The Great Occam Cobb – Chapter 4

After waiting for the lingering crowds to leave, he made his way back down the stairs. In the room below, he ensured no one was around before entering it again.

It was marginally quiet; he could hear some of the voices of the people from outside faintly through the walls. This was his moment, he thought. This was his opportunity to see Occam Cobb. His luck had already presented the rare opportunity of catching the most breath-taking magic act ever conceived and was sure it hadn’t ran out yet.

Jonathan crept down the hallway leading further into the building. The hallway led him to a much larger room almost similar in length but clearly the lobby. At the end, a man was sweeping the floor, guiding the dust towards the set of doors for the entrance of the Theatre. His back was to Jonathan allowing him to shuffle through the lobby to the hallway parallel.

This new hallway curved around towards the direction of the stage. Coursing through it, he came to a door marked, Backstage. After carefully peeking through and finding it safe, he continued through the other side. Behind the door, the path was dark. Only two wall-candles lit the way: the ones next to him and the others at the end.

The hallway was unlike the other ones. In the light, the walls were adorned with many rough cracks in its dry wooden features. The air back here was cool as if the wind from outside was coursing in. He could hear the small skittering of feet which suggested the presence of rats. Jonathan sighed softly and began to venture through the corridor. A few times along the way, he felt something brush against his foot.

At the end of the hallway, he came across another door. The candlelight was dim, but its rays managed to illuminate the words across the door just enough. Performers Only the sign read. Jonathan pushed open the door. Inside, he found clothing racks with an abundance of outfits hanging from them. A variety of suits hung layered tightly together on several of them while a plethora dresses hung from others. The tight cluster of clothing made the room feel almost suffocating.

He moved past them and was led to a more open part of the room. To the side, he could see a large full-body mirror up against the wall. A thin desk sat next to the mirror sporting a chair set aside as if someone had recently left it. Piles of papers filled the top of the desk along with a very peculiar set of gloves. Jonathan slowly approached the desk, recognizing the gloves.

His fingers grazed across them, feeling the smooth silk of the fabric. Afterwards, he turned his attention back to the room around.

“Hello?” he called out softly. “Mr. Occam Cobb, sir?”

The air was silent as ever. He sighed softly to himself, realizing he had missed his opportunity. He started to make his way back, but stopped when he heard a voice answer him:

“Yes, how can I help you, young man?”

Immediately, he sprung around and to his amazement, there stood the great Occam himself. He was a much taller man in person with a thin frame. His black silky vest hugged tightly against his body with the sleeves of his white button shirt rolled up to his elbows, his arms crossed. His eyes leered back with a quizzing nature while his sharp chin was raised.

Jonathan noticed how the colors of his eyes differed, one being blue while the other appeared hazel brown. For a second, he was speechless, still surprised at his suddenly appearance and the fact he was viewing the man he held as an idol.

“Well?” Occam continued.

Finally, he managed to find his voice. “Yes sir, I… I just wanted to inform you that… I’m your biggest fan.”

The man was silent before replying, “Is that so. Why are you back here?”

Jonathan grew quiet again, trying to find the right way to answer. After seeing this for a minute, the man’s eyes warmed up; a smile grew across his face.

“Did you see the show?” he asked with a sincerer tone.

“Yes, I did! Well, I saw the last act,” Jonathan replied excitedly.

“And?” the man incited.

“And it was spectacular!” he exclaimed.

The smile grew larger on the man’s face. “Just from your reaction, I can tell you’re quite the magic lover, am I right?”

Jonathan nodded excessively, smiling greater than ever. “More than anything! I want to become a great magician, just like yourself, sir!”

Occam seemed pleased with this statement, lowering his arms and inviting the boy further in the room. “What’s your name, my boy?”

“It’s Jonathan, sir.”

“Tell me Jonathan, what kind of acts draw your attention the most?” he asked, taking a seat on the chair.

“Well right now, I’ve been using cards for my tricks.”

“Ah, playing cards. Believe it or not, I began my career with playing cards as well. I used to entertain people down on the streets. It seems like it was only yesterday,” he replied, nodding his head in content. “As you can see, I’ve come a long way from then, and you can too.”

Jonathan’s eyes lit up. “You think so?”

“Of course, lad. Everyone makes their humble beginnings from one walk of light or another. The important thing to remember is to not forget why you love magic. Your love of magic will keep you going even through the times that grow rough, and believe me, there will be some.”

Jonathan nodded, taking in the advice. “Well, sir…I would be lying if I didn’t tell you the real reason why I am here.”

“Oh,” Occam replied, “and what is that?”

“Well, I wanted to show you a trick of my own, if that is okay with you?”

The light in his off-colored eyes seem to grow brighter at the request. He returned another warm smile before crossing his legs and laying his chin in his hand.

“I would be delighted.”

Excited, Jonathan pulled out the deck of cards from his pocket. Occam stared with distaste when he caught sight of the worn out appearance of the cards.

“I can tell you’ve been hard at work. However, those cards most certainly will not do,” he scoffed.

He pulled out a box cards from his pocket and held them out for the boy. Jonathan simply looked at the box depicting the image Occam on the front, and then back at the man with uncertainty.

“Please take them. You can use them when become the next great magician. A ‘great magician’ always performs with his best.”

Jonathan smiled, gratefully taking them. Occam took his beaten deck and placed it on the desk behind him. Jonathan removed the cards from the box. The fresh scent of the cards filled his nose, an aroma he hadn’t experienced in a long time. He carefully stuffed the box in his pocket as to not damage it and began shuffling the deck.

He was nervous, feeling his heart heatedly pound against his chest. He glanced at the magician ever so often while shuffling the cards; the man was instinctively focused on them. It was clear he was no stranger to hasty deceits the hands could portray with cards, even in the initial shuffle. This notion only further instilled tension in his heart.

After the cards were thoroughly shuffled, he took a deep breath. There was nothing to worry about, he thought. He had practiced for days with little end until his very hands cramped from fatigue. He just had to perform the trick one more time. He held out the deck of cards, still neatly stacked.

“Can you please select the card on the top, sir?” he asked.

The request seemed to puzzle the man. “You want me to select a card now, without fanning them out?”

Jonathan swallowed at this before answering with a slight squeak in his voice, “Yes, sir.”

Occam frowned a little before picking up the card to view.

“Do not let me see the card,” Jonathan instructed.

He split the deck in half, holding each part in one hand.

“Okay, if you would sir, place your card back in the deck,” he continued, holding the hand with the lower portion of the deck out.

Immediately, the magician complied as instructed, setting the card face down. Following the action, Jonathan placed the upper set of cards atop.

“I will now shuffle the cards,” he informed, beginning to mix them.

Without warning, the cards suddenly slipped from his fingers, scattering across the floor below. Jonathan froze, closing his eyes in shame while biting his lip. Occam was unfazed, although his displeased expression had expanded across his face.

“That’s quite alright. Accidents happen, my dear boy. The show must continue nonetheless,” he responded.

Jonathan nodded and began picking up the messy array of cards. After a few minutes, he managed to obtain them all, standing up ready to face the magician again.

“Is it okay, if I start all over?” he inquired.

Occam issued a light head nod, still residing in his previous posture.

“Okay,” Jonathan began. He started to shuffle the cards again. Once the tiresome act was completed, he held out the deck for the man to choose a card for a second time. However, once he reached out a hand to pick a card, Jonathan immediately retracted the deck away.

“Is there something wrong, my boy?” Occam questioned with a baffled look.

“Well, sir. I was going to have you pick a card, but I realized you never returned the first card you selected,” Jonathan brought up.

The man’s brow furrowed heavily as a profound contortion appeared across his lips. “I assure you, my boy, that I did indeed return the card. Perhaps, in your mishap, you did not pick it up. How would you know otherwise?”

“Perhaps you’re right, sir. I guess I must have missed the one under your foot,” Jonathan replied.

The man took a second to gaze down, lifting his foot and to his surprise a card was facedown underneath. He picked up the card, attempting to hand it to the boy until his eyes glanced at the face. His brow lifted and a heartfelt smile cultivated athwart his lips. He produced a warm laugh, almost uncontrollably for what felt like several long minutes to Jonathan. Unsure what to do, Jonathan simply stood there.

“My boy, that was a very interesting and yet bold act, dare I say, very tricky indeed.”

It was Jonathan’s turn to smile then.

“How did you derive such trick?” he asked, now intrigued.

“Well, when I learned of your coming, I knew I wanted a make a special trick just for you, but I knew it had to be a clever one. However, when I tried to think of one to create, I couldn’t. The trick I presented to you now was like the one I saw performed by an old magician on the streets. His act was similar, but more elaborate. At the time, I didn’t know how he did it, but later, I figured it out,” Jonathan explained. “That act is what drew me into magic in the first place.”

Occam placed his hand on Jonathan’s shoulder, simply amused. “It is moments like those that true magic is realized, to have the idea to instill the same spellbinding moment that was casted upon yourself onto others. Thank you for sharing your act with me, Jonathan.”

“No, thank you, sir,” Jonathan replied, rendering a light bow.

After issuing one last appreciation, he began to make his way out.

“How would it sound,” Occam called out behind him, “to learn a new trick or two from me?”

Immediately, Jonathan sprung around. “Learn a new trick, from you, The Great Occam Cobb?”

“That’s right, I can take you under my wing and teach you prevailing tricks to showcase for everyone you know, while I’m still in town, that is. Sadly, I depart at the end of the week, but I am confident that you can master such rudiments in time as you did so in preparation for an audience with me. What do you say?”

Jonathan gave an answer without hesitancy, promptly after the man had asked. “Of course! I would love to! Thank you, sir, for the honor!”

With a please looked, Occam beamed. “Excellent, my boy. Simply, make your return every evening as you did so tonight, and I will instruct upon you a new trick for you to rehearse.”

“Yes, sir. I won’t let you down!” he replied. His eyes began to look at the ground though. “Yet, how will I get pass the ticket man? To tell the truth, sir,” he confessed, “I didn’t exactly walk through the front door to see the show.”

The man produced a light chuckle. With the card from earlier still in his hand, he cupped it, before revealing it again; it had changed. “Use this,” he said, handing it to Jonathan.

Jonathan glanced at the object. The card was much larger with a picture of Occam Cobb with his arms stretched out. Above his picture, the words All Access Pass stood bolded out.

“Show that to the doorman and he’ll let you in without a fuss. You can even view my show again, all of it this time, from the front row seat.”

Filled with joy beyond measure and without warning, he gave the man an alarming hug of compassion. The notion caught Occam off guard, but he quickly collected himself. After the tenderizing moment, he bid the boy farewell. A few tears had formed in Jonathan’s eyes, but he made sure not to reveal them. He simply made his way out the door with his prized pass in hand and new deck of cards.

Promptly, he halted on the other side. He realized he had forgotten his old deck of cards being caught up in the moment earlier. Sure, he had new cards, but he wanted to only use them when performing in front others like Occam had instructed. He decided that his old cards would be the deck to use while he practiced.

He returned through the door ready to excuse his second intrusion, but was quickly terrified at the action he perceived. Occam Cobb was nowhere to be seen… well almost. The moment he stepped past the clothing racks, he witnessed the back heel of the Magician pull through the mirror on the wall, vanishing on the other side. The mirror’s reflective surface rippled from the action momentarily prior to settling back into its flat appearance.

Jonathan was star-struck, frozen in terror and astonishment. Rubbing his eyes for a second, he stared at the mirror which simply offered back his reflective confused expression. Had he really seen such an act? Cautiously, he approached the mirror, hesitantly holding out a hand. He flinched for a second when it touched the surface, having expected his hand to pass through, but instead it only met with the hard surface.

Now, he was very confused. It shouldn’t have been that far-fetched. He was in fact dealing with The Great Occam Cobb the greatest magician, right? Yet, despite trying to convince himself of this ordeal, a deep sensation sat at the bottom of his stomach fabricating an unpleasant vibe.

As if what he had witnessed wasn’t enough, something else threw him off. Emitting from the mirror, at least what he thought was the source, was the slightest breeze of cool air. It was as if a window was cracked open or rather it felt more like someone was softly blowing cool air in his face. The breeze felt odd when it met against his skin.

Its chilly winds not only felt icy, but it was accompanied with the slimmest tickle. It felt like someone was softly dragging the tips of their fingers across his cheeks as if carefully caressing his skin. A sharp shiver quickly pulsated through his body. The thought of an unseen figure standing before him was quite eerie, but it was impossible. He shook the thought off and grabbed his old deck of cards before swiftly making his way out and back home.