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Alfred M. Albers

Author & Magician

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CHAPTER ONE

 

June 15, 2000

 

          The letter had arrived in Thursday's mail. It was unobtrusively stuffed between other correspondence and the newest catalog from the largest magic shop in the world: Nate Howard's Magic, in New York City. Dropping the other mail on the desk in his home office, John Michaels kept hold of the mysterious envelope and stared at the return address: 1218 Saw Mill River Road, Tuckahoe, NY 10710. He sat down in his chair to contemplate whom he knew that lived there. No one readily came to mind, so he reached across his desk to retrieve the letter opener and then carefully sliced open the envelope.

 

          It was an invitation.

 

You're cordially invited to the Thirtieth Reunion of Catholic

High School's Class of 1970. Festivities will held on Friday,

June 30, 2000 at Crestwood College Linwood Hall Auditorium,

84 East 64th Street, New York, NY 10021

 

Reception: 4:00 p.m.

Opening Commencements: 5:15 p.m.

Dinner: 5:30 p.m.

Entertainment: 7:00 p.m.

 

R.S.V.P. (914) 555-9540

Drew Wagner

 

          John couldn't help but wonder how Drew managed to get his private mailing address in Virginia Beach, since 99 percent of his mail was delivered to a post office box at the Princess Anne Station. It's not that John had any reason to hide from the public, but as America's Foremost Magician, his celebrity status had been a mixed blessing throughout the past 23 years. Nevertheless, he was elated to receive the invitation. He spun his chair around and looked at the calendar on the wall. June 30th was slightly less than three weeks away. He had nothing scheduled for that day, or weekend for that matter.

 

          Looks like I'm going to a reunion, he mumbled to himself. It'll be interesting to meet up, once again, with my old high school friends to relive the trials and tribulations of our teenage years.

 

          John wrote a note on his "to do" list to call Drew later that day and then he quickly sorted through the rest of the mail. Except for two utility bills, and the magic catalog, the rest was junk mail that was addressed to the home's "Resident." Many people don't reside at the same location for more than a couple of years, and companies don't have the manpower or time to continually update their mailing list database. It was probably a marketing specialist who came up with the idea to address business-related advertisements to a home's Resident. John set the magic catalog aside and then placed the two bills in the middle of his desk; he'd pay them later. The junk mail was tossed into the trash bin.

 

          First things first, he said to himself. It's time to peruse the catalog to see what new tricks were available to the myriad magicians around the world.

 

          He picked it up and then headed for the kitchen. When he got there, he placed the catalog on the table and without missing a step continued on towards the refrigerator. Just as he reached for the door, the phone rang. Turning around, he began to walk across the room towards the wall where the phone was mounted above a collection of pens and notepads, but he suddenly stopped in the middle of the kitchen. His intuition was telling him to let the answering machine take the message.

 

          "Mr. Michaels," the deep voice on the other end began, "this is Bob Waverly from the New York Mirror newspaper. I heard the Class of 1970 is having a 30th Reunion in three weeks. If you plan on attending, I'd like to interview you for a feature article for next Sunday's newspaper supplement. Please call me at your convenience; my toll-free number is 800-350-3186."

 

          News travels fast, John said, as he listened to Mr. Waverly record the voice message. I wonder how he also managed to get my home phone number, since it's unlisted.

 

          John had met many journalists through the years, but he didn't know Bob Waverly. Besides, if John were going to give someone an exclusive interview it would be his friend Brian Watson who covers the entertainment beat in New York City.

 

          I need to call Drew now, rather than later, to let him know I'll be coming and to ask him if he was the one who tipped off a staff reporter, or Mr. Waverly. Browsing the new magic catalog would have to wait a little longer.

 

          Drew was short, five-foot-five, with a flattop haircut and a stocky build that was suggestive of a college wrestler. Although he had the build of an athlete, he had worn glasses all his life and without them all he could see was blurred shadows. It's impossible to wrestle shadows and expect to win. But, what he lacked in vision he made up for by making everyone laugh. It didn't take long for word of mouth to quickly travel amonst the students at Catholic High that one of its freshman, Drew Wagner, was a clever humorist who was always ready with a one-liner, often at the most inopportune times. It was enough, the students had heard, to cause a teacher to lose his train of thought during a classroom lecture.

 

          If there had been "open-mike contests" at local clubs in the mid-1960s for up-and-coming comedians, Drew would have been an instant success story. Perhaps it was better than they didn't; Drew stayed in school. And, in spite of earning the distinct honor of being the only senior ever to have accumulated the most after-school detentions, Drew graduated and stood proudly alongside his other friends and cohorts from the Class of 1970.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

          Thirty years. It seems like only yesterday that the seniors from the Class of 1970 were making plans for, and trying to decide whom to take to, the prom. And let's not forget: would 1970 be the year the punch bowl was spiked?

 

          It wasn't.