He was a person from a town as people often are, having been educated amongst fellow children in a dusty, one-room schoolhouse with stained books and a teacher that stole her vocabulary from Jane Austen. He was a man with an edge as men often are, searching for another bout of adrenaline to curl his toes and erect his hair in the anticipatory sense of great adventure that promised an uncertain future with inevitable misfortune for others. He was a performer for himself as performers often are, spinning extravagant tricks and productions not to please the sheep that followed one another into his slaughterhouse of a venue, but to enrich his own life with squeals of aww emitted by the sheep and cries of surprise produced by their underdeveloped minds as he conjured what they assumed to be real magic.
And in a way, it was real magic. The fantastical nature of his act lied not in the trick itself, but in his ability to produce the same results with so many different facades. If he kept the act the same, people would start realizing that the man performing before them, the very individual positioned on their stage in their small town, was the same person for whom the police were searching. However, it was with great effort - and the tiniest pinch of magic - that this man fabricated new tricks for every performance so as to fool the event staff and the audience into believing he was not the magician everyone had been warned about. He knew it would not last. Sometimes he was forced to borrow the names of famous performers in order to dupe owners into allowing him through their theater doors.
Yet the hosts continued to book him. The people continued to buy tickets. He continued to invent new tricks. And the result was always the same.
The performer typically chose his volunteers as the theater was filling. He enjoyed the women, especially those that stood out amongst the crowd as victors in a world where poverty and inbreeding produced kin that were increasingly harmful to the unintoxicated eye. He would make a mental note of those few women that had escaped genetic misfortune and chose them for his final trick: the disappearance.
This was where the adrenaline began to course through his quivering body, shooting through the veins like a drug he needed in order to make it through every lackluster day. The excitement would build as the women - usually 3 to 5 - hesitantly ambled on stage, embarrassedly waving at their children or their husbands as these men made eyes at the other volunteers. The performer would explain what was about to occur, something new for every event, where he would subject the volunteers to some kind of magical action: being draped beneath a large cloak, locked within a box, placed behind a mirror, laid on a table, or tied to a post. Though at the end of each trick, the grand finale that every patron so eagerly, hungrily awaited, was for those 3 to 5 women to disappear.
The crowd would not be expecting this, thanks to the state law banishing disappearing acts from public performances (a direct outcome of that particular man’s work), and would immediately erupt in a frenzy of fear and surprise for they knew the women would not be returning. And much to be expected, the performer would disappear as well.
The sheep were now wolves, howling throughout the building as they hunted for the missing members of their pack, snapping at one another with their snarling mouths and insisting that only the strongest and the bravest should push forward into the recesses of the theater in search of the known criminal. Though no one ever found him. Nor did they ever find the women. Every pre-chosen volunteer, every damsel that in body alone unwittingly proved themselves worthy of the performer’s cruel magic, disappeared for all time, falling into the unrelenting grasp of a man that most assumed would have his fatal (possibly sexual) way with those stupid enough to place their fate in the gloved hand of a stranger.
But this moment was different. This particular show did not end as they usually did. Unbeknownst to the performer, that small town in which the theater sat, where the eager audience fidgeted awkwardly in their seats, had been tipped off by police that a traveling magician was kidnapping women. The town governor had no way of knowing whether the man he had temporarily employed was this criminal or not, though he decided to take no chances and arrest him anyways.
And so, during the final act, the hungry performer, having sought out his victims and invited four lovely women onto the stage, commenced his trick while a gang of police officers gathered on either side of the stage. So focused on the incredible bodies of those volunteers, tracing every curve with his eyes and caressing every inch of their nude bodies with his mind, the man never noticed that a trap had been sprung around him.
As he sat each woman in a separate box, each individual receiving her own box, he pictured their lifeless figures lying prone in a secluded cottage, their breasts falling to either side of a motionless chest and their legs splayed for his easy access. So much body, so much beautiful skin for him to explore. His palms sweated with anticipation as he lightly pressed each woman into their container. He would soon fulfill those sick desires that had led a once distraught man to reinvent himself as a murdering magician.
Yet as each damsel was shut away, the officers on either side of the stage burst from their momentary limbo and rushed to the performer in a flurry of falling hats, waving batons, and cries from the audience. Townspeople leapt to their feet in surprise as the mob of police made their entrance, mustached men grabbing hold of their wives and mistresses in preparation of protection. All the while, the performer stood frozen in place, staring at the powerful men that surrounded him, blocking any chance of him carrying out the trick and exiting the building with his prizes.
Before long, the theater grew silent, every soul holding their breath as individuals waited in terror for either the police or the performer to make the first move. Sweat dripped loudly on the wooden stage, a single sound that would be momentarily interrupted by the banging of four women in four boxes, uncertain of the occurrences beyond their dark world.
The once free man, petrified on stage, stared back at hundreds of judging eyes as they scrutinized the twitching of his muscles. He could not help but recede into the safety of his own mind, albeit an often dangerous place to linger. He settled there momentarily, hoping for an escape from the immediate threat, and found that instead of sanctuary, the walls of his skull began to creep in upon his brain, just as the surprising strength of a small town police department slowly inched towards his frightened form. He longed to scream, yearned to cry out in fear and run from that theater as fast as he could, though instead he found himself speaking to the one human that understood his criminal behavior:
Baby, I’m so scared. Prepared for what I have coming but scared of jail and how I’ll fair in there. Baby, I want to go home. Please, let me wake up from this dream and realize that I am not me, but really am an entirely different man with a family and a safe place to be free. Oh Baby, I wish I could go back to the day you left. How happy we were. How young our minds had been. How pure our bodies were, untouched, unsoiled, ready to experience the depths of love with one another. I wish I didn’t try that trick. I’m sorry, Baby. I wish there was a way to go back to that day and say this is not what we should pick. Do a different trick. But you wanted to help, and I wanted to experiment with a gun, and in one flash it had all been undone. You were dead before anything could be said.
Baby, it was wrong. I needed to do it but it was wrong. We hadn’t truly expressed our love as lovers do, I had never given myself before, and I took your lifeless figure as a means of fulfillment. Forgive me, Baby. All these women, these pulseless, random women, are the tools of a fool that is trying to reach you and feel closer to something he once had. I miss you, Baby. I miss when you were warm. Now they’re all growing cold and growing mold, a sickness I don’t wish to hold.
Baby. They’re all staring at me. These people are watching me on stage. They seem to be angry. They look to be in rage, and I am trapped within a cage. They’re getting closer. Oh, here they come. Baby, please help me. I want to be with you. These people are mean. I don’t know what to do. Baby, they are so close. Can you feel my pulse? Can you hear it? Baby?