“Ladies and gentlemen!” Mozack swung his arms out wide to take in the crowd, “tonight we have a real treat for you!”
The show had been going well. Pyrotechnics wheedled shocked gasps from the crowd, the impossible was just believable enough for people to laugh and smile and applaud and not run in fear. That was the secret, Mozack thought, keep them believing it was all just a game or a trick. It was only the children who cried because they could see the real magic.
“For my next trick, my assistant and I will perform the reverse bullet catch! As you can see, Z has brought out a pistol. Give me the pistol, Z.”
Taking the gun, he aimed it at a sack of flour hanging at the side of the stage and pulled the trigger. The blast echoed around the theatre and people covered their ears. First, a cloud of white dust billowed from the sack, then flour began pouring from the two holes left by the bullet’s passage.
“Loaded and functional, as you can see,” Mozack continued, “now, Z will take the gun, shoot at me, and I will catch the bullet in my teeth.
“Oh-ho! I hear you call! We’ve seen this before, Mozack! A bullet catch? How simple! Well, not tonight, ladies and gentlemen! For this trick, my back will be turned! I will catch the bullet in my mouth from behind!
“Let us begin!”
Mozack walked to stage right, Z to stage left. Z raised the gun.
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, we need complete silence for this trick, otherwise things could go catastrophically wrong.”
The audience was utterly hushed, some of them still with their ears ringing from the first shot. Mozack breathed in the awe, the worship and the hint of belief.
He turned away from Z and shut his eyes. He held his arms out straight at his side and breathed slowly, waiting to make the magic happen. There was a bang, but Mozack didn’t hear it. Half his head had been blasted across the stage curtains, a bullet lodged in his teeth.