JackMagic | Jillian Snyder 2 “C’MON, Aaron! You have to go! It’s a once in a lifetime thing, please? I really want you there. For me?” Aaron Ivers leaned up against the door of his pick-up truck, his cell phone pressed to his ear as he listened to his sister’s pleas with an amused smile. His arms, taut and tanned by outdoor physical labor, were crossed over his chest. He had just finished up his last job of the day, and he was bone tired. “Shel, why d’you want me at your bachelorette party? I mean, I know the bachelor party is out of town, but isn’t that supposed to be the night you spend with all your girlfriends, your last big night of freedom and all that? You don’t want a guy hanging around.” “Aaron, you’re not—” “You say I’m not a guy, and I’m hanging up right now!” he teased. “No! That’s not what I was gonna say. You’re not just some random guy: you’re my brother. And my best friend. And my friends all love you, you know that.” “They love me ’cause they know they don’t have to worry about me hitting on them.” “Yeah, well, whatever. You know, they’ll probably take me somewhere with hot guys dancing around in tiny costumes… even if I can’t touch, maybe you can….” .
JackMagic | Jillian Snyder 3 “Okay, you can stop right there. I’m really not interested in working my way down the bar-skank ladder, thank you.” “Please, Aare-bear? I really want you there.” Jesus, Aaron thought. She was pulling out the big guns, using the nickname she’d given him when they were little kids. Still, he wasn’t ready to give in just yet; she was going to have to work for this one. “I don’t know, Shel. You know at least one of your friends always has a little too much to drink and ends up pawing me the whole night. I’m just not sure I can handle that.” He sighed, doing his best to sound disapproving. “Oh, c’mon! That only happened once—well, okay, twice. I’ll watch them all, I promise! Missy planned this one, and you know her parties are always good. And besides, it’ll be my last real night to spend out with my baby bro!” “Hmm. Last I checked, you getting married won’t make you not my sister.” She huffed out a frustrated breath. “You know what I mean!” As much as he enjoyed making her squirm, Aaron knew it was time to wrap it up before she got really mad. He did see her point too. She was getting married and he’d soon be playing second fiddle to her new husband. He paused long enough to draw out the suspense and then relented. “Fine, I’ll go. And don’t call me ‘Aare-bear’.” “Yay!” He heard the sound of Shelly clapping in her excitement and then a metallic crash as her cell phone hit the floor. After a few muffled scuffling noises, she was back. “Sorry. Got a little carried away.” .
JackMagic | Jillian Snyder 4 “Yeah, well, consider it part of my wedding present to you,” he joked. “You’re the best! Next Friday at seven. I’m not sure exactly what the plans are; dinner somewhere and then a few bars, probably. Just come over to my place, okay? I gotta go, but I’ll talk to you later; love you!” “Love you too.” Aaron clicked his phone shut, shaking his head and laughing to himself. He pulled open the driver’s side door and tossed his phone onto the passenger seat. As he climbed into the truck that was the flagship for Ivers Professional Landscaping, he couldn’t help but wonder: What in hell did I just get myself into? SPRING was always a busy time in the landscaping business; Aaron put in long hours, and the intervening week passed quickly. Before he knew it, it was Friday and he found himself seated at a long table at Shelly’s favorite Italian restaurant surrounded by a gaggle of her friends, twelve in all, the bachelorette party in full swing. The decibel level of their chatter had risen steadily in proportion to the amount of alcohol they consumed, which had begun in the rented limo on the way to the restaurant. Aaron glanced around the table at the group of women; he knew some of them who had been Shelly’s friends for years, while others were new to him. The remnants of dessert littered the table, and all present bemoaned the massive quantity of food they had consumed. .
JackMagic | Jillian Snyder 5 “So,” Shelly said, raising her voice to be heard over the chit-chat and tossing her long auburn hair over her shoulder, “what’s next? Which bar is first on the agenda? My future husband is living it up with his boys in Atlantic City, and I wanna have some fun! ” She rubbed her hands together in anticipation and a sassy smile lit her face. Aaron looked at his sister, who was seated to his left, and grinned at her antics. The table grew suspiciously quiet at her question. The women at the table exchanged glances, some trying to suppress smiles and giggles. “What?” Shelly questioned. Aaron scanned their faces, trying to figure out why the noisy bunch had become suddenly silent. Shelly whipped her head around to look at him, her eyes narrowed as though she suspected he was in on some master plan, but he could only shrug, equally puzzled. “C’mon, guys,” she demanded. “What’s the deal?” Her voice had taken on a stern edge that said, in no uncertain terms, “Don’t screw with my party.” A woman on the other side of the table who Aaron recognized as Missy, one of Shelly’s co-workers at the school where she taught, cleared her throat. “Well….” the petite brunette began. The effort to suppress her smile had been abandoned and she was almost vibrating with excitement. “We have sort of, umm… a surprise.” “Surprise?” Shelly repeated blankly, as though it was a new word for her. “What surprise?” .
JackMagic | Jillian Snyder 6 “Well, we wanted to do something really special for you,” Missy continued. “And the timing was just perfect when we found he was gonna be in town the very same weekend as your party, and we all really wanted to go, so we decided to all chip in and get tickets and surprise you.” Her words came out in one long, jumbled, rapid-fire sentence, and she appeared quite oblivious to the fact that she had provided them with no real information. Aaron and Shelly’s patience had waned at an equal rate, and they entreated simultaneously, “What tickets?” “Oh!” Missy slapped her forehead with her palm. “Guess I forgot that part. Umm, we kinda bought fourteen tickets to JackMagic.” A few of the women squealed with the mention of the name. Shelly’s hand slapped down on Aaron’s forearm and grasped hard. Her eyes grew wide, and her mouth dropped open as she sucked in a gasp of air, long and loud. “You didn’t!” Shelly was almost yelling, and Aaron waved his hand in a gesture for her to keep her voice down. “Oh my God! Those tickets were so expensive! I can’t believe you got them. Can you believe it?” She shook Aaron’s arm where she still held on tight. Aaron shook his head, a bewildered expression on his face; he was at a loss as to what all the excitement was about. The women fussed for a few more minutes, their chatter unintelligible. When they started to settle down, he asked, “So what show is this exactly? Jack… who? Jack Magic?” The silence was deafening as twenty-six perfectly made- up eyes turned on him and stared accusingly, as though .
JackMagic | Jillian Snyder 7 he’d casually mentioned that he spent his free evenings trolling the streets for wayward Boy Scouts. “What?” he exclaimed, exasperated. Shelly rolled her eyes at him. “First of all, it’s not ‘Jack Magic’, like ‘Bob Smith’ or something; it’s not his name. It’s JackMagic!” She said the two words together quickly, her fingers bursting open from closed palms for emphasis. “And second, how can you call yourself a respectable gay man and never have heard of him? He’s beyond gorgeous and his show is insanely hot!” “Sorry, I’ll turn in my membership card at the next meeting,” Aaron said sarcastically. “So it’s a magic show?” After all the discussion, he was still unclear about what exactly this prized ticket would allow him to see. “Oh, it’s so much more than a magic show! Think Chippendales meet David Copperfield. He wears these skin- tight leather pants and—” In their enthusiasm, the rest of the girls began chiming in with their comments, one on top of the other. “—and his magician’s assistants are all really hot guys—” “—and they wear these skimpy little outfits—” “—my friend told me they even do some dance numbers—” “—Jack has the most amazing eyes—” “—and the magic tricks are just incredible—” .
JackMagic | Jillian Snyder 8 Aaron nodded his head and took it all in as he began to form a picture in his mind of what he would be attending this evening. Christ, he thought. A show with a probably-gay David Copperfield wannabe sawing women in half and pulling cards and quarters from God-knows-where. Outstanding. Can’t wait. He sighed inwardly. THE limo pulled up outside of Club Liquid where the show was to be held, and Aaron was the first one out. As he stood on the curb, he looked up at the marquee overhead and saw JACKMAGIC, one word just as Shelly had explained, listed as the headliner in black lettering with twinkling lights. The girls poured out of the vehicle after him, all of them made sillier and rowdier by the impending performance and the champagne that had flowed freely on the ride over. He waited while the group scurried to the entrance, tickets in hand, and he followed them in. They turned in their tickets and a burly security guard allowed them through the doors that led to the interior of the venue, only after giving Aaron a thorough once-over and a suggestive wink. Aaron smiled politely and nodded as he passed through the door, eager to put some distance between himself and the hulking gatekeeper. Sorry, dude, not my type. His eyes traveled around the main room, and he was impressed with what he saw. It was much larger than he had expected, with muted lighting that cast a soft bluish glow throughout the space. A long bar with chrome accents ran .
JackMagic | Jillian Snyder 9 along the wall on his right, while a full stage took up the wall opposite him. What was usually the dance floor had been covered with tables of various shapes and sizes, each surrounded by brass-backed chairs with red velvet cushions. A balcony section jutted out into the space above his head. The place was definitely more upscale than he had initially imagined, and he was secretly glad he’d taken the time to iron his charcoal grey dress pants and a white button-down shirt for the evening. He stood on the fringes of their party as the women huddled together and looked around. Their loud, tipsy chatter was drowned out by the music that played in the club, the steady thump of the bass reverberating in Aaron’s chest. Shelly inched her way over to Aaron and tugged on his sleeve. “I think I see our table over there.” She pointed to a long rectangular table in the front, just to the left of the stage. “C’mon.” She grabbed his hand, and their group began to weave its way toward the table, cutting through the mingling crowd. Although the audience was mostly women, Aaron did see a few guys in the crowd. Some wore sullen expressions and had very obviously been dragged against their will by an insistent female, while a few others were in groups and looked to be there purely for their own enjoyment. When they got to the table, Aaron spied the white place card that stood in the center with the name “Ivers” written in fancy lettering. “Looks like this is ours,” he said. The group nodded in agreement and the ladies began to stake out their seats, shifting and angling their chairs for the best possible .
JackMagic | Jillian Snyder 10 view of the stage. Aaron was only too happy to let them take the front seats and relegated himself to a chair at the back end of the table, obscured from the overhead lights by a large pillar that stood behind it. With a few minutes before the start of the show, the girls made the unanimous decision to pay quick visits to the restroom and the bar. Aaron hung his jacket on the back of his chair and took his seat at the table. He was left with strict instructions to watch the girls’ coats in their absence. Doesn’t really look like a coat-stealing kind of place, but whatever, he thought. He killed some more time people-watching, though he was starting to get restless by the time an attractive young waiter made a pass by their table and took Aaron’s order for a Scotch on the rocks. He glanced at his watch as the waiter disappeared into the crowd to fetch the drink. They better get back here soon; only got five minutes ’til this thing starts. He scanned the crowd and finally saw Shelly and her crew making slow progress through the throngs of people back to the table. The group was almost there when the waiter returned and set Aaron’s drink down on the table. “Is there anything else I can get you?” he asked with a flirtatious smile. Aaron glanced up and read the young man’s nametag. Brad. “Nah, think I’m all set for the moment.” Brad seemed about to say something else when the bachelorette party arrived back at the table, drinks in hand. “Well, if you need anything else just let me know. Anything.” He winked at Aaron and turned to make his way over to the next table. .