I wrote this for a literary journal. They didn’t use it, which is hardly surprising…
‘Don’t know where she’s gone, do you?’
He waved his hands in and out of the box.
‘Smoke and fucking mirrors kids. Smoke and fucking mirrors.’
We didn’t know where Mary was. She wasn’t in the box.
‘She’s gone. Puff. Like the fucking Dragon.’
He laughed again.
The show started alright. The three of clubs in the story book, fourth from the left on the bottom shelf, the handkerchiefs that flowed from his sleeves. The hypnosis was really funny. We laughed so hard, especially when he had them pretending to be chickens. Davy O’Kane choked on his cake and spat it out. We screamed when the rabbit appeared. The rabbit didn’t think much of it. It chomped on a bit lettuce and blinked in the lights.
‘I feed it Temazepam, crushed into its kibble so it don’t fucking freak out. Can’t be doing with panicked rabbits when they’re stuffed inside the hat. Don’t know how many hats I had pissed in before I thought of that. Fucking animal’s blocked off its tits.’
‘That’s a bit cruel,’ said Mary.
‘Cruel? Don’t you believe it. That fucking long-eared rat could be testing shampoo. That’s what you call fucking cruel.’
He juggled for a bit too, before the box. Three balls. Nothing special. I’d seen better on the telly.
‘What the fuck do you expect? Have you ever tried it you tossers? Four balls is hard, harder than five and I can’t be arsed with four.’
We were getting tired. We were frightened. Mary started crying. She was upset about the shampoo.
‘They drip it into Bug’s eyes. I bet you’ve had shampoo in your eye haven’t you. Hurts like fuck don’t it? Poor old Bug’s doesn’t get a chance to wash it out. Imagine that. Imagine the fucking searing, endless pain of that. That’s cruel. Searing, endless, mind-fucking pain and all so you can wash your fucking hair. Ah for fuck’s sakes, stop crying.’
Then it was the last trick, the magic box.
‘And now for the grand finale!’
The box had stars and all sorts of shiny things on it. Like letters only not.
‘Pentagrams and pentacles. Magic. Not like play magic. This is the real thing. Powerful, scary shit. You’ll be pissing the bed when you remember this in your dreams.’
The box was big and empty. He moved his hands inside. It was October black, with stars that sparkled.
‘A volunteer. You’ll do.’
He grabbed Mary’s arm hard. She was still crying.
‘In you get.’
He closed the box. Mary was screaming.
‘You remember the magic word, don’t you? Ah come on, she’ll be fine. I’m not going to cut her in half or anything. After three. All of you. Come on. One, two three. Abracadabra.’
We couldn’t remember the magic word. Davy O’Kane puked smarties and lemonade all over Paddy.
‘Fucking say it. Fucking say it you little shites. Abracadabra.’
We said it. There was a puff of smoke and we couldn’t hear Mary crying anymore.
‘Da Da!’ he said when the box fell apart.
Mary wasn’t there.
‘You’ll not be playing with her again. She’s floating somewhere out there. I’ll bet she’s pissed her pants, she knows what searing, endless, mind-fucking pain is. I better wake up your mums and dads now. On one, you’ll be back in the room.’
He picked up the rabbit, climbed into the box and shut the sides.
‘Five, four, three. Bye bye now children. It’s been a pleasure. You’ve been watching the great Mr Magiko. Smoke and fucking mirrors. Remember that when you go to sleep.’
He shut the lid. Inside the box he shouted.
‘Two. One. Back in the room.’
There was another puff of smoke.
My mum was the first to wake up.
The box fell apart again.
‘Oh Mikey. Do you see the rabbit? Isn’t that so funny.’
The other grown-ups opened their eyes.
The rabbit blinked, sitting alone in the box.
‘Where’s Mr Magiko gone?’ Mary’s mum said, rubbing her eyes.
‘Who’s for more birthday cake?’ said my mum.