SCOTT: You can say my love of magic brought us together

 

                  JENNIFER: Ah…not quite. It was really me being a professional magician’s assistant that got his attention.

                 

         SCOTT was not embarrassed by the revelation, which was indicative of several content years spent together. The couple began to hold hands while JENNIFER addressed the camera again.

 

                  JENNIFER: We met because we had been neighbors. My condo was a few doors down from his.

 

SCOTT: Actually, she had my attention from the day I first saw her.

 

 

Wednesday, August 21, 1996

“Pretend not to see this,” warned Jennifer Turner. Before her neighbor Scott Beeman could react, she reached into a crevice above her front door and pulled out a spare key. Once the two were in her condominium she headed straight to her dining room table.

“Good. Right where I hoped they would be” she said when she spotted her missing keys. Scott was disappointed. He was hoping Jennifer would have to call her landlady and then wait over at his place a few doors down. Nevertheless, it was good to be there.

“You can sit down if you want, but now I’ve got to make a list of all the things I have to do before I leave,” she offered as she turned more lights on. Scott wondered if she was trying to send him a message or was just busy.

With Jennifer you could never tell. He had noticed her coming and going since the day she had moved in, boldly introduced himself one day, but had to settle for being just friends with her. Considering the proximity, they lived to each other her stance had some merit. But at moments like this when he liked being with her, he wished things could be different. If Jennifer felt otherwise, she never let on. In fact, the more Scott thought about it there was something about Jennifer he couldn’t quite penetrate.

However, his situation wasn’t all that bad. In fact, to his pleasure she had accepted his offer to get her mail during her upcoming four-day trip to Las Vegas with friends. As Jennifer began her to-do list he sat down on her couch and turned on the news.

…..Back on the campaign trail, President Clinton announced today that if reelected he would....

A commercial break soon came. Scott lowered the volume.

“I read in Newsweek that magic has become a big tourist attraction in Las Vegas now. It would be cool to see one of those shows," he remarked without looking up.

“I once knew a guy named Nick Andopolis who liked magic. He saw Siegfried and Roy once.”

Scott immediately looked at her now. "Really?”

“I used to be his assistant.”

Seconds passed.

“Huh?”

“I would help him during shows,” Jennifer confirmed while barely looking up from what she was doing.

“When?”

“In college.”

“Where?”

“We first did at an amateur night that were on Thursdays in one of the dorms. We also played at schools, churches, a mall and a few parties.”

“Did you date this guy?”

 “We just sort of hung out.”

Oh, just like me Scott thought to himself. Mainly he felt much more curious that spiteful.

“What was it like?”

“What?” she asked as the list grew larger.

        “What did you do?”

“He mainly did what’s called sleight of hand magic. I would keep things moving along.”

Scott finally felt satisfied, if anticlimactic. “So, I guess you didn’t get sawed in half?”

“We did this one trick where I was in a box. It was a little like that.”

Scott did a double take at what he just heard. “You mean you were cut into different pieces!”

She just nodded.    

“With a saw?”

“I think he used blades actually.” Scott suddenly became excited.

        “What kind of box was it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Did you lay down inside of it? Could you see anything?”

“I was standing inside of it. There were openings for my face and hands.”

Scott immediately glanced at her feet wondering. Mainly he tried to wear his best poker face.

“Now I remember!” she suddenly exclaimed. Scott’s expression rose again hoping more details would be coming.

“I’ve got to get some sunscreen if we go to the pool,” Jennifer instead eluded and wrote it down.

"What did you wear?”

“Wearing where?”

“At these shows?”

“Something simple usually.”

Can you be anymore vague?

“Did the two of you have a routine when you doing it? Like how would you react?”

“I don’t remember.”

Scott felt more frustrated than usual. He had all sorts of questions he still wanted to ask. Yet just as befuddling about Jennifer’s lack of memory was how she didn’t even seem to pick up on his curiosity.

“Do you have any pictures of it?” he asked pretty much as the last resort.

“I think I have a few. They're around here someplace,” she mentioned nonchalantly. “I really want to run to the store and get some things.”

Scott nodded secure in the knowledge that he was going to bring this up again at another time. He turned off the television. Suddenly an idea popped into his head.

“If you want when I get the mail I can look in and see if everything is all right.”

“You don’t have to put yourself out like that. In fact, since it will only be a few days you don’t have to check anything if you don’t think of it.”

Oh, I'll be thinking of you when you are gone Jennifer.

“It’s not a problem. Have a good time.”

“I will,” she finished.

On the outside, as usual, Scott had another idea but dismissed it.

____________________________________________

 

        The following night Scott looked up at the tight space above the door when he checked her mailbox. Back at his place he still didn’t know if he should be jealous or amused at what he had learned. The thought of at least knowing someone who was once a magician’s assistant was certainly tantalizing. Scott’s made-up act in his mind was now more thrilling with the knowledge Jennifer really had performed what sounded like the Zig-Zag Girl illusion. That was the thing — it really wasn’t a fantasy anymore. He wanted to see these pictures of her!

______________________________________________

 

Things were the same on Friday, but with the new anxiety that she would be home soon. He wanted to bring up the topic again but was unsure due his uncertain status with her. Suppose such an opportunity never came. Suppose Jennifer became wise to him and did not like it. Scott knew it may be smart to forget it. On the other hand, something in him wanted to get that spare key and find those photographs.

_______________________________________________

 

On Saturday three p.m. became four p.m. and then it was five p.m. Scott was tired of dwelling about it. Outside the quiet heat of the afternoon was comforting. The short walk up the sidewalk to Jennifer’s front door felt measured and deliberate. He approached the mailbox acting like it was no big deal. Suddenly a police car on a routine patrol drove up the street. He froze — it felt like he was in an episode of “The Fugitive.”

 Once it had passed the tranquility of the of the late summer afternoon returned. Feeling headlong Scott reached for the key, got it, and reached for the locked door. Ninety-five percent of him wanted to throw caution to the wind and go inside. The other five percent of him beckoned and he stepped back. After a moment he thanked good sense and focused instead on the more pleasant thought of her coming home.

________________________________________________

 

On Monday evening Scott got out of his car and saw Jennifer for the first time since her arrival.

“Hi. Welcome back.”

“Thanks. We had a lot of fun. Didn’t win anything.”

“I’ve got that mail for you.”

“Great. I’ve got something for you to.”

You do? he wondered.

“I’ll be over soon.” Feeling anxious but not wanting to look too anxious Scott went into his unit first, made sure he looked presentable, and walked over.

__________________________________________________

 

“Thank you so much,” said Jennifer as she looked things over.

“You’re very welcome,” gloated Scott.

“I found these for you. I thought it was the least I could do.” He stayed where he was as Jennifer went into her bedroom momentarily and returned with what looked like pictures!  “You got me thinking of Nick the other night,” she admitted.

With his hands almost trembling Scott took the snapshots from her. The first one was of her in the midst of being zig- zagged. The next one was another shot of her looking a bit iffy from having been left in multiple pieces by the off- camera magician.

“These are great!” he exclaimed. Curious to many, maybe gaudy by some, they nevertheless were great and even more to him. Emotions ranging from relief from his sound judgment the other night, to guilt at ever considering such a thing but most of all gratitude at Jennifer for thinking of him like this ran through him. Jennifer looked first at Scott, and then approvingly at the old photographs of her as well.

“You’ve got to tell me more about this. Maybe we could go out after work tomorrow night?” he blurted out. Ironically maybe his secret interest in such magic would be the thing that would bring them closer.

“Thanks,” Jennifer said firmly, “But I know I can’t.” Scott’s smile fell.

“I’m going to have another big weekend I have got to get ready for. I have a friend who will be visiting.”

He held out hope it would be a girlfriend.

“His name’s Frank,” she carefully continued. “We’ve been seeing each other for a long time. Last year he took this promotion in Richmond and it’s been rough on both of us. When I visited him last month, he, I guess we, decided that he was going to come home. He’s coming here Friday to start making plans.”

“I see,” said Scott with a frozen look on his face. The context of their friendship was now perfectly clear.

“I think you’re really nice,” Jennifer said in a softer way. “So, I thought you should know this.”

“Oh - hey don’t worry about it.” Swiftly the excitement of seeing the pictures meant a lot less to Scott than the wishful thought of him being the one in this Frank’s place. Right now, he just felt conspicuous.

“Well I should be getting dinner on,” he abruptly declared.

“Why don’t you take one of these,” she offered.

“A picture?”

“Sure. The trick sort of turns guys on.

Well....okay, why not. Thank you.”

“I’ll be seeing you around then,” Jennifer suggested on a positive note.

______________________________________________

 

Scott slowly walked from her door to his for likely the last time. Maybe Jennifer was out of his league to begin with. Maybe he would soon believe that nothing would have come between the two of them in any event. After this, he could covet the intriguing picture that this intriguing young woman had left for him.

Just not yet.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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