2019-10-20 - Just Card Tricks


Zatanna holds a magic performance in Hell's Kitchen and calls up a volunteer.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Oct 20 01:01:31 2019
Location: Therapy

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Big, flashy stage magic has always been Zatanna's specialty, but that just means she needs to branch out more. There's an elegance and purity to close-up magic, the things you can do with a few cards and the right words, that she's always admired; and if there's one thing that drives Zatanna, it's a desire to be good at what she does. Hence a close-up show at Therapy. It's been a good set, but now she's to the point that she needs a volunteer. Clad her tuxedo top and bikini bottom, Zatanna steps aside for a stagehand to come out and deliver a velvet-lined casino-style card and a single stool to the stage. Once they're deposited, she turns her easy grin to the audience.

"For my final act of the night, I need the help of one of you lovely patrons. To thank you for making my show possible, I will put you through the embarrassment of being dragged up onto stage…" She scans the crowd, looking for someone while good-natured laughter ripples through the audience, until her eyes land on Posse. "Ah! You, miss, would you please join me up here?"

The tawny, green-eyed woman looks up in recognition as she's called mid-drink. One of the many blue-collar outfits at the bar, she's been sipping her way through a bright blue mixed drink since devouring a light dinner. Her jacket and pants are earthy hues, faded but crisp. Seated alone and fairly quiet she's been one of Zatanna's more reserved viewers, but her eyes have been holding an uncommon attentiveness since the magician came on stage.
Setting down her mug, the bar-goer runs a hand through her close-cropped white hair, brushing back tight bangs for only a moment before they spring back across the edge of her forehead, then stands up and tucks in her chair with a foot before walking around to ascend the steps to the stage, moving dutifully but unhurried.

Zatanna begins an audience-wide round of applause when Posse stands up. Her gloves muffle the effect, but that doesn't matter once the crowd joins in. With an encouraging smile and one leg extended before her, she makes a courtly bow at the edge of the stage and offers Posse a gallant hand to climb up. "I hope you'll forgive me for singling you out, but I did promise the audience I'd select a lovely patron, after all." Her impish smile forms little crinkles on the bridge of her nose. "May I have the pleasure of your name, lovely patron?"

A firm hand grips Zatanna's glove but without taking any of the offered weight as the bar-goer accepts the gesture but steps up comfortably on her own. She cracks a little smile but in the face of all the attention and applause, doesn't seem particularly nervous, continuing to rest her gaze on Zatanna. Dressed more plainly, she comes in just an inch or two shorter than the magician in her heels.
"Apology accepted," she grants freely, with all the seriousness of a mild joke. "I'm Ava."

"Wonderful to meet you, Ava! I'm Zatanna. You probably didn't know that." Her nose crinkles again and the audience laughs. Despite the patter obviously being for the crowd, her eye contact is strong, and she still holds Ava's hand as she leads the police officer toward the stool, inviting her to sit before releasing her grip. Confidently, easily, Zatanna slips to the dealer's position at the table. "I'd ask you if we've ever met before, but if we had, you'd just lie about it, so let's skip the formalities." More laughter from the audience. Zatanna rests her palms on the table's green velvet lining and explains, "They say magic is in the eye of the beholder, and that's true, so I like to subvert it because I'm just contrary like that." More laughter from the audience. "I like to put the magic in the hands of the beholder, but of course it first has to begin in mine…" Slowly, she lifts her flat right palm from the table, revealing a deck of playing cards that seems to be beamed into existence by the lifting of her hand: the crowd applauds, and Zatanna bows.

Taking the deck in her hands, Zatanna continues, "Now, it's been said you need to shuffle a deck of cards thirteen times to trule randomize it." Matching deed to word, she begins riffling, bridging, and cutting the cards without bothering to look at them. Her attention is for Ava, it seems. "There's slightly more to it than that, but let's not bore people with the details and just stick to the rules… that should do it." She passes the deck to Ava, face down. "Ava, will you flip the cards over and kind of spread them, make sure they're mixed up? And if you want to shuffle them some yourself while you're at it, you feel free. You're the magician here tonight, after all." She smiles, and the crowd applauds Ava politely.

Perhaps helped a little by the alcohol, Ava comes to smirk as Zatanna chains jokes for the audience. She watches the card shuffling with a detached sort of interest, speaking with the subtle lift and drop of her brow when the magician's well-refined movements impress her while the bulk of her gaze remains on the magician's face - goading her towards a staring contest.
Once the deck is presented, Ava's left hand comes back from below the table alone to collect it, showing the whole bar its bare metallic prosthesis as its fingers curl to pick up the cards before being joined by the woman's flesh-and-blood right hand to begin a basic overhand shuffle. The tawny cop holds eye contact as she converts the overhand to a riffle before cascading it together and fanning them out again with her left hand. A careful flip of the last card rolls the whole assortment face up and the green-eyed amputee glances down to check her work.
"They look good and shuffled to me."

Zatanna nods her approval at your shuffle, smiling widely. "Very good! It looks like the magic is already transferring to you by handling these enchanted cards from a Bicycle deck that I bought for four dollars from a gas stationdon't laugh, everyone knows mystical energy is strongest on a rack between four-packs of aspirin and bottles of motor oil" The audience ignores Zatanna's advice and laughs anyway. Her grin suggests she's okay with this disobedience. "—so the trick is well on its way. Now that we've made one hundred percent sure this deck is randomized… I'm gonna ignore it completely to pull out a new deck." She pulls a red deck of cards from her pocket to contrast the blue ones Ava has been handling (no trick, unless you wonder how she fit a deck of cards into the tiny pocket of her tuxedo jacket) and spreads them in a Vegas arc on the table, face down. She taps her wand against the red deck and somehow is not holding a wand any more, but a marker, to the applause of the audience as she passes it to Ava. "Would you select a card at random, please, sign its back, and then show it to the audience? Don't show it to me. To make sure I don't see it, I'll be here staring into your eyes for reasons that are one hundred percent professional." Zatanna props her elbows on the table, rests her chin in her palms, and smiles moonily at Ava while staring into her eyes. The audience cheers and whistles.

Ava can't help but crack a bigger smile at that as she lids her eyes just faintly back, though it's hard to tell whether it's the magician's showmanship or her expression that's the magic making it happen. In either case, the challenge is accepted.
Taking the offered marker in her right hand, the off-duty cop holds it for a moment, then flicks it to her left hand and spins it briskly between her metal fingers while staring Zatanna down. More spins and idle little twirls continue as the cyborg looks down to survey the red deck - picking one off to the magician's left. Keeping her one-handed theme alive, Ava stops the marker and uncaps it with two fingers, then draws a quick and coarse 'A' on the back of the card in bold strokes. A subtler almost post-script flourish adds 'va' between the open legs of the A, too small perhaps for the audience to make out.
Flipping the card towards her, Ava studies it for a moment before turning it towards the audience, keeping the signed back towards Zatanna.

The audience notes the seven of hearts. Zatanna closes her eyes and crinkles her nose at Ava. "You're good at magic," she compliments, and the crowd chuckles. She straightens up, takes the pen back from you, taps it against the red deck, then looks at it in irritation. "That's not my wand. Sorry. Hang on." She flourishes, and in that blur of movement her wand seems to lengthen and narrow back into her wand. Applause, then laughter as Zatanna chides the crowd, "First time I ever got applause for forgetting my prop, but okay!"

Returning her attention to Ava, Zatanna asks, "I'd like you to shuffle your card back into the red deck and keep the deck under your hand on the table at all times. Don't let me near it or I'll screw up the spell, okay? Because what you're going to do is transfer your card from your deck to mine." Zatanna passes her wand over the blue deck and makes the black rod vanish as she does, to more applause, before collecting the blue deck in her hands and shuffling rapidly. "Since you're the magician now, Ava, you know the way the magic works is, you focus on your card while I focus on the deck, and the card will transfer itself over here." The cards blur in her hands with the rapidity of her shuffles. "Focus… Concentrate… Don't say the magic words, we don't want the crowd learning our magical secrets, so just think them to yourself… Okay, that should do it." Zatanna finishes shuffling and lets the blue deck rest on the table, face down, one palm atop it and the other on the back of her hand like a contest on Family Feud ready to hit the buzzer.

"Now. Since Ava here is a world-class magician for the best few minutes, I'm one hundred percent confident her card is in this deck. Ava, how do you feel? Do you trust your mystical skills?" Zatanna asks, grinning, watching the cyborg's eyes.

"I've had a little time for practice," Ava explains in her first unprompted response of the whole performance. The white-haired woman slips her card back into the deck and leans in towards Zatanna as she fans her arms out wide to pull the red deck in from its Vegas arc. Her green eyes twinkle at their closest when the light catches them before the guest assistant straightens up and moves the red deck to her half of the table. Not making the faintest attempt to match the magician's deftness and speed, the amputee contents with her own routine of shuffling while Zatanna works the blue deck, then sets her cards in a neat pile, pinned lightly by her left hand and then her right.
Ava smirks on the side the audience can't as well see when she answers coolly, "I do, but maybe we should give them a little longer - just so they don't choke under pressure." The woman blinks once as she watches and waits, holding Zatanna eye to eye. The bar's glittering disco balls paint a pleasant matte finish where the tawny cop has smoothed her face with a light dust of foundation but even this close there's barely any other makeup to be seen. Compared to the star magician, she's nearly au naturale.
"Okay, that should be long enough," Ava nods, blinking again as permission to end the stare down.

Zatanna smiles at Ava. "All right. Let's quit stalling for cheap suspense, then." She lifts her hands from the blue deck and flips it over, face up. The ace of spades is on the top. Zatanna presses a white-gloved forefinger against the center of the ace and draws her hand slowly to the left, fanning out the cards to the audience's right. Gasps and applause begin as the audience notices the lineup of cards is solid black, then increases when they notices the cards revealed are all spades, then notice the cards are in numerical order. She keeps drawing, and again, ace to king in diamonds; then king to ace in clubs; then king to ace in hearts, but with one small detail.

Between the six and eight of hearts, a card is flipped upside down, only a few millimeters of its edge showing. It's blue.

"Now, Ava, the audience thinks the upside down card is yours, but you and I are master magicians, so we know it isn't because like I said at the top, the magic is in your hands. You have to be the one to pull it out and show the audience. Would you…?"

"I guess I can help my assistant finish her trick," Ava answers with false modesty as she reaches out - left-handed - and takes the card. She grins in mild amusement as the seven of hearts faces her as expected, then she turns the card around. The woman's brow jumps in a moment of unrestrained surprise and her lips part in a full smile as she presents the seven hearts to the audience, then flips it to show her distinctive signature on its blue back.

Zatanna bows at the waist to the audience's applause and, catching Ava's eye from the corner of her own, winks at the cop while at the lowest part of the bow. As she straightens up, she explains, "So obviously that only makes any sense if the red deck is a trick deck with only sevens of heart to pick from, right? But that's just my theory as an amateur magician in the presence of a master like Ava. Ava, why don't you show me how much I'm underestimating you by letting the audience see what's in your deck?"

The crowd applauds, eager for just that. When Ava spreads the deck, the cards inside are a complete deck minus the jokers, well-randomized, all facing the right way. The back of one card is different from the others, though. Rather than black, there's a golden scrawl across it: Zatanna's name in flowing cursive filling one corner, over a lipstick imprint of a kiss. As expected, it's the seven of hearts, and the crowd applauds wildly. Zatanna joins in, clapping for you. "Give it up for a better magician than me, folks!" she exhorts the crowd, smiling warmly.

Ava takes a bow of her own as she shows the audience the golden-scrawled card, matching Zatanna's expression with a warm and crowd-friendly smile of gratitude. Her green eyes flit back at the magician in a sly moment as she leaves the red deck of fifty cards on the table behind her, letting the tuxedoed woman handle the post-show wrap-up.

Zatanna reaches across the table to take Ava's hand as if to shake, but instead she joins the officer in bowing like two actors taking their bows at the end of a play. In possibly the greatest magic trick of the night, her tophat doesn't fall off and her long, black hair doesn't spill around her shoulders, remaining in one thick, lustrous sheaf across her back. The applause picks up as the stage manager starts playing Zatanna's closing music, and Zatanna walks Ava to the edge of the stage, helping her back down with another gallantly offered hand. Without a word, just another cross-ankled bow to the crowd, the curtain descends and Zatanna eventually disappears behind it.

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