The cafe is a great place to watch people. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s hard to sit back and watch without people coming over to talk to me. Today it’s a man who says his name is Nick. He has some sort of ulterior motives, but I can’t tell what. He offers me a drink, which is strange when it’s coffee instead of alcohol. He’s tall, his hair is dark and messy, the way all the books always describe romantic leads: Handsome, with “Dark, Rumpled Hair”. I can’t tell if he’s my type or not yet, though. I’m a bit picky.
“Are you a student? What do you do?” he asks, all charm. He is somewhat handsome.
“I’m a performer,” I tell him.
“Stage? Where do you work? Can I come to one of your shows?”
“The Magic Circle.”
“Do they do ballet there?”
He has a slight Russian accent. I don’t think most people would notice, but I do.
“No, I’m a magician.”
“Can you read my mind? Tell me my card?” he asks enthusiastically. “You must show me a trick!”
I can’t tell if he’s being genuine or not, but he is very good at this and certainly laying on the charm. I show him a card trick because I need the practice and I’m not one to turn someone away just because he’s being nice. It’s not my best trick. Maybe I’m a little bit distracted.
“Very good! Do you like parties?”
“Uh. Sort of. Not really. No,” I stammer. “Oh, wait, do you mean to perform at a party?”
“Or just dance.”
“I’d love to perform, if you have something going on!”
He says he’ll get in touch with me by dropping by the magic circle. Then he leaves, but not before giving me one last charming smile.
“Maybe next time you’ll steal my heart.”
It’s a pretty cheesy line, but coming from him it sounds kind of cute. I’m left feeling a little uneasy, though. The way he was asking questions, I don’t think he was just trying to make conversation. He seemed a little bit ashamed, under all that guile. Like he was trying to get specific information for something, as much as he could. I wonder if I was wrong to tell him where I worked. I thought it might be good advertising, it is a public place after all. I didn’t tell him that I also live there.
There’s nothing for it but to follow him. Just as a precaution.
I tuck my notebook under my arm and slip out the cafe door. I manage to follow him without being seen by keeping people between us and ducking out of sight whenever he looks around. He leads me to an alleyway where he gets into a dark 4-door sedan.
License plate number: AW09GFT
It drives away and I guess there’s nothing more I can do. I can’t follow a car on foot. I come back to the cafe.
“Does that man who was talking to me come here a lot?” I ask the Barista.
“Not a lot, but he’s been in here a few times,” the Barista answers in a Scottish accent. “With a face like that, hard to forget. Kind of makes you want to punch the guy.”
“And is he usually talking to women?”
“Here to chase some tail? Yeah.”
I thank him and try to make it seem like I’m asking because I want to date him. Really I’m wondering what kind of scheme he might have going on. But I think I’m all out of leads, so I put my costume on and go to do some performing. I’m doing a little better every day. This time I even get a couple of cheers right in my first hour! I’m on point.
But as I begin my next set of tricks I feel a rumbling like a freight train coming toward me, and a tingling like static electricity coursing over my whole body. I hear a scream as someone shouts “The Sky!” I can feel panic and turmoil spreading through the crowd around me. I look up. The sky is burning away, like paper, revealing a star-dappled colorful sky, like I’m looking into a nebula, full of auroras. Blazing down towards me is a bright blue shooting star. I reach for my camera to take a picture, and I see the girl who sold me the flowers a couple of days ago. She’s looking right at me. As our eyes lock, she says something. I can hear it, even over the roar of the crowd, somehow.
“The pole star falls.”