Houdini It

My entry in Luminous Creatures’ flash contest with a 500 word max and the above photo as a prompt, along with “include magic or something supernatural.”

The wand lay in two next to the coffin like a splintered unicorn’s horn, no longer majestic, only useless wood. Eddie hoped it would be consumed by the underground dwellers, as the coffin his head rested on was soon to be. And the person within it. His Elva.

When he listened closely, straining into the metal lid, he tricked himself into thinking he could hear her still-beating heart. In his head, it thumped madly, like a drummer on PCP, demanding to be let out of the coffin.

He was The Incredible Eddie of Eddie and Elva’s Enchanting Everything. The name was her idea and it took off.

They’d traveled from Boston to Fort Lauderdale to San Diego to Baltimore with their roadside magical emporium. He’d put on the classical red and black cape with the black top hat and the black wand with a white tip. She’d wear the same, just sexier, showing her smooth legs and robust bust. This garnered higher tips; it’s economics.

His go-to go-home trick was handcuffing his hands behind his back, laying down on the road, and letting Elva drive their trailer over his chest. It was more physics than magic, but it elicited the proper oohs and awws.

Soon, their antics caught the attention of bigger newspapers, then bigger television stations and before long, Eddie and Elva’s Enchanting Everything was sparkling the LED billboards of theatres all over the country.

They still did the trailer trick and in the enclosed theater space, it somehow seemed even more menacing than before.

One night after another sell-out show, Eddie and Elva were helping the crew dismantle the stage, as they always did. They were the type to remember their beginnings. Afterward, they exited behind the building to find a small man clad in black against the dumpster, so small that he could be mistaken for an oddly shaped garbage bag.

But he had a gun and a gun made no matter of size.

“Make the gun disappear,” he said, his words laced with a mocking tone that was like a noose around Eddie’s neck.

Eddie could feel the impression of his wand in his back pocket. His hand hovered.

The gun didn’t disappear nor did the bullet that lodged itself in Elva’s brain matter.

And like any great magician, the small man with a gun disappeared forever, but left in his wake a wave of pain that kept rolling over Eddie.

Eddie sometimes allowed the illusion that he’d finally managed to get his head above the wave.

Then it’d roll over him again. And again. And again.

He thought back to his days at the magic school. The first thing his instructor, the Outstanding Ollie, had said to the wonderfully wide-eyed class, now made The Incredible Eddie feel incredibly useless, like his wand.

“Magic, kids, is within us, performing its miracles with every heartbeat, but as it lives within us, it dies without us.”

Eddie’s heart beat begrudgingly, but the magic he could no longer conjure.

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