Once there was a magician who was angry with his mother because she never breast fed him. Talk about a grudge. He could make rainbows spurt from piles of dirty rags, he could play Beethoven’s ninth symphony with a wooden spoon and an empty peanut butter jar to bring tears to the eyes, he could make a chair get up and walk on all fours, but he couldn’t resolve his inner turmoil. Perhaps he excelled at his magic because he wanted the magical achievements to give him satisfaction, a peace inside, that wouldn’t come.
I saw him walking down 3rd avenue one evening sneezing pollen and conjuring up dust devils with a twist of his wrist. The dust devils caught all manner of miscellaneous debris — old french fries, cigarette butts, bottle caps, discarded water bottles, newspapers, hats — and spun them up off the sidewalk in hopeful, chaotic, irregular little spirals. The magician stopped at a bench and pulled 47 colored handkerchiefs, tied end to end, out of his left ear and began wiping his crying eyes. He didn’t notice the WET PAINT sign on the bench until he got up, with a sticking peeling sensation and a green grill across his Gap denim ass. He erased the wet paint from his jeans with a sigh and a snap of his fingers. The paint lifted out of the fiber of his jeans and hung in the air, a sticky green mist of paint. The magician pulled a cheap, white pen from his pocket, opened his hand and levitated the pen from his upturned palm into the cloud of wet paint suspended before his eyes. The paint collected on the pen, condensing and drying.
“What’s the use? What’s the fucking use?!” he asked a nearby fruit merchant. “I’ll never find the right trick!” he exclaimed with exasperation.
He let the pen fall onto a shelf full of cantaloupes on the fruit stand and meandered off into the evening crowd. The fruit merchant, mesmerized, retrieved the pen and examined it thoroughly, looking for strings or magnets. But he watched it change color! The paint was now dry. He carefully slid the pen into his shirt pocket as he intently watched the magician walk away.
“It’s not the trick,” the fruit seller mumbled.
You see, this fruit merchant had been raised in a traveling circus. He was reared around tricksters, acrobats, clowns, magicians, and other masters of illusion and dexterity. but this man he’d just seen — that was no illusion. This man he’d just seen, he had something different, something real. He must find that magician, follow that man, he realized, reaching for the now green pen in his pocket “…and this pen will help,” he said to himself. He looked down at the pen; a simple, cheap ball point with an advertisement impressed into it that the green paint did not completely cover over:
SECOND MORTGAGE BANK AND TRUST
That was just down the street. He’d begin tomorrow by waiting there for this magician. It was a start.