Brad took a sip of his cheap whiskey and looked at the clock. 11:38 am. Time to get dressed for work. He gulped down the rest of his drink and carried the empty glass into the kitchen, shoving a stack of dirty dishes aside to make room.
He ignored the pile of overdue bills on the kitchen table as he walked into his bedroom and pulled out the only clean clothes in his closet: a pair of black dress slacks and a crisp, white button down shirt with long sleeves. Then he grabbed his black dress shoes, polished to a high shine as usual, followed by his cape and black top hat.
As he dressed, Brad couldn’t help running through the argument the night before. The booze wasn’t enough to make him forget about Ashley. The way she’d begun by gently suggesting he needed to “grow up” and get a “real job,” eventually escalating to name calling and yelling, telling him he was a born loser.
The breakup was inevitable, even if she hadn’t started in last night. She just didn’t understand. Still, he already missed her. She was the prettiest girl he’d ever dated, and while they were going out he would imagine how she would look dressed up on stage as his assistant in a big Las Vegas show.
Fully dressed and shoes laced, Brad tied the cape around his neck and donned the requisite top hat before checking his appearance in the mirror.
Outside, a horn honked. Brad pulled back the curtain to see his cab waiting. He turned back to the closet and grabbed his case full of props. He stuck a deck of cards in one pocket and put his ‘never-ending’ handkerchief up his sleeve so he’d be able to pull off a couple of quick tricks right out of the cab.
Looking at himself in the mirror one last time before heading out the door, Brad smiled for the first time in three days.
For the next two and a half hours, he would convince himself that his life was not in ruins; he was not depressed. Brad would convince a birthday party full of children and their parents that life was good and he was happy.
And that was The Great Bradellos’s greatest trick of all.