Jimmy loved his job. Every Monday, Thursday and Sunday he would set up his table by the Apple Store in Covent Garden (the best place, he said) and position each of his tools with care. On the left of the table, he would sit three upside down cups, stacked for now, and rest a ball on top of them. In the centre, he’d spread out a deck of cards, faced up so people were able to see it wasn’t a trick deck. And, on the right, was his favourite. On the right, he set a notebook and pen.
Throughout the day, children would ask to see tricks. Jimmy would show them sleight of hand, making the ball disappear from their fists and appear under one of his cups. Or, he’d take their coin from their pocket and make it appear between his teeth. He’d tell the kid to reach over the table and stick their fingers into his mouth to retrieve the coin and verify it was the same as the one they’d hidden.
‘Magic,’ he’d tell them with a flourish.
Sometimes, he’d have to show adults some of his tricks. He didn’t care much for those ones. He’d show them something clever with a watch and declare it was magic.
And, as was his tradition, he would ask whether they wanted a photograph with him. Most adults would say no, although sometimes couples wanted pictures for their Facebooks. But almost all of the children wanted photos.
Parents would take out their phones, but Jimmy would shake his head and offer them his. He had one of those fancy mobile printers that he had connected to his phone.
Later, when he was alone, he’d print the photographs again and stick each one in his notebook. Each child would get their own page. He’d write the trick he performed for them under the image.
So far, he’d filled seventeen notebooks. He kept them in a locked box underneath his bed. Sometimes, Jimmy would open the box, take out one of the books and read it in bed like it was a novel.