Jacob’s eyes were glued to the stage when Wondrous Will, as the magician called himself, unlocked the two cabinets with his assistants inside.
Earlier in the act the two men, who were advertised as twins, went into the cabinets. Only their heads were exposed, which were encased in boxes. The boxes meanwhile were closed and carried to the table in the middle of the stage where they were opened again. A lengthy choreography played out with the heads inside the boxes talking to the magician and other assistants on stage as part of the act. Eventually the boxes were put back into place, though it was made obvious to the audience that the boxes were put on the wrong cabinet ‘by accident’.
Out from each cabinet stumbled the assistant from the other one, matching the box that was put on the cabinet. One twin had black hair and one blond, so it was easy to tell they had swapped places. Both were also wearing black skin tight suits, like all the other assistants, except their suits had red and blue markings respectively. To keep with the idea of the heads being put on the wrong places, both twins now wore the suit from the other twin. Both acted confused and looked down their bodies to put emphasis on the fact that the magician had put them together the wrong way.
Applause broke out when the act finished and the punchline was delivered. Jacob loved the Wondrous Will. The magician almost exclusively did the “sawing” tricks, be it sawing an assistant in half or putting a box around their head or limb and then detaching it and putting it elsewhere, the whole “removing body parts” shebang and all possible variations of it.
These kind of tricks would normally be pretty stale and dusty, but Wondrous Will managed to captivate the audience with an interesting personality, an exciting stage act comparable to a theatre show and the fact that nobody had yet figured out how exactly he does his tricks. Whenever some critic, viewer or rival magician had claimed to have found out the mechanics behind an act, Wondrous Will would simply adjust his method in the next show, which stoked the fires of speculation all over again.
And, if Jacob were to be completely honest, he had a bit of a crush on him. And it didn’t help that all the assistants were male, either.
Over the applause, Jacob heard the older couple on his right debating the possible trick that was used in the last act, discussing some sort of hatch under the cabinets and a mirror below the table. Jacob decided to tune out of it. He didn’t care how the Wondrous Will did this. All he cared about was how amazing the show was. He always felt like learning about the mechanics behind a trick would ruin the illusion.
Sometimes Jacob wished magic was real. At least then people could just shut up about the ‘how’ and start enjoying the show already.
Jacob managed to ignore the couple on his right for the rest of the show. When it ended, he would sit until most people had dispersed. He was not in a rush to escape. Eventually the stream of people trickled out and he got up as well.
Just as he left the row of seatings, one of the magician’s assistants approached him.
“Uh, hello.” Jacob was somewhat confused and unsure how to react. He had never been approached by an assistant. Had he done something wrong?
“I’m Simon.” The assistant paused, allowing Jacob to introduce himself.
The assistant did not seem to mind Jacob’s awkwardness. “You come here regularly, don’t you?”
Jacob blushed. “I, uh, yeah. I love this show. I’m a big fan, actually.”
“Thank you! That’s great.” The assistant was beaming. “We noticed you coming to our show quite a lot and thought we might offer you a backstage tour.”
Jacob was so surprised, he forgot to answer.
“You know,” the assistant continued, possibly trying to bridge the awkwardness. “Because you are one of our biggest fans.”
“Of course,” Jacob finally managed to blurt out. “I would love to!”
“Great, just follow me.”
“Sure, unless you don’t have the time.”
“No no, it’s fine.” Jacob tried to hide his excitement, but was fairly sure that he failed miserably. “I was just…”
The assistant interjected into Jacob’s trailing sentence. “Don’t worry. It’s nothing formal. Just a nice chat with the team. Or just with Wondrous Will if you want. It’s not like we are the main attraction.” The assistant laughed.
Jacob felt like saying something nice. “I actually liked that part where you… Were cut in half.” He was unsure whether that came across as a compliment.
If not, the assistant did not seem to mind. “Believe me, so did I.”
Jacob was not sure how to interpret the last statement, but he did not have the courage to ask, nor the chance. Jacob and Simon reached the door to the backstage area.
“Ready?” The assistant asked, possibly sensing Jacob’s excitement.
“Sure.” Jacob smiled.
Simon opened the door and let Jacob enter first. The room was the antechamber to the stage on the left side where assistants would enter and leave. Wondrous Will was standing in the middle, fiddling with some equipment on one of the tables used for the show. Around him were the various assistants, some helping with the stage props, while others just stood and sat there as if gathered for this occasion. Jacob counted 12, including Simon. He also saw the two twins who swapped places on stage. To Jacob’s confusion, they seemed to have changed back into their original clothes again.
As Wondrous Will looked up, Simon spoke. “This is Jacob. Jacob, Wondrous Will.”
“Please.” Wondrous Will rolled his eyes, then looked at Jacob. “For heaven’s sake, just call me Will.”
Jacob was not sure what to say. He was still a bit too overwhelmed. “Hello.”
“You’re a longtime fan. I’ve seen you in the audience the last… seven shows? Is that right?”
“Yes, I loved all of them!”
Will produced a short laugh. “Thanks. Which was your favourite?”
“I… I don’t know. I liked them all.”
“Hah, that’s fair…” Will seemed to remember something. “Oh! My assistants.” Will nodded towards Simon who was standing behind Jacob. “You already met Simon. He’s been here the longest.”
Then Will went through the others who were gathered around. “That’s Andrew, Nathan, Peter, Philip. There we have Thomas, James, Thad.” Will put the back of his hand between his mouth and the assistants. “His actual name is Thaddeus, but he hates that name.”
“Hey!” Thad exclaimed.
“That’s Matthew and Matthias,” Will continued.
“Just call me Matt.” Matthias waved.
“And that’s the twins John and Jay, short for James, because we have two.”
“Oh, you’re actual twins? I thought it was just for the show.” Jacob felt like saying something but immediately regretted commenting on such a stupid thing.
The twins laughed, while Will was giving him a heart melting smile. God, without his show hat, Will looked even better.
“Identical twins too!” John said.
“You’ll find,” Will continued, “that a lot of the things in this show are as they seem but not as you expect.”
Jacob was not sure what to make of that comment and was too confused to say anything.
Will seemingly changed topics. “Wanna see a trick?”
It wasn’t like Jacob knew all the acts they did already, but seeing it up close might be interesting. “Sure.”
“Oh may I?!” Nathan jumped up.
Will waved Nathan over and opened the table he was working on. Now Jacob realized it was one of those tables used to do the sawing-in-half trick. The front and back was open, so only the middle was covered with two hinge doors, one covering the person’s midsection and the other the lower body up to the knees. The middle of the table, lining up between the two doors, showed that it was actually two tables that were put together with a tiny gap between both. As Jacob knew from the show act, the tables would be moved from one another after the ‘sawing’ was done.
Nathan sat onto the table and lay down inside the box. After he made himself comfortable, Will closed the hinge doors, tapping every piece of the box and the table to emphasize that everything is real, like he did in the show.
Jacob was surprised to see Will pull out a big metal sheet with two handles from under the table. During the act it would be stuck between the two hinge doors to ‘cut’ the assistant in half, but normally the table would be hidden from view between the assistant crawling in and Will applying the blade. As Nathan had lain down in front of Jacob’s eyes, there was no way for his legs to be another assistant who crawled in the space below the table.
Will presented the blade with practised showmanship to Jacob, running his fingers along the surface on the side to show it is indeed real metal. Then, focusing most of his attention on Jacob and his reactions, he positioned the blade over the place where it would be inserted.
Then the blade went down.
“Ah!” Nathan exclaimed as if the blade hit him, putting on a pained expression. Then he immediately winked at Jacob with a smile before going back to his acting.
Will pulled out a second blade and with the same theatrics inserted it right next to the other. Jacob knew that both were needed to close the box off to prevent anyone from seeing inside when the tables were pulled apart.
Will and his assistants, including Nathan, looked at Jacob. He didn’t know what to say.
“Do you want to look inside?” Will pointed to the hinge doors.
Jacob was unsure how he was supposed to react. He didn’t want to see how the trick was done. He wanted to keep up the illusion of magic to himself. But it seemed simply rude to decline now, to just walk away when a magician has invited him backstage and share his secrets with Jacob.
Will seemed to sense Jacob’s doubts. “Don’t worry. It’s no big deal.”
Maybe not for Will, Jacob thought, but this is the last thing he wanted, to take all the magic out of this.
More half-heartedly than he wanted to make it appear, Jacob opened the hinge doors. He expected to see the blades being diverted elsewhere or being retractable or anything of the sorts, but none of that.
It took Jacob a couple seconds to parse what he was seeing. The blades went all the way to the surface of the table and on either side was Nathan’s upper and lower body respectively. As if to give Jacob a better look, Nathan pulled himself to the head of the table a couple inches. Jacob saw that the area where Nathan’s lower body was cut off, the area was covered in the same fabric as the suits. It was like he was only half a man in a suit that was closed on the bottom. Nathan put his fingers to the edge of the cut off area and tapped his fingers.
Jacob looked to Nathan’s lower body, which immediately sat up, revealing the same suit-covered stump above his hips.
Jacob was at a loss for words. His mouth moved to formulate a word but stopped before a sound escaped. Instead he just cast Will a puzzled look, who smiled warmly at Jacob.
“Pretty cool huh?” Nathan said as he propped up his upper body on his stump. He saw Jacob’s hand still hovering over his lower body. It hadn’t moved since opening the hinge doors. “Go on, you can touch it. It’s all real.”
“How is that—” The tip of Jacob’s index finger made contact with Nathan’s lower stump. “How is that possible?”
“It’s magic.” Will said.
“Magic?” Jacob repeated.
“Yep. No tricks involved. Just good ol’ magic doing its job.” Will gestured to the other assistants as if to present another act.
Jacob looked over and saw the twins John and Jay grab onto their heads and pull them off their bodies, leaving suit-covered neck stumps on top of their shoulders. Then they handed each other their heads and put them on.
It suddenly dawned on Jacob. “You… you didn’t swap places.”
“Nope.” John said on Jay’s body.
“Only our heads did.” Jay clarified.
Jacob wheeled back around to Will. “But why?”
“Why what?” Will appeared to already sense the follow up question.
“Why act like it’s all a trick?”
“Because magic isn’t real, remember?” Will smiled. “At least as far as the population is concerned. I can’t just reveal a secret that’s been kept for seven centuries.”
“So you put up a show,” Jacob mused out loud.
“So I put up a show,” Will confirmed.
“And all the props—” Jacob gestured towards the table and the other objects used for the show acts.
“They’re just there to keep up the illusion of there being illusions.”
“He loves that line,” Nathan fake-whispered to Jacob.
“Please, let me have my moment,” Will joked.
“You have your moment on stage,” Nathan replied with a smirk.
Will playfully raised an eyebrow. “And you don’t?”
“Touché.” Nathan put his hands on his lower body and ran his fingers over the suit.
Will returned his attention to Jacob. “The compartment below this table for example,” He pointed at the wooden part of the table that was situated below the place where Nathan laid down. “Normally that’s where you put a second assistant to do the sawing trick. But we have no need for that, so it’s not even functional. Instead we separated the table into two halves so we can pull them apart. But the compartment is still there to make it look as if we need that for an optical illusion.”
“Keeps them guessing,” Simon added.
“Same with the heads in the boxes,” Will continued. “I could open the box while I am holding them in my hands, but there is no way that could be an optical illusion, so I only open them on the table to make people believe there could be a way my assistants move around on stage through some secret passages.”
“How do you learn magic?” Jacob wanted to know.
“Well, you need to be a mage for that,” Will explained. “The official word for it is warlock, but I never liked it due to its original meaning.” Seeing Jacob’s next question written on his face, Will quickly added, “You need to be born one. It’s genetic.”
“Oh.” Jacob felt deflated.
A short silence followed, before Jacob spoke up again. “Why are you showing me all this?”
Will’s face lit up as if Jacob had asked the question he had waited for the entire time. “Because I saw that spark in your eyes.” He looked at the other assistants, which by now had stopped doing what they did to pay attention to Jacob. “Every one of my assistants apart from the first used to frequent my shows. They all had that same spark when they watched. This hope that magic should be real, had to be real, that what I did was not just a deception.”
Will looked Jacob deep in the eyes. “I do not mean to presume, Jacob. But I have watched you the last shows. I am not sure you realize it yet, but I think you not only want magic to be real—”
Will’s gentle but firm gaze made Jacob’s heart beat faster.
“You want to be part of it,” Will finished.
Jacob connected the dots. Will was asking him to join as one of his assistants. He had to make sure anyway. Jacob hated to assume. “Are you asking me to join your team?”
“Yes.” Will smiled.
For several seconds Jacob was still. For some reason all his nervousness was gone. He realized only now that since he stepped through the door, he felt at home. “Can I try it out first?”
5 months later
“Hey, which of you chucklefucks stole my arms!” Peter yelled across the backstage area.
“It was me.” Thomas replied.
“Where are they?!”
“Hey now, it’s my turn for questions,” Thomas sneered.
Peter looked like he would have crossed his arms, if he still had any attached. “Then ask.”
“I don’t have one right now.” Thomas went back to preparing the props for the show in an hour. “Guess you need to wait a bit longer.”
At the other side of the room, Jacob turned to Andrew. “What’s that about?”
Andrew shrugged. “Some stupid bet I think. They take turns being able to ask each other questions.” He looked over to the arguing pair. “The kind of thing people come up with when drunk.”
“Mmh.” Jacob left it at that. “I need to go pee.”
“All right. You know where the box is now?”
“Yeah,” Jacob said and left.
Jacob went through the backstage area until he was in the breakroom. People used to move the box around as they needed it, but recently, as the team has grown, it was decided the box would be in one place now.
Jacob went over to the cabinet that had the box standing on it. He looked at the dicks that were lying inside the red satin, grabbed his and closed the box again.
The box was used to prevent Jacob and the others from getting a boner on stage. As Jacob found out later on, a big part of his fascination with Will’s show was that he was into the whole detachment thing in a sexual way, even though he hadn’t known at the time. The same was shared by all of them, possibly the reason for why they felt they belonged.
Interestingly it was the suits that allowed for the detachment. Every part that was covered by suit and was cut would become detachable, with the suit material covering the cut part. The blades didn’t need to be particularly sharp, just narrow. In fact all blades used on stage were dull for safety reasons.
Their suits had holes in them at the crotch with part of the material forming a short tube, making it possible to remove the cock and balls with a dulled oversized cigar cutter. Will said he actually had to magnify the cigar cutter with magic, so he liked to call it a magic cutter, but it was really just the regular thing, except big enough to maneuver a cock and balls through the opening.
The dicks would be kept inside the box most of the time, unless someone needed it, because they had a date over. Even Will put his own dick in the box. In fact underneath his magician outfit he wore a suit like the others. He told Jacob he only did it for the dick detachment thing, but word among the assistants was that Will actually loved the feeling of the skintight suit on his body, a sentiment all of them shared.
With his dick in hand, Jacob went to the restrooms and took a piss. He was currently hard and being able to hold his dick like he wanted made it much more manageable. For a short moment Jacob considered jerking off right then and there, but he recalled the feeling of having his dick nestled among the others throughout the show inside the confined space of the box and decided against it. An after-show jerk-off with the others after three hours of edging sounded way better.
He returned to the box, gently placed his dick inside and left the breakroom to help the others set up the props.
Around an hour later the hall began to fill with people. Every time he scanned the audience for people with that spark in their eyes, but so far he hadn’t seen anyone else. Of course, he didn’t know if he even could, or if it was some magical vision only Will had. Regardless it was fun to go through the faces of the people and seeing the wonder in their eyes during the acts.
The show was starting and Jacob felt his excitement course through his body. He loved the show, he loved Will and he loved the other assistants.
But most of all, he loved that magic was real.