|Loyal Written Art For all Criss Angel or non-Criss Angel related written artwork.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
09-04-2011, 10:55 PM
Early morning sunlight shimmered on the placid water of the hotel swimming pool. A gentle desert breeze played against the canvas awnings covering the large cushions beneath them. The pool area was empty, save for the camera crew setting up to tape underwater footage of Criss Angel for his Sports episode of MindFreak. Criss had insisted on shooting this segment early in the morning before any of the guests arrived; he needed the solitude for the moment he would perform his underwater illusion.
The camera crew talked amongst themselves as they worked. "Think Criss is fully recovered from that beating he got from George yesterday?" Tony asked.
"Physically speaking, yeah," Keith replied. "I don't know about his ego, though. Knowing him, he'll be demanding a rematch."
"If he does," Tony said, adjusting a microphone, "I'll put my money on George. Swear to God, that guy could punch a hole in a brick wall!"
"Speaking of George," Keith said as he checked the angle for Camera One," you know he's trying out for the exhibition match at the Excalibur next month?"
"When's he trying out?"
"Today at noon."
Tony nodded. "He'll make it for sure," he said confidently. "With the right hook he's got, he could go pro if he wanted to."
"What, and give up showbusiness?"
Both men laughed. Just then Criss entered the pool area, wearing only a pair of ragged jeans. "Hey, guys," he said in way of greeting. "Everything ready?"
Keith nodded. "Just about ready."
His relaxed demeanor suddenly turned into agitation. "Oh, (bleep)!" he exclaimed, slapping his forehead with the heel of his hand. "I forgot my swimsuit! Gotta go back and get it."
"Hey, no prob," Tony said. "Gerard left it in the dressing area for you. It's in the gym bag."
The tension faded quickly. Criss smiled with relief. "Oh! Okay, thanks!"
He left the cameramen for the dressing area, grateful for Gerard's thoughtfulness. He found the gym bag on the narrow bench in one of the booths, unzipped it--and discovered that his hypnotist consultant's motives had not been entirely altruistic. Instead of his usual shorts, there was a tiny red thong that some people referred to as a banana hammock. Clipped to the waistband (if it could be called that) was a note in Gerard's handwriting: To Criss: A little something for the ladies! Ha! Ha!
Criss dropped the thong in disgust. Very funny, Gerard! Real hilarious! You're about as funny as a crutch! He left the dressing area to go back to his suite. Just remember, Gerard: payback is a (bleep)!
He found his shorts in the drawer of his bedroom dresser and returned to the pool area for taping. Tony and Keith were puzzled. "Didn't Gerard pack your suit in the bag?" Tony asked.
"Wrong one," Criss replied dismissivly. "Let's get started, okay?"
He retired to the dressing area a second time, stripped off his jeans, and returned wearing his shorts, a flesh-toned form-fitting brief that clung to his body in all of the right places, giving the illusion of total nudity. "Cameras rolling?" he called out.
Criss took several deep breaths, dived into the pool and glided along the concrete bottom like a dolphin. He emitted tiny air bubbles from his nostrils as he swam past the underwater camera centered by one wall of the pool. The clarity of the water, illuminated by natural sunlight, allowed for excellent closeups of Criss' body underneath the surface, the play of his muscles with every stroke of his arms and kick of his legs. His aquarium underwater escape (which had almost killed him the first time he tried it) had conditioned his lungs to retain air for up to five minutes at a time, so there was no fear of drowning. After nearly four minutes of swimming for the camera, Criss finally emerged to the surface, his dark hair slicked back from the pool water. "We're good?" he cried.
"Good." Criss climbed out of the pool and toweled himself off. The swim had actually made him feel better. Maybe he should consider swimming as part of his fitness program? "Okay," he said, "now for the demonstration." He turned to his assistants. "Take your positions!" he ordered. Then, to the cameramen, "Are you ready to shoot?"
Tony waved that they were ready to roll the cameras. Two assistants unfolded a sheer white sheet attached at either end with a rod and stretched it out over the width of the pool, holding it up vertically. "Okay, lower the curtain!" Criss directed.
The screen was lowered, revealing nothing unusual behind it. The cameras rolled. "Raise the curtain!" Criss shouted.
Again, the screen was raised. This time, Criss dived into the pool and swam underneath it, disappearing on the other side.
"NOW!!" Criss shouted even louder.
The screen dropped, this time revealing seven bikini-clad models flanking him on both sides. The camera panned the group as the girls cheered and waved and cuddled Criss' half-naked body. Criss himself could only smile. God, I love my job! he said to himself.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
09-04-2011, 11:01 PM
George stood under the stinging hot shower, limp with fatigue. He had gone three rounds with Tobe Lacie to qualify for the Excalibur match that afternoon, after going another three with Christian Ruhr, the blond bomber of Austrian descent with the sharpest reflexes George had ever seen. It was all he could do to keep up with Ruhr in the ring. The qualifying bout ended in a draw. His next bout with Lacie was more successful but just as punishing; he scored a couple of points ahead of Tobe, but just barely. Now, it was all over, and George was completely drained of energy, as were his fellow fighters.
"When I get back to the Luxor," he muttered to himself, "I'm going in to the spa for a complete body massage, and I don't care how much it costs."
There were seven boxers trying out for the match (Evan "Woody" Wood had bowed out, having just become a father), but only four were allowed on the team for the finals, and Linehan wanted his four best fighters to represent him. The points were still being tallied by Seamus and his son, Sean while the fighters soothed away their aches and pains with hot showers and medicated ointments. His other son, David, made his slow way around the gym, his dull pudgy face expressionless as he gathered up wet towels into his basket to be laundered in the old Maytag washing machine in the back. The sharp, cool smell of eucalyptus overpowered the rank odor of male sweat and dirty clothes.
George turned off the shower and toweled himself dry. He padded to the locker where he kept his regular clothes and began to dress. As he sat down to pull on his socks, he became aware of a large presence beside him. He turned and saw Tobe Lacie beisde him.
"Damn good fight, man," Tobe said, sitting down beside him.
"Yeah," George grunted, "you, too."
"Think you made it?"
"Probably?" Tobe snorted. "Hell, the way you went after Ruhr, they'd be nuts to turn you down! You're lucky you got a draw with that mother(bleeper)!"
George shrugged. "You?"
"You think you made it?"
"I'd better, or I'm gonna be (bleeped) off like a mother(bleeper)." Tobe began to laugh. "I saw you yesteday, sparring with your cousin Criss. Man, you whooped his ass good there, bro! Nailed him in just two rounds! I mean, (bleep)!"
"More like one and a half," George said. "Thing is, he works out like a demon in his private gym, practices martial arts and all that, but he barely lasted half a bout in the ring. He should have lasted longer than than. I don't get it."
"Because he wore himself out trying to knock you down," Tobe said. "He thinks he knows the moves, but he don't. He ain't had the trainin' you and me got under our belts. That's why he lost. You should tell him not to quit his day job if he wants to stay healthy." He shifted his weight. "How's he doin', anyway?"
"He's fine," George replied. "(Bleeped) off about losing, but he's fine."
Tobe made a dismissive wave of the hand. "Ah, he'll get over it."
"You don't know Criss, do you?"
"Criss is a guy who hates losing anything, no matter what it is," George explained. "He loses, he wants a rematch until he wins. Hell, he's been trying to beat my score on the punching bag machine in his suite ever since he got the damn thing! He's just that competitive."
Tobe chuckled a little. "So you think he's gonna want a rematch with you, huh?"
"He will want a rematch," George said. "And he won't quit until I'm flat out on the mat, unconscious."
The heavy metal door of Linehan's office swung open. Everyone fell silent as Sean Linehan stepped forward, holding a sheet of paper in his hand. "All right, we got the results of the tryouts," he said loudly. "Stand up when I call your name. Browning!"
Browning stood up expectantly, but sank down again when Sean said he was out of the running. "Tough luck, man," Lacie said sympathetically, patting his shoulder.
Ellsworth stood up. "You're in!" Sean said.
Ellsworth pumped his fist in the air. "In your face, Browning!" he sneered.
"Back off, dude," Browning grumbled.
Tobe stood up. "You're in!"
"Way to go, Tobe!" George said, bumping fists with Lacie.
"Orowitz! You're out! Ruhr! You're in!"
Figured he would be, George thought. The guy's like Draco in Rocky Three.
George rose. "You're in!" Sean announced.
George was elated. I made it! he cheered inwardly. I (bleeping) made it!
"Wells! You're out!" Sean said. "That's all, gentlemen! Next Friday is the quarter finals, the next Friday after that is the semis, and the third Friday is the Excalibur bout. Be there!"
He retreated back into the office. George and Tobe highfived each other. "We're in, man!" they cheered. "We're in like Flynn!"
Fifteen year old Davina Uberman skipped happily into Circus Circus with her sixty-two year old grandmother, Midge. It was her first trip to Las Vegas, and she was as excited as any teenager would be to see the sights and experience the pleasures the Entertainment Capital of America had to offer (at least the ones she could legally enjoy, anyway). This afternoon would be spent riding the roller coaster and seeing the acrobats at Circus Circus, then dinner along Fremont. The evening would be the highlight of her visit--seeing Criss Angel's live show, Believe, at the Luxor. How her grandmother got tickets for that show was as astonishing and as mysterious as any of Criss' illusions.
Midge, for her part, was practically a regular around Vegas. This was her ninth or tenth visit here in almost as many years, but her first with her eldest granddaughter. Vegas was just a few hours' drive from her home in Arizona; ever since she retired early from her job as an investment broker back in the Nineties, she'd been making annual trips to Sin City to try her luck in the casinos. On her very first visit to Ceasar's Palace, she won a million dollar jackpot on the slots. Unlike many winners, however, she stowed her windfall with the rest of her investments, increasing their value immensely and allowing her to live the good life in Arizona despite the failing economy. Her professionally tinted hair was stylishly coiffed, strategically concealing the surgical scars from her face lift eight years ago, and her designer clothes, always in style, flattered a less than perfect figure she tried to keep in shape by playing tennis every morning before the desert sun grew too hot. There was no nursing home in Midge Uberman's future, not if she could help it.
Davina was almost sixteen, practically a woman, but her enthusiasm was that of a seven-year-old child. She wanted to see everything, do everything, taste, feel and experience everything. She was thrilled at seeing the elephants, she screamed as she raced down the track on the roller coaster, she gorged on ice cream despite what it would do to her complexion. Let her enjoy herself this once, Midge thought to herself. Childhood is so brief, and hers is coming to an end. Soon, she'll be driving, then graduating high school, then going off to college, then she'll be a working stiff like the rest of us. Let her have this one precious moment of carefree innocence before she's burdened with the responsibilites of adulthood.
She beamed as Davina bounded out of the coaster car and flew into her grandmother's arms. "That was totally awesome!" she exclaimed estatically. "And I didn't even get sick like I thought I would!"
"You got a strong stomach like your father," Midge told her. "Now, let's hurry and get our seats for the show."
Grandmother and granddaughter walked happily down the midway, arm in arm, in total bliss. They did not see the stranger in the black raincoat approaching them casually until it was too late. He was just a few feet away from the Ubermans when he spread open his coat, revealing his revoltingly naked body.
Midge and Davina froze for a moment, shocked into silence, then Davina let out an ear-piercing scream. Instinctively, Midge covered her granddaughter's eyes from the horror she had witnessed with her hands and cried out for security. The man in the raincoat covered himself up again and slunk away, gloating.
"Can you describe the man you saw?" a police officer asked Midge later in the security office."
"Dark hair, all over," Midge said cuddling her traumatized granddaughter. "All over his body, arms, legs. He had a dark mustache as well. All he had on was that raincoat."
"How tall was he?"
"About my height, five-eight or so. He had this little potbelly on him, and he was just plain ugly to look at."
"It was gross!" Davina cried. "That guy was a pervert! Who is he, anyway?"
"Well, we think he's the same guy who's been going around flashing older women around Vegas," the officer replied. "He's racked up several charges of indecent exposure already, but now, since he's exposed himself to a minor, he's just got himself a CSA charge tacked on as well."
"CSA?" Midge asked.
"Criminal Sexual Assault," the officer explained. "Also known as statutory rape. Any obscene act, even being in a hotel room with an unrelated minor without parental consent or knowledge, is a CSA. He's facing serious jail time for this."
"Well, I hope you find him soon!" Midge said indignantly. "That man is a menace to society!"
"We'll find him, ma'am," the officer assured her. "How long will you be staying in Vegas?"
"Until Monday morning."
"If we find him before then, we'll need to get in touch with you so you can identify him. Can you give us your number so we can call you?"
Midge gave the officer her cell phone number. "Thank you, ma'am," he said. "And don't let this incident ruin your stay here in Vegas. This guy's a perv, but he's harmless compared to some of the characters we deal with on a daily basis."
Midge nodded. "Of course." She stood up to leave. "Come on, Davey," she said. "Let's go."
Davina rose to her feet. Midge hugged her as comfortingly as only a grandmother could. "Now, we're not going to let a little thing like a flasher ruin our weekend, are we?" she said encouragingly.
Davina tried to push the sordid image of the flasher out of her mind. "No," she said firmly, more to convince herself than her grandmother. "No, I'm not."
"Of course not," Midge said. "Now, we'll go see Believe and forget all about it."
Yes, Davina thought, they would go see Believe and forget all about it--if she could. She tried to replace the memory of the flasher with an image of Criss Angel's toned, sexy torso, adorned with gleaming pendants, but the image of that creep's ugly, hairy, potbellied body still haunted her. She made a mental note to post her experience on the fanboards as a warning to her fellow Loyals planning to go to Vegas soon. She wished she had had the presence of mind to take a picture of the creep with her camera phone so the police would have something to work with, but the shock had been too great for her.
Well, Gran was right about one thing: she was not going to let that perv ruin her Vegas weekend. The police would find him, with or without her help; she'd seen enough episodes of CSI: New York to know that crime investigation was too sophisticated and scientific these days to let anyone get away with anything. Besides, how hard could it be to find someone wearing a raincoat in Nevada in the middle of summer?
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
09-04-2011, 11:04 PM
Sunday. The sanctified day of rest for most of the world, and especially for Criss Angel, who took full advantage of it after a grueling week of taping his series and performing live on stage twice a night. Though he had the stamina of a man almost half his age, the need for sleep was just as strong. He might have appeared immortal on stage, performing amazing acts of magic and illusions, but he was still a man of flesh and blood with all the limitations of any other human on Earth.
This particular Sunday Criss slept until after noon, virtually comatose after the week he had gone through. His beloved cat, Hammie, lay curled at the foot of the king-sized bed, dozing contentedly. Outside, the midday sun beat down mercilessly upon the city. Waves of heat shimmered on the pavement below, and every surface burned like a stove, but in the air-conditioned comfort of his suite at the Luxor Hotel, Criss was oblivious to the desert inferno on the other side of the giant tinted windowpane in his bedroom.
Something in his brain kicked on like an internal alarm clock, and his eyes fluttered open. He stretched the stiffness out of his limbs, rubbed his stubbly face, and rose from bed, clad only in a pair of gray CK briefs. Hammie idly watched his owner stumble to the bathroom to tend to certain bodily needs which even the most famous shared with the rest of humanity. The trickling sound of water striking water eminated from the bathroom, then a loud flush, then the sturdier sound of water landing on porcelain tile as Criss showered. He shaved away the five o'clock shadow around his jawline, combed his black hair, brushed his teeth, and pulled on his bathrobe, ready for the day though the day itself was almost half over by now.
He opened the double door of his suite. On the floor was a copy of the Sunday Las Vegas Sun sheathed in plastic wrap. Knowing full well the futility of training Hammie to fetch the paper for him, he scooped it up and carried it to the sofa, fetching a bottle of juice in the small fridge on the way. After tossing aside the bundle of inserts and supplements ("Geez!" he said to himself, "how many trees had to die to make all of this (bleep)?") he settled back with the main body of the newspaper on the sofa.
GM was scaling down after declaring bankruptcy; President Obama was working to restore America's credibility with the rest of the world; Michael Jackson's records were selling at a phenomemal rate since the late singer's death two years ago while his children visited his old home in Gary, Indiana; unemployment was still at an all-time high--pretty much the same old same old, Criss thought as he scanned the paper. He turned to the local news section to get a feel of what was happening in the metropolitan area of Las Vegas. The first article he saw gave him a jolt.
Some local man the press had dubbed the Vegas Flasher had been exposing himself in public for the past two weeks. He mainly targeted older women around fifty or sixty, but yesterday afternoon he had revealed himself in front of a sixty-two year old grandmother and her fifteen-year-old granddaughter at Circus Circus. Exposing himself to the older woman was considered only gross indecency or minor assault, but in front of a minor constituted CSA, a felony offense. Citizens were advised to be on the lookout for this person and to report him to the police if spotted.
Criss read the description of the infamous flasher: middle-aged man, dark hair, heavy dark body hair, small potbelly, bulbous nose, mustache, wearing only a black raincoat. He rolled his eyes in disgust; the guy must either be a pervert or a nutcase--probably both, he reasoned. He turned the page to find something else more worthy of his attention, dismissing the Vegas Flasher from his mind. He was caught up in an article about the mayor's state of the city address when he heard his cell phone go off in his bedroom. Criss tossed the paper aside and rose from the sofa to answer it, hoping it wasn't his manager or producer or anyone else on his crew; this was his day of rest, and he wanted to enjoy it as long as he could. To his relief, it was his brother, JD, calling. He flipped open the phone and answered it. "Hey, JD, what's up?" he said.
"Hey, Criss," he heard JD say jovially, "Did I wake you up?"
"Nah, it's okay," Criss replied drily, "I had to get up to answer the phone anyway."
"Ba-dum-bump!" JD laughed. "Okay, the reason I called is that Mom's coming to Vegas to stay with Costa for a while."
Criss was delighted, but a bit puzzled. He was always delighted when his beloved mother came to Vegas, but usually she came during the winter months, almost never during the summer--the desert heat was too much for a seventy-four year old woman to bear. "That's great, bro," he said cheerfully, "but what's the occasion?"
"Well, it seems the old homestead became infested with red ants," JD explained, "so Mom's gotta retreat for a few weeks while they fumigate the place. The whole house is under a huge tent to gas out the bugs."
"Must be one helluva infestation," Criss commented.
"Damn straight," JD concurred. "I gotta pick her up at the airport tomorrow afternoon. Care to come."
"Hey, I'd love to!" Suddenly, he remembered. "Oh, (bleep), I can't," he groaned apologetically. "I got that physical that's gonna take all day. Sorry."
"Well, hope they don't find anything," JD said optimistically. "Oh, by the way, you hear about George?"
"What about him?"
"He made the quarter finals to the Excalibur fight yesterday."
"All riiiiighhht!" Criss cheered. "Way to go, George!"
"The match is this Friday," JD told him. "I know you're busy, so I'll tape it for you."
"There's just one more thing."
"Someone posted a YouTube video of you in the nude."
Criss was stunned. "Come again?"
"Yeah, someone shot a tape of you coming out of the shower and put it on YouTube. They blocked your privates, though, totally censored, so there's nothing to worry about there. Any idea who put it there?"
"Oh, yeah," Criss replied through gritted teeth. "I know exactly who put it there. And when I find the (bleeper), he's gonna be road pizza!"
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Costa's closet bwahahaha
09-04-2011, 11:05 PM
OMG!!! Stop the story there would ya'?! Just when I got sucked in... Great cliffhanger!
His kisses were like poison
Like the breath of death on my lips
His eyes tracked my every move
Watching, waiting for me to fall.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
09-04-2011, 11:09 PM
Monday morning, eight forty-five, Rose Medical Center. Criss sat in a plastic chair in the waiting room with a brown plastic clipboard holding a stack of forms to be filled out for his physical--the same ones he filled out last year, and the year before, and the year before that, ever since he signed the contract with the Luxor. It was a tedious routine, but it was better than reading the three-year-old Family Circle magazine lying next to him on the side table. Criss picked up the pen provided with the clipboard and began to fill in the blanks.
Name, address, city, state, ZIP code, phone number, insurance information, driver's license, number of person to contact in case of an emergency--he scribbled them all in. Why the hell don't they just use what I gave them last time? he wondered. Save a lot of paperwork for both of us. Next came a questionnaire regarding his physical well-being: Did he or his family have a history of any of the diseases or other maladies listed on the form? Criss circled "cancer" due to his father's illness and "heart disease" because of his mother's bypass a few years ago. Was he a smoker? No, he never was and never would be. Did he have a history of alcohol or drug abuse? Again, no, unless being an adrenalin junkie counted. Did he or his family have a history of such mental disorders as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the like? Nah, I just enjoy jumping out of runaway vans and running through collapsing hotels! he joked to himself, but he checked No just the same. If he had checked Yes, it wouldn't have made any difference. If they put him in a straitjacket, he'd just get out of it.
Criss signed the forms, got up from the uncomfortable plastic chair and walked over to the reception window. He gave the clipboard and pen back to the medical assisitant , then returned to his seat to wait for the doctor to see him. Across from him, a black woman sat quietly perusing an issue of The Watchtower, the premier publication of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Something clicked inside his brain when he read the cover of that little magazine: Michael Jackson had been a Jehovah's Witness, he recalled. Did he go door to door passing out those pamphlets like the others in that church early in his life? He couldn't help but laugh at the mental image of the King of Pop knocking on someone's door with a copy of The Watchtower in his hand and telling the person who lived there that Jesus was coming soon and blah, blah, blah. Maybe he autographed them before he handed them out, he thought.
The side door opened, and a medical assistant appeared. "Anita Bloom?" she called out.
The black woman set aside her magazine, conspicuously leaving on the table for others to read, and followed the assistant into the doctor's office. More out of boredom than curiosity, Criss picked it up and browsed through it. The watercolor lithograph cover showed people in various stages of dress, from Muslim women in full chador and hijab to American teens in miniskirts and tube tops. The boldly lettered caption read What Does the Bible Say About MODESTY?
Criss tossed the pamphlet aside. I know what the Bible says about modesty, he said to himself. It says cover your ass or go to Hell, that's what it says! What's the big hangup about the human body, anyway? Adam and Eve were both naked in the Garden of Eden, and they wern't ashamed. The body's not evil--it's the way we treat it! These people need to lighten up a little!
Suddenly he recalled what his brother, JD, said about the YouTube post of him in the shower, and his own shocked reaction. Was he being a hypocrite? No, he told himself. He was upset over the invasion of his privacy than his embarrassment over being naked. Now I know how Tommy Lee felt when he and Pam saw those videos they made go public. I am so going to kill Kevin or whoever posted that tape for this! he vowed.
The side door opened again. "Criss?"
Criss rose and followed the medical assistant to a small examining room. A threadbare hospital gown lay neatly folded on the examining table. "Just change into this gown," the assistant instructed, "and the doctor will be with you shortly." She left quietly, closing the door behind her.
Away went the collection of silvery pendants from around his neck and rings from his fingers. Off came the heavy combat boots. Up and over went the gray Affliction t-shirt. Down went the ragged jeans, followed by the CK briefs. Criss folded his clothes neatly and set them aside, hiding his bling inside them. He then struggled valiently to cover his naked self with the awkwardly designed white hospital gown that left half his body exposed no matter which way he put it on. Exasperated, he stripped it off entirely and tied it around his waist like a cotton loincloth. Then he hopped onto the exam table and tried to relax.
A knock on the door, then Dr. Melinda Shyne appeared. "Hello, Criss," she greeted him cordially. "Nice to see you again."
"Nice to see you, too, Doc," Criss replied.
Dr. Shyne set her clipboard aside, turned, and did a double take when she saw the unorthodox way her patient was wearing the hospital gown. Criss merely shrugged. "What?" he deadpanned. "It works for me."
The good doctor decided not to make a federal case of it; she had a full caseload of patients to see that day and she didn't want to waste time arguing about the proper way of donning a hospital gown. Instead, she merely got down to business. "Okay, fine," she sighed resignedly. "Let's get started, shall we? I need you to sit up for me."
Criss sat up. Dr. Shyne performed the preliminary exam: She took his temperature with a digital thermometer; she wrapped a blood pressure cuff around one bicep and pumped it up, then released it. She laid a stethescope on his broad shoulders, scarred faintly from the hooks impaled into his flesh years ago, to check his lungs, then onto his chest to measure his heartbeat. Criss remained indifferent through it all; it was no big deal, at least so far. It was what came next that unnerved him.
"All right, take off your gown and lie on your back," Dr. Shyne ordered him as she pulled on a pair of latex gloves.
Criss did as he was told. He pulled off his cotton gown from his hips and lay naked on the paper-lined exam table. "Try to relax, okay?" Dr. Shyne said as she carefully probed for any signs of cancer or other unusual growths or lesions on the single part of his anatomy that thousands of female Loyals would have sold their souls to catch a glimpse of. "Have you had any unusual discharges or pain while urinating?" she asked as she felt his genitalia for anything out of the ordinary. "Notice any swelling or anything?"
She's a professional, he reminded himself, fighting his nervousness. It's nothing personal; it's all part of the examination. "No, nothing."
Satisfied that the equipment was in perfect working order, Dr. Shyne ordered Criss off the exam table. "We need to do a prostate exam next," she told him.
Criss blanched. He knew what that meant. "Hope you trimmed your nails," he said.
Dr. Shyne ignored the quip and took out a tiny packet of lubricant. "Okay, assume the position," she ordered him.
Criss bent over double, leaning on the exam table. Dr. Shyne applied the lubricant. "Now, just relax and push against my finger," she instructed him.
Just relax, she says, Criss thought sarcastically. I'm getting cavity searched here and she tells me to relax! She's--OH (BLEEP)!
Criss braced himself against the exam table as Dr. Shyne probed around inside him for any tumors. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, she withdrew. Criss stood upright, relieved the ordeal was over. The doctor peeled off the gloves and recorded the data on the chart. "Well, that part of the exam is over," she said almost cheerfully. "You can get dressed now. We need you to go to the lab and give us some samples of your blood and urine, then you got a stress test in East Wing."
"Fine," Criss said, exhaling heavily. "Later."
Dr. Shyne left. Criss dressed in record time, happy to be getting out of there. A stress test in the East Wing, he said to himself. As if what I went through wasn't stressful enough!
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
09-04-2011, 11:13 PM
While his famous cousin was enduring his share of indignities at Rose Memorial Clinic, George Strumpolis was going through his own ordeal of pain and suffering as part of his training for the quarter finals coming up Friday. It was his turn in the ring, and his sparring partner was the formidable Christian Ruhr, the Austrian powerhouse with the square jawline and platinum-blond hair. This guy looks like a poster boy for the Hitler Youth, he could not help but think when he first met Ruhr for the first time in the gym over a year ago. Even as time passed, George could never strike up a friendship with him as he did with Tobe and the other boxers; the strapping blond athlete remained aloof, standoffish, though cordial enough not to offend anyone. Guy needs to lighten up a little, be a little more sociable, George thought. He's not going to win any friends with that attitude.
But this was no time for socializing. George was in the ring with Ruhr, dodging blows and returning them with all of his might. The Austrian was relentless, delivering punch after brusing punch while skillfully deflecting George's gloved fists with his arms and elbows. George, however, proved again and again he was every bit Ruhr's equal in the ring: he feinted with his left while pounded Ruhr with his right; he faked an uppercut to deliver a right cut to the chest; he slipped and ducked the nanosecond Ruhr came at him. At the end of the practice bout, Sean Linehan declared Ruhr the winner by a single point, practically a draw but a defeat all the same to George. Still, it did not do to dwell upon his failures; you put on the gloves and went back into the ring, sore but wiser.
"Good fight, Ruhr," George said in the spirit of good sportsmanship.
"Dank you," Ruhr replied with a Mona Lisa smile. "You fight goot, too. We win Friday, yah?"
George nodded. "Yeah, we win Friday."
The two men headed for the showers. Neither man spoke as the stinging hot water soothed away the aches and pains from the bout, but George noticed a ribbon tattoo on Ruhr's right shoulder: Annelise Groten 1918~1989 3875921. He calculated that Annelise Groten had been seventy-one when she died, but who was she to Ruhr? he wondered. And what was the significance of the seven numbers underneath her name? He quickly turned his back when Ruhr finished showering and left him. It didn't do to pry into his personal business; besides, Ruhr would probably break his face if he did.
George finished his shower and padded half-naked to his locker. Across from him, Ruhr sat shirtless on the bench, the mysterious tattoo fully illuminated in the flourescent light. He sat down casually and began to dress. When next he turned to face Ruhr, he was startled to see him smiling--a real smile, not the Mona Lisa one which usually creased his face.
"I see your cousin, Criss," Ruhr said, pronouncing it Criz. "I see his show, yah? He goot mageecian. You work for him, yah?"
"Yeah, I work for him," George replied casually. "So, you saw his live show?"
"Tel-lee-vis-shun," Ruhr replied, enunciating every syllable. "He do crazy stuff, yah?"
"That's an understatement."
Ruhr almost laughed. "I see him in da ring with you. Criz is no boxer, no?"
"No," George conceded, "but he's no weakling, either."
"No, no weekleeng."
George looked at the tattoo on Ruhr's shoulder. "Nice ink you got there," he said casually.
"Ah, yah." Ruhr turned his arm to show it off better. "Is for my grandmama." he pointed at the seven numbers below the name. "This was her number when she was in Dachau. They tattoo it on her arm."
George was stunned. "Your grandmother was in a concentration camp?"
Ruhr nodded sadly. "Took the whole family. Why, she never say. She was the only survivor. Came to America after the war with grandpapa."
"Son of a (bleep)!" George muttered under her breath.
"She keep number on her arm as a lesson," Ruhr went on, tapping the seven digits on his bicep. "Teach everyone about the past, so it does not happen again."
"That's one helluva history lesson," George commented.
Ruhr left the locker room. George remained, lost in thought. Poor guy. When I first met him, I thought he looked like a poster boy for the Hitler Youth. Now I find out his grandmother had survived being in a concentration camp! He shook his head sadly. Mom told me stories about Greece during the war, and I thought we had it rough back then. Now I find out that no one was safe even in Hitler's own homeland! Naziism--that's a helluva legacy to live down.
Costa scanned the YouTube site for the infamous nude video of his brother, Criss, that JD had told him about. It was only eight seconds long, repeating over and over again like an animated avatar on the fansites. YouTube had automatically censored Criss around the hips, concealing his genitals and buttocks, but it was embarrassing all the same. JD had found out that a cameraman named Kevin had taken the video during the Sports epsiode shoot in Criss' gym and had been subsequently fired because of it. Obviously, Kevin had posted it publicly out of pure spite, if not revenge. Well, the damage was done, Costa thought, though he was grateful to YouTube for censoring it the way they did. Criss may have been caught in the shower, but it was Kevin who was really in hot water. Costa hoped that Criss would not cancel tonight's private photo shoot after this.
The office door opened, and JD entered. "Hey, Cos," he said. "What're you doing?"
"Oh, just checking out Criss on YouTube," Costa replied indifferently.
"You mean Kevin's video, don't you?"
Costa nodded. "At least they censored it. Criss know about this?"
JD nodded. "Yeah, and he's plenty (bleeped) off about it."
"Can't say I blame him."
"Look, I gotta pick up Ma at the airport," JD said. "You coming?"
"Nah, I got too much work to do here," Costa said regretfully. "You go on ahead."
JD left the office. Costa logged off YouTube and concentrated on production business. He convinced himself this whole thing would blow over if no one made a big deal about it; the less publicity, the better. He had given the Administrators of the fansites orders to block any reference to the YouTube video to hasten its demise, but he was helpless to erase it from cyberspace altogether. There was nothing Criss or anyone else could do but ride it out and let it fade away over time, like the scandal over his divorce from JoAnn. Criss Angel was not the only famous person to have to suffer public indignity and embarrassment. Exposure was an occupational hazard among celebrities, be it in the form of nude photos, adulterous affairs or criminal behavior. Such was the price of fame, having one's dirty linen aired for public viewing--whether the person involved was wearing it or not.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
09-04-2011, 11:19 PM
"United 483 now arriving at Gate 14A."
JD rose from his seat in the waiting area, his spirits high. United 483 was the incoming flight from New York his mother had taken. He checked his watch: ten-forty-five, right on schedule, he was pleased to note. He regretted the fact that neither Costa nor Criss could be with him to greet their mother, Dimitra, when she arrived, but Criss had his physical today and Costa said he was too busy. Well, he'd better not be too busy to take Mom home with him tonight, JD thought irritably, because that's where she's staying while she's here. Normally, Criss would have booked a suite for her at the Luxor, but since this was such short notice there was no time to make a reservation. Besides, Dimitra had always expressed a desire to see Costa's new home. At least it's bug-free, JD joked to himself.
The doors swung open, releasing a stream of passengers relieved to be free from the confining space of the plane. Among them was a petite, fashionably dressed, black-haired elderly woman towing a wheeled carryon bag. JD spotted her and waved. "Hey, Mom!" he called out. "Over here!"
Dimitra saw her eldest son and waved back. "JD!" she cried happily, sailing right into his arms. "So good to see you!"
JD hugged her back. "How was your trip?" he asked.
"Long," Dimitra replied wearily. "Long and tiring. I think I dozed off for a while there."
JD laughed. "Hey, a four-hour flight crossing three time zones--yeah, I'd find it tiring, too."
"So, where are your brothers?" Dimitra asked.
"Well, Criss is at the doctor--"
Dimitra suddenly became alarmed. "The doctor!? What's wrong with him?" she demanded. "Did he get hurt or something?"
"Take it easy, Ma," JD assured her. "Nothing's wrong--he's fine. He's just there for his annual physical, that's all."
"A physical?" The alarm faded. "Oh, well, all right then. That's good to know."
JD was not at all surprised at his mother's anxiety. Her youngest son had been in and out of emergency rooms and hospitals so many times during the course of his career that everyone had lost count. Neck injuries, puncture wounds, burns--it was a wonder Criss wasn't already six feet under, or at least crippled for life. It seemed to JD that his famous brother had more lives than a cat--how many he had left had yet to be determined.
"Costa couldn't make it because he said he was busy," JD continued, "but he's got a room waiting for you at his house."
"Too busy to say hello to his mother?" Dimitra said indignantly.
"Ma, you know he's not like that," JD spoke in his brother's defense. "You can see him tonight, okay?"
"Well, all right, then," Dimitra sniffed.
JD decided to change the subject. "So, how long are they going to fumigate the house?" he asked.
"Three weeks. Two weeks to fumigate, then another to clear the air. I had to take out all my clothes and store them with your Aunt Stella, and Minx, too; empty all the cupboards, and unplug all the appliances, including the refrigerator, so there won't be any sparks to cause a fire."
They approached the luggage carosel to claim Dimitra's baggage. "Geez, just for a bunch of little bitty ants?" JD said.
"They're everywhere! In the kitchen, in the bathroom, in all the bedrooms--all over the place! I have no idea how they got in, but they're huge! Big red ones, crawling all over the floors and walls. I found a few crawling all over me in bed two nights ago--that's when I called the exterminator. Hopefully, they'll be gone when I get back."
Dimitra's suitcase rolled into view. JD grabbed it and pulled it off the carosel. "Gassing them for two weeks? Yeah, they'd better be gone when you get back! How much is this gonna run, anyway?"
"Twelve hundred dollars."
JD was appalled. "Twelve hundred dollars to kill a bunch of ants?" He shook his head in disbelief. "For that kind of money, there'd better not be anything alive when you get back!"
"Well, at least I can spend time with my family while I'm here," Dimitra said. "That is, if none of them are too busy to spend time with me."
"You know we always make time for you, Ma," JD said. "You can watch Criss tape the show, and George's got a boxing match coming up this Friday, so you can go see him there."
"George is in a boxing match?"
"Yeah, he's been taking up boxing for over a year now," JD told her. "He's trying to qualify for this exhibition match at the Excalibur in a few weeks. He's been training like Rocky Balboa for it. We even got a few shots of him at the boxing gym he goes to."
Boxing. Well, that's nice, Dimitra thought. Boxing was a respectable sport; they even had it during the Olympics. And boxers wore padded gloves and helmets, and there were rules to follow, enforced by a referee, so there was no danger of serious injury. Compared to her son Christopher's dangerous demonstrations, George's pursuit of boxing was normal, wholesome and safe. Yes, she would enjoy watching her nephew fight in his match on Friday. It would be a welcome diversion compared to whatever life-threatening stunt her famous son had in mind for his series.
Back at Rose Memorial Medical Center, Criss had nothing in mind for his series, or for his cousin's upcoming bout, or for his mother's recent arrival, or for anything else at the moment except how to get through his physical with what little dignity he had left. After the humiliation of the "preliminary exam" at the latex-gloved hands of Dr. Melinda Shyne, he had been shuttled to the cardiac wing for the ordeal known as the "stress test". There, Criss trotted on a treadmill, stripped to his CKs (he thanked God he didn't have to wear another one of those half-assed hospital gowns again) while a medical assistant observed his vital signs on a computer monitor, picked up by sensor pads attached to his chest and a plastic respirator clamped between his jaws. I feel like a cyborg, Criss said to himself. How the hell long are they going to keep me running like this?
The medical assistant looked up from the monitor. "Are you doing okay, there, Criss?" she asked.
"Uhh-huhh," Criss grunted through the respirator.
"Let me know if you start feeling dizzy or nauseous or anything."
Criss nodded as best he could with the respirator strapped to his head. He wasn't dizzy or nauseous, he was just plain fed up with the whole business and wanted to get out of there. After this was over, he still had to go to the lab to give samples of his urine, blood and whatever other bodily fluid they asked for, another indignity to suffer at Rose Memorial. God, get me through this day, he prayed fervently.
"All right," the medical assistant said. "You can stop now."
Criss stopped running. The assistant removed the sensors from his chest and released him from the respirator. He rubbed his aching jaws as he dismounted from the treadmill. "How'd I do?" he asked.
"Very well," the assistant replied. "BP, 110 over 70. Respiration, 60. Heartbeat, 30. You're still going strong. I've seen men your age almost pass out on the treadmill in half the time. Keep up the good work."
Criss grunted, "Thanks."
"Now you just need to go to the lab for your tests," the assistant reminded him, "and you're all set. Have a good day!"
"Yeah, same to you," Criss mumbled as he pulled on his clothes. Only one more ordeal to go, he told himself, and he was free for another year. He stumbled to the lab area, pausing at a drinking fountain to refresh his mouth and tongue, dried out from the plastic respirator. When he arrived at the lab reception area, he was surprised to see his friend, Sully Erna, sitting in the waiting area, his right hand wrapped in gauze.
"Hey, Sully," Criss called out. "What's up, dude?"
Sully looked up, himself surprised. "Hey, Criss! How's it goin'?" He sheepishly held up his bandaged hand. "Sorry, man, but as you can see..."
Criss sat down beside him, staring at the gauze bindings. "Yeah, like, what the hell happened, man?"
"Beer bottle broke," Sully explained. "Cut my hand open like a mother(bleeper). Came here to get the results of my blood tests, see if there's any infection or something."
"Gee, that's too bad."
"Me? Oh, just the annual checkup," Criss replied airily. "Gotta check my fluids, you know. It's part of my contract with the Luxor--they want to protect their investment, namely me. I just came out of a stress test, and before that, well..."
"What'd they do?"
"Let's just say there's not a part of me that hasn't been poked, prodded, and probed, inside and out," Criss told him.
"Even up your--"
Sully laughed sympathetically. "Hey, dude, I've been there before. Was it a male doctor who, you know..."
"Female," Criss replied. "Dr. Melinda Shyne. Nice lady, good doctor."
"Well, you're lucky," Sully said. "I had some fifty-year-old guy with stubby fingers go prospecting up my ass. Swore I'd never go through that again."
Criss nodded. "Well, like I said, it's part of my contract." He leaned back casually in his seat. "So, what's new with you?" he asked.
"Besides the hand, not much," Sully replied. "Say, did you hear about that Vegas Flasher? The (bleeper) going around opening his trenchcoat to little old ladies around here?"
"I read about him in the Sunday paper yesterday," Criss said. "His last victim was a fifteen-year-old girl with her grandma. That's gonna lead to some serious jail time, exposing himself to a minor. Hope they find him soon."
"Why? He ain't hurtin' nobody."
"You may not think so, but if he's targeting little old ladies, he's probably gonna trigger a heart attack in one of them someday. And if he's going after minors, then he's a child molester--and you know how I feel about child molesters."
"You and me both, pal."
"Before, he was a nuisance," Criss continued. "Now, he's a threat. I'm sure the police will find him soon."
Sully began to laugh. "I keep thinking of Uncle Shermie," he said.
"Who's Uncle Shermie?"
"Oh, he was this character on a switchplate in my first apartment," Sully explained. "My roommate called him Uncle Shermie for some reason--don't think he was a relative or anything. Anyway, it was this cartoon of a flasher printed on a switchplate screwed onto a lightswitch. There was a hole around the groin area where the lightswitch went, so it looked like he--"
Criss held up his hand. "Don't go there!" he said, repelled.
"Anyway, it was pretty funny," Sully said.
A lab technician came into the waiting area. "Mr. Erna?" he called out.
"Gotta go," Sully said. "Catch you later."
Criss waved goodbye. "Later."
He sat back in his chair, emptying his head of all thought save one: it would all be over soon, and he could get his life back to normal again. A few more tests, and he was free. Just hang in there, pal, just hang in there. Forget the Vegas Flasher, Uncle Shermie and all that nonsense. Just hang in there, and it will be all over.
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
09-04-2011, 11:25 PM
Costa typed in the last of the production notes in the series log file and clicked Enter. There, that was done. He rubbed his weary eyes and reached for the water bottle. Tonight he would be taking more pictures for his portfolio, some of his brother, Criss, and some of a black male model/dancer named Tuburi Zubufu, a native Kenyan with charcoal black skin covering his lithe, limber body and who had no qualms about posing nude.
Costa, however, had some misgivings about tonight's photo session due to the unexpected arrival of his mother from New York. How would she react to his project? Would she be offended? Criss' being there was no problem, of course, but how could he explain Tuburi's presence? He hated to deceive her, but under the circumstances he felt he had no choice; he would simply tell her it's a simple photo shoot without mentioning the nudity, and Tuburi was just another model, and there was no way to reschedule, so would she mind not disturbing him for about two hours, please? He figured she would be too tired from her trip, so she probably wouldn't object.
He heard the door open beside him, and in walked George, flushed from his boxer's training. Costa smiled at his cousin. "Hey, George, how's it going?" he greeted him.
George merely nodded in reply. He sat down on the couch, picked up a stray water bottle on a side table and chugged it down. Costa became concerned. "Something bothering you, George?" he asked.
George laid the plastic bottle on his thigh. "Nothing, really," he said. "Just tired, that's all. Training for the quarter finals on Friday's got me beat."
"Well, don't knock yourself out."
George laughed at the unintended pun. "Knock myself out," he mused. "I'm trying to knock the other guy out, remember?" He grew somber again. "Ruhr nearly knocked me out this morning," he said. "Guy's like a machine, hammering away like that. He's the favorite to make it in to the finals, you know that?"
"Who's Ruhr?" Costa asked.
"Christian Ruhr," George replied. "Austrian guy, a real powerhouse. I've never beaten him in the ring; hell, I'm lucky to tie him. He's gonna make it to the finals, I know he is."
Costa turned to his cousin. "George, you have as much a chance to make it as Ruhr does, or anyone else for that matter. You got the meanest right hook anyone could ask for! Hell, Criss is still trying to beat your record on the punching bag machine!"
"A punching bag machine is one thing," George pointed out. "A guy like Ruhr is another. That arcade game in Criss' room doesn't hit back, you know."
Costa laughed. "The way I've seen you take a swing at that thing, I'm surprised it doesn't! It's a wonder you haven't broken the thing!"
George remained silent. Costa rose, crossed over to the couch and sat down beside him. "Look, George," he said, "you made it this far, so don't go wimping out on us now."
"I'm not wimping out!" George protested. 'I'm just tired, that's all."
"Tell you what," Costa said, "Mom's coming over to my house to stay for a few weeks. Whaddya say you come over for dinner tonight and see her, okay?"
"Why's your mom coming here all of a sudden?"
"Her house is getting fumigated, so she's staying with me until they gas out all the bugs," Costa explained. "I know it's short notice, but, well..."
George thought about it. "Yeah, sure, why not?" he replied. "Be good to see Aunt Dimitra again."
Costa smiled. "Good! Uh, there's just one thing, though. I got a photo shoot in my studio downstairs tonight, and I got a model coming over for it--"
George's eyes lit up. "She single?" he asked expectantly.
"It's a he."
George's face fell. "Oh."
"And anyway, he and I will be working for two hours down there for a project I'm doing," Costa went on, "so we don't want to be disturbed, okay?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," George said. "I understand. I mean, I don't like being disturbed while I'm training, so I know where you're coming from."
"Don't mention it."
Criss emerged from the lab, clutching a was of gauze in the crook of his right arm. He felt drained, literally, physically drained. A tubeful of blood from his arm, a cupful of urine, scrapings from his tongue, and swabs from his mouth had been drawn from him for analysis. After the exhausting run on the treadmill for the stress test, then the ordeal in the lab, his insides felt like sand. Now, it was all over. He was free to go home and get on with his life. First thing I'm going to do, he vowed, is empty the whole fridge of anything that's drinkable, no matter what it is! I'm, like, dying of thirst here!
He spotted Sully Erna in the waiting area. Sully looked up at him. "How'd it go?" he asked.
"Uh, came and went," Criss muttered in reply.
"Came and went?"
"Yeah,'went' as in I had to pee in a bottle."
Sully chuckled. "You poor (bleeper)! So, you doin' okay now?"
"Dude, right now I could drink Lake Meade."
Sully walked over to a vending machine, pulled out a five, slipped it into the slot and purchased a Dasani for Criss and a Coke for himself. He returned with the plastic bottles, handing the Dasani to Criss, who accepted it gratefully. Sully sat down beside him, swigging his Coke in his left hand, his injured right dangling between his knees.
"How's the hand?" Criss asked.
"It's better," Sully replied. "No sign of infection, thank God." He held up his bandaged hand. "Took eight stitches. Still hurts like a mother(bleeper), though. They got me on painkillers, but I gotta be careful with them so's I don't end up overdosing or something. Them (bleepers) are addictive, you know."
Criss nodded. "I know. They say that's how Michael Jackson died--too many prescription drugs."
"Him and a lot of other people."
Criss gulped down the last of his bottled water. "God! I needed that!" he sighed contentedly. "Well, I gotta get going--Mom's coming in from New York to stay with Costa, and I gotta be at his house tonight." He rose from his seat to leave.
Sully didn't question why; he merely waved goodbye. "Say hi to your mom for me, willya?" he said.
"Sure, dude." He patted his friend on the shoulder. "Hope your hand gets better soon."
Criss left the clinic and headed to his car. Halfway there he suddenly remembered the real reason he was going to his brother's house, and he cringed at the thought of having to pose nude for the camera after what he had been through that morning. Maybe I can reschedule it, he thought, or rather hoped. I'm just not in the mood for it anymore. Hell, I've been naked enough for one day!
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
09-04-2011, 11:29 PM
The broiling Nevada sun tempered itself as it descended toward the horizon. A black late model Range Rover rolled up the curving drive in front of a large mansion just outside of Las Vegas, and came to a halt in front of the main entrance. JD climbed out of the driver's side, circled around, and opened the passenger side door to allow his mother out of the vehicle. Dimitra stretched her limbs, grateful to be standing after such a long ride from the airport. JD fetched the two suitcases from the back seat and carried them to the front door. Dimitra stepped up to the door and pressed the doorbell button.
Through the side windows she could see someone trotting up into the foyer. Costa opened the huge front door and smiled at the sight of his mother standing there. "Hey, Ma," he said. "Good to see you. Come on in."
Dimitra stepped through the doorway. "Thank you, dear," she said, smiling warmly. "And thank you for taking me in on such short notice. I hope it doesn't inconvenience you in any way."
"No, not at all," Costa protested. "You're welcome to stay as long as you want. I got plenty of room here, and you can borrow the Lexus if you wanna go shopping or something."
Dimitra gave her middle son a kiss on the cheek. "That's so sweet of you, Costa. Thank you."
"Uh, hey, Cos?" JD called out from behind as he struggled with his mother's luggage. "You wanna give me a hand here?"
Costa began clapping enthusiastically. JD was not amused. "You know what I mean!" he said irritably. "Get over here and gimme a hand with these bags!"
Costa came to his brother's rescue and picked up a large brown suitcase. "Lighten up a little, willya?" he told JD.
The bags were carried to the guest bedroom on the second floor. Weary from her long trip, Dimitra lay down on the king-sized bed. "So tired," she murmured. "How can someone be tired from sitting in an airplane for four hours?"
"Jet lag," Costa explained. "Crossing three time zones will screw up your body clock. You just lay here and rest, okay?"
Dimitra didn't argue, but closed her eyes and dozed off. Her two sons quietly left the guest room, closing the door behind them. "So, what's on your agenda for tonight?" JD asked Costa.
"I got a photo shoot tonight with Criss and another model," Costa replied casually.
JD was intrigued. "Criss is posing for you with a model? Hmmmmm. What's her name?"
"It's a he, his name's Tuburi Zubufu, and he's not posing with Criss," Costa informed him. "It's two separate shoots."
"Mind if I hang around?"
"Well, if you like looking at nude bodies..."
JD started. "Nude?"
"Yeah, nude. As in naked, bare, in the buff..."
"You talked Criss into posing nude for you?" JD was incredulous.
"It's just for a private portfolio."
JD began to laugh. "Oh, God! This I've got to see!"
Dimitra, thankfully, declined dinner that evening, saying she ate already on the plane and preferred to turn in early, sparing Costa the embarrassment of having to explain his plans for the photo shoot in his downstairs studio. Tubufu showed up at exactly seven PM, fresh from rehersal for a Vegas show at Caesar's Palace and raring to go. Criss showed up twenty minutes later, still feeling grouchy over his physical that morning, still hoping he could get out of the promised photo shoot for the evening. Finding JD at the house surprised him at first; then he remembered that his mother was here to stay with Costa for a few weeks. Maybe with her here, Cos will have to cancel the shoot, he thought.
That hope died when JD informed him that his model, Tuburi, was down in the studio, posing for Costa, and that he, Criss, was next. "Come on, man!" Criss pleaded. "I just got back from a physical. I've already stripped down for every doctor in the clinic! Maybe some other time, okay?"
From the sadistic smile on his older brother's face, he could tell there was no backing out of it. Whether he felt like it or not, JD told him, Criss Angel was going to pose nude for the camera. Poor Criss was shepherded down to the lower level where the photo session was taking place. JD led his hapless brother into a side room to undress. "In," he ordered.
Criss stared into his elder brother's gloating eyes. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?" he asked.
JD shoved Criss into the dressing room, or in this case the undressing room, and slammed the door. In the tiny, dark closet, Criss cursed his fate. God! How did I get myself into this? Why did I let Costa talk me into doing this?
Resignedly, Criss undressed for the shoot. A thin cotton robe hung from a hook behind the door. He pulled it over his naked body and peeked out of the dressing room. On the other side of the room, a naked Tuburi was stretching, writhing, twisting and squatting gracefully in front of the silvery grey backdrop, his sinewy muscles flexing and relaxing with every move. Flashes of light from the camera punctuated every pose his graceful dancer's body made.
Criss emerged from the dressing room, fascinated. Never before in his life had he ever seen such a perfectly developed human form! The taut muscles, the finely turned limbs, the firm, lean torso--how could one person achieve such perfection? The charcoal blackness of his skin emphasized the structure of his splended frame, highlighted by the overhead lights and the light backdrop. His every move seemed to flow like water, the sweat from his dark flesh seemed to shimmer in the light. Criss could not help but wonder if he had been born with such a body, or if he had to work on it to achieve such physical perfection. Probably both, he conceded. Whatever the case, Tuburi Zubufu was without a doubt the most beautiful human being he had ever seen. Had he lived in the days of the ancient Greeks, sculptors would have carved his form out of marble or molded it out of clay. Artists would have immortalized him in mosiac tile, porcelain urns, or frescoes in some wealthy patron's villa. Songs and poems would have been written about him. He would have been hailed as a demigod, a son of Zeus, a living diety walking on the earth. Women would have desired such a body for themselves, and not a few men, too...
Criss' reverie came to a screeching halt. Wait a minute! Am I falling in love with this guy? Okay, he's got a great body, granted, but I'm not gay for him! That last prostate exam I had proved that already! No, I'm not in love with him, I can't be in love with him! I'm a straight arrow! I love women, and only women!
He continued watching Tuburi pose. He's beautiful, but not in a sexual sense--at least as far as I'm concerned. I appreciate his body only in an artistic sense, like Costa does. Yeah, that's it! I admire him like I'd admire Michaelangelo's David. No sex involved at all, just pure physical beauty. It's aesthetics, not sexual desire.
"Okay, that's a wrap," Costa announced. "Thanks, Tuburi, you've been great."
Tuburi stopped posing and stood up straight, smiling at Costa. "No problem, man," he replied in his heavy Kenyan accent.
Upon hearing those words spoken by Tuburi the spell he had on Criss was broken, and the slim African ceased to be a demigod and became human again before his eyes. Tuburi donned the thin cotton robe lying on a chair and disappeared into another dressing room. Costa turned around to see his brother, Criss. "You ready, Criss?" he asked.
Criss was flustered. "Uh, gee, Cos," he stammered. "I dunno, uh, see, I just had a physical today and..."
Suddenly, JD appeared out of nowhere and shoved his recalcitrant brother into the spotlight. "He's ready," he told Costa.
You are so (bleeping) dead, JD! Criss cursed under his breath. I am so gonna (bleeping) kill you for this!
"Okay, Criss," Costa said. "You can take off the robe now."
Lord, get me through this, Criss prayed. The white cotton robe fell to the floor, revealing his total nakedness. Criss' face flushed beet red, and he covered his manhood with his hands. Costa became frustrated. "What the hell's the matter with you all of a sudden?" he demanded. "You were naked for two episodes of your show, and now you're acting all prudish on me? Relax, willya?"
"C'mon, give me a break here," Criss pleaded. "I just had a complete physical where I had to take off my clothes for several doctors already! I mean, how'd you feel if you just had some lady doctor stick a finger up your ass for a prostate exam, among other things?"
"I'm not here to examine you, Criss," Costa argued. "I'm here to take your picture. Now, come on, work with me! You promised, remember?"
Criss' hands dropped helplessly to his side. "So what do you want me to do?" he asked, sighing.
Costa guided his reluctant model through the various poses he wanted. "Lift your arm up over your head and turn to the side. Good. Now, turn around, bring your left leg back like you're walking. A little to the right. Good. Good. Now, give me a dancer's pose. No, no, no! I said 'dancer' not 'marcher'! Let it flow! That's better. Good. Now, kneel down on one knee and give me a profile. That's good. Now, just a casual sitting pose with your arm on your knee. Relax, willya? Okay, good."
Sweat dripped from Criss' bare skin under the hot lights as he posed. He was still a bit dehydrated from the stress test in the cardiac unit and from the blood sample taken from him in the lab. I'm gonna have an all-over tan when I'm done here! he said to himself, if I don't pass out first. He looked up at Costa. "Could I have some water, please?" he begged.
Costa bought Criss a bottle of water. "Here," he said. "Take a break. You don't look well."
Criss dragged himself away from the hot lights and collapsed in a chair, his sweaty flesh soaking the canvas back and seat. He cracked open the bottle of water and sipped it slowly, fearing he would cramp up if he drank cold water too fast. He felt a hand on his bare shoulder. Looking up, he saw Tuburi Zubufu looking down upon him with concern. "You okay, man?" he asked.
"I'm good," Criss replied. "They took a blood test on me today, and I guess I'm still feeling it."
"You rest here," Tuburi told him, massaging his shoulder. "You be okay."
He left Criss in the chair and headed for the stairs, clad in jeans and a plain white t-shirt. Criss watched as climbed the steps up to the main level of the house. His movements were still graceful, but they did not have the same impact upon him when he was posing for the camera. Clothed, he was no different from any other person on the street; only when he was naked did he reveal his true beauty.
Criss looked down upon his own naked body, dripping with sweat. A tiny puncture wound where the nurse had taken the blood sample still lay on the crook of his right arm, stained with antiseptic all around it. He mentally pictured the scars on his back from being impaled with steel hooks to dangle over the desert from a helicopter. He lifted one foot and examined the sole; a small scar resulting from walking barefoot on heavy twelve-inch screwdrivers creased it in the middle. His right hand still bore the marks of the failed nail gun demonstration he had performed last year. Tuburi had no scars, or none that he had noticed. Tuburi was flawless. Tuburi was perfect. And Criss envied him.
He had always been proud of his own body, but during the past decade he had pushed it beyond all human endurance, whether it was his fitness regimen or his demonstrations, and had suffered for it. He toned his muscles to an athlete's standards, only to crush it beneath a steamroller lying on broken glass. He ran five miles a day on the treadmill just so he could escape a collapsing hotel in Florida, emerging from the rubble covered in concrete dust, coughing and wheezing. He sharpened his reflexes with tae kuan do and jujitsu, only to nearly break his neck jumping out of a prison van loaded with explosives as it careened off a cliff. In his moment of weakness, Criss felt remorse over how he had been risking his life, his health and his God-given body for the sake of his art. Tears welled up in his eyes as he caressed his damp flesh.
Thank You, God, he prayed. Thank You for blessing me with good health and a strong body. I know I've used it and abused it over the years, but You've always come through for me, healing my injuries and giving me the strength to go on. I know we all can't have perfect bodies like Tuburi, but I'm grateful for the one You gave me. When I look upon this body, unclothed, even though it bears the scars of past demonstrations, I feel no shame, no revulsion, for are we not created in Your image? Me, Tuburi, Costa, JD, Mom, Sully, even that wack job going around flashing himself around Vegas--we're all reflections of You. Keep me in good health, and watch over me as You always have. Amen.
"Criss?" It was Costa, kneeling down beside him. "You okay, bro?"
Criss wiped away his tears. "Yeah, I'm good," he said.
"You wanna go on with the shoot?" Costa asked. "I mean, if you're not feeling well..."
Criss stood up, firm and tall, in all of his naked glory. "Let's finish this," he said confidently. "I've got nothing to be ashamed of."
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hartland, MI
09-04-2011, 11:33 PM
The next four days passed uneventfully enough, save for the nude video of Criss on YouTube. The most embarrassing eight seconds of Criss' career had become one of the most requested topic on that site for the past week. Criss' manager, Dave Baram, went on the warpath against Kevin, the former cameraman who had taped his star client in the shower and subsequently posted it on the Web for all to see. Baram found Kevin's address, went to his apartment in North Las Vegas, and put the fear of God into him by threatening legal action on the grounds of invasion of privacy, unauthorized use of film footage from a copyrighted series, and emotional damages on Criss' behalf. He would also make sure he never got another job as a cameraman again by reporting him to the union for his actions.
Kevin, broke from his loss of income and about to be evicted from his apartment for lack of rent, insisted it had just been a joke. He meant no harm from posting that videotape of Criss in the shower, honest to God he didn't. He liked Criss, really he did; he was willing to apolgize if it meant getting his job back. There was no need to go to court over it. Besides, it was too late, anyway--the tape was now the property of YouTube, and there was no way of retracting it. Couldn't he give him a break?
Baram wasn't about to give Kevin any sort of break. He had violated the trust placed in him by MindFreak Productions, he said, and the union was going to hear about it. "You'll be lucky to be taping wedding videos after this!" he snapped as he stormed out of the apartment. "I don't know what the hell you were thinking, if you were thinking at all, but after what you pulled, you'll never work in television again!"
"Hey, I said I was sorry!" Kevin shouted after Baram.
"Sorry won't cut it, kid!" Baram shot back. "You're through!" The stairwell door echoed through the empty corridor as it slammed shut, then silence.
Sitting at his desk in his personal office, Criss reflexively snatched up his cell phone the second he heard the ringtone play. "Hello?" he said.
"Hey, hey, hey, Criss!" came an irritatingly jolly voice from the other end. "Guess who this is?"
"Very funny. It's the Amazing Johnathan!"
"What do you want, AJ?" Criss droned.
"Oh, nothing, just calling to say hello," AJ said, "and to tell you I saw that bareassed video of you on YouTube!"
Criss grimaced. "So, what about it?" he said casually.
"Well, it seems you got all high and mighty about my mooning that mother(bleeper) two weeks ago," AJ went on, "now it's your best side that's showing! How's it feel to be exposed on camera, huh?"
"I didn't get 'high and mighty' about it," Criss argued. "And I wasn't the one who posted that video--someone on my crew did, and I fired him for it. And anyway, YouTube censored it, so there's really nothing worth seeing."
"You're telling me, Houdini with the little weenie!"
"At least I didn't do it on stage like you did!" Criss pointed out. "You're a (bleep)hole, AJ! Always have been, always will."
He flipped off his phone and shoved it in his pocket. "God!" he breathed. "Sometimes I wonder why I ever talk to that (bleeper)."
"Talk to what (bleeper)?"
Criss looked up and saw Costa standing in the doorway. "Oh, hi, Cos," he said glumly. "I was just talking to AJ, that's all. He saw the video."
"You know, the one of me on YouTube."
"The shower one?"
"Yeah, the shower one. He's getting back at me for ragging him about his mooning his audience."
"Ah, let it go, bro," Costa said, smiling. "Once the novelty's worn off, they'll forget all about it. Besides, they didn't show much, did they?"
Costa set down a large envelope. "Anyway, your pictures are in," he said. "Care to look at them?"
Criss opened the envelope and examined the photos Costa had taken. "Man," he gasped, "I have to admit these are really good!" He put them back in the envelope. "Personally, I'd like to see the ones you took of Tuburi."
"Swing by the house sometime, and I'll show you," Costa said. "Oh, speaking of swinging--you going to George's boxing match at the Excalibur?"
Criss showed his disappointment. "No, I can't," he said regretfully, "I got to do a live show tonight."
"It's on at five," Costa told him. "You'll be back in plenty of time to do your show."
Criss did some quick mental calculation. "Well, if it doesn't go into extra rounds, I'll go," he said. "I'd love to see George in action."
Costa brightened. "Great!" he said happily. "Mom's going, and so's JD--we can make it a family affair!" Suddenly he grew somber. "Speaking of family," he said, "did JD give you an envelope of Dad's pictures?"
"Just a minute." Criss pulled open a file drawer and removed a worn Manila envelope. "This it?"
Costa opened the envelope and took out the photo stills of his father's Mr. Universe days. "Yeah, these are the ones," he said, holding back his emotions. "Even though I didn't take these, of course, I'd still like to put them in my collection, if you don't mind."
"Sure, Cos," Criss agreed. "No problem. I already have them downloaded into the files, so they're yours to keep if you want."
Costa smiled. "Thanks." "Just take good care of them, willya?"
"You know I will."
Costa replaced the photos back into the envelope. "Thirteen years," he mused sadly. "Thirteen years and I still get choked up when I see his pictures. Tell you the truth, I didn't even know these existed."
"Me neither," Criss said. "It was a surprise for me, too. I almost cried like a baby when JD showed them to me." "You using them on your show?"
"Damn right I am! I want the world to see what kind of man Dad had been before the cancer took him away! I want them to see the real John Sarantakos, not the invalid he was before he died! I want--" Criss' throat constricted before he could finish his sentence. His eyes brimmed with tears over the memory of his late father; he bit his lip to keep from crying out loud.
Costa reached over and embraced him. "It's okay, Criss," he said soothingly. "I know why you want to show them."
Criss brushed away the tears and pulled himself together. "Right," he said, clearing his throat. "Now, c'mon, we got a boxing match to get ready for!" The two brothers left the office, shoulder to shoulder and smiling, looking forward to their cousin's match. The two envelopes containg Criss' and John's photographs lay on the desk, forgotten.
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