MAGIC by William Goldman

Book: MAGIC by William Goldman Read Free Book Online
Authors: William Goldman
gas, lay back down on the couch again. He shook his head a little, kind of smiled. “Merlin used to think I was crazy. Sometimes I think he was right.”
    “… no … you
crazy … you’re fine now …”

    The line snaked down the block. The Postman moved along the sidewalk, idly counting. Forty-six. Forty-six people waiting for what maybe at the most could be a half dozen cancellations.
    When you’re hot, you’re hot.
    He glanced at his watch, saw it was nine, moved to the sidewalk in front of the Stardust because if nothing else, Goldstone was prompt.
    At 9:02 the limo pulled up. He was kind of an aging boy wonder, Goldstone, thirty-eight now, but he’d been head of programming for CBS when he was thirty. NBC stole him, ABC tried like hell to crib him from the Sarnoffs, and the kicker on the whole thing, at least from the Postman’s point of view, was that wherever he worked, when George Goldstone ran things, eventually your ratings went down.
    But he had that survivor’s instinct of knowing just
the Titanic would hit the iceberg, and moved on accordingly. He was your standard show business example of failing upwards, and the Postman had no doubts that eventually Goldstone would be running a major Hollywood film studio into receivership.
    They shook hands perfunctorily and the Postman, who like many bald men knew more about wigs than beauticians, was struck again by the perfection of Goldstone’s mop. Must have cost a thousand.
    They started into the club. The Postman indicated the line, muttered “slow night tonight” and Goldstone answered nothing, just paused briefly and looked atthe sign in the window that said, “Say Hello to Corky Withers” and below that, the standard smiling photo. “So that’s your latest
Goldstone said.
    “Twenty-six record breaking weeks,” he said modestly.
    “Then how come I never heard of him?”
    “You were so busy coming up with a sequel to
Beacon Hill
you probably missed a lot of things. Tampax got invented. The world rockets along, George.”
    They walked into the club. It looked even shabbier than usual. Goldstone cased it a moment. “High tone establishment you booked him into, Postman.”
    “I didn’t book him, he was here. Likes it. I’m breaking my balls trying to budge him.”
    “I’m supposed to help with the budging, is that it?”
    The Postman looked at the taller man seriously. “Nossir, you are not. You are in the talent business and I am not selling this kid to you or nobody. But when a blockbuster is about to explode, I don’t want you running around screaming why didn’t I give you a chance at him.”
    They were escorted to a table in the most distant corner. “I see they know you, ringside and everything.”
    “We can talk better here, we can see good enough.”
    “Blockbuster you said.”
    “Fucking skyrocket with luck. Never been a magician like him.”
    “Shit,” George Goldstone said. “You dragged me down here for a
    “Don’t start, huh?”
    “Magicians bomb on the tube—we can’t book ’em into kiddie shows on Saturday anymore.”
    “Your father was an agent working for me, you little fart, don’t tell me what bombs.”
    “That was before you got senile,” Goldstone said.
    “This kid—”
    “—Ben, you’re always trying to hustle magicians—you’re a magic nut, terrific, don’t inflict your neuroses on the rest of us.”
    “What’s magic—don’t answer, that was rhetorical—magic is misdirection. And misdirection is getting them to look in the wrong place at the right time. Well
of course
magic’s had troubles with tv—you can’t misdirect a goddam camera—ginger ale,” he said to the waiter and looked at Goldstone.
    “Scotch on the rocks. Pinch or Chivas.”
    “We got Clan MacGregor.”
    Goldstone looked at the Postman. “What am I
here? With a lot of soda,” he said to the waiter.
    The club was full now.
    The drinks came.

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