SCOTT: Despite what my best man Charlie said, I did not take those pictures with me everywhere I went. I will admit to still having them.

          

         JENNIFER continued.

 

JENNIFER:  Charlie played a big part in us getting together actually. I moved out, but then we saw each other again at this networking thing of his.

    

         Suddenly, the jovial recollections stopped. SCOTT became serious.

 

SCOTT: Sometimes, I get chills wondering what my life would be like if I had not gone that night.

 

                                                                       

        

Tuesday, December 24, 1996

Scott got out of his black Ford Probe. He was coming home early from work this afternoon because it was Christmas Eve. Ahead of him was Jennifer. He was surprised to see her since he knew her family lived out of town. In her hands was a conspicuous gift bag.

“Hi. Looks like the big day’s almost here,” he said.

“Hi.”

“I take it you didn't go home?”

“No. I just brought a house so I could not afford to do both," Jennifer explained.

“I see you have something for someone.”

“Yeah. A friend’s coming over,” she added feeling a bit embarrassed at its size.

“I see,” Scott added tactfully knowing who it likely really was. Her moving had to happen sooner than later he thought to himself.

“We’ll have a good one.”

“Thanks. You too,” smiled Jennifer.

___________________________________________

On Friday morning Scott went to his car noticing the large piles of boxes and trash bags near Jennifer’s unit. It was enough to make him go hmmm. Eight and a half uneventful hours later he returned to find these and the welcome mat at her front door were gone, and so was Jennifer.

___________________________________________

 

From Television City in Hollywood, its 'The Jennifer Turner Show’! Come join Jennifer and her guests: magician Mark Wilson, The Jackson 5....

“Let’s remind the audience that what we’re going to do tonight is going to be done without any camera tricks,” the magician in the garish tuxedo told the star of the show.

“That’s right,” confirmed Jennifer. “Right this way.”

“You have a strange sense of humor Mark!” Jennifer told him once she was inside his multi-colored box. Using blades, the magician proceeded to divide it into fourths, undid all four separate boxes onto the stage and had them reset.

“Let’s see. To recap we just divided the boxes up and put her back together again. As you can see everything is back to normal.”

To prove it he undid the second panel from the top to show Jennifer’s chest. A reveal of the bottom panel showed her feet. Certain of the outcome the magician opened the top door expecting to see her face but instead her hips were there! Artificial laughter came from the unseen audience. The magician recoiled at his mistake.

“I’m afraid to look!” Sure, enough beyond the second from last box was Jennifer's face.

“Hello? I think we have a problem here!” she said regarding the outcome of the illusion...

Scott turned in his bed. He realized he was having a dream about network television from another era. However, the central character was quite real. He could not go back to sleep so instead he got out of bed and turned on a lamp. Inside a drawer he took out the picture taken of Jennifer performing the Zig-Zag Girl she had given him. Now well into the new year, Scott knew how he had liked her enough from the start to be losing sleep over her at this moment.

___________________________________________

 

“Just take a name tag, and walk around and have fun,” Charlie told Scott. Scott was at the after-work cocktail party being sponsored by friend’s real estate company mainly out of a courtesy. He walked around bar area nodding to some nice enough faces. Deciding he wanted something to drink he turned around and almost ran into someone coming from there.

“Oh, excuse me-.’” Looking up Scott discovered it was Jennifer!

“Well, hi.”

“Hey, how are you?” she asked upon recognizing him.

“I’m fine,” Scott added, unable to hide his delight upon seeing her. “Are you still in the neighborhood?”

“I have a house now over on Metaxa Lane. It’s not much and I have a yard to worry about but it’s all mine,” she boasted, all made up professionally and clutching a drink in her hand.

“That’s great. I’m still in the same place, worry free about a yard this summer.” Jennifer laughed at him. Scott’s smile grew wider.

“What brings you here?” she wondered.

“I know Charlie. He’s a friend. What about you?”

“My company does some work with him,” said Jennifer. Suddenly louder guests approached upon where they were standing.

“Do you want to have a seat where is quieter?” Scott asked hopefully.

___________________________________________

 

Fifteen minutes later the two were still sitting together engaged in conversation.

“I have not been out like this in a while,” admitted Jennifer. “

You haven’t?” wondered Scott.

“No. When I haven’t been working, I’ve been rehearsing.”

“For a play”

“A magic act actually.”

A what! Scott thought.

“A what?” Scott instead asked plainly.

“I'm going to be in a magic show with a guy named David. I’m his assistant.”

“How did this start?”

“I know him through a theater group I belong to. He was looking for an experienced assistant. Did I tell you I’ve done that once?”

“You did, but I was under the impression it was only college.”

“No. I’ve had other jobs.”

“What was the longest?” Scott wondered, being naturally intrigued again.

“Right after college I worked on a cruise ship,” she explained.

Do tell. 

“Coming right after college it was just like living on a dorm floor all over again, I was gone for about a year.”

“Did you do have to get into any magic boxes.” Scott eagerly asked hoping details about its like being zig-zagged is liked might follow. Something even better followed instead.

“During the show me and another girl named Manuela were sawed in half together. Actually, I was literally the last person hired because of the difficulty in finding another girl with the same height and measurements as her."

“How did it work?”

“Two horizontal boxes would on the stage. Manuela and I would come out together. Both of us would have on one of more revealing outfits we had to wear in the show, but the colors were different. I thought it was a little too revealing. Anyway, I got into a red box and Manuela would take the yellow one. Next we both had our feet and necks secured. Like I said coming in at the last minute there was hardly any time to rehearse. On the first night I had never done a show before in a box as small this and constrained by stocks as tight as these.”

“Please keep the details coming,” he requested.

“Once we were locked in the dancers would wheel the both of us in our boxes across the stage for once and then set us in place. Manuela would have the blades pushed through her first, which meant I had to wait nervously for a few more seconds. She always had the same startled reaction. It something you can’t quite get used to no matter how many shows we did.”

Jennifer saw that her friend had no indication to stop.

“Before I knew it, I’d be in two pieces. But before they would put be me back together one of the dancers named Kaitlyn would first wheel the two tops of me across the floor. A tall girl named Holly that I couldn’t see would well move my feet in the other direction. Manuela would be having her two halves moved around by other dancers at the same time. When our top halves passed by, we always give each other genuine supportive looks.

“And then real fun began. The magician would play a trick on us. Manuela’s legs in the yellow box would be reconnected to me in the red box. Then my lower half in the red box would be attached to the top half of Manuela’s yellow box. So, when we got out, I now had Manuela’s legs and feet while my own legs were now attached Manuela’s body!”

Scott was lucky the glass he was holding did not break apart from having squeezed it so hard. He eagerly played along as Jennifer supposedly was.

“Did you have to do the rest of the show with someone else's legs?”

“Let’s say we were quickly taken backstage and got back into the boxes again,” Jennifer hinted with a gleam in her eye. A comfortable silence passed.

“The show is this weekend if you would like to come,” she offered.

Really!

“I don’t think I’m busy. Where is it?”

“It’s at the Donald Westphal at eight on Saturday. We are the last act of our revue and need all of the attendance we can get!” For Scott, this night had turned out better than he had imagined.

“I’d really like that Jennifer,” he said truthfully.

“Good," she grabbed her handbag and handed him complimentary tickets. "Here are two so you can bring someone.”

Not so good. Scott chose to ignore it. Jennifer looked away.

“I think there’s some people wondering where I have been” She stood up.

“It’s been nice catching up with you. Come if you are able,” she said more formally.

“Definitely! See you then.” Scott said with his head in the clouds. He in turn went to find Charlie.

“First I want to tell you how glad I am that I came,” he said when he had found him. “Next would you come with me somewhere on Saturday night?”                                        

___________________________________________

 

 

That night at the theater Scott and Charlie took the good seats that Jennifer had given him.

“See?” pointed Scott in reference to her act of generosity.

“Doesn’t mean anything,” countered Charlie.

“Then why did she do this?” The two had had this conversion before by now.

“Probably because she’s like you say, a nice person. If she wanted you to come to really see her, she would have made it for one, not two.”

Scott ignored him.

“She probably still has a boyfriend.”

Scott ignored Charlie some more. The show began.

___________________________________________

 

Scott sat through various presentations and an intermission before the magic act came on. Jennifer’s assistant outfit did not disappoint him. Their act was good enough, and Jennifer fetching enough, that Scott almost thought he would overlook the lack of any large illusions tonight.

“Ah Jennifer, so what do you think, good show so far?” asked David on the stage.

“I think so.” Applause poured forth. While this was happening, David directed a solid blue, horizontal magic box be brought next to them. It immediately took Scott back to walking in on a magic act on TV with a similar box that was just about over when he was thirteen years old.

“Hold it!” Jennifer ordered the moment she saw it.

“Relax, relax,” assured David. Scott watched with rapt attention. “Jennifer, all I need from you right now is to inspect this magic box and tell me what you see.” The top and side doors was opened for her benefit.

“It's just a big empty box," declared an anxious Jennifer. “That’s right,” said David. “Now all I need you to do is lie down inside for just a moment.”

“Oh no, you’re on your own,” declared Jennifer. The audience became disappointed.

“Do you want to bring the show to a screeching halt?” asked David. “All I need is for you to get inside it for a few seconds. It won’t hurt you. Promise.”

“That’s all?” she wavered.

“That’s all!’ assured David in a friendly way.

Jennifer begrudgingly sat down on the base, slipped of her shoes, and reclined into his contraption. Once she was in place David closed and locked both doors on her. Scott loved where this was going. David spun the box fully around just once.

“Whoa -” came the sound of Jennifer’s voice.

“You're not nervous or anything?”

"A little, because I don't know what's happening!”

“I’ll have you out in just a second, but not before this —” The whole audience gasped when David revealed the first of several metal blades intended for Jennifer. He merely shrugged it off with a disarming wink. “I never listened to my mother when she said never play with sharp objects...”

“What....What did you say?” demanded Jennifer. Unbeknownst to her the magician shoved he first blade right through the box.

“Ouch” she shrieked. Going in now particular order David divided Jennifer’s body with each passing new blade before finally giving and the crowd a chance to catch their collective breath.

“You have a good time doing this, right?” she said from inside. The audience laughed.

“Jennifer, the assistant’s job here is not to be seen, or heard,” one-upped David with another sudden thrust.

”Ow!”

He continued his merry way until there was no more room in the box for any blades.

“Ta-da!”

The unseen sight of Jennifer trapped inside the sliced box complete aroused Scott. Spectators cheered. Suddenly came the sound of Jennifer’s voice again.

“It’s a little cramped in here!” From a slot on the top side came her hand with something in it. David took it, held it up and found it was her skimpy outfit! Excitement went through the theater. David hurried to undo what he had done.

“I’ll get you out of there in just one-second Jennifer,” he promised while quickly taking out each blade and dropping them on the stage with a bang. Scott’s jaw fell the moment the magician unlocked the doors and out came Jennifer in a bikini!

After a moment the lights fell to single one over the couple. Evocative music started overhead. David and Jennifer began to dance slowly until she became hypnotized. A rectangular base came onto the stage. Multiple streams of water rose from it to about three feet in the air. With the help of two others from the troupe David placed his passive assistant onto the water. Scott’s eyes gazed at the site of Jennifer's lovely, erect body steadily floating over the fountains. Slowly she began to rise as the streams of water lifted her higher. David subsequently placed a metal hoop over his suspended assistant repeatedly from head to toe.

Suddenly some of the streams stopped until there was only one left. Drips of water fell from Jennifer’s flowing hair and legs that were no longer being supported by the fountains. With the wave of his hand David began to rotate Jennifer's floating, lithe body in a circle until she was parallel to him again. Sensing the climax David moved in closer and removed her from the base with his arms. Jennifer awoke and slowly walked to the stage while David moved to the other end. The lights slowly came back on. The crowd cheered. Scott felt as if he had completely fallen for her.                                                                                                      ___________________________________________

 

After the show he and Charlie waited as in the large lobby are while other audience members were on their way out.

“How long do you want to stay,” asked Charlie impatiently.

“Until I see her,” insisted Scott. In a corner he saw a group of people together. He walked in closer to find Jennifer there, still a little wet from her levitation, being surrounded by friends congratulating her. Scott stood indecisively about what to do next. Suddenly a large, burly, older fellow carrying followers walked by.

“Frank!” Scott heard Jennifer say. Scott quickly looked away from his hopes being so instantly dashed. Charlie followed him out the exit, trying not to notice his best friends’ disappointment.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

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