Somewhere a magician is getting booed off stage


It occasioned one night in early spring, he (who is not the aforementioned magician) decided not to go the theater, but to stay home instead. The weather was chilly and the film could wait until tomorrow. It hadn't occurred to him yet just how exactly he would occupy his evening, but his chores were numerous, among them: run speaker cable, finish reading magazine, remove pile of clothes from couch, unpack another box of books. Any one or two of these would form a productive, if not particularly story-worthy evening for our young man.

His girlfriend was admiring all the details of the night stroll, relishing, it seemed, being out of the apartment and away from the computer screen. A computer screen glowing incomplete homework into the darkness of her empty kitchen. The urgency of her homework made her abandon her plans to visit the theater, but it wouldn't interfere with her walk and all the inconsequential observances that beckoned. There was a warning taped to a bicycle rack, newspaper faces cutout and pasted on a window, a dolls head in a shrine, printed dinner ware in the style of entomology, a pencil portrait of a wrestler who may or may not be famous though nobody present knew, and numerous other things it would be a shame not to notice.

* * *

"Let's walk to Dolores," she said.
"Ok," he replied, realizing that she probably wasn't all that interested in the dream he was recounting for her, though she politely pretended to be at least. This convenient extension to the walk would give him time to finish the retelling without skimping on the elaborations. Dreams, after all, aren't about what happened but what seemed to be happening. This, of course, requires quite a lot more explanation.

"...because the camera was automatic, you see? This made it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt, this doesn't make any sense now, but, at the time, that I was the murderer, I don't know why, but I knew it and the investigator knew it, but he didn't show like he knew it, he kept being casual, smiling, not letting on, but I knew that he knew and I knew I was fucked because all of a sudden everything that didn't make any sense, like that guitar plug in my room, and a whole lot of other random things, pointed invariably to my guilt. And I had no alibi I realized. I didn't even know anyone in the house. You know? Then when I realized how complete the evidence was against me that when I started to doubt my own innocence and my memory, maybe this was actually my camera, and that was the really scary part. So I asked the people who owned the house where the party was if they knew everyone at the party and they said no way, there was tons of people here..."

"Let's go back."

"We just got to the park."

"It's cold. Let's go back."

"Of course, it was a huge party, they didn't know everyone, so I asked if they knew anyone there that was acting strange. I just needed anything. Well there is Harry and Sex. Harry and Sex? Harry and Sex. Harry and Sex? Yes, Harry and Sex. They told me that they were a dark couple that constantly dared each other to do more and..."

"I want to look at that chicken."


"Back there."

He turned and behind them about thirty yards, centered on the path they had just been walking along, sat what in the dark appeared to be a very white hen. She walked back towards it. He followed. She walked right up to it and squatted less than a foot away. It didn't move at all. She reached out to touch it as if that was the most natural thing to do, to reach out and pet a chicken, which was actually not a chicken at all, but a pure white dove, that was sitting in a park at night in the center of the city. It took a step away from her. She took a step forward and reached towards it again. It took a step away. This simple dance continued for ten minutes. She followed (or chased) the dove off the path and down the grassy slope. He watched, amused. An encampment of homeless men with shopping carts sat under a grove of trees and also watched, presumably amused as well.

Eventually she desisted. And, smiling, returned up the slope to where he stood. Whether she had hoped to capture the bird, simply touch it, or engage in this simple gameplay, was unclear to him.

"Did you touch it?"


Now, immediately after this, the narrative gravity of this encounter struck each of them as overwhelming. They could not bring ourselves to leave the bird. It was evidently incapable of flight, though not clearly wounded. It seemed, undoubtably, to be a gift or an omen or a symbol or something they could not name handed to them and to them alone. And where could such a creature come from but from heaven? They settled to please the gods they must catch the bird and nurse it back to health. Besides, the homeless men might kill and eat it.

Without much difficulty he subdued the bird. It didn't struggle much, and soon acquiesced to the cage of his grasp. No one paid any mind to the boy carrying a dove down the sidewalk.

"Maybe it was a magicians and it escaped."


She emptied out a couple of crates, which they used for a cage. They made a cup out of paper in which they placed some bread crumbs and sunflower seeds. They gave it some water in the cut off seat of a plastic bottle. It never struggled, but moved to the far corner of the crate and watched them.

They named it Harry Houdini.

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