Mortimer dropped his balls. He didn’t mean to do it. There were just so many balls and he only had two hands so the balls went spilling out towards the audience and off the edge of the stage. There were red balls and blue balls and polka-dotted balls; all kinds of balls rolling and hitting the audience in the face. Mortimer was scrambling to recapture his balls but it was futile. His balls were everywhere.
It was strange that the audience laughed when his balls dropped. He had meant to simply juggle the balls and then perform some other magic tricks for this 8th grade talent show but now something new presented itself, comedy. He found that the laughter was intoxicating and he wanted more of it. So, as he attempted to recapture his balls; he threw in an exaggerated pratfall or two. His bumbling made the audience laugh harder and he was hooked. His dreams of becoming a magician were dashed in that instant and he now wanted to be a clown.
He wouldn’t be just a regular red nose, fright-wig clown though. He couldn’t stand the smell of grease paint. He was once at a children’s Halloween party and there was a kid dressed like the Incredible Hulk, covered in green grease paint and the smell made Mortimer want to vomit. He’d be better than a clown, he’d be a comedian.
Mortimer managed to collect his balls and stood stock still in the center of the stage in the bright spot light, breathing heavy, and a bunch of balls in his arms. The audience had grown quiet.
“Tah-Dah,” said Mortimer softly.
The crowd erupted again into riotous laughter and Mortimer felt himself start drifting up toward the ceiling with a new sort of elation. It was his first taste of some subtle power or control in his life and he really liked it. Mortimer moved to the small table to his left and started carefully depositing his balls in a cardboard box. He didn’t want to loose them again. As he was placing the balls in the box he looked back out toward the audience and made a nervous face, like he didn’t want his balls to go rolling all over again. Amazingly the audience got the gag and they laughed again.
Mortimer dusted his hands off theatrically once the balls were put away and then did a quick double take toward the box as if to make sure none of the balls were trying to escape. He then turned his attention to the top hat. There was supposed to be a trick involving a rabbit in a hat. Not a real rabbit of course, just some foam bunny thing from a magic kit Mortimer received for Christmas. The top hat wasn’t real either, just a plastic hat from New Years. The hat had a hole in the bottom of it covered with black construction paper. The idea was Mortimer could place the hat on his little table, reach through the hat to a box under the table and pull up the foam rabbit. Mortimer suddenly had a different idea.
He went through the same magical progressions that he’d practiced. He showed the hat to the audience, he put the hat on, he rolled up his sleeves and then took the hat off and placed it on the center of the table. He then delivered the lines he’d practiced in the kitchen with his mother.
“And now, for your enjoyment I will pull a rabbit from this hat,” he announced.
Mortimer waved his hands over the said the magic words.
Oooh, I want to take you. Key Largo, Montego, Presto,” he said.
Mortimer reached down into the hat but instead of pulling out the rabbit he pretended his arm was stuck in the hat. He feigned pulling and pulling and used his other arm to try and pull his arm out. He played to the crowd as if he could use their help and seemed able to mime his frustration without breaking character. He paused and looked out into the crowd with some exasperation.
“Balls,” he said.
The audience burst into laughter and Mortimer’s addiction was set. He took his bows at the end of his three minutes amid wild applause. He saw his father’s face filled with pride and his mother’s loving eyes in the audience. Laughter would be his drug and he’d spend the rest of his life searching for the next hilarious fix.