Morgan Reginald Hollingsworth III was nervous. He had butterflies in his stomach. His mother had told him it was normal and if the lights were set right he wouldn’t even see the audience. It would be just like when he practiced in his room or in the garage. “Nuttin’ to worry about, Reggie,” she said, “easy peasy,” she assured him, “piece o’ cake! Now go break a leg!”
She put her hand in the middle of his back and shoved him out onto the stage and into the spotlights. He stumbled forward and squinted out at the crowd. Mom had been wrong. He could see everyone in the audience, in great detail. He could see his Aunt Fiona’s mustache and the large mole Uncle Alfonso wore so proudly in the middle of his chin.
Nervously Reggie tried to smile and wave at the crowd. He opened his mouth to begin his well rehearsed line of patter but nothing came out. He screwed up his face and tried again with the same results.
Why had I agreed to this? He asked himself. What had I been thinking?
He tried to picture everyone in the crowd naked, he had heard that this technique worked to lessen stage fright, but then his eyes fell on his cousin, Elsie and her fraternal twin Edgar. Just the thought of those two naked was enough to make him a bit nauseated. Looking down at his feet he studied the worn oak boards of the stage.
His grandfather had performed on this stage; Harry Houdini had performed on this stage. Blackstone had trod these boards. Even Claudio and Evangeline had gotten their big break here. He took a deep breath and reached up his coat sleeve to pull out his wand. This was the part of his act where he would always say “Abra Cadabra” but he found that his voice was still missing so he simply pointed his wand at the audience, waved the tip ever so slightly, and a shower of stars flew out over the entire theatre.
Oohs and aahs echoed towards the stage from the seats.
“Catch one if you can,” Reggie said, “Catch one and put it in your pocket. You never know when you’re going to need a light.”
He smiled and watched the audience reach upwards, as one, to capture the tiny lights and secrete them into their pockets and handbags. He glanced to the side of the stage and watched his mother pluck one of the stars from above her head. She placed it gently on the palm of her hand, held it up to her mouth and blew it, like a kiss, towards her son, Morgan Reginald Hollingsworth III, tonight’s headliner.
He smiled and knew it was going to be OK.