Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Short Story

Here's the story I submitted to the Writer's Digest Your Story contest this past month. In came in second, which is just as good as coming in last. The prompt was "A magician's trick goes horribly wrong at a child's birthday party."


The magician’s fly was open, and judging by the lack of response from the other parents, I was the only one who saw it. Maybe it was because of my angle, but I had a clear view of what appeared to be red boxers. I should tell him, I thought. But how would I do that without embarrassing him in front of the six-year-olds assembled on the floor watching with what could only be described as awe?

I didn’t know, so I did the only reasonable thing. I nudged my wife because I thought she might have a good idea. But my wife shrugged me off and flapped her hand at me. She was apparently enjoying the show too much to be bothered.

The magician held a gold coin in the air, turning it so that it caught the light. “And now,” he said, “Lester the Magician will make this coin disappear!”

Lester had come cheap and I was beginning to see why. The kids didn’t care, though. Judging by their spellbound faces, they thought Lester was great. Apparently, so did my wife. I couldn’t get her attention for anything.

“Jane,” I whispered.

“Alakazam! Alakazeer! Make this gold coin disappear!”

Lester clapped his hands, and when he displayed his palms, sure enough, the coin was gone. Most of the kids cheered enthusiastically. So did my wife. But Ralph, the most annoying of my son’s playmates, pointed at Lester and said, “It’s in your pocket! I saw you put it there!”

Lester the Magician ignored him. He was smarter than he looked. Which isn’t saying much for a guy standing with his pants unzipped in front of a bunch of mostly admiring kids.

“Your right pocket!” Ralph shouted. “Empty your right pocket!” I wanted to tell the kid to knock it off, but his dad was across the room beaming proudly at his son’s impertinence.

I couldn’t say anything to Lester either because he would have had to zip up in front of the kids, and I knew from past experience that anything having to do with underwear or that section of the human body was cause for six-year-old hysterics. So while he was fanning a deck of cards in front of my son, Joe, I tried to make eye contact with him.

I cleared my throat, “A-hrm,” but he kept going with the card trick.

My wife looked at me then. It wasn’t a pleased look. Or even a curious one. More like one that says, “What’s the matter with you, you moron?”

“His fly,” I mouthed, pointing at Lester’s midsection.

“What?” she mouthed back.

“His zipper,” I hissed, but she still didn’t get it. So I pointed at my own groin and my wife shook her head disgustedly and refused to look at me again.

After Lester correctly guessed the card Joe was holding and received his applause, he bowed. Then he turned around, bent over, and came up with a wooden box. As he placed it on a stool I thought I saw something other than red boxers through his open barn door.

I blinked. Was that…

Jesus. I sprinted toward him, my arms windmilling, my legs hurtling three soon-to-be scarred for life first graders. “Don’t move!” I yelled. Distantly, I heard Jane gasp, “Michael!” but she didn’t know. None of them knew.

I tackled Lester. Hard. The children shrieked. Ralph called out, “There it is! The coin! See? Right there on the floor!”

The other parents were on me in seconds, prying me off the magician. I struggled to free myself, to get back to Lester so I could explain, but the parents were shouting things like, “What’s wrong with you?” and “What a psycho,” and “We’re getting out of here.” Before I could offer a defense, they were dragging their kids out the door.

Soon, there were only four of us left in the room. My son was looking at me like I’d…well, like I’d tackled a magician, and Jane was too stunned to say anything at all. But when Lester the Magician staggered to his feet, Jane saw it. She quickly threw her hand over Joe’s eyes and pointed at the man’s partially exposed organ.

“XYZ,” I said.

The magician turned a deep shade of red and zipped up. After he left I turned to Joe and said, “I want to explain what just happened.”

And Joe replied, “That was a good trick, Daddy. You made the man’s pee pee disappear.”


Betty (Beth) said...

Very fun story, Murph.

And funnily enough, after reading this, I spent the evening with a guy with his fly open. I thought of your story the entire time. LOL

Kelly said...

That was a shorts story!

Elliot Grace said...

...well done Murph:) good flow, and I never win those contests either. Don't sweat it.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Thanks, all.

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

Nice. There's never a good time to have your fly down unless... well, there are very few good times.