Real Magic

June 2022 Flash Challenge, Day 16

Photo by Jack Hamilton on Unsplash

“So then they spread the deck face up, and you…”

“Wait, what? But when do you take the deck back from them?” I say.

“What do you mean?”

Is he serious?

“You have to take the deck back at some point to affect a control of the two selections. So they end up next to each other in the deck, right?”

He looks at me like he’s remembered something he must do elsewhere.

I can’t let him walk away. I need to learn how this trick works.

“I told you this was one of the most advanced tricks I do, didn’t I?”

He had. I nod, hoping that he isn’t about to walk away from our first meeting. In the days of internet magic, the once hallowed mentor-mentee relationship was going extinct. All I knew was that I had to have him as my mentor.

“I told you there were no threads, crimps, sticky, or gaffed cards, right?”

I nod again.

“That there were no switches and no gimmicks of any sort?”

Another nod.

“And that there was no control?”

Here I’m stumped. There had to be a control. Otherwise…,

“Finish that thought; what were you thinking?” he says, scaring me with how close he read my stymied expression.

“I was thinking there had to be a control for the trick to work.”

His eyes brighten. Maybe I can still make this happen.

“But why is that? Why does there have to be a control for the cards to end up together?”


This iconoclast-a man who came out of nowhere was taking the magic community by storm.

Without a control, how do two non-forced selected cards end up next to each other in a spectator shuffled deck?

Wasn’t it a random outcome in that case?

He had said it was his most difficult trick to learn.

I feel a tingle of a looming paradigm shift ripple from my scalp down my spine before enveloping my entire body.

“But…,” I can’t complete the thought.

“There is no trickery?”

I nod. The tingle of anticipation is even stronger now. I’m stepping across a threshold. My development as a magician, will be forever changed by his next words.

“Uh-huh,” I say.

I look down at his close-up pad and wonder how anyone could perform this effect.

He sees me struggling.

“Look, there is no sleight of hand in this trick. None, zilch, zippo, nada.”

I say nothing. The rapture of a blossoming understanding threatens to burst me open.

“But there is sleight of mind,” he says.

I say even more nothing.

“There are no gimmicks. Once you hand the deck to them, you never touch the deck again.”

His eyes fill with soft compassion as he sees me struggle to take the next step.

“It’s a feeling, an expectation of an outcome that, and this is paramount, mind you, that both you and every spectator must have. So when you start out performing this trick, I recommend doing it for no more than one to two people max. If you have twelve people present, you must connect with every one of them. I can do it for twelve, but it is exhausting. The last time I did for ten, I went home afterward and slept for eighteen hours.”

Oh, wow.

“Once you find the secret, to the extent that there is one, you can perform this trick every time.”

Connection and intention are things I know are important.

“You must cultivate the expected outcome, the desired endpoint, with every spectator. Only then will this work.”

“Here, let me perform it for you, then you’ll see.”


“Would you be so kind as to take this deck and shuffle it thoroughly?”

I take the deck and do as he asks.

“Excellent. Now spread the deck face-down and select two cards, please.”

I push two cards from the spread.

“Turn them over, please.”

The seven of hearts and the queen of clubs.

“These will represent you and your lovely lady,” he says, gesturing towards an imaginary third person.

“Got it,” I say.

“You love her, right? She loves you?”

I’d already told him that she and I were deeply in that place.

“It feels fated, does it not?”

I nod again. He’s cultivating the expectation of success even now.

“And if circumstances somehow separated you, you might still find your way back to each other, right?”

I nod.

“Reinsert your two cards anywhere in the deck and square the deck back up. Then shuffle it until you are content.”

He’s exerting no influence over the outcome. That’s a different thing altogether. He’s only crafting the expectation of an outcome that we both desire to happen.

I do as asked again.

“Now, cup the deck in your hands, close your eyes, and feel her kiss, or her breath, or remember something about her that you love.”

Where would I begin?

I remember how tightly she hugged me the second time. The first time was an awkward, fumbled thing as we passed in a hallway where she worked, but by the second time, it was tight; it was complete – an oasis I’d missed for so long.

“Let the sensations of your love spread throughout your body.”

I do this.

“Good. Now spread the deck face up and locate the two of you.”

There is no fear. There is only the excitement and tingle of an impossibility unfolding and me learning how to accomplish it.

My index finger scans from left to right, searching.

There! One-third of the way from the end of the spread, the seven of hearts and the queen of clubs.

I shuffled and cut the deck several times. Yet the two selections were now together again.

I knew they would be.

“It’s a little like finding a key. Once you’ve found it, you will always be able to find it,” he says.

I ask him about randomness, chaos, and probability. Were they all lies?

He tells me no, they still work, but when two or more people achieved a harmonic resonance over a desired outcome, they were secondary.

For the first time, I feel ready to perform real magic.

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