by Steve Marsden
"Ladies and gentlemen," said Charles Perkins.
"Thank you all for coming. For my first mind-bending illusion, I would like to present you with I, 'The Great Luciano', escaping from a wardrobe!" The crowd, muttered to themselves sibilantly.
A large wooden wardrobe was wheeled in.
"Let me assure you, you will never forget April 2nd 1882, as you will remember where you were when you saw this miraculous feat," he went on. "With the help of Maria here, I will bind my limbs."
"This wardrobe is extremely well-made and quite beautiful,"
he said as he was shackled. "The sheen and weft of the wood is quite a sight, wouldn't you agree, ladies and gentlemen?" The paid shills in the crowd clapped less enthusiastically than he'd hoped
"I will also be tied into this burlap sack."
This was done as the tension mounted in the auditorium. Sort of. Now Charles was inside the wardrobe and trapped within the sack. He bellowed: "Maria will now close and lock this wardrobe."
Maria then spoke.
"I will now light this candle under this rope. Attached to it is a big...massive blacksmith's anvil. When the rope burns through, the anvil will crush the wardrobe and any occupants therein."
The audience nearly made a noise.
She lit the candle with a big windmill movement of her glittering arm and the rope started to catch the flame. Inside the wardrobe, there was rattling and "oomph"ing.
For several seconds there was silence
save for the ticking of the pocket watches in all the men's vests. Then Charles burst out of the wardrobe to a fanfare of the 2 trumpeters in the pit that he could afford.
Arms aloft, he soaked in the rhythmless applause.
He shouted, "This delightful wardrobe, by the way, is available for purchase at Johnson's Homegoods in North Street for only £3 and a guinea. That's: Johnson's Homegoods."
A moment later, the anvil fell and destroyed the wardrobe.
Immediately, as the crowd reacted to the deafening smash, a man stood up and yelled in the direction of the stage. "What the devil are you doing destroying that? You said I would have it back!"
"I'm sorry, sir, I don't know who..."
"Yes you jolly well do, you cad," said Mr Johnson. "I am Mr Johnson," he said addressing the audience and moving to the stage. "Proprietor of the firm who provided this....ex-wardrobe."
"And I am here to tell you that this...magician is a fraud!"
The audience were now into this. "He promised me that for the payment of £25 I would have a tremendous promotional opportunity for you good people to know of my excellent merchandise."
"But now I am down another £3!"
Mr Johnson turned to eviscerate Charles further but he saw that he had vanished, leaving only Maria's feather boa behind.