The sweet scents of buttered popcorn and cotton candy floated over a light breeze crossing the stage, causing Martin Yurik’s stomach to growl. He never thought the night would end and he was grateful to wrap up the third show of the evening. He peered out under the glaring stage lights and spoke into his headset microphone.
“Marilyn Monroe, everybody!”
To his left, a man lifted the bottom of the faded, stretched-out Van Halen t-shirt over his hairy, protruding belly and swayed from side to side on his flip-flops. “Oh,” he said in a gravel-churning voice, “do you feel the breeze from the subway?”
A gaggle of teenage girls in the front row covered their gaping mouths as tears of laughter poured forth.
“Isn’t it delicious?” the man asked his captive audience.
The crowd of one hundred or so hooted and hollered.
Martin stepped in front of the man and got in his face. “One, you’re slowly feeling all of your faculties returning under your control. Two, you’re beginning to move around, stretching your body, feeling the electrical signals flow through your nervous system. And three, you’re wide awake!”
He snapped his fingers just before finishing the last sentence. The man looked confused, like he’d just woken up in a stranger’s home.
“Let’s all give Billy a round of applause! He’s a real good sport!” He grabbed the middle-aged man’s hand and lifted it in the air. A look of recognition swept over Billy’s face as he took in his surroundings. His astonishment turned into a sheepish grin. Cheryl, Martin’s assistant, walked onto the stage wearing an inconspicuous black button-up top and black slacks and escorted Billy to the side.
Low, ambient music began to play in the background and Martin spoke. “If anyone here is trying to lose weight, quit smoking, drinking, or has any other habit they’re looking to break, we have some CDs and DVDs for sale at the booth near the exit.”
Even though he’d prepped and charmed at least half of the suggestible crowd into buying something from him before each show even started, he was always a little relieved to see them lining up.
“Thank you all for coming tonight! It’s been a pleasure! Don’t forget that we’re here until Friday.”
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