The Rabbit.

The once-black garment had seen better days. It was unseamed, here, and was quite clearly torn, here (and here). There was a coating of various stains, common with rough and careless living, upon it. The moniker, Derek K. Kerrick, was faintly scripted onto an inch of ribbon on the underside. But this was not the name of the man beneath it now.

His known name was Ivan (and perhaps this went some way to explaining the children’s assumption of his eastern heritage) and long ago he had been in sales. But he’d hated sales and had secretly vowed to leave this trade, if that was what it was, and become a magician. He had always been interested in table magic; card tricks, coins and other things which he knew to be called close-hand magic.

It had come into his possession, along with the riflings of a petty cash box, some time ago in another town when he had happened upon an open window through which he had entered a small office, one rainy night, at the back of a school. It was, more correctly, a gown: the kind worn by graduating students or certain headmasters. Collegiate anyway. But sartorial detail of this kind is missed by many.

He had felt, so much, the desire to pull a rabbit from a top hat. So, he’d bought a top hat, but, finding it wanting, purchased a rabbit to pull from it. However, finding the rabbit too large, decided that he should bite the bullet and seek out the magic circle. He left his desk and made a quick friend of a man at the pub who hinted that he knew of a man who knew of a man who could help him fulfil this dream. And, within a year of leaving sales, his act was extracting lacklustre claps from the palms of diners at cheap, local restaurants and supermarket staff on Christmas nights out, pulling colourful scarves, that he kept up his sleeve, but giving, almost, the impression that they came from the thin air.

This conjuring, this paltry, tricksy magic – the flim flam of ex-salesmen – served him fine for some time. And, with practice, not only did his hand skills become deft, but his stagecraft blossomed. By the second Christmas he was extracting whoops and wows from warmer rooms, and a small bunny called Alan from the dark hat. He found himself lauded in local papers.

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