“The Illusionist at Play at the Savoy Hotel” By Craig Loomis

"Missing" by Madeline Partner / madelinepartner.com

Said if he didn’t put the spoon back he would call the manager. He replied what spoon? The small tea spoon you slipped into your pocket. What? I said the tiny silver tea spoon . . . I heard you and, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Then you leave me no choice but to call the manager. Is that what you want? Call him for what? For you, sir. For you. Please, I’d like to meet your manager. What’s his name? Never mind, here he comes now. Mr. Templeton, this gentleman has slipped one of our silver tea spoons into his left coat pocket and unfortunately refuses to return it; your involvement would be much appreciated. Yes, well, sorry to hear that; sir, did you mistakenly place one of our spoons in your pocket? Tea spoon, is it? No, I don’t know what this man is talking about. I am not a thief, sir. Not me. But Mr. Templeton, I saw him place the spoon in his pocket. I was there at my station, at the bar, and I saw him. Sir, there you have it; my head waiter of four years has never lied to me, not once. Isn’t that right, Arnold? Correct, sir. Never. See, there it is, so please if you would, return the spoon before you leave, place it here on the table top and we’ll be done with it. It’s an honest misunderstanding, it’s happened to all of us, don’t you think? Arnold, don’t you think? Without a doubt, Mr. Templeton. Gentlemen, thank you for your time, patience, and attention, but I must repeat: I have no idea what you are talking about. Truly I do not. Mr. Templeton, if I may: of course we can see that the gentleman is drinking tea, there is the cup, the sugar bowl and there is the milk. However, you will notice there is no spoon. Not one. Why is that, sir? Mr. Templeton? How can that be? Good question, and I have no idea; as a matter of fact, before all of this started I was just going to call you over to ask for a spoon. Overlooked, I imagine. Can happen, don’t you think? Need a spoon to stir the sugar, to move the milk about. Mr. Templeton, this is preposterous. I do believe a search of his person is in order; certainly an innocent man would not refuse such a simple request—an innocent man. Come, come, Arnold, it’s only a spoon; we have many tea spoons. Yes, but Mr. Templeton, there is a principle involved, don’t you agree? The principle is everything, the spoon nothing. Of course, quite right, Arnold. Plus, silver tea spoons cost a pretty penny these days. So, once again, sir, if you will please empty your pockets. No. Please, your pockets. I say again, no. One pocket at a time. Coat pocket, is it, Arnold? Yes, left pocket. So, all told, what are we talking about: five pockets, is it? One pocket at a time, sir. A simple request and we can all get back to work, and you can enjoy your tea which is probably cold by now. Arnold, another cup of tea for the gentleman while we’re waiting. Mr. Templeton . . . ? Another tea, Arnold. If you insist. Alright, which pocket should I start with? How about this one? Yes, that’s a good one, let’s start there. Alright, see, nothing but scraps of lint, and what’s this? Ah yes, an extra button. And there you have it. Fine. That’s one. How about that other pocket? This one? Yes, yes, surely. Nothing. Not even lint. See that? Fine. Moving on. Ah, here’s your fresh tea. Thank you, Arnold. Ah, very hot this one; let me just add a bit of sugar, a dash of milk, a quick stir. A sip. Ah, thank you so very much. Now which pocket is next? One of the inside pockets, I would think. Right, here we go. Empty after all, and the other, just as empty. Arnold, are you watching this? Yes, I see. One last pocket and we’re done. This one? Yes, the last one I believe. This one? Yes. And . . . once again, nothing. Satisfied? Gentlemen, I do believe we are done here, yes? So it would seem. Deepest apologies, sir. Arnold? Yes? Arnold? Yes? Something to say to the gentleman? As a matter of fact yes, something: another question. Arnold, I think we are past that stage now; something in the way of an apology is appropriate, I think. Mr. Templeton, one last question: what have you done with the other silver tea spoon, the one for the second cup of tea? I brought it with the second cup. It was there, you saw him stir the sugar and milk. It was there, and now it isn’t. Quite right, Arnold. It is nowhere to be seen. Sir, explain yourself. What have you done with our tea spoons? Sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Gentlemen, you have been standing in front of me all this time, have you not? Did you see me take your precious spoon? Well, no, not exactly, but. Precisely, you did not. And yet you accuse me. Mr. Templeton, Arnold, what sort of establishment are you running here? Please, I insist on speaking with your superior. You do have a superior, do you not? Really, gentlemen, most distasteful.



Craig Loomis teaches English at the American University of Kuwait. His fiction has been published in The Iowa Review, The Colorado Review, The Prague Revue, The Maryland Review, and other journals. In 2013 Syracuse UP published his short story collection The Salmiya Collection: Stories of the Life and Times of Modern Day Kuwait.