Magic;The Disappearing Act

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An old magician performs to the honour of a birthday brat.
The magician contrasts the then and the now, looking nostalgically on the past and realistically on the present.
A conclusion must be made.

Submitted: January 29, 2013

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Submitted: January 29, 2013

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 “Alakazam!” – I pull the rabbit from the hat.
I always save the rabbit trick until the end of the show, perhaps its due to my belief that children have an instinctive love of animals; at least I did when I was a child. It has always been my favourite illusion, ever since the beginning, when I would pass around each generation of my furry white assistant (invariably named Ace) to the children to hold in their turn, I watched them pat and pet with that sense of wonderment that is peculiar to children and heightened when coupled with the belief that this rabbit has appeared miraculously from thin air by the wave of a wand. It was bliss.
However, that is only a far off memory, depicting biasedly how it used to be. It’s harder with today’s kids; they don’t get excited like they used to. Nevertheless, I leave the rabbit trick ‘till last. It’s the trick that I love most.

I hold Ace up high in my feeble hands, with ignorant hope that my audience might light up like they used to and burst into applause. Nothing. Unaware, still hopeful, I raise him higher; look at this rabbit I have conjured up for you in my hat! Look! -Nothing.
 I survey my audience for even a glimmer, just a spark of genuine wonder to warm my heart.
Nine chairs encircle me. 6 are vacant. 3 are occupied. A rather chubby eightish year old girl with hair as ginger as the spice, sits on the far left, her face, freckled, stares blankly towards me with her mouth hanging wide open. Her glasses were the only source of twinkle coming from around her eyes. Two seats across from her sits, extremely upright, a quiet, dorkish looking boy, older than the rest. These two? Duty invites, I’m sure. Possibly relatives. They did not belong at this miserable scene. However, on the chair furthest to my right sat a much more suited character. There, holding a naked, screaming toddler in one hand and a generously sized glass of cheap wine in the other, was the mother of the birthday boy. My current employer.

As for the birthday boy himself, I only saw him once. While I performed in his honour, he had been upstairs playing video games with a few of his V.I.Ps. The vast majority of his guests were watching some explosion filled action movie, so blasé with their backs turned to me. He only made his appearance as his mother was giving my payment. (To my shame for the first time in 39 years I skipped passing Ace to the children, but honestly, was there a point at all?) As I apathetically counted the money in her hand a shaved-headed-just-gone-ten-year-old booted my shin out of what I can only assume was a dare by the way he ran back laughing to his bent-double-laughing friends. The mother said nothing, the child in her right arm was screaming so loud that I suppose it’s possible she didn’t notice. Once the money was in hand I bolted, limping slightly for the door.

Right now, I am making my way home. I decided to take a long way, through a dense woodland at the back of an industrial park. An oasis in this urban area, though unfortunately littered with empty cigarette boxes and beer cans. I trusted this route to eventually lead me home because choosing this way meant I would be certain to avoid the eyes of drunken weekenders on the streets. It has happened before. Their eyes, and subsequently their taunts and jeers are drawn magnetically to my magician’s suit and huge suitcase, the former defining and the latter containing my livelihood.

Suddenly and unexpectedly now, as I am about to make my third attempt at jumping this ditch, I stop. For some reason or another, an epiphany is taking hold of me with a firm grip. Perhaps, it is because that unpleasant boy and I share something, something that had gone from my mind. Today is also my own birthday. Yes, today, September 9th. Today I turned 66 and I never realized it until now. Oh what a sad existence I hold on to! I no longer serve a purpose to this world. I am nothing more than a faded symbol, a symbol symbolizing something but nobody remembers what. The appendix of society.
My heart, once warmed by children’s laughter and wonder, now cold and shattered by their indifference. I look back now through those old rose tinted glasses to those glory days. I contrast then and now. I make a decision.  It is not a good time to be a magician. It is not a good time to be a child.

It is time to give up on magic. It has gone, never to be recaptured. Technology has taken its hold. Science has explained away wonder. The magician’s secrets have already been told. Ace was always in the hat. The deck was tampered with. Fishing wire held the handkerchief. Not magic.

What is there left for an old magician? Nothing but fading memories and a resolve; there is no place for magic anymore. Ace runs free.

-The End.


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