Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Le Magicien

Last night, I dreamt of a magician, for whom I was inexplicably employed. I didn't question this fact, it felt natural to be employed to this beast. He was very tall, impeccably mannered, pronouncing things rather like the late character actor, Hans Conried, best known for playing "Captain Hook" in the Disney production of "Peter Pan". Instead of the usual tuxedo, he wore a long grey gown, and pointy Arabian shoes.

This magician's obsession was in "perfecting" the "guillotine act", that old canard wherein a plant from the audience is drawn up to the stage, and her head put in an antique guillotine, which the magician has taken pains to prove is real by repeatedly chopping heads of cabbage in it. A great dramatic drumroll proceeds the affair, and the blade falls, miraculously bypassing the victim's neck, and she is released unharmed. A rather trite trick, long out of date. The magician, of course, was determined to "improve" the scenario.

First off, my task was to build a large metal cage, which he had conveniently purchased from a magician's supply store, and I was to put it together. I discovered that this was rather simple to do, as it clinked together with the ease of a pop-up tent. At the top of the cage was a hole for the victim's neck, and the magician had another assistant, this time a lovely and mute woman in a gigantic black hat with a mourning veil, arrived with the "guillotine". It was a sort of collar that fit on top of the cage, and could easily allow a human head to pass.

I was then to find "victims", that word specifically. Luckily, an audience had arrived, and the female assistant pulled a rope, and what I thought was a solid wall was actually a stage curtain. Out there, a hundred rapt viewers waited to be selected for the privilege of being a "victim". The orchestra began to play, and I walked out into the audience, shouting "Who wants to be the victim for the newest and greatest guillotine trick in history?"

A very fat dark man, resembling Buddha, raised his hand, and I delicately led him to the cage, where he was locked in and his head allowed to poke out through the collar. The orchestra began to play, and the man began to cry. He knew what was going to happen. The magician raised his hands, and I was motioned to calm the fat man. I reached my hand into the cage, and took his meaty fist, held it gingerly, and tried to do my best. With this, he calmly smiled and accepted his fate. The guillotine collar snapped shut with some sort of magical blade mechanism, and his head flew off, spinning across the stage and onto the floor.

The magician sneered, and said, "Well, it didn't work this time!" The orchestra began to play a jaunty polka and I was motioned to find another victim. The hands went back up, and I realized that it wasn't an audience at all... they were all suicidals, desperate for their moment. The female assistant reappeared, this time wearing a nurse's outfit, and began to mop up the blood.

It was at this point that I woke up, freaking out. I have nightmares frequently, usually about ghosts or being lost in an unfamiliar place, but this one was a little too personal for my tastes. I don't like my own brain's implication that I would be alright in a grim situation like that.

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