I have no idea where this came from. I started to write something on the comedic side, but, being a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of his pants) as a friend calls me, the writing sometimes takes on a life of its own, as this piece did. Anyway, it’s not my usual but I thought I’d put it out there anyway. So if ya all like it, I’m happy; if not, that’s okay too :-)
“Jason Moore, you better be getting ready for school. Isn’t today the day a special guest is supposed to put on a show for your school or something?” yelled mom from the kitchen.
That was the day my life changed . . . again. The first time was when my father passed away. I was in the first grade at Radford elementary school. My dad worked at a steel mill, made fairly good money, and took good care of my mother and I. He never missed a day of work, and was never sick. I came home from school one day and found dad and mom talking in their bedroom. Mom was crying, and dad had a sad look on his face. Two months later, he was gone. Mom said it was cancer.
I had a hard time dealing with his passing. I was angry with him for not being there for mom and I anymore. While other boys were taught how to catch and throw a baseball, there was no one to teach me. Listening to the other kids make fun of me, for not knowing anything about sports, made me erect a shell around myself for protection. Small stature ran in my family, I looked like I belonged in kindergarten, so it did me little good to protest.
There were many times I convinced myself I hated my father; mom would cry, and I would blame him for it. Why wasn’t he there to make her stop crying? Why wasn’t he there to teach me all the things dads teach their kids? I know my anger bothered mom, but I knew no better. Little did I realize that day would change my feelings forever.
“I’ll be down in a minute mom. It’s The Magician that’s doing the show today, and I can’t wait to see him.” I hollered back.
I finished getting dressed as fast as I could, and ran downstairs (try tying your shoes while leaping down the stairs), ready to run to the bus stop and get to school.
“Hold on a minute, you. Eat first. There’s a bowl of cereal with bananas, and some toast. Eat, then bus.”
“Aw, mom”, I said. “I don’t want to be late.”
“You have plenty of time, so eat up. I’ll walk you to the bus stop.”
Quickly, I ate breakfast and mom walked me to the bus.
I was in the fourth grade then. I got all A’s and studied hard so I could make mom proud of me. The trip to school that day was different from the usual; all the kids were talking about The Magician’s show. There was a lot of speculation on whether he really could perform magic. Kids in the third and fourth grades were starting to question Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. There was that part of all of us that wanted it all to be real, but listening to the older kids had us wondering. Anyway, by the time we arrived at school, the consensus seemed to be The Magician was real. I’m sure some of us, including myself, had our fingers crossed, hoping it was true.
The school was divided into two separate buildings: the first through fourth grades were in one, fifth through eighth in the other. The Magician’s first show was at noon in my building; his second, at two o’clock, in the other. Early classes were slow, and difficult to keep ones mind on. But the time did eventually pass, and at noon we were all led by our teachers to the auditorium.
All us childrens’ attention was on the opening in the curtains at the center of the stage, as that was where we expected The Magician to come out. So it was quite a surprise when we heard a rich, full voice say, “Why, your name is Fran, and quite a fine name it is. I think it’s such a fine name that you will one day be president of your own company.”
We all turned to look at Fran, who was sitting in the last row by the rear door. There, standing right next to Fran, was the biggest man I ever saw. He stood well over six and a half feet tall, had a belly round as a basketball, and a snow white beard covering everything but his eyes, nose and mouth. His eyes were bright blue, his nose big and red, and his mouth smiled like he knew he was your best friend, and you were his. He wore a pure white outfit, consisting of a furry pair of pants and a long, shaggy coat that barely touched the ground. His boots were shiny and black.
Fran had her hand over her mouth and was trying, but not succeeding, in keeping from giggling. The Magician winked at her, and walked down the rows towards the stage, stopping to talk to some of the students on the way. He stopped next to Brett, the one kid I really hated, because he always made fun of me not having a dad.
“Brett,” said The Magician. “I’ll bet if you get your grades up, you might be able to play football in Pee-Wee league next year. I think you’d make a great offensive lineman. But only if you get good grades.”
Brett just sat there, stunned. How did The Magician know the only thing Brett ever talked about was someday being an offensive lineman, just like his dad?
The Magician spoke to a few others before climbing the stairs to the stage. As he walked to the center of the stage, his long coat slightly dragging the ground, he turned, and with a huge smile on his face, and said, “Hello, children, I am The Magician, and I’ve come a very long way to entertain you.” The whole auditorium erupted in applause. Even the teachers were smiling.
The Magician held his arms up, smiling all the time, and gestured for the children to stop. He said, “I have many tricks to show you, and I will need some help up here. Is there anyone out there who will help me?”
I think every hand every hand went up, with many children yelling, “Me . . . chose me!”
The Magician laughed a deep, rolling laugh, and said, “Is there a Mary Beckett here? I could use her help.”
One of the few memories I have of my father was his laugh. I remember he taught me how to play Go Fish, the card game. I seemed, at the time, to have a penchant for sevens. Every time it was my turn to ask for a card, I would ask my dad if he had any sevens. If he did, I would take it and put it down, proclaiming, “I won!”
My dad would start laughing then. There was no holding back with his laugh. One chuckle and I would start laughing too. Mom would come in from whatever she was doing and find us both rolling on the floor, holding our sides from laughing so much. After my father passed away, there was little laughter in our house. The Magician’s laugh reminded me of my dad’s.
Mary stood up and replied with a giggle, “Here I am.” And with that scooted by the other children in her row, ran down the aisle, up the stairs and stood in front of the Magician.
“Hello, Mary. I’m sure you will be a great help to me,” said The Magician, as he gently shook her hand.
He led her to one of four chairs set up on the stage, and gestured for her to sit down.
“Now, is there a Jason Moore out there? Jason, stand up so I can see you,” called out The Magician.
I sat there, stunned. I think my mouth hung open to the floor. I slowly stood up, and said, “Here I am, sir.”
“Well, Jason, would you please join me up here? I don’t think I can do the show without you.”
“Me, sir, how can I help you? I don’t know any magic.”
“Oh, Jason, you have much magic in you, and I will need it to do my show. Please help me.”
I walked to the stage, and climbed the stairs, shaking with fear; I was scared of being in front of all the children.
After my father passed away, I became somewhat of a loner. As I said earlier, I was small for my age. I was always the last one picked for any of the sports teams, if I was picked at all. Being a straight A student didn’t go over too well with the rest of the class either. The teachers liked me because I studied so hard, which, of course, led to the “teachers pet” nickname. I hated that, but I knew how important an education was, even at that young age.
The Magician led me to the row of chairs, and had me sit in the one next to Mary.
Next, he called out for Brett Sterns, my number one enemy. “Brett, I need a good future offensive lineman up here. Think you can fill the bill?”
Brett jumped up, looked at his friends, grinned, and made his way to the stage. The Magician had him sit next to me.
“Hey, Jason, you better not mess this up, or I’ll be all over you.” Brett whispered to me as he sat down.
I think the Magician must have over heard Brett, because he looked at me and winked, smiling all the time.
He then called Fran up, saying, “Fran Richards? I need a company President up here to make sure everything is in order. Can you do that for me?”
Fran walked down the aisle and up the stairs like she’d done it a million times in the past. Nothing seemed to bother her. The Magician shook her hand and led her to a seat.
With all of us seated, the Magician started his show. He did some fancy tricks using colored scarves. He crumbled a bunch up in his fist, blew on them, and then showed the kids they were gone. He asked Brett to inspect his hands, to make sure everyone knew they had disappeared.
Brett looked very carefully, but couldn’t find the scarves. The Magician then reached into Brett’s front shirt pocket and started pulling out the scarves. I think Brett was more surprised than anyone. The kids erupted in applause.
I helped with his magic hat. The Magician had me hold the hat, while he said magic words and waved his hands over it. I looked inside the hat while he was doing that, and could swear I saw light and dark swirling together. It made me dizzy.
The Magician reached into the hat and pulled out a white dove. The kids loved it. He let the dove go, and it flew out a window and was gone. The Magician laughed as it flew away, telling the children, “I think he’ll enjoy his freedom, don’t you?”
That brought cheers from everyone.
The Magician’s tricks kept getting more complicated, but not enough to scare us. He had Mary levitating between two of the chairs, with both Brett and myself passing a hula-hoop over her. Brett and I looked at each other wondering how it was possible. We both knew then The Magician had to be real.
After The Magician finished the levitation act, and as Mary walked back to her chair, The Magician walked behind Fran, reached behind her ear, and pulled out a carrot. “Why Fran, I didn’t know you grew carrots in your ear,” he said.
Fran started to giggle again, and said, “I Don’t, sir. I wash behind my ears every night, just like mommy tells me”
“Well, this must be a special carrot, then, don’t you think?” said The Magician. “In fact, from the looks of it, I think it is the magical carrot I’ve been looking many years for. This carrot holds very powerful magic. Anyone eating it must have a kind, strong heart, because this magic is very powerful.
“I think these four brave souls deserve to each eat a piece of the carrot. What does the audience think?”
The auditorium erupted in cheers and applause. I was thinking if Jason’s heart wasn’t good, he might be in trouble. I didn’t understand then, but I was hoping his heart was good.
The Magician carefully broke the carrot into four pieces. Each break resounded with a sharp “snap”, causing more applause.
The Magician then called each of us up separately. He called Mary first, gave her a piece of the carrot, while whispering in her ear. Mary got a big grin on her face and smiled at us, before walking back to her chair.
Then, he called me. I got out of my seat and walked across the stage to him. He handed me my piece of carrot, and whispered into my ear. He also told me I could never reveal what he said, or the magic would be undone. And, like Mary, I looked at the other three, and felt like I had a new family.
Brett was next, and I could see he was scared of what was going on. I know he never saw me smiling at him before, and I think it bothered him. After the Magician handed him the carrot, and whispered to him, I could see a puzzled look creep across his face. But he took the carrot and returned to his seat, all the while looking at me strangely.
Fran ran up to the Magician, and, after he whispered in her ear, walked by me with a look I never saw before. For some reason, it made me blush, but it also made me feel really good.
The Magician then turned to the audience, and said, “The magic carrot is so powerful, I will need for all you children to stand and cheer while the four helpers eat their pieces.”
All the children stood, and started cheering. The four of us looked at each other, and when the Magician said, “Okay, start eating”, we each took our first bite. The carrot tasted like no other carrot I ever ate. It had a sweetness to it that to this day I still can’t describe. It didn’t take us long to finish our pieces.
Brett and Mary looked at each other, started laughing out laud, and raised their hands in the air. Fran looked over at me, and we both did the same thing. I don’t know if it was the carrot doing it to us, or just our excitement, but I never felt so good in my life. All my fears started melting away, and when I glanced at Brett, he looked me square in the eye, and started laughing some more.
The Magician closed the show by simply disappearing from the stage. He had Bret and I hold up a large, ornate blanket. His last words to the school kids were, “Remember, there is always magic, if you know where to look.” With that, he stepped behind the blanket, had Bret wrap it around him, while I held the other end, winked at both of us before Brett finished the wrapping, and, when we opened the blanket, was gone.
Oddly enough, none of us on the stage thought it was strange; it seemed normal for him to leave like that. The rest of the kids sat stunned, as did the teachers. But he showed up for the later show, and the older kids thought he was great, although he just walked off the stage after that show. He didn’t do his carrot trick either.
The rest of the school day went quickly. The teachers knew we were too excited to learn our lessons, so they spent the rest of the day trying to keep us under control. After school, Brett came up to me and apologized for all the bad things he’d said about me. I think I should have been shocked at hearing him say it, but after what the Magician whispered in my ear, I kind of expected it.
Both Fran and Mary joined us, and we started talking about the tricks the Magician did, knowing we really wanted to know what he’d said to each of us. We four knew also we could not tell each other; for some unknown reason, even if we wanted to, we knew we never would.
When to bus came to take us home, Brett asked me if I could come over some time. I said sure, but I would have to get my mom’s okay. Fran asked if she could come too, at which time Mary chimed in and said, “me too?” That was the first time I ever saw Brett blush, and couldn’t help laughing. I thought He was going to hit me, but he started laughing too. From that day on, we did that a lot.
When I got home, I couldn’t wait to tell mom all about the show, and the magic tricks the Magician did. She said she was proud of me for going on stage in front of all my classmates, and especially proud of me for eating the magic carrot. I told her about Brett inviting me over sometime, and she said okay, but I knew she was wondering what was going on, as she knew how Brett picked on me.
Bed time was very difficult for me that night because of all the excitement. I had a hard time going to sleep, but finally dropped off. I dreamed about my father, but this time the dream was different. In it, my father spoke to me for the first time. He said he wished he was there for me, but God had other plans, and God’s will must be done. He said he knew I would be alright without him, but he would still be watching over me all the time. The strange thing about the end of the dream was I could see my father walking away, side by side, with the Magician. Just before they were out of sight, the Magician turned, looked at me and winked.
I told mom about the dream in the morning, and she said it was all the excitement from yesterday causing it. But I knew it was my dad in the dream, and I was no longer mad at him. I still missed him so much it hurt, but I knew he was still with me in spirit.
From that day forward, the four of us were as brothers and sisters. Well, almost. Fran and I got married after college, as did Brett and Mary. Brett played eight yeas for the Green Bay Packer as a, you guessed it, offensive lineman. Fran started her own company, and called herself President . . . just because. The four of us together have six children, nine grandkids, and life after both The Magician and the magic carrot couldn’t be better. Was there real magic involved? We’ll let you decide: we already know our answer.