He and his date, fresh on the rebound
and looking for a hand-out, sit in the
theater's equivalent of nosebleed seats
as Marvin the Magnificent
butchers third-rate tricks before his captive audience.
The tickets were cheap.
Harold was tired
of tossing paychecks down the tubes
on dozens of first dates
with women he'd never see again
aside from awkward sidewalk glances.
"This guy's a hack," Harold mutters
to his company, too distracted by indignation
to remember her name.
She fumbles with the car keys
in her pocket and curses her coworkers
for telling her that dating was a good means
of boosting morale.
Marvin the Magnificent continues the abortion.
A dove flies from his cuffs; Harold sighs.
A card is guessed in a deck; Harold grimaces.
A girl is hacked in half; Harold chokes on his cocktail.
He can't take the farce any longer
regardless of the event's frugality.
"She's got a twin sister!" he yells from the crowd.
Harold's date is mortified.
She swears a life of celibacy
despite her ex's absence.
"That woman over there
is not the one smiling from the waist up
in the box."
The room has been quiet
but a different silence sets in
to stop time.
A child cries and is hushed by weary parents.
Marvin adjusts the microphone
clipped to his over-starched collar.
"Perhaps you could do better?"
he challenges from a dimming spotlight.
The books he's read on the art of illusion
never addressed how to handle a heckler.
"I'd rather not stoop to a duel,"
Harold says, downing his drink
as he rises from his seat.
His nameless date is relieved
that the charade's come to an end.
The two of them exit.
The show goes on as planned
while the marquee lies overhead.
A deluge has erupted to further doom the evening.
Harold and his guest ponder where
they've parked--separately, thank goodness
since the night has gone to shambles.
There's a car quickly approaching
a puddle in the street.
Harold sees it coming, predicts the splash
raises his hand with authority
and stops the water from hitting them, mid-air.
The droplets fall to the pavement
as Harold cracks a smirk.
His companion, clearly terrified, runs
a hand through the darker hair
near her scalp and strides for her sedan
without a look over her shoulder.
Harold lights a smoke
and cups it from the rain.
There's magic in the mundane.
He knows and loves the difference.