The Magician cleared his throat gently.
"And now," he announced," for my final…"
He trailed off as he squinted through the spotlight and tried to see into the nighted gallery. The auditorium had been sparsely populated when he had begun his act, but now he could see only a single shabbily dressed man snoring softly in the second row, and a shadow near the back that was either a very fat man rolling about on the floor or a couple making love.
He stepped backward as he straightened himself, and his foot nudged a small pile of scrap metal that had once been three steel hoops that had twisted, bent, and tangled, but stubbornly refused to separate. He felt a tap on his right shoulder, and glanced over at a paramedic trying to get his attention.
"We're taking her to get stitches," he said, jerking his thumb back towards the Magician's Assistant. She was being helped off the stage by the other paramedic, having suffered a nasty saw-cut to her ribs earlier in the evening. "You might want to put those out," he added, waving his hand at the half-dozen smoldering dove corpses scattered about the stage that were currently filling the air with the stench of burnt feathers and cooked fowl. The Magician turned back to the spotlight.
"Um. And now…"
He was interrupted by the sound of what was undoubtedly someone's phone going off, a tinny rendition of a decade old pop tune. "Hit me baby…" it was singing. No one was turning it off, and the person on the other end wasn't giving up. "Hit me baby…"
The show must go on. He had been told it his whole life. His whole performance career anyway, and wasn't it really the same thing? The show must go on. He said it to himself every night. Except this time, at that moment, he made the supremely dangerous mistake of asking himself why.
He felt his scalp grow warm as the rabbit in his hat relieved itself.
"Fuck this." He palmed a miniature smoke bomb and threw it to the ground. A thin tendril of smoke struggled out of it and quickly dissipated. The trap door opened under the Magician's feet, and he dropped away out of the spotlight into the darkness beneath the floor boards.
He banged his chin pretty badly on the edge of the hole on the way down.