The Pick Up

The magician was lost in thought as he shuffled his cards, his hands machines, natural to the motions and the flow. It was a habit, I realised, one that revealed something more complex whirring beneath the grin and the wink. He fascinated me, had done for weeks. Quick glimpses, hurried catching of the eye, never stare directly, never commit; today was the day, today I would ask, today. Today I stopped and watched him perform.
He was young, hid it well. He winked again and drew me in.
He held out the deck, never saying a word, but – the dust, the germs, the strangers, the bustle. London. I turned, I walked, I ran.  Scared of new, unknown. I would forever be the man-the boy that ran, who pressed escape.
My tie was tight, I loosened it. Something fell out-a card, a Jack, a number and a name.

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