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Gerald Deutsch
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By Gerald Deutsch

My brother Mike was having dinner with us when the phone call came and my wife Jan went to answer it. I saw she was upset.

“I’ll talk to him again Mary. I know. I’m so sorry.”

Then Jan turned to our son Bobby. “That was Marty’s mother. You’ve done it again haven’t you? You and your friends are bullying that boy. Why?” Our son just shrugged guiltily. I was about to say something when my brother Mike said he had to go.

Mike is an amateur magician and before dinner he asked for a deck of cards.

“Look. I have a new trick. I’m shuffling the deck and now watch. I’m going to cut to the four aces.” He did.

“Hey, that’s neat,” said Bobby.

“Would you like to learn to be a magician Bobby?” It was just what Bobby wanted to hear. Now Mike had gone.

Mike and I had discussed Bobby’s bullying of Marty. Mike told me that those that bully have a self esteem problem and bullying makes them feel better about themselves. I had suggested that maybe Mike could teach his nephew some magic to help his self esteem and Mike thought that was a good idea and he was going to start tonight.

“Why did he go?” asked Bobby. “He said he was going to teach me magic.”

“Bobby,” I said to our son, Your uncle told me that he will only teach magic to people that have very high moral ideals. When he was in college he would play poker with his fraternity brothers and he told me that one day he was dealing and using his magician skill he was able to see the next card to be dealt to himself and he saw he would lose. He knew he could do a ‘move’ that would give him a different card. He knew then that if he did – though no one would know – he would be doing something dishonest. He dealt the card that was there and lost. But he felt better about himself.

“Tonight he was going to teach you magic but I guess he heard your mother on the phone with Marty’s mother.”

I saw the sad look on my son’s face. I hoped it was reflecting regret – and resolve.

Later that night Mike called to tell me that our son had called him and they had a long conversation and Bobby told my brother that he really wanted to learn magic and after a long talk our son agreed he would not bully Marty anymore.

Mike had dinner with us again two weeks later and at the end of the meal he said he had a coin trick to show us. He asked my wife if she had a quarter and, smiling, she reached into her purse and found one and gave it to my brother. Mike put the quarter under his napkin and told Bobby to reach under the napkin to make sure the quarter was there. He did. It was. Then he moved the napkin to my wife and then to me and we both told Mike the quarter was there. Mike made a magical gesture over the napkin and then – and then – to everyone’s amazement, the quarter was gone!

Bobby really wanted to learn that trick and he begged Mike to teach it to him. Together they went into Bobby’s room.

Mike told me later what happened.

He told Bobby that a confederate was used.

“A what?” asked Bobby.

“A confederate – a stooge – a plant. Your father was my confederate.”

It was something I had been doing for my brother for years. When everyone felt under the napkin to be sure the coin was there, I was the last and I took the coin.

“You have to be sure no one suspects the confederate Bobby,” he told our son. “Why don’t you teach this Marty some tricks and then he can be your confederate. Based on the way you’ve bullied him in the past no one would suspect him.”

Bobby and Marty both became good magicians. And good friends.
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