The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
The reaction to Larry’s having been freed was immediate. The world, held hostage just as one of its most beloved entertainers was held captive, collectively breathed again and the Earth resumed rotating on its axis.
Larry, completely overwhelmed at the outpouring of affection, again appeared on Oprah – in prime time. It was one of the highest-rated TV shows ever as people wanted to see for themselves that Larry was okay, though Larry was still unable to confirm or deny whether or not he and Oprah were having an affair.
The details of the kidnapping came out in due course. The four men were from Europe and had been kidnapping successfully and profitably for years. The plot to kidnap Larry had been nearly two years in the making, and Larry had been chosen because, almost from the start, it had become plain that he would be easier to snatch – which pleased the kidnappers because, to a man, they thought Lenny would be too big a pain in the ass to be kept captive for any length of time.
Special Agents Sam Rider and Harold Champion remained, at their insistence, anonymous; they had no desire for the celebrity waiting to be bestowed on them. Special Agent in Charge Tom Grant had no such concerns and was on television more than Ron Popiel. Eventually, he developed a drinking problem and retired.
And since they had the money lying around anyway, and in appreciation for the work of various agencies on the case, The Regular Guys donated what would’ve been the $10 million ransom to the Police Athletic League. Morty even threw in a million dollars of his own.
Larry tried as much as possible to act like it never happened. Though you can never wipe away the fact four men stole you and kept you prisoner for a week, soon after being released he had lunch with Ray Evans and golfed with Jerry and went away to the house he had built in Colorado for a few days.
It wasn’t easy though. Caesars Palace wanted to turn The Colosseum at Caesars Palace into a veritable fortress and tried to install a 24-hour guard on their prized entertainer. Larry, doubtful of being taken again, tried to resist all of this, however, when Ann told him it would be prudent to start taking at least some precautions, Larry saw no point in being stubborn about it and immediately appointed Ann Director of Comedian Security for The Regular Guys and graciously endured the not-too-intrusive program she devised.
Lenny and Morty had told him there was no rush to get back on stage. Though neither had actually been kidnapped before, both were certain it was rather traumatic and told Larry to take his time.
Larry, however, couldn’t wait to get back on stage, and only waited ten days because he thought there should be some sort of decent interval between his release and The Regular Guys return to their natural habitat, the stage at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
“You sure you’re ready partner?” Lenny asked as they stood backstage a few minutes before showtime.
“Oh, there’s no doubt my friend. I was ready a week ago.”
Lenny nodded; he had sensed as much, actually.
Morty then showed up.
“How about if we munch it tonight Morty?” Lenny asked. “Can we munch it tonight?”
Morty, his half-glasses as ever perched on the edge of his nose, laughed.
“Men, you can do whatever you want,” Morty said. “You are long past the stage when you need me meddling in your affairs.”
“Then what the hell are we paying you for?”
“Not much really. To read the fine print. To attend to details for you. That’s about it. I was actually thinking of asking for some extra vacation time.”
Jerry then walked up; he had come back from an Australian vacation when he heard Larry had been taken. In his role as a hanger-on who had been hanging around backstage with no known purpose, he had actually been a suspect for an hour or so.
“Hey guys,” Jerry said.
“Hi Jerry, what’s up?” Larry asked.
“It’s good to see you guys back where you belong.”
Lenny smiled graciously, as he always did around Jerry. He still wondered who the hell he was but Larry had given Jerry a birthday present and the only other person on Earth Larry – who couldn’t be bothered to celebrate his own birthday – gave a birthday present to was Ann; Lenny himself had never even received a birthday present from Larry, who felt there were other ways to mark the passing of a life. So Lenny was friendly with Jerry.
Larry smiled and patted Jerry on the back.
Jerry, as usual, wasn’t supposed to be backstage this close to show time; the only people allowed backstage once backstage had been cleared were Lenny and Larry, Morty and arena security. Jerry had been popping up backstage at this time for so long though that even arena security had stopped caring. He never stayed for more than a few seconds though; usually just long enough to wish Lenny and Larry a good show.
“Hey Jerry,” Lenny said. “I’ve always wondered; what do you do?”
Lenny sounded genuinely curious.
“Yeah, do. You know, for a living.”
“Oh. That do. Nothing, really.”
“Nothing? You don’t have a job?”
Jerry shook his head.
“I don’t even know my social security number.”
“I’ve never needed to produce it. I’ve never had a job.”
“How do you support yourself?”
“I made my money the old fashioned way; I inherited it.”
“How do you do your taxes?”
“I don’t. People take care of that for me.”
“Don’t you have anything better to do than hang around backstage?”
Jerry paused and thought it over.
“No, not really. My whole life is free time.”
“How do you break into something like this?”
“Well, I actually hooked up with a girl once at a show here. She got me backstage. And I guess I never left.”
“How’d you manage that?”
“A little luck. A little fitting in; you act like you belong long enough people start to assume you do.”
“Sounds like an interesting life.”
“Well, I don’t have the talent to actually earn my way backstage like you guys, and I have no desire to work and earn money I don’t need. Being backstage is nice, it makes you feel like you’re somebody, even if you’re a nobody and you’re only a somebody because you’re with somebody who is somebody.”
Jerry wished everyone a good show again and turned to find his seat.
The three stood there silently for a minute or so.
“Morty, when you first saw us, what did you see?” Lenny asked. “We weren’t all that funny back then.”
“I saw this,” Morty said, looking around at the opulently appointed backstage area. “I saw two guys trying something different. Actually, you were kinda funny back then; not as funny as you are now, but you did a good show. I really thought that all you needed was some time. And quality, professional representation, of course.”
Morty smiled a cake-eating grin, put his thumbs in his lapels and rocked back and forth on his heels and toes – which wasn’t easy at his age – as if here were the soul of quality professional representation.
“You know,” he said. “Ann saw it too, before you were even performing together.”
“I saw it also,” Lenny said winking. “That’s why I told Larry we really should work together.”
“You suggested we work together!?” Larry exclaimed. “Left to you we’d both be selling insurance right now.”
Just then music started up and the announcer’s message started playing.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. And now, from someplace funny – and a safe house in Pahrump – please welcome back to The Colosseum stage, Lenny and Larry, The Regular Guys!
Larry walked out wearing the clown mask Special Agents Rider and Champion had given him as a souvenir of his kidnapping, characteristically holding his hands out with the palms up. Lenny didn’t even bother going center stage, immediately getting the hell out of the way and letting the crowd welcome Larry back.
The Regular Guys were given a ten-minute standing ovation. Dozens of people brought flowers to the stage. Lenny would later remark he had never felt such warmth from a crowd. Larry was so completely overwhelmed that he wept slightly.
“Can we get a joke in or are you guys going to applaud all night?” Lenny said as the applause died down a bit, but not completely.
Larry took the clown mask off; it had served its purpose and now he was ready to get rid of it. He motioned to a security officer standing off to the side into the orchestra pit. The officer came onto the stage. He was part of the new improved security force for Regular Guy shows, as if someone would try again to kidnap Larry, this time with 4,100 people watching.
“Here, sir, take this and incinerate it,” Larry said, making it sound like incineration was a service Caesars Palace routinely provided its guests, like valet parking. “Bring it back here before the show is over. I would like to spread the ashes over the stage.”
It was plain Larry was serious and his voice betrayed more than trace amounts of resentment and anger. The audience sensed it too; its laughter was more nervous than anything. Lenny raised an eyebrow; Larry had not expressed any of these feelings at all with him and Ann.
“Burn this?” the security officer asked.
Larry nodded his head.
“Or throw it in some leftover grits from the buffet. That would probably destroy it, too.”
“Or melt it,” Lenny said.
The security officer turned and fled, no doubt wondering exactly how in the hell he was going to burn a rubber clown mask on such short notice.
Later in the show, the security officer returned, carrying a plastic bag with a drawstring top.
“Well, were you able to fulfill my completely unreasonable demands?” Larry inquired.
The security guard laughed nervously and shook his head no.
“I was able to get it shredded though.”
“You got a clown mask shredded?” Lenny asked “Where, at the business center?”
“The kitchen has some sharp knives.”
“You know,” Larry said. “I do not recommend getting kidnapped if you can at all avoid it. It’s not a very pleasant experience. I was tied up for a week, and people I love had it worse; I mean, I knew I was all right, but none of you had any way of knowing that.”
“However, if you do get kidnapped, I highly recommend being able to return to the stage after being rescued to hold the shredded remains of a clown mask that was used in your abduction. It is rather satisfying.”
Larry held the bag up high triumphantly; the crowd cheered.
“Here Lenny,” Larry said, handing him the bag. “You’re the magician, say some magic words. I want to make this disappear.”
Lenny said “Abracadabra”.
“That’s a pretty lame magic word Mr. Magician!”
Larry took the bag from Lenny.
“Alikazam! Open Sesame! Mini Mart! Friends, help me get rid of this!” Larry said as he opened the bag and threw its contents out into the cheering audience. Though some of the mask scraps were kept for souvenirs, Caesars Palace maintenance reported that a lot of audience members wanted to help Larry exorcise the kidnapping demons and dutifully threw their pieces away.