The Magic Castle is real. Even if you think I’m just some crackpot ranting about sasquatches, go on the internet, look it up. The internet is, after all, the footnotes to everything. The footnotes to everything and enough pornography to reach the very stars.
I’ve even been there. The Magic Castle, I mean, not the stars. Headquarters to The Academy of Magical Arts, a mansion converted into illusion-dedicated nightclub, where The Amazing Mitzi plied her trade. You had to be either member or formally invited but a friend-of-a-friend got me in, just the once. Formal attire mandatory, not as classism, rather as a sign of respect. I wore my threadbare JCPenney’s weddings-and-funerals suitcoat and dress-shoes and was welcomed while some trust-fund hipster-schmuck in a thousand-dollar tux and Reeboks was tossed out on his ass.
I appreciated that.
The actor Neil Patrick Harris, a stage magician as well, was its president for a while. That’s why Neil was one of the names Mitzi would drop time-to-time “So I was saying to Neil…” she’d say, more to boost self-esteem than to brag. Frank Yetti rarely understood name-drops, something she appreciated. She liked he didn’t care, sometimes even know who Neil was or Quentin was, but pretended out of respect. Frank listened to her for her own sake, a rarity in Mitzi’s life.
She appreciated that.
Legend held Magic Castle possessed one artifact of actual-magic, not just photos of Blackstone or Houdini’s straight jackets, actual-like-Mitzi magic, The Lamp of Destiny. You won’t find this on the internet, just believe me. If wished upon and smashed, it reconfigured itself for that place and time but with the right kind of eyes, you’d always know The Lamp of Destiny.
Looking like any common lamp, hidden in plain sight, but if smashed it to the ground, granting one single wish. The wish wouldn’t be granted how you wanted, but it wouldn’t be some ironic twist either, as if on monkey’s paw. Wishes granted as one needed, not as one wanted, the most terrifying curses of all.
Get what you want, you’re momentarily sated. Get what you wanted but twisted, you just didn’t read the Devil’s fine print. Get what you truly needed, though, you’re left having to admit that’s what you really needed not the worn-out dreams you’d clung to. Who wants to know themselves that well?
Much later in Frank’s tale, when Mitzi smashed it open in a panicked desperation, that Lamp of Destiny, blossom of potential finally realized, reformed from mid-century kitsch into a shape for this age, a two-foot-long glowing set of lipstick-lips one might win at some boardwalk arcade.
As for why Mitzi needed roll bones on destinies-required not destinies-desired or what happened next, I get ahead of myself. If you get places before you know why getting there really mattered, it doesn’t mean a thing. With destiny, with everything, don’t mistake mysteries for cliff-hangers.
Destiny instead takes its sweet-ass time dragging you wherever it is the hell you need to go.