So you don’t believe in magic? You think that everything in life must have a rational explanation?  Well, maybe, but then again maybe not.

I spoke to a lady whose home was filled with the pungent smell of burning incense. “What’s that about?” I asked.

“It attracts money,” she said, blushing slightly in embarrassment.

“How much?” I asked.

“Not a helluva lot. It comes in quite useful though. But I can see you don’t believe it. A friend gave me the sticks. At first I didn’t believe it either, but I thought, what the hell, why not? And tried them. And the strange thing is the first time I burned one I received some unexpected money. And it’s worked every time I use them.”

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“I am not. I know it sounds strange, but they work.”

“Could I have one?” I asked.

“No. They’re too valuable to me.”

“Would you sell me one?”

“Five hundred ,” she said.

“For a single stick? You are kidding.”

“They work for me,” she said.

It was with her experience still in mind that I heard of Sam’s Psychic Jewels. I was shown into Sam’s office by an unsmiling older lady who warned me that Sam is a very intense man who does not take to joking about his line of work. She said I should not even smile when discussing his products. Down the years he had a lot of ignorant people making fun of his work. Any questioning of the powers of his products or the smallest sign of scepticism was likely to end your meeting promptly.

“We have a wide variety,” Sam told me. “This pendant, if you wear it around your neck, up against your chest, will attract money to you.” It seemed that devices to attract money were popular in the magic industry. “There’s also one that increases you intelligence and another that improves your health and one that makes you lucky. And here’s a little gadget you need to carry in your pocket to attract the opposite sex. I’ve personally had excellent results from that one.”

“Well, I never,” I said.

“So which would you like?” he asked. “They are all reasonably priced at two hundred and fifty.”

“I’ll need to think it over.”

“Don’t take too long. We only do one production run annually and stocks are running low.”

I went away and thought about it. At this point I must make clear that I am a level-headed person who does not believe in symbols and charms and such that have the power to change your life. But on the other hand, two hundred and fifty is not an impossible amount, so as the incense lady said – what the hell.

I returned to Sam’s office, having decided to try the pendant that Sam said attracts money. The same lady met me. “Sam’s out of town on a humanitarian mission in a neighbouring country,” she said.

“Oh, what sort of mission?”

“He’s visiting the dam that is their country’s main water supply. He’s dropping charms in the dam to improve the intelligence, the luck and the health of the population of that country.”

“Wow,” I said. “When will he be home?”

“He won’t be gone long. He’ll be back next week.”

I returned a week later, but Sam was not yet back. I went again another week later, but he was still not back. “When’s he coming?” I asked.

“Soon.” She looked troubled. “Just as soon as he gets out of jail.”

“Jail?” I was shocked. “What’s he doing in jail?”

She shook her head sadly. “People are so ignorant. They would not accept Sam’s explanation. They actually thought he may be poisoning the water with all the charms he was throwing in, him being white and them being African and so on.”

“That’s very sad,” I said.

“But it’s all right. They are sending divers down and will retrieve some charms and have them analysed.”

“All’s well that ends well,” I said.

“Yes, but they’re missing the opportunity to improve their intelligence, luck and health,” she said. “That is really so sad.”

I almost said, serves them right, but it did not seem appropriate when talking about a humanitarian mission.

Magic in the Water