Mike Torello did not feel like dealing with customers today. He checked his watch. It was only 10:16 a.m. He was feeling typically unhappy at his job as a sales associate in the television department at the neighborhood big box electronics store. Playing on the state of the art high-definition screens in front of him was the local series “Good Day Springfield” featuring its co-hostess, the beautiful and vivacious Stacey Cox. She also happened to be Mike’s former college girlfriend.
To say that Stacey was doing better for herself than Mike three years after graduation was an understatement. In the period since the breakup Mike had not gotten used to either seeing her on television or hearing her delivering the traffic reports during the afternoon drive on area top 40 KHBQ-FM. It made him sad. Today he had no choice but to watch.
“Coming up next, ‘Good Day Springfield’ welcomes back area magician Freddie Firestone,” Stacey said on the air.
Huh? Mike thought.
“I’m not sure I would be smiling if I were you. Tell us how you really feel?” replied Stacey’s co-host Josh Prater.
“To be honest I’m really nervous right now. I can’t believe I agreed to do this!” she answered.
“I don’t either,” continued Josh as he addressed the camera. “Today Stacey is going to be the one in harm’s way. In a few minutes she going to be doing double duty and assist in a certain, major magic illusion. It could be a little rough I hope you know.”
“It should be pretty cool. I’ve got to go change, so stay tuned...and wish me luck!” she added.
Did I hear what I think I just heard? thought Mike. He couldn’t believe it! Immediately he longed to be watching in the privacy of his living room with the DVR remote control in his hand. But he wasn’t so he ran to the nearby TiVo displays. Mike pushed the button to start recording it. The screen read ‘no active subscription’ and died. He tried the other one but got the same result.
Mike realized he was going to have to watch whatever was coming up right here in front of everyone. Mike began to nervously pace the floor. The commercials ended. The show came back. Mike’s heart skipped a beat when he saw Stacey dressed in a revealing, sexy, sequined magicians’ assistant outfit with her own metallic high heels Mike had always liked seeing. Standing next to her was Josh and the magician. Behind them was a pristine red horizontal magic cabinet. Freddie the magician said the words Mike wanted to hear - Today we are going to saw Stacey in half. Oh boy! he thought to himself.
Mike turned around.
“My wife and I just got her mother settled in at Sandpiper and she needs a new TV. Is this the right place?” a customer asked.
"Mmm-Hmm. Do you need help?” responded Mike. He had never sounded so unenthusiastic.
"Don’t! I’m ticklish there!" yelled Stacey behind him.
“I’m just going to look around first. If I need help, I’ll holler,” the customer decided.
“Great!” responded Mike unable to contain his delight. He turned back around. Stacey was now ready to be cut in two. The expression on her face was hesitant. Her big feet waved steadily back and forth at the opposite end. It was like the picture was coming from out of his imagination and into the TV.
Mike turned around again.
“I was wondering if you could show me where - just a moment,” asked an older woman. She pulled out a slip of paper and read it carefully.
“The 'Full House'... season... three ...D...V...D...is please?”
Mike pointed in the distance. “Down that way.” However, he knew he should did take her there.
“I’ll show you.”
Mike lead the woman down to the DVD/ Blue Ray department walking at a much faster pace than her. In the distance he heard what sounded like Stacy’s agitated reaction. Once there, he found the title right away.
“Thank you. My granddaughter and I watch this. She also plays for me the new version. I don't think that's as good,’ remarked the woman.
“Uh-huh,” he said blandly.
“OH! That was sharp!” shrieked Stacey. This time Mike couldn't stop himself from looking in the opposite direction.
“You look like you have something else you would rather be doing. Thank you for your help,” the customer said.
“Sure,” Mike responded to the nice lady and hustled back. Stacy’s body now occupied two separate boxes spread apart the stage floor. The magician was taking a bow. There was no way he was going to miss the rest of this.
Mike turned around yet again.
“I was looking at the Blu-Ray players and they all recommend using HDMI cables. I’m not sure my TV is compatible with it,” asked a man twenty years older than Mike who was oblivious what was on TV.
“How old is yours?” Mike asked.
“I brought it here two years ago.”
“Then it's a safe bet its HDMI compatible,” he answered unable to hide the distain in his voice.
“Right. As you may have guessed I have not stayed up with all of this. I still have a lot of tapes and want to hold on to my VCR. Do you still sell VHS tape head cleaner?” the man also wondered.
“Yes.” A waiting game began.
“Can you show me?” he ultimately asked, sounding annoyed. Mike could see his manager approach, so he walked the customer over to accessory board and then dashed back again. On television the photogenic brunette had come out of the box unharmed. Mike at least savored the chance to see her during the closing moments.
It was just his luck the no one approached him during the long commercial break that followed. Finally, the show returned. Stacey had changed back and was seated with Josh in the modern living room set.
“I’m glad your back” said Josh.
“Me too. I thought I would chicken out up to the last possible moment. The next thing I know I'm in the box staring up at the bottom of my feet!” replied Stacey.
“If you want to see Freddie live there are still tickets available,” said Josh. “Go to our website at....”
Mike’s attention started to wander. The thrill had passed. A desolate feeling came over him. He wondered if Stacey was seeing anyone. If so, would this person even have cared about something like this.
In contrast, if he were still dating her Mike knew he would have offered to come to the studio, smiling broadly to relax her as she lay in the box. After she was separated, he would come over, give her a kiss and help put her back together. That night Mike imagined, sadly, he’d hold her tight while Stacey described the experience for him.
He missed her. Mike glanced up to see the young lady now interviewing a chef preparing summertime salads. He could only look away.
II - STACEY
Stacey Cox had never felt more nervous in her short career in broadcasting. The highly revealing outfit she was wearing was bad enough. But in a few moments, she was going to be sawed in half by a man she had just met in front of a potential audience of millions. She stood on her mark next too Freddie, the magician, and Josh, her co-anchor. The stage manager signaled five seconds until they came back from commercial. The red light on the camera came on.
“Welcome back,” declared Josh. “We’d like to welcome to the show magician Freddie Firestone!”
Stacey turned to him and clapped her hands. “Thank you,” said Freddie.
“Freddie is in town to perform at the annual BackStoppers fundraiser for law enforcement Saturday night. We will have some more information on that coming up, but first Freddie has stopped by this morning to perform some magic this morning.”
“That’s right,” confirmed Freddie. “Today we are going to saw Stacey in half.”
Stacey looked into the camera and shook her head in acknowledgement.
“Sounds good to me,” said Josh. Freddie turned his attention to Stacey. “What do I do first?” she asked.
“Come with me please,” replied Freddie. The three walked over to the horizontal red box. Stacey looked at it closely. Freddie opened it two top doors.
“You can go ahead and take your shoes off first if you think it will make getting into the box easier for you,” Freddie suggested.
“It would be actually,” agreed Stacey. She had no sooner removed them before another assistant named Roxanne Freddie brought quickly took them away. Stacey took a deep breath in anticipation of having part of her body about to be taken away from her.
“Whenever you're ready climb into the box please.”
"Here I go," Stacey ambivalently announced. Once inside she took Freddie’s hand to help her recline.
“First we’re going to close the top doors,” began the magician. Stacey placed her hands on her waist and looked around. Freddie went around her and shut the two side doors that had been showing here arms and legs.
“How are you feeling?” asked Josh who was enjoying himself.
“I’m here, I’m scared. Let's just get this over with,” Stacey admitted.
“Let’s have a little fun first,” suggested Freddie deviously. Stacey arched her neck to see a stockade come down over her ankles. “Have you had runaways before?” she asked uneasily. Freddie tickled her feet.
“Don’t!” she said. “I’m ticklish there!”
“The magician gets too tickle,” replied Freddie. He then approached her with the second stock.
“I’ll put this in as soon as you're ready.”
Stacey nodded her head, raised her chin, and held still “You really know how to make a girl feel special,” she told him as the stock went in place over her neck. Freddie stepped aside.
“Ahh....,” Stacey said apprehensively upon being bounded and locked in a magic box for the first time.
“So, do you think you're ready?” asked Freddie.
“I think so,” Stacey ambivalently declared.
Freddie took the first of two shiny steel blades and passed them over Stacey for her inspection. “Maybe not -” she wavered upon seeing her reflection on it. The magician slowly inserted the first blade in the box. The feel of it actually go through her body terrified Stacey all the way until Freddie deliberately finished the job using full force.
“Ouch!” exclaimed Stacey.
Roxanne gave him the second blade.
“One more - it's almost over.”
"Be careful," she asked upon bracing herself. The jarring sensation stared again. Suddenly it stopped. Seconds passed before Freddie spoke again. “We have a minor snafu here…” Stacey bravely opened her eyes to see him place his hands on her chin.
“Just relax...” He yanked her head forward. The stuck blade ripped through her.
“OH! That was sharp!”
“Sorry Stacey. I know that was little rough on you,” admitted Freddie. Just like every amateur assistant of his did at this point she began to wave her feet back & forth. To her right Stacey could see by Josh’s body language how he was whipped up by the underlying sense of submission. Freddie came around to open the two panel doors. “Let’s show the people here in the studio and the audience at home your arms and legs.” Stacey set her arm out waving it vigorously.
Freddie and Roxanne unhinged the two boxes on both sides. He walked over to the top end while Roxanne went to Stacey's bound bare feet.
“Know what's coming Stacey?” he asked.
“Don’t you dare,” replied Stacey in a playful tone of voice. Roxanne indicated she was ready on her end.
“All that’s left then is to prove that you really are cut in half!” announced Freddie.
“Whoa -!" squealed Stacey as she was swung apart across the studio floor. The off-camera producer and studio crew gave their applause.
Freddie took a bow at his accomplishment. “Great job,” he assured his pretty assistant.
“I don’t believe this,” she said succinctly. From her point of view in the box Stacey found it difficult to see everything around her so Roxanne wheeled over her bottom half. The sight of it both overwhelmed and dumbfounded her at the same time.
“Are you doing okay?” Freddie asked.
“Ah sure…. I’m telling myself everything is completely normal,” she tensely replied.
“After this Stacey I’m going to make sure Bob remembers this when your contract is up for negotiation," commented Josh when he returned on-screen.
“It better be,” joked Stacey. She smiled awkwardly while some of the crew took pictures. Freddie knew to leave them wanting more.
“Okay Josh, take her bottom half and line it up with Stacey’s top half,” he instructed.
“All right,” replied Josh. The two lined her up. Roxanne stepped in to fasten the two boxes. Freddie took the blades.
“Get ready Stacey." He then lifted them up and out of her.
“Am I back?” Stacey asked hopefully. “Wait and see” said Freddie. He removed the stocks and opened the doors.
“I’m back!” exclaimed Stacey. Josh and Freddie helped her up and set her down.
“Congratulations, you did it,” complimented Josh.
“That was really unbelievable. I just need to catch my breath,” replied Stacey.
“Job well done my friend. Come back and see us,” Josh told Freddie while shaking his hand.
“Thank you. I will,” responded the magician.
“Freddie will be performing here Saturday night for a good cause,” Josh reminded the audience.
“We’ll be right back,” concluded Stacey.
“And we’re out,” announced the stage manager. At that moment Josh, Freddie and the crew all gave Stacey a warm round of applause.
Mike need not have worried about not seeing all of it. That afternoon a video of the performance was posted on the program’s website. Then somebody uploaded it onto YouTube. That night the internet illusion groups Mike belonged to were discussing it. He considered writing how knows her but then felt otherwise for the sake of her privacy. However, it did not stop him from making his own digital file of this. Mike smiled about now having a sort of ‘sex tape’ of his ex-girlfriend.
The following morning Mike woke up to find that Stacey had posted the presentation to her own Facebook page with the comment “The things they have me do for ratings." Mike decided to send her a text message. There were many approaches to take but Mile simply wrote what was on his mind.
Hi. I saw you get sawed in half on TV yesterday. I would love to catch up with you sometime and hear more about it. Mike
Here goes noting he thought to himself. Stacey had spurned his offers to be friends before. There was really no reason to think this would be different.
Mike worked the late shift that day. After coming home that night he was taking off his blue uniform shirt when his cell phone chirped. It was a returned text from Stacey.