John's photographs lay on the desk, forgotten.