Most people never reach desperation, and if they do, they quickly forget the feeling and resume their lives. -Intellectual Shaman

I was a follower of passions because I thought they would set me free. I never understood how people could wait around for money, maybe if I was paid in change, but this is doubtful, as I would quickly realize how little I was worth to somebody else. Passion gave me feelings that I was rich and going somewhere. Maybe dreams make life tolerable, even if they don’t come true? Hope is addictive and I needed it like a drug. So, that’s how I got involved as a stage performer. I had this idea that magic might be real; after all, reality boils down to perception and people want to believe. They want to be lied to and it isn’t the lies they hate; it’s when they are revealed. They find out Santa Clause isn’t real, all over again, and their world remains the same, just spare change and not much else.

I was doing standup comedy, and quickly found out I wasn’t funny. It’s one thing to make your friends laugh, but it’s something else to make people laugh who don’t like you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty likable guy, but there are a thousand reasons the crowd won’t like you and once something is popular, look out. It’s not that you are bad, it’s that the crowd thinks you’re bad, and when that happens, nothing can save you.

“Johnny, get over here.” My boss was calling again. Yes, I have a boss. I thought show biz would be freeing, but they don’t care about creators like me and if they do, it’s to squeeze ever last drop of talent and transmute it into money.

“Michael wants to see you.”

“Magic Mike?” I asked.

“Jeez, you’re thick. Who else? And get me a latte while you’re at it.”

“I walked away as quickly as I could and found our magician. His sleight of hand was arthritic now, shaking like a toy out of sink and I felt sorry for him.

“Johnny, you strike me as someone who appreciates magic.”

“Well, I… I’m interested in bending reality.”

“You’re good with words and I’ve seen you change how people feel.” Mike’s eyes were blue and they were looking through me now; it was an eerie feeling, like he could see into my soul.

“Mike, thanks, but people don’t think I’m funny.”

“Nonsense; contrary to the crowd, you can’t trust your feelings; you have to create them; this is what a magician does. Now, I understand you’re a young man, and you’re chasing success, whatever that might be, but never underestimate the power of sticking with something; it’ll always do you more good than harm, even if things don’t work out the way you want them to. Take me, for instance, I hung around magic until I learned a few tricks and I never shared them with anybody. You have to hang around to find what works; when you find it, keep it a secret. When people trust what you are about to show them, well… the magic has already happened. Don’t believe what society says about liars; they just hate to know they are being lied to. What they don’t know gives them belief in something they don’t understand. Magic is the anticipation before the BIG reveal, and a magician never shares his secrets, or let’s just say, he only shares them once, at a very special time.”

“When?” I asked.

“When he retires.”

“Why are you telling me, Mike?”

“Because I’ve chosen you. You’re 21. Let’s go have a drink.”

The bar was full of broken-down fools, clowns, and people who don’t belong in society.

“Whiskey,” Mike said.

“Say, are you…?”

“Not anymore. Now get me a drink, please.”

“Aye, Aye, Magic Mike.”

“And don’t call me that.”

Mike took a sip and relaxed. “Here’s a rule about people, they don’t believe, unless they see with their own eyes. You can tell them and they won’t believe, but if you show them… that’s something else. Being a magician is about how you carry yourself. If you believe your own lies, you can be more convincing.”

“Mike… why me?”

“Because you’re a believer and I haven’t shown you anything yet.”

“You’ve told me plenty.”

“Yeah… and you aren’t easily fooled, maybe because you don’t want to be, and you still consider what you can’t see.”

The evening burned low as Mike waxed eloquently. He was getting drunk, with no great revelations of magic and a philosophy that could not be put to personal use. Right when I felt compelled to go, Mike froze, as if in a trance.

“I’ve talked too much and it’s nearly midnight. The woods and the mountains are a haven from disbelieving society and I’m in no state to be your navigator, but the train tracks should take us a safe distance from here.”

“What?” I asked.

“A Walk; there’s nothing better after a few stiff drinks—clears the head, as much as a guy can want.” He leaned over to me like he was about to tell me a secret and then changed his mind and our evening stretched on, like shadows in the moonlight until I was too tired to stay awake; maybe I was sleepwalking; who knows? But the dawn broke and I was nowhere near to discovering his secret.

To be continued…

One thought on “Part I. The Magician’s Secret

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