Zachary S. Tompkin’s “Magic Wand” begins:
The magician stood in front of the children. The parents stayed in the kitchen – the men standing at the bar swigging bottled beer and jawing about sports; the women sitting at the table swirling pink wine and rehashing the happenings of their own children’s birthday parties.
Raymond Badgely Jr. was turning five. His parents had every intention of booking a room at the Party Palace, but since Raymond Badgely Sr. lost his job earlier that month the family had been making cuts. Late one evening, Marie Badgely flipped through channels hoping to drown out her husband’s snoring when she caught an ad for a children’s magician on the station that runs a low-budget slideshow of local advertisements.