Bewildering Stories

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The Great Magnanimous!

by Shawn P. Madison

“And now, ladies and gentlemen,” Tony Forchetti’s voice cracked through the speakers as it echoed off the walls of the small comedy club. Sweat poured profusely down his fat cheeks, his mouth was dry and his heart was racing. “I, The Great Magnanimous, will make this young lady disappear right before your eyes!”

“Yeah, right,” Melanie murmured from underneath the bright pink silk sheet and Tony flinched with despair. His manager was here tonight, despite his begging and pleading, sitting right there in the front row. The stupid idiot was even smiling at him.

Tony waved his hands over Melanie and threw some tired old magician’s words like “presto” at the crowd. The time was almost here, God, he hoped it didn’t happen again... as soon as he snapped his fingers, that would be the moment of truth.

Melanie sighed heavily from atop the table, she knew what was coming, damn her! His white gloves and black cape were slick with sweat.

The middle-aged, overweight magician took one last look at the crowd of smiling people. The audience had been good tonight, they had seemed genuinely satisfied with his repertoire of parlor tricks. But now came the end of his act, the one trick that usually brought the house down... at least it used to before...

Tony took a deep breath and prayed to whatever gods would listen that it wouldn’t happen again this time. If it did, that would be too much. He’d have to call it quits and he just wasn’t ready yet. Please, don’t, not tonight...

He took a deep breath, held it momentarily and let it out, then snapped his fingers...

His world immediately turned white, a bright white, a total absence of color so complete that it hurt his eyes... CRAP! Not again...

Abruptly, his world slammed back into focus. The onslaught of visual information sent him reeling after those few moments of total emptiness. Tony took his breaths in great gulps, his heart was racing even faster than before. He looked out at the chairs and tables in hope and desperation although he already knew the answer...

They were gone... every single person in the building would be gone as well. Only he and Melanie remained.

“Dammit, Tony!” Melanie shrieked as she rose off the table and threw the pink silk sheet to the stage. “This is the fourth time in a row! What in the hell are you doing to the people? Where are they going?”

“I don’t know...” Tony said. “I... just don’t...”

“Save it, Tony,” Melanie said and stomped off the stage. “How in the world are we going to get paid if you keep disappearing everyone, huh? HOW?”

“I’m sorry... Mel, I’m...”

“Forget it, Tony,” Melanie said. “I’m through with you, this is ridiculous. The audience needs to stay, Tony, they need to be here afterwards or there’s no point!”

“I’ll figure it out, Mel,” Tony said as he packed up his black case of tricks, flattened his top hat and followed Melanie off the stage. “I swear, I’ll figure it out.”

Copyright © 2004 by Shawn P. Madison

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