01-21-2013, 09:19 PM
7:00 am to 8:00 am:
The coffeemaker on the kitchen counter sputtered to life at exactly seven AM. Water in the resevoir flowed through the tubing, around the heating coils, over the coffee grounds and through the paper filter, exiting into the glass coffeepot below as fresh-brewed java. The strong scent wafted into the bedroom where Lyn Sheppard slept. There had been no need to set the alarm; the smell of coffee alone was enough to get her out of bed. Her eyes flew open as her nose caught the first whiff of it, and she flung away the covers with a single sweep of her arm. She rose, pulled on her robe and made a beeline for the kitchen and the rejuvinating black beverage she thrived on. Lyn couldn't imagine starting her day without at least one cup of coffee; before she did anything else, even before showering and dressing, she had to have her morning coffee or she couldn't function like a normal human being.
Grabbing a novelty coffee mug from the cupboard (a Christmas gift from Stacy, featuring a cartoon duck in hair rollers and chenille robe with the caption I Don't Do Mornings) and poured a quarter of the coffeepot into it. Morning coffee was the best in her opinion: it was hot, it was fresh, and it gave her the biggest rush of all. Lyn savored the warmth flowing down her esophagus and into her stomach. A few more sips, and she was ready to face whatever the world would throw at her.
She checked the time. Seven-oh-five. She had to be at rehersal at eight. She headed for the bathroom, sipping her coffee along the way, stripped, showered, toweled off, and blow-dried her hair. Another swig from the mug as she dressed in jeans and tank top (her dance clothes were at the theater in a locker), pulled on her Nikes, then, after another swallow of coffee, tended to the needs of her three cats, Sable, Ebony and Yin-Yang. She looked at the clock on the stove. Seven-twenty-seven. She drained the last of her coffee and set the mug in the sink. She looked at the remaining contents of the pot. She had to get to rehersal, but she hated to see good coffee go to waste. Suddenly a thought struck her. Lyn began searching frantically through the cupboards until she found what she was looking for: a large metal Thermos she used for outings and picnics. She emptied the pot into it, screwed the lid on tightly, and carried it with her out the door. She was ready to face the day.
"You sure about this?" Luke Macaffey, chief of security at the Luxor asked Mr. Guiffira as he stood in the manager's office.
"I am positive," Mr. Guiffria confirmed. "Every dollar in that safe was counted and recorded at the usual time. If there was a withdrawl of any kind, it would have been recorded on the accounting sheet."
Macaffey turned to Katie Lazlo. "Did you check the sheet he's talking about before reporting it?"
"I did," Katie nodded. "When Elaine made the evening deposit in the safe, it was full. Nothing had been removed according to the sheet. When I made the night deposit an hour ago, the safe was completely empty."
"Elaine Wozniak works the swing shift in the cashier's office. She's off duty now." A sudden feeling of dread came over Katie. "You don't mean to say that--"
"We're not pointing any fingers at anyone, ma'am," Macaffey said. "We just want to confirm your part of the story. I'm sure she's innocent. If there was a theft, we'd have it on tape. We'll get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, keep a lid on this for now, and let the pros handle this."
Macaffey strode out of the accounting office. Katie turned to Mr. Guiffria. "What are we going to do?" she wailed. "How are we going to explain this to Mr. Rappaport?"
"Now, now, Katie, don't despair," Mr. Guiffria tried to calm her. "I'll deal with Mr. Rappaport. You just go back to your window and do your job. If it was only a few hours ago, the thief couldn't have gone too far, and the cameras probably caught him in the act. Everything's going to be all right, Katie. They'll have that money back in no time at all."
Macaffey dismissed Katie and Mr. Guiffira with a nod and a wave. They left the office still murmuring to each other over the crime and how it occured. Macaffey wondered as well: How the hell did it happen? How in God's name did the safe get robbed right under their very noses? There was a camera trained right on the safe itself; someone must have seen something going on. Either someone was asleep at the switch, or the robber was one clever (bleeper) to evade the cameras. If it was the former, it was going to be that person's job; if it was the latter, it would be that person's nuts on a platter. Either way, someone was in deep (bleep).
Macaffey headed for the video surveillance room. Dispensing with pleasantries, he demanded to know what camera covered the safe in the accounting office. Twenty-Seven, they answered.
"I want the tape from last night from that camera," he ordered. "We had a robbery."
The tape was fetched from the bin, it not having been shelved yet. Macaffey took the cassette and shoved it into the VCR. He fast forwarded it to save time, stopping only when there were signs of life. Seven PM, employee deposit, safe full. Fast forward to ten PM, employee deposit, safe full. It was around midnight that something happened; the screen showed nothing but static for about two minutes, then returned to normal. Nothing was out of the ordinary in the office, in the vault, or anything. No sign of anyone having been there.
"Anyone from the last shift still around?" Macaffey called out.
Jerry Rand stepped forward. "Yeah, what do you need?"
"I need you to explain this." Macaffey pointed out the two minute blank on the tape. "You know anything about this?"
Rand shook his head. "No, but I can check the report."
"Do that," Macaffey ordered.
Rand went to fetch last night's reports. He flipped the pages, searching for any mention of a camera malfunction. "Let's see," he mumbled under his breath. "Yeah, here we are. Approximatly twelve-fifteen AM, Camera Twenty-Seven experienced malfunction, causing loss of visual. Electician called in to repair problem. Twelve-seventeen AM, visual was restored. Electrician reported no problem with wiring."
Macaffey analyzed this in his mind. If it wasn't a mechanical problem, he thought, then it had to be tampering. He had no idea what the vault layout looked like; he had never set foot in there in all the time he had been working here at the Luxor, so he had no clue as to how the camera had been tampered with. Well, maybe the CSI guys could figure it out.
"Leave that tape here," he told Rand. "We're gonna need it later."
His workout finished, Criss went back to his suite to prepare for the day ahead: a morning of Believe rehersal and an afternoon of taping MindFreak. But first, breakfast. He saw the gleaming chrome cart standing alone in his suite, crowned with covered dishes hiding his breakfast. Hammie stood on the arm of the sofa, staring longingly at them; he knew instinctivly that the big metal domes contained food, and he was hungry.
Criss couldn't help but laugh. "You think that's for you, don't you, Hammie?" he crooned affectionatly, stroking the cat's neck. "You think that's all for you, don't you? You're a spoiled little kitty, you know that?"
He nudged Hammie aside and sat down on the sofa to eat. Undeterred, Hammie leapt up back on the arm, stretching his sleek body towards the bounty on the cart. Criss laughed again, chagrined. "Hammie! This is my breakfast, okay? Now get down from there."
Again, Hammie was pushed off the sofa. In a change of tactics, Hammie leapt up on the other side of the sofa and padded to Criss' side, purring and making his most pitiful face to win sympathy and get a bite from the cart.
Criss sighed in defeat. "Okay, you win," he said. "Here." He pulled off a bit of egg and held it in front of the cat's face. Hammie sniffed it and snapped it up quickly, licking his chops.
"Now that's all you're gonna get, okay?" Criss told the cat. "I gotta eat too, you know."
Hammie watched sourly as Criss ate his breakfast, or, rather, his breakfast as far as his feline reasoning was concerned. Every morning the Food Person bought the big, beautiful cart full of delicious food for him, but Criss was the one who ate it all. It just wasn't fair!
Criss finished eating and headed back into the bedroom to get ready for work. Rehersal started at eight, and today he would be working on the levitation/aerial act, possibly the most dangerous part of the show. It worked well on paper and on the computer simulation, but in real life, anything could go wrong, even with every safety precaution in place. He knew from hard experience that no matter how careful you were, accidents can, do and will happen. He breathed a prayer for protection as he donned his trademark bling. Good to go, he turned to leave, but as he did so his eyes fell upon the bed. It triggered the memory of last night when he came home from Body English, when his mother told him about Athene Christopolous being caught in that very same bed. The image on the videotape of her being chased off by his mother like that made him smile a little. Still, he found it offensive that his privacy had been invaded like that. Athene deserved what she got, he said to himself. I just hope they change the sheets.
"Morning, hon," JD Sarantakos greeted his wife, Lynn, in the kitchen of their Las Vegas home, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her on the neck.
"Morning," she cooed. She leaned back and planted a big wet one on her husband's lips.
JD released Lynn long enough to get some coffee and breakfast. "What are your plans for today?" he asked.
"Your mother wants to spend some quality time with Dima and me today," she replied. "Thought we'd do a little shopping, maybe go out to lunch."
"Oh, that's right," JD said, suddenly remembering. Living almost a continent away, Dimitra didn't get to see her only granddaughter very often. When she wasn't tying herself up in knots over his famous brother's death-defying demonstrations, or being fawned over by his fans who practically adopted her as their own mother, she spent as much time as she could with Little Dimitra, or Dima as she was commonly known. The Sarantakos clan were as tightly knit as they came, bound by old-world ties and values, as was the case with many immigrant families coming to America. No matter how far they were apart, they were always together in heart and spirit.
Their daughter, Dimitra, came into the kitchen. "Morning, Mom," she said, "Morning, Dad. What's for breakfast?"
"The usual," her mother, Lynn, replied. "Your Grandma Dimitra is in town, you know. She wants to see you again."
"When are we going to see her?"
"This afternoon. In the meantime, you need to clean your room and help out around the house."
Dima pouted. Like other teens, she hated housework, especially cleaning her room. Why did Mom have to clean the house so much, anyway? It looked fine to her. Mom could be so OCD about these things, she thought.
Her father sensed her discontent and gave her a warning nudge. "Hey, you heard your mother, okay?"
Dima nodded grudgingly, once again submitting to parental authority. JD rose from the table. "Call if you're going to be late," Lynn told him.
"Sure." He gave Lynn a peck on the cheek, then gave one to his daughter. "Later," he said, walking out the door.
Steve entered the hotel through the service entrance. He went to the repair shop and clocked in, then went into the casino through the back way. He found the manager waiting for him.
"Hey, Phil," Steve said, "What's the problem here?"
"Some idiot tried to trigger the coin release in one of the slots with a wire and screwed up the whole works," Phil answered. "Number fourteen."
Okay, Steve thought. It's a routine job. No big deal. You've handled worse than this. Get it fixed, get your money, and get out of here. Just play it cool, don't arouse suspicions. He picked up his toolkit and walked over to slot machine number fourteen, standing lifeless among its flashy companions like a corpse at a funeral. He took out the master key and opened it wide, exposing the inner workings of the machine. With a tiny pinlight he examined the coin hopper, the release mechanism, the funnel leading to the tray, and all the wires connected to them. Modern slot machines were designed to shut down automaically if anyone tampered with them in any way, while at the same time sending an alarm to security, resulting in an instant arrest. Yet no matter how sophisticated these machines were made, someone always tried to beat the system for an instant win. It kept security personnel hopping and Steve himself fully employed.
There, those two wires on the release mechanism--they had been disconnected somehow, probably by a hook or a coat hangar, the usual weapons of choice. Steve unscrewed the the connecting screws, reattached the wires, then rescrewed them into place. He reset the control panel of the machine and closed the whole thing up again. Once the front was locked into place again the machine came back to life, rebooting its circuits to normal mode. Steve sighed with satisfaction. Another job well done, and he hoped it would be the last.
He left the casino floor and went back into the shop. He wanted out so bad he was going nuts about it. But just as he thought that freedom was in his grasp, he looked on the board and saw two more jobs on the to-do list. Steve groaned inwardly, but if he ran off now, they'd be suspicious. Best to get these over with as fast as possible. Then he was going to take a very long lunch break, never to return. Who knew? Maybe he'd find the money from the safe somewhere along the way.
Inside the MindFreak production office, two assistants sat next to each other at their PC terminals. It was early yet, time enough to check out the latest celebrity gossip on the Web. Jennifer looked at Ashley's monitor with contempt.
"Celebnooz?" she sniffed. "I hate that site! Everyone knows that it's all trashy lies."
"Yeah, I know," Amber concurred. "But Criss is on it."
Her interest piqued, Jennifer leaned over for a better look.
CRISS ANGEL USES AND ABUSES HEIRESS!!
Omicron heiress Athene Christopolous was physically abused by famed illusionist Criss Angel in his luxury suite at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. She had been invited by the magician to spend the night with him, but she later claimed that he became violent after drinking heavily and struck her several times after she refused his advances. He allegedly tore off her clothes and tried to sexually assault her, causing her to flee from the suite. No charges have been pressed at this time.
"That is (bleepbleep)!" Jennifer exclaimed. "Criss would never do such a thing! That (bleep) is lying!"
"Should we tell him?" Ashley asked with a hint of fear in her voice.
"No," Jennifer said. "I wouldn't bother him with it. Like I said, Celebnooz is a lot of (bleeepbleep). No one is going to believe it. If we make it public; it'll just spread the lies more. Best to let it die. Ignore it, and it'll go away. There's no proof, anyway."
"Yeah, maybe you're right." Ashley closed the Celebnooz window and went on E!.com. They were a more reliable source. If there was any truth to the whole Athene business, they'd have it for sure.