David Blaine finally has the opportunity to impress me.
So I just opened a brand new pack of cards and drew one at random. If David Blaine is killed during this stunt, the following day I will go to my mailbox and find a package, postmarked the day before I was born. Inside the package: a shovel. And an invitation to dig his grave anywhere in the world.
I go to the spot of my choosing and, with the first thrust of the shovel, strike a stone. Upon unearthing the massive rock, I discover what might be the word “break” on its surface. Acquiring a jackhammer, I split the stone to reveal: nothing.
Enraged, I kick the smaller of the two halves of the boulder, shattering the bones in my foot. I am flown by helicopter to a Tibetan hospital (because I chose to bury Blaine in Tibet) where language issues create a lengthy stay and a miscommunication that results in my foot being amputated. Forced to remain in the foreign hospital, unable to speak with anyone or do anything to relieve my boredom, I begin to go mad.
Word of my condition reaches the guilt-stricken Andrew W.K. who has been unable to play music since the tragedy that killed Blaine. He visits me in the hospital and, after seeing my sorry state, decides to put on an impromptu concert in my hospital room. After the first song, however, the nurses swoon and he realizes that music, and swooning women, have always been his destiny. He rushes from the room, pausing only to tell me to “keep my chin up” and give me a deck of playing cards to occupy my empty days. I open the sealed deck of cards: the top card is blank. They are all blank. A manufacturing defect.
But I persevere, find the strength to carry on, and finally return home. My flight from Tibet has a 12 hour layover in Las Vegas because of a mechanical issue. I am put up in a hotel near the airport. A harried-looking stranger in a well-tailored suit approaches me and offers me his seat in the poker tournament in the casino attached to the hotel. His wife has run off with Andrew W.K. and he will forfeit his hand and winnings if the seat is unfilled in the final round. I sit for him and in the tournament-deciding hand, I am one card away from a straight flush, the card I drew from the deck to challenge David Blaine. The final card is turned: the four of clubs!
The four of clubs is not my card. (But David’s odds have now improved.) I leave the casino in disgust and drown my sorrows in the adjoining lounge. A magic act begins. The off-the-Strip magician performs rope tricks, knife tricks, feats of telepathy, and more. He approaches me and asks if I am familiar with the late David Blaine. I acknowledge that I am. He asks if I had a close relationship, a “psychic bond,” with the dead illusionist. I tell him that David Blaine died without guessing my card. He nods knowingly and invites me on stage.
In front of the audience, the Vegas magician claims he has the ability to contact the spirit of David Blaine. His lovely assistant wheels two impressive Tesla coils to stand on either side of him. They begin to hum ominously as he hands me a sealed deck of cards. The spirit will be drawn to the dangerous electricity and the mortal peril the magician intends to place himself in, he claims. And then the spirit will reveal to me the card. As he walks back to the Tesla coils he trips over his assistant’s long dress and staggers toward the now-surging electricity. But he catches his balance, interrupting his routine only to deliver a vicious insult to the assistant who flees the stage in tears.
The magician asks me to hold the deck of cards as close as I dare to the electricity. I do so, and he places his own hands close as well. His hands begin to tremble and his lips move soundlessly. My hair begins to stand on end. There is a loud bang, followed by screams from the audience. The magician’s assistant has returned, and despite the running mascara from her tears, has managed to shoot the Vegas magician squarely in the chest with a small silver pistol. His crumpled form at my feet, his blood pooling around me, I feel a deep compulsion to open the deck of playing cards as an overwhelming sense of trepidation fills me. Inside, an entire deck of nothing but the queen of hearts.
The queen of hearts is not my card. (But Blaine’s odds have improved yet again.) I storm offstage in disgust, past the sobbing magician’s assistant, and away from the police officers asking if there were witnesses. I’m done with magic, I want nothing to do with cards. I quit my job when a coworker invites me to a friendly poker night at his house. I punch a clown at my niece’s birthday party when he makes a foam ball disappear in his fist. I need to be physically restrained from attacking an elderly man who pretends to pull a quarter from a child’s ear at the mall food court.
My worsening condition, and my house arrest due to the party clown assault, turns me into a shut in. I unplug my television for fear of seeing reruns of the World Series of Poker on ESPN 2. I throw away every issue of Playboy magazine that features Holly Madison. I’m consumed with fury and disappointment. Late one night, in a drunken fugue and certain I can hear David Blaine trying to speak to me through the wiring, I cut off the electricity to my home at the breaker box and rip the wires from behind the plaster.
The next morning, as I recover and witness the destruction I have wrought, a storm rolls in and the sky shifts to a deep, dark purplish tone. Without light in the house, it is difficult to move around the debris of the night before. And I only have one foot. My small office seems to have largely escaped the drunken rampage so I hop towards my chair as the lightning outside illuminates my path. As I sit, a peal of thunder shakes the walls. Another flash of lightning and I see it on my desk. My card. Sitting there. Right where I’d left it when I plucked it from the deck.
Fuck you, David Blaine.