Word gets around that our new neighbor in the corner Victorian house knows one good magic trick: he can make anything disappear, and then reappear. We ask the friendly college sophomore girl staying with her parents for the summer to ask our new neighbor if he would put on a public demonstration as a courtesy. Our plan works! The eight of clubs Mr. Salter picks from a shuffled deck of cards, the out-of-state license of James Baron III, Donna’s mother’s engagement ring, a twenty-dollar bill everyone witnesses Guthrie autograph with a sharpie and then stuff into her bra; all (with a word) gone just long enough for us to fidget and lose breath before (finger snap) returning again. Our hands hurt from clapping. That was really something, we tell ourselves. But later that evening, as we lie in our beds, the deeper waters of our souls trouble our dreams with the knowledge that what our neighbor the magician has done is nothing more than well-rehearsed sleight of hand. Real magic, like the gods, is a myth. And yet, time and time again, we cannot help ourselves from acting out as if the opposite were true. For instance, one day we learn the godawful news that our friendly college sophomore girl has been found murdered, asphyxiated (allegedly) by an ex-boyfriend and then stuffed into the trunk of his teal pinto. Her essence has departed from us forever. But still we, along with the girl’s parents, crowd our neighbor the magician with a hope that if he just says the word and snaps his fingers, she will be restored to us again, alive and well.
Charles Lennox lives and loves in Southern California.