Warning: contains salty language
The Beautiful Clarissa crosses her bare arms and leans against the railing, watching her breath make wispy clouds in the air before vanishing over the North Sea. She looks up at the stars and enjoys the brief shiver that whispers over her skin, raising goosebumps on her arms. The sequins on her dress glitter like the night sky. For a single moment, she feels like there is magic in the universe. Only for a second though.
‘You cackhanded bitch!’ the Great Magnifico says, scurrying out of the Entertainment Lounge. ‘What the fuck do you call that?’
She sighs. ‘I call it-’
‘Not fucking professional is what I call it,’ he says, his whiskery moustache catching flecks of spit. ‘I’d call it complete fucking amateur hour bullshit. What in fuck’s name would you call it?’
‘If you’d let me finish, Magnifico, it was-’
‘And less of your fucking tone as well – that sort of shiHello, madam, sir!’ He snaps back to cordiality to greet two figures behind Clarissa. ‘Enjoying the night air?’
Clarissa turns to see a burly man with day-old breath and a face like corned beef. ‘’Ere, you’re that Magnifico, innit?’
The Beautiful Clarissa issues a faint snort and turns back to face the sea. The Great Magnifico nods and dons his toothiest shit-eating grin.
‘Great show, mate, great show,’ the man says, grasping the magician’s gloved paw and pumping it between his own sweaty sausage hands. His wife, a perfumed poodle, pants a pained smile behind him.
‘Why thank you sir, it’s always nice to know when one’s talent is apprec-’
‘Ain’t laughed that much in fahckin’ years mate, ’ave we darlin’?’ says the man, launching into a guffaw thick with phlegm. The Great Magnifico’s yellowy smile stiffens. ‘You always know these cruise ship acts are gonna be utter shit – s’nice to meet one cunt who knows ’ow to embrace it! Good on yer!’
Releasing Magnifico’s hand, the man rests a shank on his wife’s faux-fur shoulders and steers her down the deck.
‘Do you see?’ the Great Magnifco squeaks at the Beautiful Clarissa. ‘We’re a fucking laughing stock. A – a fucking parody of what magic should be. And it’s all – your – fault!’
Oh, give it a break, Mark,’ the Beautiful Clarissa yawns, sighing. ‘you know fine well-’
‘Do not use that name on this ship!’ says Mar- er, Magnifico. ‘Jesus, if you remember one fucking thing, make it that. We can’t upset the plebs’ suspension of disbelief.’
‘You walk around in a bloody top hat and cape, for fuck’s sake,’ she retorts. ‘If you want people to suspend their disbelief, you shouldn’t start by making yourself look like a total phony.’
‘Not that you’d understand, but it’s called tradecraft and elegance, you dumb bitch.’
‘David Blaine doesn’t need to-’
‘Oh, I dare you to say his name again, I fucking dare you.’
‘Or Dynamo. Even David Copperfield had that whole tshirt-and-shirt deal going. You, you’re just… you’re far too bloody camp, darling.’
The Great Magnifico seethes.
‘And if you want people to take you seriously, maybe you should aim higher than doing card tricks on some bloody cruise shi-’
The Beautiful Clarissa cuts off mid-sentence as the Great Magnifico lunges for her neck, misses his mark and somersaults straight over the safety rail into the inky waters below. She stares after him, static, unsure of whether to breathe. For a brief moment, all is frozen still. Only for a second though.
‘Where’d ’e go then?’ She spins round; the rumpsteak from before is leering over her.
‘I, uh… I beg your pardon?’
‘The red cape guy. Magnificunt. Where’d ’e get off to?’
The Beautiful Clarissa falters only briefly, then delivers a serene, unflappable smile.
‘Disappeared,’ she says with a wink.
The chop stares blankly at her for a moment, then bursts into a meaty laugh.
‘You fahckin’ magic people, you never let it slip, do ya?’
The Beautiful Clarissa’s smile does not waver for a second.
‘Well, you know magicians. Now you see them…’
#TheObjects is a weekly short story project, each edition inspired by something or other I find in the street. If you’ve found something interesting (or own an object you’d like to see immortalised in fiction), send a pic to firstname.lastname@example.org along with any info you feel is relevant and I’ll see what I can do.