Micro Story: Parlor Tricks

The crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves. There was muted applause for the sleight of hand tricks, a few laughs for the slapstick comedy, and one or two gasps for the flaming juggling pins. However, one person in the front continued to stare at me. His arms were folded across his chest. I had made it my goal by the end of the evening to impress him somehow. So far, it hadn’t worked.

Sighing to myself, I pulled a dagger out of one of my pockets. The blade was sheathed in a simple leather sleeve. Walking to the front of the stage, I took a bow and removed the sleeve with a flourish. “For my final trick…” I bellowed, “I will drive this dagger straight through my hand without leaving a single mark!” A hoot came from the back of the room. That person had been drinking fairly heavily from the start of the show, and it was finally catching up to him.

“Now,” I said, my voice almost a whisper, “this is not a prop knife.” I pulled an apple out of my pocket, and carved a slice out. I then took a moment to eat the apple slice. Building up apprehension before the grand finale…I ran my finger along its edge. “The blade is razor sharp, able to easily cut through food, rope – “

I winced in pain. I had been ‘careless’, and drew a shallow cut across my middle finger. Some of the crowd looked away. The unimpressed man? He unfolded his arms and began to pay attention. Perhaps he was hoping that I would mess up or hurt myself. Some people took pleasure in that sort of thing. Continuing the act, I finished “ – or a finger.” I put the dagger on the table, and reached into my pocket for a glove. The white glove was completely nondescript, save a small pentagram with runic lettering on the back of the glove. As I used my good hand to show off the glove, my injured middle finger rubbed itself against its palm. That was the easiest part of the trick.

I took a deep breath, and put on the glove. My vision immediately blurred. Both the front and back of the glove were faintly shimmering. I reached for the dagger, missing grabbing it on the first try.

Wasting your life on parlor tricks again? The voice boomed in my ears. Surely, there could be a more productive way to die?

Quiet, you, I replied., I need to pay the bills somehow.

Why not steal something? I’m sure that you could easily pocket plenty of fancy jewels in this town. Anything is better than watching you pull carrots out of a hat.

“And now…”I ignored the voice. Rather than count down as was normal, I ran the knife into my gloved hand as hard as I could. There was a scream from the back of the crowd. Others sat there with their mouth agape. The man at the front? He clapped twice, and then went back to his stoic judgement of my act. Following his applause, the rest of the crowd quickly joined in. I ripped the glove off as quickly as I could, and tossed it into a jacket pocket. I could feel warmth returning to my body, and the voice slowly fading. One of these days, I wouldn’t be able to finish that trick, but until then…I smiled, bowed to the crowd, and walked off stage.