In progress, about magicians...
"Fall back into that place," Billy cooed softly, bending a girl just a bit older than herself over her arm. She stepped back and left her hypnotized volunteer leaning far back, balancing on one foot, as if frozen in the middle of a gymnastics routine. Her small gaggle of friends who were with her when Billy had approached them on the street were huddled together about three feet away, curiously creeped out.
"Fall back into that warm summer place you told me about," she continued to instruct the girl. As if on queue, a gentle July breeze whispered its way down that Las Vegas side-street and ruffled the layers of Billy's gothic crenaline skirt, and she figured it was time for the prestige of her act. Billy gently nudged her volunteer's foot out from under her and let her float on the air. The others gasped, and whether they were gasps of horror, amazement, or both, Billy didn't know...but she liked it, either way.
“How…the freak…are you doing that?!” one of the girls shrieked, and then punctuated her question with unexpected yet satisfying nervous laughter. As the other girls followed suit, Billy cocked her head coyly and replied, “When mind, body, and spirit work together, anything is possible.” Then she glanced at the levitating girl and said quite firmly, “Stand. You’re no longer in the warm summer place. You’re right here in Sin City, and Lord only knows why.” Immediately, the volunteer seemed to snap upright, her pristine white Nine West sandals gently scuffing the ground beneath her. Once she seemed conscious and collected, she turned to gaze at Billy, awestruck and filled with admiration.
“Think nothing of it,” replied Billy, waving her hand dismissively. She dropped her hand and followed it into a graceful bow, when she realized that a massive group of passerby had stopped on the sidewalk to watch the impromptu street-magic show. Billy turned and bowed graciously to them as well, her thick black-and-red locks of hair cascading dramatically over her face. The group of girls left a bit shaken, the crowd cheered, whistled, and dispersed, and Billy began walking down to a magic shop which she heard was supposed to “top-of-the-line.” Even if it wasn’t, she had a bunch of coupons she wanted to use up anyway.
“Excuse me, miss,” said a man’s voice from behind her. Billy stopped and glanced back, not bothering to turn around; two men in identical business suits were approaching her, and she assumed that they were just a pair of bored business men looking for a hot young magician to book for a party where eventually, her clothes would mysteriously disappear and she would treat each of them to an enchanted lap dance—bibbiddy-bobbiddy-booty, I think not, Billy grumbled mentally.
“Can I help you?” she answered cautiously once they caught up to her.
“We saw what you did back there,” said the taller one, “How old are you?”
“Too young for you,” Billy snapped, and began walking again, but the men followed her.
“That’s not what we want you for!” the tall man cried. The fact that the girl assumed that he and his friend were just two depraved men looking for a good screw almost offended him, but he let it go and decided that the girl was right to be on her guard in a city like Las Vegas.
“Yes?” Billy looked sardonically down at the gangling mass of limbs on the sidewalk, and almost choked on some poorly-stifled giggles as the man’s friend, who was about two heads shorter and fifty pounds lighter, tried to assist the tall guy off the ground.
“We only wanted to say,” the tall guy grunted as he finally regained is composure, “that we saw your little performance and we think you are absolutely magnificent.”
“Criss Angel, only younger, and…well, you’re a lady,” the short guy added enthusiastically. This statement caught Billy completely off-guard, and sent the romantic teenager side of her mind whirling with coy admiration; Criss Angel was the most amazing individual Billy had ever known of. Building walks, body suspension, swallowing razorblades only to pull them straight out of his bellybutton moments later…
Billy felt honored to have been described in such a way, but warmth of the compliment soon wore off when she remembered how snappish she had been towards the magicians earlier on.
“Seawillow Tully,” Billy announced, extending her hand apologetically. The tall man took her hand first and granted her a hearty shake, replying, “Penn Jilette. It’s a pleasure, Seawillow.”
“Don’t bother with Seawillow, everyone calls me Billy.”
“Alright then, Billy,” the shorter man chirped as he took her hand and shook excitedly, “Raymond Joseph Teller. Call me Ray.” Billy responded with a congenial smile and slight nod of her head; she couldn’t bear to think about the fact that she had just knocked the legendary Penn Jilette of “Penn and Teller” onto his ass in the middle of a sidewalk.
“So…I guess I’ll see you guys around?” sighed Billy as she looked longingly from Penn to Teller; Teller was not paying attention to Billy, but to his watch.
“Penny, we volunteered to help out for tonight, and we’re ten minutes late,” Teller groaned. Penn hung his head shamefully and told Teller to go ahead, that he would catch up and take the heat when David bitched him out. Teller thanked him and raced down the sidewalk and vanished around a corner.
“What's so special about tonight?” Billy inquired. Penn didn’t answer; he simply reached into a hidden pocket deep inside his sport coat and produced a fancy piece of paper with a crimson ribbon tied to the top and shoved it into Billy’s hands before she had time to get a close look at the writing on it.
“You deserve to come. It’s a big-ass deal, and I’m sure you’ll be a hit with all the veterans. Meet me at the corner of Bonanza and Las Vegas Boulevard no later than three o'clock.” Penn bowed slightly, and then sprinted off after Teller.
"'Black Ball Gala'," Billy read aloud to herself from the invitation, "'A magical masquerade you've only seen in your dreams. Come to the Magic Castle's main entrance and present this invitation. NO GUESTS PLEASE, BRING ONLY YOURSELF.' Well...ok-kaaaay..." Billy was sure that she would be unable to go, because the only Magic Castle she knew of was in Hollywood, California.
Three hours later, Billy was standing at the intersection of Bonanza and Las Vegas Boulevard, still unsure of what exactly she was doing there.
"I guess when the legendary Penn and Teller tell you to do something, you better fucking do it," Billy thought aloud as she dodged a banged-up blue Escort full of drunken teenagers careening around the corner, whooping, hollering, and honking at her. She heard men's voices cursing and yelling as the car continued on down Bonanza, and then two familiar figures in dark business suits sprinted towards her without looking back.
"Billy!" Teller said cheerfully, wiping his brow and kissing her on the hand. "I'm glad you decided to come!"
"I'm glad we found her alive, considering that fuckin' escort goin' batshit around the corner right next her!" snapped Penn, huffing along behind his partner. "Anway, you ready to go?" Billy responded by shrugging and pointing nonchalantly behind her at a trunk stuffed so tightly that the latch on the front seemed to be holding on for dear life. She plopped down on the trunk, and the three magicians chatted shallowly for awhile.
"So, how old are you, really?"
"Old enough. What got you interested in magic and illusions and stuff?"
"I got lost on my way to charm school."
"What kind of costumes you got?"
"Uh..." Billy stared selfconsciously at her current ensemble, which apparently wasn't going to cut it. Poofy crenaline skirt, black peacoat, white corset-style tank top underneath. That was her costume; rather, that was her budget.
"Don't worry!" Teller beamed. "We'll get you all sorted out! Once we get there!"
"You guys are aware that this place is in Hollywood, correct?"
"Yup," the men answered in unison. Just then, a silver behemoth groweled around the corner and stopped right in front of them. It was some sort of limousine, but it was like none Billy had ever seen before; it was jet black, it had five windows on each side, and it looked like a Hummer that had been stretched out until it reached a desirable size.
"What?" said a face poking out of one of the rear passanger windows. The door opened, and none other than Criss Angel stepped out of the vehicle and helped the awestruck Billy haul her luggage into the trunk (which could have easily been a walk-in closet).
"What do you mean, 'what'?" Billy replied coyly, trying her best to keep a good head on her shoulders and not go all star-struck on Criss.
"You act like you've never seen an excursion limo before," he chuckled. He grinned at Billy bashfully, telling her that he himself had been blown away by the sheer size of the thing when he had been picked up by it. Billy smiled back, and decided that celebrity or not, Criss Angel was just "one of the dudes" and that she and he would get along fine. "Just wait 'til you see the inside!" Criss opened the door for Penn and Teller, then bowed as Billy followed them in. "Talent before veteran," he said, then winked as he slid into his seat and shut the door.
Meanwhile, Billy was in a daze.