|Loyal Written Art For all Criss Angel or non-Criss Angel related written artwork.
| The Miracle Tree|
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
The Miracle Tree -
01-31-2013, 05:50 PM
"No person shall be...deprived of life, liberty or property,
Sunday morning, five AM. Father Stefan Mykolos, pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in North Las Vegas, stood before the icon of the Theotokos, the Holy Virgin Mary, his hands upraised in prayer. It would be the only private moment he would have all day before the cycle of Masses and other obligations the Sabbath required to keep holy. He was a tall man with carefully groomed jet black hair and a beard to match. His olive complexion revealed his Mediterranean heritage as did his speech, impeccable English with a hint of a Greek accent. His heavy-rimmed eyeglasses gave him a scholarly look, more like a university professor than a priest. His sermons were clear, concise and well-rehearsed, flowing easily from script to speech.
without due process of law;
nor shall private property be taken for
public use, without just compensation."
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
"You wanna run all the people out.
This what your're all about.
Treat poor people just like trash.
Turn around and make big cash."
Open letter (to a Landlord) by Living Color.
"Tenderness springs forth from you, O Theotokos," he prayed, "make us worthy of compassion. Look upon sinful people, reveal your power for ever as we hope in you and cry aloud: Hail! as did the Archangel Gabriel, Chief Captain of the Bodiless Powers. Amen."
Father Stefan blessed himself and went to prepare for early morning Mass. In the sacristy, two sleepy-eyed altar boys yawned as they donned their surplices. Father could not help but smile at the memory of his own days as an altar boy: rousted out of bed before dawn, a splash of cold water in the face, then the long walk to the church to serve at Mass, then back home for a quick breakfast and off to school. To this day he never slept past quarter to five in the morning, even when he had fractured his foot after falling down the basement stairs in the rectory twelve years ago and had to be laid up for a couple of weeks to recover. He had refused the prescribed painkillers the doctors recommended, preferring to rely on faith alone. No one doubted his sincerity about his divine calling--Father Stefan lived, ate, slept and breathed his faith in God and the Church. He was the first to be called upon when there was any sort of crisis, be it domestic, spiritual, or practical. From baptism to last rites, Father Stefan had served his parishioners for nearly the quarter of a century since he had been placed there by the Archbishop when he was fresh out of seminary. Holy Trinity was not only his church, it was his home, and he loved it dearly.
While Father Stefan readied himself and his acolytes for the early morning Mass, the rest of Sin City was recovering from the previous night's debauchery of drinking, gambling and clubbing. One partygoer in particular was sound asleep in his luxury suite at the Luxor Hotel and Casino after having crawled back from LAX two or three hours ago. Criss Angel, Las Vegas's hottest new star and the Luxor's biggest attraction, lay sprawled on the king-sized bed where he had crashed, half undressed and dead to the world. His fashionably torn jeans, grey Affliction t-shirt and weathered denim jacket lay in a heap on the floor. Hammie, Criss's beloved cat, lay curled on the coverlet between his splayed legs.
It had been a wild night for Criss at LAX. But then, that was how he liked it. He reveled in the rock-star lifestyle that his fame as the greatest magician since Houdini had bought him. He had hot cars and even hotter women, VIP status at every club in Vegas, a fortune in diamond jewelry that he wore prominantly on his fingers and around his neck, and his suite was filled with huge, state of the art electronic games and other expensive toys. He had risked his life performing insanely dangerous illusions and escapes--"demonstrations", he called them--to earn the money to buy all of his cars, jewelry and other things he wanted, but to him, it was all worth it. He was on the top of the entertainment world, riding high on fame and fortune.
But with this ride came a heavy price, and Criss knew it. The possibility of a demonstration going wrong in a way that would result in his death hung over his head like the sword of Damocles. A missed cue, a broken piece of equipment, a miscalulation of timing--anything could send him to an early grave no matter how small in itself it was. He accepted his own death with philosophical calm, just as he had accepted his father's death before him ten years ago. It was the knowledge of leaving his family behind to mourn for him that had needled his conscience, his mother especially. She worried herself sick over him; every demonstration he performed filled her with anxiety, often reducing her to tears, nearly driving her to a nervous breakdown. The reality of his mother's welfare hit home when his manager, Dave Baram, informed him of her emergency heart surgery two years ago. Criss had been so grief-stricken he fled home to New York to be at her side. It was because of her that he had sworn off all the death-defying stunts that had made his career, concentrating on his live show instead.
Even though he gave up the dangerous stunts he had once performed, he did not give up on the lifestyle that came with it. He still went to the clubs on his nights off from performing his live shows, living the good life with the Beautiful People and other members of the Cult of Personality. Now, on this early Sunday morning, he was sleeping off the night's festivities with the rest of the city, taking full advantage of the prescribed Day of Rest.
Suddenly, he was jolted awake by his alarm clock on his nightstand. Criss swore in his pillow, groped around for the offending device and fumbled with the shut-off button to silence it. He was too groggy to remember why he had set it so early in the first place, much less care. He dropped the alarm clock back onto the nightstand and went back to sleep. It was Sunday morning, the only one where he was allowed to sleep in, and sleep in he would. It was his Day of Rest after all.
One floor below Criss's suite, his beloved mother, Dimitra, was still running on New York time; the clock read five AM, but her body told her it was eight. Unable to sleep any longer, Dimitra rose and read the book she had bought with her on the plane to Las Vegas. The hotel's early morning breakfast buffet would not open until at least eight AM at the earliest, and Mass was at nine-thirty, so she had plenty of time until then. These days people seldom if ever fasted before Mass as they did in the old days, and with her advancing age, not to mention her heart scare a few years ago, the health reasons for not fasting were justified.
She was delightfully surprised that she had found Holy Trinity Chruch in North Las Vegas; she wasn't sure that there had been any Greek Orthodox Churches so far west in America, let alone in Las Vegas of all places. From the first day she attended services there, not only did it offer spiritual comfort but also a chance to socialize with people her own age who had immigrated from Greece or were of Greek descent. In the Luxor Hotel, surrounded by her famous son's adoring fans and the MindFreak television crew, she could not help but feel a bit alienated; the world of fame, fortune and luxury was still strange to her. People she didn't know addressed her by name, even posed with her for pictures. She greeted them all graciously, endearing herself to them, but deep down she yearned for the company of her own generation, her fellow countrymen with whom she had more in common than those whom her son called the Loyals. It was in Holy Trinity that she found it. There, she could put aside her "Mama Angel" reputation and just be Dimitra Sarantakos of New York, chatting with the other parishioners and worshipping God in peace. No cameras, no demanding fans, just blend in with the crowd and relax.
Like any good churchgoing mother, Dimitra had tried to persuade her sons to accompany her to Mass at Holy Trinity. Her eldest son, JD, attended with his wife and daughter, Little Dimitra, but rather sporadically, depending on the production schedule. Costa, her second son, also made rare appearances at Mass for the same reason. And her youngest, most famous son of all, Christopher, spent too much time at the nightclubs and the bars to even get out of bed, let alone for Mass. He was probably asleep at this very moment. The Sarantakos family had deep spiritual roots, and Christopher even prayed before his demonstrations, but ever since he hit the big time, churchgoing was all but a thing of the past. It was up to Dimitra herself to pray for her sons' spiritual well-being. Maybe next Sunday she would have better luck herding her brood to Mass.
David Abercrombie rubbed his eyes in an effort to stay awake. He checked his watch and was shocked to discover it was five AM. He had worked the entire night and into Sunday morning. The pot of coffee he had been living on was nine-tenths empty and the caffeine had worn off. His bladder threatened to explode like an overfilled water balloon, so he rose from his design table to use the bathroom. Once relieved of the pot of coffee he had drunk throughout the night, he caught his reflection in the bathroom mirror. His face was haggard, dark circles ringed his eyes, and he was in dire need of a shave.
Why was he knocking himself out like this? he asked himself. Oh, yeah, he remembered, the design plans for the Grand Imperial Hotel, Resort and Casino which the owner, Monique Wesley, wanted on her desk first thing Monday morning, completed and ready to build. As if Las Vegas needed any more luxury hotels, resorts and casinos as it was, he thought with a tinge of bitterness bred from his exhaustion. The way the economy was, tourism in Vegas was way down; a lot of the existing hotels were bleeding red ink from lack of guests who could afford to stay in them, even with online discounts.
David returned to his table and stared at the design plans for the Grand Imperial, a fifty-story monstrosity of glass and steel and Italian white marble which would boast an Olympic sized swimming pool, a complete health spa and gym, a "collection" of exclusive shops and boutiques, a megaplex movie theater with stadium seating, a garden atrium of exotic plants, a day care center for guests who wanted to ditch their children for the day, and a twenty-four hour surveillance system with Hi-Def cameras so sophisticated it surpassed even National Security standards. It would be the most expensive hotel to build, nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars. And what was worse was that it was to be built over an existing neighborhood in North Las Vegas, and who cared what happened to the residents who already lived there?
Monique had assured him that by building the Grand Imperial that she was providing jobs for the local economy and was revitalizing the North Las Vegas neighborhood by improving it with a luxury hotel. It would increase property values, she had said, which meant more tax revenue for both the city of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada. So what if it meant tearing down a few crummy houses and buildings? The Grand Imperial was just the thing to jump-start the state's sagging economy. It was out with the old and in with the new. You couldn't stop progress, she had told him.
As enthusiastic as Monique sounded, David had his misgivings, especially when he went over the map of the designated area. Those few crummy houses and buildings she had referred to so disparagingly consisted of nearly two thousand homes, one hundred and fifty businesses, a dozen churches, a school and couple of nursing homes. The oldest church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox, was seventy-five years old--it was practically a historic landmark! And Monique Wesley was going to tear it down for a hotel?
Exhaustion and despair drove David out of his office and into his bedroom. He planned to spend all day Sunday in bed. Tomorrow, he would deal with Monique. Maybe he could talk her out of tearing down half of North Las Vegas for her fantasy hotel and relocate somewhere else.
Yeah, he thought skeptically, and maybe the moon will fall out of the sky!
Join Date: Aug 2011
02-01-2013, 04:59 AM
I remember this one but I won't reveal the ending.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-01-2013, 03:05 PM
Thank you. Seems you and I are the only ones on this thread.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-01-2013, 03:18 PM
Criss was awakened by a small pink nose nudging his ear accompanied by the sound of purring. He turned over, sniffling and snorting, staring groggily at his cat, Hammie, who in turn stared directly into his owner's face. Criss knew from experience that whenever Hammie stared him down like that, it meant feeding time.
Criss rolled over and buried his face in his pillow. "Not now, Hammie," he mumbled drowsily. "I'm too tired."
Again the purring and the nudging in his ear. Criss brushed his cat away and tried to go back to sleep. Hammie refused to be ignored; he was hungry and he wanted to be fed. Since the usual nudging and purring had failed, he tried a more direct approach by positioning himself right next to Criss's ear and giving him a single miaw directly into it.
That did the trick. Criss flinched at the sound of his cat's vocal demand for food. Realizing that he had no choice in the matter, Criss forced himself out of bed and padded to the cupboard where he kept Hammie's supply of cat food, wearing only his CK shorts and a bleary-eyed expression on his face. Hammie trotted alongside him expectantly. Criss grabbed the first can of cat food he found and fumbled around in the utility drawer for the can opener.
"Son of a (bleep)," he cursed under his breath as he sifted through the contents of the drawer. "Where the (bleep) is that (bleeping) can opener?"
Hammie miawed again. "Will you wait just a (bleeping) minute?" Criss snapped irritably. "I'm hurrying as fast as I can!"
The can opener was not in the drawer. In a fit of anger Criss slammed the drawer shut. It was then that he discovered that the can had a pull-top ring to open it. Criss siezed the can and wrenched the top open with one ferocious yank on the ring, then laid the can down in front of Hammie, not even bothering to empty it into a dish. Hammie tucked into his breakfast eagerly, oblivious to his owner's foul mood.
Criss padded back to bed, but no sooner did he step into the bedroom than he felt the overwhelming need to answer Nature's call regarding the three or four drink specials he had consumed at LAX the night before. He stumbled into the bathroom, positioned himself over the toilet and relieved himself. With that bit of personal business completed, he padded back into the bedroom to seek sweet repose once again in the comfort of his king-sized bed. He flopped down onto the mattress with a relieved grunt and tried to go back to sleep.
Then his cell phone rang. With an angry moan Criss siezed the accursed device and flipped it open, wondering irritably who in the world would have the nerve to call him so early on Sunday morning when he was trying to catch up on his sleep. "Hello?" he growled.
"Good morning, Christopher," he heard his mother's voice in his ear. "Did I wake you up?"
"Oh, hi, Mom," he mumbled hoarsly. "No, I...I had to feed Hammie, and...what's up?"
"Well, I am getting ready for Mass at Holy Trinity," Dimitra told him. "You want to come with me? It would be nice if you did."
Yeah, it would be nice if he did if he wasn't so dog-tired, he thought. "Uh, not right now, Mom," he said, forcing himself to be as gracious as he could. "I really need to catch up on my sleep, you know. I had a, uh, busy week."
Dimitra was not buying this lame excuse. "More like a late night at the club again," she retorted.
Criss smiled for the first time that morning; he could fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but he couldn't fool his mother. "Well, unless you want me falling asleep during the service..." he said.
"Never mind," Dimitra said, conceding defeat. "You go back to sleep. I'll meet you for dinner later."
Criss sighed with relief, glad he was off the hook. "Thanks, Mom. Say hi to Father Stefan for me, willya?"
"I will," Dimitra agreed, though Criss could sense that she would have preferred him saying hi to Father Stefan in person.
"I love you, Mom," Criss said.
"I love you, too, honey," Dimitra returned.
"I love you more. 'Bye."
Criss flipped off his phone and flopped back onto the mattress. Soon he was drifting off to sleep again, still clutching the cell phone in his hand.
The Mass had ended, and the congregation was filing out the door. Dimitra, modestly but stylishly dressed in a navy-blue dress suit and wide-brimmed hat, chatted pleasantly with the two other elderly women by her side, a Mrs. Kanakedes, a widow of twelve years, and a Mrs. Christoforos, whose husband was confined to the Desert Springs Nursing Facility not too far from the church.
"So good to have you back here, Dima," said Mrs. Kanakedes. "How long will you be staying here this time?"
"Probably until spring," Dimitra replied with a hint of resignation. "The winters in New York, they're really starting to bother me more than ever. I can't take the cold anymore."
"Nikolos was like that," Mrs. Christoforos told her. "We moved here to the Southwest after he retired because the winters in the Midwest aggravated his arthritis so badly he couldn't even walk. We planned to go to Florida, but it's too expensive down there, not to mention all the hurricanes they've been having."
"So true," Dimitra agreed. "Besides, all three of my sons are here in Las Vegas. Costa just bought himself a new house, a very large one, and very beautiful. My granddaughter goes to school here, so I have my immediate family at least."
"I don't see your family that often," Mrs. Kanakedes said. "You would think at least your son the famous magician would take the time to come to Mass."
"He would, if he wasn't so tired all the time," Dimitra said half-apologetically, half-defensively. "He's been here a few times in the past, so don't worry about him."
"A 'few times' is not sufficent, Dimitra," Mrs. Kanakedes retorted primly. "And you should be worried about him."
"Oh, I worry about him," Dimitra told her. "I worry about him a great deal. If you ever witnessed one of his stunts, you'd understand how much I worry about him."
By now the threesome had approached the vestibule of the church where Father Stefan waited to greet them. The good father greeted each of them in turn, first Mrs. Kanakedes, then Mrs. Christoforos, then Dimitra.
"Welcome back, Dimitra," Father Stefan said warmly.
"Thank you, Father." Dimitra placed a faux kiss on his cheek.
"And how are doing?" Father asked.
"Very well, Father, thank you."
"Are you alone today, or did you bring any of your family members with you?"
"I am afraid I am by myself today, Father," Dimitra sighed. "Maybe next time."
"Well, they'll be in my prayers," Father assured her. "Especially Christopher. He's not planning any more death-defying stunts, is he?"
"No, Father, thank God he's not," Dimitra replied. "He promised me no more dangerous stunts after that building implosion in Florida."
"Good. Tell him I'd like to see him again sometime."
"I'll tell him," Dimitra promised. "As soon as he wakes up, that is. He works so hard he doesn't get much sleep. For him, the Day of Rest is just that--a day of rest."
"Well, may God watch over him," Father said. "And you."
"Thank you, Father."
Dimitra walked out of the vestibule and down the stone steps of the church. Such a wonderful man, Father Stefan, she thought. It was a long drive from the Luxor, but the spiritual comfort she found there, not to mention the cameraderie of people her own age, made the trip worthwhile. She found her rental car and drove back to the hotel, not even minding the slow after-church traffic inching its way up the street. Dimitra had heard that Las Vegas had the highest number of houses of worship per capita in the nation, an ironic distinction for the municipality people referred to as Sin City. Perhaps it was because people needed to seek redemption for gambling too much, she thought, but in reality it was the fact that Vegas was also the elopement capital of the nation due to the easy marriage laws. Whatever. The only thing that mattered was that Holy Trinity was there to serve her and her family's spiritual needs while they resided in Vegas. The stillness of the atmosphere, the icons softly lit with votive candles, the scent of purifying incense, and above all the silence--it was an oasis of peace and comfort, a refuge from the gaudy neon world of casinos, luxury hotels, theaters, clubs, bars and other attractions the fabled Strip offered.
Thank you, Lord, for guiding me to Holy Trinity Church here in Las Vegas, Dimitra prayed gratefully. May it continue to provide spiritual comfort for all Your children for years to come. Bless Father Stefan and help him in his holy work. Amen.
Father Stefan stared at the letter in his hand in total shock and disbelief. Normally he would never deal with mundane business matters on the Sabbath, preferring to leave it for Monday, but as he was clearing his desk of clutter he came across this particular letter. Not remembering from whom or when he received it, he opened it simply out of curiosity. The letter inside stunned him as he read it.
Dear Father Mykolos:
Ten thousand dollars for his church just so some corporate bigwig could build a hotel on it? It was an outrage! Holy Trinity Church was priceless! All the money in the world could not persuade Father Stefan to sell it! And what was this nonsense about "eminent domain laws"? God Himself had "eminent domain" over this church and its surrounding parish for the past seventy-five years! Who was this person to tell him to give it up?
We have contracted with Harlan and Harlan to build the new Grand Imperial Hotel and Resort in North Las Vegas in an effort to revitalize the area and create new employment for hundreds of residents. We have chosen this site because of its prime location to Las Vegas's metropolitan area. We offer you $10,000 for the church property and all title to it. If you refuse, we can claim the property under eminent domain laws.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 579-555-6063
Monique Wesley, CEO,
Oh, he would contact this Monique Wesley, CEO, SilverStar Enterprises all right, and give her a piece of his mind big enough for her to choke on it! If he had to, he would appeal to the Bishop of the diocese, the Archbishop, and even the Metropolitan himself for support. No one, but no one was going to destroy Holy Trinity Church for anything, not for anything!
But, Father realized as his righteous fury simmered down, that would have to wait until tomorrow. Today was still the Sabbath, and no secular business could be conducted on it. This crisis would have to wait; he still had his duties to perform. It would be best to keep quiet about this, he decided; he didn't want to alarm his congregation. For now, this was his problem to deal with alone.
Almighty God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, he prayed, come to my help and deliver me from this difficulty that besets me. I believe Lord, that all trials of life are under Your care and that all things work for the good of those who love You. Take away from me fear, anxiety and distress. Help me to face and endure my difficulty with faith, courage and wisdom. Grant that this trial may bring me closer to You for You are my rock and refuge, my comfort and hope, my delight and joy. I trust in Your love and compassion. Blessed is Your name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
He set the letter aside and prepared for the High Mass, confident that this whole ridiculous business would be resolved by tomorrow. Tearing down a church for a luxury hotel would cause such a public outcry that SilverStar Enterprises, whatever that was, would immediatly back off to avoid negative publicity. And Holy Trinity was still an active church; it wasn't like it was in dire financial straits. No, they'd have to build their Tower of Babylon somewhere else. Holy Trinity was here to stay, and no one on earth could change that.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-02-2013, 03:11 PM
Sunday, the sanctified Day of Rest, gave way to Monday, the dreaded Day of Work. For the millions of Las Vegas's ordinary citizens, it was back to the nine-to-five routine. Almost a thousand of those citizens reported for duty at SilverStar Enterprises, ready to repeat the endless cycle of tedious routine, sitting in their cubicles in front of their PCs crunching numbers and going over spreadsheets.
Monique Wesley, CEO and queen bee of this hive of corporate industry, sat at her glass-topped desk in her spacious office, her phone headset firmly in her ear, going over the design plans David Abercrombie had just given her. She scanned the huge sheets carefully, examining every detail of the Grand Imperial Hotel while Abercrombie sat across from her with his stomach in knots from trying to interpret Ms. Wesley's "hmmm's" and "mmm-hmmm's" as positive or negative feedback. After a near eternity of all this, she finally looked up at him.
"It's perfect!" she exclaimed. "Dave, you did everything I asked and then some! You are an absolute genius!"
"Thank you, Ms. Wesley," Abercrombie muttered. Then he swallowed hard and plunged, "There's just one thing that bothers me, though."
"What's that?" Monique asked as she carefully rolled up the plans.
"The fact that you're going to be demolishing an entire community to build it," Abercrombie said. "What about those poor people whose homes you're going to level? What about all those small businesses? Don't you have any consideration for them at all?"
"Dave, don't worry about it," Monique said reassuringly. "It's not like they're going to be tossed out on the street just like that. They're being compensated--five hundred dollars a house. Good grief, Dave, you make me out like I'm some sort of ogre!"
"Five hundred dollars for a house?" Abercrombie echoed incredulously. "What the hell can you do with five hundred dollars? You can't buy a closet for that kind of money! These are people's homes and livelihoods we're talking about!"
"Dave, I'm providing homes and livelihoods with the Grand Imperial," Monique argued. "Better than those little mom-and-pop shops they have over there. I'm providing a better source of income for hundreds of people while at the same time improving the property values in the area. If you saw how disgraceful that area really is, you'd agree with me."
"I don't agree with throwing people out of their homes just because you want to 'improve property values'!" Abercrombie shot back. "If you really want to improve the property values, rebuild the neighborhood, don't tear it down! People have a right to live where they want, or at least where they can afford to."
"Rebuild?" Monique sniffed derisively. "Rebuild a slum? Those 'homes and livelihoods' that you're so passionatly concerned about are crumbling ruins! It would cost more money to rebuild them than to tear them down! And the people who live in those neighborhoods are living in misery! Those buildings are vermin-infested hellholes! Gangs run wild in the streets--you can't walk down to the corner store without being mugged! I'm doing them a favor by buying them out, Dave. I'm giving them a fresh start in life."
"What kind of 'fresh start' can you get with five hundred dollars?" Abercrombie wanted to know.
Monique sidled up beside him. "Dave," she cooed. "I assure you, it's all for the best. Everything's going to work out, you'll see. Trust me, they'll be all too happy to accept my offer. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do."
Realizing that it was useless to argue any furthur, Abercrombie strode out of the office. Dear God, why did I get myself mixed up with that woman? I feel like an accomplice to a murder! I should have turned her commission down the minute she told me about tearing down half of North Las Vegas to build her dream castle! But noooooo, the profit margin overruled me!
Abercrombie stood by the elevator waiting to go down. Monique's words still burned in his ears: I'm doing them a favor by buying them out! I'm improving property values! Good grief, Dave, you make me out like I'm some sort of ogre!
Yeah, Monique, he said to himself, you are an ogre! Maybe I should start calling you Shrek. It'd be better than a lot of other names I can think of for you!
There were times in Criss Angel's career when he could be free to create new illusions to amaze audiences, to let his fertile imagination soar to new heights, to improve on old ideas and revise new ones. Once he was inspired, there was no stopping him. He had the soul of an artist and the daring of an adventurer, a combination many found dangerous if not lethal. Then there were times when work was work, the tedious tasks of handling finance, insurance, payroll for his staff and other expenses; ordering, shipping and receiving new merchandise for the outlet store and supplies for the warehouse where he kept all his props; production schedules, shooting schedules, location scouting schedules, and live show schedules; production meetings, design meetings, and other demands on his time. It all kept him buried up to his CA logo in paperwork, even with an office full of assistants.
This particular Monday was no different. Criss sat at his desk in his personal office going over the week's expense report and other business matters, keeping an eye on his diamond-studded watch to make sure he would not be late for the day's production meeting. He did not begrudge the time spent on paperwork; he had learned through his experience with founding and running Monster Music back in Long Island, New York, during his youth that this was all part of running a business. Keep an eye on the bottom line, manage your finances carefully, pay your bills on time, and don't let anything slide--that was what his father, God rest him, had taught his three sons since they were old enough to work in his cafe. They were lessons Criss had learned well, too well when he considered the moutain of paper he had to wade through this morning.
His cell phone rang in his pocket. Criss pulled it out and looked on the small screen to identify the caller. JD, it read. His brother and right-hand man when it came to running MindFreak Productions was calling. He flipped it open. "Hey, JD, what's up?" he greeted him.
"Hey, Christopher," JD returned. "Just calling to tell you that Gerard can't make it to the meeting today. His mom's had a heart attack and they had to take her to the hospital last night."
Criss was stunned. "Oh, okay, no problem," he said hastily, a feeling of deja-vu coming over him. "Tell him to take as much time off as he needs."
"Sure thing, bro'."
"Okay, 'bye." Criss flipped off his phone and sat motionless in his office chair. The deja-vu he felt blossomed into total recall: He had been at the Sunflower Market, and had done a demonstration for an engaged couple by making the bride-to-be's ring disappear and reappear in a loaf of bread. No sooner had they left when Banachek came up to him and laid his hands gently on Criss's shoulders. Criss, we just got word from your brother, JD. Your mother has to go to the hospital for emergency heart surgery.
He remembered the shock he felt when he heard those words. Suddenly, everything he had worked for seemed unimportant. His mother was sick, possibly dying. His first instinct was to run to her side, but he had to do that Quad Drag Escape at the Excalibur that evening and there was no way out of it. He had made emergency reservations for a seven-thirty red-eye flight to New York right after the performance, did the demonstration and rushed to the airport right after. Mercifully, Dimitra came out of her operation sucessfully, but the thought of losing his beloved mother still haunted him.
Impulsively, Criss called his mother's cell number. "Hey, Mom, how ya doin'?" he greeted her.
"I'm fine, honey," Dimitra replied. "What do you want?"
"Oh, I just, well..." Criss struggled to find a plausible excuse. "I just wanted to see if you wanted to join me for lunch later." Yeah, that would work. A quick lunch and off to the production meeting. No problem.
"Well, I'd like to," Dimitra said, "but I have a lunch date with some friends from the church this afternoon."
Criss was puzzled. All of his mother's church friends were back in Long Island. How could she be meeting them here in Vegas? "Friends?" he repeated bemusedly.
"Yes, I have some new friends from Holy Trinity," his mother clarified for him. "We're having lunch together around one o'clock. Sorry to disappoint you."
"No, no, it's okay, Mom," Criss assured her. "I'm happy you got to make some new friends here in Vegas. It's just that...Gerard's mother had a heart attack last night and--"
"Oh!" Dimitra exclaimed. "Oh, dear! Well, we will all pray for her recovery."
"I'm sure she'll appreciate it, Mom," Criss said. "You go and have a good time with your new friends. I got too much to do here, anyway. Love you."
"I love you, too, Christopher."
"I love you more. 'Bye."
Criss hung up. So his mother has some new friends here in Vegas, he thought. Well, that was good. She always enjoyed going to Holy Trinity when she was here, and no doubt she got to know everyone there. It was good for her to get out and have a social life of her own, especially since Dad died and she was pretty much alone. As much as he loved her, he couldn't keep his mother company all the time, not with his schedule. With friends her own age, she could relax and enjoy herself in ways he could not provide. Holy Trinity was the best thing for his mother's well being since he didn't know what. The memory of her heart surgery faded away and he returned to his work with renewed spirit. His mother was healthy and happy, and that was all that mattered.
And Dimitra was indeed happy, sitting in the small tea room run by a member of the church for elderly parishioners to socialize, with Mrs. Kanakedes, Mrs. Christoforos, and Mrs. Mykolos, Father Stefan's wife, for company. They nibbled on whole-grain rolls with low-fat spread (for health reasons), and sipped the wonderful herbal teas which made the tea room so popular.
"And how is your husband, Nikolos?" Dimitra asked Mrs. Christoforos.
"Stable," Mrs. Christoforos replied. "The medical term for pretty much the same. The nursing home is giving him very good care, though I wish I could have him home where he belongs."
"It would be too much of a burden on you, Helena," Mrs. Kanakedes said. "Not with his condition."
"Still, I am his wife, and it is my duty to care for my husband," Mrs. Christoforos insisted.
"Not when your husband's condition is so severe that he needs specialized care," Mrs. Kanakedes argued.
"He's in our prayers, Helena," Mrs. Mykolos assured her. "You may not be able to provide the kind of care he needs, but you can make his time on earth as comfortable as you can. Just being by his side is enough. Desert Springs is a very good facility. My husband goes there every week to visit the residents and tend to their spiritual needs, and he says there was nothing there to complain about."
"I know it is," Mrs. Christoforos agreed, "but, well, I miss my Nikolos. I want him home by my side as he had been before that stroke crippled him. It's like I'm practically a widow without him at home."
"You have the church to offer you comfort and company, Helena," Mrs. Mykolos told her reassuringly. "We'll always be there for you."
That last sentence made her pause, as if she suddenly remembered something. Her hesitation went unnoticed by the other three women at the table.
"She's right, Helena," Mrs. Kanakedes agreed wholeheartedly. "You will always have the church to fall back on when things get rough. No matter what happens, it will always be there for you."
"Of course it will," Dimitra chimed in. "You are very lucky to have such a fine church with such a wonderful priest serving the community. I am so glad to have found it when I did. It makes my visits to Las Vegas so much more enjoyable--not that they weren't before, mind you, but it's been so good for me and my family. If it hadn't been for Father Stefan, my husband's cousin Aliziveta would still be wandering around Las Vegas, poor woman" (1)
"And how is Aliziveta doing?" Mrs. Christoforos asked.
"Oh, very well," Dimitra answered. "Mrs. Theodoros is receiving wonderful care from her. Who knows? Maybe she'll come back here and work at Desert Springs someday."
"That would be nice," said Mrs. Mykolos, "if it's still around."
The three women stared at their pastor's wife. "What do you mean by that, Cassandra?" Mrs. Christoforos asked.
Mrs. Mykolos was flustered. "I'm sorry, I did not mean to let it slip out like that." she apologized.
"Let what slip out?" Mrs. Kanakedes persisted.
Mrs. Mykolos sighed heavily. "Please don't go spreading this around, but we received this letter from some firm who wants to offer us ten thousand dollars to sell the church."
"Sell the church!" Dimitra, Mrs. Kanakedes and Mrs. Christoforos were aghast.
"Yes," Mrs. Mykolos nodded. "It seems that this firm wants to buy up all the property and tear it all down to build some big luxury hotel."
"They can't do that!" Dimitra exclaimed. "They have no right to do that!"
"It seems they can," Mrs. Mykolos told her. "They are claiming it under something called 'eminent domain'. Stefan is trying to talk them out of it, of course. But it's not just the church, it's the school, the stores, all the houses, even the nursing home Nikolos is in."
"May God forbid!" Mrs. Christoforos cried. "Who could be so heartless as to do that?"
"The owner of the firm," Mrs. Mykolos replied simply. "We have thirty days to comply."
Mrs. Christoforos began to cry. "What can we do?" she sobbed. "Is there no way to stop them?"
Dimitra laid a hand on her shoulder to comfort her. "We will find a way," she told her. "There are laws to protect us from this and we are going to find them! Mrs. Mykolos," she said, turning to the priest's wife. "You said your nephew was a lawyer. Can't he find a way to stop them from destroying the church?"
"He's not a lawyer, he's a paralegal," Mrs. Mykolos replied. "He's not allowed to practice law."
"Call him anyway," Dimitra ordered her. "In the meantime, we can't give into despair. We have to band together to stop these people from taking away what is rightfully ours! We can either sit here crying in our cups of tea, or we can band together and fight! Are you with me?"
The three women clutched their hands together in a knot of defiance on the small damask-covered table. "Good," said Dimitra. "Can you get Father Stefan to call a meeting in the church about this?"
"I can," Mrs. Mykolos said. "If he's not planning one already."
"All right. We need to make this known to everyone. The more people who join us, the stronger we are! If we all stick together we can save the church and the neighborhood around it!"
"Maybe we should circulate a petition," Mrs. Kanakedes suggested.
"Yes, yes, that's a good idea!" Dimitra agreed. "You draw up the petition, Mrs. Mykolos will work with Father Stefan on the meeting, and Mrs. Christoforos will get hold of everyone who wants to get involved."
"What about you, Dimitra?" Mrs. Mykolos asked.
"Myself?" Dimitra adjusted her glasses thoughtfully. "I'm going to take this nationwide, let the whole country know about this outrage against us."
Mrs. Mykolos was puzzled. "How are you going to do that?"
Dimitra smiled. "What good is being the mother of a famous magician if you can't use the publicity to your advantage?"
(1) See None So Blind
Last edited by Veritas; 02-04-2013 at 04:02 PM.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-04-2013, 04:27 PM
Almost a week had gone by since David Abercrombie had presented his design plans for the Grand Imperial to Monique Wesley, and today would be the official unveiling of the giant four foot model before the assembled members of the press to announce its imminant construction. In the giant auditoium of SilverStar Enterprises, the fashionably slim brownette CEO stood beside a silken draped object prominantly displayed in the center of the stage. Monique stood behind a podium, smiling radiantly with flawlessly white teeth at the audience of reporters, photographers and corporate types below her. This was her moment to shine, and she savored every moment of it.
"Ladies and gentlemen," she spoke into the microphone mounted on the podium, "thank you for coming here today to witness this monmumental undertaking, the biggest in the history of Las Vegas! What I am about to show you will set a new gold standard in luxury and comfort for years to come! The largest hotel, resort and casino ever built--the Grand Imperial!"
The silken covering was whisked away by invisible wires, revealing a rectangular tryptich of silvery glass lined with white Italian marble. Tiny lights illuminated the model around the base, miniature fountains trickled in front of its entrance, and an elegantly scrolled sign reading Grand Imperial glowed on top of it. The audience gasped, then applauded while flashbulbs popped, causing the glass model to sparkle.
Monique basked in the glow of adulation from those below her. When the applause died down, she continued with her presentation. "The Grand Imperial will be fifty stories high, with three thousand guest suites with all the amenities," Monique went on enthusiastically. "It will also have over a hundred shops and boutiques, thirty gourmet restaraunts, a full-sized health spa and fitness center, an Olympic-sized pool, a megaplex movie theater, the world's largest casino, the first ever indoor golf course, and even a twenty-four hour daycare center for children seven and under. Yes, the Grand Imperial will cater to all members of the family regardless of age. Now I know there are a lot of skeptics out there wondering why SilverStar is building such a fabulous hotel in such troubled economic times. But I guarnatee that this project will create thousands of new jobs, not only in its construction, but in maintaining it and catering to our guests. With it, the Grand Imperial will generate millions of dollars in tax revenues for the city of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada, and boost tourism in the bargain!"
"Question," a reporter in the front row spoke up. "How much is it going to cost?"
"I'm glad you asked that," Monique said. "The total cost of construction will be two hundred and fifty billion dollars, but with its projected return on the original investment, it will pay for itself in ten years."
"That's pretty optimistic," someone spoke up.
"I have every reason to be optimistic," Monique retorted cheerfully. "The Grand Imperial will be the best thing to happen in Las Vegas since legalized gambling!"
"Where will the Grand Imperial be built?" asked another reporter.
"The Grand Imperial will be located on the border between Las Vegas and North Las Vegas," Monique answered. "This project will revitalize the North Las Vegas community by increasing its property values and ridding it of unsafe structures. As I stated before, it will create thousands of new jobs for the community, stimulating the economy. It's a win-win situation all around!"
Father Stefan snapped off the television in disgust. He had been watching the evening news broadcast featuring the Grand Imperial project with as much resentment as Monique Wesley had optimism. A win-win situation? For whom? he wondered. For Monique Wesley, for SilverStar Enterprises, for those corporate bigwigs, yes, but what about the rest of the community facing the wrecking ball like Holy Trinity Church? What about those poor elderly residents in the Desert Springs Nursing Facility? What about the hundreds of homeowners who lived here, worked here, sent their children to school here? Why should they sacrifice their homes, their businesses and their churches for SilverStar's two hundred and fifty billion dollar Tower of Babel? Where was the "win" in that win-win situation for them?
The phone in the rectory living room rang. Father Stefan picked it up to answer it. "Holy Trinity, Father Stefan speaking."
"Father?" came a female voice on the other end. "This is Dimitra Sarantakos."
"Oh, yes, Dimitra. What can I do for you?"
"It's rather what we can do for you, Father."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Your wife, Mrs. Christoforos, Mrs. Kanakedes, and I were talking in the tea room this afternoon," Dimitra began. "We know all about the trouble the church and the neighborhood is in, and the four of us are banding together to fight this outrage."
Father Stefan was taken aback by this news. "Are you? Well, may God bless your efforts."
"And yours," Dimitra said. "We need you to lead us in protest over this. We need you to talk some sense into these people who want to tear down the church. We need you to call a meeting of every member to come up with a solution for this problem. We will help you in any way we can. Mrs. Kanakedes is drawing up the petition, and I'm trying to arrange the publicity. But we need you to guide us."
"All right, I'll arrange the meeting right after vespers tomorrow. If you can generate enough publicity for our cause, we can't fail. Thank you, Dimitra, and may God bless you."
"Thank you, Father. Good night."
Father hung up the phone. He had to admire the woman's spirit; she was definatly not going down without a fight. Now I know where her son Christopher gets his determination to succeed, he thought. With a mother like that, it's no wonder he made it on top of the entertainment ladder the way he did!
"They're gonna what?!" Criss roared disbelievingly over the phone at his mother.
"It's true," Dimitra said sadly. "This big corporation is going to tear down Holy Trinity Church and the entire neighborhood around it to build a luxury hotel."
Criss leaned back in his office chair, stunned. He had been busy in his office when he received an urgent voicemail from his mother requesting that he contact her immediatly. Fearing the worst, Criss dropped what he was doing and called her. He had feared more bad news about her heart, but the real reason for her summons threw him for a loop. "They can't do that!" he cried. "They can't just take over the whole neighborhood and tear it down! They don't have the right to do that to anyone!"
"Well, it seems they can," Dimitra sighed. "They have this law called 'eminent domain' to convert any property for public use, or at least that is what I heard."
"No way, Ma!" stormed Criss. "No way in hell are they gonna tear down the church or anything else! They're just greedy land grabbers out to make a buck!"
"Then you'll help us?" Dimitra asked hopefully. "You'll help us save the church? We'd all be so grateful if you did."
Criss hesitated for a long moment. He had not planned on getting involved in this business, and he had no idea on what to do. But his mother's voice clutched his heart in a way nothing else could. He knew that she loved Holy Trinity, and Holy Trinity had been good to her. There was no way he could refuse: what Mom wanted, Mom got.
"Okay," he said. "Lemme make a few phone calls and I'll get back to you. What's the name of this company, anyway."
"Oh, dear, I don't remember," Dimitra replied, flustered. "If you call Father Stefan, he'll tell you. He received the letter from them a few days ago."
"Father Stefan. Got it."
"What are you planning on doing, anyway?" Dimitra asked.
"Well, first of all, I'm going to call these robber barons and tell them exactly what they can do with their plans to build a hotel on church property," Criss told her. "And if I can't get through to them, I'll help file a class action suit on everyone's behalf. Don't worry, Ma, I won't let anyone wreck the church."
"You mean we won't let anyone wreck the church," Dimitra corrected.
"We have a petition started to stop them," Dimitra told him. "And Father Stefan is holding a meeting at the church tomorrow evening after vespers. We are banding together to save our church, and the neighborhood around it. We'll fight them no matter what it takes!"
Criss could not help but be impressed. "Boy, Ma, you're really spoiling for a fight here," he said.
"So, would you please come to the meeting tomorrow?" his mother beseeched him. "It's at seven-thirty."
"Tomorrow, seven-thirty at the church," Criss repeated. "Got it."
Criss could almost see his mother smiling. "I'm so glad you're helping us, Christopher."
"Glad to help, Mom. I love you."
"I love you, too, honey."
"I love you more. See you later, then."
"I will. Good-bye."
Criss hung up the phone. Damn! he said to himself. I can't believe that anyone would tear down a church like that. I'd like to find that guy and kick his ass! No way am I going to even let him near that church!
The next evening after vespers, and Holy Trinity was standing room only. Not only the church's original congregation, but those residents and business owners who got wind of the meeting were also in attendance. Little knots of outraged citizens huddled here and there to discuss the upcoming takeover. Neither the proximity of the sacred icons nor even being in a house of worship deterred them from strongly voicing their opinions.
"I've been here for nearly twenty-five years! Who are they to tell me I have to leave?"
"It's criminal! Simply criminal!"
"I can't afford to move! I was lucky to find the place I have now!"
"I sank every dime I had into my shop, and now they want to bulldoze it?"
"They can go to Hell for all I care!"
"Lenny! This is a church! Watch your language!"
"I ain't swearing! I mean it literally!"
Page after page of the petition to save the neighborhood filled with signatures. By the time Father Stefan arrived to begin the meeting, they were almost to the end of the last sheet.
Criss, his mother, Dimitra, his brothers, JD and Costa, and his cousin, George, sat in one corner of the crowded church. "Quite a turnout," George commented. "Must've known you were coming, Criss."
"It's not me," Criss said. "These people's homes and livelihoods are at stake."
"Ladies and gentlemen!" Father Stefan called out from the pulpit. "May I have your attention please!"
The chatter gradually died down int shushes and whispered demands for silence. "Thank you," Father said. "For those who don't know me, I am Father Stefan Mykolos, the priest here at Holy Trinity, and I bid you all welcome. As you are no doubt aware, SilverStar Enterprises is planning to demolish the entire area, including this church, to make room for a mammoth luxury hotel. They offered to buy us all out for a pittance to build a two hundred and fifty million dollar megacomplex resort, all in the name of property values--and profits! When I tried to contact them, all I got was voicemail. When I went there in person to speak to the CEO, Monique Wesley, I was rebuffed. The only answer they want to hear from us is 'yes'."
Murmurs of discontent rippled through the assembled company. Father went on with his speech. "That is why we have been circulating a petition to protest this outrage against us. With enough public support, we can nip this takeover in the bud! No reasonable person would allow such a thing to happen to anyone. It is up to us to stand together and say no to SilverStar!"
Enthusiatic applause echoed throughout the church. Father waived his hands for silence. "Furthurmore," he shouted over the din, "furthermore, we are filing an injunction against SilverStar Enterprises for illegal conversion of property. If necessary, we will also file a class action suit against them. They may have millions of dollars, but we have the numbers, and we have our rights!"
The audience erupted into loud cheers. Again, Father called for order. "We have done all we could on this end," Father said. "Now, it is up to each and every one of you to do your part. Make our cause known! Circulate petitions! Above all, keep the faith! Together, we cannot fail! With God's help, we cannot be defeated!"
Shouts and cheers shook the rafters and rattled the stained glass windows. Suddenly, Criss bounded up to Father Stefan's side, resulting in more, even louder cheers, not ot mention a few squees from the younger female members in the audience. Father looked at him bemusedly. "Hello, Christopher," he said, recovering from this sudden intrusion.
"Hey, Father," Criss said casually.
"Uh, ladies and gentlemen, Criss Angel," Father announced simply.
Criss waited for the thunderous applause to die down, then mounted the pulpit. "Thank you, Father," Criss said, then turned to the crowd. "Um, yesterday, my mother called me with the bad news about the reason we're all here tonight. She asked me if there was anything I could do to help. Well, you know me--I'd do anything for my mom."
There were some chuckles, then Criss continued. "I made a few phone calls to those members of the media I'm still on friendly terms with, and with Father's permission, we can arrange for a press conference here in the church to offer our side of the story. It'll be broadcast on almost every major news channel in the country. Like Father said, we're gonna make our cause known!"
The estatic crowd cheered. Dimitra clasped her hands in gratitiude. Thank You, Lord! she prayed. Thank You for my wonderful son, Christopher! Bless his efforts to save Your House from demolition! Bless us all in our efforts to save this neighborhood! With Your help, we cannot fail!
In her spacious office, Monique Wesley was talking on the phone with her number one attorney, Milton Dewey of Dewey, Scruem and Howe. Dewey had the reputation of being the most ruthless predator on the Nevada State Bar. He would stop at nothing to win a case, even if it meant a few ethical breaches. He could twist, bend, spindle and mutilate any witness's testamony to the point of driving them to a nervous breakdown. No law, no court case, not even the United States Constitution was safe from his scrutiny; it was said that Milton could find a loophole in the Ten Commandments if it served his clients' purposes. It was for this reason that Monique kept him on retainer. Whatever she wanted, she got, and Milton was there to get it for her.
"So you got the eviction papers drawn up, Milton?" Monique asked.
"Drawn up and good to go, Monique," Milton replied in the oily tone he reserved for his biggest-paying clients. "Those bums are as good as gone!"
"Oh, please, Milton," Monique protested. "Don't refer to them as 'bums'. They're my future employees; they'll all be working for me once the hotel is built. Besides, we're paying them to leave, remember?"
"Of course, my dear, of course," Milton demurred. "Anything you say."
"You have the legalities ironed out? Nothing is going to stand in our way in taking over the property?"
"As legal as walking down the street," Milton assured her. "The eminent domain laws are on your side. It's completely air tight! No court in the country can touch this. If they try, we can appeal to the State Supreme Court. We can't lose, Monique. The Grand Imperial is as good as built!"
"Milton, you are a wonder!" Monica gushed. "I don't know what I'd do without you!"
Last edited by Veritas; 02-04-2013 at 04:32 PM.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-06-2013, 09:06 PM
By morning of the next day, the city of Las Vegas had heard, read, or seen on television the news of the Grand Imperial project, and the reaction was less than favorable among the general public. A quarter of a trillion dollars to build another luxury hotel in a city full of luxury hotels, tearing down an entire neighborhood to boot? It was madness, they thought, an outrage, especially in these economically troubled times. Tourism was at an all time low; who could afford to stay even one night in such a place? The Grand Imperial would turn out to be a grand disaster, a public relations fiasco, a white elephant in the middle of the desert.
Criss read the morning edition of the Sun in his suite after breakfast that day. In the Op-Ed column a sidebar article entitled "How to Spend $250M", by Susan Akins, caught his eye.
Yesterday, SilverStar CEO Monique Wesley proudly announced the construction of the fifty-story Grand Imperial Hotel and Resort due sometime next month or so, with indoor golfing, swimming and all the amenities, all at the grand cost of $250,000,000,000. She claims it will provide jobs and improve property values in North Las Vegas, and is a "win-win all around."
Criss set down the paper. Akins had a point, he thought. If only this Ms. Wesley would read it herself--then maybe she'd change her mind about tearing down Holy Trinity.
A quarter of a trillion dollars to build some fancypants hotel in Las Vegas which has about fifty of them already, when there are hundreds of families who have lost, are losing or will lose their homes, who have no health insurance, who can barely afford to feed their children? What was she thinking?
How is spending $250B building a hotel going to help "improve property values"? She'll be displacing thousands of residents and business owners from their homes and businesses to build this modern day Tower of Babel. For whom is she improving it for? She is only deluding herself if she believes she's doing everyone a favor by tearing down houses, churches, and businesses and creating this monstrosity. There are better ways of spending that kind of money. Think of it! $250,000,000,000 could:
*Provide medical care for thousands of families without health insurance. The list goes on. If Ms. Wesley is as civic minded as she pretends to be, she'd do well to invest in people, not property values.
*Pay tuition for hundreds of college students for four full years.
*Rebuild hundreds of neighborhoods, houses, streets, and businesses.
*Create housing for hundreds of low-income families.
In truth, Ms. Wesley had no intention of reading Susan Akins's article or changing her mind about tearing down Holy Trinity. By midafternoon, the word was out to the community she planned to take over--give up your property, take the money and go, or be forced out by the authorities. Resistance was futile. Thirty days was the deadline.
Father Stefan read the letter over and over again, his heart sinking deeper into his stomach. The unofficial Holy Trinity Rescue committee, consisting of Dimitra Sarantakos, Mrs. Christoforos, Mrs. Kanakedes, and the Mykoloses, sat in utter shock.
"They really mean it," Father Stefan said. "They are going to take over the church and demolish it."
"They have no legal right to do so!" Dimitra stormed. "We can take them to court and sue them!"
The others agreed. Father looked at Dimitra. "How? We can't afford a lawyer." he said.
"Christopher said he would help," Dimitra promised him. "I am counting on him to do that. Have no fear, Father, we are going to fight this thing!"
Mrs. Kanakedes smiled a little. "You know," she said, "you remind me of my daughter when she was in college. She was always protesting something, whether it was the war, or the environment, or women's rights, or whatever. I remember when she and some of her friends chained themselves to a tree to keep it from being cut down."
Dimitra sat still, lost in thought. "You know," she said as she pondered Mrs. Kanakedes's words, "you've given me an idea."
While Las Vegas went through its daily routine of gambling, drinking and attending shows, North Las Vegas was in an uproar over Monique Wesley's ultimatum. People stormed, swore, cried, prayed and threatened every conceivable legal action against SilverStar, and a few illegal ones as well. It was clear that the designated neighborhoods were not going down without a fight. "That (bleep) knows what she can do with her plans!" grumbled one malcontent to the press.
Almost every attorney in the Nevada State Bar had been contacted concerning the most hostile takeover in history; lawsuits by the dozens were filed by residents and business owners alike. Holy Trinity and other area churches held prayer meetings and special services to beseech the Almighty for Divine intervention. Crudely painted signs defiying the evacuation order could be seen in every window and on every lawn from every shop, gas station, private residence, and even from abandoned buildings.
HELL NO WE WONT GO!!
NOT IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!
SILVERSTAR GO AWAY WE'RE HERE TO STAY!
SAY NO TO THE HOTEL!
(BLEEP) YOU SILVERSTAR!
THIS IS MY HOME AND I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE!
KEEP YOUR 500$ IM STAYING PUT!
SAVE OUR HOMES! SAVE OUR BUSINESSES!
Some citizens banded together in a loose confederation called the Coalition Opposing the SilverStar Takeover (COST) to formally protest the Grand Imperial project at City Hall. Every petition that had been circulated, including the Holy Trinity one, was officially presented to the mayor that very Friday afternoon. The honorable mayor promised to do everything within his power to halt the SilverStar project and save their neighborhoods. It was an outrage, he said, that his constitiuents should be forced out by some corporate bigwig to build a hotel on their properties. The people had more rights than some CEO with a big bank account. Once they realize they can't push around ordinary citizens, they'll back off. Cheered by this vote of confidence from the mayor, the COST members returned to their homes and businesses.
Their hopes were built on sand. Through some legal finagling by Morton Dewey and some clever reinterpretation of the eminent domain laws and the Fifth Amendment, the ultimatum was upheld. Monique Wesley was not going to budge an inch. Everyone in the area now had twenty-six days to comply or be forcibly evicted. The Grand Imperial was going to be built on schedule, whether they liked it or not.
In a large, graffitti covered building somewhere in the desert, George led his Aunt Dimitra and Father Stefan around to where Criss kept his chains, ropes, locks and shackles for his escapes. He pulled out a wooden crate from a lower shelf and opened it. "Okay, here you go," he said. "I'll get the keys from the lockbox. Otherwise, you'll have to call Christopher to pick them open for you."
George looked at his aunt. "I hope you know what you're doing, Aunt Dima," he said. "Criss is gonna kill me if he finds out."
"I'll deal with Christopher, George," Dimitra told him. "You just get those keys and load up those chains."
George left to fetch the keys from the lockbox. Father Stefan examined the heavy lengths of chain. It would take a sturdy pair of bolt cutters to break through these, he thought. Christopher knew quality, that was for sure. It was a wonder the guy was able to get out of them; no mortal man could ever escape these shackles.
George returned with the keys and a hand truck to haul the box of chains to Father's minivan. Once the chains were loaded on board, George gave the priest the keys. "Every one is tagged with the serial number to the lock it goes to," he explained. "Don't lose any of them, okay? Otherwise we'd have to replace them."
"We'll take good care of them, George," Father Stefan promised. "Thank you for your help."
"No problem, Father," George replied. "I just hope Criss doesn't, well, you know, go ballistic over it. I work for the guy, remember?"
"We'll handle Criss, George," Father assured him. "It's for a good cause. He'll understand."
"Okay, but don't tell anyone about this place or where it is," George said. "It's supposed to be secret."
"You have my word."
"Thanks. And good luck."
"Bless you, George."
George watched as Father Stefan and his Aunt Dimitra drove away with the chains back to the church. He knew that they desperatly wanted to save the church, but he had some misgivings over their preferred method of doing it. How long would they be out there? A day? A week? A month? The way cases dragged themselves through the legal system, it could be years before there was a resolution. No way could his seventy-three year old aunt endure the elements for that long.
Should he call Criss? Naturally, he would be concerned about his mother's welfare, but to find out about the chains would probably set him off, even get George fired for breaking into his warehouse and taking his personal property. Father and Aunt Dima promised to handle him, but they never worked for the guy. He could get very tempermental if things didn't go the way he planned. If he found out on the news, say, he'd really fly off the handle. No, it was better to come clean early before the media blitz. Maybe Criss could talk his mother out of it. He hoped against hope as he dialed Criss's number on his cell phone.
"Hello, Chris? It's George," he said. "Look, there's something you need to know about your mom..."
"Mom?" Criss echoed. "What about Mom?"
"Well, she and Father Stefan are planning some sort of protest at Holy Trinity Church, see--" George began to explain.
"I know," Criss interrupted. "I was at the meeting last week."
"Well, let's just say it involves...chaining themselves around it."
Criss was dumbfounded. "They wha...?"
"Yeah, that's right," George confirmed. "They and a lot of other protesters are gonna chain themselves around the church so they can't tear it down. In fact," he continued sheepishly, "your mother asked me to go into the warehouse for the chains."
Silence on the other end. George could sense the tension building up inside his cousin, ready to explode at any minute; he braced himself for the worst. "Look, Criss," he said, trying to defuse the situation, "I know how you feel about this--"
"Is Mom at the church now?" Criss demanded.
"Yeah, she left with Father Stefan," George replied, still waiting for the storm to hit.
"Okay, I'm on my way!"
Criss hung up quickly, leaving a bewildered and relieved George standing there in front of the warehouse, staring at his cell phone. At least he never mentioned the chains, he thought.
Dimitra sat on a camp stool in the shade of a large tree in the front yard of Holy Trinity, calmly and serenely doing needlework, a heavy steel chain wrapped around her waist and secured to a tree. Beside her, other protesters sat around the base of the tree, reading, texting messages, talking on their cell phones or to the other protesters around them. Everyone was generally having a good time. Others sat on the front steps with picket signs or positioned themselves around the perimeter of the building. Those who were not tied or chained to any part of the church property hung huge signs on the wrought iron fence, stating their defiance to SilverStar's ultimatum, or marched up and down the sidewalk with picket signs, chanting "Save Our Church!".
The protest did not go unnoticed by the media. Within the first ninety minutes hoards of television camera crews and reporters descended onto the scene like sharks on a feeding frenzy, shoving camera lenses and microphones into the protesters' faces and barking questions. The protesters were all to happy to welcome them.
"No one has the right to take away our church, or anyone else's property!" stormed one angry parishioner into a Fox Network microphone. "We're not going to let ourselves be bullied by some big corporation! We have rights, too!"
"If SilverStar wants to build something, why don't they rebuild what's here instead of tearing it all down?" demanded another.
"Down with SilverStar! Down with SilverStar!" chanted a young woman, her small fist defiantly in the air.
A CNN reporter managed to get hold of Father Stefan for a quick interview. "Father Stefan," she asked, "can you give us your views on the threat to your church?"
"My views are quite obvious," he patiently replied. "It's an outrage against God and His people. Holy Trinity has stood here for seventy-five years, and it has served this community better than some overpriced hotel ever will."
"SilverStar is claiming it under the eminent domain laws," the reporter continued. "Do you think it has a valid claim?"
"Let me tell you that God Himself has eminent domain over this church, and no one else," Father stated firmly. "If SilverStar persists in this grandiose project, then disaster will fall upon them for desecrating holy ground."
He pointed to the small churchyard cemetary about a hundred yards away from the church building. "Over there," he said, "are those who have passed on before us. They sleep in peace until the Day of Judgement. Would they dare disturb them? That is consecrated ground, and I will not see it bulldozed for some luxury palace!"
"I see you're not chained up like the others, Father," the reporter commented.
"No, I have to be free to tend to my duties," Father explained. "The Church comes first, you know. I have to be on call in case of an emergency."
"Thank you, Father Stefan," the reporter said. "This is CNN, Las Vegas."
"Save our church! Save our church!" chanted the picketing protesters on the sidewalk, occasionally breaking into cheers at the sound of the occasional driver honking the horn to show support as they drove past. One car in particualar, a shiny black Lamboghini, peeled up the street and swerved into the church parking lot, sending gravel, dust and pedestrians flying in its wake.
A protester sitting beside Dimitra nearly jumped out of his seat. "Who the devil is that?" he demanded, shaken by the sudden appearance of such an flashy vehicle.
Dimitra sighed. "That," she replied, ''would be my son, Christopher."
The black Lambo's door flew open, and out popped Criss. Cheers and whistles greeted him as he emerged, but he was not in the mood to play celebrity at the moment. Instead, he bolted across the lot to the tree where his mother was sitting. Dimitra was nonplussed at her famous son's appearance; her soft, withered features were set in a sterner countenance than Criss expected.
"Mom!" he shouted as he ran to her side, the cameras trailing behind him.
"You could have driven a little more carefully, you know," she scolded him. "You could have run someone over, driving like that."
Criss ignored his mother's admonition. "Mom, what are you doing here?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Dimitra retorted. "We are taking a stand against those who will destroy this church!"
"By chaining yourself to a tree?"
"Yes, by chaining myself to a tree," Dimitra snapped as she returned to her needlework. "We are not moving until they relent. I've come to accept this church as my second spirtual home, and I am not going to see it ruined!"
"Look, Ma," Criss said with all the patience he could muster, "I called some law firm and they're moving heaven and earth to save it. We're gonna sue SilverStar for an injunction or whatever. You don't have to do this!"
"Lawsuits take time, Christopher," Dimitra pointed out. "We don't have that kind of time. We only have twenty-six days left."
"But what about the petitions? Didn't they help?"
"We gave the mayor the petitions, and the courts refused them. They're claiming eminent domain under the Fifth Amendment for public use."
"Well, if I remember my high-school civics class, that's for building highways and parks, not hotels!" Criss argued. "Look, Mom, I promise you the law firm I called are gonna do everything in it's power to stop this whole thing. This whole chaining yourself to a tree is going to get you arrested!"
"Then I'll go to jail, then," Dimitra said firmly. "But I am not moving from this spot until they call off the demolition!"
"Christopher!" Dimitra spoke in that all too familiar authoritative voice that brooked no arguement from any of her sons. "I'm staying and that is final!"
Criss sighed heavily. Dimitra returned to her needlework. He turned and looked straight into the cameras behind him. "She ain't gonna move," he said simply.
Last edited by Veritas; 02-07-2013 at 06:26 PM.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-07-2013, 06:32 PM
Our top story this evening: Members of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church staged a massive protest against the proposed destruction of their church and the surrounding neighborhood by SilverStar Enterprises, Inc. Many have chained themselves to the iron fence surrounding the seventy-five year old house of worship in defiance to the eviction order served to them last week. SilverStar is claiming the property under the eminent domain laws in the state of Nevada. Father Stefan Mykolos had this to say:
Fr. Stefan Mykolos: "Let me tell you that God Himself has eminent domain over this church, and no one else! If SilverStar persists in this grandiose project, then disaster will fall upon them for desecrating holy ground!"
One protester in particular is Dimitra Sarantakos, the mother of famous illusionist, Criss Angel, and who spearheaded the movement. She chained herself to a large tree in the middle of the churchyard and refused to leave, even when her famous son pleaded with her to come back.
CA:"Look, Ma, this whole chaining yourself to a tree is just gonna get you arrested!"
DS:"Then I'll go to jail then! I am not leaving until they call off the demolition!"
In spite of all his efforts, Criss finally gave up.
CA:"She ain't gonna move."
When asked about the reason she got involved, she had this to say:
Dimitra Sarantakos: "This church has become a second spritual home for me ever since I've been coming here to Las Vegas. I love the people here, and I won't stand by and watch this beautiful building be torn down."
Night fell, and with it came bone-numbing cold. The Holy Trinity protesters huddled together for warmth, stubbornly refusing to leave their posts, save for bathroom breaks inside the church. Father Stefan bought cups of hot tea to ward off the chill, along with a few blankets for the more vulnerable members of his flock chained to the fence and the tree in the yard. The picketers were forced into retreat, too hoarse to continue chanting and too footsore to go on marching. Dimitra set aside her needlework, her fingers too numb to sew anymore. The cup of tea Father Stefan had bought her was beginning to wear off inside her system.
"I wish I had bought a jacket or something," she said to herself. "It's too cold out here."
She blew on her fingers to warm them. "Dear Lord," she prayed, "please help me get warm again."
Maybe Christopher was right, she thought. Maybe this was a bad idea. If she had been twenty or thirty years younger she could have tolerated it a bit longer, but at seventy-three she was too vulnerable to whatever Nature chose to offer in terms of weather. She cast a glance at the dimly lit church beside her, the church she had come to love in the few short years she had been coming to Las Vegas. "I can't give up, Lord, I just can't," she sniffled. "But I am so cold, and so hungry. Dear Lord, send help to me. To all of us."
She was startled out of her misery by the blaring of car horns and the glare of headlights. Dimitra was astonished to see a veritable convoy of SUVs, coupes, minivans, and family cars making a beeline into the parking lot. The convoy parked haphazardly wherever they could find space. Soon people from all walks of life were spilling out of the vehicles, whooping and hollering like partygoers on New Year's Eve.
"Hey, Mama D!"
"Hi, Dimitra! We're here to help!"
"Hi, Mama Angel! We love you!"
Dimitra watched the rushing river of humanity coming straight for her. Who were these people? she wondered in her bewilderment. "My goodness!" she exclaimed. "What's all this!"
"We saw the news on TV about the protest you started," a stocky bearded man explained, "and we, the Loyals, have come to your aid!" He turned to the crowd. "Come on, everybody! Start unpacking!" he shouted.
Tents, canvas chairs, Coleman ice chests, blankets, and sleeping bags were all pulled out of trunks and back seats and set up in every available square foot of yard space. One tent was pitched around the tree where Dimitra sat, and no sooner was the last spike driven into the gorund than it was filled with die-hard Loyals. A small battery-powered heater was carefully set in the middle of the tent inside a metal basin to prevent fire.
"You hungry?" a slim young Loyal girl with a CA tattoo on her neck asked Dimitra. "We got some sandwiches."
"That would be nice, thank you," said Dimitra gratefully. Indeed it was, for all Dimitra had since the protest started was Father Stefan's tea, and she was starved. Cellophane-wrapped sandwiches were tossed around to everyone inside the tent like softballs. The tattooed girl, who introduced herself as Kris Lee, handed Dimitra a chicken-salad sandwich and a bottle of Dasani. Dimitra thanked her politely and unwrapped her sandwich.
"I had prayed for a miracle," she said to herself, "and the Lord answered a thousand times over."
Dimitra nibbled on her sandwich and drank her water along with the tentful of Loyals. She wondered if Christopher had put them up to this. But no, that was not possible. They had acted on their own, banding together to support her cause. Heaven bless them all, she thought.
"So, Dimitra," Kris Lee tried to speak through the bread and chicken salad in her mouth.
"Don't talk with your mouth full, dear," Dimitra admonished her instinctively.
"Oh, sorry." Kris Lee swallowed hard and started over again. "Anyway, how long do you plan on staying chained up here?"
"Until they decide not to tear down the church," Dimitra replied. "You know that."
"Are those Criss's chains?" a boy sitting beside her asked.
"Of course they are," Dimitra answered. "We got them from his warehouse."
"Did he get mad about you taking his stuff?" the boy asked.
"He was more concerned about me than about his chains."
"We saw Criss on the news," Kris Lee said. "He seemed pretty upset over you being here."
"He worries about me. But not as much as I worry about him, of course."
"Well, that's 'cause he loves you so much." Kris Lee leaned her head on Dimitra's knee.
Dimitra patted Kris Lee's hair. "I love him too, dear."
"What's Criss doing to help?" another Loyal from somewhere in the back called out.
"He's contacted some law firm to see if we can file for an injunction to stop the demolition. He's been very supportive about all this. He knows how much this church means to me and everyone who lives here. No one is going to destroy it for any reason."
"God," a middleaged woman sitting by a vinyl wall of the tent growled. "It's Poletown all over again!"
The bearded man who had first greeted Dimitra looked at her. "Poletown?"
"I don't know if you remember this," the woman began, "but twenty five years ago an entire community in Hamtramck, Michigan was leveled for a GM- Cadillac plant. Over a thousand homes and a dozen churches, including the oldest Catholic church in the area--I forget the name, but anyway, they fought like hell to save it, but the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in favor of GM. A whole neighborhood, gone, just like that. Then the plant went belly-up a few years later. They used the same tactics for what they're using now: eminent domain laws and all that."
"So they can tear down the church to build a hotel?" Kris Lee asked fearfully.
"Not any more," the woman replied. "The courts overruled eminent domain, and they can't take over private property like that again. At least, not in Michigan. I don't know how it works here in Nevada."
"Why'd they call it Poletown?" the boy next to Dimitra asked.
"Hamtramck has one of the largest populations of Polish Americans in the country," the woman answered, "so everyone called it Poletown. Detroit's got Corktown for the Irish, Greektown--"
"Greektown!" Kris Lee exclaimed. "I'd like to see that!"
"Anyway," said the middleaged woman, "the courts won't let them tear down the church here. Not after what happened in Poletown."
"I hope you're right, lady," Kris Lee said. "We all hope you're right."
Join Date: Aug 2011
02-07-2013, 06:28 PM
Now we know where Criss got his stuborness from
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-07-2013, 06:42 PM
"Mom's doing what?!" JD roared.
"It's true," Criss told him. "Didn't you see it on the news this evening?"
"I was too busy working to watch anything! Why the hell would she pull such a crazy stunt?"
"Because she loves that church and she wants to save it from the wrecking ball," Criss replied patiently. "That's why the hell she would pull such a crazy stunt!"
JD glared at Criss accusingly. "And you didn't try to talk her out of it?"
"I did try to talk her out of it, earlier this afternoon."
"She wouldn't budge."
JD buried his face in his hands. "We can't leave her out there all night," he said through gritted teeth. "She'll freeze to death in this weather." He shot up from his chair, slamming the palms of his hands on the desktop. "We're gonna get hold of Costa," he growled, "and the three of us are going to bring her home if we have to drag her by the feet! There is no way in hell I'm going to stand by and let my mother freeze to death in that churchyard!"
"Hey, bro," said Criss, "she's my mother too, you know. And I doubt that you can talk her out of it any more than I can."
JD glared at Criss. "Oh, no? Watch me."
In due time JD's Range Rover was making its way toward Holy Trinity Church with three worried brothers inside. The second brother, Costa, had seen the news broadcast about the protest and had been no less shocked than either JD or Criss. The minute JD had contacted him that evening, insisting he come with him to rescue their mother, he had gone to his own car and retrieved a woolen blanket he had stored in the trunk for picnics and other outdoor activities and climbed into the Rover with his brothers. So, off they went, with JD fuming at the wheel, Criss worrying in the passenger seat and Costa navigating from the rear.
"Turn left over here," Costa told JD.
"I know I turn left over here!" JD snapped as he swerved into the left turn lane.
"Okay, okay," Costa said placatingly. "Don't bite my head off."
"God, I hope Mom's okay," Criss muttered.
"She will be once we get her home," said JD. "Can you pick the lock or something to free her?"
"I think she's got the key already," Criss told him.
"How do you know?"
"'Cause those chains...well, they came from the warehouse," Criss answered.
JD almost slammed on the brakes in midturn. "You gave her those chains to tie herself up to that tree?!" he exploded.
"No, it wasn't me," Criss argued defensivly, "it was George."
"Yeah, George. Mom talked him into letting her and Father Stefan into the warehouse to get some chains and locks for the protest movement," Criss explained.
"You're not mad at George for breaking into the warehouse and giving Mom those chains?" Costa asked.
"Look, that doesn't matter anymore," Criss said. "What matters is that we make sure that Mom's all right. I'll deal with George later."
The brothers rode down the side street where the church was located. "There it is," Costa pointed out, "right over there."
"I can see it, Cos, I can see it," JD replied irritably as he pulled over to the side. "Geez, lookit all these people. This thing's really gotten out of hand."
"That's funny," Criss said, looking around the makeshift campsite, "I don't remember it being this crowded when I was here last time."
JD killed the engine and charged out of the Rover. "C'mon, let's look for Mom. She's gotta be here somewhere."
"She's by the tree out front," Criss told him.
Costa gathered the blanket and followed his brothers to the tree. Criss was even more surprised when he saw the tent pitched around the trunk, with a faint glow coming from inside. He could hear his mother's voice through the vinyl flap, calm and casual, but who was she talking to, he wondered.
In the dim glow of the heater, the Loyals sat attentively to listen to Dimitra as she spoke to them, telling them stories from Criss's past and of her own without delving too deeply into her wartime childhood years that were too painful for her to remember.
"I had very little when I came to America with my family," she said, "but one thing we had was hope--hope for a better life. It was difficult adjusting to a whole new country, learning a whole new language, but we had hope, and we had each other. That is why our family is so close to each other: we needed each other to survive, to live. We depended on each other to see ourselves through the difficult times we faced living in Greece during the war and here in America. When things became too much to bear, my mother told me the story of the Miracle Tree."
"What's the Miracle Tree?" Kris Lee asked.
"Is that the one you wrote in your book?" asked the boy beside her. "The one about the king and the shepherd boy?"
"Yes, that's the one," Dimitra replied. "The shepherd boy longed for freedom from the Ottoman Turks who ruled over Greece for four hundred years. The governor over the province stuck his staff in the ground and said 'If that staff grows into a tree, then your land and people shall be free!'. And the next day, the wooden staff grew branches and leaves, giving hope to the people of Greece. Finally, the Ottomans were overthrown. So, whenever things seem hopeless, remember, there is hope. You just have to believe."
"We believe, Dimitra!" shouted the Loyals. "We believe!"
"Good," she said. "Now, it's getting late, so we'd all better turn in for the night."
"Good idea," came a gruff voice from the tent's opening.
The Loyals turned as one to see who had spoken and were astonished to see JD himself standing there. "How about you coming home instead of sitting here freezing to death?" he demanded as he picked his way through the crowded tent to reach his mother.
"First of all, I am not freezing to death," Dimitra informed him, "and second of all, I am not leaving this place until I they call off the demolition."
"You're not really going to sit in that chair, chained to a tree all night, are you?"
"Yes, JD, I am, and there is nothing you can do about it."
"Looks like your ma's made up her mind," the boy beside her piped up.
"You keep out of this!" JD snapped at him. He turned to his mother again. "Sorry, Mom, I know how much this church means to you, but you gotta come home with us. This is nuts, sitting here chained up like a dog to a tree. Now, c'mon, where's the key?"
"I am not moving, and that is final!" Dimitra insisted angrily. "Plead all you want, but my mind is made up!"
"Criss! Costa!" JD shouted. "Get over here!"
The two brothers made their way through the mass of adoring Loyals. Criss shook a few hands while insisitng that family came first for the moment, but Costa was more singleminded in his goal. He threw the blanket around his mother's shoulders to warm her.
"You don't have to stay here anymore, Mom," Criss said tenderly as he approached his mother. "The lawyers filed for an injunction against SilverStar and we got a class action suit against them. Once they serve it, they won't be able to do anything."
"How long will it take to serve it?" Dimitra asked.
"They said a week at most." Criss answered.
"Then I'll stay here until they serve it."
"Mom, please," Costa pleaded, "you've made your point, so let's all just go home, okay? We're worried about you being here out in the cold all night. You can't last a week like this! What if your heart starts giving you trouble again? Who's gonna help you?"
"My heart is fine," Dimitra told him firmly, "and I am not going to freeze to death. I have my new friends here, and I have the Church to support me. Now, stop worrying and go home. I'll be fine."
Criss looked sadly at his mother. "You sure you won't change your mind?"
"I am sure," Dimitra said. She waved them away. "Now, go! I'll see you in the morning."
Kris Lee looked up at Criss. "We'll take care of her, Criss, don't worry," she assured him. "If anything goes wrong, we'll call you."
Criss fished out his billfold and drew out a twenty. "Here," he said, "make sure she gets a hot meal tonight and breakfast tomorrow. Can I trust you to do that?"
"I swear to God I will," Kris Lee said confidently. "We'll all take good care of Mama D."
"Thank you." Criss hugged his mother as if for the last time. "Take care, Mama," he said, his voice breaking with emotion. "I love you."
"I love you, too, Christopher," Dimitra replied.
"I love you more," Criss choked as he kissed her on the cheek, then sadly, reluctantly turned away. The Loyals stood up as one and surrounded him and his brothers with hugs, kisses and promises to take care of his mother. Their reassurances were comforting but unsuccessful in restoring Criss's confidence concerning his mother's welfare. JD tried once again to talk her into coming home with him, but he, too, was forced to admit defeat. Frustrated, he left with his brothers, leaving his mother at her post.
"God, I hope she makes it through the night," Costa sighed. "I've never seen Mom so stubborn about anything."
"Criss," JD said, "you call those lawyers and tell them to get that injunction served yesterday! Understand?"
"They just filed it this afternoon," Criss told him.
"I don't give a damn when they filed it!" JD snapped. "Tell them to serve it ASAP so Mom will give up this crazy protest and come home!"
"A lot you know about the legal system," Criss mumbled.
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