One Of Thurston’s Astounding Mysteries

Wall photo: TeroVesalainen • Poster: Public Domain • Edited by Mark Starlin

-1935-

Thurston was a man of many astounding mysteries. Like how his spindly legs and tiny feet could support his enormous head. But this story is not about that mystery. It is about the astounding mystery of his floating assistant, Dorothy.

Before Thurston met Dorothy his magic career was going nowhere. He was a decent magician, but his oversized head made him a bit scary. He mainly played small towns to small crowds. But fortune was about to smile on Thurston. In one small town in Nebraska, his luck changed.


Thurston always wore a tuxedo and top hat during his act. It was his trademark. Or so he thought. One morning he woke up in the back of his van — hotels were too big of an expense at this stage in his career — and noticed that his top hat was missing. He dug through all of his magic cases but it was no use. It was gone. He thought for a moment and realized he had left it at the last theater he played. He had a show the next night and didn’t have time to drive back to the previous theater to retrieve it—if it was even still there. So he decided to buy a new one. He hated to spend the money, but it was his trademark, after all.

Thurston went to the closest tailor to purchase the hat. To his delight, an attractive young woman was working at the shop. She was the daughter of the tailor and helped customers while her father did the tailoring in the back.

“Good day. How may I help you, sir?” Dorothy said as Thurston entered the shop.

“I need to purchase a top hat,” Thurston replied.

Dorothy looked at Thurston’s unusually large head. She had worked at the shop long enough not to let her face give away her thoughts or emotions. She went over to the hat section and chose the largest top hat they had in stock.

“Try this one,” she said.

Thurston tried it, but it was too small.

“It is probably no use. I had to have my last hat custom made. I am sure you noticed that I have an exceptionally large head,” Thurston said.

“We all have our unusual attributes.”

“If you have any, I cannot see them,” Thurston said, then instantly started blushing.

Dorothy laughed, and said, “You would not see it, but I have one very unusual attribute. I float when I sleep.”

“You must be joking,” Thurston replied.

“Not at all. It’s true. Every night, when I fall asleep, I begin to float. As a child, I would wake up in various rooms of the house. My parents thought I was sleepwalking, until one night my mother saw me floating. I have a strap across my bed now that keeps me in place.”

Thurston no longer cared about the top hat. He just had a brilliant idea.

“Would you be interested in a job as a magician’s assistant?”

“What?”

“I am a magician. If what you say is true, it is real magic. With you as my assistant, we could be famous. And wealthy! People would flock to see a floating woman. Of course, we would pretend that I was controlling it to make it more of a show.”

Dorothy stared at Thurston. Despite his substantial head, there was something appealing about him. Why had she told him about her unique ability? She had never told anyone else. Only her family knew. And her father told her to keep it a secret until she was married. She loved her parents, but working in a tailor’s shop was not very exciting. She imagined how exciting it might be to be a magician’s assistant traveling the world and experiencing new things.

“But I can only float when I am asleep,” Dorothy replied.

“No problem. We will just keep you awake for a long period of time before a show. Then you will be tired enough to sleep for the act. It could work. It is certainly worth a try. I have a show tomorrow night. We can run through the routine today and try it tomorrow. If it doesn’t work, then it wasn’t meant to be. But if it does, just imagine.”

“Very well. Let’s consider it an audition,” Dorothy said.

“Excellent. I will meet you when you get off work and we can rehearse. Only sleep a couple of hours tonight. I want you good and tired tomorrow night.”

Dorothy was getting excited. This could mean a whole new life for her. And a way out of this small town.

“Agreed. I finish at five o'clock. The shop will be closed so we can practice here,” Dorothy said.

“Great. I will see you at five o’clock.”

That evening they went through the routine Thurston had come up with. Neither was sure what would happen if Dorothy actually started floating on stage. That was something they would have to play by ear. But they were ready to give it a try.

Dorothy only slept two hours that night. From ten o’clock until midnight. Then she got up. She doubted she could have slept any more anyway due to the excitement she was feeling. By show time that evening, she was very tired.

Dorothy made the suggestion to Thurston that he bill himself as Thurston The Mysterious to take advantage of his somewhat mysterious head size. He agreed. The show began and Thurston did his usual routine to the usual mild applause. Then he announced his final trick.

“Ladies and gentlemen. What you have seen so far were illusions. Magic tricks. But now I am going to present to you real magic. I will make my beautiful assistant Dorothy float right before your very eyes.”

There was some commotion in the audience. This was a good sign. Dorothy was so tired she could hardly make it out on stage. But she managed. Thurston asked Dorothy to lay on a table, which she gladly agreed to do. She was exhausted. Thurston then asked the orchestra to play a lullaby. Then he started saying, “Sleep, sleep.”

As the soothing music played, Dorothy drifted off to sleep. Then, magically, she began to float. Even Thurston was dumbstruck at first. The audience gasped. Thurston regained his composure and started chanting, “Float, float.”

Dorothy began floating toward the audience. The crowd grew louder. Thurston worried they might wake Dorothy up and she would fall and hurt herself. But Dorothy was a sound sleeper and didn’t wake. She drifted out over the audience and started heading toward the back of the theater. Thurston immediately jumped down from the stage and started running up the aisle. He waited for her at the back of the theater. As she drifted closer, he caught her in his arms and yelled, “Awake!” He then pinched Dorothy’s arm a little and shook her.

Dorothy woke up and the theater erupted with applause and cheers. People stood to their feet and shouted, “Bravo!”

It worked. Word of the floating woman soon spread and Thurston and Dorothy found themselves playing bigger and bigger theaters. They tweaked the act using smoke and lights, and darkness. Before long they were visiting other countries and performing for sold out crowds everywhere they went. Thurston’s prediction was correct. They became famous. And wealthy.

They also fell in love, married, and had children. Their children had special abilities also. But that is an astounding mystery for another time.

Thurston no longer cursed his sizable head. How could he? It led him to fame, fortune, and the love of his life, Dorothy. The size of his head was an astounding mystery. And he was glad.