Thursday, September 30, 2004

A gift

The only time I ever learned to do a card trick that required skill was when I was very sick and in horrible pain, after getting an unpleasantly painful head injury in an accident, and couldn't move. I was sitting all day, and all I could do was read. The Man bought me books by the dozen, from second-hand bookshops, and I read all the time. English books in second-hand bookshops here tend to be few and far between, as well as rather eclectic. (I read a lot of stuff about early religions, hundreds of old mysteries, philosophy books, linguistics books, history books, reread loads of classics - the list goes on. I collected a ridiculous range of books and eventually donated most of them to the Seamen's Mission in Kobe.)

Anyway, one of these books he found was a book of card magic, and I spent weeks secretly learning to do one especially tricky and complicated trick. It was one of those tricks where you have to make two or three or four cards look like one, and it had a whole story that went with it which you had to tell as you were quickly arranging and rearranging the cards, and a lot of counting as you were doing this, and so on and so forth. It was amazingly complicated. But it was something I could do while only moving my hands, and so it didn't cause me pain. Concentrating for a long time did, though, so I learned it a bit at a time, practicing and practicing when nobody was looking.

When I felt confident I could do it perfectly, I told The Man I had something to show him. He sat down and watched and listened as I went through this very long trick, telling the story in a whisper because I couldn't speak (my voice vibrating inside my head made me pass out). He had to lean forward to hear me, his eyes on the cards as I was doing my thing. He was totally focused and concentrated; an ideal audience of one. When I reached the end, and all the cards fell into a beautiful, perfect and apparently impossible pattern, his face opened up with astonishment and delight and he stared at me with a huge big grin on his face.

I never did that trick again - I knew I would never be able to do it twice - and now I've forgotten how it went. The book disappeared years ago. But it doesn't matter. The Man had been looking after me wonderfully, and I wasn't a very easy patient. I felt bad about how I was using up his life. I felt bad about the months and months he'd already spent taking care of me all the time. I felt useless and unrewarding and didn't seem to be getting any better, and wanted to do something for him. I knew he loved magic, and that's why I learned the trick. It was a gift for him, all I could manage.

One trick, perfectly executed, once.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.