Do You Believe?
By Bob Skoggins
“I don’t believe in magic,” I told the magician. I was eight years old. He was eighty. He smiled.
“No?” he said. His accent was thick. He lifted a card. It changed colors before my eyes. I walked away.
My father died that day. We were in a car wreck on the way home back from the fair. I remember the magician more than the hospital. I don’t remember Dad dying at all. They said we held hands as he passed away.
My mother was at home. She was sick with pneumonia. She was devastated when she found out. I was devastated.
I saw the magician at the funeral. He tried to cheer me up, but he couldn’t. I said, “How did you know my dad?”
He said, “I didn’t.”
“Then why are you here?”
“I believe in magic.”
I didn’t know what he meant. Ten years later I saw him. He was in the crowd at my graduation. He shook my hand afterward. I smiled and nodded. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know what to say. I pretended like I didn’t know him. As I walked away, he laughed and said, “Still believe?”
I smiled and shook my head. He was ninety then. I was eighteen.
Ten more years passed. I was getting married. As I stood in the aisle, I saw him in the back. I didn’t invite him. Rachel didn’t invite him. No one in the family knew him. What was he doing here?
As we greeted the people coming out of the church, he patted my back. He was a hundred then. He looked the same. I had thinning hair, a beard, and a scar on my cheek from a skiing accident two years earlier. “Believe?” he asked.
I laughed. “No,” I said. “I don’t.”
“What is your name?”
“My name doesn’t matter,” he said.
Fifteen years passed and I became curious about him. One day he popped in my head and wouldn’t leave. What ever happened to that old magician? Surely he was dead. What became of him?
I asked my wife. She didn’t remember him.
Our son died that year. A freak accident. He was eleven years old.
The man was at the funeral. I asked him how old he was. He said, “Do you believe in magic?”
“No,” I said. “I don’t believe in magic. I never will.”
Five more years passed and my wife died. Breast cancer. I had no one in my life. I went to a therapist. I wasn’t eating.
One day I walked in and the therapist told me someone had come in to see me. It was the man. “Do you believe?”
“I don’t care,” I said. “It doesn’t matter! Leave me alone.”
My mother died the next year. I walked out on the ledge. I jumped. It was too much.
They said I landed just right. I didn’t die. I broke eighteen bones and busted my spleen. My right side was paralyzed. The man walked in. He said, “Do you believe?”
I said, “I believe.”
And he left.
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Labels: Bob Skoggins