By Jim Gerrish
© 2021, Imagineering Magic. All Rights Reserved.
Mike and Hakeem
My name is Mike Mason. My Grandpa Mason died
several years before I was born. Yet from the day of my awareness
of myself as a human being, I was under his influence. My first
bedroom was right underneath the attic where Grandpa stored all
his magic. My mother ignored the existence of Grandpa and never
mentioned a word about him to me. It was my father who told me
the stories of Grandpa and his adventures and exploits and magic
tricks. When other kids asked daddy to tell them a story, I asked
daddy to show me one of Grandpas magic tricks. And he did.
I begged him to keep on showing me more and more, so in order to
keep me from keeping him up all night entertaining me with magic,
we agreed on three tricks per night. I could request to see three
tricks he had shown me before, or I could let him pick some new
tricks he hadnt shown me yet. Eventually he ran out of
small magic tricks to perform for me, and we had to take a trip
up to the mysterious attic.
The attic smelled old. Not a bad smell, but a mysterious smell.
Everything up there was old, before I was born. I felt like an
intruder into the past. Dad kept the mystery up by making me sit
down in a special little chair designed for tiny butts, like mine
was at the time. Then Dad would open up one of the mysterious
trunks and draw out some mysterious prop or contraption and show
me miracles with it.
The ones I loved were the magic tricks where I got to participate
as Dad showed them to me. I remember one of the first was a
rectangular tube into which he put his arm, and then he gave me a
wicked looking metal blade and had me shove the blade into the
box watching with wonder the blade going completely through the
box without so much as a whimper from Dad. Then I had to push a
second blade through the box. Next he would show me why it
didnt hurt when he unlatched one side of the tube and let
me look through it. He unlatched the other side and the two tubes
came apart. His arm had vanished inside the tube. I could see it
was still attached to his shoulder, his real hand with wiggling
fingers came out the other end of the tube, but in-between was
nothing at all.
Then Dad called Mom, who was dusting something
or other up in the attic, and asked her to take the tube that had
his wiggling fingers in it and bring it to me so I could see that
his fingers were real. She acted like it was a big bother, and
there was nothing strange about his arm being cut into two
pieces, but she did as he asked and his wiggling fingers grabbed
me and tried to pull me into the tube, but I backed away just in
Mom said to Dad, Put your arm back together. Its
almost dinner time and I dont want you dropping things all
over because your hand wont stay on the end of your
arm. Then she went downstairs and I helped attach the two
tubes together again and pulled out the two big blades. Slowly
Dad pulled his arm with the fingers still attached out of the
combined tubes and said, Now dont do anything bad
that I need to spank you for. I dont want my hand falling
off in the middle of a good spanking.
He said it with a big smile on his face so I knew he was joking.
But I was impressed. All through dinner, all through getting
ready for bed, and for hours after lights out, I thought about
that trick. Suddenly it came to me. I knew how it was done. I got
out of bed and went to my little work table. I found some pieces
of cardboard cut from old boxes I had been saving for making
stuff with. I built that trick out of cardboard. The two wooden
tubes, the two blades, all made from cardboard and colored with
crayons. Then I went to bed and fell asleep right away, convinced
I had solved the mystery
except for one thing. Mom had
brought me the tube containing Dads wiggling live fingers
in it and I had felt his fingers alive and moving before she
brought it back and made him reconnect his fingers to his arm.
I woke up the next morning with that puzzle still on my mind. I
went down to breakfast and was silent for a change. Usually I had
a lot to say in the morning, but not this particular morning.
Finally I burst out with my question. Mom, did you ever
work with Grandpa in his magic act?
She looked at Dad, he looked at her and then she answered
reluctantly, Once or twice. Everybody worked with Grandpa
on that darn magic act of his. Im glad those days are
Do your fingernails come off? I asked.
Dad burst out with an explosive laugh. Busted! he
exclaimed. I knew the boy was smart!
Hush up, said Mom. The whole neighborhood will
She held out her right hand to me and said, My fake
fingernails are glued on. Otherwise I would be losing them every
time I cooked and youd find them in your cereal or in your
dinner. Now stop asking foolish questions and finish your
Can I see your other hand? I asked. Dad was suddenly
filled with the snorting giggles again.
Heres my other hand, she said, and held it up
in the air, but I couldnt see her fingernails from that
side of her left hand. I grabbed her left hand and her left thumb
nail slid off into my hand.
Now look what youve done! Youve broken off my
thumbnail and Ill have to glue it on again, she said,
Shes good, I said, admiringly.
Shes the best, said Dad. Youre the
first person to realize it. She made Grandpas magic act
into real magic for a lot of people. They would bicker back and
forth all the time so no one would ever believe she was actually
helping him secretly.
Im telling Grandpa on you, she said to Dad.
When I pray for him tonight, Im going to tell him
that you revealed his biggest secret to his grandchild at the
Mike figured it out for himself, said Dad. Go
get that cardboard box thing you worked on all last night instead
of going to bed, he told me.
I brought the cardboard tubes into the kitchen and put them on
the table. The only thing I couldnt figure out was
how you were able to bring the tube with Dads wiggling
fingers in it over to me and let me touch them and feel that they
were real. Those had to be your fingers, mom. You ditched your
fake nails somehow, and without the phony fingernails, your hand
looks just like Dads.
Now I have to tell Grandpa you gave away a magic secret we
have been keeping for years, said Mom, but she put her left
hand, minus all the fake fingernails, around my neck and hugged
me and kissed the top of my head.
How fast can you put them back on? I asked.
She put her left hand into her apron pocket and brought it back
out right away with all of her fake fingernails on. I
practiced that for days on end until I could do it well enough to
satisfy Grandpa to put it into the act, she said. It
was my idea.
I remember the incident because it was the very next day that I
started Kindergarten. I was five years old now and that was the
law. I wanted to stay at home and work on learning more of
Grandpas magic, but Dad personally escorted me to the
school and stayed with me until I knew where the bathroom was,
where the nurse could be found, met with the principal, and
finally met with my kindergarten teacher. The last thing he said
to me before he left for home was, Dont tell anyone
youre a magician.
That was his big mistake. I promised to not tell anyone I was a
magician, but that didnt stop me from performing magic
tricks for my five-year-old classmates, and they figured out for
themselves that I must be a magician. I just did simple things,
like making pennies appear and disappear and turn into dimes. One
boy was fascinated by this and followed me everywhere. It was
from him that I learned not to perform the same trick twice in a
row to the same person. After he had watched me vanish the penny
for three or four times to different classmates, he came up to me
and asked to examine the magic penny. Then when he handed it back
again, it just disappeared from his hand, the same way I had been
making it happen over and over again. He winked at me and made it
drop out of my nose, the same way I was doing it for the other
Hi, he said. My name is Hakeem Brown. I like
Thanks, Hakeem. My name is Mike Mason. You did that coin
vanish perfectly. How long have you been a magician? I
Hakeem & Mike
About one minute, he laughed.
That was my first magic trick. How long did it take you to
learn all that stuff you do?
Ive been at it since I was three years old, I
admitted. I should have known better than to let you watch
me perform it over and over again.
Im glad you did, said Hakeem. Will you
teach me any more magic tricks? Id like to be a magician
Ill have to ask my father, I told him. He
warned me not to tell anyone I was a magician.
Where do you live, he asked. I told him and he said,
Thats one block over from my house. Can we walk home
together so you can ask him?
OK, I said. Wed better get back to this
damn kindergarten stuff were learning today
spell the names of the colors using our damn crayons that break
and crumble all the time.
He laughed at that and I knew I had made my first friend at
kindergarten. We grumbled like that at our kindergarten
lessons and laughed a lot together, but we always
finished first and had plenty of time to help others who
werent as fast as we were.
At the end of the day, we walked home together. My house was
closer, but I promised to walk him to his house afterwards so I
would know where it was and meet his family so they would know
who I was.
Dad was surprised at my request to teach Hakeem magic, but I had
Hakeem show him the vanishing penny and the nose drop ending, and
he was impressed. He told Hakeem the three rules of magic : Rule
1 Never tell a secret, Rule 2 Never perform a trick
twice in a row for the same person, and Rule 3 practice,
practice, practice. Never show a trick until you can perform it
perfectly, otherwise you are breaking Rule 1.
What rule did Mike forget? he asked Hakeem.
The second rule, but he didnt know I was watching him
all those times he was performing for other kids, said
Do you think you both learned a lesson from that?
Yes, we both said, and we shook hands on it.
Then go ahead and be friends first, and learn magic second,
but always be true to your friends, said Dad. Friends
are more important than magic.
Im going to walk Hakeem home and meet his
parents, I said. Ill teach him another trick or
two on the way.
Just dont forget to come back home in time for
supper, said Dad. Give his folks our phone number so
they can call me if they want to checkup on things. Its a
parents trick to keep ahead of you kids.
Heres my phone number, Mr. Mason, said Hakeem,
handing Dad a piece of paper with his name and number on it.
If you guys are going to be magicians, youll need
some business cards. Well work on that on the computer
tonight. Do you have a computer, Hakeem? asked Dad.
Yes, said Hakeem. I wrote my e-mail address on
the back of that paper I gave you.
OK, then the two of you can use your computers to work
together on-line to design business cards, if your parents say
its OK, Hakeem. I can see you two are going to be best
On the way to his house, I showed Hakeem three ways to make coins
disappear, and one way to pluck coins out of the air or from
under someones chin or from behind their ears, etc. By the
time we arrived, he had mastered the moves, but he took
Dads third Rule of Magic to heart and decided to practice
all night on those coin sleight of hand moves before showing them
to anyone except me.
I met Mr. and Mrs. Brown and I performed some magic with a deck
of cards to show them I was a magician. I handed each of them the
deck and told them to peek at one card, then pass the deck to the
other person who was to also peek at a card. Then I shuffled the
deck of cards and spread it out face-up on a table and told them
to point to the card each had peeked at. They couldnt. The
cards they peeked at werent in the deck. I asked them to
name the cards, and they surprised each other because they had
both peeked at the same card, the 3 of hearts. I told them they
couldnt have peeked at the 3 of hearts because it
wasnt even in the deck. Then the 3 of hearts came rising up
out of my shirt pocket to show them it had been there all along.
I guess they were impressed, but I know Hakeem was impressed
because he made me promise that tomorrow we would work on card
magic because he wanted to learn how to do that trick.
The Browns agreed to let Hakeem and me communicate by computer
tonight until 9:00 PM bedtime, designing our magic business
cards. He had a printer and so did I, so we could each print out
a sheet of about 12 cards that we could cut out by hand and be
ready to give away at Kindergarten tomorrow.
Mr. Brown walked me back home because it was getting dark, and he
stayed to shake hands with my father and talk about their kids
doing magic and making business cards together. Both thought it
was a great idea. I overheard some of their discussion and it
seems that Hakeem had fussed and fumed at having to go to
Kindergarten yesterday morning, and here he was, completely
changed from having met me and now was looking forward to going
to Kindergarten tomorrow. They both agreed that our meeting was
good for the two of us, because I had no friends before I met
Hakeem, and now I had a friend and a student of magic all in one.
That night, on the computer I showed Hakeem some typical
magicians business cards off the Web, and how they were
simple and to the point. But what we added was a different
playing card image on the back of each business card so we could
use the cards to do a magic trick. I reminded Hakeem to bring a
deck of playing cards in his pocket so we could work on card
tricks, and tomorrow I would show him how to use the different
playing cards printed on the backs of his business cards to do a
magic trick that would knock their socks off.
When Mom came in to kiss me goodnight, she asked me if I had
shown Hakeem my cardboard cutting off the arm trick yet. I told
her no, and she reached behind her back and brought out
Grandpas wooden version of the trick that she and Dad had
fooled me with, and said they agreed I should have it for my
first magic show, and that it should be performed by Hakeem and
I was a little annoyed at that, until she told me the reason why;
it was because Hakeem had brown colored skin and I had
pinkish/white colored skin. Then she told me to think about why
Hakeem should do the trick and not me, and I rolled over, a
little insulted and a little angry, and thought about it. At
about midnight, I yelled down the hallway to Mom, I got it,
Mom! Youre right! Then I fell asleep with a smile on
my face, thinking about how Hakeem would greet the news that he
was to perform my Grandpas arm illusion in our first magic
show, and perhaps in many others afterwards. Then I began
dreaming about which of Grandpas tricks Mom and Dad would
let me perform.
The next day, I woke up early and got on-line to Hakeems
computer to let him know I was ready to go to school and I had
all my business cards cut out and ready. They looked something
like this, but with my real address.
Each card has a different playing card printed
on the back, and Hakeem had playing cards that were different
from mine so the same card never showed up twice even when we
were performing the trick at different times to different people.
We picked our target people very carefully so that no one got to
see the trick done twice, whether it was performed by me or by
The trick went like this. I would ask someone if he or she wanted
to see a magic trick (they always did!). I showed them the front
of my business card and put it on the table. I told them to put
some money on top of the card, as much as they wanted to bet, but
at least a penny. They could add more to their bet later. Then I
brought out my deck of playing cards and had them shuffle the
cards, or because they were kindergarten kids, they could just
mix them around any old which way. Then the person pulled out one
playing card and kept his or her finger on it the whole time. I
asked him to bet that I knew what card he would pick even before
he picked it. Would he be willing to bet that I couldnt
possibly know what card he would pick before he picked it? If he
wanted to bet the penny, he would win a penny if I was wrong. But
if he wanted to bet more than the penny, he could add more coins
on top of my business card to raise his bet and I put down coins
on the table that he would win from me if I was wrong. Then when
he was ready to stop betting, he turned his playing card over and
showed me what he had chosen. I pretended to look all defeated as
if he had won, but before he could collect the money from me, I
asked him to turn over the business card. Lets say the
playing card he had chosen was the Queen of Hearts, in which case
he would see the Queen of Hearts printed on the back of my
business card, proving that I won the bet.
I showed the trick to kids in the cafeteria before school started
so there were a lot of kids from all the different grades and
soon I had a crowd of kids wanting to be next to bet, but to
avoid breaking the second rule of magic, I did something
completely different. Only when I was sure that the person
hadnt seen me perform my business card trick did I do it
again. Hakeem watched me and by the time the bell rang to go to
class he said, Thats a helluva great trick! I
havent any idea how to do what you just did. Plus all those
other tricks that were sort of like it, but not using the
business card. I dont know how I can learn all those!
They are all the same trick, done different ways so the
audience doesnt think they are the same, I told him.
I didnt break Rule 2. They all thought they were
watching something completely different.
So did I, he said. I have a lot to learn!
What? Still reading? Then you may want to
continue the book to find out how it ends, or to learn how the
Kindergarten Magicians put on their first big stage show for the
whole school. Jim Gerrish
|Chapter 1 Kindergarten
Chapter 2 Magic Mike & Hakeem
Chapter 3 Magic Pets
Chapter 4 Summer "Playgrounds"
Magic Complete Book One - Four Chapters
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