“Thanks a lot, Gole,” Wirien said, over his shoulder. I watched Wirien choke the tourist. “I mean—we should probably kill him—just in case.” I shook my head no, and he removed his hands from the man’s throat. The tourist, his convention badge read Marvin Cooke, collapsed, dropped his cell phone, and wheezed long grateful breaths. Wirien grabbed the conventioneer’s phone, the phone with a recording of Wiriens first and only street magic show. Wirien wiggled the phone, and it melted. It turned brown, then black, then it rolled up into a ball, and finally, the soot of the burnt phone flaked and floated away into the air.
I know magic, studied it all my life, and what Wirien did to that phone—was not some silly trick. No human could do that, not without a blowtorch, and if any magician could do that: even Thompson, Bosco, or Houdini would gladly step aside, awestruck. And Wirien’s street act was…it was…I should leave. I took a sip of warm water. Standing in the Vegas heat felt like I was trapped in a crematorium’s furnace.
“No problem Wirien. So, I gotta get movin.” His look was forbidding, and I decided to stay. The telephone man started convulsing and froth, literal foam, sprayed from his mouth. I ignored both the retching man on the floor and the orange glowing eyes of the muttering—conjurer—who stood beside me. The Deuce, a bus that rides up and down the Las Vegas Strip, flew up the street, and I considered shoving Wirien into it. I imagined his body flattened like a Looney Tune on the brasier hot asphalt. Did I see Misty walking with some guy on the other side of the street? I wasn’t sure.
“Wouldn’t work,” Wirien said.
“Pushing me into that bus.” He can read my thoughts. I am dead. I am going to die. I considered running, but he would know where I planned to go; I considered screaming for help, but he would silence me; I considered running in front of the next Deuce, but instead of being flattened out of my misery—I would end up…
“Try it,” he said. He snapped his fingers, and he showed me a vision of my cartoonesque fate. The bus slammed into me, I vanished, and at the next bus stop, I stumbled out of the bus door, battered, and bruised. In the vision, Misty sat beside Wirien on the bus stop bench, and they both laughed at me.
“Well, if you’re going to kill me anyways. Do it already.” He severed my head with a snap of his fingers, and I wondered if the finger snapping was necessary. Certainly, he did not need to snap to do his magic. Afterall, human magicians do silly things, like snapping or waving a wand, to simulate the “moment of magic”—for effect or for misdirection—but his snap was pointless.
Mammoth hands gripped my head, pointed my eyes and nose towards the ground, and then lifted my head up above my still standing body. I saw the hole where my head—and neck— once rested. I tried to wiggle my neck a bit, and yes, I could move it back and forth a quarter inch and side to side a full inch.
“See that, Gole?” I nodded yes, and my neck waved around for a few moments. I thought that having just a neck and head was—a small thing to hang my hat on! I laughed for a long time before I began to cry. I was inconsolable. I could not be consoled. My body shook from the expanding of my lungs and the jerking of my stomach. My body, lost to me forever, but still mine, still breathing, and still standing.
Lost in my self-pity, I thought of the day Misty left. I saw her sitting there on that damn cracked leather sofa. I thought of my protesting, my begging, and I saw her shaking her head no. I felt shame then as I remembered the stupid notebook on which I wrote the pros and cons list. Pathetic: no begging, no arguing could compete with the contempt I saw in her eyes. I felt helpless whilst protesting in front of the sofa, and in comparison, being headless was not so bad.
My misery was over now, and death would soon relieve me. I stopped crying. My body jerked from my fast quick breaths of excited anticipation of my death.
“I have not killed you, Gole. Not yet,” Wirien said.
“Sure, people survive decapitation all the time.” I rolled my eyes, and Wirien laughed.
I thought I heard Misty say, “Stop it! Not here.” Probably a phantom memory of a date from our past, or he was placing the memory in my mind.
“Stop torturing me. I tried to help you, I saw what you were, and I knew what would happen if that guy,” I attempted to nod towards the corpse. “Posted that video. Let me die. Please,” I begged. The please I uttered was the same tone and tenor as the please I remembered thrusting at Misty. I was defeated, pathetic, and my voice cracked like I was twelve. I started moaning, the haunting moan of a grotesque dying alone.
“What’s that noise?” Misty asked. “I know that voice. I think.”
“Let me go!” I said. He dropped my head on the ground.
“I need to return to my ship and prepare a different disguise. Gole, because I appreciate your assistance: I give you ten human minuets to place your neck in that hole, and you will be whole, but Gole, if you remain unattached after ten minutes—you will die.”
He left me there, and I closed my eyes—only ten minutes to live or die. What to do? Should I live? Do I want to go on? I did want to live, of course, but I considered letting the clock run out. I considered giving up. Instinct overtook me, and I began wriggling myself—towards myself. I could do it, I thought. I felt a finger poke my eye.
“This display is crazy, Misty, come look,” some man said. I heard my wife’s feet approach and kneel beside my head. I smelled her perfume. I heard her screamed. “Stupid thing. Just sitting out here scaring people,” The man with Misty said. He picked up my head and shot put me into traffic. I landed in the middle of Las Vegas Blvd., and I heard maybe three or four cars drive past—before The Deuce drove over me.
I await death in the coroner’s fridge. Death comes tomorrow, I hope. Misty came by to identify me yesterday. She mentioned my fait: tomorrow I will be cremated.