Magic Helped a Blind Girl See
By Michael Jeffreys
My friend Whit is a professional magician, and he was hired by a restaurant in Los Angeles to perform walk-around, close-up magic each evening for the patrons as they ate their dinners. One evening he walked up to a family and, after introducing himself, pulled out a deck of cards and began performing. Turning to a young girl sitting at the table, he asked her to select a card. The girl's father informed him that Wendy, his daughter, was blind.
Whit replied, "That's okay. If it's all right with her, I'd like to try a trick anyway." Turning to the girl, Whit said, "Wendy, would you like to help me with a trick?"
Being a little shy, she shrugged her shoulders and said, "Okay."
Whit took a seat across from her at the table and said, "I'm going to hold up a playing card, Wendy, and it's going to be one of two colors, either red or black. What I want you to do is use your psychic powers and tell me what color the card is, red or black. You got it?" Wendy nodded.
Whit held up the king of clubs and said, "Wendy, is this a red card or a black card?"
After a moment, the blind girl replied, "Black." Her family smiled.
Whit held up the seven of hearts and said, "Is this a red card or a black card?"
Wendy said, "Red."
Then Whit held up a third card, the three of diamonds and said, "Red or black?"
Without hesitating, Wendy said, "Red!" Her family members giggled nervously. He went through three more cards, and she got all three right. Incredibly, she was six for six! Her family couldn't believe how lucky she was.
On the seventh card, Whit held up the five of hearts and said, "Wendy, I want you to tell me the value and suit of this card...whether it's a heart, diamond, club or spade."
After a moment, Wendy replied confidently, "It's the five of hearts." Her family let out a gasp; they were stunned!
Her father asked Whit whether he was doing some kind of trick or real magic. Whit replied, "You'll have to ask Wendy."
The father said, "Wendy, how did you do it?" Wendy smiled and said, "It's magic!" Whit shook hands with the family, gave Wendy a hug, left his business card, and said good-bye. Clearly, he had created a magical moment that this family would never forget.
The question, of course, is how did Wendy know the color of the cards? Since Whit had never met her before that moment in the restaurant, he could not have told her ahead of time which cards were red and which were black. And since Wendy was blind, it was impossible for her to see the color or value of the cards when he held them up. How then?
Whit was able to create this once-in-a-lifetime miracle by using a secret code and some quick thinking. Earlier in his career, Whit had worked out a foot code for communicating information from one person to another without words. He had never had a chance to use the code until that moment in the restaurant. When Whit sat down across from Wendy and said, "I'm going to hold up a playing card, Wendy, and it's going to be one of two colors, either red or black," he tapped her foot (underneath the table) once when he said the word "red" and twice when he said "black."
Just to make sure she understood him, he repeated the secret signals by saying, "What I want you to do is use your psychic powers and tell me what color the card is, red (tap) or black (tap-tap), you got it?" When she nodded yes, he knew that she understood the code and was willing to play along. Her family assumed that when he asked her whether she "got it," he was referring to his verbal instructions.
How did he communicate the five of hearts to her? Simple. He tapped her foot five times to let her know it was a five. When he asked her whether the card was a heart, spade, club or diamond, he let her know the suit by tapping her foot as he said the word "heart."
The real magic of this story is the effect it had on Wendy. Not only did it give her a chance to shine for a few moments and feel special in front of her family, but it made her a star at home, as her family told all their friends about the amazing "psychic" experience.
A few months after this event took place, Whit received a package from Wendy. It contained a deck of Braille playing cards, along with a letter. In the letter, she thanked him for making her feel so special, and for helping her "see" for just a few moments. She said that she still hadn't told her family how she did the trick, even though they kept asking her. She concluded by saying that she wanted him to have the deck of Braille cards so he could come up with more tricks for blind people.