art by Cheryl L Owen-Wilson
The Best Trick
by John M Shade
The lights were strung and the music played soft in the night, the town dancing close. Everyone had come out. The mayor and his wife. Small Joseph and Maralene, the boy's crush. Families and strangers. Daughters and sons. Light bloomed against the dancing square like a declaration. Games and food and shows all around (an old circus town should know how to throw a party), and the night trundled on, unaware.
They kept their weapons close, though, like any good town would.
Small Joseph, the illusionist's son, watched Maralene from across the dancing square, through the bodies of those pressed close and dancing already. It always happened like this. The feeling built upon itself until it was almost unbearable, but then when it came time to act he always turned away, told her he had to practice at the gun range, shooting straw bandits, or he had to help with dinner, or that he couldn't be out after dark.