I was as mesmerized by the seeming impossibility of the performance as by the action happening in my head. I tried desperately to block it out, embarrassed as if everyone could see it and would know what I was thinking. I crossed my legs, as if that would somehow make the scene in my head fade to black, but my face still flushed with a guilty shame. Mark remained oblivious while I imagined those cards falling down upon my skin, my body reclining on the soft green velvet of their table, aces and clubs covering my naked body as Rafael’s delicate fingers shuffled and reshuffled the deck, all fifty-two cards landing across my body, before those fingers found a different task between my thighs.
When I crossed my legs, Mark’s hand was knocked off my thigh, but he did not notice, and I did not care. He did not notice because he was too busy watching the magic, and I did not care because I did not need his hand anymore. A heat of an entirely different sort was running through my body.
The next trick required audience participation. I sat, riveted, as the two magicians scanned the crowd for the right volunteer. I could not take my eyes off Rafael’s face as his eyes roved the crowd. Despite my focus, it was still shocking when he looked straight at me, as if he had read my mind.
“What card do you want?” he asked.
I looked around, the classic clueless audience “who me?” maneuver. He just kept looking at me and smiling, nodding as if to say yes, you.
“I want you” is what I almost said.
But I stopped myself just in time. My face flushed a deep shade of red. I could not look away from him. I could not look at Mark. I felt mortified and infatuated. The magician’s eyes locked onto mine, and the entire room disappeared.
Only it was not that kind of magic show. Peter and Mark were still there, unfortunately. As was everyone else in the full theater. And they were all staring at me, waiting for my answer.
“Name a card,” he repeated, and I realized I was holding everything up.
“Queen of hearts.”
He smiled, his straight white teeth contrasting with the scruff of several days worth of dark beard. He understood the subtext, or, at least, I imagined he did. I smiled back, my skin feeling red and hot, the rest of the room a million miles away. My brain felt wiped clean. I could not think of anything else. I just stared at him. I was consumed by this man I had not even really met and by my crazy desire to tear off his rumpled clothes.
“Queen of hearts,” the other magician repeated, a reminder that he was there, that he existed, that Rafael and I were not alone, and that we were not naked despite the brilliant detail of the images in my mind.
The show continued.
Everything that happened next was a blur. I could only focus on the moment that had just transpired, our brief but significant exchange, and the vivid X-rated scenario in my head. All I could think about were his hands on me, his eyes staring into mine, and that persistent image of cards showering down on my naked body. On stage, cards were being selected, concealed and then revealed, there was something involving a box and a blindfold, but I only noticed two things: one, that when my beloved magician was blindfolded, I suddenly realized I had a kidnapping fetish, and I wanted to grab him, make off with him, throw him into my car, and tie him down to my bed, and two, that at the end of the trick, my queen of hearts appeared in a box, and I got to take her home with me.
I may not have been able to kidnap Rafael Delgado, but, when he handed me my queen of hearts, there was a moment when his fingers—oh my god, those fingers—brushed against mine, and I knew I would be bringing home a piece of him with that signed playing card. We stared at each other, and the room disappeared for the second time that night. My heart pounding, I took that card and slipped it carefully into my bag. I would not lose the one thing I had that he had touched.