The Illusionist

It’s knowing when to get out…

The dark rum no longer hit the spot. Maybe it’s been too long in the flask, Archie thought. It had been a long time since the alcohol had been stronger than The Great Suprendo’s apathy.

‘There’s no more magic.’ He faced his own hazy, broken reflection.
‘Smoke and mirrors is all.’ His balding, freckled head turned toward a disembodied voice. ‘You’re talking to yourself?’ The pause was theatrical; affected. The man was confused. Lost.

‘Get a grip Archie Greeley. Honestly! You’re acting like a first-timer at the Glasgow Playhouse.’ The laughter was sour. ‘Half your life spent cutting ladies in half, and now all you want is to split hairs.’  He struggled to rise, then headed for the poster. The London Palladium – a long time gone – top billing. Leaning his hands on either side of the frame, his liver-spotted forehead touched the glass.

‘You should have retired when the houses were still full, Archibald.’ Returning to the mirror was merciless. A jaundiced hand applied the make-up these past years.

‘Like bloody Palliaccho.’ He scrubbed at the greasepaint. ‘A sad, old clown.’

‘Five minutes, Mr Greeley.’  Archie left off the scrubbing.

Later, the stage caller looked upon a room stripped bare. Colourless, lacking the old magician’s presence and parts. He walked toward the one item that remained. The Palladium poster – an unsteady hand – a scrawled message:
“Don’t forget to feed the Rabbit”

© franciman 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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Sad story, Franciman. Nothing lasts forever. Well told.


The magicians last night, you really capture the mood and the setting so well, loved the funny at the end, a touch of light on quite a sad piece. The only small crit I can offer is that you give us a freckled image, so I don’t think you need liver spotted as well, maybe something else. Well done Jim a pleasure to read. Best Keith

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