Thursday, 16 January 2014

Dublin Magic By Greg Patrick

Dublin Magic
 
By Greg Patrick



The trees had shed their leaves..the boulevard seems haunted..

It was Easter..he strolled by the Liffey kicking empty
bottles in his path..

The theater is closed for the holiday..

A solitary walk by the Liffey ..his sigh as one with the
wind rippling it’s dark surface..

Gunshots?

A familiar face then in a city of strangers..

a familiar race then..

for life..for desires..some desires in windows..some that
money can’t buy that make one pause..

He never thought to run for something..he could always
make something appear..anything..

it was his trademark..what he did..None did it better..

A creative soul he knew not the desire to destroy..

but to imagine and then create..The trees by whose red
falling leaves like red debris of dreams broken,
he first saw her.. caught fire then like great torches..and he
remembered her as a nomad’s gaze would be haunted by a
mirage..he stood motionless as burning leaves fell around
him like a tribute to a sad dark prince returned.
A moment of startling recognition in someone’s eyes, a former audience member he had once called onto the stage, now fell face-forward to stray bullets with a last cry and another collapsed to their knees by their side, cradling the head and sobbing..He didn’t feel like a magician then..didn’t feel like anyone..powerless..helpless..There was almost an expectant hush as he rolled up his sleeves in his way, as he did on the stage at a challenge from the crowd, from a heckler..”Now let’s see some real magic!” There was something ancient in the gesture as if a druid of a clan being massacred was looked to for some trick he could conjure..”anything wizard..just save us..You’re a magician aren’t you..?”  He strode then, not fit to appear on the stage, haggard, disheveled. He looked beyond them..to her..”You’re a magician aren’t you..?” The phantom words seemed to echo in the alleyways like gunshots..”aren’t you..? Do something..do something..”

He ran then..limbs ungainly, unathletic to her..

He fell to his knees to her..

“Drop!”

Through the lantern-illuminated rain, red streaks of volleys appeared..

He held her protectively as if to render her invisible to
their aim, dissolve form and face to their guns..Felt her
heart beat in synchrony with his own against the rhythym
of marching drums..her sides heaving..”What’s your name lass?.” “What?”..”Your name..Please..I must now..” When she answered he repeated it like the title of a song requested to a soloist busker on a long walk home from the theartre as the bell tolls..He repeated it like an incantation..

The mist came as if willed..as if conjured protectively..He
raised a warding palm in slow-motion as if in the act of
keeping that abattoir of fire at bay..The embrace like the
frail bastion of a sandcastle against a rising tide..his
untrembling hand like the gauntlet and sword-armed
fist of a knight confronting a dragon for a last battle..

as if he had now mastery of another magic among magics..

He had felt the concealed revolvers holstered at her sides..

Knew why she ran..knew what would happen if they found
her today with them..

The shadows of the pursuing Blacks and Tans loomed over..

His last magic trick..

Dumb-witted audience of simpletons he sneered..eyes accustomed and trained, like the surgeons

in the audience…never to miss a detail..they were schooled for years and years..not to miss anything..

likewise to men who were drilled and drilled to never miss a detail or move..

in searches..

A look of wonder on her face..Unarmed?..How..? Then at his reassuring smile..a familiar face of posters hastened past in the rain..a comprehension..I know your face..Magician..
How? I never tell anyone how..
Never..But a truth behind deception was betrayed in a look that said why he did it..
How..? I’m a magician..I take that secret to my grave..to my grave..
“Nothing on her..This isn’t the one” Their eyes glared at him..

They shoved her aside roughly..

“Get up..We’re going to search you”
Behind the looming figures he heard a single shot and the one kneeling mourning the fallen ceased their crying..And a mind brooding over a spell, like one scanning over an arsenal of strategy made a final choice for a last stand..His face betrayed no emotion, no guile..
“Hey, he looks familiar..I think I saw his face on a poster..”  “A wanted poster..?” “I don’t think so..for a show maybe..?”

He soundlessly mouthed “run” to her...Their eyes met...He knew magic then...He felt awkward when their eyes first met…he cursed himself later that he hadn’t conjured some rose or some gift when he paused mid-stride at first sight…Now he smiled...”A last enchantment lass…then...farewell”..

there was truth to it...Everything seemed magic...the city seemed a beautiful and enigmatic wonder..

cast in resplendent crimson light by artillery rounds...and the Liffey itself seemed to burn, like liquid flame…His breath steamed in valediction like a smoking gun in the chill air...It’s tone of a man in love..

A city of dreams..

of magic..

How he would miss it..

He knew it was over…as if by a ventriloquist’s art the statues of warriors and orators seemed to chant his name...like an audience before the curtain falls...pleading for a last trick...”One more!” “One more!” He rose as if in reply to the chanting...his hands were deceptively languid as he raised them from his sides..

The hands of the others were accustomed to the quick draw of firearms in the urban warzone..

But he was a magician…a conjurer..

Their eyes never followed..

The act was perfect..

There was no applause..

For once he didn’t need it..
He seemed to hear in ghostly echo the words he often heard in awe-inspired tones..the question he was asked again and again..”
How did you do that..” ..”How did you do that..?”  after his silhouette in the stage light was like a dark question mark as he bowed to the applause..

A vulpine smile tugged at his lips at the memory..”
Now for my last act..”
The eyes that looked beyond the fallen soldiers into her eyes had the same look of wonder that he saw

mirrored in his own eyes as he stood before the crowd after a trick..

a poem written on the city skyline, against a burning dawn, she seemed crowned in fire..He closes his eyes as he does when reaching into his hat on stage..
he envisions himself like a ghost approaching his poster before the closed theartre and tracing a heart in blood before and the words the “great” as the rain washes it away distorting the colours and image too like a carnival fun house image..then it appears again like a painting in fastforward and he sees her picture next to his on the poster..the letters reform at his beckoning..He turns away and his eyes open to the present..

Sharpshooters on the rooftop aim at him as he stands with smoking gun..

He turns to his “assistant…”I am  a the magician of Dublin.
I can make anything disappear..
 He shoves her away into the mist..”Run”..”Disappear!”
He turns to the men of the roof smiles and bows..

A smile that said “you’ll never know how I did it..”

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