By Mark Abraham · Jun 04, 2013

Title: Magicism
Author: Achilles Juno Maud
(Surge Porter Publishing; 2004; ISBN: 185-94827X42)

Bugsy Burnaby Tassleweight-Crescent couldn’t help a lot of things.

First, he couldn’t help the fact that his parents were a thought-of-themselves-as-being-stylishly-alternative type of folk that would name him “Bugsy.” As if the 1920s were suddenly in vogue again, right? But also that they would choose to prepend that “Bugsy” to a ginormous pileup of a surname like “Tassleweight-Crescent,” and that they would also then decide to throw a “Burnaby” in there for good measure like a middle-finger to the gods of appropriate and succinct naming conventions. It was as if they could clue all others into their own stylish alternativeness through their child’s name. As if their Volkswagon Thing and their overly ornate eyeglasses and their hemp shopping bags and their living in Vermont didn’t already accomplish that goal. Bugsy loved his parents, but they were often hard to love.

Second, he couldn’t help that his parents, now divorced, hated one another, or that his parents, having saddled him with the name “Bugsy,” were so busy being concerned about their respective careers and new relationships and their hatred of one another that they had decided it was better to remove Bugsy from the toxic environment they themselves were both open about their owb role in fostering (a move which conveniently negated the need of the two to ever see one another, now that Ed Tassleweight lived three towns over from Marie Crescent). Bugsy was placed in the care of his loving but elderly grandmother, Ethel, who affectionately referred to her grandson as “Bug.” In Los Angeles. Right before he was about to start high school.

Third, he couldn’t help just how darn good he was at magic. Bug was determined, as the summer drew to a close, to forget all the fighting and the pain and the sweet smell of Vermont foliage and look towards a new life in a new town at his new school, Baynard Rustin High. He would dazzle his new classmates with his knack for performing card tricks and illusions. He would charm potential new friends. He was so excited that he almost couldn’t stand it.

His plan only got better when he discovered a box in the attic full of his dead grandfather’s things. It turned out that his grandfather had been a magician too! And he had an awesome top hat the Bug was sure would look stylish for his first day of high school. He was going to look amazing! His grandmother, surprisingly, seemed concerned that the top hat wasn’t the appropriate choice, but Bug charmed her too.

He was so focused on practicing the night before his first day that he didn’t even hear the strange noises emanating from downstairs or see the flashes of light outside his window. It wasn’t until he felt several pairs of arms grab him from behind that he was even aware of the presence of these intruders in his grandmother’s home. As they dragged him downstairs, bound and gagged, he was shocked. Signs of fighting were everywhere. How could he not have heard? His grandmother was nowhere to be seen. What had they done with her?

Bug was taken outside and thrown in the back of a van. A figure, cloaked by shadows, studied him intently as Bug felt the van start up and began to speed away from his grandmother’s house. Then the figure leaned forward. It was his grandfather! His grandfather smiled, then took out Bug’s gag.

“I need you to come with me. I need you to help me save the world. And…I’m sorry, I can’t help it, but this is going to hurt.”

Bug looked at his grandfather, a million questions running through his mind. Until his grandfather reached out to touch his forehead. Suddenly all of those questions were gone, replaced with searing pain.

Bug screamed.

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