This story was first posted on the internet 19 years ago. When reading it now, there are a number of common everyday things at the time that to varying degrees are not so much anymore.
These are a video cassette recorder, a residential landline, channel surfing, a phone book and a digest size issue of TV Guide. There is also no social media on the web for John to search for Amy and he still does not yet have a cellphone. Finally, I pictured my own nearby Borders bookstore during the meet-up scene that went out of business a long time ago.
However, since it was always a popular story on my original GeoCities website “The Colson Collection” I have posted it again here with few alterations.
unwillingly got out of bed once the sound of the alarm clock had completely
filled his bedroom. After it had stopped thoughts of another day at work spent
dealing with the Merriweather file and a myriad of other details filled his
mind. As soon the shower water ran, he dwelled on the dull, dateless season
that was playing out before him.
Shortly thereafter he sat down to his usual breakfast and hit the power button on the remote control. Looking at the television in the distance he surfed down the channels until he saw a glimpse of what looked like a magician and his assistant performing a disappearing trunk illusion. If there was anything that could get his attention to stop a remote control this, was it.
“You'll have all summer to catch his show at Six Flags before it disappears,” said the voice over of a reporter. Local news personality Stacy Cox came on from the news desk inside the studio after that.
“Stay tuned. We’ll have magician Raye Blacke performing live outside in the plaza coming up at the end of this broadcast.”
With a smile on his face John raced to the VCR, grabbed the nearest tape and set it to be prepared. Once it was cued, he took a moment to notice how his mood had lightened up from before. After that his pessimistic nature returned.
Watch this guy just do something with pocket squares with some seven-year-old helping out he thought to himself.
About 12 minutes later he in front of the television again with the VCR remote in hand. First William Burnes had to give us one last look at the morning commute, and then Tom Priesmeyer came on for a final look at today’s weather. John despaired - the time on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen read 6:56 am. But wait.
“Finally let’s go outdoors where Josh is there with illusionist Raye Black,” announced Stacy Cox.
“Thanks Stacy,” continued her co-anchor Josh Pratter via an outdoor live remote. “Were running short but Raye here is going to do something for all of us out here before we go.” John felt his heart race with excitement as he started the VCR. Standing behind them on TV was a distinctly empty, vertical red and yellow magic box!
“That’s right,” continued the magician, “and we have a young lady who is here this morning who has agreed to help us out.” Immediately John fixated on a stunning blonde bombshell who emerged from the assembled spectators and was allowed past the barricade.
“What’s your name,” asked Josh.
I know this is above and beyond what we ask of our guests here every morning.”
“That’s okay,” she said good naturedly.
“Raye, she’s all yours.”
“Then let’s begin,” suggested Raye. “As you can see Amy, we have this guest suite right over here reserved for you. If you wouldn’t mind taking your shoes off first for this.”
Amy paused to take off her shoes with the look of someone who had no idea why she was about to do this. John watched with delight.
“Very good. Now Amy
since time is tight why don’t you come this way.” asked Raye. She proceeded to
walk barefoot over to the magic box that was opened for her. On television the
camera focused on her entering it and then zoomed out for a fuller shot of her
and the magician.
“That’s fine. Now just show us your feet and hands,” Raye instructed, “and place your happy face as far out as you can.”
John was dazzled as the camera panned Amy, secured in the box and visible only from her beautiful face down to her decidedly imperfect toes. The audience, Josh Pratter and the camera seemed like a blur to her. He had to check his VCR to make sure it was recording this.
“Okay Amy just
try and have fun here,” said Raye as he stood to her left. She nodded
precariously while remaining completely still, except for her eyes which stayed
fixated on him. “I want to remind everyone that what the audience is seeing
here now is the same as the audience at home is seeing...”
Suddenly he took a big blade from atop the cabinet and quickly drove it thorough her. The sound of the metal going through the cabinet startled the observers and resonated over the air. John loved every second of it but noticed how the time on screen was now 6:59 am.
have one more adjustment to make.”
Raye proceeded to slide the top half of her apart and opened the two front panel doors to show her chest and legs still inside for good measure. The audience justifiably applauded once he was finished. At least one “I don’t believe it,” was overheard. Amy thought now was as good time a time as any to peer below, and what she saw of her current configuration astounded her. Raye took a slight bow and glanced over at his unlikely assistant.
“That is simply amazing,” added Josh who returned to the camera. The closing credits began to play on screen. “Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have left. We’d like to thank all our guests this morning.” Stacy reappeared on camera from the studio on a split screen slowly shaking her head in disbelief at the illusion as well.
“Stay tuned to News Five throughout the day. NBC’s “Today” is next.” The camera dissolved to a final shot of this intriguing, beautiful Amy still cut in half before the live network feed came on. Back downtown she probably still hadn’t been restored and let out of the box before John had already rewound the tape and watched it again feeling very happy at his good fortune.
In the days ahead John indulged himself in watching the tape over. More and more he focused on Amy, who was captivating to him both in and not in the box. The fact that it had happened locally gave it a strange sense of immediacy to it. He wondered who she was, what she did and (needless to say) if she was spoken for.
Nearly a week later he was at his desk at work thinking of her again as usual. He knew how groups of people would appear on the show often to promote some charitable event which they or their employers were involved in. Just maybe he believed he could find out what groups had been on the show earlier on the day she was on. Once he knew this, he held out a distant hope that he may to be able to locate her.
A visit to the station web site was not helpful, so despite all of the work on the desk he got out the telephone directory and called the station. As the line rung, he knew he did not know what he was going to say or what he was exactly after.
“Good morning, News Five.”
“Hello. I was calling to find out more about the group that was outside the studio last Wednesday.”
“Hmm...,” came the ordinary reply. “Let me put you in touch with programming.”
John was momentarily pleased with his slight progress. Another voice came on.
“Hi. I was wonder if you can tell me more about who was on ‘Today in -’”
“Just a moment,” interrupted the voice. “Let me connect you to Sharla. She’s one of the producers.”
John sat at his desk as seconds passed. He noticed how the message light on his telephone had lit up since he had been on hold.
“Hello. This is Sharla Ripley. Please leave a message at the - “
Oh the heck with this John thought as he put the phone down in frustration. Just suppose he could find out where Amy worked from here. Assuming this unlikely scenario worked, assume then he tried to call her place of employment, it had only one employee named Amy, and she took the call. What would he say?
“Hello, Amy? My name is John. I was watching you when the magician cut you in half on TV last week, in fact I taped it, and I was wondering if you would like to meet me somewhere so we could.... What? Oh no, I’m not a stalker or anything like that. Why would you think that?”
He sighed. Oh well, there’s always the tape he thought to himself.
“I’ve never met this
person,” warned his longtime platonic pal Tara that weekend. “I don’t know what
she looks like. It’s all my mom’s idea.”
“I understand,” John told her. Apparently, Tara’s mother had a co-worker she was fond of and thought that he should meet her. He had reminded Tara how these things never work out and he was weary of it. Still, he agreed to call her mother for more information. It was nice of her to be thinking of him like this John had to admit.
“Oh hi John,” exclaimed Mrs. McWorthy a short time later. John smiled at the familiarity. He had always gotten along with her, more so than Tara sometimes.
“Tara says that you know someone I may like to meet.”
“That’s right,” said an enthusiastic Mrs. McWorthy as if it were going according to a plan of hers. She informed him how the lady was (coincidentally) named Amy and she is very nice and if he wanted to, he could have her telephone number right now.
After the two had said goodbye John sat in his empty dining room with the telephone in his hand during the quiet of the Saturday afternoon. He thought if he called this person now and left a message, he would be able to truthfully say how he had tried to reach out should this matter ever come up again. John dialed the number.
“Hi. Is Amy home?”
“This is she.”
“Oh hello. This is John Morice. A lady we both know, Mrs. McWorthy, suggested I call you.”
“Oh, hi,” she
responded in a voice he was comfortable with.
“I thought I should try you now before I get bogged down at work next week.”
“Tell me about it,” replied Amy as she took the ball from there. John smiled. At least she knew the rules of conversation which was more that he could say about the last one. The two continued amicably for the next several minutes on subjects like her contemplating buying a house, the weather, his work and her cats.
“It’s been nice talking to you,” John said at the end. He knew he was being sincere. “If you like we could meet over coffee next week.”
“All right, that would be good,” answered Amy. The two agreed to meet next week at the bookstore/cafe near where he lived (it was also his venue of choice for stuff like this.) After giving each other a brief description of what they looked like the two said goodbye.
John sat again in the sunny, quiet room. Better than nothing he thought to himself.
The following Tuesday
evening he was at the bookstore after work standing in the magazine section,
his face covered in next week’s issue of TV Guide. He noticed the latest rerun
of The World’s Greatest/Dangerous/ Most Awesome/ Secret Magic on cable. Do a
show with celebrity assistants and I’ll watch thought John.
A look the time indicated it was now 7:02 pm. John cautiously looked over to the cafe section to see if she had arrived. Sitting in a corner by herself in the distance was the same young woman in the video!
John put down the T.V. Guide for good and tried to contain his excitement. There she was! His “date” for the evening no less! It was doubtful something as exciting as this had ever happened to him before. What were the chances? He took a deep breath, tried to erase the silly look on his face, and walked over to her.
“Hi. I’m John. How are you?”
He gazed at her striking face struck by how it was the same face he had been watching set against the sequined outline of the magic box on television.
“Mind if I sit down?” She waited before answering.
“Okay,” This was getting even better. In front of him was the same book he had just read.
“I have that book.”
“Do you like it?” she asked. John eagerly gave her his opinion and they were off. About twenty minutes in to their steady if unspectacular conversation she was telling him about a resort town in California she had been to with a friend earlier in the year when John noticed the name Amy White on an identification badge presumably from her work clipped to her purse. He wanted to ask her his tempting questions ranging from how she reacted when she was in the box to the thoughts of those close to her who had been watching her to whether she would like to ever do it again. At least he could say how he has seen her on television.
“I’ve never been anywhere like that,” he instead merely said in regard to her trip. Privately John delighted in how one day, maybe soon, he would get his chance to bring these things up. For now, he sensed she had to go.
“Would you like to do this again sometime?”
“Oh...okay. I come here sometimes after work.”
John took it as a yes and felt he should leave while it was going good.
spent the short drive home on cloud nine. So sure of his luck that he
thought he may call her again for a second date later that night. John entered
his home for the first time since he had left that morning and saw the message
light on the answering machine flashing. Still thinking of her he hit the ‘message’
“Hi John. This is Amy,” said the voice he had spoken with on Saturday. He stopped to completely listen to the message. “I’m afraid I won't be able to meet you tonight...I’m not ready to go out with anyone again right now, but I hope you have a good week. Goodbye.”
John stood dumbfounded while the machine beeped to indicate there were no more messages. He realized what had just happened. The Amy he had met tonight was not the Amy he was supposed to meet. Even worse he still had no idea who tonight’s Amy was or what she did or how to contact her because he assumed he had already covered that. On top of this it looked like he was never going to meet the intended Amy either.
John slumped onto his couch in a state of disbelief. In front of him was the VCR.
Oh well, he thought to himself, there’s always the tape.