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Posts Tagged ‘A Magician Murder Mystery’

The Regency Timeline

My previous posts I’ve explained that I was working on the Regency timeline. I posted my entries for 1788 thru 1797.

Now I have the 1790 Timeline again. I went back added a significant amount of graphics. I will be doing this with all the years I previously posted and then ensuring that the new years have a lot of graphics as well.        

I have uploaded all these years to the Regency Assembly Press website. You can see a little preview of this below in the picture. I especially like how the Duchess of Alba by Goya looks a lot like Cher.

My sources which include the Internet and The Timetables of History by Grun and Stein1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-06-5-14-56.jpg as well as the Chronology of CULTURE y Paxton and Fairfield should cover a lot of events. There are now over 5000 listed for the period between 1788 and 1837 when Victoria comes to the Throne. I have also just found a third book I own with timelines in it, very USA centric though. 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-06-5-14-56.jpg What Happened When by Carruth. I also have added a Dorling Kindersley book PastedGraphic-2012-06-5-14-56.jpg, History of the World.

I may post a year at time every so often in between scanning through all these to find something that will be a good article for this blog and the blog at English Historical Fiction Authors. I will also have the full listing up shortly at Regency Assembly Press.

Those who have feedback, it is appreciated or if someone would like a specific year in a future post. The very first entry is to show who was Prime Minister of Great Britain, later it was the United Kingdom, during the period of the chronology. In choosing our dates, 1788 is the first sign of madness in George the III, it is the beginning of the end of the French Monarchy with the riots in Paris, it is the time when the mama’s of the girls during the true Regency would be girls going to London for their own season, and when our heroes are young lads or babes as well.

We need to know of the events that occurred when they were children, as well as what happens when they are on stage in our stories.

Click on the link below or the picture to go to the entry. More years coming. The list is now over 5000 event entries long and growing.

Regency Assembly Press 1790 Tineline

TheRegencyEraTimeline-2012-06-5-14-56.jpg

The Writing LIfe

I am now 330+ pages (over 100,000 words) on A Magician Murder Mystery. A had a good idea for a mystery, with a twist. What if the sleuth is a magician. I am looking for readers for this. Thirty years ago I wrote a mystery. And this is now my second. The first I know needs help. This though is working well. But then, a mystery needs a little more care I think then my regencies, etc. I could use other eyes if anyone is interested to be sure that I am hiding the clues well enough. That, the plot flows, and that the reader can put the entire thing together by the end.

I enclose a few more paragraphs from the first draft and now the start of the second chapter.

Chapter 2

Lance was not going to give him a lot of time to study the material, Eric knew. There was a UPS store near Dunsmuir and he could make copies of the relevant pages. After doing his marketing, he could stop there.

That way, as Lance had done before Eric had started making pages, when Lance would ask ‘what about the timing when I have to get out of the box on the page with the three stars…’ Eric would be able to look at his copies and talk Lance through it. Lance would then say that he was glad Eric thought to make copies.

Lance knew he would now. It would have saved time, if Lance had made the copies for Eric, but he couldn’t be bothered. That was what the people who did the work did. Not what the people who came up with the ideas did.

Lance could have thought of a trick with such a broad outline as the Magician disappears in a puff of smoke, and then reappears at the back of the hall a moment later. It would be up to Eric to make the trick work. Of course that trick was easy enough and they figured that our years ago. Old school.

As assistants had to have doubles that you could not see that there was a difference between from the audience, so too did the magician. Right height, right body size, a wig to make the hair match. And the ability to move your mouth to pretend to be speaking as the magician was actually talking.

The gag went something like the magician leaving the stage for a moment to fetch a towel, or get a drink of water. That was the switch with the double. Then the double would pretend to do the spiel as he walked over to a trap door in the stage. He would throw, or now, the stage would have it’s own blackout, smoke explosive. In that instance the trap door opens and the double falls through when the audience can’t see what is happening.

A moment later, booming voice from the back of the house, the magician starts walking down towards the stage. Perfect trick.

Lance had a library as good as Eric’s. He even had read two or three of the books in it. At least he knew he had them on the shelves. Eric was the one to study the works and see ways to make the trick work. Fifteen minutes at the printing part of the shop, and he had a working duplicate of the notebook. He even had it perf bound so he could lie back on the couch in his apartment and not have to worry about the papers being all over the place.

Rents were not that cheap in this side of town. He lived across from Park La Brea, but he had made good money when he first moved into the area. The card club job. His skills with cards for his tricks had made it so that he knew where cards were in a deck that he was dealing. He even had shown the manager how he could rig a game, if that was ever needed.

The man was a friend of Ephron Calman of the Palace. That was how Eric had gotten his audition performance. When he choked the manager of the card club didn’t hold it against him. But when they later did throw a couple games, the guy got nervous and had Eric move along. If he hadn’t opened his mouth, Eric might still have been there, making double what he did at Wal-Mart. Now though, the extra money from his part-time gigs, and the spots at the Palace of Magic almost got him back to where he had been.

After seven years though, he should have been further ahead. Sometimes, especially after he borrowed money from Lance, he would cruise to one of the other card clubs and put his skills to work as a player, not as a dealer. And not for a lot of money. Three hundred at one place, two hundred at another. The management was always looking for those who cheated regularly and for a lot of money. Things that were not good happened to those who spent too much time at the clubs and were too lucky.

It was just past eleven when he got to his apartment. He had a shift at four, at the store. Then an early shift the following day. He would have to eat his lunch-dinner at about two thirty, and then get ready for work. Seven miles and it took twenty minutes to half an hour to get to work. He just loved traffic in Los Angeles. And Eric meant that in the way that everyone meant it. He hated it.

Spreading out on the couch, Eric started to read through the notebook and see if Lance had done the work. Over the years he had gotten better at thinking through illusions. He had notes about what his script was going to be. Directions for the assistants. Lots of holes, but better than when they first met.

Then it was Eric who had the notebooks, and Lance had just scraps of paper, though they were in a manila folder, if you could call that being organized. When Lance saw Eric’s notebooks he thought it was a great idea and went and bought a pack of a dozen. This might have been the fifth of that initial dozen.

Eric was into his third dozen, he could see, glancing to the bookshelf.

Eric laughed. Lance had thought he was so smart when they had first become friends. Lance had gotten the gig at the Palace of Magic, and Eric had bombed. Then a few weeks later after they begun hanging out, Lance still making just the minimum for one show a week, he started read Eric’s notebooks. That was when Lance’s act began to grow. When he got more performances.

Lance took what was in Eric’s notebooks and added it into his show. Then at a dinner to celebrate the extra shows he had gotten, an expensive dinner at the Mario Batali restaurant, Osteria Mozza, Lance told Eric that he had been filching ideas from Eric’s notebooks.

At first Eric was upset. A magician should not steal another’s ideas. That was part of the game for the professionals. Reverse engineering other professions would call it. Working backwards to see if you could figure out the trick. He shared with Lance what was in some of his notebooks, but not all. Yet Lance had taken to looking at the notebooks when Eric wasn’t watching.

“Look, I wouldn’t have mentioned and you’re right, I shouldn’t have done it. But I got more performances, and that means more money. Calman is not paying me enough so I can afford my own apartment, the new car. It is good money, and maybe even better money with the right tricks.”

“My ideas, and you make money. That’s not fair at all.”

“I promise I’ll make it up to you. But you know you can’t do the tricks. And some, like you told me before, are the ones that have been around forever.” Lance said.

“Those anyone can have. The tricks I thought of are mine.” Eric was really pissed off, but he couldn’t make a scene in the middle of a posh celebrity chef restaurant. Lance played that part perfectly.

“Look, you told me it is traditional to buy someone’s tricks. I’ll pay you for the ones I’ve taken. I shouldn’t be the only one to make money from them. And then later, one day, I’ll remember and make sure you are paid everything. Really. You’re my only friend in all of Los Angeles. I should have asked first, but I thought you would say no because you are still mad at Mr. Calman.”

Eric was still mad at Calman. That anger would not go away, especially as the years went by and Calman made it difficult even for Eric to do his card tricks, which he never screwed up, in the lounge. Never screwed up unless he drank too much.

Lance did pay for the tricks, a bit, and then asked for help with some of the other tricks. Eventually, Eric would come up with a trick that was particularly good for Lance. One that would go well in Vegas or on a talk show. Lance did even hesitate to pay as he got richer.

As Eric thumbed through the current ideas in the notebook, remembering how Lance had stolen ideas from him made him smile. Now though he could see how far Lance had come in his concepts. The bullet points and sketches along the sides of each page showed Lance’s showmanship. His grasp of how to milk the audience just right. The trick itself, that was something unexpected.

As Lance had said, it was series of tricks related to each other. Fourteen tricks. Which would fill an hour show. Or several that were related and a few that you could make seem related. But the techniques, or ideas were not something that Eric ever expected to see from Lance. Part old craft mastery and something totally different. How do you take a solid piece of plywood and have a mark test it first. Take a spray paint can and sign his name, then lay it on the floor and then place the box over it? How could you now get through the floor, and Lance wanted Eric to figure that out.

Only two cups of coffee, the aspirin, the hangover headache, and soon he began to doze. A nice nap and he would be ready for work that night.

Then there was a knocking at the door. “Mr. Wise. Eric Wise, are you home!”

Eric heard it. “One minute.” He shouted back at the door. You always had to raise you voice a bit to be heard through a closed door. He had a window that could see the landing in front of his apartment. He was on the second story of a courtyard building.

Two shapes with coats. Knocking like that, they were probably not Mormon missionaries. He got up and closed the notebook that had been on his chest. He put it on the coffee table. It was almost two o’clock.

Opening the door he found two men, sunglasses on, coats and ties like he had seen through the window. “Hello?” He asked tentatively.

One placed a shiny thing up to the screen door, a badge. “Are you Mr. Eric Wise?”

“Yes. Are you some kind of cop?”

“Mr. Wise I am detective Johnson and this is detective Bailey. Can we come in and ask you a few questions?” The taller one, closer to the door, with the badge said.

“Yes, of course.” Eric fumbled with the latch on the screen door. It was always sticking. What was he going to tell the cop, no? You can’t come in unless I have a lawyer? That would sound guilty.

Finally he got the latch to work and let the men in. He also had a very healthy yawn come up. “Sorry, I was taking a nap. Is something wrong. I don’t have any parking tickets or anything.” He might have misrepresented some of the money he had on his taxes, since for some gigs he was paid in cash. No receipts. But the local police didn’t come to talk to you about that, did they?

The first one, Johnson said, “Do you know a Lance Silverton?”

“Yes. He’s a friend. Is something wrong? Did something happen to Lance?”

The two exchanged a look. The second one, Bailey said, “You probably should sit down.”

That was a cliche. He was in a business where you used a lot of cliches. He had a suspicion what was coming next and went to sit. “He’s dead?”

“I didn’t say that? What makes you think he’s dead?” The first cop said.

Eric had sat back down on the sofa. “What makes me think he’s dead? You just told me to sit down. That’s what everyone tells someone when they have really bad news.” Bailey gave Johnson a look that would have been fairly obvious if they were performers. Homer Simpson would have a word for that.

“Yes,” Johnson then said. He shifted his weight and Eric saw the holstered gun the man carried. Guns could be dangerous. Even in magic, where sometimes a trick called for a gun. If you screwed up and bought real bullets instead of caps, or used the caps too close to yourself, that was the way to court disaster. Eric did not like guns.

Johnson continued. “Mr. Silverton is dead. When was the last time you saw Mr. Silverton? There was an entry in his calendar with your name on it.”

Read Full Post »

The Regency Timeline

My previous posts I’ve explained that I was working on the Regency timeline. I posted my entries for 1788 thru 1793. Now I have the entrees for 1794 and have uploaded all these years to the Regency Assembly Press website. You can see a little preview of this below in the picture. (It also seems that some of our regular followers may have missed my putting up 1792 when the post for the first part of the Impeachment of Warren Hastings, went up)

My sources which include the Internet and The Timetables of History by Grun and Stein1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-29-06-57.jpg as well as the Chronology of CULTURE by Paxton and Fairfield should cover a lot of events. There are now over 5000 listed for the period between 1788 and 1837 when Victoria comes to the Throne. I have also just found a third book I own with timelines in it, very USA centric though. 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-29-06-57.jpg What Happened When by Carruth. I also have added a Dorling Kindersley book PastedGraphic-2012-05-29-06-57.jpg, History of the World.

I may post a year at time every so often in between scanning through all these to find something that will be a good article for this blog and the blog at English Historical Fiction Authors. I will also have the full listing up shortly at Regency Assembly Press.

Those who have feedback, it is appreciated or if someone would like a specific year in a future post. The very first entry is to show who was Prime Minister of Great Britain, later it was the United Kingdom, during the period of the chronology. In choosing our dates, 1788 is the first sign of madness in George the III, it is the beginning of the end of the French Monarchy with the riots in Paris, it is the time when the mama’s of the girls during the true Regency would be girls going to London for their own season, and when our heroes are young lads or babes as well.

We need to know of the events that occurred when they were children, as well as what happens when they are on stage in our stories.

Click on the link below or the picture to go to the entry. More years coming. The list is now over 5000 event entries long and growing.

Regency Assembly Press 1794 Tineline

TheRegencyEraTimeline-2012-05-29-06-57.jpg

The Writing LIfe

I am now 180+ pages (close to 60,000 words) on A Magician Murder Mystery. A had a good idea for a mystery, with a twist. What if the sleuth is a magician. I am looking for readers for this. Thirty years ago I wrote a mystery. And this is now my second. The first I know needs help. This though is working well. But then, a mystery needs a little more care I think then my regencies, etc. I could use other eyes if anyone is interested to be sure that I am hiding the clues well enough. That, the plot flows, and that the reader can put the entire thing together by the end.

I enclose a few more paragraphs from the first draft and first chapter for perusal.

Chapter 1 continue

Lance said, “Yeah I know. Take the notebook. Go ahead. Don’t be shy because Jenny is here. I’ve let Eric borrow my notebooks before. He’s sharper at details then I am. I would probably build a shadow box, and then forget to brace it, or oil the hinges, and then the marks, I mean audience would see things, hear things, or the bottom would fall out as soon as someone climbed in it.”

Eric quickly said, “Lance’s not that bad. He’s just got a better stage presence, and I do details alot.”

Jenny smiled, “Oh, I know about Lance and his acting. All about his acting.” Jenny said. She had been looking straight at Lance and then turned to smile at Eric. Eric saw Lance cringe though.

Lance said, “Enough. Just take the notebook and I’ll call you later. Here, let me get the check,” Betsy had cleared their plates and now brought her coffee to refill their cups. She also had her little pad and had pulled out the check.

“You should say thank you, you.” Betsy looked at Eric. Then to Jenny she said, “This one here always gets the check, and he tips decent too.” Just what Lance needed. A woman telling another woman that he was a catch. Lance was looking to be caught by any girl. And the way he dated the men that he did date, he wasn’t looking to settle down with any man either. From what Eric knew, Lance liked the chase. If he had finally made love to his bartender at the Palace, then he would go out a half dozen times, before some new young man caught his eye. Then it would be time to break up.

“Thank you. Betsy, you know I would leave you a great tip, but Lance always beats me to the check.”

“Hunh!” she snorted her derision. Taking Lance’s visa card, she walked to the register.

“Now tell me about your thing? Is it about your performance yesterday? What was it, a wedding?”

“Bar mitzvah and it was pretty strange. Ah, sorry, Jenny. I think you would think this is pretty boring. The mechanics of the chinese rings. Palming dollars. A few card tricks. But pretty important to me, though unless you want to do the magic, it could be pretty boring.” Eric knew if he said anything about the rings, really breaking through, Jenny would think him a nutcase. Lance probably would too. Except Eric knew that some of the old timers talked about this as well. Pulling legs of the young ones no dount.

Jenny looked at him, “Really? The scram, you’re too young to hang with the parents? How old do you think I am, Eric? Whatever. I’ll see you tomorrow night at work Lance. Thank’s for breakfast.” Jenny slid out and looked at Eric as if he was an alien from Mars, or further.

Lance waited for a minute and Jenny to leave the restaurant before laughing, “God, that was funny. I want to keep her at arms length and you couldn’t have helped more. Now she’ll think I have some sort of super geek for a friend. Perfect. And then I told her you are going to be number two if we take these tricks out in public. What’s the line in the commercial, priceless.” Lance laughed again.

Eric didn’t know what to think. The girl was pretty, but then he probably would never really see her again. Lance kept girls for about a year before they moved on. Jenny was in her fourth month. By the time the routine that Lance was thinking of was ready, it would be a year.

And if Lance really needed another magician to help him, he would get someone else. He always did. Eric had to accept the terms of their friendship for what it was.

“Look, I need to tell this to someone. I think I really did magic last night.” Eric said

Lance looked at him for a second.

“What, like Hocus Pocus?” Betsy was there with the credit card receipt papers to be signed. She laughed. Did you put something in your coffee? We aren’t allowed to serve anything but beer and wine here.”

Eric let out a deep sigh and turned to look at the waitress. “I haven’t had anything to drink since late yesterday afternoon. Can we get some privacy?”

She laughed again and took the paperwork that Lance had signed. A moment later they were alone again. “She’s right you know. That sounds crazy? I should have said more about your drinking. I know you hate working at Wal-Mart, but you can’t find something better in a bottle. You will get a real gig. I’ll talk to Ephron again. I’ll make him give you a stage show. Hell, I’ll make him let you open for me.” That Eric knew Lance would never do. If Eric blew it, like he had blown the one show he had at the Palace, it could set the mood for the following act. Lance wouldn’t ever chance that.

“I know it sounds crazy. Why do you think I didn’t want to say anything in front of anyone else? It’s like the old timers say, but I’ve always thought they were just telling a tall tale.” Eric said.

“They were!” Lance said. Then he closed his eyes and nodded. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have jumped. I can see you aren’t drunk now, and you really think this happened. Better tell me. I know I can’t leave until you do.”

Eric hadn’t planned to stop Lance, but then, Lance was right. Eric needed to tell someone and the only person he trusted was Lance. He would have tried to force Lance to listen. Eric went into the story about having drinks before he got started, and then more before they asked him to do an encore act. That he knew by the second performance he was drunk but that it was going good. Real good.

And then he did the Chinese Rings. That he was missing the broken ring and still the trick worked. That he passed out eighty dollars instead of the fifty that he had to start with. That he forced a card trick with the five of hearts. No one forced the five of hearts. His force deck didn’t have the five of hearts.

“You said it yourself. You were drunk when you started the performance. You were seeing things and your memory is all cloudy from it. You probably thought quarters were dollars and you just can’t remember the ring, because you have done it hundreds of times. It is like second nature to you.”

“Yeah hot-shot. Explain this then?” Eric pulled up on the table the eight connected rings that he had from the previous day. The ring trick didn’t have eight rings joined together. Not in the joins he had then. He was still missing the ninth ring with the break. For a minute Lance looked at the rings and then at Eric.

He grabbed the rings and looked for a break, and then he started to laugh. “That’s good. Oh, that was good. You had me believing you for a second. You got someone to sell you this. Love it. I will have to use that story when I meet up with some of the acts at the Palace over drinks.” Lance rose. “Hey, take a look at the notes on my act, and I’ll call you in the next couple days. You said this Doctor paid you three hundred for the encore performance over your usual. I’ll let you buy lunch at that deli you like.” Lance chuckled again and waved, then walked away.

Eric hadn’t set it up as a joke. It had happened. He was sure Lance would have believed him and had some idea what happened. Now what?

Read Full Post »

The Regency Timeline

My previous posts I’ve explained that I was working on the Regency timeline. I posted my entries for 1788 thru 1792. Now I have the entrees for 1793 and have uploaded all these years to the Regency Assembly Press website. You can see a little preview of this below in the picture. (It also seems that some of our regular followers may have missed my putting up 1792 when the post for the first part of the Impeachment of Warren Hastings, went up)

My sources which include the Internet and The Timetables of History by Grun and Stein1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-28-12-07.jpg as well as the Chronology of CULTURE by Paxton and Fairfield should cover a lot of events. There are now over 5000 listed for the period between 1788 and 1837 when Victoria comes to the Throne. I have also just found a third book I own with timelines in it, very USA centric though. 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-28-12-07.jpg What Happened When by Carruth.

I may post a year at time every so often in between scanning through all these to find something that will be a good article for this blog and the blog at English Historical Fiction Authors. I will also have the full listing up shortly at Regency Assembly Press.

Those who have feedback, it is appreciated or if someone would like a specific year in a future post. The very first entry is to show who was Prime Minister of Great Britain, later it was the United Kingdom, during the period of the chronology. In choosing our dates, 1788 is the first sign of madness in George the III, it is the beginning of the end of the French Monarchy with the riots in Paris, it is the time when the mama’s of the girls during the true Regency would be girls going to London for their own season, and when our heroes are young lads or babes as well.

We need to know of the events that occurred when they were children, as well as what happens when they are on stage in our stories.

Click on the link below or the picture to go to the entry. More years coming. The list is now over 5000 event entries long and growing.

Regency Assembly Press 1793 Tineline

TheRegencyEraTimeline-2012-05-28-12-07.jpg

The Writing LIfe

I am now 160+ pages (over 50,000 words) on A Magician Murder Mystery. A had a good idea for a mystery, with a twist. What if the sleuth is a magician. I am looking for readers for this. Thirty years ago I wrote a mystery. And this is now my second. The first I know needs help. This though is working well. But then, a mystery needs a little more care I think then my regencies, etc. I could use other eyes if anyone is interested to be sure that I am hiding the clues well enough. That, the plot flows, and that the reader can put the entire thing together by the end.

I enclose a few more paragraphs from the first draft and first chapter for perusal.

Chapter 1 continue

Eric spoke before Lance could say anymore about his new trick. “I have something important to discuss as well.” That was all he could say before Lance added to his own story.

“That’s great, but let me tell you about these new gimmicks. It is going to change everything, and there’s even work for you in all this. I need someone who can handle the tricky stuff backstage. Not just some klutz of a stage manager. I need actually six people and myself to pull this off. Jenny of course, and Sheila.”

“Ohhh.” Jenny said. “Sorry. But she just is so…” She quickly added but then did not finish her thought.

Lance did, “Dumb? But under the wig, and from twenty feet away, no one can tell the difference between the two of you, and she can do your voice pretty well. That is important also. Come on Jenny, You know I looked at over five hundred girls to find Sheila. Anyway we need her.”

Eric knew that Jenny had no reason to be jealous. Lance didn’t look at another woman in a way that would get a woman jealous. Lance didn’t care. Lance liked men. Jenny though may not have known that. Another trait that Lance looked for when hiring his assistants. If they had a little heat with him in the performance, that spark carried out into the audience.

“Look, Eric boy, this is great news. I’m going to get four, maybe five gigs in Vegas out of this. I figure your cut is going to be twenty each time. That’s eighty to a hundred, and sorry Jenny, but I got to pay Eric more, because he’s going to be helping on the illusion and will do all the tough bits.” Lance turned his attention to Eric, ignoring Jenny as if she was not even there in the booth with them, “The talent makes bug bucks, but you know, the girls are there to look pretty and support you.”

Eric didn’t roll his eyes, or kick Lance. He just didn’t know when Lance was so crude that he could still be friends with him. Then he remembered that the thousands of dollars Lance had lent him throughout the years made up for that. Eric patted Jenny on the arm.

“Lance, as good as a trick is, you can’t sell it without help, and a talented woman makes the sale. Especially in a place like Las Vegas. Jenny and your other girl, will be helping to make the trick work and they will be working hard to do so. They’ll earn every dime, I’m sure.”

Lance shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yeah sure. Course. You know me Jenny didn’t mean anything. And we need four girls. I need to find two more Jenny’s because I have this duplication thing going on. It is so slick. Here let me show you…” Lance went to pull a pen from his jacket pocket.

Jenny chose that moment to stand up. “I’m going to the little girls room. I’ll be right back.” She said. She didn’t sound broken up, by Lance treating her the way he did. But she also sounded just a little bit different than when she had arrived. She looked at Lance as if he should say something, but Lance was busy opening a notebook to share. It was labelled ‘Ideas May 2011 to’. When Jenny did not get any response she looked at Eric.

He raised his head, nodded quick and smiled. A classic go on, we’ll be hear when you get back, with a what are you going to do, that’s the way this guy is. Jenny actually smiled back, teeth and all. Very white. From stage it would be dazzling, under the lights. It caused Eric to respond showing his own teeth, the grin getting wider.

She walked away and a Eric turned to follow her with his eyes. “Hey, kiddo, over here. She’ll be back. And you just broke up with someone, remember.” Lance said.

“That was more than a year ago, Lance. And I wasn’t thinking like that. Why are you treating her so hard?”

Lance said, “Like the others, she’s got a thing for me. And she’s too good for me to lose if she finds out, you know.”

“That you’re gay? This is the twenty-first century. She’s in showbiz. Half of the men are gay, and the other half are dirty dogs cheating on their girlfriends. Any girl here for two years knows that. Besides, if I can tell you got lucky last night, and I bet it was with that bartender you’ve been dreaming over, don’t you think Jenny can tell you scored as well. Wouldn’t you rather she know it was with a man, then think you are cheating on her with another woman?” Eric said.

“I really can’t figure how you always know when I’ve been sleeping with someone. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to fool you. And Jenny, well I don’t know how she’ll react, so I try and treat her the way I’ve done since the day I met her. At least that way her responses should be the same.”

Eric snorted in his smile. “I can tell when you’ve been with a guy from my great powers of observation. I think you should let Jenny know about your being gay. From what I can tell she wants to be a friend, not just a pawn in the Lance Silverton climb to the top.”

Lance looked like Eric had struck him, his head flinging back a bit. “Hey. And speaking of the climb to the top, look at this will you. I think this is going to get us there, or almost there. And I’m taking you with me, like I’ve always said.” Lance pushed the notebook over to Eric, and starting pointing with his pen.

Eric had carried a notebook like the one Lance had at one time. He still had a few in his apartment, collecting dust somewhere in the bookcase that held the forty or so books on magic he had. The ideas that a magician thought up could make or break him. If they were good illusions, looking complex and able to be done quickly and simply, all the better. The more illusions you fit into your show, the better you were going to do.

Four complex illusions that took an hour to perform might make an audience ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ but then they would remember, they had spent an hour to see just 4 tricks. In that same hour, 20 illusions, all seemingly complex, a few audience participations, and they would talk about you for days. And a shorter illusion would fit in between commercials on Lettermen or Conan.

Lance had trusted Eric with his notebooks before. He even had Eric take them and study them until the next breakfast meeting, or their hooking up at the Palace of Magic when Eric got one of the rare gigs there in the lounge. Eric was the one who would tell Lance whether the trick had all the elements to make it great. Theatrics, drama, disbelief, and suspense. Those seemed to be what a great trick needed, and though A lot of what Lance had thought of was great, sometimes they just could not be done. Not by people. Maybe by Hollywood where you could fake the laws of physics. You could use the camera to cut away so that time was not linear. So that the impossible was made possible. A man really could not turn invisible, or transport from the front of the theater to the back in a second.

Jenny returned and he and Lance were still looking over the notes. Eric then closed the book and Lance gave him a crossed look. “We can talk about it after breakfast. It’s rude.”

Eric didn’t need to say more and now Jenny gave him a tentative smile as she sat down. It had been over a year since he had dated. Anna had been nice at first. She didn’t mind that as he neared the end of his twenties, there was a slight paunch forming, or that he worked at Wal-Mart and didn’t make all that much. She worked at Wal-Mart also. Thank god that after they broke up she only worked there for another two months.

Running into Anna during his shifts was never great. At the end she thought magic was all a joke and that he was a fool for still pursuing it. Now, if Lance pulled off getting them gigs in Vegas and other things, he might be able to make real money. And he would be working alongside Jenny. Much prettier than Anna. Not that pretty was the best thing about a girl. It was nice. But talking to someone and laughing at each other’s jokes was pretty important. Being able to watch the same things on television so you didn’t have to fight for the remote. That actually might be true happiness.

“Thanks,” Jenny said. Betsy was right behind Jenny with her tray and the breakfasts. Eric had thought earlier, because of the hangover that he was going to have to force the food down, but he seemed to be able to eat. They started talking about things other than their own business. Eric asked Jenny to tell him about the funniest commercial shoot she had ever made. It was a humorous story, and she actually could spin a tale. Something that not everyone could do.

Some people were like the guy on Dragnet, “Just the facts man.” Sergeant Friday. Others were like Garrison Keillor, who spun out a tale and mesmerized you right into it. Didn’t everyone feel like they lived in Lake Woebegone when they heard Keillor talk about the men being good-looking and the women all strong. Jenny threw her voice and changed her accent, like one did when reading a children’s book. Eric did not have to force his laughter at the funny parts.

Lance though looked annoyed since the attention was not on him. But he too laughed at the most humorous parts of the story. He obviously had never heard it. He may not ever of heard his assistant tell a story. Sometimes Eric had to think if Lance really was human under all the walls he had been building around himself.

After she was finished, Jenny actually asked, “What about you, Mr. Wise, what’s your most funny show business moment?”

“Hey, what is this? A date? Are you two just going to talk about each other all day? Eric, let me show you this trick.” Lance said.

“In a bit. I have something I want to talk to you about as well.” Eric remembered he had to talk to Lance about his performance of the day before. His hangover and drinking might have been playing tricks with him. The hangover though, that seemed to have faded a great deal. The aspirin must have been helping as well.

“Okay, okay. So talk already. Sheesh, all morning all you want to do is talk about something but you haven’t said one word. You see Jenny what I put up with every couple weeks. It’s why I needed you here to today.” Lance said. He didn’t have the malicious tone of voice that he sometimes got, so Eric knew it was all joking.

Jenny though, didn’t quite, “That’s not true. I’m sorry Mr. Wise. I sort of invited myself. Lance said he wanted to talk to you about the new routine and that I should learn about it too soon. I kind of said we could kill two birds…” she made a face. Eric supposed she was thinking of the visual of that cliche.

“I need to study your notes Lance, before I can tell you what you want to know.” Eric wasn’t going to embarrass Lance and say how he checked with Eric on all the routines he started that were not standard.

A new routine, a trick had to be worked at a great deal. First you had to structure the trick. An opening, draw the audience in to whatever baloney story you were going to spin. That of course was just words. The mechanics was going to be the middle of the trick, and the close was more folderol.

The mechanics started with an idea, that then had parts often designed for the trick to work. Cutting the girl in half with the two boxes separating. That needed a space built into it that the girl could lie fold herself up in. One girl in one half, another in the second half. The audience, with an optical illusion thought the bottom was an inch think. No one could fit in that. So you would drop the sides and show that there was no one in the box.

The illusion was that the box wasn’t an inch thick. It was a lot thicker and the girl in the lower half box was very thin. Even just out of high school, so not developed. Jennifer, Eric mused, had too large a chest for most of the boxes that a girl supplying the feet for the act would fit in.

When the mechanics were worked out, then props had to be built. Crude at first. Mockups that would work. Timing and refinement would come later. First the trick had to be proved and shown that they could do it without hurting someone. The old days, sawing someone in half wasn’t so bad. You would show the audience one real blade, that actually cut a piece of wood, but used only fake ones that the blade disappeared, or when a sharp blade was pushed through the top of the box, again, trick blade, or enough room for the girl to squirm aside. Either would convince the Marks that the blade actually proved no one was in the bottom of the box.

With time, you worked out the trick and safety. Then, you sped it up. Practiced the gab. That part Lance was good at. He wasn’t good at making props, or the mechanics. That was what Eric was good at. Every trick Lance was doing that was one of ‘his’, not some other famous trick, Eric had helped Lance polish the mechanics. Perhaps that was why all the loans. Why Lance was sure Eric had a bone or two each year.

The yin and yang of their existence. They needed each other.

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Warren Hastings’ Impeachment

Part 1-The Road of Politics has a lot of Potholes and certainly no true friends

PastedGraphic-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg

As mentioned a couple posts ago Warren Hastings, who was the first Governor of India, is a fascinating Regency Era study since many believe him to be the natural father of Eliza de Feuillide, PastedGraphic5-2012-05-25-07-58.jpgwho married Henry Thomas AustenPastedGraphic7-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg, the brother of Jane AustenPastedGraphic6-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg.

That connection, provides many of those who love novels of the Regency, and Jane Austen, a connection. Real history, interacting with our literary giantess.

As with the OJ Simpson trial, a few years ago, this trial between 1788 and 1795 was the big court case of the times.

What we see is that the door to a greater discussion of what was happening in India and what the East India Company was doing came about.

Hastings became Governor General of India in 1773, after 23 years with “The Company”. Appointed by Prime Minister North PastedGraphic1-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg whose government was also those party in charge when the British lost the American colonies.

A great deal of the foundation of the impeachment trial was based on the governing Calcutta Council that Hastings led as Governor General. He had one man who was in opposition to nearly all that he did. Sir Phillip Francis PastedGraphic2-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg and he disagreed so much that they even fought a duel, which Francis was wounded in. Francis then returned to England and began to raise questions about Hastings conduct. He found support in the Whigs who were in opposition to Lord North’s government.

After this, the Second Mysore War came, when Mysore thought to take on the British while they were heavily involved in the American colonies. The war ended with the status quo from when it started. However, back in England much was made of the company’s mismanagement, and thus Hasting’s position.

The many wealthy nabobs who returned to England were quite unpopular, and Francis’ attacks did not make Hastings any better received. Then after the Fox government fell, Charles James Fox PastedGraphic3-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg attacked Hastings as well. Pitt PastedGraphic4-2012-05-25-07-58.jpgmade no mention of Hastings in introducing a new India Act in 1784 and this was seen as the government not supporting the Governor General.

Hastings returned to England in June of 1785. On the return journey, he wrote The State of Bengal the defense of his conduct. He expected to be attacked by Parliament and the press when he returned but it to be short lived.. King George III 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic5-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg gave him an audience and he received a unanimous vote of thanks by the East India Company when he returned. He even thought he might get an Irish peerage. Edmund Burke1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic6-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg who is regarded as the father of Anglo-Conservatism, supporter of American Independence and opposed to allowing the French such rights, though, had other plans for Hastings.

In reviewing the material of what the politicians were up to, it seems that Hastings was a nice little scapegoat for the opposition party to embarrass Prime Minister Pitt’s government. Francis (and one can only surmise that he hated that he lost to Hastings in India, and then was wounded by him as well in their duel) made eleven specific charges against Hastings.

William Pitt finally said, after defending Hastings against all charges, that perhaps one action, the punishment of the Rajah of Benares, was excessive. Hastings was arrested on May 21, 1787 and taken to the House of Lords to hear the charges against him. Not often had the house of Lords had an Impeachment trial.

The Regency Timeline

My previous posts I’ve explained that I was working on the Regency timeline. I posted my entries for 1788 thru 1791. Now I have the entrees for 1792 and have uploaded all these years to the Regency Assembly Press website. You can see a little preview of this below in the picture.

My sources which include the Internet and The Timetables of History by Grun and Stein1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg as well as the Chronology of CULTURE by Paxton and Fairfield should cover a lot of events. There are now over 5000 listed for the period between 1788 and 1837 when Victoria comes to the Throne. I have also just found a third book I own with timelines in it, very USA centric though. 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg What Happened When by Carruth.

I may post a year at time every so often in between scanning through all these to find something that will be a good article for this blog and the blog at English Historical Fiction Authors. I will also have the full listing up shortly at Regency Assembly Press.

Those who have feedback, it is appreciated or if someone would like a specific year in a future post. The very first entry is to show who was Prime Minister of Great Britain, later it was the United Kingdom, during the period of the chronology. In choosing our dates, 1788 is the first sign of madness in George the III, it is the beginning of the end of the French Monarchy with the riots in Paris, it is the time when the mama’s of the girls during the true Regency would be girls going to London for their own season, and when our heroes are young lads or babes as well.

We need to know of the events that occurred when they were children, as well as what happens when they are on stage in our stories.

Click on the link below or the picture to go to the entry. More years coming. The list is now over 5000 event entries long and growing.

Regency Assembly Press 1792 Tineline

TheRegencyEraTimeline-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg

The Writing LIfe

I am now 130+ pages (over 40,000 words) on A Magician Murder Mystery. A had a good idea for a mystery, with a twist. What if the sleuth is a magician. I am looking for readers for this. Thirty years ago I wrote a mystery. And this is now my second. The first I know needs help. This though is working well. But then, a mystery needs a little more care I think then my regencies, etc. I could use other eyes if anyone is interested to be sure that I am hiding the clues well enough. That, the plot flows, and that the reader can put the entire thing together by the end.

I enclose a few more paragraphs from the first draft and first chapter for perusal.

Chapter 1 continued

He then started his coin tricks. He went amongst the kids and palmed and hid coins about them all. Bertlestein had gotten him fifty coin dollars. That was just the number for the kids that the Bar Mitzvah boy had invited. Bertlestein forgot that he had nephews and nieces, kids of friends. There were closer to eighty, then fifty. Yet as Eric went about placing dollars about, he did not seem to rub out. He put coins in pockets, in little handbags. He performed card tricks and found that he had decks of cards with all 52 cards, rather than the select few he would need to force the hand.

Shame that the alcohol infused memory was not for a crowd of adult women. Then he could have slipped some of those dollars into bras, down dresses. With thirteen year old girls, he had to be creative with the placement of the dollars. Nothing that would make their parents think he was some kind of pervert. He loved playing for fraternities where he could palm a coin provocatively, and he got college gigs twice a year or so. There were a lot of colleges in Los Angeles, and they all wanted the woman sawn in half.

That old standby was a trick he couldn’t do, but when one frat had hired him, he told the brother in charge of entertainment that such a trick would add a two thousand to his fee. He had to hire the assistants. That they couldn’t be sorority girls from the crowd. And the marks didn’t know that there had to be two of them, and that they had to be short, thin and bendable. If he let the man boy who was in charge of entertainment know that, then it was like giving away the secret. Eric had always kept the price beyond the budget for the event.

Only once had anyone ever taken him up on it, and three days after he had booked that gig, he made up an excuse and cancelled so he did not have to perform the trick. He knew how. He had done it twice. But he had the habit of getting flustered with the big tricks. At least he had gotten so once.

That was why he and Lance were friends. They both had their shot at the Palace of Magic on the same day. Lance’s show had done great. Eric had ended up tongue tied.

A surprise that with what he had drank at the Bertlestein party, he hadn’t ended up tongue tied. He went on to do other tricks, but they were expected, and he had all his props and gimmicks for them. They came out correct. They came out the way he was sure they would.

He switched to coffee for the rest of the afternoon and night. He had to be sober enough to drive. A DUI and his car and driving privileges would be gone, and in Los Angeles, getting around without a car was not easily done. A DUI also would not look good at Wal-Mart. He pretty much believed that if he was booked for that, he would be let go. The big corporate giant didn’t seen to have much patience for screw-ups, and what Eric did at Wal-Mart wasn’t something that ten thousand other people couldn’t do with ten minutes of training.

Playing with the deck of cards, Eric stopped thinking about the Bar Mitzvah and focused on his practice. Or rather, doing his best to manipulate the cards without watching them. His peripheral vision coming into play. Not that he could concentrate on his surroundings while working the trick.

He felt the presence of Lance sliding into the seat across from him in the diner’s booth, rather than saw it. When Eric looked up, he saw that Lance looked harried.

“What, bad night?”

“Sort of. You know, Sunday night.” The Palace of Magic was dark on Monday, so Lance had the night off. Then he worked Tuesday, off Wednesday, and Thursday thru Sunday. Two performances on Saturday, two on Sunday, when he was in town. But Sunday was brunch and early birds. Never packed out.

Eric knew that even though he had only performed there once, for a Sunday brunch performance. That was when the new acts were tried out. The marks always seemed to appreciate it. Almost always. You had to be a truly bad act to be booed. Something Eric had remembered well.

“Yeah, I know that feeling.” Eric said, thinking that maybe he sounded successful.

Lance looked at him, sweeping a hand up to try and straighten out his hair. That was different since his hair was generally perfected, as if he had seen his own stylist before coming to breakfast.

“Look, Jenny’s coming. She still doesn’t get it so be cool, will ya. Nothing dirty.” Lance said. He then pointed at Eric and motioned for him to move over. “Make some room, okay?”

Eric looked at his coffee for a second. Lance did that sometimes. Invited others to come to breakfast. Jenny, if Eric remembered, was the new assistant. One of them, because you always needed two, if you were going to do some of the big illusions.

“Jenny! Over hear!” Lance looked up and called. Eric glanced at his watch. 9:30.

“What did you tell here, be here at 10?” He asked.

“Yeah, now scoot over.” Lance ran his hands through his hair again. Then let out a smile. Mussed hair, a girl who was there early.

Eric shoved his buttocks over, and then mouthed, “You scored.” Lance must have had sex the night before. He probably came from leaving his lover to breakfast.

Lance smiled wider and nodded, then motioned with his hands that Jenny was to sit down next to Eric. “Yeah. Hey there Jenny, you remember me telling you about my best friend in LA, Eric? This is the man. I was just telling him how shitty things were at yesterday’s performances.”

Eric said, “Hi Jenny. Nice to meet you. Lance said you were the star of last month’s Vegas show. Told me that you had the audience eating out of your hand.” They had been friends seven years and change. He owed Lance. He owed Lance alot. More than once he had been short in the rent, and somehow Lance knew and covered him until he could repay a loan.

No interest, no questions, and no pressure. Lance even had brought Ephron Calman to breakfast twice, trying to get the man to give Eric another chance at the Palace of Magic. Ephron knew he had to play nice with Lance, his star attraction. Eric did get a yearly gig at the Palace. Two weeks during the christmas season he had a table doing sleight of hand in the downstairs lounge. The watering hole for the cheap marks.

But it was a gig, and it was professional. That counted for something.

It was at the Palace of Magic.

That counted for a great deal more than something.

Eric owed Lance. And he wasn’t trying to keep score. When he was younger, when he had hope and ambition he might have been a score keeper. He might have known how many favors he was ahead of Lance, or actually how many favors Lance might have been ahead of him. But he gave up trying to keep track of that. Maybe when he started drinking more, he gave up keeping track.

“You’re the magician Lance is always talking about. His ‘inspiration.’ ” She was pretty. Blonde, and natural since she was out in the day. Eric had done a study of magicians assistants from when he first started to training and kept his tally on this subject. On stage, 4 out of 5, like the toothpaste commercial, were blondes. Or the wigs they wore made them blondes. To use the second assistant in the act, the one the marks didn’t know about, there were a lot of women who wore blonde wigs in the business. Something then didn’t have to do when not performing.

It was all part of the illusion.

“I don’t know if I inspire Lance all that much,” she said. Soft voice, Eric noted. That helped with the assistant the audience saw for most of the show. You could give them speaking lines. Some of the girls could speak two words together and not sound like cutting glass. They were the ones who might also have careers with the number signs at boxing matches. Great bodies in skintight clothes.

Not a lot of clothing, though in the Magic game, they often had sequins and trains on their dresses, depending on the trick. Lance, Eric knew, had his girls do four changes in an hour’s act.

“Hey buddy, you are a great inspiration to me. I got lucky, thats what the TV and Vegas deals are all about. You are in the trenches working hard and honest for every dollar you make. Ask anyone at the Palace and they’ll tell you there is more nobility in the money you earn than in what Calman pays us.” Lance said.

Eric knew that was a lot of smoke. Lance worked hard for his money too. They all started with the same repertoire. The floating man, the rabbit in the hat, the sawing a girl in two. It was how they put the act together, what they said, how they looked for a magician had to be pleasant to an audience as well as the girls. Then, to make your act break out, that was where a magician shown. New illusions. If you could come up with good ones, and not just the Houdini escape pieces, you could headline at the Palace, or get gigs on the late night shows. Get weeks in Vegas.

Siegfried and Roy like wealth and fame. Copperfield, Henning, Burton, Penn and Teller. Not that they were idols for Eric. They were good mostly. Well Penn and Teller made him laugh, and it was Henning’s act when he was younger that gave him the bug.

“Some days I would trade being an inspiration for some more cash.” Eric said with a lopsided grin.

Jenny turned and looked at him, probably seeing if he was joking like friends did with each other. “You shouldn’t say that. Either of you. I think magicians are some of the hardest working performers in the business. I was doing commercials before this. This is much harder.”

Eric did not have a comeback for that. He would have thought commercials were hard. She was a pretty young woman. Eric knew he was cynical from the hard years out in the cold that he endured. For a young woman like Jenny, not having caught a big break, she could be doing everything and anything to pay the bills. Working conventions and trade shows, which so many girls did. A booth babe. She had the looks that would make her some money doing that.

“You are such a dear,” Lance said. “You see Eric, didn’t I tell you. Jennifer is earnest about all this. Not jaded like you and me. Shhh. I am teasing. Well a bit. I guess I am a little jaded, but have I got something to tell you! I’ve thought up some new ideas for not just one trick, but a series of connected tricks.” Betsy came just then with a little serving tray. It had the carafe of coffee and two cups.

“Mr. Silverton, what can we get you today. Eric’s already ordered his usual. And the lady, would you like coffee too?” She took one of the cups and placed it before Lance. Betsy had been their waitress for two years or so. She knew they both drank coffee, and those other times that there was someone else, coffee was the safe bet.

“Oh, yes. A coffee and just some toast, please.” Jenny said. Still sounded pretty. Like soft syrup. Assistants came from the many girls trying to break into show biz. Jenny may have been the best thing at whatever high school she had come from. Then, perhaps going to one of the theater and stage programs at the local universities. Could she sing with that voice? Did she not get any nibbles from agents and representations? Eric bet she must have gotten something. Commercials and then someone hooked her up with Lance for his Vegas gig. She must have known someone somewhere. Lance hired out of Los Angeles so he could train with the girls before taking them to Sin City. Eric had no true knowledge of the life of pretty girls in Vegas, but he expected that they worked the shows for as long as they could, then had to resort to the life of the escort, which the yellow pages of Vegas was filled with ads for.

Lance egged Jenny to order more than toast, and she relented. She ordered a fruit bowl as well. Not nearly as much food as Lance had tried to get her to eat. But sensing no way to get her to order more, he placed his own order and Betsy left.

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The Regency Timeline

My previous posts I’ve explained that I was working on the Regency timeline. I posted my entries for 1788 thru 1790. Now I have the entrees for 1791 and have uploaded all these years to the Regency Assembly Press website. You can see a little preview of this below in the picture.

My sources which include the Internet and The Timetables of History by Grun and SteinPastedGraphic-2012-05-22-17-22.jpg as well as the Chronology of CULTURE by Paxton and Fairfield should cover a lot of events. There are now over 5000 listed for the period between 1788 and 1837 when Victoria comes to the Throne. I have also just found a third book I own with timelines in it, very USA centric though. 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-22-17-22.jpg What Happened When by Carruth.

I may post a year at time every so often in between scanning through all these to find something that will be a good article for this blog and the blog at English Historical Fiction Authors. I will also have the full listing up shortly at Regency Assembly Press.

Those who have feedback, it is appreciated or if someone would like a specific year in a future post. The very first entry is to show who was Prime Minister of Great Britain, later it was the United Kingdom, during the period of the chronology. In choosing our dates, 1788 is the first sign of madness in George the III, it is the beginning of the end of the French Monarchy with the riots in Paris, it is the time when the mama’s of the girls during the true Regency would be girls going to London for their own season, and when our heroes are young lads or babes as well.

We need to know of the events that occurred when they were children, as well as what happens when they are on stage in our stories.

Click on the link below or the picture to go to the entry. More years coming. The list is now over 5000 event entries long and growing.

Regency Assembly Press 1791 Tineline

TheRegencyEraTimeline-2012-05-22-17-22.jpg

The Writing LIfe

I am now 75+ pages (over 22,000 words) on A Magician Murder Mystery. A had a good idea for a mystery, with a twist. What if the sleuth is a magician.

I enclose a few paragraphs from the first draft and first chapter for perusal.

Chapter 1

Eric stared at the coffee mug in front of him. He kept adding one part of a spoon of sugar at a time hoping that he could get it to be the balance between sweet and charcoal that he liked. He had taken the milk, probably non-fat since it would last longer before it spoiled, and had poured out two little dollops.

He could not stare at a cup of joe unless it had a little brown to it. The mug, thank god, was that. Not some piece of cardboard with a slip of paper around it to keep his hands from getting burnt. No, he wanted to put his hands, both of them around the ceramic and inhale the musk the cup gave off.

Eric had a hangover. He could say again, but since they came most mornings, rather than awaking without one most mornings, it would be dumb to think that this problem was one that was intermittent. It was persistent. Something he had to make non-existent. He had to stop drinking so much. He had already taken four aspirin and hoped they would make a dent in the nauseousness he held onto so tightly.

Damn Bertlestein bar mitzvah and an open bar. He liked that it was open and only had two drinks before he started his act. Well to be honest with himself, something that he knew he could still control, it was two doubles, and he had more between the first act, and then the second one the kids asked for before the evening ended.

Bertlestein offered him another three large to do that, and he always, always could use the money. With the money for the gig, he made his rent for the month, and there wasn’t a bar mitzvah, wedding, or some other party that he worked each week. He had a shifts at Wal-Mart twice a week to help with his costs. He used to work at one of the card clubs, but the manager and he had a falling out and he had to find new work.

As long as he kept his hands from strain, he could still do the sleight of hand that brought in the real money he needed for things like drugs. Not the king to make him happy. The kind to keep everything working inside like it should. The 4 dollar a month program that the company had started for prescription filling didn’t hurt either.

But that was an entirely different topic. The company was stingy about everything else, but if you cheered enough and kissed the right backsides, you could get more hours, work yourself to death and not see your family, though Eric had no family. Eventually a smart guy with an education, like Eric, who wasn’t a smart mouth, which Eric was, might get into management. Where the real money was made at Wal-Mart.

Now he sat in Du-pars waiting for Lance.

Lance Silverton was really plain old Michael Smith, before coming to the big city and trying to make his way. He struggled to choose a stage name and played on Copperfield with Silverton, and the Lance came from Lance Burton.

Even though it was going to make a little nauseous, he had ordered the blue plate complete breakfast special. Every first and third Monday at nine they met for breakfast, and Lance would pick up the check. Lance made real money. He was in demand, and was not stingy. Lead act at the Palace. The top of the profession for those who thought where the best performed.

Betsy came by, “It’s a quarter after, you want I should bring your breakfast now? Want me to freshen you coffee?”

“He’ll be here.” Eric said.

She said, pushing out the carafe of coffee at him, “He’s never late. You’re the one who is late more times than not. So want your breakfast now or what.”

He put his hand over the top of his mug, “Give it some time. What’s it take to make some eggs and pancakes. If he wasn’t coming he would have called.”

“Maybe he’s in Vegas again. He headlined there last month.”

Eric grimaced. He knew that. Lance often told him of his successes and encouraged him to get back on the horse. One day Lance was going to notice that he had too much love of liquor and that might never go away. Though the wooly head he had at that moment wasn’t as terrible as it sometimes was. He had gotten out of bed and showered without too many clenchings of his head. And had arrived on time, as Betsy had noted.

“Just go.” He looked at the cellphone on the table, and the pack of cards. He was a magician. He always had a pack of cards to hand. This one though was a full deck. Betsy shrugged her shoulders and went to the next table, another set of her regulars.

Eric looked up to the door to see if his friend had arrived. Still no sign of Lance, Lance Silverton. Lance was dark, or at least tanned well, and had thought to give his act a latin twist. That may have paid off for him, but his skill was what got him the big shows. Four times on Leno, and once on Conan. It was the big acts that were hard to do quickly. The Houdini like acts.

And the new twists that no one had done before got the stints in Vegas, for real money. Six figure money. Eric shuffled the deck and began to practice. Everyday, his hands had to move. Had to feel the cards, had to hide the cards, had to force the cards.

Yesterday though. What had happened. He had his two drinks, that didn’t effect the first performance. He could handle that kind of booze. And since he had gone from the bar to the stage quickly, it wasn’t even going to hit him until he was done with his act, when he would get some of the rubber chicken and that would start to absorb what had gone before. It was beef instead of chicken as well.

He didn’t want to go back on, but Bertlestein insisted and then there was the money. It would take him a long time at Wal-Mart to earn three hundred dollars.

At first he was sure his speech was fine, but then his hands, something was wrong. They felt like boxers mitts. Not that he had ever worn those gloves, but he did not feel as if he had fingers.

He pulled the handkerchiefs out of his coat pocket. The ones with the stupid flags that the kids seemed to like. Especially the pirate one. That worked well in LA. The Pirates of the Caribbean were so close at Disneyland that most kids around here new about them before the movies had started to come out.

He had done the rings once, but did them again. That was when things became different.

The secret of the ring trick was that one was split. The one that you kept in your hand at all times, the split part. The sleight of hand kept your audience from ever knowing that they hadn’t had a chance to examine the ring with the break.

Except he had nine rings. Eight good ones and one with a split.

Eric had to have been drunk. He started the trick and couldn’t find the split in his ring. He started to stall and was running out of words. He then told everyone that he had nine rings and to count with him. They all came up with eight and he could not find the ninth. Eight rings there was no way to make the trick work without the broken ring.

Eric knew that musicians were told to keep playing if they missed a note, and not go back. Singers to sing through where they forget a word. Actors to ad-lib when they forgot their lines on stage. And he was acting then.

“It has been a long day, and this has been a great party. Dylan did such a great job yesterday, and now here you all are celebrating, but I think I may have run out of my magic. We can’t find my ninth ring, and you remember we had it earlier.” Eric had said to the children and those adults who watched also. A few his age, and some seniors, but most of the parents and others were sitting at their own tables not paying attention.

Eric knew he could make the trick a joke. “Well, without my magic we may not be able to get the rings to converge, but I will try. Just one more time. Abercadbra, Hocus Pocus, Shala Khazam, and Igfonotus!” He then struck the joining ring lightly once against the catching ring, twice, and they with a heavy clang that he was sure would cause the ring to bounce, a third time.

That was when what should not have happened, did. The joiner passed through the solid steel of the catcher and went inside completing the trick.

It was a trick. There was no way that could have happened. The audience though loved it and applauded his efforts.

Knowing a thing, and seeing a thing though are two different pieces of life. He had learned that from when he began his quest. Old timers would pull your leg that you would have performances like this. Especially if you liked the juice too much. And Eric now did like to drink more than he should.

He gingerly tried another joiner, and it too passed into the catcher. Two on the main ring.

He took those two and then adding one to them, instead of the catcher, a trick that usually needed two broken rings. It worked just fine. He made another join and another. He used all eight rings, then took two out. He had six all connected.

He made them form a cube, saying his words agains, “Abercadbra, Hocus Pocus, Shala Khazam, and Igfonotus!” It worked. It worked and he lightly tugged at it, and it stayed a cube. He passed it to Dylan and told the kid to pass it around.

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