Have you ever seen one of those magic shows that completely amazed you, then after a short deliberation you gave up trying to work out how the magician did it? You see the art of a magician is to convince you that what you’ve seen is the real deal. Magic before your very own eyes. Well that my friends is exactly what you’re supposed to think.
“It was mirrors!” “Sleight of hand!” “Camera tricks!” “Lighting effects!” “Altered perception!” “Probability!” “A numbers game!” “Counting or maths!”
You’ve heard them all, right? For me, they are my cover story. A fallacy. You see folks, I have always been capable of actual magic, not trickery, but unequivocally the real thing.
What is magic anyway?
If you were able to travel back in time, say one hundred years, and you showed someone a video playing on your tablet or smartphone, you could easily convince them that was magic, right?
The rain was beating down hard, so hard that it had created a river of water all the way down Central Avenue. I crossed the road with my suitcase of props in hand. The rainwater filled my shoes as I stepped off the pavement. I made my way across to the other side, squelching my shoes as I did. An exit sign flickered in the darkness, above the tradesman’s entrance into the Black Swan. The venue for tonight’s gig. Outside the door, now holding my suitcase above my head with both hands, in an attempt to not get even wetter, I pushed open the door with my right foot and lunged into a very dimly lit hallway.
Inside I stood dripping wet with a puddle forming at my feet, where rainwater dripped from the skirt of my overcoat. The corridor was silent and there was nobody in sight, so I took my opportunity. I dropped my suitcase to the floor, took a deep breath, clasped my hands together and in less than a heartbeat, I was standing very nearly bone dry. Moments later, Frank, the entertainment’s manager came around the corner and into the hallway where I was stood. He looked me up and down and I guess he noticed I was dry. Looking down at the puddle at my feet he jibed, “have you pissed yourself?” with a huge grin on his face.
“Ah the puddle,” I smiled and laughed trying to buy myself time to think of a reasonable explanation.
“It dripped off the foot of the door when I came in.”
“So how come you’re so dry?”
I deliberated my answer, “I used an umbrella.”
He clearly looked confused with no sign of an umbrella. I thought for a moment he was going to leave it at that, but his inquisitive mind wouldn’t let it go.
“So where’s your umbrella?”
“As I stepped through the door it snapped and the wind took it.”
Now come on folks, surely that would fix it? Or at least you’d think so.
“Well step outside and see if you can find it. Perhaps we can repair it.”
“Frank, I’m not doing that. Have you seen the rain out there?” I said sternly.
“Ah, I’m just fucking with ya! Or am I?” he smiled, showing the whites of his eyes.
“Either way, I need to get myself ready for the show tonight.”
“Yeah, knock ‘em dead. Ha... ‘The Amazing Arkaleon’.... Amazing my ass!” he condescended before turning on his heels and heading back the other way.
I shrugged off his arrogant comment with a tingling feeling of discomfort, picked up my suitcase and made my way around the corner to my dressing room. I’m sure it used to be a broom cupboard. If I stretched out my arms, I could touch the walls. It was slightly longer though. It had a small window that overlooked the side alleyway with a view of a brick wall and a tatty old chair in the corner. I dropped my suitcase on the chair and tidied my appearance using my reflection in the window. Then I paced the two steps of available space, back and forth, as I went through tonight’s act in my head, one more time. In truth, I’d done this act so many times that it didn’t need rehearsing, but it gave me a sense of calm being prepared.
It felt like almost no time at all and Frank was thumping on the door.
“Come and amaze us all, you’re up!” he taunted.
“I’ll amaze you in a minute,” I said under my breath, biting on my knuckle.
“You what?” Frank shouted from outside the door.
“I’m on my way,” I covered.
I grabbed my suitcase and walked around to the stage door. It was the same old routine, I waited in the wings while the compare introduced me. It got a few half-assed claps and cheers. The lights went up and I walked on to a few more nonchalant attempts at applause.
Frank had got to me and the audience had got to me. I let it anger me and I made the fatal mistake of letting it get in the way of my better judgment. As I walked out further onto the stage, I noted the usual low pedestal, for my suitcase, a tall bar stool and mic on a stand. I dropped my suitcase on the pedestal and opened it with the lid facing the audience.
“Get on with it!” a stranger heckled from the middle of the crowd.
This fuelled my already smouldering anger. I stepped up to the mic and took it off the stand and with it held in my right hand I paced the stage as I looked out into the audience. I lifted the mic.
“Good evening folks. I’m going to do something a little different tonight,” I said through almost gritted teeth.
I cast a glance over at my suitcase as a beer mat span towards my face. I caught the beer mat between my thumb and forefinger about an inch away from my nose. That was a new low. Now they’re throwing missiles at me, I thought to myself. I looked out into the audience, directly at the heckler and missile thrower, whose laughter had turned into a groan, when he’d realised that his perfectly aimed missile hadn’t hit its target.
“I’d like someone to come up here and join me tonight.”
My words reverberated from the speakers around the room. I pointed out into the audience.
“You sir!” I said purposefully pointing directly at the heckler.
He turned quiet.
“Come on up here.” I waved my hand towards me, gesturing as I spoke.
“No...No, it’s OK, thanks anyway!” he tried to dismiss.
“Well, I’d rather not,” he answered looking away, afraid to make eye contact. His friends sat next to him laughing.
The heckler suddenly lost control of his limbs and he stood awkwardly and started walking towards the stage.
“Give him a round of applause folks. It looks like he’s changed his mind.”
“What’s happening to me?” the heckler voiced as his limbs forcefully pushed him on in an irregular looking walk towards the aisle leading to the stage.
The audience laughed as if it was just part of the act. Once the heckler reached the stage he looked even more ridiculous as he climbed the steps with his arms flailing, as I tried to maintain his balance. He looked as though he was going to fall. This made the audience laugh even harder.
He finally stepped onto the stage. As he approached me, I had him to take a seat on the stool. Although he didn't have a choice the audience were none the wiser. Once seated, the heckler turned to me with a very agitated and aggressive look on his face. “How are you doing this?” he shouted, which made the audience laugh even harder. I lifted the mic to my mouth.
“Thank you for joining me. What’s your name?” I asked, stood about 3 metres away from the heckler, smiling and playing along with the audience.
“No...No wait! Don't tell me....Is it Evan?”
“How do you know that?” Evan responded looking completely confused. “It’s magic Evan!” I said smiling, still playing to the audience.
“Do you believe in magic Evan?”
Evan looked across at me with tears in his eyes and with a whimper in his voice he announced, “Yes, now please let me go.”
The audience burst into high volume laughter.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I can assure you all here today that I've never met Evan before this evening. Isn’t that right Evan?”
“Yes, now please let me go,” he pleaded.
“I’m not restraining you, Evan. What do you mean?” I addressed via the mic, with a wide smile.
“Sure, whatever you say. Then why can’t I move?”
“I don't know. Have you ever experienced this before?”
The audience roared. Many almost in tears of laughter.
“No....it’s you! Let me go.”
“OK, ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s time to move on.”
I grabbed a deck of cards from my suitcase and displayed them to the audience and Evan.
“As you can see they are all different cards. Just a normal pack of cards. Pick one for me please Evan?”
As Evan was about to say he couldn’t move, I released him. He turned and looked at me and I knew he intended to run. I lifted the mic in my right hand, holding the fan of cards in my left hand.
“Pick a card, any card.”
I flashed the pack in front of him, lowered the mic and got closer. Facing away from the audience, I quietly voiced, “If you run I’ll keep you like that for a week. Now pick a card!”
I turned back to the audience still smiling my fake smile.
“OK Evan, hold your card up high so that everyone can see it.”
He held his choice, the seven of diamonds above his head.
“What card do you have Evan?”
“It’s the seven of diamonds,” he voiced.
“A little louder please so that everyone can hear.”
“The seven of diamonds!” he repeated louder.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” he said with attitude in his voice.
I clicked my fingers and replaced his card with the ace of spades. Evan looked at his card and saw it change before his eyes.
“No way, it's just changed,” he said now looking scared.
“You can keep the card as a memento, Evan. Give him a round of applause ladies and gents. Please return to your seat, Evan.”
Evan returned to his seat and slumped into his chair. He almost immediately engaged in an animated discussion with his friends, whom I could see obviously didn't believe him and were in fits of laughter. Shortly after he got up and walked out, clearly distraught.
The audience were now suitably warmed up. I continued with my regular rehearsed programme. The audience were well entertained and my hour and a half set passed by with a nice flow, before coming to its natural close.
My life went on, gig to gig, city to city. At the end of the season, I always had a big venue, the finale. This year I’d managed to get booked in at ‘The Royal’. The Royal had over 2000 seats in the main stalls alone and in total almost 4000. This was one of the biggest gig’s I’d done in years. It was a big payday, so I added some different elements to my act. They included levitation magic, materialisation magic and as a final big impact a six-foot-wide ball of fire would explode into popcorn.
At around 7 pm, I was sat in my fairly plush dressing room, complete with Hollywood mirror, leather high backed chair and refreshments tray, going through my normal preparation routine.
My act wasn’t the main feature, but I had a feeling that my act would be the one that everyone would remember. Over an intercom speaker on the wall came a 15-minute warning announcement.
“The Amazing Arkaleon, fifteen minutes ‘til showtime. Thank you.”
I don't know why, but that started off butterflies in my stomach. I was never nervous. This was a weird feeling for me. I took a few sips of water, from a bottle provided on the refreshment tray.
It wasn’t long before another announcement came over the intercom speaker. “The Amazing Arkaleon, please make your way to stage door number 3. Thank you.”
At the stage door, I was given a microphone headset. One of those things that you’d normally hide in your hair. Unfortunately for me, I had no hair and no hat, so it made me a little self-conscious that I had a white band over the top of my bald head. The stage door was opened and the back stage manager gestured me on to the stage. As I walked out onto the vast stage, it made me feel very small.
It seemed like an age had gone by as I walked out to the middle where there laid a pedestal for my suitcase and a bar stool, as I’d requested. All the while the audience patiently awaiting my arrival. I could feel the tension building. As I walked along, beneath the lights the sequins on my outfit sparkled. I was wearing highly polished black shoes, black trousers with a sequinned belt and a 1970’s style white shirt which had huge sequinned collars, which matched my belt.
Finally, at centre stage, I dropped my suitcase onto the pedestal and as usual I opened the case with the lid facing the audience. I always thought that it created a sense of mystery. They must all wonder what’s in my case. Of course, I may be way off beat, but that was my theory anyway.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen.”
“Good evening,” came back as a magnificent unison of voices from the audience. What a tremendous feeling that was. I hadn’t done anything yet and my slight nerves had turned into a feeling of exhilaration.
With my arm outstretched and a dance of my fingers, a little bit of added artistry, I introduced myself in a tone of voice to suit the name of my act.
“I am ‘The Amazing Arkaleon’ and tonight I am going to share with you magic like you never seen before,” I announced, with pauses in suitable places to add atmosphere.
I stood in a spot light and could see hardly any of the audience. Maybe just about the first 3 or 4 rows, beyond that they were covered in a blanket of darkness.
“Can you dim the lights please?” I asked and then I waited patiently for the spotlights to be dimmed.
“OK, ladies and gentlemen, in this world there are 5 elements of nature. These allow us to understand the forces of nature. They are the power of the water, earth, fire, air and space.” I now had the audience gripped and listening intently.
I pulled a jar of silver glitter from my suitcase and removed the lid. First of all I’d like to demonstrate the power of the air. A swirl of air rose up from inside the jar and carried the glitter in its path. It reached the ceiling and filled half the width of the stage. Each piece of glitter caught the dim lighting, glinting and creating a show of illuminations around its determined path. The audience mesmerised at the twister as it rotated clockwise above the jar and as its source followed everywhere I walked with the jar in my hand. I allowed the spectacle time to invigorate the audience suitably, then I held up my other hand and withdrew the glitter back into the jar, before finally replacing the lid.
The audience stood and gave a huge standing ovation. I took a shallow bow.
“Thank you! OK, are you ready for my next spectacle?”
The audience roared a round of applause.
“OK, ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated at all times during this next segment, while I demonstrate to you the… power… of… ‘Fire’.”
Again, the audience roared their applause.
I pulled 10 candles from my case and stood each one about a metre apart in a straight line, a few feet inwards, across the front of the stage. Then I took a seat on the stool provided for me. I rubbed my hands together and then parted them and I pushed my palms forwards for effect. As I did so, I magically lit the candles starting from the centre and outwards, in sequence. The audience cheered.
Next, I lay my palms flat I front of me and slowly lifted my hands. As I did so the flames from the candles enlarged until they joined together forming a ribbon of fire. Again, the audience cheered. In the light of the flames I noticed a familiar face in the third row of the audience. It was the heckler. Evan. What on earth was he doing here? I thought to myself, staring out into the crowd. I reduced the flames while lowering my hands, with my palms facing downwards and finally clapped my hands together as I magically extinguished them. The audience once again stood and gave a standing ovation. I collected the candles and returned them to my suitcase.
“Can I have the lights turned back up please?” I asked and then waiting for the lighting guys to amend the lighting levels.
As they were doing so I noticed Evan had stood up. A few screams came from around him. Suddenly I could see a gun. He had a hand-gun pointed right at me. I heard the gun crack as he fired his first shot, then again and again until the gun clip was emptied. On the first crack, in that moment, I materialised him onto the stage and projected myself into the audience and took his seat. His bullets did nothing, except hit the curtain behind the stage. As he fired his last shot he turned his head realising he’d moved and security guards jumped on him mid-stage, cuffed him and took him away.
When they couldn’t find me, an announcement came over the speakers in the auditorium.
“The Amazing Arkaleon, please show yourself.”
I stood and waved, “I’m right here!” My voice reverberated from the surrounding speakers.
A spot light was directed onto me. To the audience, it looked like part of the act. I continued to wave and turned slowly a full 360 degrees and waved to everyone, before making my way back to the aisle and walking back to the stage, with the spotlight following me. I could hear people talking as I made my way.
“That was amazing!”
“How did he do that?”
“Must be camera tricks or mirrors… or something!”
Once back on stage again, I got yet another standing ovation and I took a bow. Although my heart was racing I had once again got away with doing real magic in front of nearly 4000 witnesses.
Only, I realised that it would be short lived. I had just until when the morning newspapers were out. I knew readers would begin to work out that it wasn’t a stunt, when they read the shooter had actually been arrested. I had got used to this life and started to like it. Of course, it was my own fault, but that didn’t change anything. Now it was time to move on again. Otherwise, I could end up as some government science experiment or worse.
After I’d finished the show, I put in my earphones, hit play on my music app and walked outside. I stood momentarily with Alice Cooper, “House of Fire” at full volume in my ears, looking back at the venue, the town and the hustle and bustle, then I turned, lifted my suitcase and took my first step on my journey. Hoping, even praying a little, that this time I’d finally find somewhere I’d be able to settle.
Added by: User Garry Owen
Created on: 2021-10-29 13:37:31
Last Updated: 2021-11-18 13:26:49