The moment the boys entered the house, their ears were bombarded with their mother’s piercing New York accent ranting into the phone.
“I just wanna know why didn’t you cawl me already, why does nobody cawl me when somethin happens in my own salon? I coulda dealt with that guy in heartbeat!” … “Ah please, ya know what? Fughetaboudit!” And she slammed down the phone with a loud “hmph!"
“Mother!” said Criss, resuming his suave voice, but clearly struggling to hide his excitement.
“What is it Criss, why are you holding those things? Why do you have a cauldron?” she asked.
“I’ve been accepted by a magic school!” said Criss proudly. “These are my school supplies!”
“It’s not a real school,” said J.D. “Show her the letter, Criss.”
“J.D. thinks it’s a fake,” said Criss. He pulled the letter out of his pocket and gave it to her. Dimitra unfolded it and eyed it skeptically.
“It is a fake, sweetheaht, it’s a scam, you didn’t send them money did you?”
“No,” said Criss. “I didn’t send money to any of the schools, I just filled out their applications.”
“And where is this paperwork, can I see it?”
“I don’t have it any more, I mailed it.”
“Well did it say anything about payment in there?”
“I don’t know,” said Criss. “I applied to lots of different magic schools, and I don’t remember which one was ‘Hogwarts’.”
Dimitra sighed. “Well they’ll be askin’ for money in the next letter.”
“Actually Mother, I just got a second letter. I think an owl brought it to me. Anyway, I need to meet someone in London on Saturday.”
“Oh, so it’s a freakin’ pedophile then, that’s what this is! Well I tell ya what, I’m calling the police right now…” She moved to pick up the phone, but J.D. interrupted.
“Mom, wait. It’s probably not a pedophile. I mean, read it. It’s too stupid to be a real scam. It’s some kid on the block playing a trick on Criss. It has to be, because just now while we were gone they came and put the second letter on the stoop, and I bet they put the first one in the mailbox without even mailing it. Did it even have a stamp on it, Criss?”
They both looked at Criss. “I… I don’t know,” he stuttered. “I threw the envelope away.”
Criss felt bad for lying, as he always did whenever he lied. In fact, he had saved the envelope because he liked seeing his name in those fancy letters. But now that he thought about it, he couldn’t remember seeing any stamps on it. Maybe he had just overlooked the stamp and didn’t remember it. But he couldn’t take that chance. His mother would never believe it was a real magic school if she saw that the envelope had no stamp.
“Yeah, you’re probably right, J.D.,” said Dimitra. “Criss, ignore the letters from now on, okay? It’s just a coupla your friends playin’ a joke.”
But Criss was ready for this.
“But Mother, what if it IS a real magic school, which it might be, because there definitely are magic schools… If it is, then this could be the chance of a lifetime for me! You know I’ve dedicated my whole life to becoming a magician, and this school says they’ll let me start this year! So by the time I go to college magic school, I’ll have a huge advantage over the others! You have to take me to London on Saturday so we can meet this man, and then you’ll know for sure!”
“Criss, London is in another country, do you have any idea how much that would cost?”
“You make tons of money though,” said Criss.
“Well it would be a complete waste of it,” said Dimitra, “because there’s no man there waiting to meet you, and if there IS, it’s a pedophile, and eitha way, I’m not payin’ to go find out.”
“It wouldn’t be a total waste, Mom,” said J.D., much to Criss’s delight. J.D. was the logical one, and it usually helped to have him arguing your side. “We haven’t had a vacation yet this summer, and there are probably all kinds of things to do in London! Have you ever been there?”
“No,” said Dimitra.
“Well wouldn’t you like to go?” said J.D. “You could go see all the… buildings and things. Whatever people do in London. It would be fun!”
“J.D., sweetie, I can’t just drop everything and fly to Europe for the weekend, I have a business to run, they depend on me an’ they need me here.”
“But you can do business on the phone, can’t you?” said J.D. “Just give them your hotel phone number so they can leave you messages, and put someone else in charge.”
“Yeah,” said Criss. “Put someone else in charge for the weekend. Everything will be alright, trust me.” He fluttered his eyes at her as earnestly as he could. “This is very important to me. Please take us!”
Dimitra sighed. She never was very good at denying her sons what they wanted. She figured that this was probably because she felt bad for not spending much time with them, so she made up for it by letting them do whatever they wanted. It had worked well so far. J.D. was pretty smart and normal, and Criss was, well, very hardworking.
Poor Criss, she thought. She knew he’d got his hopes up about this school already, and if she was honest with herself, she knew he’d never be convinced it was fake if she forced him to stay home and just ignore it. He’d never get over it. She had seen him follow through with every ridiculous plan he’d ever come up with. If 8-year-old Criss said he was going to dress up like a tomato for the next five years, he’d sure enough be dressed like a tomato for the next five years. And if Criss today is convinced that he just got accepted to a magic school and his mother didn’t let him go… she shuddered to think how long it would take him to revise this notion.
“Alright,” she said finally. “I’ll talk to Christie and if she can take over this weekend, I’ll take you guys to London. But Criss, it’s not a real magic school, so don’t get your hopes up, I know how you are.”
“Oh, thank you Mother!” said Criss. “It’s got to be a real school, you’ll see. We just have to get to the ‘Leaky Cauldron’ and then you’ll see!”
“Okay sure, we’ll see. I gotta go to work now, boys. I’ll see ya lata.”
* * *
It was a warm and sunny Saturday. Dimitra was feeling elated at having left work behind for a few days, and had quite enjoyed the flights to London and the night at a fancy hotel. It was a nice reminder that all her work was indeed paying off-- she just rarely had time to spend the money.
She, Criss, and J.D. walked down the busy street where the alleged meeting was supposed to take place. Criss led the way, his silver wife-beater sparkling in the sun. He had worn his best black leather pants, all of his necklaces, and his leather wrist bands with spikes coming out. He had made his mother carry some of his magic supplies in her purse, in case the ministry official wanted to see proof of his magic skills. He had been using his mystical magic voice all day, ever since they first woke up in the hotel that morning, and hadn’t even dropped it during his argument with J.D. about whether or not Harry Houdini was dead.
They walked on, scanning the names of every building they passed, until finally, wedged in between two larger and more prominent buildings, was a tiny storefront with a handwritten sign that read “The Leaky Cauldron”.
“There it is!” he shouted.
The other two looked around, but didn’t acknowledge it. “Where?” said J.D.
Criss pointed. “Right there!”
“I don’t see it, which building is it?” said Dimitra.
“The short one, right there between the two tall ones.”
“What are you talking about?” said J.D.
Criss rolled his eyes. He found his mother and brother’s reactions extremely annoying, and had picked up speed as they walked towards the building that was so obviously right there in front of them. They had almost reached the door, when he heard them both say, “Ohhh.” He turned around and glared at them, before rolling his eyes again and entering.
“I didn’t see it a second ago,” said J.D. “That’s weird.”
They followed Criss into the dingy little pub. It looked mostly normal, but Dimitra couldn’t help noticing it would be an ideal place for a shady meeting you didn’t want overseen. There were hardly any patrons, and the lighting was a bit darker than usual. Even the building itself was apparently hard to see from the street. She was examining a group of people sitting at a table, when a man at the bar stood up and turned toward them.
He was wearing a full-length black robe. A full-length, black, robe. She stared in shock as he approached her son and held out his hand. “Hello young sir, are you Mr. Criss Angel?”
“Hands off, ya freakin’ pedophile!” shouted Dimitra. She had pulled out a pistol and was pointing it steadily at the man’s face.