Blue Valley Falls

Contributor: Joyce Chong

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“Slide Brothers Circus Presents: The Great Landon Winnsfield at Blue Valley Falls”

Dmitri Petrovsky adjusted his horn-rimmed glasses as he peeked out from behind the curtain and examined the large banner strung across the fairground entrance. A whispering crowd of onlookers stood before the outdoor stage, clapping as the animal trainers made their exit. Dmitri ducked backstage where Sandra was rushing to and fro, tools in hand. A mechanical vest sat on the table, the secret behind most of Landon's stage performances. Her blonde hair was tied up in a messy bun that jostled each time she shifted her head, Dmitri smiled at the sight of his wife hard at work. She called her husband over, tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear.

“Can you tell me where the spring is? I need it for the confetti finale.”

“Bottom pocket in the suitcase.”

“Thanks, honey.” She paused, giving her husband a concerned look,“You don't have to help, I know how to do set-up on my own.”

Dmitri nodded, jaw clenched. Sandra's brow knit in concern and she stepped close to him, whispering.

“We should leave this stupid circus troupe. You can't work for a lowlife like him. We'll find work somewhere else.”

“It's fine.” said Dmitri.

Sandra's voice was low this time, full of danger, “It's not fine. He's a fake! What kind of magician uses another man's work? Look, just go. I'll take care of it.”

Dmitri nodded, stepping outside for a smoke. He watched as mist floated up from the Blue Valley Falls and stiffened when he heard steps behind him. His two seconds of peace were up.

“Hiding again? You always were a worthless performer. That's why I'm the one on stage.”

Landon wore his stage costume, an old tattered hat and a suit thick enough to hide his trick gear underneath. Dmitri took a deep drag of his cigarette, watching with eyes narrowed at the man who had used his inventions for the past six months, propelling him into an absurd spotlight of attention and fame. Landon's grin seemed to grow with the silence.

“I'm just thinking, we don't really need you anymore. Your pretty wife can stay, though, I like having her as my assistant.”

Landon's snide grin was brief because in one movement, Dmitri had punched him in the face. Cigarette still crushed between his fingers, it burned against skin. Landon screamed and clawed at Dmitri. The man's snarl was beastly, grotesque.

“Get out. You're not coming back, tricks or not. Get out of here!”

Dmitri finished his pack, inhaling mist with his bitter smoke as he leaned against the railing, bordering onto the Falls. He would tell Sandra after the show; at least he'd get the opportunity to see his wife on stage. Dmitri laughed to himself when Landon appeared, his left cheek patched up. Sandra wore a sparkling silver dress and had her hair down, smiling to the audience, glaring to Landon's back.

When the grand finale approached. Dmitri knew where to look. Landon tripped mid-show, and sure enough, it was Sandra who stood back up, dressed in a man's suit. She bowed to raucous applause, then the stage lights shut off. A spotlight cut through the dimness, and there was Landon, standing on a platform above the Falls. Dmitri had seen this routine practised, so when the man threw his arms out for the grand finale, the last thing he expected was a gush of blood. The confetti still shot out, though.

Landon was frozen in shock, crimson seeping rapidly down his shirt from the base of his neck. The blood soaked his suit and revealed the mechanical gear beneath, of which a sharp piece had stuck itself into the magician's neck. There was a brief moment where Dmitri saw the man's face, blank with terror, before the coloured paper pieces obscured his view. Landon fell back as the crowd's cheers began to dim, and before the confetti could settle, he was lost to the misty waterfall and the currents below.

On stage, Sandra screamed, but the sound was dulled by everyone's cheering. She was on her knees, and when Dmitri saw her, he sprinted onto the stage and took her away. There was the chaotic sound of shouts and whispers, clashing against each other. Everyone struggled to understand what had happened and brief, discernible bits of conversation cut through to Dmitri from the cacophany.

“Is that for real?.......that thing under his suit.....he's a fraud...........Is he dead?”

Sandra buried her face in Dmitri's shoulder, sobbing quietly. The crew watched with eyes wide as they approached.

“I'm taking her to our trailer,” whispered Dmitri to the crew, who nodded, still in shock.

Sandra sat down as soon as they were back in their trailer. Dmitri sighed, unsure of what to do or what to say. Then she looked him right in the eyes and smiled.

“Honey, that was one of the best shows I've ever seen.”

Dmitri was perplexed. That had hardly been a success. “What are you talking about?”

”I told you I could set up his gear on my own. It's about time you saw one of my tricks.”

Sandra smiled and gave Dmitri a quick kiss on the cheek. He suspected that she really did love him.

“So, what was the trick?”

“Make Landon Winnsfield disappear.”

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Joyce Chong is a hobby writer, currently studying health sciences in Ontario, Canada.
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