The Magician’s Assistant
Tonight I'm going to disappear.
I disappear every night, I know, but tonight I'm not coming back.
He will look for me but never find me, that withered wizard. This sorcerer's apprentice has been watching and learning for years, and now I know all the tricks of his trade, and a few more besides.
Yes, and I know my little master for what he is too—
more sham than shaman
conjuring more doo-doo than voodoo.
I'm his 'Ta-Da' girl.
I never speak.
Seen but not heard, that's me.
A showgirl smile in stiletto heels, it's my job to
smile and point to the hat
smile and step from the magic closet
smile and bow to the audience.
Sometimes though, my carefully painted lips want to pull themselves back over my perfect pearly whites in a wolfish snarl, and I have to pinch my tongue between my incisors to keep from snapping at the air.
Smiling has become such a brutal discipline.
He doesn't seem to notice.
I'm not surprised.
His prestidigitation takes all his concentration these days.
From the Latin praesto digiti—
The hand is quicker than the eye
or at least it used to be.
These days there's nothing up his sleeve. The fingers that used to transport me to magical realms
(and not just on stage either)
have stumbled and slowed
fumbled and forgotten.
And over the years
the more they've sputtered
the more my costume has shrunk
until now it's little more than a couple of sequins in the front
a shiny strand of sateen up the back
all part of redirecting the audience's attention
as he so patiently explained to me.
So every night I prance in front of his adoring public
nearly naked but smiling radiantly
giving them all something nice to look at
while he tries to focus on his bogus hocus-pocus.
From the Latin, hoc est corpus meum—
this is my body.
And oh! the things he's done to my body!
Cramming my ears with gold coins
stuffing my mouth with endless strings of hankies.
I've been blindfolded
(his personal favourite)
sawed in half.
He loves doing that.
Driving the rigid blade in rhythmic thrusts
deeper and deeper into my soft centre
grinning at me the way he does when we're in bed
and he's splitting me in two the other way.
(“C'mon, baby, smile!”)
But on stage he gets to divide and conquer
while everyone watches
(“Smile, baby, smile!”)
doesn't that just make the old magic wand snap to attention!
I always smile when he tells me to
knowing how to fake it onstage and off…
I wonder if he remembers that circus matinee we did years ago.
He was about to pull a rabbit out of his hat
and the poor creature must have been sick or something
or maybe Fartus Magnus just waited too long
but he reached in and yanked out this
spittle glistening around its cleft lip
flaccid body hanging long, limp and loose in his feeble grasp.
(“Mommy, what's wrong with Mister Bunny?”)
In a macabre attempt to cover up the obvious
he shook the furry carcass at the audience
in imaginary animation.
But it was too late.
He knew it was dead.
I knew it was dead.
And the audience
gagging on their popcorn
and choking on their cotton candy
certainly knew it was dead.
With a heart-sickening thump, he dropped the remains back in the hat and threw it at me. I caught it with one hand and carried it out of the glare of the spotlight, tucking it away behind the magic table before returning to the centre ring.
And I never once stopped smiling.
He blamed me of course, and during the next trick left me sweltering in the magic closet, reappearing me an instant before I too succumbed.
(“Smile, bitch, SMILE!”)
I got the message though, and from then on made sure the rabbit was healthy, or at least in the land of the living before every show.
But now I'm sick of him and his dumbo mumbo-jumbo
with its impotent illusions and passionless pretence.
I'm on the hunt for some sexy sorcery
a salty wet witchery
a delightfully delicious devilry
a warm moist magic.
It must be out there somewhere. There must be someplace where a woman
doesn't have to smile as she's being sliced in two
where she can speak out loud an incantation of her own
where she can indulge her appetite for the metaphysical
and the physical.
Especially the physical.
And if no such place exists
I'm powerful enough now to conjure one up.
So tonight I'm going to teach an old dog a new trick.
Tonight I'm going to disappear.
(And I'm taking the rabbit with me!)