I had run through the tricks so many times I could do them without thinking. The excitement came from the audience. I watched them trying to figure out how I had done it. Where had the man’s watch gone?
“Now I’ll need a volunteer” I announced gesturing my arms toward the audience. Hands flew into the air. The audience was mostly full of adults. It was a small venue. I preferred it that way. A spot light moved through the crowd lighting up the dark room. My eyes roamed over everyone’s hands.
I almost overlooked a small hand waving in the second row. I stepped to the side so I could see the child better. He looked to be about 6 years old. His dimples stood out with the grin on his face. I couldn’t resist.
“Let’s have you there,” I pointed to the boy. The woman sitting next to him gasped. I assumed this must be his mother. He didn’t hesitate however. He jumped out of his seat and headed for the stage stairs. Hands began falling dejectedly.
When the boy made it onto the stage I knelt beside him. “What’s your name kid?”
“Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce Lewis, my assistant for this next trick.” The audience applauded. All except his parents who were starting to look anxious.
I was still kneeling beside Lewis. Before I stood I waved to the parents and gave them a smile. “Lewis wave to your mom and dad.” It was clear the kid couldn’t find them in the dark crowd and so he began waving at no one in particular. I had learned to see into the dark crowd, something the child hadn’t learned. The crowd caught onto this and laughed, which only made the kid wave harder to illicit more laughter.
“So do you Lewis what kinds of magic do you like?” I asked.
“Oh, all kinds.” Lewis seemed to look up at me even as I squatted down beside him.
“Even cards tricks?” I pulled a deck out of nowhere and fanned them out in one hand.
“Oh” his had was already reaching for a card.
“I guess we should take that as a yes” I addressed the audience. Sometimes these onstage interactions could be challenging because I needed to keep the audience included. They chuckled at my joke.
Lewis still clutched the card in his hand. I instructed him to slide it back into the deck and then I began shuffling. He smiled with a secret I didn’t know. I cut the deck and flipped the top card over.
“is this your card?”
I was shocked.
“Are you sure, Lewis.”
“This is my card.” He pulled a card out of his back pocket.
I gasped. His hands hadn’t once gone back there. How had he managed that? I could even hear the surprise in the crowd.
“Well, looks like I’m not the only magician on the stage.” I played it off, “Well unfortunately I only have room for one magician on the stage so I’m going to have to make you disappear.”
I gestured to the stage hands who brought out the vanishing box. This trick was always fun to do with children, because the parents had the best reactions. Just the thought that their little angel could be gone was upsetting for them. On occasion I would see a couple who was excited at the prospect of their child being gone. The freedom of being childless teasing them. That was always cause for a little alarm.
I opened the box and allowed the audience to look inside, but only for a moment. The fearless child climbed in and pulled the door closed behind him. I could hear the boy moving around in the box, probably trying to figure out how it worked and what was going to happen next.
I played to the crowd a bit, said a few meaningless words and tapped the box a few times. I opened the door and enjoyed the looks on his parents face when they saw the empty space where the son once stood.
I began cleaning up the stage as if I was finished. “Where is he?” His mom spoke with a shrill voice.
“Hmm, oh yes of course.” I walked back to the box and peered inside at the emptiness, “I suppose I should bring him back.” The audience chuckled. All but for Lewis’ parents. One again I tapped the box and said something incoherent. However, when I opened the door of the box Lewis wasn’t sitting there. That was odd. I hadn’t botched that trick up in years.
At this point Lewis’ mother was sitting on the edge of her chair. I was waiting for her to hit her limit. At which point I expected her to burst from her seat and demand to know where her baby was.
Unfortunately I wouldn’t have an answer for her. My eyes darted around the stage hoping for some sign of where he had wandered off to. That’s when I saw him. Somehow he had gotten back stage behind the curtain where I kept the birds.
I could hear them cooing as the boy poked his finger into the cage. Suddenly a cracker seemed to burst from his finger. The dove’s were in no way concerned by this. There only focus on their snack.
I whistled to get the boy’s attention. His head popped up and his cheeks flushed red. I beckoned him onto the stage.
“Ladies and Gentleman, my assistant, the Amazing Lewis.” The audience applauded the boy as he stepped out face bursting with excitement.
With that I sent him back to his parents. I no longer wanted to be responsible for the errant kid. After the show, though, I made a point of introducing myself to his parents.They praised me for the show, but seemed oblivious to their own son’s talents.
“Please take these tickets. I’d love to see y’all at next weekends show.” Hopefully by then I would have some explanation for this kid;
“Oh, can we? Can we?” Lewis bounced up and down.
“I think we can make a little time for that. He so loves to watch magic. He’s even tried to do a few tricks himself” HIs dad said laughing at his son.
“Honey, it’s late, we should go” Lewis’ mom pulled her son and husband away. A quiet nervous woman. I tried to giver her a reassuring smile as I bid them farewell until next weekend.
I had a week to figure out what the hell that had been.