09-05-2011, 01:25 PM
The grainy images of the video surveillance tape from the past twenty-four hours played on the computer monitor before the watchful eyes of Macaffey and Jace Evanovich, one of the supervisors of the video surveillance room. The cameras had been trained on the entrance of the MindFreak production office from both sides of the corridor. For the first twelve hours of the tape, only office staff and Criss himself had been observed entering or exiting the office. The only sign of the missing envelopes had been in Costa's hands when he went into the office. "At least we know what to look for," Evanovich said.
They fast forwarded the tape when there was no action, stopping only when someone was spotted at the door. They saw Criss and Costa leave together around one PM, both men empty handed. Evanovich fast forwarded the tape again.
"Hey, hold it! Hold it!" Macaffey said quickly. "Back that up a bit."
Evanovich rewound the tape to the point where an unidentified man was going into the office. Through the large windows, they could see him heading in the direction of Criss' private office. The office staff paid no notice; obviously he must be known to them, or else they were to busy to notice, Macaffey reasoned. One minute later, the man reappeared leaving the office, the envelopes clearly in his hand.
"Freeze that!" Macaffey ordered.
The tape stopped. The mysterious man leaving the office was caught in the corridor in mid-stride. "Get a close-up on his face," Macaffey told the supervisor.
Evanovich zoomed in on the man's face. "Can you get a make on him?" Macaffey asked.
Evanovich "spotlighted" the face on the screen and downloaded it into the security files to find a match. The computer scanned the image, searching its database for identification. After a few moment's delay, the response came: no match.
"Well, he doesn't have a rap sheet, anyway," Macaffey murmured. "Check the HR file, see if he's an employee anywhere in the hotel."
Evanovich nodded. "Right."
Again the image was downloaded into the system. Again, the same negative response. "So he's not a career criminal, and he doesn't work for the hotel," Macaffey said thoughfully. "Check the card system, see if there's a photo ID on him."
Evanovich downloaded the image into the ID card system specially reserved for camera crews, stage hands, performers and anyone else involved in the entertainment sector of the Luxor. Criss was adamant about his staff having them for the sake of his own security, both personal and professional, as well as for the general safety of all concerned. No one outside the MindFreak company was permitted access backstage of the theater nor on the set of the series without one, so as to protect Criss' illusions as well as himself from overzealous fans or the snooping press. The cards were more than a security measure: they were his insurance policy against betrayal of his secrets.
The system scanned its files for a few seconds, then stopped at one particular file. Macaffey smiled triumphantly. "I think we got our man!" he said, relishing every word he spoke. "Get a printout of that file--I'm gonna show Angel to see if he knows who it is."
Criss sat dejectedly on the sofa, worrying about the PR fallout that would result if (or when) those photos of him were made public. While he had claimed he was unconcerned about them, deep down he knew they would cause a great deal of personal embarrassment. How would everyone react if they saw him in the nude? Granted, a lot of female fans would drool over them, but what about his younger fans, the kids he loved to entertain? Criss had always tried to tailor many of his illusions so children could enjoy them as much as adults did. Would their parents boycott his shows if they learned about Criss Angel being photographed in the nude? Many people were extremely sensitive when it came to the naked human body to the point of being horrified at the sight of it, going to great lengths to shield impressionable children from the sight of bare skin. They feared society was doomed unless everyone covered their wee-wees, and were not hesitant to speak out in the name of public decency. Personally, Criss thought such prudery ridiculous if not outrageous, but these same prim and proper citizens were also paying customers to the Luxor and the other hotels and casinos in Vegas. The missing photos would simply give them more ammunition in their fight against naked flesh.
Worse, the precious photos of his father from his bodybuilding days had also been stolen. He knew his mother would be especially grieved at the loss of those irreplacable eight-by-tens from forty years ago. It would be a slap in the collective face of his family if those photos were published without his permission. If only he had had the foresight to lock them away in his file drawer before going to the match...
Criss bolted upright. Of course! The files! Those photos weren't completely lost after all--he had downloaded them into his PC after he got them from JD over a week ago to use for his show. If the originals were lost forever, he could reproduce them from his computer files. And if anyone tried to download them on any website, he could easily prove that they were his property and could press criminal charges against whoever stole them.
His relief was short-lived when he realized he didn't have copies of Costa's photos to prove theft of them. Costa would, though, he reasoned; he must have the negatives in his studio--there was that ray of hope. But the nagging thought of his naked body soaring through cyberspace for anyone and everyone to see still rankled him. Dear God, he groaned inwardly, isn't there such a thing as privacy anymore?
As if to answer that query, Chief of Security Macaffey burst into the production office unannounced. Criss broke from his miserable reverie to look up at him. Macaffey held up a computer printout. "I think we got your photo thief!" he crowed, triumphantly handing the printout to Criss, who took it eagerly. "I think it's one of your own," Macaffey added.
Criss studied the printout. "Yeah, it is," he confirmed. "That's the guy who does the editing."
"So, where is he?" Macaffey not so much asked as demanded.
"Editing room's this way," Criss said, beckoning the chief of security to follow. "Come on."