A phone call from the blue

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

-Martin Buber

A little background.

I often speak to other magicians about the craft of magic. These lectures are a bit like a TupperWare party. I speak to them in the front of the room and the back of the room has a sales table. It’s another way to try and squeak a living out of this thing called magic. Last year, I wrote about a tour that included Phoenix, Tucson, Palm Springs and on into Hollywood.  The stop in Tucson was sort of a bust. For a number of reasons, sales were dismal, attendance was worse. These nights are disappointing but, at least, I got to meet a few old friends and spend a bit of time in an interesting little town.

So I am down to the wire last Tuesday. The decks are stacked, the props arranged, I am almost ready to get in the car to go to work. The only thing I need to do now is find my car keys. As I am rifling my various pockets, my cell phone goes off. I glance at the area code. 520. Hmm, Tucson. I answer it.

A raspy voice says, “Doc?”

“Yup that’s me, who is this?”

Even raspier, “This is Jim Tucker.” I wanted to clear MY throat to see if I could clear HIS throat.

I recognize the name. He has been a customer of mine in the past. Last time I saw him was a lecture I did in Tucson, about a year and a half ago. He bought some things. I remember him buying a coin trick that I was selling.

“Yah Jim. Ya caught me trying to get out the door to go to work.” Distracted, trying to locate the keys,  “What can I do for you?”

“Well, we had this shooting down here.”

In an attempt to be glib, I said, “Yah, it made all the papers”

Aha, I find my keys.

“Yah well I took two bullets.”

Long pause… and the enormity of what he just said settled around me.

I said what most people I have told this story to have said… ” Whaaat?”

He goes on to explain that his wife was shot as well but she is released.

“You mean you are still in the hospital? Are you in the same hospital as Gabby?”

“Yah, she is down the hall.”

Now I had to sit down. Suddenly the urgency of getting  up to work melted away and was replaced by the enormity of the fact I was talking to one of the victims of the horrible shooting who was in the same hospital as the Congresswoman. The event just became personal for me.

One bullet went through his calf but the other one somehow involved his clavicle and had, mercifully, stopped millimeters away from his spinal column. Sparing him from what could have been paraluyzing or even fatal. The bullet’s path also affected his vocal chords, hence the raspy voice. They are keeping him there for observation. He will make it – miracle of miracles.

My jaw is hanging open now.

“Well, Jim, I appreciate your call.” But now I am real puzzled.

“What on earth can I do for you, Jim?”

“I just wanted to call you and say thanks.”


“I bought that coin trick from you awhile back. I just wanted to let you know that the Doctor’s want me to keep my hand active and your coin trick is the only thing I can do with my hand. So I am focusing on learning the moves and practicing it all the time. I am thinking of you all the time I am doing it. So I thought I would call you. ”

You can knock me over with a feather at this point.

“I know you are busy and I don’t want to take up any more of your time.”

“Jim, it’s ok… I can be late… it is ok, really. I don’t know what to say other than, I am thrilled that you are still with us and I am over the rainbow thinking that some little thing that I do is, in some small way, helping you recover from such a lifechanging event as you are going through. If there is anything I can do to help, send you some more stuff, offer words of encouragement, whatever… just say the word.”

“No. It’s fine, just wanted to say thanks.”

We mumbled a few more words to each other and hung up the phone. I sat there in my office – thunderstruck.

Still trying to sort out what that little phone call ‘ground zero’ means in the grand scheme of it all.

Shaking my head in disbelief.

Happy 2011 to you too!

6 Responses to A phone call from the blue

  • Doc,

    Im glad some one called you and let you know what you might think is some thing small like selling a piece of magic to someone is. When in fact it might be something that they carry with them for the rest of their entire life. Shows you how something so very small can mean so very much to one person.

    Makes you wonder how many sick children in hospitals have smiled because of a piece of magic that you sold to the magician willing to perform it in a children hospital.

    Im sure whether you realize it or not all the practice and performing and the time you put into magic is touching more people than you even know.


    p.s. thanks for posting this on facebook

  • It just goes to show, that you never know HOW you’ll affect those who you come in contact with.

    You know if the doctors are telling him to keep his hands busy, that means they are trying to keep his muscles working properly and are using it to monitor his recovery progress on several levels. Weather you know it or not Doc, while you may not have saved his life, you ARE saving his QUALITY of life!

    Not bad for a drink-slingin’ “Finger-flicker”. WELL DONE!

  • Doc – Thank you for sharing this story. It really brings home the idea that we are just a few connections away from each other in this shrinking world.

    As a writer, I can also appreciate the way that you tell the story of Jim’s phone call. There is a great set up, and some real zingers in your delivery. Great read my friend…

    Corby Anderson

  • What an amazing story, Doc. Truly. The tricks are great, but these are the moments of true magic.

  • Doc, one of the things I loved about you when I first picked up your videos was the way you make magic a personal experience. Looking forward to running into you someday.

  • Wow! Incredible story! Turns out… That congress woman is here in FL for the shuttle launch. It sure is a strange feeling when you end up that close to a bad event like that and it become “real” instead of TV news drama. It’s the Casey Anthony thing for me. Here lawyer’s offices are next to the entrance of my neighborhood and the prison she will probably wind up in is behind my house! To have all those news vans crowded around for weeks at a time was pretty surreal.

    Also… Thanks to “Project Magic” I know that feeling of teaching someone magic in order to help them rehabilitate. Many times on return visits to the hospitals, I would see the kids (who were usually confined to a bed) showing visitors and nurses the new tricks they learned… With a smile on their face that you could see from space! SUCH a great feeling of worth when you see stuff like that!

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