KATE noticed that, over the next couple of nights, Delia kept peeping through the curtain as the audience assembled, and once or twice she’d seen her in the wings during a performance looking into the shadowy auditorium.
Kate came up to her as again she peeped through the curtain.
“Delia, what are you doing?”
“I’m looking for a young man,” she said.
“Oh, Delia, give others a chance, will you.” Kate laughed, although a little ruefully. It was quite evident how Sally seemed to be walking on air and everyone had noticed the glances exchanged between her and Will. Delia was being wooed by a handsome tenor. Where
is the romance in my life,
Kate thought, except in my stories?
“Who is he?” she asked. “Is he nice?”
“I don’t know,” Delia replied. “He seems to come in just before I go on stage. The seat is empty before then. As soon as I go off stage he leaves.”
“It seems you have another admirer, Delia, how exciting.”
“Yes,” Delia said doubtfully. “But just a little bit worrying, you know, with what’s gone on.”
“Of course, yes. What is he like?” she asked anxiously.
“It’s very difficult to see. He’s young. Far too young
for me. He’s about medium height, slim and seems well dressed.”
“Well, we’ll both keep an eye out for him,” Kate assured her.
But that night Kate’s main focus was on the new inclusion in the act, the escape. The act always finished with the
sawing the lady in half
illusion, but preceding that would be Nesbo’s “Amazing Escape”.
Basically it was the same act that they had rehearsed on a bare stage but with embellishments. Kate had insisted that there should be a key available for the padlocks and handcuffs just in case anything was to go wrong.
“Nothing can go wrong,” Nesbo insisted. “I’ll tell you the secret, and like all illusions, it’s very simple. Just before the chains are tightened around me, I take a deep breath, inflate my chest, just as Houdini did. That was his secret. When the chains are padlocked I release my breath and this eases the chains and gives me some movement.”
“I see,” Kate said. “But how do you unlock the handcuffs and padlocks?”
“With a key, of course, Miss Flynn. You handcuff my hands across my chest below my chin. I have a key taped to my under-lip inside my mouth. Hey, presto!”
So Kate, in her role as Zara, stood at the front of the stage and spoke to the audience.
“I’m looking for two strong men this evening.”
There was the expected “Ooooh!” and Zara persuaded two rather sheepish young men on stage, to bind and padlock Nesbo tightly as he sat on a chair. The screen, now painted black with silver stars, was placed around him. The young men stood at the rear of the stage.
The orchestra struck up a mounting roll of drums as Zara counted with the audience to ten. For a couple of tense seconds nothing happened. Then the screen collapsed and Nesbo stood beside the chair. There was no sign of any chains. There were waves of applause.
As they came off stage at the end of the act Kate said, “Where are the chains?”
“I thought that would surprise you. I got Will to make a little trap door at the side of the chair, only about six inches square. I dropped the chains down there.”
Nesbo was pleased that the new addition to the act had gone well. He walked with Kate back to their dressing-rooms.
Kate opened her door. Delia was standing by her dressing table. On the table was a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. She held a small white card in her hand.
From the doorway Nesbo spoke coldly.
“Mr Reynolds is most attentive, I see.
Delia looked up.
“The card simply says, You have a lovely voice. It’s unsigned.” She looked at Kate.
“The mystery man?” Kate suggested.