By Daniel Ross
The darkly comic story of a retired Las Vegas stage magician and big cat enthusiast, dragged back into the spotlight by the consequences of one huge mistake.
Saturday, 22 July 2017
Here is an extract from the book
I've decided for no particular reason (not because pledging has slowed down, nothing like that...), to post an extract from BDIRR.
All you need to know is that Bobby is addressing a large convention of the American Guild of Variety Artists, at the invitation of his old friend and colleague Volker Kinsale. Everyone in the AGVA hates Bobby, so this is a tricky speech for him. And Bobby being Bobby, he is not as graceful as he could be.
‘Give him a warm welcome, because we all know how hard this is. You know him as Bobby, Bobby Denise. Bobby?’ Volker gestured to the wings and I walked out towards him, on to the stage. A spotlight followed me, glued to my face. Under its glare the greyness of my suit had never been whiter. A glum whistle came from near the front of the room, which I assumed was Thomas, but the rest merely clapped as politely as they could without becoming rhythmic or mocking. I shook Volker’s hand and began.
‘History is written by those who make it, right? Or it’s written by the winners. That’s what I’ve been told. Well, I know I’ve made history, and I sure as hell didn’t write it. I wasn’t even consulted. And I certainly wasn’t one of the winners. You know, maybe that’s not quite true. But let me tell you this: I didn’t like how the facts came out, because now you all think I’m a bad guy and a disgrace to our profession, or I should probably call it your profession seeing as I don’t do it anymore. I’m not a disgrace to your profession, I’m a disgrace to the legal system of Nevada. A murderer. Convicted, sentenced, jailed, released, but still a murderer.
You all know a version of what happened, which is that my show at the Canyon got out of hand, my tiger, Dusty, bit a woman in the stomach and killed her, then jumped on her husband and smashed his chest and back. He probably should’ve been killed, but as it happened he just can’t walk any more. Or go to any more big cat magic shows, I bet. You also know that I shot the tiger as soon as I was able. A lot of hard things happened that day, but shooting Dusty was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Every day since then has been a comparative waterslide. Any of you ever experience anything like that? Any of you lose a colleague and a friend just because they didn’t know how to focus their anger? If that happened to a human, you could talk to them and try to make them stop doing the things that they’re doing, control their behavior if you like. Well, I thought that was possible, until I met Leo, who you all know and valorize constantly while I apparently just mock his memory and argue with his wife. I also killed Leo on that day, right after I killed Dusty. The difference is that I don’t care that I killed Leo. I am glad I killed him, I am glad he is dead, and I do not feel badly about the punishment I’ve had since then save for how I’m constantly being harassed about it right now. None of you knows what Leo was really like. I can’t believe his name has come out of this whole escapade completely unblemished, when the things he used to do to me on a professional and personal level were so unbearable that I killed him. It was the result of some tension being released and you’ll understand that the atmosphere on that day was charged, but I am in no way remorseful. That’s one thing our nation’s correctional facilities were unable to correct completely, the fact I felt nothing for what I’d done. My biggest mistake was to naively think I could come out of prison, slip into my apartment and go about my business without fear of journalists, ill-wishers and morons knocking on my door at all hours of the goddamn day. If Amanda Paceman is listening to this, and she probably is, because I saw her scuttling along the floor amid the algae and the sputum earlier while you all were gossiping about me, then she knows what I’m talking about.
You know, it’s a good thing that El Motto spoke before me today. Marcus, brother, I am delighted to see you return to what you love. You will be warmly received. But his treatment at the hands of Amanda Paceman was truly awful. For no discernible reason, she took his career apart without a thought for how it would affect him. Everyone knows El Motto’s show was perfectly safe, but she wouldn’t accept it and she thought she would bring it down in a manner most unbecoming and destructive. I didn’t see Marcus during the years he was working as a ticket stub guy or an illegal cabbie or a delivery driver, but I can imagine it.
Amanda Paceman arrived at my house a couple of weeks ago saying that she wanted to talk about what I did in 1985, about the victims of Dusty’s flip-out and what I did to Leo. She will not get what she wants from me. I’m aware that my saying this is playing directly into her hands, and that the words I’m saying right now will appear in her hallowed pages in the Las Vegas Chronicle soon enough. Believe what you want, but I’m telling you the truth right now: Amanda Paceman’s story is not the truth. I’m no psychopath on the loose. I’m no danger to the public. Just let me live out the rest of my life in silence and, I don’t know, maybe with a little dignity. Leave me alone, Amanda. I can’t make it clearer than this.
I am an unlucky man, but also a realistic one. Roy from Siegfried and Roy: now that guy was lucky. Is he here? No? Neither of them. OK, terrific. I met Roy once, lobbing canapés into his face, before he completely botched it with surgery, yelling about how he wasn’t eating enough ‘vejtibils’. That’s how he said it. Then he had a total malfunction with his cat and he really was a fucking vejtibil. Leo and I were always second to them. Everyone was. There were other cat shows in Vegas, like ours, but none of us could really compete with those bastards. Anyway, he was lucky and he wasn’t killed by that cat. The audience reacted real well and didn’t freak out and he got away with it. Best of all, they kept the cat and worked with him again. I can’t work with Dusty again. I can’t work with anyone. I can’t do anything. I am an unlucky man. I’m putting my dark glasses on and I’m heading for the grocery store, the movies, the coffee shop opposite my house. Not the theater. Not the stage. I will fade into the aisles and you will not see where I go next. If you get the chance, do not talk to me.’