As a longtime fan of everything Annemann, it should come as no surprise that I was thrilled to see the October Genii's homage to The Jinx. And true to the spirit of the late great Mr. A, Bob Farmer contributed a wonderful card piece that uniquely marries the spelling-trick genre with something deeply sinister: the irresistibly titled (at least to me), "Satan Is My Buddy."
I immediately went to work on it. Along the way, I made a few additions that I liked enough to share with Bob. And he liked them enough that he encouraged me to share them with you.
If you don't remember the effect, please take a look at the write-up first. My tinkerings have built on it in three ways: first, it gives each pair of spellings a certain consistency so they don't feel like four separate (and potentially disconnected) acts. Second, it inserts a place where the moment of magic occurs while increasing audience involvement. Third, it gives everything after the magic moment a more dramatic conclusion that pays off the story. There are a few more touches and gags too, so how about I just show you my script?
Here's it is --
"The Devil's picturebook" that's what some people call playing cards because they're often used for gambling and other unwholesome purposes. But the idea that The Devil would be interested in something as trivial as playing cards is ridiculous. He's got demons for that. In fact, this deck of cards contains two demons; here they are (remove the jokers, which have been altered with black marker to say "Demon" instead of "Joker"). And when they're not busy goading me with "Bet the car!" and "Bet the college fund!," they can perform an amazing card trick. Want to see it? Okay.
First, we need to awaken the demons. To do that, we perform the ancient ritual of saying and spelling their names. For instance, this one goes by THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS. (Pick up the face-down deck, put a Demon/Joker on top of the deck face-up, then spell THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS into a pile on a table.) And this one answers to the classic, OLD SCRATCH. (Put the other Demon/Joker on top of the deck face-up, then spell OLD SCRATCH onto the pile already sitting on the table. Pick up the tabled pile and put it on top of the in-hands deck). There! Our ritual is completed, the demons have been awakened, and the fun begins.
(Placing deck on table and speaking to Participant A) Would you please cut off about 2/3 of the deck, look at the bottom card of your packet, then place your packet over here (to the right of the bottom). (She does.) And would you (to Participant B) please cut off about half of this (indicating A's packet) look at the bottom card you cut to, and place your packet over here (to the right of A's packet). Have you both memorized the cards that you cut to? Will you remember them for all eternity? How about for the next few minutes? I'll take it! (Reassemble the deck per the published instructions) Because that's all the time those demons need to go through the entire deck and find your cards.
Oh, there's just one catch. They don't work for free. For these demons to find your cards, you need to pledge them your souls. Union rules. Are you up for that? Okay, put your right hand on the deck, your left hand in the air, and repeat after me: "Oh demons of the deck, should you succeed in finding my card, then I shall grant you my immortal soul." (They do.) Wow, at these prices this better be a heckuva trick.
Actually, since contracts are serious business in the underworld, I wouldn't be surprised if the demons have found your cards already. Let's check. (Ribbon-spread the deck, separate it into three packets while removing the two Demons/Jokers) There's one; there's the other (reassemble the deck as published). (Pick up the Demons/Jokers) What do you say, boys: did you find them? (Hold them to ear, then table them) They say they did. (To Participant B) Which card did you choose? Then, in exchange for your soul, you get BRIMSTONE (spell BRIMSTONE into a face-up pile on the table) and DAMNATION (spell DAMNATION face-up into the same face-up pile, with the last card face-down on top); and could you please put your finger on top? (To Participant A) And which card did you choose? Then, in exchange for your soul, you get to B-U-R-Nyou know where this is goingIN H-E-L-L (spelling this into its own pile, with the last card face-down on top); and if you could please put your finger on top. (Set the rest of the deck aside.)
Now, if you believe in all this stuff, and if these two cards really are (repeat their names), there's no need to worry. (Slide the two face-down cards from beneath the participants' fingers, peek at them, and bring them face-level but still away from the audience) Because we'll all be burning together (turn the cards to show their faces).
I hope I have saved some of my fellow Genii readers from overlooking this terrific effect. Again, my thanks to Bob Farmer for sharing it with us.
Neil Tobin, Necromancer