“Abracadabra. Tada!” It felt amazing to pull off the magic trick he had been practicing for days. The flower was now successfully up George’s right sleeve, allegedly having disappeared. He smiled at his audience - his children, Damon and Karla. Damon was Karla’s older brother at 11 years old, but Karla responded first. She giggled. 

“I saw you, daddy. You put the rose up your sleeve.”

George tried to salvage the trick. He pushed up his left sleeve.

“What do you mean, you saw me? Do you see a rose here?”

Karla giggled some more. “The other sleeve, silly.” She pointed at George’s right sleeve. Directly at the lump in his sleeve; the lump hiding the prickly rose.

Damon nodded sagely. “Nice try, dad. And just so you know, the words abracadabra and tada are pretty old school. You should work on your patter.”

“Can we go watch TV now?” Karla asked as she stood.

“Go ahead, kids. I’ll join you later.” Damon stood up and followed Karla into the family room. George consulted his book on magic again, to see if he had missed something.

George worked at an accounting firm, working with numbers all day long. He really wanted to go on that reality show, America’s Got Talent. But he couldn’t sing, he couldn’t dance, and he didn’t play any musical instruments. His only talent, really, was balancing spreadsheets.

But Damon didn’t show any interest in the basic magic kit George and Laura bought for his 10th birthday. They got it on sale, and couldn’t take it back. And George really wanted to go on AGT. So he decided to learn magic tricks. Magicians and ventriloquists seemed to do well on the show. And those were skills George thought he would be able to master.

Nope. Nothing in the book about this trick that he had missed. And nothing interesting about patter, either. George sighed, decided he was done for the night, and went into the kitchen just as Laura finished the dishes.

“How’d it go, sweetie?”

“Karla saw what I did. And Damon thinks I need better patter. He didn’t care for my abracadabra and tada.”

“Those are rather dated, dear. Are you sure you want to do this? We don’t really need the money.”

“But darling,” George countered, “I don’t want to do it for the money. I’m more interested in fame than fortune. I want to be more than a CPA.”

“I’m not sure I want you to headline a show in Vegas, George. Then I’d have to compete with all the hotties in the audience.”

George gave her a hug and a kiss. “No competition, sweetheart. You’d win, hands down. Besides, I would need to win the whole competition to headline a show in Vegas. But just appearing would get me noticed. Maybe earn my 15 minutes of fame or a little more.”

“Then maybe you should try ventriloquism, dear. Or keep working on your magic. But don’t even think about a danger show. No stunts. You hear me?”

George made a hand puppet and tried to make it talk to Laura.

“You’ve got to be kidding. I’m a CPA - I live for magic,” the hand puppet said.

She laughed. “I saw your lips move. And your throat.”

“You were supposed to be looking at my hands. The first rule of magic - distraction.”

“Speaking of distraction, George,” Laura said as she pushed away and started removing her apron, “I’d better hurry, or I’ll be late for the Bunco party.”

After Laura left, George looked through his magic book some more. Finding a card trick that looked pretty easy, he started practicing.

He tried the trick again and again. He almost had it, he was sure, when Laura came back from her party.

George heard her sending the kids upstairs to brush their teeth and get ready for bed. He looked at the kitchen clock, surprised to see that it was already ten o’clock.

“Why are the kids still watching TV this late?” Laura asked as she came into the kitchen. She saw George, the cards and the open book. “Have you been practicing the entire time I was gone?”

“Oops. I sort of lost track of time. But it’s because I love you so much, Laura, and the kids. I want to show them  they can go after their dreams.”

“They can go after their dreams after they get a good night’s sleep. And finish school.”

“I’ll read them a story and tuck them in,” George offered. “Then I can show you my latest trick.”

“Oh, goodie. I can’t wait.”

In the upstairs bathroom, George found Damon and Karla still in the bathroom. Damon had just shoved a toothbrush, complete with toothpaste, up his pajama sleeve. Karla was laughing like crazy.

“OK, kids. Enough horsing around. Have you finished brushing your teeth yet?”

“Yes. See?” Karla opened wide to show her freshly cleaned teeth to her dad. Damon pulled the toothbrush from his sleeve. It still had a little toothpaste on it, so he finished brushing while George tucked Karla in. Then he ran into their shared room, climbed to the top bunk, and tucked himself in.

“OK, dad. Ready for a story.”

“How about Goldilocks?” George asked. Karla clapped her hands and gave George an emphatic "Yes!" Damon offered a heavy sigh and agreed to the children's story reluctantly.

George changed the story a little, making Karla the little girl and Damon baby bear. After he finished reading they prayed together, then George headed back downstairs.

Laura handed George a glass of chilled Chardonnay. Her own glass was half empty. 

“OK, George. Let’s see this new trick of yours.”

George took a drink of wine, kissed his wife, then sat down and picked up his special cards. He shuffled the deck thoroughly and fanned the cards out, face down, on the table.

“Pick a card. Any card. Look at it, but don’t show me.” When Laura reached for the end card, George interrupted. “Not that one.”

Laura giggled, just like Karla. “But you said I could pick any card.”

“That one would be too easy. Pick one near the middle.”

“Now you tell me,” Laura sighed. She picked a card from the center and looked at it. The three of hearts.

“Now, put it back in the deck,” George directed. She did as she was told. George gathered the cards, trying to feel carefully along the edges. He shuffled the cards again, and let Laura cut. Then, pretending to concentrate hard, he fanned the cards out and put his hand on one, then another, and another.

“Tada!” He flipped the six of clubs face up. “Is that your card?”

Laura laughed. “You’ve got to stop saying tada, George. And no, that’s not my card.”

Three wrong cards later, he gave up. “Guess I’ll have to practice some more.”

Laura was feeling her wine. “Pick a nightie, George. Any nightie. Even one that’s easy.” She giggled. George swept her up in a big hug and gave her a long, wet kiss. “You’re more than enough magic for me, Laura.”

That night George dreamed of being on stage. He sawed Laura in half, each half of her stood up somehow and walked off stage, and the audience laughed. He made an entire bouquet of roses appear and disappear. After they were gone a large lump showed under his jacket, and the audience laughed again. He failed at trick after trick, until his time was up, and the audience laughed him off the stage.

The next morning he woke up, sang in the shower, got dressed, and bounded down the stairs to the kitchen, whistling. Laura poured him a fresh cup of coffee and presented him with a plate heaped with bacon and eggs. Damon was just finishing his eggs, Karla her bacon.

“You’re certainly in a great mood, George.” Laura smiled.

“I had a terrific night. Then I had some amazing dreams. I know what I’m going to do now.”

“Go to work?” Laura asked.

“Be a ventro ill a quit?” Karla wondered.

“Do better at magic?” was Damon’s response.

“I’m going to do comedy magic!”

August 13, 2020 20:38

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