The Disappearing Act

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“So that’s why my parents named me Jack Daniels, just like the Whiskey,” said Jack, concluding his speech. The rest of the classroom burst into applause. The second day assignment for the new semester English class had been for each student to prepare a short speech sharing something unique about them. While everyone knew Jack Daniels, very few knew the reason his parents had named him after the whiskey.

“Okay class, we only have time to hear from one more person for today. Tony, why don’t you go?” said their teacher. Calmly, the new transfer student Tony Tanner got up in front of the class.

“Hi, I’m Tony Tanner. I just transferred here from Tokyo.” He said this in a humorous tone, pausing at the end for people to laugh. He got a chuckle or two but that was it. “No really, I just transferred here from Tokyo. My stepfather is a well-known mentalist performer, he travels all around the world both performing and learning. I was born in New York City; when I turned twelve he let me start traveling with him. I’ve been to Baltimore, Cincinnati, Hollywood, Honolulu, Canada, Europe, South America, and, Asia, but this is my first time in Florida. I plan to become a mentalist performer myself someday, that is what makes me unique.”
“Very interesting, Tony. If you don’t mind, explain to the class what exactly a mentalist performer does,” said the teacher.

“Well, a mentalist performer does psychological magic tricks like mind reading, and hypnosis,” said Tony. One student, a basketball player named Jordan yelled out for Tony to show the class a trick. Other classmates joined him in yelling, wanting to see a trick. Tony opened his mouth, as if about to speak, when the bell rang.
“We’ll hear the rest of the speeches tomorrow,” said their teacher, ignoring the demands for Tony to perform a trick, “class dismissed.” She was met with a chorus of groans from the turbulent class, eager to see a trick.
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Being the first one finished with his laps after basketball practice, Jack made it to the showers first. It was his senior season and he was determined to lead his team to win North Park High School’s first State Championship. With almost all of the starters returning from the previous year, Jack’s team was looking great. Not only were they all talented basketball players, but also were some of the tallest and strongest in the state. If North Park was going to win a State Championship, this was going to be the year.
Jack’s close friends, Jordan, and Cameron were the next to finish their laps and join him in the shower. Shortly after them, the rest of the team poured into the locker room.
“What’s everyone think of that new kid, Tony,” asked Jordan to his friends in the shower.
“He says he can read peoples minds and hypnotize people,” said Cameron.
“I think he’s full of it,” said Jordan as he laughed, “I need to see a trick before I believe him.”
“Let’s get him to show us one at lunch tomorrow,” said Cameron.
“You guys need to focus on districts, it’s only a week away,” scolded Jack, resulting in a funny look from his friends. Districts were going to be a cakewalk for North Park, considering all the teams they were playing they had already destroyed in the regular season. He just didn’t understand why there was so much talk about the new kid. Ever since English class, all anyone in school had talked about was how the new kid could do tricks. He didn’t understand why anyone cared, especially with a State Title within grasp.
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The next day at lunch, Jack walked up to the usual table, surprised to find Tony laughing with Cameron, Jordan, and everyone else.
“What’s up Jack? You’ve got to see this. Tony, show him the coin trick,” said Jordan. Tony took a penny out of his pocket, and sat it on the table.
“As you can see,” said Tony, “What I have here is a penny. I can make this penny switch from hand to hand, or disappear completely using my mind; watch.” Tony closed his right hand on the table and picked up the penny, making a fist around it. He bumped his hands together then asked Jack to pick which hand the penny was in. Jack tapped the right hand, and Tony opened it. The penny wasn’t in it. He bumped his hands together a few more times, and then opened his right hand again. It wasn’t in it either. The penny had disappeared. Tony bumped his hands together again, and when he opened his right hand, the penny was in it.
“Isn’t that awesome dude?” asked Jordan.
“I don’t get how he did that,” added Cameron. Jack was impressed, but not being the center of attention for once hurt his ego enough that he pretended he wasn’t.
“I could show you, but a good mentalist never reveals how a trick is performed. I’ve been making coins disappear like that since I was three. What I am capable of doing is much, much, more mind-boggling than that. Now, as we’ve been sitting here, I’ve only drunken half of my root beer. I want you two to put salt, pepper, and whatever else you would like in the root beer, and Jack is going to drink it,” said Tony.
“Yeah right, there’s no way you’re getting me to drink that,” replied Jack.
“That’s not up to you buddy,” said Tony, “I bet I can make you do it.”
“There’s no way. I bet you can’t,” said Jack.
“I’ll make you a deal, if I can’t make you drink the mixture, I will give you everything in my wallet.” He opened his wallet revealing a fifty-dollar bill. “If I can make you drink it, you have to invite me to your party this weekend. Deal?” asked Tony.
Jack looked at his friends who just shrugged and told him to go for it. Figuring there was no way Tony would be able to make him drink the mixture in addition to the allure the fifty-dollar bill possessed made Jack agree. Cameron and Jordan took the root beer bottle and added salt and pepper.
“Wait, we need some of this too,” said Jordan as he added in some chocolate milk. “Now it’s ready.”
“One more thing,” said Tony. He picked off four of his dirty fingernails, and put them into the mixture before putting the lid on and shaking it up.
“That’s so disgusting!” said Cameron. Jordan and everyone else at the table agreed. At this point, some kids from other tables started coming over to see what was going on, and a small crowd grew. Jack was convinced there was no way he would be drinking the contents of the bottle, so he just smirked.
“Hey Jack, listen to this story,” said Tony. “This one time I was at the mall eating lunch with my dad and the darkness of the aliens made pigs cry. But anyway, when I was at the mall eating lunch with my dad, these kids at the another table filled their friend’s drink with salt and pepper and said ‘take a drink, right now, go ahead, it’s okay to take a drink.’ (Tony touched his nose as he said this.) Isn’t that weird?” asked Tony. He then touched his nose, and to everyone’s surprise, right as he touched it Jack reached out for the bottle and started drinking.
Before even realizing what he was doing, everyone around the table erupted into laughter. Jack sat the bottle down, fell to his knees, and spit the nasty concoction up all over the floor. At this point, the whole cafeteria’s eyes turned to Jack. Jordan turned to help him up, but in doing so accidently elbowed the root beer bottle, spilling the remaining contents onto Jack’s head.
“Look everyone,” yelled Tony, standing up on his seat, pointing. “Jack Daniels couldn’t even put down his root beer!” The whole cafeteria erupted in laughter. Jack looked around, and in a fit of rage and embarrassment stormed out.
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Jack’s girlfriend, Alley laid on her futon talking to Jack on the phone.
“Baby, I heard about your little incident at lunch today, are you okay?”
“Of course I’m okay, and it wasn’t even an incident. It was nothing. I made a stupid mistake, that’s all,” Jack responded. He could hear her laughing on the other end. “It’s not funny!”
“I’m sorry honey, but hey listen I have to get going. I’ll see you at your party this weekend if I don’t see you sooner. I love you.”
“I love you too,” replied Jack. What is with everyone, I cannot believe this, thought Jack.
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The weekend had finally arrived, and Saturday night meant another party at Jack’s place. With a name like Jack Daniels, everyone assumed he could throw a great party; everyone was right. Jack always had the biggest and best parties of anyone in North Park. His basement had a bar, pong tables, and a stage with a DJ and a strip pole. The music was banging and the drinks were going around with no signs of running out. Jack was up on the stage dancing with Alley when Jordan and Cameron came up, Tony was with him wearing a backpack.
“Turn that music off, now!” Jack screamed to his friend working the music. The room went silent. Jordan handed Jack the DJ’s microphone, “What are you doing here?” Jordan took the microphone back, and handed it to Tony.
“Uh, remember, you invited me,” said Tony. This got him some laughs, but there was no way he was going to make a fool out of Jack Daniels at his own party. Jack had a plan, he was confidant he had come up with a predicament so impossible, that not even a mentalist could solve it.
“Oh yeah, that’s right. I do remember. That’s why I made up a challenge for you,” Jack said into the microphone. “There are twenty eight people at this party right now, not including yourself, Tony. I am going to take a piece of blank notebook paper, attach it to a clipboard, and pass it around the entire room. I have numbered one to twenty-eight down the side; each person is going to write a completely random word beside their number. I will then give you, Tony, two minutes, and two minutes only, to memorize all twenty-eight completely random words and their numbers in order. I will then give you another thirty seconds to write down all the words and numbers in order. If you can do this, you can stay.” The figurative battle was on and this time it was round two; Jack’s challenge against Tony’s wits. Everyone began cheering for either Jack or Tony. Jack had spent so much time plotting that he was sure he had devised a scenario Tony couldn’t solve.
The crowd erupted in cheers. The music was cranked back up, and it was on. After a few minutes, the list circled it’s way back to Jack.
“Your two minutes start now,” said Jack as he handed Tony the clipboard. Tony just stood there, smirking, as he studied the list of words. After that, Jack handed him the new piece of paper.
“All right, smart guy, let’s see how you did,” said Jack.
Tony gave the paper back to Jack. Everyone on the stage formed a circle around Jack to compare the two lists. Sure enough, Tony’s list matched the original perfectly. Tony grabbed the microphone.
“You know Jack, I can see right through you. I knew that last time I got the better of you, it bruised your ego a little, buddy. I knew you would try something like this to get me back. I didn’t know what you were going to do exactly, so it makes me laugh now, seeing how pathetically easy your little challenge was. The only thing that could possibly make me laugh harder would be to see you drink that nasty root beer and watch it spill on your head again. Oh, wait, I can see that.” Tony took a laptop computer and a projector out of his backpack and projected a video of Jack drinking the root beer and it spilling on his head up onto the wall for everyone to see.
“Jack,” said Alley, “you have to admit that is really funny.”
“No it is not funny! It is not funny at all!” screamed Jack.
“Jack calm down,” said Jordan, “it’s not even a big deal.”
“It is a big deal!” said Jack. He then made a move towards Tony, grabbing him by his shirt collar.
“Jack! Jack! Jack!” cheered the crowd. Tony’s scrawny frame was no match for the muscular basketball player. All of a sudden, Alley slapped Jack across the face.
“Leave him alone Jack!” She screamed. That did it.
“Alright, party’s over. Everyone get out now! Tony if I ever run into you again, you’re dead. Understand?”
“Got it,” said Tony.
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After a few weeks went by, things were starting to change at North Park High. Alley and Jack were still together, but not talking. Tony had stopped talking to Jack, but was gaining popularity all over the school. Using his impressive repertoire of tricks, Tony was able to make friends easily. The problem was, they were Jack’s friends. Jack Daniels, once the reigning king of the school, was about to be dethroned. This bothered him, but he didn’t let it conflict with his desire to win the State Title. That was up until the team starting falling apart.
Jack not being the most popular kid in school anymore was affecting his leadership. His teammates weren’t placing the same faith in him than they once had. Knowing something had to be done, he wanted to send a message to Tony. Not enough to physically harm him, but enough to let him know he wasn’t messing around. One day, seeing Tony enter the bathroom, Jack followed him in. Taking him by surprise, Jack grabbed a hold of him from behind, covering his mouth with his hand to prevent him from screaming. Tony tried to kick and scream, but to know avail. Jack was too big and strong.
“Now listen here, punk,” said Jack, “You’re about to get the cheapest hair cut of your life.” As he pulled out a pair of scissors, intended to cut off Tony’s hair, a stall door swung opened. The school’s principal had ironically been in the stall the whole time.
“Daniels what the hell is the matter with you? You’re in going to be in huge trouble for this. Both of you, follow me to my office.” A lump formed in Jack’s throat. He knew he had made a tremendous mistake. The walk to the principal’s office seemed to feel like forever to him. They walked in total silence. Luckily for Jack, the principal hadn’t seen the scissors on account of him slipping them back into his pocket when the stall door opened.
“Mr. Daniels what do you have to say for yourself?” asked the principal.
“You see, well, me and my friend Tony have this game where we try to sneak up on each other. That’s all that was going on,” said Jack.
“Is this true?” he asked Tony. Jack gulped, expecting Tony to tell him what really happened. After a pause, Tony responded.
“Yes, sir, that’s all we were doing.”
“Well, you two chose to rough house in school, and that was a mistake. There will be some serious consequences for this,” said the principal.
“Excuse me, sir, I don’t know if you can just stop and look back on a mistake you’ve made in the past and realize that it’s not about what you did wrong, it’s about what you know you need to avoid in the future, and that means there is no problem and no need for consequences,” said Tony. Wow, thought Jack, what an idiot. Why would he say something like that? Jack thought the principal was going to get really angry, but instead something completely unexpected happened.
“You know what, that’s a very interesting way to look at it. I guess that since nobody was harmed, I’ll let you both off with a warning. Have a nice day.” So they left the principal’s office.
“Wow, thanks for covering for me, man,” said Jack, “I didn’t think you would do that.”
“Don’t flatter yourself, Jack,” Tony said, “you’re just too easy. I knew you were going to follow me into the bathroom today. You fell right for my trap. Unfortunately for you, my backpack has a concealed video camera built into it. I have the whole incident on tape.”
“But you’re backpack wasn’t even facing me, there’s no way it could have gotten me on tape.”
“Wrong again, Jack. The camera was facing the mirror in plain view. The general function of a mirror is to reflect images back, and since my camera was taping the mirror, I got a beautiful shot of your reflection pulling out that pair of scissors. All I have to do is go back to the principal, change my story and show him the tape, and you’re expelled. Scissors are considered a weapon here. You need to do something for me if you want the tape,” said Tony.
“Damn, you got me again! What do you want, money, girls? Because I can get both for you easily,” offered Jack.
“No Jack, all I want to do is have a talk with you,” said Tony.
“All right, when?” said Jack.
“I want you to meet me in the forest tonight at 9. Take the left path until you see the creek. Once you see the creek, get off the path and follow it down half a mile. You’ll see me there. Make sure you come alone and unarmed; we’re just going to talk. The way it’s going to work is I will shine a spotlight on you from across the creek. You’re going to then empty your pockets in front of me so I can see you have no weapons. I will do the same. Then, you will jump over and meet me. If you do as I say tonight, I will give you the tape.”
“All right, I guess I don’t really have a choice,” said Jack.
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Where is he? Jack thought to himself, growing apprehensive. Upon seeing the creek and walking along it, it felt like he had gone farther than a half mile seeing no signs of Tony. Suddenly, a bright light lit up the sky. It was Tony’s spotlight.
“Good thing you decided to show up, Jack. Empty your pockets and I’ll do the same.”
So they both emptied the contents of their pockets. Besides his cell phone and wallet, Jack had nothing on him. Tony didn’t either.
“So let’s go Jack, hop on over here,” said Tony.
“What do I have to do to get that tape?” asked Jack.
“In time you’ll get the tape, my friend. I don’t have it on me, but it’s close by. We’re going to go for a walk and have a talk about everything going on between us. Then you can have the tape, and we’ll both walk out of here to forget this whole thing ever happened. Sound good?” They both walked on in complete silence, Jack just followed Tony, not sure where they were going.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” said Jack, finally breaking the silence, “We should talk. I owe you a big apology, man, for everything. The thing is, I just felt like everyone was leaving me for you, and I let my ego get in the way and I was wrong. I was completely wrong. I hope you can accept my apology.”
“Well, Jack, It makes me think so much more of you for being man enough to admit to that. I do accept your apology. It wasn’t just your fault. It was stupid too. I guess the only reason I wanted to mess with you was because since you’re so popular, I knew that if I messed with you and made you look bad to impress your friends, everyone else in school would pay attention to me. It was a really selfish and stupid thing to do. I hope you can forgive me,” said Tony. They walked on in more silence, this time it lasted even longer.
“It’s fine, I won’t hold it against you. I forgive you. I can actually see us being friends. What do you say we put everything behind us and start over?” asked Tony.
“That would be cool, buddy,” said Tony.
“Awesome. Do you think you could tell me though how you did everything you did?” asked Jack.
“Well,” said Tony, “I usually never give away my secrets but I guess just this one time I will. For my penny trick, when I picked the coin up off the table, I slid it into my lap so subtly that no one noticed. So it was never really in my hand at all. After that part of the trick, everyone always relaxes thinking the trick’s over so it’s easy for me to slip the coin back into my hand. At that point I open my hand with the penny in it and it looks like I made it disappear than reappear.”
“Wow, that’s amazing! So how did you make me drink that disgusting root beer? I thought there was no way you could make me,” said Jack.
“Well, I started out by telling a made up story about me going to the mall with my dad. It started out simple enough that you conscious mind followed it with ease. I then threw in something completely random. I started talking about the darkness of aliens making pigs cry. The reason I said this, though it may seem completely random, was to throw off your conscious mind. While your conscious mind is confused trying to process what I said, I was able to bypass it and speak directly to your subconscious mind.
I then continued the story, and I talked about a kid at another table filling up his friends drink and saying ‘take a drink, right now, go ahead, it’s okay to take a drink.’ I said this in a commanding voice, as if I was telling you to take a drink myself. While my random comment threw off your conscious mind, I quickly fed it a quote. Now, that quote seemed like it was part of the story, but when I said ‘take a drink, right now, go ahead, it’s okay to take a drink,’ I was really commanding your subconscious mind to make you take a drink. Since your conscious mind was trying to process the quote, I was able to bypass it again and speak directly to your subconscious. Right as I said this I simultaneously touched my nose.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with psychology, but there’s a story about a man named Pavlov who did an experiment with dogs. Whenever he rang a bell, the dogs salivated and ran in to get their food. Eventually, when he would ring the bell without having any food, the dogs would still salivate because the bell was associated with it in their minds. So basically to sum everything up, I bypassed your conscious mind, gave your subconscious mind a command hidden inside of a quote, and touched my nose to create an association in your mind with touching my nose and taking a drink. When I touched my nose, your subconscious mind forced you to take a drink. It’s an extremely advanced hypnosis concept,” said Tony.
“Wow, I cannot believe that worked. That’s astounding! Now how could you possibly have memorized the list at the party that fast? That’s what I’ve really been wondering about,” said Jack.
“Well, I have a code that pairs numbers with things. The first ten pairs go one-bun, two-shoe, three-tree, four-door, five-hive, six-sticks, seven-heaven, eight-gate, nine-vine, and ten-hen. So when I saw the list, what I did was pair up the words on the list with an image of a bun, shoe, tree, etc. I believe the first word was frog, so I made a mental picture of a frog in a bun. I just went down the list and kept making mental pictures. I’ve had my code memorized for year so all I had to do with recall all of my mental pictures and write them down; easy. On the day of the bathroom incident, I baited you into following me in; simple as that. I only have one trick left,” said Tony. By this point, they had wandered all the way through the woods, ending up near a swamp. Jack had heard many stories of little children going out to play and drowning in the swamp; even worse were the alligators that lived in it. Shivers ran down his spine.
“So what is it, what’s your last trick,” asked Jack.
“My last trick is a disappearing act,” said Tony. Suddenly, he shone the spotlight right in Jack’s eyes, temporarily blinding him. He then ran behind a tree, grabbed a pair of handcuffs and a 9mm pistol. While blinded, Tony was easily able get behind Jack, cuff his hands and trip him to the ground. Jack tried to get up right away.
“On the ground,” screamed Tony, “cross your legs and sit on the ground or I’ll blow you away.”
“You psychopath!” yelled Jack.
“I fooled you again, Jack. Everything I said was a complete lie, I just needed an excuse to take you out here. For my disappearing act, I will make you disappear completely. Once I put a bullet in your head and throw your body in the swamp, the gators will devour your remains. Nobody will ever know what happened,” said Tony.
“You’re sick, who do you think you are? You’ll never get away with this,” yelled Jack.
“You see, Jack, there’s only room for one top dog around North Park, and your time is up. You should never, ever, have trusted me. Mentalists are masters of manipulation, and you just got worked over. Goodbye Jack,” said Tony. Then he raised the gun, and pulled the trigger.





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