We Don't Do Magic

She was a movie star, or would have been if the world was right. She sang a familiar song: the husband with a wandering eye and a zipper that was down when it should be up. She already knew where he'd be, she'd found a receipt. Too easy.

I had half a roll of beauty shots of the seedy airport motel before the mark even showed. He was exactly the type you'd expect: doughy, sweaty, clothes off the wrong rack. I've never been able to understand why a mook like that steps out when he's already fighting over his weight class at home.

Camera time. The mark knocked on the door. Click. He looked over his shoulder. Click. The door opens…

It was the movie star, only instead of dressed to the nines she was down to her ones and twos. Click. I'm making a personal copy of that one, I thought. She reached out to grab him by the tie, pulled him in, and the door shut behind him, leaving his fedora rolling on its rim outside. It looked lonely. Click. I'm a goddamned artist with this thing.

A billy-club rapped against the rolled-up passenger's side window. "Move it along, friend."

"Sure thing, officer." I had what I came for.

Why would the dame run me in circles? I could understand spicing things up with a little role-play before the dirty deed. And some girls get a cheap thrill out of a cheap room. If the movie star was playing a game, was paying me good money part of it?

Well why not ask her, you big palooka.

The next day she comes into the office. She played it straight. Fine, if that's the way you want it, I thought. I laid out the evidence. The money shot of her in her unmentionables was the big finish. I didn't bother with the lonely fedora. "Look familiar?"

The waterworks started. "I can't believe he would do it!"

"Do what, sister? Spill it."

"He wanted to bring in another girl, see? You know how you men are. But I said no dice. I'm not a prude, it's just… who could we trust? So he says, 'You trust yourself, don't you? Why don't we just make a copy?' But I said—"

"A what?"

"A copy. A copy of me." She looked up at me and shrugged as she wiped her nose. "You know, magic."

"Your husband's a warlock? And you had me following him dumb."

"I'll pay you double."

"I don't want your money. I don't want your case; I stay away from arcana."

"I just don't understand why he would do it over my express ob—"

"Are you out of your mind? Of course he made the copy. He probably did it while you were asleep, and set her up at the hotel and was back before you woke up. She'll do everything you won't, and it isn't even cheating, not really."

She stormed out. At least I have the photo.

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