|Loyal Written Art For all Criss Angel or non-Criss Angel related written artwork.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-08-2012, 10:25 PM
Compared to the chaos from the media and the Loyals, the courtroom itself seemed eerily quiet. The twelve members of the jury sat in the jury box, actually a raised platform with twelve padded leather chairs and a wooden rail in front of it. A court reporter sat on her stool, preparing the dictation machine to transcribe the testamony of the witnesses and the defendant. Casey Worth sat somewhere in the middle of the courtroom, fidgeting nervously. The Roses sat on the opposite side, Nancy keeping her daughter as far away from Criss Angel as possible, though not far enough for Alicia to cast longing glances upon her beloved idol. Detective Meridian was front and center. Criss and Springs sat together close to the witness stand, conversing in low tones.
"So, how's your mother doin'?" Springs asked.
"She's good," Criss replied. "I'm still (bleeped) off about that Celebnooz article, though."
"Because of what they wrote, or who they wrote about?"
"Both," Criss spat.
"You still don't like your ma goin' out with a mobster?" Springs asked.
"It's not that at all," Criss protested. "It's how they blew it all out of proportion. They practically made Mom and you look like Bonnie and Clyde! I swear I'm gonna sue those (bleepers)! That guy had no right to take your photo like that! It's libel, that's what it is! Celebnooz is nothing but a filthy gossip rag spreading around lies and rumors and passing it off as news! You know they are, Springs! They slandered you almost as much as they did my mother."
"Look, we'll settle their hash later," Springs muttered. "It's time."
The side door of the courtroom opened. Two uniformed guards entered, escorting a haggard woman in prison orange and shackles on her wrists bound to a heavy leather belt. She was guided to the defendant's chair in the front of the courtroom where her attorney waited for her. The members of the jury saw her only as the one whose fate was in their hands, and nothing more.
Springs was stunned at the sight of the wretched woman in garish orange--this was not the Pamela Piccucci he remembered from the photographs of the family outings from the past. Gone were the designer clothes, the carefully coiffed hair, the cosmetics concealing the flaws of advancing age. Casey was a bit surprised as well; she remembered Mrs. Piccucci as a rather nice lady who had offered her a bouns for caring for her father-in-law. How she had changed! Then the memory of the hostage crisis in the service corridor came rushing back to her. Still, she could not help feeling a bit of pity for her, looking the way she did now. Is that what jail does to a person? she wondered.
Everyone present stood up as the Honorable Judge Hendershot ascended to the bench. He commanded them to be seated, then sat down himself. "The case of The State of Nevada v. Pamela Piccucci," he intoned. "Will the defendant please rise?"
Pamela struggled to her feet, hampered by her shackles. "Mrs. Piccucci, you are accused of two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of felony assault with a deadly weapon, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of causing a false alarm in a public place, and one count of violation of bond. How do you plead?"
"Not guilty," Pamela replied drily.
"You may be seated."
Pamela lowered herself down into her chair. "The prosecution will now give their opening statement," the judge commanded.
The prosecution was all to willing to give their opening statement. Pamela Piccucci had murdered her husband by blowing him up in his car, strangled her mother-in-law in a restroom, then took an innocent girl who had witnessed the crime hostage. Before that, she had planted a phony bomb in a cleaning cart of the woman, Casey Worth, who had been Mick Piccucci's sole heir to his estate, as a threat to give up the inheritance, causing havoc and chaos in the hotel where she had been employed as a housekeeper. Video surveillance showed Mrs. Piccucci carrying the "bomb" in a Gucci shopping bag, and she had all but confessed to her crimes when she held the witness and three other people hostage. Only the intervention of the police and the quick thinking of one Christopher Sarantakos, aka Criss Angel, prevented any more bloodshed.
Alicia gazed adoringly at Criss when the counsel made that last statement. Her mother, however, remained unmoved. The counsel went on recommending the defendant be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that meant the death penalty.
"She's gettin' the chair for sure," Springs whispered to Criss.
"Uh, I think it's lethal injection here," Criss reminded him.
"Whatever," Springs said, shrugging.
The prosecution ended their statement. Now, it was the defense's turn. Pamela's attorney made a heroic effort to refute the charges made against his client. How could a woman who had no knowledge of explosives blow up a car? How could she deliver a bomb, even a phony one, when she had been at the day spa all day? His client was a victim of circumstance, and nothing more, he insisted. To execute her would be to murder an innocent woman.
"Innocent, hell," Springs muttered under his breath. "I'll prove her innocent, all right."
The defense concluded their statement. "The court calls Pamela Piccucci to the stand."
Pamela stood up and shuffled to the witness stand. "Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" the bailiff intoned.
"I do," Pamela replied.
Springs sniffed. "Yeah, like hell she will."
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-09-2012, 03:35 PM
"Now, Mrs. Piccucci," the defense attorney said, "can you tell the court where you were on the day your husband was killed in his car?"
"I was at the day spa," Pamela replied. "I was there all day. You can check if you want."
"And on the day your mother-in-law, Tina LaRue, was strangled in the ladies room in the Luxor Hotel?"
"First of all, Tina was not my mother-in-law," Pamela testily replied. "She divorced Mick years ago. And I was out shopping that day, then I got my hair done at Etenne's."
"And on the day of the bomb threat?"
"When was that again?"
"March of last year."
"Oh, I don't know, I can't remember. We were so caught up in the aftermath of Mick's death and the reading of the will, that much I remember, I don't know what else I did, or at least any thing out of the ordinary, aside from the funeral and the will and all."
"But you were nowhere near the Luxor Hotel."
"I've never been there at all."
"Do you know Casey Worth?"
"Of course. She was Mick's nurse."
"And you knew that Mick left his entire estate to her in his will?"
"I was at the reading of the will, Counselor," Pamela retorted. "I know what was in it."
"Were you aware of any threats made against Ms. Worth?"
"If there were threats made against Casey, they undoubtedly came from Tina. She was always a greedy b--....witch."
"Do you have any idea who killed your husband?"
"It had to be Tina. Who else could it have been?"
It coulda been you, Springs thought bitterly. You wanted that dough as much as Tina did, you mad-dog (bleep).
"Then who killed Tina, in your opinion?"
"I have no idea. It certainly wasn't me."
There were more questions about Pamela's whereabouts during the murders, then the prosecution took over. The counsel did not question her directly, but bought the court's attention to the videotapes of Pamela smuggling in the phony bomb in the Gucci shopping bag, then the standoff in the service corridor. In the first, Pamela's face was concealed, barely recognizable from the grainy images on the surveillance tape. The second, however, showed Pamela more clearly, leveling the pistol in front of Casey, Criss and Springs. Criss was shown pulling the frightened Alicia behind him, shielding her from certain death with his own body.
"You see, Mom," Alicia whispered. "He really was a hero."
Nancy shushed her daughter and turned her attention back to the proceedings. The prosecution showed the pistol, labeled Exhibit B, the phony bomb contraption, labeled Exhibit A, the blue scarf used to strangle Tina LaRue, labeled Exhibit C, and the threatening letters, labeled Exhibit D. They all had her fingerprints on them, he said, and with video surveillance, it clearly showed she was responsible for at least on of the murders, the threats against Casey, and the assault with a deadly weapon charge.
Pamela said nothing. She was dismissed from the stand. "The court calls Alicia Rose to the stand."
Fear shot through Alicia's bony frame. Instinctively, she turned to her mother for assurance. For the first time since the Roses arrived in Las Vegas, Nancy reached out to her daughter tenderly. "It's okay, honey," she whispered. "Just go up there and tell the truth."
Alica stood on shaking legs and stepped up to the stand. Her nervously wandering eye fell upon Criss Angel, but not even his presence could calm her pounding heart in the face of the ordeal awaiting her. The bailiff's administration of the oath echoed distantly in her ears--all she could do was nod. "You have to speak up," the bailiff reminded her.
She choked out a feeble "yes", barely audible to the court reporter who recorded it anyway. Then she collapsed onto the seat in the witness stand, unable to stay on her feet any longer.
"How old are you, Alicia?" the prosecution asked.
"Thirteen," she squeaked.
"Could you repeat that louder, please?"
Alicia drew a deep breath. "Thirteen," she said into the microphone more clearly.
"Can you tell the court what you saw on the day of March**, 20**?"
Alicia swallowed hard, unable to speak at first. Again, she glanced at Criss, who gave her a reassuring nod and a thumbs up. That simple gesture gave her the courage she needed to speak. "I was in the restroom in the Luxor Hotel," she began. "I was there to attend Loyalapalooza, and I had to go to the bathroom, so I went into the restroom. I was in the stall when I saw this pair of legs wearing those kind of stockings with the seams running up the back, real shiny, like silk, and high heels. Then I saw the legs shuffle about, like they were falling, then I peeked out, and saw a hotel maid strangling the lady with the stockings and the high heels. I didn't know who she was at the time, but I saw her get killed."
"How did the hotel maid strangle the 'lady with the stockings and high heels'?"
"With a blue scarf," Alicia replied. "A dressy scarf, not the kind you wear in the winter."
The prosecution held up Exhibit C. "Was this the scarf used in the murder?"
"That's the one."
"Now, could you tell the court what happened in the service corridor?"
"Well..." Alicia blushed. "I was in the security office, and I was getting hungry from all the waiting, so I decided to slip out and get something to eat--I was going to come right back, really I was! But, anyway, she caught me, and put a gun to my head, and dragged me off." She sniffled a little. "I was so scared."
"Who caught you?"
"That woman dressed as a hotel maid who killed the other lady."
"Then what happened?"
"Well, she was dragging me along, when she stopped. She saw Mr. Springs, though I didn't know who he was at the time."
"Who's Mr. Springs?"
"He's over there, sitting next to Criss."
Springs waved casually. Alicia continued her testamony. "Anyway, she threatened him with the gun, then Criss and Casey came in, and the lady threw me into Criss' arms. Criss held me behind him, saying she'd have to get through him first. He protected me, Mr. Lawyer, really he did!"
"I'm sure he did. Now, do you remember what happened next?"
"Well, I heard Casey identify her as Mrs. Piccucci, and I thought it wierd she knew her. Then she went on about how her husband being dead, and how killing Tina was justifiable homicide. Then Detective Meridian showed up and ordered her to freeze, then Criss tackled her. Criss is a hero, Mr. Lawyer. He saved me, and Casey and Mr. Springs. Of course, Detective Meridian was a big help, too," she amended.
Thanks a lot, kid. Meridian thought.
"Is the person who murdered the woman and held you hostage in the restroom here in this courtroom right now?" the prosecutor asked.
"Yes," Alicia said. "She's sitting over there, in the orange jumpsuit."
Pamela glared at Alicia, but the latter took no notice. The counsel for the defense cross-examined Alicia, trying to discredit her testamony on the grounds that she had been a runaway, but was overruled by the court. Alicia stuck to the truth, stealing glances of Criss' face for encouragement: yes, she had been a runaway, and yes, she had lied to come to Vegas, but she only wanted to see Criss Angel. She hadn't planned on witnessing a murder--that was something else altogether. The judge agreed with her and insisted that Pamela was on trial, not Alicia.
Alicia was dismissed from the stand. The poor girl practically bolted away from the stand. Criss stood up as she stepped through the gate separating the bench from the viewing area. Impulsively, she and Criss embraced, to the horror of her mother sitting on the other side. "Oh, God, I was so scared," she whimpered.
"It's okay, Alicia," Criss whispered. "You did just fine."
Alicia and Criss untangled themselves and resumed their seats in the viewing area, Criss next to Springs, Alicia next to her chagrined mother. Alicia could not help but feel a bit triumphant over her hugging Criss like that. Score one for the home team! she thought, gloating.
"The court summons Casey Worth to the stand."
Casey rose and walked up to the witness stand. She took the oath and sat down. "Now, Ms. Worth," said the counsel for the prosecution, "you were the only one who inherited the estate of one Michael Piccucci, Sr., is that correct?"
"Yes, sir, it said so in the will, and let me tell you I wasn't happy about it."
"No? Why not?"
"Because it bought me all kinds of misery," Casey replied. "I got a death threat in the form of two letters and a fake bomb, then I was nearly shot in the hallway of the hotel where I used to work, then I was sued by my own father for money I didn't have--it's been a nightmare! We were going to settle it in probate court, but Mrs. Piccucci tried to kill me for it. Everything Alicia said was true about what happened in the hallway that day. And that fake bomb scared everyone out of the hotel."
"Can you tell us what happened on that day, Ms. Worth?"
Casey related the story of the phony bomb found in her housekeeper's cart when she was in Criss' suite. He had found it first, she said, and they called the authorities. The bomb squad had been summoned, the hotel evacuated, and she and Criss had hidden themselves behind a trash dumpster. It had turned out to be a fake, but she had lost her job because the president of the hotel had deemed her a security risk. That was when she went to work for Mr. Springer "over there", she pointed out.
"And what about the day of Tina LaRue's murder?"
She had escorted Mr. Springer to the Luxor for an afternoon of gaming while she went to pick up her paycheck, she said. The hotel suddenly went into "some sort of lockdown" because there was a murder. Mr. Springer went in to identify the body, which he had confirmed was Tina LaRue. He'd been ordered to stay outside per Detective Meridian's orders, but being the garrulous old man he was, shuffled in for a drink. She had begged Criss to help her find him, only to end up in a hostage situation in the service corridor. Casey identified the gunwoman as Mrs. Piccucci, and had listened in horror of how she had killed not only Tina LaRue ("justifiable homicide" the way she had put it), but also her husband, Michael, Jr. Detective Meridian showed up, Criss had tackled Mrs. Piccucci, and that was the end of that.
"Are you sure it was Mrs. Piccucci who did all that?"
"Yes, sir, it was. She practically confessed everything in that hallway."
Again the cross-examination from the defense, and again no refutation or changes in testamony. Casey was dismissed from the stand. She flashed a smile at Springs, then at Criss, as she made her way back to her seat.
"The court summons Christopher Sarantakos to the stand."
Meridian was confused. Who the hell is that? he wondered, until he saw Criss walk up to the stand. Oh, him? Oh, yeah, I get it now--Criss Angel must be his stage name. With a handle like that, it's no wonder he shortened it!
The bailiff administered the oath."Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"
"I do," Criss replied seriously.
"You may be seated."
Criss sat down. "Would you tell the court what happened on the day of the bomb scare in the Luxor?" the attorney asked.
"I was in my suite, getting ready to go to the gym, when Casey showed up to clean the suite. She wheeled in the cart, and I saw something gowing behind the vacuum cleaner. It looked like a bomb, so Casey and I got the hell out of there."
"Did you think Casey put the bomb in the cart?"
"She swore up and down she didn't," Criss replied. "And anyway, she was as scared as I was. She even reminded me to get my cat, Hammie. I can tell you, she's not the type to kill anyone. Later, we found out that 'bomb' was a threat--directed at her, not me."
"And what about the incident in the corridor?"
"I was just a bystander, that's all. I wanted to get back to work, but Casey was worried about Springs and wanted me to help look for him. Geez, all she had to do was look in the hotel lounge. But anyway, we got waylaid by Pamela there, holding a gun to our faces. She had Alicia in a sort of hammerlock with the gun to her head. She threw Alicia towards us, and I pulled her back behind me to protect her. Then Pamela went on about having killed her husband by blowing him up in his car, then practically confessed to killing Tina LaRue, saying it was justifiable homicide."
"Then what happened?"
"Detective Meridian came in and ordered her to freeze. She dropped her guard for a moment. I took advantage of that moment and tackled her, and Meridian came over and cuffed her. He's the real hero, here--I just helped."
Thanks, Angel, Meridian thought. I appreciate that.
The cross-examination did nothing to change Criss' testamony; he stuck to his guns, so to speak, fending off the defense's interrogation like so many karate kicks. Finally, he was dismissed from the stand.
"This court is recessed for one hour," Judge Hendershot said with a bang of his gavel.
The weary jury stood, stretching their aching limbs. Springs struggled to his feet, then regained his jovial composure. "Anyone care to join me for lunch?" he announced to the assembled company in the viewing area, clapping his hands together. "I'm starved!"
"If you're paying," Criss replied.
"Course I'm payin'. Cassie?"
"It's Casey, Mr. Springer."
"And yes, I'd like that."
Springs turned to Heather, Andrew and Matt Piccucci. "Kids?"
"That'd be nice," Heather said in her usual timid way. "Thank you, sir." The boys nodded in agreement.
"How about you, gumshoe?" Springs said jovially. "You're the one who cracked this case."
Meridian laughed a little. It wasn't every day he got invited to lunch by a former mobster. Besides, he was somewhat interested in Springs' book due to come out soon. "Ah, what the hell?" he said, shrugging.
Springs turned to Alicia. "How about you, little girl?"
Alicia was about to enthusiastically agree, but her mother interrupted. "I'm afraid we'll have to pass, sir," Nancy said quickly.
"Why? What'sa matter? Something I said?"
"It's not you, Mr. Springer," Nancy said, "it's just that..."
"It's just that she doesn't trust me around her daughter," Criss spoke up. "She thinks I'm a bad influence or something."
Springs snorted and jerked his thumb toward Criss. "Him?" he laughed. "Hell, he's practically a Boy Scout. In fact, I know his mother--sweetest lady you ever met. You ain't got nothin' to worry about. Now, c'mon, lunch is on me!"
"Mom," Alicia hissed, "this man is a former mobster. I think we'd better take him up on his offer, don't you think?"
Nancy thought it over. "C'mon, Mrs Rose," Meridian said, smiling. "I'll make sure Criss behaves himself. He does anything funny, I'll put the cuffs on him."
"Sure, and watch me get out of them," Criss retorted half-jokingly.
Nancy ignored the jibe and nodded her reluctant assent, and all went down to the small cafe down in the lower level of the courthouse. "I'm warning you, mister," she hissed at Criss. "You stay away from my Alicia, understand?"
"I told you, I'm not a pervert, Mrs. Rose," Criss insisted. "I thought we made that clear already. What do I have to do to prove my good intentions, huh?"
"I'd prefer you disappear entirely," Nancy replied. "But all the same, I'll be watching you."
Good, Criss thought sarcastically. Maybe you'll learn some civility while you're at it!
Join Date: Aug 2011
02-09-2012, 08:17 PM
That lady is pain in an ass
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-09-2012, 09:52 PM
The ground level cafeteria was a rather dull place, a cinderblock cellar with a steam table serving hot meals, some vending machines for soda and snacks, and an antiquated drinking fountain in one corner. Small square tables were positioned diagonally in the dining area, if it could be called that. Still, this didn't faze Springs. "Hell, I used to eat at the Automat back in New York," he said.
"What's the Automat?" Alicia asked.
"Oh, well, back in the Thirties and Forties, it was this place with all these little cubbyholes with glass doors containing food. You'd dropped some coins in the slot and took out what you wanted from them," Springs explained. "You'd get a dinner, pie, coffee, things like that. Back then, fifty cents could get you a whole meal with dessert at the Automat."
"Wow!" Alicia exclaimed. "Things were sure cheap back then."
"Yeah, well, it was the Depression, y'know," Springs went on. "You were lucky if you made fifteen dollars a week. Hell, Henry Ford paid five dollars a day, and that was a damn good wage back then."
Alicia looked up at her mother, who nodded in agreement. "It's true, you know," she said sagely. "Times were hard, harder than they are now. Banks had failed, businesses closed, people got by the best they could--just like today."
"So when did it end?" Alicia asked.
"It took a world war to get us out of it," Springs replied. "The whole economy shifted into overdrive for the war effort. Good pay, but..."
"As much as I appreciate the history lesson, Springs," Meridian interrupted, "but we only got fifty-two minutes until court reconvenes, so let's get something to eat, shall we?"
The group picked up their trays and chose their meals from the steam table. One of the workers behind the counter recognized Criss and doubled over in ecstacy, then pulled herself together long enough to serve him the chicken dinner he ordered. Criss took his meal, autographed a paper napkin for the counter waitress, and moved on. Meridian looked annoyed but said nothing. He was impatient with celebrities as a rule, always hogging the spotlight and demanding preferential treatment, though Criss Angel proved to be more tolerable than most. He'd been on the force too long to get starry-eyed over anyone famous, no matter who they were. If they were law-abiding citizens, he ignored them altogether; if they broke the law, their asses were his.
Springs approached the cashier first. "Party of seven," he said, jerking his thumb behind him. "I'm paying."
The cashier nodded, surprised at this unusual request but rang up the orders nonetheless. Springs looked around the dining area, not liking the arrangement of the small tables.
"C'mon, Angel," he said to Criss. "Let's make things a bit more cozy, shall we?"
They pushed the wobbly square laminate tables together to form one long dining table, with Springs at the "head". Meridian had the dubious honor of sitting on his right, while Casey, ever the devoted caregiver, sat at his left. Alicia wanted to sit next to Criss, but her overprotective mother decided that she would be safer sandwiched between herself and Detective Meridian. To Alicia's delight (and her mother's consternation), Criss strategically placed himself right across from her, giving her a mischievious wink as he did so. The Piccucci children sat at the end, with Heather at the "foot'.
The meals were served in clear plastic and styrofoam containers from the counter to be eaten with plastic utensils, but Springs' convivial mood gave the informal cafeteria an atmosphere of a four-star bistro. The normally taciturn Meridian began to lighten up a little; Heather Piccucci, usually a shy, timid soul, flashed one of her rare smiles, and even giggled at one of Springs' antiquated expressions. Even the uptight Nancy Rose began to drop her guard through the magic of the former gangster's old-school charm and mannerisms.
"So, when's your book coming out?" Meridian asked. "I'd like to read it sometime."
"They said next year," Springs replied. "Hope I don't croak before then."
"Ah, c'mon, Springs!" Criss nudged him playfully. "You're a tough old bird! You've made it this far, you'll last a few years longer."
"Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it."
"Oh, now don't start that again!" Criss groaned.
"Start what again?" Nancy Rose asked.
"Well, when you're eighty-six, life kinda loses its glamour," Springs sighed ruefully. "Hell, I outlived just about everyone in Vegas, from Bugsey Siegel to Elvis Presley, if you can believe it. They're all just memories now, memories I put on paper while I still had my marbles long enough to remember them. That's why I wrote that book in the first place--so no one would forget, especially me."
"Don't you have any family, Mr. Springer?" Nancy asked.
Springs shook his head. "Nope, all dead and gone. Both my exes and my son, Bryan--gone, just like everyone else I knew."
"What happened to your son?"
"Got killed in 'Nam, back in sixty-eight. He was only twenty years old when he died."
Nancy became immediatly sympathetic. "Oh, I am so sorry, Mr. Springer."
"Yeah, well, sorry ain't gonna do nothin'," Springs grumbled. "I figure when my number comes up, we'll be together again in the Great Beyond, same with the exes. I just hope when I see Mick there, he'll have a brandy waiting for me, just for old times' sake."
"Mr. Springs?" Alicia piped up.
"Is it true that you and Criss' mother are, well...?"
Her mother tried to silence her. "Alicia!" she hissed.
"Nah, nah, let her ask," Springs said. "We gotta clear the air about this, anyway, right, Angel?"
Criss nodded. "You see, Springs and my mom became friends one day when she was waiting for me to take her out to lunch. We ended up becoming a threesome, then it went on from there. They're just friends, that's all, no romance, at least not at their ages." he smiled a little at that last quip. "We even had dinner at his house, me, Mom and my brothers, didn't we, Springs?"
Springs looked knowingly at Criss. "You know why I invited you and your family to dinner, don't you?"
Criss stared blankly at Springs. "Because you got a little overpossessive of your mother, there, for a while," Springs said. "You didn't trust me around her for some reason. In other words, you were acting like the little girl's mother over there when you got friendly with her daughter."
Criss held up his hands in concession. "Okay, okay, I admit I jumped to conclusions about you at first," he admitted, "and I'm sorry I doubted you. But you have to understand we're a close knit family, and after losing Dad to cancer like that, well, my brothers and I became Mom's 'protectors' in a sense. But I want Mom to be happy, and if you can make Mom happy, then I'm happy, too." He extended a hand to Springs. "Friends?"
Springs took Criss' hand. "Hell, I ain't one to hold a grudge."
"But what about all those magazine articles?" Alicia pressed.
"Don't believe everything you read, Alicia," Criss told her. "Especially Celebnooz, which is nothing but a load of BS. They blew the whole thing out of proportion, and I'm still very upset about it."
"You and me both," Springs chimed in. "Buncha muckrakers."
"Are you going to sue them?" Alicia asked almost eagerly.
"Well, like Springs said, we'll settle with them later," Criss replied. "Right now, we gotta get through this trial first."
"Hope it ends soon," Alicia sighed. "I mean, with your birthday coming up and all, it's kind of a downer to be stuck in a courtroom and all that."
Springs brightened. "Oh, you got a birthday comin' up, Angel?"
Criss shrugged modestly. "Well, yeah, it's actually on Saturday--"
"Well, hey!" Springs crowed. "We gotta do somthin' about it! How old are ya? Thirty? Thirty-five?"
"I'll be forty-two," Criss replied drily.
Springs was taken aback. So was everyone else (save for Alicia, who already knew just about everything concerning Criss Angel). "Forty-two?!" Springs exclaimed. "You gotta be kiddin' me! You don't look like no forty-two, not by a longshot!"
Criss smiled in embarrassment. "Hell, when I was forty-two, I didn't look nearly as good as you!" Springs said. "You could pass for thirty if you were a day! What's your secret? I know it's not keeping regular hours and eating sensibly."
Criss laughed. "Well, I do try to eat sensibly," he said. "But I guess I just got good genes. You know, my dad used to be a former Mr. Universe back in the Fifties."
"It's true!" Alicia spoke up. "I saw the photo in your book! He was really buff!"
Nancy became alarmed. "What book?" she demanded.
Once again, Alicia realized she had revealed too much. In a flash, she came up with an alibi. "I saw Criss' book in the library once," she fibbed casually. "I saw it there."
Nancy shot her daughter a disapproving look. "You should be careful what you read, young lady," she admonished. "You know I don't like you reading inappropriate material."
Alicia was relieved that her little white lie had covered her backside. Criss, however, was miffed. "Inappropriate?" he echoed incredulously. "What's 'inappropriate' about it?" he challenged. "There's nothing in my book that I would not let any member of my family, not even my niece who's a teenager herself, read in it. Lighten up, lady! I'm not evil!"
"He's right, you know," Springs agreed. "He's not a bad sort. He's a great magician, you know. Kind of a lousy dresser, but a great magician." He leaned closer to Mrs. Rose. "If he can find it in his heart to trust a guy who'd been in the rackets to be with his mother, I think you can find it in your heart to trust him with your daughter. I'm not sayin' you should let her date him, of course, but still..."
Nancy remained sullenly silent. Meridian looked at his watch. "Court's going to reconvene in ten minutes," he announced. "We'd better wrap this up."
Everyone picked up their plastic trays, disposed the containers in the trash, left the cafeteria, and headed for the elevator, leaving the cafeteria staff to put the tables back in order. Once back in the courtroom, the group took their seats. Alicia sat directly behind Criss. Her mother did not detour her away, but sat next to her. It wasn't a sign of complete trust, but for Alicia, it looked hopeful.
Join Date: Aug 2011
02-10-2012, 12:02 AM
I'm really starting to hate this woman
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-10-2012, 06:19 PM
"The court summons Detective James Meridian to the stand."
Meridian strode up to the witness stand with an ease born from years of experience. The oath was merely a formality to him, and he sat down as casually as if he was in his own home. He was not in the least intimidated when the attorney for the prosecution stepped up to examine him. He accepted lawyers as part of the American judicial system, but only as a necessary evil of sorts. Time and time again, Meridian had suspects in custody who "lawyered up" and refused to cooperate during investigations without their Miranda-guaranteed right to an attorney present during questioning. Lawyers did more to hamper investigations than reluctant witnesses or lack of evidence in his opinion. There was no love lost between the Nevada State Bar and the LVMPD.
"Detective Meridian," the prosecuting attorney said, "you were the chief investigating officer in the murders of Michael Piccucci, Jr., and Tina LaRue, is that correct?"
"That is correct."
"First, how did Michael Piccucci die?"
"He was blown up in his car, in his driveway," Meridian replied.
"How did the car blow up?"
"The lab results showed traces of gasoline in the cooling system. Gasoline had been poured into the radiator, and with a powerful Maserati engine, it heated quickly and caused it to explode."
"When did this happen?"
"Approximatly two in the afternoon, on March **, 20**."
"And where was Mrs. Piccucci during this time? Was she home when the explosion occurred?"
"No, she was out shopping. She didn't come home until four-thirty."
"And her sons, Andrew and Matt?"
"They were at school at the time."
"Did you uncover any evidence of who was responsible for the crime?"
"Yes. We found the gasoline can in the garage after the lab determined the real cause. We found fingerprints on the can itself."
Springs chuckled softly. Good work, gumshoe!he said to himself.
"Next, the murder of Tina LaRue," the attorney continued. "Did you uncover any evidence of who was responsible for that?"
"We had an eyewitness," Meridian replied. "Alicia Rose. The blue scarf used to strangle Tina had the initials PJP monogrammed upon it as well."
"Pamela Jean Piccucci."
Pamela grimaced but kept silent. Of all the scarves I could have used, she thought bitterly, I had to use one with my initials on it!
"Where was the body of Tina LaRue found?" the prosecutor asked.
"In a trash dumpster behind the Luxor Hotel."
"How did you know it was Tina LaRue?"
Meridian pointed to the viewing area. "Daniel Springer over there identified her."
Springs gave a modest little wave. "And so you have no doubt that Pamela Piccucci murdered Tina LaRue."
"None whatsoever," Meridian replied, "especially since she practically confessed everything while she was holding Casey, Criss Angel and Alicia hostage in the service corridor at gunpoint. The video surveillance tape showed everything--pity it didn't have audio."
"And what about the phony bomb threat?"
"Oh, that? Well, her prints were on that thing, too." Meridian gave a small chuckle. "Gotta admit, it had us fooled there for a second when the bomb squad hauled it out of there. Looked pretty realistic."
The prosecutor held up the fake bomb. "Is this the device found on the hotel cleaning cart?"
"That's the one."
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," the prosecutor said, bringing the phony bomb to the jury box. "This was the 'bomb' used to threaten Casey Worth into relinquishing her inheritance. Examine it closely, if you will. It consists of a few pieces of wire, some road flares and a digital alarm clock powered by a nine-volt battery. Perfectly harmless, but just realistic enough to create panic in a major hotel and to summon the Bomb Squad." He returned the bomb to the evidence table. "Detective Meridian, do you have any evidence proving who was responsible for the placement of this device?"
"We have some video surveillance of a woman dressed as a maid fitting Pamela's description carrying something into the housekeeping area," Meridian replied. "And we do have her fingerprints as well, both from the bomb and the letter with it."
"Are you sure it was Pamela Piccucci who was carrying the bomb?"
"We deduced it to be so."
"First of all, it's hotel policy for all employees to enter the hotel through the service entrance in the back of the hotel, using a keycard. She came in through the front, using the main entrance. Second, she was carrying it in a Gucci shopping bag. How many housekeepers do you know go shopping at Gucci? And third, the woman on the tape fit her description, as I said before. It took a while, but we found her eventually."
"So you have no doubt in your mind that Pamela Piccucci is responsible for the bomb scare incident at the Luxor?"
"No doubt about it."
"Can you tell the court about the moment you arrested Pamela Piccucci in the service corridor of the hotel?"
Meridian did so, leaving out no detail. Thanks to the "eye in the sky" security detail, he had discovered Pamela in the corridor, holding the three witnesses hostage. The minute he arrived at the scene, he ordered her to freeze. Then Criss Angel tackled her the second she dropped her guard, and Meridian put the cuffs on her. She was immediatly taken into custody."
"But she escaped, did she not?" the prosecutor asked.
"Yeah, the very day she got out on bail," Meridian answered gruffly. "She sold her car and headed for Honolulu, of all places."
"How did you find out she was in Honolulu?"
"Again, with the help of my friend, Springs, over there. He was surfing the Web, and came across her photo with that Canadian rich guy, what's-his-name. Anyway, she'd been shacking up with him for about six months or so. The process server discovered that she wasn't home by the pile of mail in the house, so he reported her missing. Springs called, tipping me off about her being in Hawai'i, I contacted the Honolulu Police Department, and they did the rest."
Thanks to Dog, no doubt, Criss thought. I tipped him off, too, you know.
The prosecution withdrew, satisfied with the examination. Now it was the defense's turn, but it proved to be almost futile to get the veteran detective to refute his testamony in the face of such overwhelming evidence. The weary attorney sighed in defeat. "No further questions, Your Honor," he said.
"Does the prosecution wish to call on any more witnesses?" the judge asked.
"No, Your Honor."
"Then the counsels will make their closing statements, and the jury will withdraw to determine the verdict."
The prosecution went first. He lambasted Pamela for her crimes, villifying her as a double murderer who would stop at nothing to gain her late father-in-law's wealth. She had threatened an innocent woman, causing mass hysteria in a major hotel in the bargain. She had no consideration for the welfare of her own children, preferring instead to be the mistress of a billionaire in Hawai'i. She had no conscience, he said. If anyone deserved the death penalty, it was Pamela Piccucci.
The defense went next. Pamela Piccucci did not deserve to die, he said. She was still the mother of two boys who did receive a portion of their grandfather's estate. Her ex-mother-in-law had blackmailed her, he reminded them, and her husband had cheated on her. The videotape of her allegedly delivering the bomb was too vague to prove her guilt, and anyone could have poured gasoline in the Maserati. All she was guilty of was wanting her father-in-law's money, just like Tina LaRue and her husband. It would be too much to plead for clemency, but at least mitigate the sentence to a term in prison, he pleaded.
Both sides rested. "You have heard the testamony of the defendant and the witnesses," Judge Hendershot told the jury, "and now it is up to you to render the verdict. Keep in mind that the vote must be unanimous. You will be permitted to view the evidence shown in court today in the jury room to help you decide. You are dismissed."
The jury rose and filed into the jury room. "This court is recessed until the jury is ready to deliver its verdict," the judge announced with a final bang of the gavel.
Everyone in the viewing area stretched their aching limbs, glad to be leaving the stifling courtroom again. "So what do we do now?" Alicia asked.
"I don't know about you," Criss replied, "but I got to go out and meet my public. They've been out there all day waiting for me, and I don't like to disappoint them." He gave Alicia a quick peck on the cheek. "Later," he said, and left the courtroom.
Alicia glowed. Her mother looked shocked and appalled over such an audacious act. Springs couldn't help but laugh at Nancy's distress. Meridian decided to go back to his office and do some paperwork until the jury reconvened. Outside, they could all hear the band of Loyals cheering wildly as their idol appeared on the courthouse steps.
"HEY EVERYBODY!" Criss shouted to the crowd outside the courthouse. "HOW YA DOIN'?"
The mob responded with a deafening collective scream. Criss joined in with a yell of his own, pumping his fists in the air like a champion boxer. Then he trotted down the concrete steps to meet and greet his public, shaking hands, signing autographs, accepting birthday cards and gifts (he handed them to one of the security guards escorting him to put aside for the meantime), posing for pictures, and generally enjoying himself. These were his people, and he wanted to be with them.
This impromptu Loyalfest did not go unnoticed by the media. Siezing the chance, they swarmed up to Criss, demanding updates on the trial, information regarding the relationship between his mother and the former mobster, Danny "Springs" Springer, and other statements they could relay to their editors. Criss walked a tightrope between fending off the press and controlling his fans, all the while answering questions as best he could under the circumstances.
"Criss, what's the scoop on the Piccucci trial?"
"The jury's out right now, deciding on the verdict," Criss replied.
"Do you think Pamela Piccucci will be found guilty?"
"Beyond doubt. There's too much evidence against her."
"Pamela was in hiding out in Hawai'i a few months back. You were friends with Dog the Bounty Hunter--did he have anything to do with her capture?"
"First of all, I'm still friends with Dog, and yes, he had everything to do with Pamela's capture, because I'm the one who called him on it."
"How did you find out before the police did that she was in Honolulu?"
"My buddy, Springs, told me back at the Luxor. He also informed Detective Meridian about it, too."
"How was Pamela in the courtroom? Was she defensive?"
"She looked like (bleep) in there." Criss clapped a hand across his mouth, embarrassed. "Oh, excuse me, are we live? I didn't mean to say that."
"We'll edit it out."
"Criss, do you think Pamela Piccucci will get the death penalty?"
"Like I said before, that's for the court to decide, not me."
"Tell me, are you for or against the death penalty?"
Criss hesitated for a moment. "That's a pretty sensitive subject there," he hedged. "But, personally, I'd rather Pamela should be allowed to live--but not for the reasons you think."
"What do you mean by that?"
"What I mean to say is Pamela should be given life in prison so she can spend every day thinking about what she did. Killing her isn't going to change anything--she'll die in there protesting her innocence, totally unremorseful over her crimes. If I had my way, I'd post the pictures of her husband and Tina LaRue in her prison cell, so she wouldn't be allowed to forget. And picutres of her two boys, too, just to remind her of how she ruined their lives by committing murder. But as I said before, that's for the court to decide."
"Criss, what about the rumors of your mother dating an ex-gangster?"
"What about them?"
"Well, are they true or not?"
"First of all, Mom's not 'dating' anyone," Criss said testily. "She and Springs are just friends, that's all. I mean, Mom's seventy-four and Springs is eighty-six, so what kind of 'dating' are you talking about?"
"Do you approve of this 'friendship' as you call it?"
"Look, my mom's old enough to decide who she wants to be friends with, okay?" he retorted. "Springs is a good guy, he's no longer with the mob or anything, and Mom likes to spend time with him. She doesn't need my approval, or anyone else's for that matter. She's a grown woman who knows what she wants, okay?" Criss's ire began to rise. "As for that article in Celebnooz," he went on, more agitated than ever, "All I can say is that they had no right to publish that photo of them when they were at dinner that night! It was total invasion of privacy! Celebnooz is nothing but a filthy gossip rag filled with a lot of BS! They can say what they want about me, but I'm going to tell them right now: leave my family alone!" He drew a deep breath to calm himself. "That's all I'm going to say on the subject," he said in a calmer tone.
"But what about--?"
But Criss was out of earshot. He had returned to the Loyal meet-and-greet with renewed gusto. Those closest to him during the press conference discreetly remained silent on the subject of his mother and Springs, concealing their nervousness with quivering smiles and trembling handshakes. The last thing they wanted to do was make their idol angry again.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-11-2012, 11:34 PM
Inside the courthouse, Alicia, her mother and Springs watched Criss work the crowd of fans and media through the window. Alicia yearned to be out there with them, but her mother insisted she remain indoors because it was safer. For once, Alicia didn't argue--she knew from her last experience at Loyalapalooza that crowds could be dangerous. Besides, she already had a more intimate encounter with Criss than they did. Still, she wanted to join the party outside instead of being cooped up in this stifling building with her mother.
Nancy, however, had a different view of the situation. "Disgraceful," she muttered disdainfully. "Simply disgraceful. This is a court of law, not a nightclub. Don't those people have jobs or something to go to?"
"They just want to see Criss, Mother," Alicia pointed out.
"They're creating a public nuisance, is what they're doing," Nancy shot back. "All that fuss and bother for that..."
"That what?" Springs prompted.
"That...that Criss Angel person," Nancy sputtered. "I mean really! What's he done to create such a furor out there?"
Alicia suppressed her laughter at such an understated question. "Oh, nothing," she replied airily, "except have his own live show in Vegas, star in his own series on TV, perform on Broadway, release some CDs, and generally become famous for his demonstrations."
Nancy looked at her daughter. "What do you mean, 'demonstrations'?"
"Oh, that's what Criss calls his stunts," Alicia explained. "Like when he escaped from that concrete box in New York, for instance--things like that."
"Concrete box?" Springs looked interested. "How'd he do that?"
"Well, Criss was set inside this heavy glass and steel box, and concrete was poured inside it," Alicia related. "The walls, I mean, not right on top of him. He had twenty-four hours to get out of it or the box would be dropped from a crane. He made it out, of course. He appeared on this scaffolding right after the box crashed to the ground."
Springs pondered this. "Concrete box," he muttered thoughtfully. "Sounds like a mob hit."
Alicia giggled at the reference. Nancy was unimpressed. "It was all a silly trick," she said. "He probably wasn't even in that box in the first place."
"He was, too, Mother," Alicia argued. "There was a camera in there all the time he was in there."
"All the same, it was just a trick, Alicia," her mother insisted. "That man makes a living fooling people he can do magic."
"He's an illusionist, Mother. He's the greatest magician since Houdini."
"He's a charlatan, if you ask me."
Springs spoke up. "Yeah, well, so was Harry Blackstone," he said. "So's David Blaine. So's Siegfried and Roy. So's David Copperfield. So's the rest of 'em, for that matter. They're all charatans, but they're damn good ones if you ask me. Now, Angel out there, he knows how to put on one helluva show. He knows he's foolin' them, they know he's foolin' them, but who the eff cares? Everybody's having a good time, y'know? They come to see him perform, he wows 'em on stage, the producers get their money, everybody's happy."
"Even so--" Nancy began.
"Even so, I think you'd better cut this guy some slack," Springs said. "You'd been riding his kiester ever since we've been here. He's a great guy, really. And believe you me, I've seen my share of chiselers in my time, and he ain't one of 'em. He's good to his ma, and in my book that makes him all right."
"But look at them out there!" Nancy said, pointing to the crowd outside the courthouse mobbing Criss. "They're treating him like he's some sort of...god or something!"
Springs shrugged. "So?" he said indifferently. "They did the same for Sinatra back in the day. Same for Liberace, and then Elvis Presley. You shoulda seen the mobs back then! Screaming women, passing out cold right there on the street. This is a friendly gathering compared to then!"
"That's because the police are out there, maintaining order," Nancy pointed out.
"So? The cops were there then, too." Springs shook his head. "You shoulda seen Vegas when Elvis died," he said. "The whole Strip was one big wake; hundreds gathered to pay their respects one way or another! I swear I ain't seen that kinda public mourning since FDR died in office!"
He turned to Nancy. "Angel's top of the heap right now, but who knows where he'll be in ten years," he said sagely. If he don't kill himself doin' his act, he'll still be a headliner or he'll be a has-been in the gutter--and I've seen both. I've seen acts that wowed 'em in the Fifties that no one remembers to this day. One day they're headlining, the next day they're at the bottom. The Rat Pack, Sinatra, Liberace, Robert Goulet, Carol Channing, Elvis--they all had their moment in the spotlight, just like Angel out there, and five, ten years from now, there'll be someone else. People come and people go, but there'll always be another show--that's what Manny down at the Sands told me once."
"No one can replace Criss Angel," Alicia muttered defiantly as she watched her idol move among the crowd. "No one."
"Uh, excuse me?" came a man's voice from behind.
Alicia, Nancy and Springs turned around to see a uniformed police officer facing them. "Are you in Courtroom C?" he asked.
"Yes," Nancy replied.
"The court is ready to reconvene," the officer told them.
Springs drew a deep breath. "This is it," he said. "Somebody better fetch Angel out there, or he's gonna miss it."
Criss was lost in the mob of Loyals outside. His hand ached from signing too many autographs, and spots danced before his eyes from the constant flash of camera bulbs, but he took the time to sign just one more autograph, take just one more picture, accept just one more birthday gift from another starry-eyed fan. He reminded himself that they were the reason he was famous; without them, he was nothing.
The officer who had found Springs and the Roses went outside to bring in Criss. "Mr. Angel!" he shouted. "Mr. Aaaaangellllll!!"
"What?" came Criss' voice from somewhere.
"The court's ready to reconvene!" the officer shouted.
"What'd you say?" Criss shouted back.
"I said the court's ready to reconvene!!"
Criss scribbled the last autograph and handed it to a grateful young Loyal. "Sorry, I gotta go," he said. "The jury's back."
It took the combined efforts of the officer and the security guard escort to extricate Criss from the mob of fans and back into the courtroom in one piece. Ever the showman, Criss gave the fans one last triumphal wave before entering the courthouse. Once in the quiet lobby of the building, he drew a deep sigh of relief and exhaustion. "C'mon, let's get this over with," he said impatiently.
Meridian's pager went off while he was preoccupied with some paperwork. He glanced at the LED screen on the tiny device. It was from the prosecuting attorney for the Piccucci trial. He looked at his watch. "Two hours," he muttered. "Time flies when you're having fun."
He rose from his desk and headed for the courthouse. The precinct and the courthouse were in the same municipal complex, so Meridian could walk there in under five minutes. He had a good idea what the verdict would be, but he was still eager to hear the results as much as anyone involved. There was the slightest chance Pamela would get off on a technicality, or some holdout persuaded the jury to vote not guilty like in the movie 12 Angry Men (he enjoyed that flick, by the way), but he was confident that justice would indeed be served. Indeed, a guilty verdict would seem almost anticlimactic from his point of view. He would have preferred to stay in his office and finish the paperwork, and let the prosecutor phone the results in, but as the arresting officer he had the duty to see this thing to the very end. And the end was what Meridian wanted more than anything right now.
The twelve members of the jury filed in and took their seats in the jury box. Pamela sat in the defendant's chair, still shackled in her wrist cuffs, her eyes glazed, her face ashen. Her fate was now in the hands of those twelve strangers chosen at random by the state.
"Will the defendant please rise?" the judge ordered.
Pamela rose to her feet, supporting herself on the table. "You have reached a verdict?" the judge intoned to the jury.
"We have, Your Honor," the foreperson, a heavyset woman of about sixty, replied. She handed a paper to the bailiff, who in turn handed it to the judge.
Judge Hendershot read the verdict silently, then looked at the wretched woman in prison orange standing before him. "Pamela Piccucci," he said somberly, "you have been tried by a jury of your peers, and found guilty on both counts of first-degree murder, one account of attempted murder, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of threatening bodily harm, and one count of violation of bond."
Casey trembled with relief. Criss and Springs shook hands. Alicia instinctively reached over and hugged her mother, who hugged her back. Andrew and Matt Piccucci sat like two stone statues, totally unmoved by the verdict. Heather only sighed, simply glad the ordeal was over. Meridian remained indifferent; to him it was another case closed and time to move to the next one.
Pamela, however, stood there, numb with shock. "Does the defendant have anything to say?" the judge asked.
Pamela swayed on unsteady feet, struggling to find her voice. "Your Honor," she whimpered. "I did not kill my husband, nor Tina LaRue. For me to take another life is abhorrant to me! Your Honor, there's been a terrible mistake!"
"Yeah, and you made it, lady!" Springs sneered.
Judge Hendershot banged the gavel. "The jury has reached it's verdict by the weight of the evidence presented in this court," he said. "Sentencing will take place two weeks after the holiday recess. Case dismissed, court is adjourned."
A final bang of the gavel, and it was over. Pamela was led from the courtroom, wailing piteously. Everyone else was just glad to get out of there. "God, I need a drink!" Springs grumbled. "Hey, gumshoe! How about that double Manhattan you promised?"
Meridian chuckled. "C'mon, old man," he said. "I'll be off duty in an hour. Think you can wait that long?"
Springs turned to Casey. "Don't wait up for me, Cassie," he said. "Gumshoe and me're gonna have a drink to celebrate."
"It's Casey, Mr. Springer."
"Whatever." He then turned to Criss. "You wanna join us, Angel?"
"Can't," Criss said. "Gotta do a live show tonight. Thanks anyway." Suddenly, he remembered something. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out two tickets. "Here," he said, handing them to Alicia. "Two passes to tonight's show."
Alicia took the coveted passes and gazed at them reverently. Two passes to Believe! It was, well, unbelievable that she would have the privilege of seeing Criss' show! It was a dream come true! Her ecstasy, however, was rudely cut short by her mother snatching the passes out of her hand. "I'm afraid we'll have to decline, Mr. Angel," Nancy said curtly. "Alicia and I have to return to Iowa first thing in the morning, and I can't have her staying up past her bedtime."
"But, Mom!" Alicia protested.
"But nothing, young lady!" Nancy shot back. "You're not going, and that's final!"
Alicia burst into tears and ran out of the courtroom. "For chrissakes, lady!" Springs said. "Let the kid go to the show!"
"No, I'm not going to let her go," she persisted. "That girl's got to learn some discipline!"
"And you gotta learn to lighten up a little," Springs shot back. He snatched the passes from Nancy's hand. "If you ain't gonna take her, I am!" he said.
"Over my dead body!" Nancy snapped.
"Don't tempt me, lady."
Nancy stared at the old man, appalled. Springs left the courtroom with the passes, Criss following behind him. Meridian turned to her. "He's right, you know," he said.
"How can you agree with him?" Nancy asked, stunned.
"Because I've been with the department for twenty years," Meridian replied. "I've worked Juvenile for three of them before transferring to Homicide, and I know that kids are gonna rebel no matter what their parents do or say."
"I'm trying to protect her, Detective," Nancy argued.
"Protecting her is one thing," Meridian said, "smothering her is another. You think permissive parents have problem kids? Uh-uh, it's the overstrict ones whose kids rebel--that's probably why your daughter ran away in the first place. Alicia told me about you when I had her in for questioning, and at first I thought she was exaggerating like all kids do. After meeting you, I'd say she was right on the mark. Criss makes a friendly gesture and you throw it back in his face? Geez, lady, it's a magic show, not a human sacrifice! From what she's been through, I'd say you owe it to her to go see it. If I were you, I'd swallow your pride and go to the show with Alicia."
Nancy stood there, stunned. "Think about it, willya?" Meridian said. "One night couldn't hurt."
He turned away, leaving a fuming Nancy in the empty courtoom.
Join Date: Aug 2011
02-12-2012, 02:19 AM
Listen to the man Nancy live a little
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-13-2012, 12:41 AM
Alicia slumped by a large window, weeping as though all the joy in life had been taken away from her. For one glorious minute she had been given access to Criss Angel's show Believe, free of charge and as his personal guest, the greatest opportunity any Loyal could wish for, only to have her overbearing mother snatch it away from her. To add insult to injury, her mother had told Criss that she "couldn't have her staying up past her bedtime", as if she was a five-year-old! How could she be so unreasonable? How could she be so cruel? "It's not fair!" Alicia sobbed. "It's just not fair!"
She looked up to see Criss and Springs standing beside her. "Oh, God, Criss!" she cried as she flung herself into his arms. "I'm so sorry about my mom acting like that to you! I don't know why she still hates you even after--"
Criss shushed her. "Hey, it's okay, Alicia," he reassured her. "I've heard worse."
She looked up at him. "I do want to go see Believe, I really do!" she said eagerly. "I want to see it more than anything else in the world!" She lowered her brimming eyes. "Mom's probably torn up the tickets by now," she said sadly.
Springs smiled smugly. "What? You mean these?" He held up the passes like a pair of playing cards.
Alicia's face brightened when she saw the precious tickets in the old man's hand. "Oh, thank you, Mr. Springs!" she squealed, throwing her arms around him. "Thank you so much! You're the best!"
Springs laughed indulgently like a doting grandfather. "I told your ma if she wasn't gonna take ya, I would," he said.
Alicia was delighted. "I'd love to go with you, Mr. Springs!" she said eagerly.
"Now hold on a minute there, missy!" came her mother's voice from behind.
Oh, joy,Criss thought. Here comes Mrs. Buzzkill.
Nancy Rose stepped quickly forward. "If anyone's taking my daughter to any kind of show," she said loftily, "it's going to be me." And with that, she snatched the passes away from Springs. "I'm not going to have a total stranger escorting my little girl to a strange place in a strange city."
"I ain't a total stranger," Springs argued. "We had lunch together, remember?"
"All the same, it'd be better for all concerned if I took her to the show," Nancy said.
If she takes me, Alicia thought grumpily.
"Good day, gentlemen," Nancy said curtly, bowing a little with condescending coutesy. "It's time to go, Alicia."
Alicia allowed her mother to tow her away, but she whipped her head back and mouthed I'll see you tonight before disappearing into the elevator bank. Springs shook his head in disbelief. "Geez, whatta broad!" he muttered. "Must've been weaned on a pickle. No wonder her kid ran away from home."
"Sorry you had to miss out on the show, Springs," Criss said. "I would've liked to have seen you there."
"Whaddya mean 'sorry'?" Springs pulled out two tickets from inside his jacket. "We'll see you tonight," he said with a knowing wink and a nudge in Criss' side.
Criss was puzzled. "'We'?" he asked. "What do you mean, 'we'? Who's 'we'?"
Springs snorted. "You ain't figured it out by now, kid?"
Something clicked inside Criss' brain. "You mean you and Mom...?"
"The gentleman wins the kewpie doll."
Criss exhaled in surprise. "God, what an evening this is going to be!"
The announcement came bursting out of the courthouse in the form of a cunning Loyal who had slipped into the building under the pretense of being employed in the cafeteria, had followed Criss and company to Courtroom C, and from what snatched of conversation he had overheard inside, discovered the verdict, then had dashed back outside to relay the good news. "GUILTY!!" he had screamed at the top of his lungs.
The mob of Loyals cheered; the media went on full alert, ready for an official statement from someone with more authority like Detective Meridian or one of the attorneys. Following the verdict came more sombering news: Criss Angel had left the building, so they must all disperse quietly and in order. The disappointed Loyals shuffled reluctantly away from the courthouse, grumbling and pouting. A few circled around back, hoping to catch at least one last glance of their idol, only to be thwarted by more security detail.
The media, however, remained, duty bound to get the official statement of the verdict. A podium was set up on the courthouse steps, flanked with a dozen microphones, for the district attorney to make the announcement. The silver-haired, black-suited DA calmly stepped up to the podium, cameras flashing in his face. "Ladies and gentlemen of the press," he began. "Pamela Piccucci has been found guilty on both counts of murder in the first degree, as well as on all other counts of attempted murder and assault. Sentencing will take place two weeks after the holiday break."
"Will she get the death penalty?" a reporter shouted.
"It is likely Mrs. Piccucci will be sentenced to death," the DA replied, "but that is not to say she will. Her attorney is appealing. No official statement has beem made by the court at this time. Thank you."
The DA left the podium, his duty done. The media clamored for more statements, but the police herded them away. The Piccucci Affair was over, at least as far as the general public was concerned. For Pamela, sitting in the temporary lockup awaiting transfer to the women's prison, the nightmare was just beginning.
The theater lobby was filled to capacity, low murmurs of muted conversation rumbling throughout the room. The bartender behind the small portable bar supplied a steady stream of mixed drinks to thirsty and bored theatergoers. On the wall beside the entrance a huge poster of Criss Angel hovered above their heads like a sinister otherworldly being. The people chatted amiably with each other while they waited for the doors to open. Tonight's topic of conversation, however, was not focused on Criss.
"Hear the latest about the Piccucci trial?"
"I saw it on the news this afternoon. They found her guilty."
"Pretty fargone conclusion, wouldn't you think?"
"Well, yeah, but she coulda gotten off on a technicality."
"Technicality my ass! That case was airtight as they come!"
"Did Criss Angel testify?"
"He was there at the courthouse, so, yeah, I guess he did."
"I hope that (bleep) gets the juice!"
"Two murders? No doubt."
"I dunno, man. I got some...reservations about the death penalty."
"What the hell do you mean by that? She killed her husband and her mother-in-law! Eye for an eye and all that! She deserves to die!"
"Well, killing her isn't going to bring them back, for one thing."
"But it'll make damn sure she doesn't kill again!"
"Look, let's not get into that right now, okay? We're here to enjoy the evening, so let's just drop it, all right?"
"Didja see Criss at the courthouse today?"
"Hell, yeah! I was so there! It was so cool the way he came out and met everybody! It was so worth the wait!"
"Didja hear how he got (bleeped) off at the press about his mom?"
"He got (bleeped) off? Hell, I was just as (bleeped) as he was! They had no right to trash Dimitra like that!"
"What'd they trash Dimitra about?"
"That she was going out with some former mobster. God! Don't she have a right to privacy?"
"When your son's the greatest magician in the world, you can't expect much privacy."
"Oh, my God! Ohmigodohmigodohmigod!! There they are!!"
The crowd parted like the Red Sea as an elegantly dressed Dimitra entered the lobby, escorted by "Springs" Springer, last surviving member of the notorious Guys of Glitter Gulch, nattily attired in a tailored suit. Mouths gaped as the couple passed by, smiling and nodding like royalty.
"Oh, my God! It's true then?"
"I heard Criss say they were just friends."
"Just friends, my ass!"
"Look, if Criss says they're just friends, then they're just friends, okay?"
"They may be 'just friends' now, but what about in the long run?"
"We'll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it."
Springs made a beeline to the small portable bar. "Gimme a Manhattan," he ordered.
The petite brunette bartender obediently mixed the drink handed it to the old man. "You want anything, Didi?" he asked.
"A gin and tonic would be nice," Dimitra suggested.
"Gin and tonic for the lady," he ordered the bartender.
The Loyals present for the evening performance could not help but comment on this scene. "Did he just call her 'Didi'?" said one.
"Yeah, it seems he did."
"Whoa! He's really tight with her, ain't he?"
"Just play it cool, okay?"
"Wonder how Criss feels about all this?"
"Well, he would have said something at the press conference this afternoon, but he seemed to be pretty down with it."
Meanwhile, Alicia and her mother mingled among the lobby crowd. Alicia was all atwitter to see Criss live on stage. She had suffered much just to get to the theater. Her mother had insisted on a full hour's studying before she would even consider allowing her to go. She even quizzed Alicia on her lessons to make sure she hadn't been faking it. Once she had passed the examination to her mother's satisfaction, permission was granted--after her mother laid down some ground rules for tonight's conduct.
"Stay close, don't run off," Nancy had instructed. "If you have to use the ladies' room, let me know. There will be a lot of strangers there, so if you do get lost, don't talk to any of them--find a security officer or a hotel employee. Otherwise, find the ticket office and stay there until I find you. And don't wander off outside--it's night, and who knows what kind of crazies are running around out there. And above all, mind your manners!"
Alicia swallowed her bile and bitterly complied. Geez, Mom, why don't you just put me on a leash? We're just going to see Believe, for chrissakes! You act like I'm going off to kindergarten or something!
They took a cab to the Luxor Hotel. Alicia could hardly contain her excitement upon arriving. She gazed lovingly at the enormous banner advertising Believe, with the larger-than-life image of Criss Angel upon it. "Control yourself, Alicia," her mother warned her. "You're a young lady, not a hooligan."
Alicia looked at her mother quizzically. "Hooligan?" she asked. "Aren't hooligans English soccer fans?"
"You know what I mean," Nancy said.
The cab stopped in front of the hotel. Nancy paid the driver his fare. Alicia could contain her excitement no longer--she shot out of the cab like a bullet, overjoyed to be there at last. Nancy followed and corralled her excited daughter. "I told you to stay close!" she admonshed.
Alicia came to heel, frustrated. She wished it had been Mr. Springs who was taking her instead of her killjoy mother. She never lets me have any fun! she fretted. Just once, I'd like to see her lighten up a bit! She's so...so...repressed! Her idea of fun is having the ladies from the church over for coffee! Well, I'm not going to be like her when I grow up! I'm going to enjoy life, no matter what anyone says! And it starts right now!
Alicia and Nancy found themselves by the small portable bar where Springs and Dimitra were standing, surrounded by admirers and curiosity seekers. Springs, of course, dominated the conversation, waving his Manhattan glass for emphasis. "The guy's name was Edward O. Thorpe," he lectured to the group who hung on his every word. "He wasn't a gambler, nor even been in a casino. He was a math professor from some Ivy League college on the East Coast. Guy was a real genius. He practically invented card counting--figured it all out by himself! Then he went and published it in some journal those eggheads read, y'know? Professor Blackjack, they called him. One day, this professional gambler called him out on it, Manny Kissel. They got together and hit every casino in Atlantic City, then they came to Vegas. They won so much dough the pit bosses would come around and close the table when they got too hot--and they were plenty hot, lemme tell you!"
"Didn't they get arrested or anything?" someone asked.
"Card counting wasn't even heard of back then," Springs replied, "let alone illegal. It's because of Professor Blackjack that card counting's banned in every casino in the country. Casinos don't like losing money, no matter who you are."
Suddenly, Springs spotted Alicia and her mother. "Hey, little girl!" he greeted her jovially, "how ya doin'? Glad you could make it."
Alicia giggled nervously, blushing. "Here's the kid who put Pamela Piccucci away!" Springs announced, putting his arm around her shoulder. "She saw her bump off Tina LaRue in the can!"
"Mr. Springer, please!" Nancy hissed.
"What? It's true, ain't it?"
"I know, but we'd like to put it behind us," Nancy insisted.
"Whatever." He turned to Alicia. "Buy you a drink, sweetheart."
Alicia looked at the small bar. "Uh, I'm only thirteen, Mr. Springs," she said nervously.
"Mr. Springer," Nancy corrected.
"So?" Springs said indifferently, "I'll buy you a Shirley Temple."
"What's a 'Shirley Temple'?" Alicia asked.
"It's just ginger ale and grenadine with a lemon twist and a cherry. No booze."
"Well, okay," Alicia said. Then, remembering her mother's warnings, she turned to her and asked, "May I?"
"You may," Nancy condescended.
The Shirley Temple was served in a highball glass with ice. It tasted strange at first, but Alicia grew to like it; it was the closest to having a real grown-up cocktail, making the evening more exciting to her. Springs turned to Nancy. "I'd like you to meet Didi," he said, presenting Dimitra to her. "She's Criss Angel's mom, y'know."
"How do you do, Mrs., uh...Angel?"
Alicia came to her mother's rescue. "It's really 'Sarantakos'," she whispered.
"Oh, Mrs. Saratakos," Nancy corrected herself. "Thank you, dear. And this is my daughter, Alicia."
"Hello, Alicia," Dimitra said.
"Hello, Dimitra," Alicia said.
Nancy gave her an admonshing nudge. "Mrs. Saratakos, Alicia," she reminded her. "You don't address older people by their first names."
"But, Mother, everyone knows Dimitra," Alicia protested.
"All the same, it's rude."
Alicia sighed. Whatever!
"Please excuse my daughter's lack of civility, Mrs. Saratakos," Nancy apolgized.
"It's all right, Mrs..."
"Rose. Nancy Rose."
"Rose," Dimitra repeated. "Such a lovely name."
"Why, thank you, Mrs. Saratakos."
Alicia wanted to know more about Dimitra's relationship with Mr. Springs, but kept silent for fear of her mother's wrath. Maybe later she could sound out either of them about it, she thought. Maybe she would get lucky and meet Criss again after the show, but she knew that was next to impossible with her mother hovering over her. Instead, she finished her Shirley Temple and set her glass in the dish bin beside the bar.
"And how did your testamony go, Alicia?" Dimitra asked.
"Well, it went okay, I guess," she replied. "I was so nervous I couldn't barely talk up there! I told them everything I could remember. That defense attorney was the really scary one--he kept trying to trip me up every step of the way! I'm just glad it's over."
"We're all glad it's over," Nancy chimed in. "Let's hope this will be our last trip to Las Vegas."
"Whaddya talkin' about?" Springs said, offended. "What's wrong with Vegas?"
"Well, it...it just has too many bad memories for us, that's all," Nancy replied.
"For you, maybe," Springs retorted. "Don't let one bad experience hold you back, lady! This berg's got it all--gambling, shows, you name it! I've lived here half my life, and I never let any 'bad experiences' stop me--and believe you me, I've seen a lot worse than either you or Alicia here's ever seen, and not just from the Syndicate, either! Read my book when it comes out, you'll see."
I'm sure you have, Mr. Springer, Nancy thought bitterly. I'm sure you have!
The theater doors opened. A steady stream of people flowed inside. "Showtime!" Springs announced. "C'mon, Didi, let's see what your famous son's got up his sleeve!"
Dimitra laughed. "You would be surprised at what he has up his sleeves, Danny," she said.
Criss had arranged for the Roses to sit in the orchestra level, giving them a perfect view of the stage. Springs and Dimitra, however were in the upper balcony, close to the railing. Springs fretted about being in the "nosebleed section", apologizing that he couldn't get better seats. "Tickets were selling like hotcakes out there," he said. "This was the best I could do."
"They're fine, Danny," Dimitra said. "I can see perfectly from here."
The lights dimmed. Applause broke out, then died down when the eerie music started. Alicia sat in her seat, enraptured. She forgot all about the trial that afternoon and her mother sitting beside her, and lost herself in the surreal world of Believe. This was what she had been waiting for ever since she first heard about Criss Angel--to be swept away to a mystical, magical world, far away from Marvinville, Iowa, and the dreariness and the frustration that came with living there. She was the Alice in Criss' Wonderland, with no desire to go back up the rabbit hole, but to be Queen of his world forever, consort to the King of Magic himself, her Angel, Criss.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
02-13-2012, 07:22 PM
Believe wasn't just a magic show, it was an experience. Bizarre and curious characters came hopping, creeping, and leaping across the stage, even into the audience themselves. For Alicia, the whole thing was delightful, a circus for grownups as she would define it later. The real world ceased to exist as the giant rabbits cavorted on the stage, the acrobats contorted themselves in way that seemed inhumanly impossible, and the lithe and limber dancers stretched and glided on the stage. In the center of it all, Criss Angel was the ringmaster, the conductor in this theater of the surreal, silently guiding the cast under his spell to perform his will. Alicia didn't want to think of the performers as real people with real lives. She wanted to see them as beautiful, dreamlike fantasy characters coming to life before her eyes.
Unfortunatly, all dreams have to end. Criss and the cast stood on the apron of the stage for their final bow at the end of the performance, greeted with a standing ovation from the audience. Alicia applauded enthusiastically, crying out for more, but the houselights came on, ending the dream and bringing her back to dull reality. She looked around herself, bewildered at first, but came back to her senses, remembering she was in the theater. Her eyes fell upon her mother sitting beside her, who, to her bewilderment, looked absolutly shell-shocked.
"Mom?" Alicia said quietly in her mother's ear. "Are you okay?"
Nancy started, then looked at her daughter. "Hm? Oh! Uh, oh, I-I-I'm fine, dear," she stammered, still overwhelmed by what she had seen on stage. "So, what did you think?" Alicia asked.
"About the show, of course!" Alicia giggled.
Nancy tried to regain her bearings. "It was..." Her head swayed as if she was about to faint. "It's just..."
"Pretty amazing, wasn't it?" Alicia said enthusiastically. "It was so cool, the way Criss--"
"I wouldn't call it 'cool', Alicia," Nancy interrupted her.
Alicia stared at her mother, dumbfounded. "I expected a magic show," Nancy said, "and end up seeing that...that pornographic freak show! If I had known it would be like that, I never would have bought you here!"
"Pornographic?" Alicia was aghast that such a charge could be made against Criss Angel. "I didn't see anything pornographic about it! It was wierd, but it's supposed to be wierd!"
"You're too young to understand, Alicia," her mother said. "There are some things a child shouldn't be exposed to."
"I'm not a child, Mother!" Alicia cried. "I'm thirteen years old, and I'll be fourteen in two months! I know more about these 'things' you're so afraid of me finding out than you think I do! You're the one who doesn't understand!" With that, Alicia stormed out of the theater. Nancy called out to her to come back, but she was lost in the retreating crowd, out of earshot. With a sigh, she walked up the aisle, hoping to find her in the lobby.
Alicia burst into the ladies' room, her eyes brimming with tears. She just doesn't get it! She still treats me like I'm a little kid! I'm in high school now, for chrissakes! Doesn't that mean anything? My God! What do I have to do to prove that I'm grown up now? How do I make her understand? She retreated into one of the stalls to sulk. I wish Mr. Springs had taken me instead of Mom the killjoy! It would have been a more enjoyable evening with him instead of her!
The thought of Springs brought about a feeling of deja vu. Alicia looked around the stall. Suddenly, a chill shot down her spine. This is the stall I was in when I saw Pamela Piccucci murder Tina LaRue! she realized. I was in this very spot when it happened!
A sharp pain shot through her stomach. It wasn't nausea, but something else, something she just couldn't put her finger on. Instinctively, she undressed herself underneath her skirt and lowered herself onto the toilet, hoping it would pass. Something did release itself from inside her, but it wasn't the usual waste. A quick swipe with a wad of toilet tissue, and Alicia discovered that her life would never be the same again.
Up in the balcony, Springs and Dimitra were preparing to leave. The few who recognized Dimitra complimented her on her son's fine performance. She returned them with gracious thanks. Springs beamed, proud to be associated with her. "Helluva show he gave down there," he crowed. "Florenz Ziegfield woulda been proud!"
"You must have seen many good magicians in your day," Dimitra commented. "You were here since Las Vegas started."
"Oh, yeah," Springs nodded. "Harry Blackstone, senior and junior--junior was the one of the first to play here in Vegas. Most of them were cheezy, rabbit-out-of-a-hat one-night stands, but then came Copperfield and the rest. But your son down there? Hoo! He really knows how to wow 'em!"
The two strolled down into the lobby. "Care for an aftershow cocktail, Didi?" Springs asked.
"You'll excuse me," Dimitra said. "I have to, ah, powder my nose."
Springs nodded. "Sure, doll, I'll be waitin' by the bar."
Dimitra left Springs to the welcoming warmth of his last drink of the evening and headed for the ladies' room. Inside, she was startled to see Alicia Rose standing there, pale and shaken. The older woman approached her sympathetically. "What's wrong, dear?" she asked tenderly.
Alicia whirled around, surprised and then relieved to see Mama Angel standing beside her. "Oh, Dimitra," she cried, flinging her arms around her.
"Now, now, now, everything's all right, honey," Dimitra cooed in her best maternal voice. "Now, you tell me what's wrong here?"
Alicia stood there dumbly. "Where do I begin?" she asked helplessly.
"Well, the beginning is always a good place to start," Dimitra quipped.
The hapless girl smiled a little. "Well, first of all, this is the place where I saw the murder," she began. "I was in this stall right here, and I saw everything."
"Oh, dear," Dimitra said. "No wonder you're so upset."
"Well, that's not the half of it," Alicia said. "I came in here because I was mad at my mom for...well, you're not going to like this, but my mom hates Criss." She flung her arms up in despair. "I don't know why she doesn't like him!" she exclaimed. "I even introduced her to him at the trial! He practically told her his life's story, and she still thinks he's a, quote, bad influence on me! She blames him for my running away to Vegas!"
"You ran away?"
With a heavy sigh, Alicia confessed to her escape to Las Vegas for Loyalapalooza, right down to her stealing the money from her parents. "I gave it all back, really I did!" she insisted. "And not only did Criss save my life, he paid for my trip back home. You'd think she'd be grateful." Her face turned remorseful. "Please don't think bad of me because I stole money to see Criss," she pleaded.
"Now, dear, I don't think bad of you," Dimitra said assuringly. "What you did was wrong, but you admitted you were wrong and you did your best to make up for it--that's a very mature thing to do."
Alicia smiled at that. I wish you were my mother instead of Mom, she yearned mentally. Suddenly, another stomach pain jabbed her from inside. Alicia winced, clutching her abdomen. Dimitra became alarmed. "What's wrong, honey?" she demanded. "Are you sick?"
"No, it's not that," Alicia groaned. "It's just that I got my...my...you know."
Alicia nodded. Dimitra fished out a quarter from her handbag, dropped it into the "feminine needs" vending machine, and pulled out a box containing a sanitary napkin. "Here you go," she said. Alicia accepted with thanks, went back into the stall, and emerged a minute later, calmer and better prepared. Dimitra smiled again. "Feel better now?" she asked.
"I'm fine, thank you."
"Is this your first time?" Dimitra cautiously inquired.
Alicia responded with a sheepish smile. "Yeah, it is."
Dimitra clasped her face in her soft, withered hands. "Today, you are a woman," she said proudly, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Now, we'd better find your mother," she told her. "She'll be looking for you out there; she must be worried about you." Personally, Alicia thought, I'd rather stay with you--and Criss.
Out in the lobby, Nancy Rose searched frantically for her daughter among the theatergoers. "Alicia?" she called out. "Alicia, where are you? It's Mother, honey! Answer me!"
She paved her way through the mass of human bodies in her quest to find Alicia. She wasn't by the box office as prearranged, nor was she in the gift shop. She couldn't have gone outside, not with this crowd in the way. She had to be somewhere, but where?
Nancy spotted Springs by the bar, enjoying an after-show nightcap. She rushed up to him, hoping he would have news about her daughter. "Mr. Springer?" she said breathlessly, "have you seen Alicia? I can't find her anywhere!"
"Now, now, just simmer down, willya?" Springs said to her. "She's around here somewhere. When'd you last see her?"
"In the theater after the show," Nancy replied.
"So, okay, she couldn't have gone far," Springs reasoned, taking a swig of his Manhattan. "Just wait until the crowd here thins out, and she'll turn up."
Nancy glared at the old man in irritation. He's so drunk he doesn't care that my little girl's lost in here! she thought angrily. "Well, I'm calling security," she snapped, turning on her heels and storming away. Springs simply shrugged and drained his glass.
A round of applause drew his attention from the bar. To the Loyals delight, Dimitra had appeared in the lobby. Those who knew who she was fawned over her as if she herself had been the star of the show: syncophantic fans reached out to her for hugs and kisses. She greeted everyone graciously, smiling and accepting their praises with warm courtesy.
"She's pretty popular around here, ain't she?" Springs said to the bartender.
"Oh, yeah," the bartender replied. "Her son Criss Angel's the biggest draw here in the Luxor. He's the King here, so in a way that makes her the Queen Mother. All the fans are nuts about her."
"Do tell," Springs murmured.
Dimitra finally made her way to Springs, who, in turn, noted Alicia following her. "You sure know how to draw a crowd there, Didi," he noted.
"Only because they know Christopher," Dimitra replied modestly.
"And as for you," Springs said, turning to Alicia, "your ma's been looking for you--she's worried sick about you running off like that.."
Alicia grumbled. "I was just in the ladies' room, that's all."
Springs put two fingers into his mouth and gave an ear-splitting whistle, startling Dimitra and everyone else around her. "Hey! Mrs. Rose!" he shouted. "We found your kid here!"
Alicia was embarrassed. Dimitra laughed nervously. Mrs. Rose made her way to the bar. "Alicia, where have you been?" she demanded. "I've been looking all over for you!"
"I just went to the ladies' room," Alicia said. "You don't have to make a big deal about it."
"I told you not to wander off like that."
"I didn't 'wander off', Mother," Alicia argued. "I left deliberatly, remember?"
"Well, we'll discuss this when we get home," Nancy said in an effort to save face. "Thank you, Mr. Springer, and Mrs. Sartakos."
"It's 'Sarantakos', Mrs. Rose," Dimitra corrected. "And before you go, I'd like to speak to you--privately."
Nancy was taken aback at this unexpected request, but readily complied. "You wait right here, young lady," she ordered her daughter. "I don't want to go looking for you again."
The two women left. Springs turned to Alicia. "Buy you a drink?" he asked.
"Only if it's another Shirley Temple," Alicia told him.
Dimitra led Mrs. Rose back into the ladies' room, away from the din of the afterglow party in the lobby. "So, what did you want to talk to me about?" Nancy asked.
"I just want to know," Dimitra said calmly, "why do you hate my son?"
"Hate your son?" Nancy was puzzled.
"What do you have against my Christopher?" Dimitra pressed. "He's done no harm to you, or Alicia. He even saved her life, sacrificing his own to protect her, and yet you demonize him. Alicia told me all about it, right here in this restroom. Why?"
"With all due respect, Mrs. Sarantakos," Nancy began, "I feel your son has been a negative influence upon my daughter."
"What do you mean, 'negative'?"
"Well, Alicia used to be such a sweet little girl, but now, ever since she got involved with Criss Angel, she's been uncontrollable, rebellious, and inconsiderate. He's all she thinks about, morning, noon and night. She's developed an unhealthy obsession with him that's turned her against her family, her school and her church. Now, I understand that you love him, being his mother and all, but after seeing his show tonight, well, I can't have Alicia getting involved with him any longer. She's just a child, you know. She's too young to be exposed to such...material. You understand, don't you?"
"I understand, all right," Dimitra retorted. "I understand you are trying to keep Alicia from growing up. You say you were offended by what you saw tonight? Well, when I was a growing up in Greece during the Nazi occupation, I saw things that no child should have seen, or experienced. I saw war, destruction and death every day. I cannot remember a single day during my childhood that I was not hungry or frightened. People whom I talked to one day disappeared the next. When I fled to this country with my family, I was Alicia's age. I was angry and rebellious, too, because I was uprooted from everything I knew to a strange country whose language I could neither read, write or even speak. I was angry at my mother and father at the time, but in the end, I appreciate the sacrifice they made; I am alive and well because they made the decision to come here to America.
"When I had my sons, they went through the same rebellious phase as well when they became teenagers. Christopher would listen to heavy-metal albums like Motley Crue and others, over and over again. His hair was long and shaggy like a sheepdog's back then. His father and I wanted him to go to college, but he wanted to do magic, so we let him. Today, he's a successful magician and performer, yet he still loves his family dearly. When I had to go to the hospital for heart surgery, he flew all the way to New York to be with me. Does that inspire rebelliousness to you, Mrs. Rose?"
Nancy remained silent. Dimitra went on. "And how can you claim he's been a 'negative influence'? Christopher has taken time to visit sick and dying children in hospitals all over the country. He's performed for servicemen and women in the Armed Forces, free of charge sometimes. He's never taken drugs, not even smoked a cigarrette, in his entire life. He's not a saint, but he believes in God--we taught him faith and hard work would lead to success, and he's followed our advice all of his life. Any parent would be happy to have such a role model as Christopher. And as for being inconsiderate, well, we're all a little inconsiderate at times, are we not?"
Nancy gaped. "But his show...?"
"His show is something he'd worked on for fifteen years," Dimitra told her. "I am sorry you found it offensive, but it's mild compared to the strip shows and other so-called 'adult' entertainment here in Las Vegas."
Nancy stood there, not knowing what to think. Dimitra laid a hand on her shoulder. "I know that Christopher's fans do silly, even dangerous things to meet him," she said sympathetically. "I agree with you that Alicia's running away from home was wrong, but she did try to make up for it; she returned all the money she stole from you, didn't she?"
"And that to me is a sign of maturity, is it not?"
Nancy returned the charge. "Well, if she hadn't been lured by Criss Angel, she wouldn't have had to steal money and run away in the first place!" she said sharply.
"Yes, lured! Criss tempted her away from her family, so she ran away."
"No, Mrs. Rose, she wasn't 'lured' as you say," Dimitra said evenly. "She was impulsive, yes, but she wasn't 'lured away'. Think back when you were her age--did you do anything impulsive back then?"
"I most certainly did not!" Mrs. Rose replied loftily. "I had a normal, happy girlhood back then. I concentrated on school and church, and I took part in wholesome civic and church activities, and I certainly didn't go running off to some faraway city chasing after some celebrity magician or something! Now, I'm sorry you had such a hard life back in your homeland with the war and all that, but I assure you I was not like that at all."
Dimitra shook her head. "I doubt that very much, Mrs. Rose."
"What do you mean by that, Mrs. Sarantakos?" Nancy demanded.
"I mean to say that if you were a 'normal' girl, you would have experienced the same rebelliousness that I, Alicia, Christopher and every thirteen-year-old would have felt inside," Dimitra explained. "What you think is disobedience is in fact a part of growing up. She's asserting herself as a person, getting ready to fly the nest, so to speak. She's still dependent upon you for care, but not as much as she used to. When she ran away from home, she was testing her wings. True, she discovered she was not ready yet, but she was mature enough to learn from her experiences to realize that. Alicia is turning into an adult, Mrs. Rose. She's becoming a woman--in fact, she has become a woman this very night."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'll let Alicia answer that one."
Nancy put two and two together and understood. "You mean...?"
Dimitra nodded. "Fortunatly, I was here to help her. She handled it just fine, no panic or anything. You prepared her quite well, I'd say."
"Oh, yes, uh, thank you." Nancy stammered. "I just wish I'd been here to help her, that's all."
"I understand," Dimitra said. "But it's time to let Alicia do things more for herself, now. She's not a child anymore; she'll still need you, but you can't keep her in a bubble, shielding her from the world. Don't be afraid to let go, Mrs. Rose, or your daughter will never grow. Let her blossom, like her name, and you will see just how beautiful she can be."
Dimitra left the ladies room quietly. Nancy leaned against the sink and wept silently, torn between the past she cherished and the future she had to face.
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