I had moved to Frisco to start over, to leave the crimes of my past behind me. The only problem was I didn't have much idea what to do. I was just plain good at what I had been doing, and it was hard to find something else. My money had been easy back home, and working the docks in Frisco was back-breaking work. Honest, sure, but not a day went by that I didn't collapse in the shabby bed I rented.
Then he came to town. Since I was a kid I always looked up to this guy. I had stashed a copy of his book under my mattress and read it all the time. He's the reason I had gotten good at what I did, and what I had gotten into trouble. And he was coming to Frisco. I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see Harry Houdini in person.
I got the best tickets, giving up meals and working longer shifts to afford them. I wanted to be right there with him. I had learned many of his tricks from his books, and even figured a few other things out on my own. It's what gave me my fast hands.
I watched him that day in the Orpheum, coming out of the Chinese water torture box. I felt like a kid again, but that was nothing to how he shrugged out of the strait-jacket. I wanted to know how he did it. I had ideas, but I didn't know, and it drove me nuts. I wasn't the only one.
"I tell you Rourke, I've been a detective for a long time, and I've figured out lots of guys, but I'll be damned if I can figure him out." a man next to me commented to his friend.
"Who the hell cares? All just damn tricks. Not like it's good for anything."
"That what you think?"
"And I think it's damn useful. I've even picked up a few of my tricks, and it helps me on the job. I can catch those grifters in the act, but that's nothing to beatin' 'em at their own con."
I smiled at the detective. Maybe there was a job I could do, and hold on to my old skills. I couldn't be Houdini, and I didn't want to be a performer, anyway. But a detective? maybe doing something right with what I got . . . it could work.
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