SCOTT: Never underestimate the appeal of a beautiful woman in a magic box, but it was seeing Jennifer in that bikini that sealed the deal for me.

                 

JENNIFER: I was still in a relationship with another guy.

 

SCOTT: I hear today has three ex-wives and is wanted in three different states.

 

         JENNIFER gently pushed her husband aside in a friendly way.

 

JENNIFER: Stop…. I will say I was still too young and insecure to think I would be okay if we were to completely break-up.

 

                  SCOTT: I was still young to. But I was at least able to tell Jennifer had been sending me signals.

 

                                                                       

                                                              

Monday, June 16, 1997

Scott’s nerves accelerated when her voice came on the telephone.

“This is Jennifer.”

“Hi Jennifer, it’s Scott...Beeman.”

“Hi,” she said sounding curious as to why he was calling her where she worked. The day before Scott thought about how unexpected it had been to run into her again. Not only had Jennifer been easy to talk with again, but he had also actually seen her as a magic assistant! Not a dancer/stagehand type of assistant mind you, but the sexy kind who's folded into boxes and stabbed by swords of various sizes.  Despite seeing his Frank, Scott could not resist wondering could lie ahead if he pursued it? Best of all, he really did have a good reason to call!

“I made it to the show on Saturday night,” he explained. “I wanted to call to you like this to say thanks. I really liked it.”

“You did?” she asked in a more friendly way.

“Yeah. I came with Charlie actually,” he indicated to make it clear how he was still single.

“Good. I’m glad," she said. “I’m still trying to come down from it all.”

“My favorite part of the show was the blade box thing. I also thought you looked very pretty during the levitation illusion," continued Scott.

“Oh...thanks. I always get wet but at least I don’t have to dodge anymore blades.”

Scott was thrilled. “You know if I had not gone to Charlie’s thing, I would have missed seeing you again."

“You know I thought about that too,” spoke Jennifer in agreement.

“Good minds think a like!” chimed Scott. Over the line he heard her laugh.

“I doubt I am going to want to do anything all day,” she said after a pause. “It’s nice of you to call. Again, I’m glad you had a good time."

“Maybe I could see you again?” Scott suddenly suggested.

“David’s working on some things, but nothing is set yet. We want to do something new that my boyfriend and I can do as a couple.”

Scott’s head became filled with the jarring sound of car breaks coming to a screeching halt.

“Oh.”

“So, I’ll be pretty busy.” Jennifer paused. “Is your friend having another happy hour like that?”

“I think so.”

“Maybe I can come again,” she suggested. “Call me when you know something.”

“You bet!”

“Okay. Byen.”

“Byen.”

Scott was decidedly optimistic having gone from parting with nothing to parting with something.

___________________________________________

 

“I’m the kind of performer who travels lightly,” David told the assembled audience at the Saturday night fund raiser. “When I need an assistant, I always have to go out to the audience to find one. Especially when the trick I want to do involves sharp power tools.” Laughter immediately followed. “Why is it all of the women here are suddenly not looking at me?” Louder laughs came after that.

David made his way through the rows.

“What’s your name?” he asked a young woman sitting at an aisle.

“Jennifer.”

“And what’s your name?” David asked the slightly older man sitting next to her.

“Frank.”

“Would you two please come with me?”

Those seated near them shrieked in surprise. The couple stood up and followed David back to the stage. The audience wondered with anticipation at what awaited them, particularly the cute brunette.

“Okay, Jennifer, right?”

She nodded nervously.

“I’m going to do a crafty little trick that always gives the girl a slight buzz. It’s your job to just lay down on this table. It’s Frank’s job to be there for moral support.”

More chuckles came from those watching.

“Am I still going to be all in one piece after this?” Jennifer asked uneasily as she sat down on the long table.

“If you don’t, we can always give you new ones!” David said cheerily. “Frank how about helping her lie down and get comfortable.”

Frank did what he was asked but David noticed how Jennifer was avoiding eye contact with him. Now fully reclined, she placed her hands on her middle the way David suggested and crossed her legs. “Now Frank get me those things over there,” he instructed her boyfriend. Frank went and retrieved a wooden stock and a power drill without much enthusiasm. “Mr. Excitement,” David ad-libbed. People found it funny. He took the saw from him and pointed to Jennifer’s waist.

“You’ll have the honors,” he indicated. Frank set the wooden stock over her. Jennifer turned to face the audience looking quite worried yet seemed non pulsed by Frank’s presence.

“This is my job!” David informed everyone. He raised the tool high. With it roaring he drove it in and across the stocks narrow top opening. Jennifer’s reaction as the saw seemed to rip through her momentarily rallied Frank. After two more passes David was finished.

“Are you okay Jennifer?”

“It feels like it,” she answered hopefully.

“That’s because you came through this just fine!” informed the magician. Frank lifted the stock and Jennifer was able to sit up unharmed. The three took a bow and the couple begrudgingly got close enough to hold hands. David felt that their new act devised for tonight had not gone quite as expected. Frank looked eager to go. Jennifer looked distant, perhaps thinking of something, or someone, else.                                                   ___________________________________________

 

 

Scott approached the date of Charlie’s next promotional- happy hour as if were a major event. He could have asked a date to come with him but that would defeat the purpose. Jennifer had told him to ask her here. Why else would she have done it if she was not mutually interested as he has had always hoped?

Unfortunately, he had not been able to reach her. He had called her at work for over a day and half, finally letting the increasingly annoyed receptionist put him through to her voice mail. Playing lip-service to the notion that she was just a friend he reminded her of the date and time like she had asked and nothing more.

___________________________________________

 

The party was in full swing as Scott stood restlessly with Charlie and others, not paying attention in the least to what they were saying. A group standing next to them moved away. Suddenly he saw Jennifer standing by herself!

“Excuse me,” he indicated to his friends.

“You’re the man,” encouraged Charlie when noticed where Scott was headed.

“Hi! I’m glad you came.”

“Hi,” replied Jennifer.

“Can I get you something?” he hoped.

“Sure, but I can only stay for a minute,” she cautioned.

___________________________________________

 

Shortly after that the two were sitting together engaged in conversation just like the last time. The minute that Jennifer could supposedly stay had long passed.

“You know I couldn’t tell you who is living at your old place” Scott remarked. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone.”

“I never met anybody,” replied Jennifer. “Since I was just a tenant all I had to do was give the owner a thirty-day notice. She was really nice. I had never lived by myself before.”

“You hadn’t?” asked Scott.

“I went from living at home right after college too getting that cruise job. When it was over, I was tired and ready to come back and find a real job. I still like dancing and performing though.”

“What did you first?”

“After I came home, I lived with a roommate for a while. I moved to Sherwood Forest after she got married.”

Scott smiled, delighted to be learning more about her like this. He did the same.

“You know my sister I’ve mentioned before? She and the brother-in-law are having a baby.”

“You’re going to be an uncle?” she asked. “That’s great!”

"Yeah, it is,” admitted Scott. “How’s your family?”

“My parents have finally moved into a new house down in High Ridge,” said Jennifer. “They say they want to retire there. I plan to go this weekend. It’s nice not having anything right now.”

Could that that mean your available?

“Any more shows coming up?” Scott instead modestly asked.

“I’ll have a fall play with a theater group. David is arranging some more magic jobs. I may end up having to choose between one and the other.”

“I bet you two make good extra money doing that,” wondered Scott.

She shrugged.

“Most of what we make goes back into it. David just brought a new sawing in half box. Before that we had to use a borrowed one.”

“Is it the thin model like the cruise show had?"

Jennifer nodded head finally noticing his familiarity with the trade.

“Is the neck stock an added inconvenience,” wondered Scott, eyes wide open with curiosity.

"It restricts your movement a little, but it’s not too bad once I get used to it.”

“What can you see?”

"Not much. Just a little past the stock and the end of the box," said Jennifer.

“How do you know when the blades are coming?” Scott softly asked.

“It varies. I always lay completely still though. They really pass straight through.”

Scott moved in closer. Jennifer did too.

“Tell me again about the next part,” he requested in a slightly more suggestive tone of voice.

“I usually open my eyes when I hear the side door being open and set my arm out.... being pushed apart and seeing the other half of me is fun.”

“Are you able to see the audience when your divided?” wondered Scott.

“It depends on the stage setup. Not so much during the cruise show but in other places if the lights aren’t too bright I usually can.”

“Do you ever get any weird questions from friends or family members?"

“Lots,” she recalled with a smile. “After were finished one thing I've heard more than once - from people I know and strangers - is ‘When you were sawed in half, I bet those were false legs we could see, but were they your real feet? They just don’t know. Right now, we alternate between this and the Zig-Zag for the finale.”

“I’ve wanted to ask you about that for a while. The Zig- Zag illusion has captivated my imagination ever since I saw Donny & Marie do it on their show 20 years ago,” admitted Scot being how easy Jennifer was to talk to. The deliberate degree of understatement he was using actually felt fun.

“Did you remember ever seeing this?”

“We never watched them at our house,” replied Jennifer. “It sounds like it would be interesting to see.”

“I wish there was a way for magic fans to be able to watch that stuff again. Things like this are almost never released on home video. Just have to make do with what I can remember I guess," contemplated Scott.

“David said Cher was once a magician's assistant on her old show. I remember seeing that sometimes.”

“That’s right!” exclaimed Scott. He immediately though to tone down a notch now. There was silence for a moment, but Jennifer still had not given him any indication she wanted to leave. Scott thought to throw caution to the wind and go all in now.

“What was rehearsing the first time like?”

“I really had to be coaxed into it first. Nick began by telling me there were three I had to do all still true - keep wiggling my fingers and toes, keep my face pressed against the front and keep smiling.

"It wasn't until the third or fourth time when I started to get the hang of it," she remembered. "Nick recorded it all with his camcorder. Seeing myself separated in the three boxes for the first time was really weird when he showed it to me."

“So, I guess now you’re the seasoned pro?”

Surprisingly Jennifer shook he head.

“Every time I get into the position for the first time, the sound of the doors latching the doors shut still makes me nervous.”

“Do you take your shoes off before getting in the box,” Scott inquired.

“Definitely” said Jennifer. “If I had on the heels I usually wear, it would make having to stand that way ten times harder."

“Tell be about the good part,” asked Scott.

“It may be the good part for you,” counted Jennifer.

Scott smiled deviously at her implying she was correct about this.

“I can handle the blades going in but after the middle box has been pulled out having my body contorted with the blades pressing against me can sometimes be really uncomfortable. David tries to make things as easy as he can for me for this part which I appreciate. Not all magicians I have worked with have done this.”

“Has Frank ever seen you being zig-zagged?”

“Lots of times. The first time he had a huge smile on his face at what was happening to me!” reveled Jennifer. “I’m thinking who’s this sensitive guy I have met here?” she added in jest. “He’s part of our routine now when his schedule permits.”

“What does he do?” Scott wondered.

“Frank’s our secret ‘plant’ in the audience. David will ask him supposedly at random to come up the stage to see me. He checks my foot and holds my hand to prove that it really me inside.”

“Does he like it?”

“For sure,” she responded. “Actually, the guys I’ve dated have always loved my exposed foot.”

“What happens if he can’t be there?” Scott inquired wondering if he could finagle an opportunity to step in sometime.

“We try to get someone either of us may know who seems like they’d be a safe choice.”

She paused when a specific recollection came to her.

“Once we performed at a Christmas party where I work,” Jennifer remembered. “Our person was this gorgeous co- worker of mine named Kevin that I’ve always felt a sense of mutual attraction to. Being ticked by him felt a little exciting for the both of us. I was hoping he may get a little closer and get a kiss from him.”

There was a pause between them.

“I wish it had been me,” Scott declared. He was not being subtle now.

“I’m beginning to think you have a thing for women in magic,” Jennifer countered hoping to keep things light.

Scott waved his hand to imply that she was imagining things. But then the look on his face became honest again.

.“I know I like you Jennifer.”

She began to move back.

“I’m sorry. My timing’s lousy.”

“No, it’s okay, its just —”

Seconds passed between them. Jennifer began to speak.

“It’s just that things are complicated with..."

Scott’s voice shook a bit.

“With Frank?”

Jennifer seemed uneasy at the sound of his name in this context.

“Things are complicated with us right now,” was all she would allow.

“But hasn’t this been going for a while?” grilled Scott with a directness a person used for someone they really cared about, quite possibly now the beautiful young woman sitting right in front of him.

“Look, Scott, I’m really glad I know you and there are other girls who would love to have to you as a boyfriend,” sidetracked Jennifer. Scott recoiled defensively, having heard such sentiment one too many times from others.

“It’s just that I need time to sort things out alone.”

“Can I take that hopefully as a sign you may be... available to meet sometime soon?” Scott inquired candidly.

This time there was no response from Jennifer. Charlie the deliberately passed by.

“So....how are things going between you two?”

“I have to be going actually,” Jennifer announced. Within seconds she had gathered her purse had stood up from the table. “It looks like you’re doing well for yourself here. Thanks for another invitation,” Jennifer told Charlie. They shook hands.

“Well, you’re welcome. Hope to see you again soon,” responded Charlie.

For a moment Scot thought she may not say good night. Happily, Jennifer quickly glanced at him to gently wave goodbye.

“Talk soon,” Scott said quietly. He went home for the night with a quiet confidence that there was to go to be more to come her.

___________________________________________

 

He carried this warm feeling with him through the weekend. But by the end of the following week Jennifer had not returned any of his messages using whatever pretext he could think off. It looked like it was going to be Charlie’s next networking happy hour or nothing at all.

___________________________________________

 

He went to the gathering really hoping to see her. But after fifteen minutes his optimism had nearly completed waned when she was nowhere to be found. After about twenty more minutes of this Scott finally departed deeply disappointed.

A few minutes later she Jennifer waked in from another entrance hoping to find Scott. She wanted to see him again.

      

TO BE CONTINUED

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