It has been three hours since the children were rushed by ambulance to New Grace County Hospital. Sixteen parents are in differing stages of anxiety, stress and anger as they impatiently await news, any news, on their children. Those who had actually been in attendance at Joey Chevron’s eighth birthday party take turns retelling the events as they remember them to the two police officers taking statements.
A team of doctors enter to discuss the conclusions they have made. Their spokeperson says, “We have examined the children. We have done every test we can think of from blood work to MRIs, even EKGs. There is no explanation for their condition.”
An irate person shouts, “Condition, you call this a condition? They have been disfigured or don’t you see that?”
“Well there is nothing we can think of to do for them. Maybe it will go away, or should I say come back, just as suddenly.”
Across town the temperature in the room is so high that the hot air feels heavy in the magician’s throat. When the door behind him opens he leans his body, as far as his handcuffs will permit, towards the breeze that comes through from the hall.
Detective Winston Spaulding comes into the room closing the door behind him, slams his hand down on the table and in a most commanding tone states, “We’re going to keep going over your story until you tell me the truth!”
The magician starts from the beginning. Then he says, “The next part of my act requires an assistant so I called the birthday boy … Joey … up to help. He simply goes behind the curtain and I make him disappear.”
“Disappear, see now were getting somewhere! What the hell did you do?”
“It’s nothing like that. I just distract the audience while the assistant crawls under the table, I don’t really make him disappear.”
“So what went wrong?”
“I told you I don’t know! I’ve done the trick at least one hundred times and the only thing that has ever gone wrong is the audience sees them crawl under the table.”
“So what went wrong today? Something must have happened. Tell me what was different about today.”
“Joey and I were setting up the trick and his brother and his friends were getting into my stuff. I remember wishing I didn’t have to do parties for children anymore, I hate nosy kids. Then his brother rushed the staging area. He pushed Joey down and knocked over the props table. I bent down to pick the stuff up, some of it was broken including my new wand. Then I heard all the screaming. It took a moment for me to see what the problem was.”
“Your wand broke. Now we’re getting somewhere. Tell me about this wand.”
“Last week I was on vacation with my girlfriend in New Orleans. She is fascinated with Voodoo so one night we went into a little shop on Rue Royal, just looking around. In a case to the back of the shop I saw this beautifully hand carved wand, so I got it.”
“Did you use the wand in the trick?”
“No, I haven’t used the want yet. I was going to in the next trick, but as you know we never got that far.”
“Do you think that the wand breaking might have anything to do with what happened to the children?”
“What? Of course not, it’s just a prop.” He remembers something that the shopkeeper had told him. “The woman who sold it to me said it was very powerful.”
“Are you telling me that you and your wand did this?”
“Look, maybe the wand is magical, I don’t know, but I am not a wizard, I’m just a magician.”
No matter how many times he tries, no matter how many ways he goes at it, the detective can not get the man to admit what he did. He isn’t sure what, if anything, the crime is here but he is pretty sure without the man’s help the children will remain this way forever.
“So let me get this straight, you said you hated nosy children, then your wand broke. You don’t see a coincidence here?”
“Hey I was as stunned as everyone else. I looked over the sea of faces, from one child to another. I screamed too. I was as shocked as everyone else to see that none of the children had noses.”