A trick has been performed. The tricksters union consisted of a magician, a Great Deceiver; an assistant, the willing accomplice; and volunteers, from the audience. But that was just for The Turn. What is meant by The Turn? Certainly not a rotation in dance, although if you are now compelled to visualize it as such, then a 180 degree rotation. The Turn is the moment when a pet raccoon becomes a wild animal. The Turn is always a wrong turn and it must be subtracted from your travel time. But to begin again, every great trick has The Pledge, The Turn and The Prestige.
“The first part is called ‘The Pledge.’ The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal.”*
The Pledge: this boy is a child of God.
This boy was born into a Christian family. He went to Sunday School. He went to Church. He was praised for doing right and punished for doing wrong. His parents loved him and so he believed God loved him.
“The second act is called ‘The Turn.’ The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.”*
The Turn: this boy is a mistake.
This boy was called a girl in elementary school. He was called gay in middle school. He watched the other boys in high school. He watched porn in college. He went to clubs. He went on Craigslist. This boy thought that God had fallen asleep on the assembly line and didn’t give him the right parts. That he should be recalled, like the Easy Bake Oven, for burning other boys who dared to use him, for enabling them to have dessert before dinner. But this boy was not being honest. He did not want to be fixed. He wanted to be excused. To do whatever he wanted. It was a settlement for the injustice committed.
“Making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call ‘The Prestige.’”*
The Prestige: this boy is a child of God.
This boy was not excused. He was called to the Principal’s office. The Principal was God. God was not angry. This boy was angry. The Principal listened to this boy shout for a long time, until the words ran out and the tears ran down. The Principal did not cry. He walked around the desk, around the chair, and placed his hands on this boy’s shoulders, like a father.
And the voices which St. Augustine had described, the ones plucking at his garment of flesh, whispered, “are you going to dismiss us? From this moment we shall never be with you again, for ever and ever. From this moment on you will never again be allowed to do this thing or that.” The mutterings seemed to reach from behind, trying to make this boy turn his head when he wanted to go forward.**
This boy did not turn his head. He knew The Turn was finished and The Prestige had began. The trick had been performed, and this boy was not turning tricks anymore. Not today.
*From The Prestige by Christopher Priest.
**From Confessions by St. Augustine.