Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2313899-Invisible-Threads--Chapter-13
Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Thriller/Suspense · #2313899
The continuation of Invisible Threads--Book One of The Anomaly Series

Writer's Note: Please read the previous chapters and prologue of Invisible Threads before reading this.


Lacy arrived in Las Vegas and immediately started on her first task: finding a reputable magician to review Gary Richardson's trick. To this end, she stood on the front porch of a small adobe-style house in a neighborhood of identical homes just outside of the city. The front yard was landscaped in the standard Las Vegas suburban desert motif.

The door was opened by a small, slightly stooped man who appeared to be in his early to mid-seventies.

"Buon pomeriggio. Enter. Enter." He beckoned her inside.

She smiled and stepped through the door into the makeshift office in the house's living room. The sun was bright and it took her eyes a moment to adjust. The small room was filled with a large and very old wooden desk with a weathered chair behind it and two smaller but no less weathered chairs in front. The walls were covered with tastefully displayed show posters touting Mercurio il Magnifico, the Craftsman of Magic.

Mercurio himself sported a lined face under glistening jet-black hair. His attire was professional although slightly out of fashion. Under a blue sportscoat, he wore khaki pants with an oxford shirt, and a simple striped tie. Everything about him was appropriately tasteful except for the black hair. She made the effort to not stare.

"Please, have a seat." The Italian accent was soft and not overpronounced. "Would you like some tea or coffee? My wife is in the kitchen and was just having some tea herself."

"No, thank you." Lacy sat in one of the chairs and he sat in the other.

"She has just made the kettle and can bring it out. If you don't want it, then that is okay." He raised his voice and spoke over his shoulder, "Margaret, the one o'clock appointment is here."

Margaret, a medium-sized woman in her sixties, came from a back room with a bright smile and a tray containing two delicate cups filled with tea on matching saucers. A tiny silver spoon adorned each saucer. She placed the tray on the desk and stuck out her hand. "I'm Maggie Hampton. Only Mercurio here ever calls me Margaret."

Lacy stood and shook the woman's hand, "Nice to meet you." Now that Lacy was standing, she didn't know exactly what else to do. So, she sat back down.

Maggie smiled. "Do you like sugar or milk in your tea?"

Lacy didn't like tea at all. "Sugar, please."

The older woman gestured to a slightly-tarnished silver sugar bowl on the tray and smiled. "Now if there's anything else you need, just give a yell, or ask my husband to give a yell. I'm in the kitchen right through that door."

Lacy saw a much younger version of this woman on the poster across the room. She had at one time been a part of the act and had been breathtakingly beautiful. Probably forty years had passed since the poster was made but Maggie still held herself with a poise that Lacy envied.

"Thank you."

Lacy pulled her computer out of her backpack and placed it on the desk where he could see it. "Mercurio, I have some videos which I would like to show you and get your opinion on." She opened the screen and hit the power button.

"Then this is not an interview about a possible performance on your show?"

"No sir. I'm sorry. I'm needing your technical expertise and I'm authorized to pay you for your time. I can pay $100 for the first hour and then $75 per hour after that if it goes longer."

Mercurio nodded. "That seems a fair fee for my services. Now, if this is not an audition, would you mind if I went through something of a transformation?"

"Uh, no?"

"Thank you." The Italian accent disappeared. Then the black hair came off leaving a bald top with a fringe of dark grey around the sides and back. He used his hands to slick down his natural hair. He then loosened the tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. He looked ten years younger.

Mercurio looked at the wig before putting it in a desk drawer. "I hate the wig. It's hot and itchy."

"And you're not Italian?"

"No. I'm from Casper, Wyoming. But my name is Mercurio. Mercurio Hampton."

Maggie appeared again. "Well, that didn't take long."

"Our guest does not need my services as an entertainer, my dear, but as a technical expert on the craft of magic."

Maggie stepped behind her husband, placing one hand on each shoulder. "There's none better."

Lacy smiled weakly at Mercurio. "I'm afraid that I'm going to have to ask you to sign a non-disclosure agreement."

"I've been in the business a long time. I would be shocked if you didn't."

While he weas signing, Lacy strengthened her smile. "You do come highly recommended."

"I would like to think that I've developed a positive reputation. I still perform regularly - at least enough to put food on the table and pay the mortgage. But I can only do stage stuff now. I used to love the close-up magic where I was in the audience and watching their faces light up when something magical happened right under their nose. But arthritis is the enemy of close-up magic. So, its big technical tricks for me now."

"Does Maggie still assist?"

"She does sometimes." He gestured at the poster on the wall. "She wears more clothing than she used to. Which is a shame..."

Maggie swatted him, lightly on the shoulder. "Our guest will think you're some kind of dirty old man."

He looked up at his wife, "Would she be wrong?"

Lacy chuckled politely.

The old magician squeezed his wife's hand. "You will always be the most beautiful woman I know." And then back to Lacy: "The audiences still love her. She lights up the stage."

Lacy couldn't help but get caught up in the love shared between the two. "How long have you been married?"

He smiled wistfully, "It seems like just yesterday..."

Maggie answered the question less poetically, "But the calendar says 42 years."

Mercurio leaned in closer to the Lacy's computer. "But you're paying for my time, so I shouldn't waste it with frivolity. Please show me what you want me to look at. Is it close-up or stage?"

Lacy cued up the video of Gary in the Phase 3 interview with Cherie. "I'm not sure how to answer that. I'll just let you look for yourself."

She hit play. Mercurio watched it one time through and then reached over and took control of the mouse. He watched it. Stopped. Backed up. Watched it again. And then repeated. He leaned his head back. "Margaret, take a look at this."

Maggie put on a pair of reading glasses as she pulled up a chair next to her seated husband and watched the video twice through.

She shrugged. "The girl is his partner."

He nodded. "That's my take too."

Lacy reached back for the mouse. "Then take a look at these next videos."

She showed them the Phase Four and Stage Auditions.

She turned the mouse over to Mercurio watched as both of their faces became rapt with interest. After several times through, Mercurio looked up. "It must be the cards. But I've never seen anything like it."

Maggie was shaking her head.

Mercurio continued, "The kid is good. And I mean really good. His showmanship stinks the place up, but his trick is out of this world. Can I maybe have some more time to look at it. I won't charge you. I just want to try and figure it out."

"Mr. Hampton, if you work on this trying to figure the trick out, please invoice us for your time. We think this trick is really special and we don't want to be surprised. Your assistance is appreciated. The videos are on this thumb drive. Please don't let anyone else see them. Everything is proprietary to Superstar."

"Of course. No problem." He took the drive.

"And if you're interested, I would like to send you tickets for his first performance in Las Vegas on March 6th."

He turned to his wife. "Are we here March 6th?"

Maggie checked her phone. "That's a Tuesday. Sure, no problem. We've got that corporate thing over the week-end in Phoenix but we'll be back Monday by noon."

Lacy smiled. "Okay, I'll send tickets and backstage passes."

"That would be wonderful. Thank you."

Lacy stood and left them with the thumb drive. She now needed to focus on the rest of her long list of things to get done in the two days before they headed back to Los Angeles.

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