A night with a magician

IT was one rainy night way back in college when my closest buddy James excitedly told me that my childhood dream was about to come true because a real circus showing an honest-to-goodness ‘black magic’ had just set up their tents in town.

Knowing that I was willing to starve the whole week just to pay the for the exorbitant entrance fees from my allowance, James blackmailed me saying he’ll only accompany me if I pay half of his entrance fee, which I reluctantly agreed to because I wouldn’t think of going with any other person.

I was so impatient to watch the circus such that James chided me for not giving the circus people enough time to set up their tents, and I shouldn’t complain if they wouldn’t be able to give a good performance.

It shouldn’t surprise you that we were the first customers in the circus. The tent was dark inside and I kept a tight grip on James’ arm.

A ‘white magician’ who entertained the audience for the first part of the show had us almost rolling on the floor in laughter but as soon as the ‘black magician’ entered, the atmosphere changed.

I felt my ribs tighten and my hair stood on end as the lady magician bowed and made gestures in silence, so hushed I could hear the wind fizz the hair on my cheeks.

Clad in a black silk outfit with a red, flowing train, she seemed to be testing the atmosphere for imaginary presence of other invisible beings, and suddenly, everything seemed to take on an air of unreality.

A chill crept through my whole being and the nightmare has not even began. The crowd was deathly silent. The series of unbelievable and surreal shows followed at a dizzying speed until the highlight for the night came.

A sexy lady clad in a blue two-piece bikini stepped onto the stage. A hush fell as the magician announced that she was going to cut off the lady’s head. In an ominous voice, the magician warned other magicians and those endowed with ‘magic powers’ not to interfere with her performance at the expense of death.

The bikini-clad lady was led to a corner of the stage where she was to meet her end. My eyes were transfixed on the uncanny picture. The lady winked at the audience before putting her head between two pieces of wood resembling a guilotine. There was a flash of blade, and her head rolled to the floor.

James was just in time to clamp a hand at my mouth to stop a blood-curdling yell from me, reducing it to a horrified gasp as the magician picked up the severed head and put it on a platter and trotted around the stage like a warrior displaying his captive.

Shuddering with distaste at the macabre sight, I felt bile rise up to my throat. I swear the girl’s steady eyed-look was directed straight at me. She even winked, or was it just a figment of my horrified and numbed imagination? I couldn’t tell anymore.

James however was laughing through it all and was obviously having a very good time. He jabbed me in the ribs when I diverted my head from the nightmarish sight.

The next thing I knew, it was all over and the lady in two-piece bikini was back in one piece.

We joined the mad stampede of people rushing on their way out of the tent. I shuddered as I remembered the grotesque head on the platter, and once outside the tent, I gulped in huge breaths of air, glad that the ordeal was over.

Tightly gripping James’ arm with both my hands, I pulled him towards a popcorn stall, talking non-stop about what we have just witnessed.

Surprisingly, James remained quiet. Further, he resisted when I pulled him, which struck me as odd.

Suddenly I noticed something was really odd. An unpleasant smell was coming from James, which was not there before. I pulled one of my hands from his arm and saw grime and dirt.

Confused, I let go of his arm and turned to look at him and froze in horror as a dirty face minus four front teeth was insanely laughing at me. I discovered that I was gripping the arms of Bonjing, a mentally-deranged man known to the whole town as one who was harmless when sober but dangerous when hungry.

Alarmed, I looked around and saw James laughing so hard a few meters away, holding his tummy as though his intestines were about to spill out.
To add insult to injury, not only James was laughing his guts out but a whole lot of people who saw me practically hanging on to the arms of Bonjing.

I really strangled James for that, squashing a couple of his pimples in the process although it was not his fault.
(It’s been a year and three months since James died but his memory lives. I still think it is so unfair for him to die so young).

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