The Magician's Birthday Act 01byvelvetpie©
The crate bore all the markings of having traveled a great distance. Freight stamps from various foreign countries littered the sand-colored slats, entry and exit stickers were folder over edges and a familiar symbol was burned into the upper right corners. Oliver Dodman slowly walked around the huge crate, a smile playing on his dark features, his green eyes snapping with laughter. He hauled his five-eleven frame onto a smaller box and knelt on his haunches, pushing a blue-black wing of hair out of his eyes, his thick ringed fingers tracing the symbol's charred outlines.
"What the hell was he thinking of?"
Oliver chuckled, throwing a smile over his shoulder at his mother, Pam. "Who knows, Ma? You know how Uncle Xavier is."
"No, Ma. Eccentric." Oliver stood next to her, shaking his head in amazement. "And he knows how much I love magic." He was so excited; he could hardly contain himself. "What do you think it is?"
Pam made the motion of zipping her lips together, drawing a surprised expression from Oliver.
"You know!" Her son jumped down, his handsome Greek face animated with enthusiasm. "You know what it is!"
Pam tucked long strands of strawberry-blonde hair behind her ears, shyly hiding her knowing smile. "Maybe."
"Mom! Tell me!"
An olive-skinned gentleman wearing a dark blue pin-striped suit and reminding him of Pete Postlethwait in The Usual Suspects strode around the corner, a black bowler hat in his hand and a bamboo cane on his arm. He stopped in from of Pam and gave a short bow. "I am Fakesh Ajmani. I have provided personal protection for this item." His dark eyes snapped to the young man. "You must be Oliver."
"Y-Yes, sir." He extended his hand. "Oliver Dodman."
"I do not shake hands, Mr. Dodman. It soils the spirit."
"I see." Oliver withdrew his hand and glanced at his mother, wondering if she was thinking what he was thinking. That this guy was a crackpot.
"No, you don't, but you shall." Fakesh turned to the crate, lovingly running his leathery palms over the burnt insignia. "Your uncle has procured a very special gift for this, your 21st birthday. You must be very special."
"I'd like to think so, in Uncle Xavier's eyes."
"Do you love your uncle?"
"Yes, sir. Very much so. He's been the father that I never had."
Fakesh nodded, a slight movement. "And your biological father?"
"Died when I was six. He had prostate cancer."
"I see." Fakesh moved out of sight, checking the crate for signs of tampering and finding none, returned to where Oliver and Pam still stood. "And is it still a fact that you are a virgin?"
Oliver turned several shades of red, each darker than the other. Pam just stared at him, her mouth hanging open. "Uh ... yes, sir."
"Oh, Oliver! I had no idea!"
"You're not supposed to! You're my mom!"
"Why are you still a virgin, Mr. Dodman?"
Oliver lifted his head, a new bloom of red coloring his cheeks. "Is this really necessary, Mr. Ajmani?"
"As per my orders, yes."
Oliver glanced at his mother, then turned back to Ajmani. "I'm still a virgin because Uncle Xavier said that I had to wait for the person he sent." He pushed his hair back again. "Don't tell me it's you!"
For the first time since their meeting, the diminutive man smiled, his perfect white teeth dazzling against his coffee skin. "Though you are a handsome specimen, Mr. Dodman, I do not believe that's in the cards for us." He checked his watch. "One more question." His eyes met Pam's. "What time was Oliver born?"
"Eight thirty-six in the evening."
"Great. We have time." Fakesh turned his back on them facing the item and mumbled something under his breath. The four side panels of the crate fell away, the top portion sliding off to fall on the floor at the back.
Oliver gasped. To say that the cabinet was beautiful would have been to somehow desecrate it. The dark wood gleamed with a life of its own, gilded with inlaid white oak whorls and gold paint and finely etched with a series of symbols that sort of seemed familiar but the knowledge just escaped his grasp.
"If you'll step inside, Mr. Dodman."
Oliver grasped the gold handle and the door silently swung open. The interior was as beautiful as the outside, shining with perfection and fitted with a long padded bench on one side. His mother stood just behind Fakesh and she gave him a warm smile, obviously delighted with his present. Then, the door eased itself shut. He leapt to his feet and tried the handle but it would not move. He was trapped inside.
"Help! Help me!" He banged against the wooden walls, standing on tiptoe to see out the tiny window. His mother still stood outside, smiling as if nothing was wrong and Fakesh was just in front of her, his arms raised, eyes closed and mouth moving. "Help me! Help me, please!"
Fakesh finished the benediction and slowly lowered his arms. It was done. He returned to the small chair and collected his hat and cane and with a tip to the brim, he started walking away.
"Hey, wait!" Pam shouted after his retreating figure. The little man did not stop, striding quickly away. She shrugged and strode to the cabinet's door, turning the handle. "Oliver, that man ... " The words died in her throat.
The cabinet was empty.