Sunday, March 7 2021

from the homework vault: the magician

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This is a short story from my multi-genre project from 12th grade composition class. To be honest, I put more work into other parts of the project. This was just filler that I threw together the night before it was due. Looking back, I wish I wrote all my assignments like this - going without the flashy vocab words and over-engineered sentence structure and just focusing on the story itself. It's funny how much writing you have to do before you learn to say more with less.

A hollow lamp illuminated the stage with a sharp crescent of light as a pristine young man stood with his arms held proudly outward.

“Behold, humanity,” he bellowed into the auditorium. “I am Donavan the Great! The feats you are about to witness this memorable evening are not of mere trickery. This night, mortal man will enamor you with the mysteries of the divine!” At that moment, a dozen Roman candles brilliantly fizzled and flared as Donavan the Great fell to his knees.

Despite the turbulent glory, the audience, scattered sparsely throughout the vacant theatre, continued to casually chat and mingle. Donavan peered a subtle eye from his heroic pose, eager to see their reaction. It seemed as if every person in the stands was doing something other than paying attention to his lavish introduction. Donavan cleared his throat and puffed out his chest.

“I am Donavan the Great!” he said even louder. A heavy set man planted in the front row retorted painfully.

“You’re not as good as you think, kid!” The audience laughed with contempt as Donavan flushed. His neck grew hot. He swallowed as he swiftly reached for a small charge held in a secret compartment on his belt. Donavan wiped the sweat on his forehead as he gathered himself. After he restored his swagger, Donavan hollered at the man.

“Ah? But another acerbic critic? You people ought to know better than to taunt a powerful magician!” Donavan swung his arm and struck the charge on the stage floor, sending a noisy flurry of sparks raining over the man. Horrified, he winced and sputtered, dropping a slushy to his feet. Donavan relished with a haughty laughter, but he was at once struck in the head with a cheesy pretzel. The jeering crowd filled the stage with garbage as Donavan bowed defiantly. A voice resounded sharply from behind the curtain.

“Good grief, Don. We better get out of here before someone comes after you,” said Clarence with anxiety. Donavan weaved through the curtain, fled out the stage door, and dropped himself into the passenger seat of Clarence’s car. He was dripping with soda and nacho cheese.

“Fantastic. This is my only suit, and now I have to get this cleaned before tomorrow’s show,” snapped Donavan as he brushed his arms and chest. Clarence sighed as the car accelerated.

“Look man, I thought I was your stage hand, not your getaway driver. Why do people hate you so much? You know, I think a slice of humble pie would do you more than a little good.” Donavan ignored Clarence as he intently panned the street corner with his eyes.

“There – there’s the dry cleaners. Drop me off and I’ll change,” Donavan said rudely as he waved his arm. The car pulled to the curb. Donavan entered, then exited only a moment later wearing a spotted t-shirt and ratty jeans. The car sped off again. Donavan gave a curious look as Clarence turned right at the intersection, rather than left.

“Where are you going? My apartment is the other way.”

“I know,” said Clarence. “I have to pick up some books for a case study for my criminal law class.” Donavan glanced forward as Clarence slowly tuned into the library parking lot and came to an abrupt halt. The two entered into the lobby.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” remarked Clarence as he disappeared behind a wall of books. Donavan stared at the wall adjacent to the door he entered in. He was startled by a slight tug on his pant leg. Peering downward, he was met with the fixated stare and sly grin of a four-year-old boy. The boy, standing pigeon toed and slouching, met Donavan’s eyes with an anticipatory wonder. Donavan noticed a deck of cards in his tiny hands.

“Would you like to see a magic trick?” questioned the boy with slow, articulate speech. Donavan was fascinated with his forwardness.

“Um… yes… yes, go right ahead.” The boy held out the deck as Donavan plucked a card and drew it to his chest. The boy curled his lips in a playful grin.

“It’s a four of diamonds!” exclaimed the boy. Donavan lifted a corner of the card. Indeed, it was a four of diamonds. Donavan cast a quizzical look. The boy’s grin widened as he spread the deck awkwardly in his fingers. Every card was a four of diamonds. Donavan heaved a jovial laugh, then gently took up the deck in his dexterous fingers. Donavan knelt close to the boy.

“That’s clever. But could you do the same trick with a regular deck of cards?” Donavan whipped his wrist, striking the deck. He fanned the cards in his fingers. The boy’s eyes widened, seeing every card and suit restored to the deck. Donavan flashed his wrist again, swallowing the deck in his hands. Donavan proceeded to spin, whirl, and drop cards out of his hands, pockets, and even out of thin air. The boy was paralyzed with awe. From the corner of his eye, Donavan saw Clarence standing behind the boy. Donavan blushed as he rose to his feet. The boy reluctantly sauntered away. Clarence chuckled.

“I know. It’s very funny – the Great Donavan performing for a four-year-old in the children’s section of a library. How humbling,” admitted Donavan meekly.

“You know, you use so many smoke machines and fireworks, I forgot about how good you are with the old school stuff.” Clarence smiled as Donavan nervously shuffled his feet.

“Just having fun. I forgot how cool of a feeling it was to have someone watch you like that.”

“What’s this? Donavan the Great is having fun?” Clarence glared accusatively.

“You know I haven’t realized how stupid that name sounds until now. I’m just going to go by ‘Don’ or something.” Donavan and Clarence made their way to the door.

“Whatever, man. Get your stuff ready for tomorrow. I’ll pick up your suit from the cleaners before the show.” Donavan stopped in his tracks and thoughtfully stared into the sky.

“They can keep the suit. I won’t be needing it anymore.” Clarence was confused.

“What do you mean you won’t be needing it anymore?”

Donavan pulled out the boy’s deck of cards from his back pocket and tossed them to Clarence.

“I think I’m just going to go with the old school thing for now on. No more fireworks and smoke machines, you know?” Clarence nodded in approval as they continued walking.