Magic In The Night

A drunk young man wandered on to the sidewalk seating area. He hit relentlessly on two women. I overheard bits and pieces of this pick-up artist’s attempt at seduction including the girls saying they must leave. He asked, “Where can we continue this conversation?” They walked very quickly away from him not answering his simple question.

He was left alone holding his beer in the night air. As there were no other single women around he decided to sit at our table where four people were already seated. He was number five. The rest of us had worked a long and hard day so when the stranger decided to join us we did not deny him a place, but nor were we very inviting. We continued discussing the day’s labor and he interrupted to introduce himself. We were polite and introduced ourselves back. From time to time he made random interjections such as that he was a personal trainer and tomorrow he would be teaching a yoga class in Hialeah. He was a gringo so we taught him inappropriate Spanish to say in his class in the Spanish speaking area. We tried to keep straight faces as he typed crude Spanish phrases into his IPhone. Then the group returned to its regularly scheduled discussion. But the stranger spoke again, “I’m part of my ten year high school reunion’s planing committee. Do you have any suggestions on how to make it a good party?”

Now we were relentless in our obnoxiousness.

“You should have strippers.”

“Clowns.”

“Ninjas.”

“Drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.”

“What kind of drugs?” he asked earnestly.

“The best kinds. And waterslides and sno-cone machines and magicians and giraffes that people can ride.”

“Hold on. Hold on.” The stranger said as he typed one finger at a time into his Iphone. “What was after sno-cone machines?”

Almost on cue we saw a very peculiar man dancing on the sidewalk. He had a gray goatee, but was very spry and dressed in a teenage outfit of a t-shirt, ripped jeans, and a sideways baseball cap. He was probably homeless, most definitely a drug addict, and with his strangely shaped ears and scalp and high pitched voice quite possibly the victim of a birth defect. But he was dancing in rhythm to the music playing from the bar’s speaker and then began doing a routine. He put a cigarette into his closed hand. When he opened the hand it was gone. The cigarette came out his ear. He put it in his mouth and it came out his nose.

We told the drunk young man seated with us, “That’s your magician for your reunion.”

“You’re right.”

But the act continued. The dancing magician coughed. He spit out a dollar bill. He puts it in his hand. Gone! All to the beat of a song. Then he lit the cigarette. He put it in his closed fist. He opened it. the cigarette was gone, but a cloud of smoke came out of his hand. It was amazing. For a moment I believed there could be magic in this world. This was not a junkie with a gift for the sleight of hand, but a wizard who spent years learning the secrets of the universe. But as the performer came closer I could see him carelessly hide the cigarette in the back of his hand.

This did not stop the reunion planner from running up to the performer. We watched them hug and we imagined this high school reunion with a crack addict as the entertainment. The performer walked off after he picked up donations from the drunk audience. He had a quick pace as though he knew exactly where he was going and how he was going to spend that money.

The stranger came back to our table, “So what did he say?” we asked him.

“I asked him for his phone umber but he said he didn’t have one, but he told me where he lived, so I could pick him up for the reunion.” The stranger then continued to sit there. Occasionally he would say he had to leave, but he wouldn’t go. Finally he left walking down the road in the same direction as the dancing magician, He went into the night from the opposite direction of where he came.

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