“Tell me, am I reliving an episode of Allakazam or Home Improvement?” Angie shifted uneasily as the magician tightened the straps at her forearms and biceps. Her black lace leotard felt entirely too tight as she stared at the laser mounted on the ceiling. “And what exactly is this an audition for?”
“Whichever you prefer, ma’am.” He chuckled as he fingered a control panel and repositioned the laser. “Actually, I hired you to serve as a prototype for a very special bar illusion I have in mind. If I succeed, I’ll use you as my first working model. Please hold still so I can make a precise penetration. And don’t worry; I’m handy.”
Angie winced as a beam of amber light pierced her navel and drilled through to her spine. The penetration felt oddly cool, yet caused no real discomfort. Carefully the magician fingered the incision, then nodded to himself. “Perfect, ma’am. Now let me take you on a test flight.”
The building inspector shook his head as he glanced around the narrow, high-ceilinged area. “You certainly ended up with the dregs in the redevelopment lottery. Why did you bother accepting this space? What can you possibly do with it?”
“Not a problem, sir. I have my plans, and I’m not worried. After all, I’m handy.” The owner smiled as he spread out diagrams. “Main door here, restroom just inside. Square bar with storage room and service door at the far end. Bar rail along one wall. A half-dozen tables scattered down the length of the room. Proper lighting and ventilation, of course, sir. A 300-gauge guywire about twelve feet from the floor.”
“How much weight?” The inspector blinked. “What are you planning to do, string a heifer?”
“Never, sir! In this establishment, only the most graceful of birds will do.”
NEED SOME CHEER?
BE NICE TO THE BARKEEP, AND YOU MIGHT SEE THE BLUE BIRD OF HAPPINESS FLY OVERHEAD.
Shift change at the newly-opened Blue Bird rapidly became a local phenomenon. Each shift had its unique Blue Bird, a barbie-sized doll dressed in blue halter and shorts. The incoming bartender levitated to the guywire, unlatched one end from the wall, and removed the current doll. He then slid his Bird onto the wire, which he resecured. A new round of drinks and tips would begin. For a sufficient tip, the bartender would send the Bird whirling and sliding across the room, where it would pause before it returned to its resting-place over the bar. As the tip increased, the Bird would fly more slowly as she increased in size and regained mobility. A generous patron would find a fully-restored Bird above his table, where she would pose and dance before she tossed him free-drink tokens which appeared at her fingertips.
Angie, with her short honey-blond hair and her athletic build, was a bar favorite. She found the spinning and immobility of her doll-state a bit unsettling, but loved the freedom of dancing in mid-air. She remembered one performance in particular, where she concluded her dance by inverting herself while tokens showered from her halter onto the delighted patron’s table. An odd job, thought Angie, yet an oddly satisfying one. And the bluebird of happiness was certainly nesting in her bank account.
A month later, a patron approached the bartender. “You did the impossible here. You transformed the most worthless space in the building renovation project. You established a twenty-four hour magic bar which always seems to have customers. And you created the most amazing bar gimmick I’ve ever seen. I have to hand it to you. You must have worked your butt off!”
The bartender smiled and shook his head. “Thank you, sir, but everything just seemed to come together like magic. By the way, I’m Handy.”