This is a well-constructed story if I do say so myself. The title character was based on a real person. Some things had to be updated for the smartphone era before posting again.
“Okay.... sure,” replied Jodi Endicott yet feeling uncertain. She had just been asked to be a magician’s assistant for Jonathan Watson, the entertainer booked for her company’s annual seminar that she and her boss Joanna were preparing.
“No one else should no know you will be in the act,” continued Joanna. “You’re going to be ‘randomly’ selected for the show.”
This was not the first time Jodi had been asked to do something like this. In college she had worked part time as a bank teller and had been approached to appear in a local beauty contest for a charity. She had found the experience fun, he runner up status notwithstanding. Joanna continued to read from the magician's program manual on the internet
“It says to pay very close attention to the size and weight specifications of the assistant. The illusion will not work if the volunteer differs significantly from the criteria listed below.” Joanna laughed. “I think you’re a better fit than me.” Jodi had a good idea at what she meant.
“Why don’t you take a look at this before you give him a firm yes.”
At her desk Jodi read the form marked ‘DESCRIPTION OF ASSISTANT NEEDED FOR PREMIER BOOKING PACKAGE.’ She gulped when she read the second item.
Illusion: Woman cut in thirds
Size: Average height (5’0” to 5’5”) very trim (size 10 or smaller). Think petite and skinny! The woman CANNOT be any taller than 5’6," and should have a perfectly flat stomach or the illusion will not work otherwise.
Age of volunteer: Twenties or thirties or up
Other requirements: This woman should be attractive, eager to participate and able to keep a secret! The volunteer also needs to be available at a prearranged time to rehearse for approximately 30 minutes.
Difficulty: Moderate to slightly challenging.
Attire: Clothing should be fairly tight and close to the body. No baggy shirts in the rehearsal or performance. Either slacks or dress, neither is essential. Shoes should be easily removable.
Jodi wrote down her name so Joanna could send it back. There was a reason why she was willing to do this.
“It will be at 1 PM. First, I have to give remarks about the company's goals next year and then introduce him so definitely be there,” Jodi explained to her boyfriend Jeremy on the phone.
“What’s so big about this guy?”
“He’s supposed to be a great motivational speaker and it will be easier being up on stage with you there,” she explained. While Jonathan did motivational presentations, for their event he had just been booked for his magic and comedy.
“Okay. What day is this again?" agreed Jeremy, who had fallen for Jodi’s flattery and unknowingly her cover story. A vice president way higher than Jodi was actually would be the person at the podium.
“It will be on Wednesday the 22nd. Since its your birthday too we will go out and celebrate right after.”
“Yeah all right,” Jeremy said. He wondered why she seemed so enthusiastic.
“Okay. Don’t forget.”
The reason Jodi had misled Jeremy about Jonathan’s act was because her boyfriend had a certain interest in women and magic. The reason Jodi was so specific about the date was because Jeremy wasn’t always responsible when it came to plans of theirs. Finally, the reason why Jodi wanted Jeremy there was to surprise him on his birthday by being in a box and blade illusion!
The huge details going into planning the event caused Jodi and others in her department to stay late most nights during the next two weeks. Before getting started on the Friday before the event, Jodi sent Jeremy a text message regarding their planned date night.
Hi. The restaurant probably won’t busy after eight so let’s go then.
She did get a response until six hours later.
I’m tired. Why don’t we just stay in.
Jodi felt dismayed.
I’ve been here all week and want to go out and do something.
This time Jeremy’s reply came forthwith.
You are still going out. Just at my house instead. Don’t be late.
Jodi stewed for a moment. Her telephone on her desk rang.
“This is Jodi.”
“Hi. This is Jonathan. You must be my assistant!”
“Oh hi,” she said. “Be glad you got me before I have second thoughts!”
“I wouldn’t hear of it. I want to confirm that you’ll be able to rehearse at six the day before?”
"Yes, I can. Will it be in the ballroom?” she asked. Thoughts of what Jeremy’s reaction will cross her mind.
Jodi emerged from the elevator on the morning of the big event in alluring dress and shoes that Jeremy liked. Upon the lengthy walk to her desk she heard a text notification in her expensive handbag. Once there she saw it was Jeremy.
I don’t think I am going to make it today.
Knowing what was at stake Jodi called him immediately. He answered.
“Why?” she asked sternly.
“My friend Bruce called,” he sheepishly explained. “I’m going out for a long lunch with him and some other guys for my birthday. After that I’ll have a lot to do here. Besides I’ve seen you do things like this before.”
Jodi was angry. Jeremy’s selfish propensity of backing out of commitments when he wasn’t interested was getting old. Suddenly a sly smile came to her face.
"That's fine. If you don’t want to come and see me Jeremy, there’s nothing I can do to stop you.”
“You understand,” he hoped. “We’ll definitely go out tonight though.”
“Okay. Bye," Jodi declared blandly.
Jeremy heard the call quickly disconnect. He monetarily wondered if he should really be doing this but soon put the thought out of his head.
Back at her desk Jodi smiled deviously. She was going to teach Jeremy once and for all about what can happen when he does this.
Amid the energy of the visiting attendees Joanna found Jodi.
“He’s backstage and ready to go. The video photographer will be taping all of the speakers.”
Jodi handed her boss her phone.
“Definitely take a lot of pictures of me. If you made video the picture will shake too much,” she requested.
“I will,” Joanna promised. She was the only one there who knew that Jodi would a ‘plant’ that afternoon. What Joanna did not know was what Jodi had in store for her errant suitor.
“Today I am going to perform a neat and economical way to saw a woman in half!” announced Jonathan to send a signal. “However, if you are expecting me to cut a woman that I brought with me you mistaken. Instead I am going to divide a lovely woman into three pieces right here from this audience!”
He paused. “Why is it every woman here is not looking at me anymore?”
The audience at first laughed and then marveled at how Jonathan was indeed going into crowd.
“What’s your name?” he asked a young woman sitting at an aisle.
“May I ask how tall you are?”
“Five foot five.”
“That’s great then. Would you please come with me?”
Those seated near Jodi gasped in surprise. She stood up and followed Jonathan back to the stage. The audience wondered with anticipation at what awaited the winsome beauty who had been caught off guard.
“Okay, Jodi, right?”
She nodded nervously.
“My name is Jonathan. Would you cared to be not merely sawed in half, but cut into pieces?”
“No!” she advised. Laughter filled the room.
“Too late. You should have said that before you agreed to come up here!” countered Jonathan. An elegant, classically designed Zig-Zag Lady illusion cabinet was being brought over. Jodi looked out into the crowd to see if someone else was willing to do this.
“Do me favor and throw your shoes off,” continued Jonathan. Jodi uneagerly obliged. Those watching were quite amused. Jonathan opened the doors. Jodi came back over.
“Just step carefully into the box please....”
Only her face, hands and left foot were now showing.
“This is just a trick, right?” Jodi asked hopefully.
“Ah..no,” was Jonathan’s definite reply.
Moments later Jodi had found how the awkwardness of the pose was probably the biggest cause of the forced smile of most assistants. Nevertheless, being divided in each of the boxes like this felt provocative. Jonathan had placed a handkerchief from his suit pocket in her right hand to waive. Jodi flashed a helpless smile to both friends and strangers in the audience. Jonathan unexpectedly placed his tickling fingers on her foot. She involuntarily giggled.
Jonathan then turned her left and right so everyone could have a full view. Several phones and cameras were taking her picture. He maneuvered her middle back into position. Jodi barely noticed the fake metal blades come out due to the applause. Outside light entered her cramped interior.
“Come on out of there!” Jonathan suggested enthusiastically. Jodi came out and easily as she went in. While holding hands with Jonathan she took a bow. The applause began to die down.
“I’d say you weathered that pretty good.” “I think so,” she laughed. Jodi was about to get the strappy, high heeled sandals she had been wearing but Jonathan whispered to her to stay put.
“That was just the warmup. Why don’t you take a moment to get yourself ready for what’s next?” Jodi’s smile froze. The magian turned to the assembled visitors. “Now I need another volunteer please!”
Jonathan choose a man from the audience to come forward.
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Andy,” he replied.
“Andy I’m Jonathan. I need you to be pair of eyes for everybody. This is Jodi.” Before she could say anything a second cabinet with a shapely, pretty girl on the front was brought out. Real nerves overwhelmed her - she was the only woman on the stage!
“Now Jodi we have not rehearsed any of this have we?” asked Jonathan.
“No!” she declared with a definite shake of the head. The audience laughed but they weren’t really being fooled this time.
“This is going to take some time so let’s all get ready,” began Jonathan. “Please stand back a few feet Andy so you won't miss anything...that’s perfect.” Eight doors representing eight different sections were opened. Jodi watched it all with her arms tightly folded over her. This was really happening!
"Let’s put you right in here,” offered Jonathan with his hand. She reluctantly stepped into the narrower confines of this other cabinet.
“All you have to do inside Jodi is hold still while we do the rest,” Jonathan informed her. She nodded, having no choice but to take his word for it. “Wave bye-bye first”
“Bye,” she faintly acknowledged to the crowd. The panels began to close. Jodi looked but Joanna who may have an explanation for this was nowhere in sight.
“This is just a trick, right?” she asked hopefully.
“Ah..no,” was Jonathan’s definite reply. He flipped the remaining door shut. An edgy excitement swept the room. Jonathan knocked on the box.
“This is going to feel weird Jodi but in a good way, I hope. I’ll have you out in a few minutes. Promise.”
“Okay,” came her concerned voice from the inside. Jonathan brought out a table of metal dividers while the suspense rose. “Knock on these please, Andy. Would you say they are strong?"
“Very,” he said after feeling it. Jonathan took it back, set the blade in one of the inserts, and drove right through Jodi!
“Yeoow!” came her shocked shriek from the inside. Six more blades followed each electing a more ticklish squeal from Jodi until Jonathan had seemingly cut her into eight pieces. At his direction Andy helped turn her around round to show the seven blades coming out the back of the cabinet, and then around again. If the first trick had confused the audience, this had outright baffled them. To confirm what they were seeing the cabinet was pulled completely apart!
Now eight separate boxes, four on each side of the apparatus, housed Jodi’s body. “Let’s check the damage done,” declared Jonathan. He opened the lowest box on the right column. Jodi’s feet were there. Jonathan got up and chose middle sectional on the left column. Her shapely waist was there. He reached for the uppermost box on the right.
“Are you still with us Jodi?” He opened it up. There she was!
“Yes, I am,” she managed to say. Jodi could see herself on a video monitor in the distance. Was she really like this? What had gone through her those eight times? Her limited vantage point told her little. Neither did reactions of the guests. She was more baffled than the most observant member of the audience!
“Fortunately, this completely fixable,” announced Jonathan. He closed the top panel again. Jonathan and Andy connected the two sides of the cabinet. Jonathan swiftly took out each blade. Jodi heard one more knock on from the inside. “Get ready.”
Seconds later she was out, looking and feeling like nothing had happened. The two cabinets were already being taken away. The magician and his stunned assistant took in the last cheers from the audience.
Soon thereafter the speaker who had the unenviable job of following the departing Jonathan came on. Jodi suddenly realized she had her actual job to do. But first she found Joanna and grabbed her phone from out of her hand. The pictures only left more questions then they answered. Jodi still wanted to send them to Jeremy. As far as she was concerned, she would be going out with the others tonight to celebrate a job well done by everyone.
Jeremy came home later wondering why he had not heard again from Jodi all day. Suddenly came a text from her.
How was lunch?
All must be well between them Jeremy thought. Suddenly the iPhone in his hand exploded with two more texts from her, then another, then three more after that and after a slight delay two more.
These were pictures. Jeremy’s heart raced when the first one showed Jodi in that dress he liked standing next to his revered Zig-Zag girl illusion. Things got better, yet worse, for him when the next picture had her inside the box. Then his girlfriend was defenselessly cut in thirds.
Jeremy had to sit down. More followed. Now she was out but holding hands with the magician. Then she looked genuinely concerned inside another illusion. The following photograph had the magician pushing blades while some other guy watched. The final two showed Jodi having been taken apart in this illusion that Jeremy couldn't begin to understand! Suddenly one final text burst on his screen.
Hi! Today at work a magician put me in a box, cut me into three pieces and pulled me apart. Being tickled made having two big blades pushed through me a little easier to take. It’s too bad you missed it.
The real fun came next. Can you count how many pieces I now found myself in? I was thinking about you though.
Have a nice birthday. I’ll be spending it with my new magician friend. I may even let him come inside my magic box.