Harry Houdini is back in his own story "Apparition," a tale of Shakespeare, drama, humor, ego, and of course mysterious happenings!
A Harry Houdini Story
By John Pirillo
"Harry Houdini" The Eighth Wonder of the World. The sign read. Boldly, loudly, and just the way he wanted it to do.
Harry adjusted his tie and grinned at the mirror image of himself in the box-office window of the Globe Theater, which had been newly remodeled and the invention of Edison to project moving pictures installed and a huge screen. None of it affected him, however, as there were now two possible venues in the grand old Shakespearean theater. The live stage and the moving stage as the Brits were wont to call it.
The Parisians had gotten their first glimpse of the new cinema as it was being called nowadays when the Lumiere Brothers had scared them out of half a day's wine chugging when a huge train had appeared to be running amok into the theater.
He chuckled. How naive we are as humans to think that everything that can go wrong, or even right is about us. We are but specks on the great mantle of God's cloak called Creation. He mused to himself with a twinkle in his eye. He tweaked his mustache, swept his coal colored hair back from his forehead and bowed to a lovely lady who had stopped near him.
"Mademoiselle. Your timing is impeccable."
"And your hubris equally so." She teased.
He smiled and then gave his sister a big hug, as she did him back.
"Well then, shall we see the new play? I hear it's a robust one that Shakespeare hammered out over the weekend. Will spoke to me on the Tesla Phone he and Edison had put together this last year and told me everything about it. Something to do with a King who sells out his country and his citizens in order to accumulate their wealth."
"Rather sounds like some merchants these days. More intent on grabbing wealth, than spreading quality of service and product." She announced somewhat stiffly.
He gave her a double take. "Lady Shareen?"
She gave him a startled look. "How could you know that?"
"I've heard the spiel many times by now, having been and continuing to be best friends with her and her bronzed giant mate, Lord Graystone."
"Ah yes." She admitted. "I rather fancy that would make a difference. Shall we?" She offered him her arm and he took it. They went to the front of the old theater, which had been polished up and repainted for the new act he was presenting later in the evening. The Shakespeare side was not quite so rowdy looking, as Will tended to be more laid back and comfortable with staying in the background, rather than garnering stage presence. Though he was known to occasionally dress as a maiden when one of the female actresses failed to show up.
Lately, the Brits had accepted the introduction of women into the acting profession, which had taken a great load off those men more inclined to close lips with a beautiful lass, than a handsome rogue.
The Ticket Taker smiled at Houdini. "It's so good to see you again, Harry."
"Good to be here, Mary. This here is my sister, Wendy."
"So nice to meet you, Miss Houdini."
"Oh, my last name is not Houdini. That's just a stage name my brother concocted. My real last name is Astor Smith."
"I like that." The Ticker Taker replied, then handed the both of them a ticket. "Old Will is personally taking tickets this afternoon. Something about wanting to see the audience reaction in every way possible."
Houdini winked at Mary. "Thank you. But that shouldn't surprise you; Old Willie is somewhat of a perfectionist. After all this rhyming poetry is truly despicable when it comes to writing it. I could never do such if you paid me a million pounds to do so."
Mary smiled. "Not that you need the money any."
He winked at her, and turned to Wendy, his sister. "Shall we?"
They entered past two marble columns sculpted with demi-gods and fierce mythological creatures. Wendy looked at the creatures a bit fearfully. "Good thing those awful things only exist in the imagination."
Houdini didn't remove that thought from her mind, even though he had personally been responsible for removing at least two of the monsters from existence with the help of the Brotherhood of Baker Street.
"Yes. It would be a...uh...extremely difficult thing to do, wouldn't it?"
Old Will...who was in fact no older than Harry, dimpled when Wendy was brought to him to offer her ticket up. He immediately bowed and took her left hand and kissed it. "Who would have thought such a lovely young creature could ever have been related to Harry here?"
She dimpled back at him, touched by his words. "And I'm sure Harry agrees, don't you Harry?"
But Harry was gone. He had seen something in one of the top balconies. Something that should not have been there. He probably should have warned Will and Wendy, but he didn't want to arouse any fears that weren't based in fact, so he just swept up the heavily carpeted, red cloth that lined the swirling spiral of steps to the next floor, leaving them perplexed in the rear.
"I guess Harry's found someone else to chase." William said, an amused look on his face.
Wendy turned to look at his face. "Truly. My brother has wandering eyes?"
"Oh, please forgive me for being so boorish. I didn't realize you two didn't speak of such things." William said, his face reddening with a blush.
She smiled at him. "No matter. It fits rather nicely with his larger than life image now, doesn't it?"
"I imagine so. I hope he doesn't miss the prologue. I wrote it especially for him in honor of his show tonight."
"Really." She said, thrilled to hear it. "What is it called?"
William gave her a long look and then said. "The Fall of Man through Narcissism."
She laughed. "Oh Harry will find that ever so funny."
William let out a relieved breath of air, and then offered his arm. "Come now. He may be late, but I still have time to show you to the box seats. Best seats for hearing everything perfectly."
"I thought the acoustics had been much improved."
"Oh, they have, but there are still certain portions of the old theater that drop words. This way."
He guided her along two aisles, then up a short sweep of steps into a box seat that had room for four.
"Oh, but this is much too large for just Harry and I." She said as he seated her.
"Don't worry. I will be seated behind the two of you watching the stage...and my actors like a hawk!"
She burst into laughter. He gave her a good-bye kiss on her right hand, then hurried back to the ticket taking spot and hurriedly took tickets from what looked to be a Lord and Lady. She thought it might be Whittleson, but she couldn't be for certain because of the lighting in the house being dimmed.
Harry reached the second level of the theater and went searching through the rows of seats he had seen earlier where the apparition had first appeared. If it had really been there, his senses would light up like a roman candle when he came close. It was when he went to the far right of the level and near the sweeping stairs that lifted to the Booth of Royalty, where the Good Queen Mary of Scots had perpetually reserved seats, that he felt the essence penetrate his senses.
It tasted to his awareness like foul soup that had been embodied with sewage and rotting corpses. Hovering over the Queen's chair was something barely visible, but it had enough of a presence for him to see its general outline. Male. It saw him, but ignored him, its eyes on something to its right. Harry looked that way just as Conan burst into the booth, carrying an odd looking scanner in his right hand and a bag of salt in the other. "Be gone, foul demon!" Conan had cried out, and then flung the salt at the presence. The salt spread into a light cloud of particle and enveloped the presence.
The lighting in the house, which was fueled by the new Tesla power generators, flickered horribly, dropping the theater in utter darkness one moment, and then flaring brightly the next. This went on for several seconds accompanied by a high pitched wailing sound that everyone in the audience below could hear and clapped hands over their ears, or fainted from the intensity of it.
Conan ran closer to the presence, and then pulled out a mirror. He held it towards the presence. "This is what you have become. Shall you still call yourself human and claim that Divinity?"
The presence suddenly became as solid as a real person for several long moments that Harry would never forget. It was a tall gentleman with a face that had been scarred horribly. But his eyes were that of a child's. He fell to his knees before Conan. "Father, forgive me."
Then he vanished utterly. Every light in the house went to full blast a long second, and then fell back to their normal luminosity. Within the theater the audience slowly stood up.
Will stood nervously at his ticket-taking spot as everyone turned slowly around to face him. He was going to be thrown bodily out into the street. He could visualize it even that moment, as the men and women fixed their eyes on him, but then a very, very strange thing happened. They all broke into applause. A standing ovation.
"Hear, hear!"The shouts rang through the levels of the theater.
Harry and Conan stood at the edge of the Queen's box and beamed. "He really deserves the recognition, even if not for this once."
Harry smiled. "I trust that Will will not disappoint them." And laughed at his double entendre.
Conan smiled and patted him on the back. "As to the father thing, it was not I he was asking for forgiveness from."
"I rather fancied so, Conan, you really don't look like the fatherly type." Harry laughed.
Conan gave Harry a hard look for a moment, and then laughed. "I suppose I don't." But then as he was exiting the booth, he turned back and said. "But I rather fashion you will not be either."
He left the booth barking like a seal with laughter so loud that some below looked up to see what was going on.
Harry hurried down the steps to the booth for him and his sister, entered and sat beside her. "Will's off to a nice start, isn't he?"
She gave him a searching look. "So you say, Harry. So you say!"