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A Splendiferous Swiping

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Tuesday night shows on the boardwalk were quite common. It was easy to draw a crowd on the weekdays during the summer. There was never as much of a turnout as the weekends, but it was easy enough to draw a profit either way.

Tonight was a special night. The Great Galbini was performing at the Laughing Duck! The theater was uncommonly packed for the show.

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You stand behind the curtain peeking out a the crowd as it fills up the seats. Butterflies begin to swim in your stomach as you prepare for your performance. The clock on the wall tells you there is still ten minutes before the 8:00 show time.

Your producer slides up out of nowhere and gives you a start. "Anything you need at the last minute, Galbini?"

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He wanted to correct him, The GREAT Galbini, he'd say. But considering he was booked at a comedy club, opening for a "better" act, he probably didn't have the clout to say that. "Yeah. One shot of whisky, and Mindi. Where is she, anyway?"

"Right here, boss." He turned around. She was dressed in her ridiculously skimpy lovely assistant attire, wearing a blonde wig and chewing gum.

"Oh, for the love of..." He pulled the wig off and revealed short-cut red hair. "Just because you don't have traditional assistant hair, doesn't mean you have to wear a silly wig."

Mindi cocked her head, "I was only joking, boss. You think I needed to look good in ridiculous Vannah White hair? Anyway, we're gonna be on in a few. We'd better be good, I saw my ex in the audience with some tramp. By the end of the show, he'll want to be back with me."

Jeremiah certainly hoped not. Not that he thought she would take him back, but that'd be his luck. Anyway, he knew it was going to be a great show... he was The Great Galbini. He was the best magician in Freedom City, regardless of what his former mentor said. He knew he'd be the greatest magician in the world, soon. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

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The whiskey is delivered to you by one of the stage hands. Quickly downing it leaves that familiar burning sensation in your throat for a few minutes. It helps pass the time and the nerves before the show. Soon it is time for the curtains to come down and you to put on your show.

The curtains are drawn back and you step onto the stage proudly. You are the GREAT Galbini after all. Microphone in hand you wait for the applause to die down before addressing the crowd...

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"The Final Countdown" by Europe starts playing as he walks onto the stage. "Prepare to be astounded, amazed, and otherwise bedazzled. I, the Great Galbini, will show you a world like none other you have seen... the world... of magic." He made the microphone disappear. That mic wasn't turned on anyway... he used the tiny one pinned to his cloak.

Mindi walked out onstage, posing flatteringly for the audience. She held the pose for a couple of seconds next to the Great Galbini, and then she thwacked the side of his head. "Oh, forgive me. Allow me to introduce the beautiful, the lovely, the unbearable..." Mindi readied another stage-slap "Err... unbearably charming... MINDI!" She was good at two things: posing and being a smart ass. He decided it would make sense to work that into their act.

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The crowd "oohed" and "ahhed" when the microphone disappeared. And they chuckled heartily at the exchange between magician and servant. You once again feel the rush of the performance flow through you. Performing magic tricks and pleasing people is just one of those things that you live for. You are in your element here, and nothing will stop you from putting on a great show!

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Galbini spoke, "For my next trick, I'm going to pull a... familiar fellow out of my hat."

Mindi pipes up, "But boss, isn't that a bit cliché? And anyway, you remember what happened the last time you tried to grab him..."

"The classics never die! And anyway, the bites have healed by now. Now mind your manners and look pretty for the audience."

"Yes, boss." She rolls her eyes, and stage whispers, "Don't mind him, he's a bit low on wits."

The Great Galbini pretends not to hear, and pulls a carrot out of his hat. He feigns shock, and pulls out another one. And another, and another, and another. Then he pulls out a sign, and reads it, "Stop grabbing my ears. I quit. PS: give me back my food."

Mindi sighs loudly, and throws her arms up in the air.

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The audience continues laughing through the witty banter of the two performers. The laughter feels wonderful. You feel like you can accomplish anything. Your next trick...Goes off without a hitch!

The crowd erupts into roaring laughter as you read off the sign. They are loving every second of this performance. From behind the curtains, you can see the stage director giving you a 'thumbs-up' and mouthing the words "keep it up!"

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Galbini glances sideways at Mindi, "You know, I'm getting awfully tired of your attitude. Every time we do something, you have to be so... sarcastic about it. Can't you be a bit nicer?"

"Aww, boss. I'm sorry. Come here." She opens her arms up, and hugs him. She looks over his shoulder and motions with her hand. A cage on wheels comes out onstage, pushed by two stagehands. They open it up, and Mindi pushes Galbini inside and locks the door. Then she puts the key in her shirt.

"Hey... hey! What's the big deal?"

Mindi put a finger on the corner of her mouth. "Oh, right. I forgot to be nicer. Would you mind horribly if I spun this cage around just to show them how inescapable it is?"

"Yes, actually I..." But she started spinning it around, posing and showcasing that there were no hidden trapdoors or anything. Then she covered it with a tarp.

"Ahh! It's dark. Please... I'm afraid of the dark. Why are you doing this to me?" He yelled a little bit more, and then suddenly stopped.

"You should pay me more, you stingy bastard." Mindi smiled at the audience. "And now, I'm going to live out my dream." She starts singing "Greensleeves". Poorly.

The Great Galbini walks onstage and sneaks up behind Mindi. He grabs her shoulder.

"Is that one of those muscly stagehands? Great. I could use a massage, but maybe it should be after I fini..." She pauses. "Wait a minute." She looks behind her. "Umm... great to see you, boss!"

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The crowd continues to laugh at the dysfunctional act taking place on stage. When The Great Galbini walks back on stage after he little 'disappearing act' some of the crowd cheers, while others are not so outspoken. For a pretty common trick he pulled it off well, but the fact that it is a trick in every magician's repertoire must have been weighing pretty heavily against him.

The home stretch now! Only a couple more tricks to go and his short act would be over. Time to pull out his best magic...

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Still holding onto the Moira, the Great Galbini speaks to the audience, "And now, for my favorite trick."

"No, boss... not your favorite trick. I don't like your favorite trick... please..."

But those same stagehands wheeled out a large box. Along with Galbini, the two stagehands grabbed Mindi and shoved her inside the box. She starts muttering what sounds like cursewords, but not distinct enough for the audience to understand. Her feet hung outside one end of the box, and her head the other. Another stagehand appears with four wicked looking blades.

One of the stagehands speaks up, "Uh... boss? If she doesn't like being put into a box and err... the other stuff... then why are you..."

Mindi said, "Shut up. Who said you could defend me. Besides... I'm not worried about the box, or the blades... I'm worried about..."

The Great Galbini produced a feather and started tickling her feet. Mindi laughs uncontrollably. He stops.

Mindi speaks again, "You'd better just get it over with. If you tickle me anymore, I'm going to make sure that you're horribly mutilated." She puts on her winningest smile.

The Great Galbini pauses, and then tickles for a few more seconds. "What's a little horrible mutilation between friends. Speaking of which..." He glares at the stagehands, who drop the blades and scatter.

He grabs the first blade and jabs it just under where her chest would be. She winces. "Be careful, boss, you don't want to damage my goods." He takes the second blade, shows it to the audience, and jams it hard just above her hips. She cries out. Her feet jut outward. Then he takes the third blade and jabs it into where her thighs would be. She starts to cry out, but then stops, "Hey... I think you stopped my headache. Maybe you should change jobs. I can see it now... the Great Galbini: Extreme Acupuncturist." The Great Galbini stops to consider this for a moment, brushing the final blade against his chin. Then he realizes where he has the blade, and quickly moves it away. He places the final blade just below her knees. He spins the box around for the audience. "Hey, boss! If I were to get sick now, you might mess up the blades. So stop with the spinning, already." He did. Starting from the feet, he pushed the five pieces so that they were in a zig-zag pattern. Then, using the feather, he tickled her toes again. She laughs, thrashing about again. He does this for about ten good seconds. "I'm going to kill you, Galbini."

"Mindi, I only do this because I love you."

"Yeah? Well, I'd love to kill you."

Then, he snaps her back into a normal pattern, and pulls out all five of the blades. He goes to let her out of the box, but she pushes the flap open and tackles Galbini to the ground, throttling him.

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The entire charade kept the audience entertained for quite a while. Mindi's own laughter at being tickled to death only fueled that of the crowd. When the trick was finally over, and the two hosts were wrestling on the ground, the crowd could not contain themselves. They were now laughing and enjoying themselves more than they had been so far.

When the act finally calmed down again, the audience was on the edge of their seats waiting for the next trick.

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Mindi picks up The Great Galbini by his hands, walks him over to a torturous looking contraption, and ties him to it. Legs, hands, arms... everything.

He says, "Hey, you can't..." then she gags him. "Murfle murfle mff mrff."

Mindi smiles at the audience. "This is my favorite trick. It's called... the Assistant's Revenge." She closes the curtain. "Now, I'm going to make the Greaaat Galbini disappear. Forever." Skips around the stage like a little schoolgirl, "Yaaaaay!" She starts mumbling some nonsense words. She goes behind the curtain to pull it back... and the Great Galbini appears on the other side, Mindi in his bonds. Unfortunately, the switch is partially seen. Galbini hopes that the crowd doesn't notice... especially since it's his final trick.

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There are a few claps and applause. But most of the crowd remains silent. Overall it was a good opening act, but at the end of the day they do no seem to be too impressed.

After the act is over, the magician and his assistants bow and take their places offstage. "Not bad for your first act, Galbini!" The stage coordinator greets you as he ushers the next act onto the stage. "Your welcome to stay and watch the rest of the act if you wish."

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"I'll be happy to see the next act." Galbini wasn't too pleased with how his performance went, and he was wondering just who was going after him. Hopefully, they wouldn't be too good at whatever they're doing.

Mindi pipes up, "You don't even know what the next act is, do you? Do you even pay attention?"

No, not really. He thought. He helped himself to another whisky, and watched the other act from backstage.

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The next act was still a few minutes away. During the intermission, a few people had gotten up and moved around. The auditorium was a veritable wave of chaos. The chaos was interrupted (if that were possible) by a lone scream.

"STOP! THIEF!"

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