BY MARY CUDNEY
Copyright is held by the author.
COBY WASN’T sure how it had happened, but he was terrified. The white rabbit he had pulled from his new magician’s hat was not his rabbit. The rabbit sniffing around and dropping little black pellets everywhere, did not belong to him. His rabbit was an ordinary brown rabbit named Delilah. He had purchased the hat from a small magic store he had stumbled upon that day.
Walking along, thinking about a girl he had met the night before, he’d taken a wrong turn. And there it was. Coby had needed a new magician’s hat and was elated he had discovered the shop. No googling and driving all over town just to discover a shop with nothing but kids’ toys. Mind you this one hadn’t looked especially promising. A crescent sign swinging above the entrance announced: Magic for Sale. Yeah right.
Opening the door, by way of a knob shaped like a wand, Coby stepped inside the ill lit interior. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen, with long black eyelashes and red hair, stood behind an ornate wooden counter. She slithered out to greet him. She was dressed sedately in a black silk blouse and a short black skirt.
Encouraging him to have a look around, in a soft whisper, she told him that any purchase he made in the store that day would change his life forever. Coby thinking, yeah, whatever, bought the new hat he needed. His cat Brewster, had torn the other one apart, probably looking for the mouse he thought might be in it.
Coby had brought his purchase home and begun practising his rabbit trick. Now, he was afraid to stick his hand into the hat again. Oh, this is silly, he thought. Picking up the hat, he turned it upside down and shook it a few times, shaking his head at the same time.
Feeling a little weak in the knees, he stuck his hand inside the hat and came out with Delilah. Thank God!
Could the woman at the store have been playing a practical joke on him? Did she stick another rabbit in the hat to get him to come back? No, that couldn’t be it. All she would have had to do was give him her number and he would have been glad to spend the day and the night and the next day with her, if she’d wanted him too. That couldn’t be it.
At least he had Delilah back. He stuck his hand back inside the hat and felt, nothing. Just the smooth bottom of the hat. He pushed a little harder, felt all around the sides and then turned it inside out. It felt like an ordinary magician’s hat. A few side pockets under the rim, a flap that could be opened in a twinkling, for Delilah to hop into and a spot for the dove. He turned the hat right side out.
His stomach started to rumble. Realizing that he hadn’t eaten since that morning, he started thinking about a nice turkey sandwich. His hand still inside the hat, he felt something caress his fingers, pushing them to the side. He whipped his hand out of the hat as quickly as if he had stuck it into a bees’ nest. This is silly. What could possibly be inside the hat? It was empty, wasn’t it? Overcoming his anxiety, Coby slowly pushed his hand back in the hat and pulled out, a turkey sandwich. What the heck? He started looking around for a camera, thinking he was the butt of a joke. Some television show that filmed you doing crazy things.
No camera was to be found. He decided to experiment a little. He thought of a hamster. Reaching back into the hat, which had started moving of its own accord across the table, he pulled out a pygmy hamster, brown and white and round. It wrinkled its nose and smiled up at Coby as if it knew the secrets of the universe.
This can’t be happening. I must be hallucinating or someone slipped me a joint. He put his hand back in the hat, holding his breath, and pulled out, a joint. Lighting up and taking a deep breath, Coby said to himself, “OK, let’s get a little wilder. How about tomorrow’s newspaper?” He concentrated hard on the name of the newspaper and tomorrow’s date in the right-hand corner.
“Abracadabra and with a wave of my magic wand, I want tomorrow’s paper,” he said with a flourish.
Sweating now, Coby inched his hand into the hat and pulled out the Toronto Star dated the next day. Alright, he thought to himself, I only have to wait until tomorrow to find out if I have gone insane, or I actually own a true magician’s hat.
He carried the hat into the bedroom, careful not to touch the sides and placed it upside down on the top shelf of his closet and closed the door.
Coby tried to distract himself with other things, but, his mind swung like a pendulum back to the hat, without letup. When he could sleep, he dreamt about it.
The next morning, he had picked up an original Toronto Star. Comparing the two papers, Coby found them to be identical. He wasn’t insane. This was true magic. The lottery date was two days in the future. He would be wealthy.
Placing the hat in the middle of the kitchen table, he thought of the date 48 hours away and the Toronto Star. Gleefully reaching into the hat, he felt, nothing. Again, he thought of the paper with the future date. His hand ready to grasp the paper he touched only the felt sides of the magician’s hat. Starting to get a little bit anxious, he thought of a yellow canary. Still, nothing in the hat. Getting angry, Coby punched into the hat so hard he put a hole right through the bottom of it. As he did, a white label that had been attached to the inside brim, floated to the hard, wooden floor like a feather.
Good for one day only. Best of luck!