Page 35                                            Spring 1995


by Pat Hughes


The sun glinted off the sharp blade, as it landed with a slap in Jay's hand. He held

the three machetes high over his head.


There was a smattering of applause and the people standing in front of the Great Hall turned and left, shaking their heads.


Jay brought his arms down and sighed deeply. He bit his lip and put his machetes in the black trunk beside him. He motioned for a robot to come over. The robot rolled over and stood quietly at Jay's side.


"See that the trunk gets to my address," Jay said, sliding a card into the robot's open slot. The robot digested the data, blinked green and picked up the trunk, rolling away. Jay stepped onto the people mover and put his hand on the hand print imbedded into the side.


"Home," he said, and the people mover started to move.


Jay jumped off the people mover at a large apartment complex. The door opened after the eye scan verified Jay's identity. Entering the elevator, Jay leaned against the wall.


"Below 7," he said.


The elevator started to quickly drop seven floors below the ground. The elevator doors opened and Jay walked into his living room.


Tory, his wife, looked up from the holo­movie she was watching and smiled. Jay dodged a holomonster and flopped into a chair that quickly molded to his shape.

"Projection, off," he said and the monsters and screaming victims disappeared from the room.


"I was watching that," Tory said.


Jay sighed.  "Sorry, I just couldn't listen to that screaming," he said.



"Things didn't go as expected, I gather," Tory said.


"I don't understand. I have some talent. I do exactly as I've seen on the history disks. I start juggling with small balls, then move to larger balls. I move from juggling three objects to five objects. Then I juggle a bowling pin, an orange and a knife, just to show diversity. As my final act, I juggle three razor sharp machetes. I don't really expect much, but I know I don't get any respect from the audience. I have practiced and worked hard for many years to perfect my art and I can't understand why no one is even a bit impressed. It's not like there are jugglers all over the place now.


Talent should be respected, just for the sake of the practice and time it takes to perfect talent. I just can't understand it. I've studied the history of juggling, learned all the techniques... I must have missed something," Jay said.


"Maybe you're relying on history too much," Tory mused, staring at him.



"What are you talking about?" Jay asked, confused.



"Stand up," Tory demanded.  Jay stood, looking puzzled.



Tory put a finger to her lips, then stood and went to the food processor.  "Three apples," she said and took three apples out of the wall. She tossed them to Jay.

"Juggle," she said.


Jay started to juggle the apples.  "Well?" Jay asked.



"I see what you're doing and it's impressive, but I keep wondering where you're hiding the anti-grav tool. It's so easy to fool the eye today. Today's technology doesn't let me believe what I'm seeing. I know there has to be a trick, somehow. I just think you're directing a beam," Tory said.


Jay stopped juggling and the apples dropped to the floor. He looked insulted.

"I do not use any type of tool. I juggle with only my hands and my brain. It takes rhythm, talent, timing and practice to juggle this well. It's a lost performing art. I just wanted to show others how great it was," Jay said, a bit disgusted.


"I know this is important to you, but technology changed how people think. The costume you're wearing, the puffed sleeves, brilliant sash and baggy pants were perfect in the 20th century for jugglers, just as the history disks showed us, there were no antigrav tools then. Now, people wonder how they're being tricked," Tory said.


"So, I have to prove to people that my juggling is an art, not a trick?" Jay asked.


"I think it would help," Tory said. "It seems to me that people have lost the ability to be amazed by human ability and talent. The loss in the belief in juggling is just another casualty. The old saying that seeing is believing just isn't true anymore. Sometimes, we have to bow to change and accept it, though we may lose something in the process, like juggling."


Jay looked at her.  "Perhaps the opposite of seeing would have the desired effect," Jay mused.


Tory looked confused.  "And that means?" she asked.



"It's just a thought, but if people aren't impressed with juggling because they don't believe what they see, what do you think would happen if people could see that there was no way I used an anti-grav tool?" Jay asked. "What if I wore a blindfold?


"But then you couldn't see," Tory said.



"Exactly!" Jay said, triumphantly, "And if you can't see there's no way to direct an anti­grav beam."

Tory licked her lips. "Jay, I thought juggling was eye-hand coordination," she said.



Jay nodded. "It's also timing and talent. The objects become an extension of the juggler's arm. Before, the best jugglers, after a lot of practice, could juggle without looking. Besides, I'd only have to do it once. After I proved I juggle without the tool, I could juggle without the blindfold," Jay said. He thought for a second, then added, "To make it more interesting, I'll use the machetes for the blindfold act!"


"I just hope you know what you're doing, and why!" Tory said.


"Because I believe people need to know that humans can do amazing feats without technology. Perhaps I need to prove it to myself too," Jay said.


"You'll never get rid of technology, Jay," Tory said.


"You're right, and I wouldn't want to. I enjoy the conveniences that technology provides, but it's important to demonstrate to people that humans have the potential to develop incredible physical skill using nothing more than their bodies and brain."


"What can I do to help?" Tory asked. "I'd like you to market me as 'A free show

of the lost art of juggling with no technology," Jay said, "Find me a place and an audience, with media to impress and I'll give a show that will end all shows in six months."


Six months later, Jay paced backstage, taking deep breaths. Tory had done a great job of promoting this show and Jay hoped that he'd be able to keep up his end of the bargain. He felt this was the one chance to bring serious juggling back to society. Jay straightened when he heard his name being announced on stage.


He walked out on stage and bowed to the crowd. Tory placed a heavy black bag over his head, tied it loosely around his neck and handed him three machetes. Then she crossed her fingers and held her breath.


Six months of practice made perfect enough, and the crowd gasped in amazement as the blades whirled through the air in front of the hooded figure.


The crowd roared as the last machete slapped into Jay's hand. He whipped off the dark hood, grinning broadly, and threw the hood into the applauding audience.                                  


Pat Hughes lives in Unity, Maine. She has published several poems and short stories, and her first science fiction novel, "Illusion of Choice" was published in February by Bibliobytes.

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