Sleight of Hand

by Bob Strother


I held the door for Gloria as we exited the Fox Theater and stepped to the curb. “The thing about Harry Anderson is that he’s more than a magician, he’s also an actor—and a funny one at that—so even though he’s no David Copperfield his shows are always entertaining.”

Gloria gave me that face she gets when she’s indulged another of my passions and come away unimpressed. I flagged a Yellow and we tumbled into the back seat.

She fished a compact from her purse, checked her lipstick, and fluffed her auburn curls. “Well, Jack, you’re right about him not being David Copperfield. I was hoping he’d at least make the construction on Peachtree Street disappear.”

“That feat might require Jesus. Even then I wouldn’t take odds on His success.”

Gloria stayed quiet for a while, apparently absorbed in the passing lightshow of downtown Atlanta buildings and never-ending traffic. I took the time to reflect on my childhood fascination with the practice of illusion—the family looking on, awed and astonished as The Amazing Jack clumsily plowed through a cavalcade of dime-store magic tricks.

“Why aren’t there any famous female magicians,” Gloria asked as the cab pulled up in front of our midtown condo.

I paid the driver and helped Gloria from the back seat. “Because women don’t have the finesse that men do. Besides, if you had a female magician, who would the assistant be? Not another female; that wouldn’t seem right. And who wants to see a man in a bustier? Not me, that’s for sure.”

As we waited for the elevator, Gloria narrowed her eyes and tilted her head, like she might’ve if she were looking through rifle sights. “So you don’t think women have the physical dexterity to do magic?”

“I didn’t mean it as a dig, sweetheart. Women can do lots of things better than a man—threading a needle, for example. Guys are just better at sleight of hand.”

She didn’t say another word as we ascended to the fourteenth floor and walked the hall to our door. Inside, she tossed her jacket on a chair and slipped into the bath off the master bedroom. I shook my head, realizing I’d screwed up royally. Good thing I enjoyed Harry Anderson’s magic act, since it was pretty certain his was the last performance I’d experience for the evening.

I tossed my suit coat on the bed and was loosening my tie when Gloria’s hands slid around my waist and her breasts pressed warmly against my back. I turned slowly around. She stood in front of me, grinning broadly, my belt coiled in her hand like a viper.

“How’d you do that?” I asked, grinning back at her.

She gave me that face she gets when she’s feeling pretty good about herself and said, “Abracadabra, baby.”


A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, award-winning author Bob Strother‘s work has been published internationally and adapted for film. Previous publications include a collection, Scattered, Smothered, and Covered, and the novels Shug’s Place, Burning Time, and A Fire To Be Kindled. He is also a contributing writer for Southern Writers Magazine.

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