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Danika the Great
It was a perfect Saturday afternoon. Blue sky, no clouds, no worries. One of those days you’d like to slide into a Xerox machine and copy 365 times.
You could call it a year.
And every day would be Saturday.
Too bad I was stuck inside, sitting on Danika Starling’s living room floor. I was doing a lot of nothing much and pretending to be happy about it. Suddenly, Danika swept into the room wearing a top hat and cape. She beamed while Mila and I politely applauded. Off to the side, Lucy Hiller frowned unhappily. “Nuh-uh,” Lucy said. “Your entrance still needs something. It’s got no style. No zip.”
“What do you mean, no zip?” Danika complained. “I haven’t even started my magic act yet.”
“You’re taking the stage, Danika,” Lucy stated. “You’re putting on a big show. You’ve got to grab the audience’s attention right away.”
“Lucy!” I groaned. “She’s rehearsing for a birthday party. What do you expect? Flashing lights and stink bombs?”
“Jigsaw, you’re a wonderful detective. But leave the magic act to us,” Lucy commented. Suddenly, her eyes lit up. “I’ve got it! Danika, you need a snazzy opening. Something peppy and fun. With loud music. You know, big drums and electric guitars. And this time, I’ll give you a snappy introduction.”
Lucy gently pushed Danika out of the room. “Come in after I announce you,” she instructed.
Danika did as she was told. Then Lucy, all curls and big eyes, turned to Mila and me. “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen!” she boomed. “It is time for our incredible magic show. Please put your hands together for … Danika the Great!”
At that instant, Lucy blasted music from WFLY 92—the station with “all the hits and none of the misses.” Boom, boom, boom. Loud music rocked the walls. I plugged my fingers in my ears. Once again, Danika swept into the room, her cape flowing behind her. Lucy cut the music and clapped. “Fabulous! Fabulous! That’s much better!” she exclaimed. “Don’t you agree, Mila?”
Mila nodded happily. “I can’t wait until the party tomorrow.”
“I am waiting,” I pointed out. “And I’m getting bored, too. I thought we were going to play baseball.”
“In a minute, Jigsaw,” Mila shushed. “First, Danika needs an audience so she can practice her magic act.”
“I’ve got a magic trick,” I mumbled. “How about if we disappear?” I felt a sharp pain in my ribs. Yeesh. Mila sure had pointy elbows. I guessed baseball would have to wait.
“Did someone say disappear?” Lucy asked.
“Um, never mind,” I said.
“That’s our big trick, when we really do make something disappear!” Lucy winked at Danika. “But it’s an extra-special trick. We’re not showing you that one today.”
Danika raised her hands to silence the chatter. She told us, “I’m not only a magician. I’m also a mind reader. But I’ll need the help of the audience.”
Danika explained that she would turn her back. We could then take any coin—a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter—and give it to her assistant, Lucy. I fished a nickel from my pocket and kissed it good-bye. Lucy put it on the table. She placed a coffee cup over it.
“You can turn around now, Danika!” Lucy hollered.
Danika stared at the ceiling. She rubbed her eyes and strained under the effort. “Please,” she hissed. “You must all concentrate on the coin. I will read your minds.”
Danika haltingly murmured, “The answer is … a nickel.”
“Again!” I demanded.
This time I handed Lucy a dime. Once more, Danika asked us to concentrate. Well, Mila must have thought about that dime pretty hard. Because all I was thinking was, How did Danika pull off that trick?
“Hmmmm,” Danika said, biting her lip. “This is very difficult.” She glanced at the cup and closed her eyes. “I see it now,” she said.
“The answer is … a dime!”
Copyright © 2002 by James Preller