09-05-2011, 01:33 PM
"So JD asks if I want a lift, and I'm like, sure, what the hell, y'know?" George spoke into the videocamera trained on him. "So I get in the Rover, and we drive around to pick up my aunt, and there's this guy comin' up to her. And all of a sudden he opens up his coat and...!" He mimicked opening an imaginary raincoat. "Hey, hey, showtime! I'm, like, did that guy just flash her? So me and JD get out of the car and we run like hell toward that (bleeper), and he's running towards us. I just went BAM!" George smashed his right fist into his left palm for emphasis. "Right in the face! Broke the (bleeper's) nose in three places! Next thing you know, he's flat on the sidewalk, and his coat was completely open, and he was totally naked--God, he was an ugly (bleeper)! JD's, like, Oh, my God, I'm blind!"
"Did they press charges?" one of the producers asked from out of camera range.
"Against the flasher? Yeah, sixteen counts of indecent exposure--one of them against a minor."
"No, I meant any charges against you."
"Who, me?" George shook his head. "Nah, at least not for now. I could face battery charges, but I think I can get them to mitigate 'em, since it was in self-defense in a way. I could plead no contest--I mean, I'm certainly not guilty of anything. That (bleeper) had no right to do that to my aunt! I mean, what if she had a heart attack or something? That (bleeper) could be facing manslaughter charges if she did!"
"Anything else you want to add?"
George thought about it. "Nah, nothing I can think of. I just hope they find those pictures of Criss that got stolen out of his office."
"Okay," the producer said. "And cut."
George took a swig of bottled water. "How was that?" he asked.
"Good, George," the producer said. "Real good."
There was a click of a door being opened. All heads swiveled to see Criss enter the room. "Well, I got good news and I got bad news," he said. "The good news is we found Dad's photos; turned out Manny took them for editing."
"And what's the bad news?" George asked.
"The ones of me are still missing. Turns out someone made off with them--took them right out of the editing studio."
"Macaffey's on the trail for them," Criss went on. "One of the cleaning ladies saw a guy in a white mask leave the studio. Surveillance is checking the tape right now."
"Think it's anyone we know?"
"Maybe," Criss replied. "Maybe not."
Back in video surveillance, Macaffey reviewed the tape from the editing studio entrance, trying to find the white-masked culprit who stole the envelope of photographs. At least there was a more definate time frame; the maid had said around five-thirty PM yesterday. Evanovich fast-forwarded the tape to that time period. Sure enough, there was a dark figure lurking about the editing studio, his face a white blur.
"Okay, freeze that," Macaffey ordered. "Zoom in on the face."
Evanovich stopped the tape and drew the figure in for a close-up. Though the image was just a grainy profile, there were a few distingushing features identifiable.
"See if you can get a sharper image," Macaffey said.
"This is the best I can get," Evanovich told him. "Want me to run it through the files?"
Evanovich downloaded the image and entered it into the system, but due to the white splotch on the man's face, no identification was possible. Macaffey swore under his breath. "Keep that on file," he ordered. "We'll need it later."
The image was saved. Macaffey strode out of the office, cursing the thief. He had always prided himself on running the tightest ship in the city: three-hundred-sixty degree surveillance, twenty-four-seven, with manned security at all entrances from the atrium to the loading docks. Now some two-bit thief goes and steals a bunch of pictures right from under his nose! Well, he was going to get those pictures back one way or another! And when he did, God help the poor (bleeper) who stole them!
He burst into the security office in a sour mood. Those unfortunate to be in his path cleared the area as if escaping an upcoming storm. Only Redding, a veteran guard, had the courage to approach him.
"It's about the Criss Angel pictures, right?" he hedged.
"Damn right it is!" Macaffey growled. "To think that something like this happened on my watch! If I can't stop one little theft like this--"
Redding handed Macaffey a piece of paper. "Maybe this will give you a lead," he said.
Macaffey took the paper and read the pasted letters upon it:
Pay $1,000,000 Or The pictures Go Online ! Dropoff the MONEY @ THE PLAY GROUND @ Sunset Park @ NOON TOMORROW I'll BE WAIT ing