Wright & Sayer's Den of Iniquity

The City ---
The streets of New York were shrouded with gray rain. The lights of Broadway admired their own glittering reflections on the glistening pavement.

I glanced up and down, the coast looked clear. Gave my partner the high-sign, and we headed across the alley to the street.

We had to be on the watch for groupies. Believe it or not, there are magician groupies, just like there are rock groupies and trekkies. Magic groupies are generally more conservative looking, could pass more easily for "normal" than either of the other two groups, but they're just as stupid and boring, in their own way.

Not as many of them flock around my partner and I as do around Copperfield or McBride or Blackstone Jr. (what kind of simp calls himself "Jr.", anyway?). Our act is built around exposing the tricks behind magic, violating the so-called "Magician's Oath", and a lot of the other magicians hate us for that. That's okay, we don't like them, either, so there.

Anyway, unpopular with magicians, unpopular with their groupies.

Yeah, you guessed it, I'm Ben Wright, and my partner is Sayer, just Sayer, and together we're Wright & Sayer, the notorious magicians.Like I say, we don't have as many groupies as those other guys, but we get our share. Which is why we're careful leaving the theater.

This time, I guess, we weren't careful enough.

Broadway, New York City, in the rain

The coast looked clear.
I glanced up & down,
the coast looked clear.
We piled into the waiting limo, and fell back exhausted on the plush seats, as George pulled away from the curb. Except it wasn't George, driving. This wasn't our limo at all. I knew our limo didn't have a jump seat, or a guy who looked like a homeless australian aborigine sitting in it.

Still, I could see we hadn't jumped into the wrong car just by mistake. Sayer gave the old man his patented intimidating stare, and I joined him - the best defense being a good offense.

"Okay, pal, what's the deal?" I asked as rudely as I could. You may have noticed, I'm pretty good at rude.

The old man just giggled. I looked at Sayer. Sayer looked at me. We both looked back at the old man. I realized he was wearing dredlocks. I didn't know aborigines wore dreds. There were two feathers sticking out of the back of his do. He looked like a Rastafarian Aborigine Native American dressed in an intern's pajamas.

You may have noticed,
I'm pretty good at rude.

He giggled again.

"I am Brother Ya'aqob" he says.

Okay, a Jewish Rastafarian Aborigine Native American dressed in intern's pajamas.

I sat back and lit a cigarette, hoping the guy hated smoke.

"Okay, Jake, you gonna tell us what's the story, or you gonna let us out on the next corner?"

Bro Ya'aqob brings out the biggest cigar I've ever seen, and lights up. He's gotta be in the business, I figure, nobody actually smokes cigars that size, it's gotta be a prop. And the smell would gag a vulture.

"De ArcMage want to see you. I come to take you to him."

This was not, shall we say, the most reassuring thing we could have heard at that point.

Okay, Jake, ywhat's the story?
De ArcMage want to see you.
More still yet more more still even more keep going... yup, down there.
"De Arcmage want to see you. I come to take you to him."

I looked at Sayer, and I knew he was thinking the same thing I was. Lots of magician's organizations had presidents with fancy magical titles - Grand Epopt of the Mystic Hoo-Ha, or whatever. We may have finally fallen afoul of the magician's version of the mafia, and this Archmage guy was actually Sigfried or Roy or Copperfield, or somebody, who was about to put the arm on us to get us to quit exposing the trade secrets. There's big money in some of these shows, there's no telling how crazy someone might get. We might actually end up in cement overshoes, or something equally banal but deadly.

The other possibility was that Archie, Jacob, and Not-George the Driver were members of some whacked-out occult cult, and Archie seriously believes - or says he seriously believes - that he actually is the "Archmage".

"De Arcmage want to see you.
I come to take you to him."
A word of explanation here for those of our readers who aren't familiar with the history of magic. We know history lessons are boring, we'll keep it brief.

Legend has it that there is a secret group of guys who practice "real" magic, who are all kind of like Alec Guiness in Star Wars (TM), old Merlin-types secret masters who look after the welfare of the world for the Big Guy Upstairs. In some versions of the legend, they're good guys, in some they're evil, in many versions there are two groups, Black Magicians and White. They're called the Secret Masters, the Illuminati, or the World Magicians. And the Head Honcho of this magic round table is called the Archmage.

It's all a lot of hooey, of course, but some fools still take it seriously.

So there were our two most likely alternatives: either we were in the hands of vicious killers or we had been grabbed by serious nutcases.

Neither one was a pretty alternative.

Off to see the ArcMage...
again with the arrows...yeah, c'mon...almost there...
and here it is!
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Images & Text © 1999 Duncan Eagleson