Sunday, April 14, 2013
I have always loved stage magicians. Granted, some of them are pretty crap, delivering age old tricks that have long ago lost their mystery and been relegated to the 'every fucker knows that one' shelf of the local joke shop. These 'illusionists' resort to bright colours and flamboyance to spin out their delivery, in the hope of bullshitting the audience into believing that they're watching something new. It's like seeing your granny with a makeover - I've got no time for them.
But occasionally someone stands out - delivering a stunningly simple but utterly baffling illusion that makes you believe for a fleeting moment that the only possible solution is magic. I love these guys.
I particularly like the close up stuff, where there's no room for error. I used to work in a factory where one of the supervisors was a former stage magician who specialised in close up card illusions. After twenty something years in the trade he lost his nerve and had to retire. They may look all cool and debonair up there but believe me they're sweating bullets all the way through. He'd been ten years off the stage but occasionally he'd pick the card deck up off the canteen table during lunch break and go to work on us. I'm no expert, but I never managed to figure any of it out. There were cards disappearing all over the place and he could shuffle the deck and deal out any poker hand that you asked for straight off the top. By the time we'd been delivered back into the real world my tea had gone cold - now, to coin a catch phrase - 'that's magic!'
So how the hell do they learn how to do these things? Well according to my aforementioned friend the key to it is simply practice. Day after day, hour after hour, heart breakingly tedious, to the point of obsession - practice.
Obsession is a juicy word in my phrase book. It makes me wonder - how far is someone actually prepared to go to get another round of applause?
It's pretty much common knowledge that the only reason the old stage magicians used white doves for their animal magic was because they were all identical - so you could crush one poor bird to death to squeeze it into a secret compartment and then pull another one from up your arse and the audience thought it was the same bird that had just 'disappeared'. I'm fairly sure that they don't do that kind of thing any more, but if they do I hope that if mister magic ever gets to heaven all those nice white doves are there waiting to do an Alfred Hitchcock on his sad ass.
Now let's imagine that this very same magician, to whom killing harmless creatures for our entertainment is merely a part of the job, decides to expand his trade a little. What else would he be prepared to dispatch if he thought he could get completely away with it?
The Swing overview.
The Swing is primarily built around a negotiation between the two main characters who are attempting to agree a price on a piece of magical memorabilia. The story line develops as each man tries to gain the upper hand, with each protagonist offering more information about why they want the object and how they came to be there. There is of course more going on than meets the eye, and each revelation and twist in the tale pushes the stakes higher and higher.
Edgar Henry - a man on a mission. He's an obsessive collector of magical props who will stop at nothing to know their macabre secrets. He tries to be good, he really does, but certain traits run in Edgar's family. Traits that are best kept as secret as the props that he so avidly collects.
Paul Jenkins - He has something that Edgar Henry wants and he's determined to get the best possible price for it. He's an okay sort of guy and he does have a wife and four kids to support but he asks for more then Edgar can possibly afford and he doesn't realise how far Edgar is willing to go to get what he wants.
Here's a link to the ebook version from Smashwords.
The Swing is one of Uncle John's Bedtime Tales. The full collection of ten stories is available in ebook format on smashwords.
For those who prefer a print version Uncle John's Bedtime Tales is available from:
Amazon.com: Click here
Amazon.co.uk: Click here
Direct from Spinetinglers publishing: Click here