Bobby walked slowly down the faded boardwalk. The long boards of the wooden walk way jutted up here and there making it a small challenge not to trip. The shops were long boarded up. Former neon signs now looked like dark broken tubes which helped to keep people away instead of bring them to the shop. The windows were long boarded up due to a hurricane which blew in years ago. No one turned the power back on. No one walked the rickety, broken floor. No one cared much for boardwalk anymore.
Bobby rounded the corner. An abandoned toy store stood sad and depressed. The plywood that held up the large picture window had fallen slightly and Bobby could see something strange. A red glow from something inside. The power had been cut for the whole board walk so to see anything but black and gray over here was weird. Bobby pulled on the plywood, which gave easily and walked into the building. The small red glow sat in a corner of the toy story. Bobby could not yet tell what was making it. The shelves of the small toy store sat empty. It’s shelves fallen face first onto the dusty ground. A few toys were scattered but most were covered and dust and unwanted by the looters years ago. Bobby had to climb over a couple shelves to get to the red object. It sat over a thin cover, dusty like everything else. Bobby covered his mouth and pulled.
Under the cover was a coin-operated magician. A partial man, hat, head and shoulders, stood staring away from Bobby. Inside his small square prison he looked like he just came off the manufacturer’s floor. His hat was a tall stove pipe with a brim. His face was painted on ceramic, wrinkles and all. The partial man wore a half tie and suit. The red light shone brightly from the top of the square glass case.
“Alfonso, the Great,” shouted the letters as it spelled out the name. Underneath the glass box was a steel slot and beside that a tin sign, bent slightly at the corner, that said 25 cents.
Bobby shook his pockets and found a quarter. He pushed the quarter into the slot and the magician came alive. First thing it did was straighten its gaze. It looked forward into Bobby’s chest for a moment then upward. It’s painted on eyes seemed to become real as it soon caught Bobby’s gaze. “Young man, how are you?” Said the magician his halved body moving back and forth as he continued to stare right at Bobby.
“I’m so sorry staring is rude,” he said as he adjusted his gaze to something less creepy. “You don’t understand its been years since I’ve seen a young boy your age.” The magician laughed. It’s voice was metallic, his accent slightly British. “I am Alfonso, the Great. Magician extraordinaire. I am hear for your pleasure. “Would you like me to perform a trick for you?”
Bobby shifted uncomfortably. Fear doubled up in his legs and gut. “I think I’m just going to go,” he said but his legs would not move.
“Don’t be frightened, young man,” said the magician. “What am I going to do, I’m in a glass box for Christ’s sake and I have no legs.”
Bobby attempted a smile which peaked slightly at the edges.
“Let me get my small arms working so I can take off this old hat.” Two small wooden arms moved slowly, stuttering at first, then eventually pushing upward to remove the magician’s black hat. For a few seconds the magician’s gaze disappeared behind his hat. Bobby breathed in deeply till his gaze returned.
“Alright,” said the magician, “let me reach into my hat and pull out a trick.”
Bobby watched as the magician’s hands moved mechanically into the hat and pulled out a small card. The magician then turned, while still watching, and dropped the card into a large black pit area. The card dropped and the magician asked Bobby to remove the card. Bobby pushed himself forward. He reached carefully. Pushing the tin cover in. The card sat face down at the bottom of the pit. Bobby picked up the card. He watched the magician carefully for any sudden moves. The magician looked forward. The paint in its eyes chipped slightly. It’s two arms sat at the base of the glass case. Bobby stood. The light above the magician flickered then went out. The magician suddenly disappeared into the darkness of the abandoned toy store.
Bobby shook off the nerves and turned back toward the only light he could find. He stumbled over the fallen shelves and toys until he reached the front of the store. He stepped out into the salted air and onto the uneven boardwalk. He placed the card into his pocket and walked away.
Reaching home, just after midnight Bobby pulled the card from his pocket and sat on the bed. He stared at the neatly typed letters on a business card shaped magic trick. The only words displayed showed ‘Opposite Day’. Bobby huffed. Upset at the commotion this little incident caused him. The fear and the weird gaze only to get a card that says Opposite Day. He placed the card on his bedroom dresser and slipped into bed.