The Great Lucado Sample (copyrighted)

Chapter 1

Philip was ushered into the studio after the whirlwind of hair and makeup- well, really just makeup as he had lost his hair many years ago, and with a full white beard, in all frankness, there wasn’t much makeup either. The lights were bright and people moved about him at a speed he never really got used to. They were getting faster and more neurotic at his age and it was becoming a bit flustering.

Philip didn’t really know what to expect. He was no novice when it came to being on television. There was a time that he was on air more than he was not, but it was all getting a bit too much and his prime television years were back in the 80s and 90s and filmed on tape. Now, everything was live, leaving little room for mistakes, and was probably killing a generation of journalism majors with stress.

The microphone was placed on his collar, and he was instructed to sit across from the host, Curt Bluford a man that had become famous by interviewing exactly those that Philip despised. Although Philip’s speeches and appearances decreased greatly in the last few years as he faced some medical problems, this was an opportunity to push his cause on a show whose audience was exactly those he wanted to confront with his notions of truth.

As the minutes until on-air time count down towards seconds, Curt Bluford extended his hand. “Mr. Lucado, it is a pleasure to have you on the show.”

Philip accepted the greeting, although a bit hesitantly. “Thank you. Glad to be here.”

“I understand your apprehension completely. Our audience is perhaps, not your ideal venue…”

“Actually, they are exactly the ones I wish to speak to and I’m glad to finally have the opportunity.”

“Oh, ok. Good.”

“My foundation’s goal is to educate and protect the people that may find themselves down on their luck from those that will pray upon them.” Mid-sentence Philip realized Curt was not really listening. His minions surrounded him. They were making sure his hair and makeup were perfect. He was now completely absorbed in their attention. Philip smiled knowing any conversation now would be useless and waited for the countdown.

“Five…four…three… two…” then a pointed finger.

            “We’re here with Philip Lucado, better known as the Great Lucado, noted and well-loved magician turned skeptic. Mr. Lucado is the founder of the Lucado Foundation, a group that offers a sizable prize in non-negotiable bearer bonds for definitive proof of the existence of the supernatural or the paranormal. After more than 30 years of offering this prize, it is yet to be claimed. Philip, how much is the prize worth today?”

            “First off, thanks for having me. It is not every day we get the privilege of being invited on a show that sometimes conflicts with our interests. I also want to clarify something.”

            “…Certainly.”

“I am not a magician that has turned into a skeptic. I was always a skeptic and this is why I became a magician. I’ve always been fascinated with magic, if not a bit weary of it. It was this combination that made me move from just posing the question of ‘how did they do that’ to actually searching for how it was done.”

“Fair enough.”

“To get back to your question, the prize started as a modest sum taken from my own savings. In time it was blended with donations made from victims of exactly those my foundation tries to help, victims of fraud. It now stands at roughly $5 million.”

            “Wow, that is a sizable sum!”

            “Yes, it is, but please remember it has been 30 years held in an endowed account. Its size gives it a good interest rate, even in today’s economy. The principle will continue to grow until it is claimed. This time next year, it will be considerably more. Who knows how large it will grow, but I see it as a meter for the justification of my cause. ”

“Has anyone ever come close to claiming it?”

            “No, never. I’ve confronted some of the most famous evangelists, psychics, readers, paranormal investigators, and practitioners of the occult in venues much like this show. If you would recall, for a time I even hosted a show of my own in the 80’s dedicated precisely for the purpose of exposing these frauds.”

            “Yes, I seem to remember that, but it wasn’t on for very long, was it?”

“This wasn’t in want of an audience. We actually had to stop the show, because the pool of people willing to appear simply dried up. We even tired to take it world-wide, but it wasn’t enough. We only had two seasons of material. Few have taken my challenge and all that have, have been exposed as frauds with little more than the knowledge contained in this mind.” Philip point to his head. “Never once, have I had to ask others more astute in the realms of science to help me in my investigations, although I have amassed a team chomping at the bit to do so. I have a full Rolodex of numbers of those willing to dedicate their time, free of charge I may add, to exposing these criminals. They are all eager to help out, and it pains me that I have never had to accept their volunteered services.”

            “So why do you think you are so astute in uncovering these frauds?”

            “Well, I would say that it is inherently hard to trick a trickster. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I am certainly no novice. For those that have come forward, the gag usually falls apart in a matter of moments. There are hundreds of clips online of my activities over the last 30 years.  I’ve had the pleasure to be on Johnny Carson, Larry King, Jay Leno, this show just to name a few. You will almost immediately see how quickly things fall apart for these individuals once they face an inquisitive mind of a non-believer. Once you drain all that mumbo-jumbo out of their acts, everyone is always surprised how ridiculous these people become.”

“What do you feel is the reason you’re such a skeptic? I mean, really, what is at the core of your inability to believe?”

            “Ha, you make it sound like I have some sort of affliction or something.”

            “Well, for many of our viewers, they may really feel that way.”

            Philip looked at the camera, “Really everyone, I am quite alright. I assure you. I don’t need any care packages or bibles wrapped in brown paper.” He looked to the host. “You can’t imagine the number of bibles I receive in a given year. I probably could build a church with them.” He looked back at the camera. “I am not faithless and I still do believe, I just choose to believe in evidence and in science rather than the supernatural.”

“Something like 84% of the world population has some sort of faith, which it seems you equate to the supernatural. Are you calling them all wrong?”

“Of course not. Who am I to judge? I may not believe in an organized religion, but I would hope that no one would feel his or her faith is threatened by a retired magician. If such a meager man as I should be seen as a threat to such a fundamental belief, then perhaps it is indeed the time to become an atheist. We all live in our own experience. Many of us search for a life that brings us happiness, joy and fulfillment. I in no way wish to interfere with anyone’s quest for this most fundamental of pursuits. What my foundation and I oppose is the praying on the weak and the destitute. I oppose those who use the means that I know, and have a long track record of proving, are nothing more than trickery- certainly not acts worthy of the God or gods that many devote their life.  

“As many of you may feel comforted by your beliefs, I too feel comfortable by mine. I find truth and the quest towards discovery quite liberating. Humankind has amassed a sizable amount of knowledge over the last few million years or so, and even theories do more to put my mind at ease, then any possible supernatural explanation.  I live my life by truth, while knowing that although I may not always know the truth, it is still out there, someplace, waiting to be found through arguably humankind’s greatest invention- the scientific method. I am soothed that we live in a time, where we may not know all the details, we know enough to put to rest the vast majority of the mysteries that affected… no, that is a tame word, terrified the lives of our ancestors.”

“So what do you think lies at the base of your surety that claims of the supernatural are nothing more than mumbo-jumbo, to use your own term?”

“When people come to a magic show, they are expecting to be tricked and they come to the show looking for any evidence of how they will be tricked. Especially today with all the different sorts of media and technology that surrounds us showcasing and exposing magicians and their craft. They look for the strings and the slight-of-hand, the misdirection, all the tools they have heard or read about that the magician employs. But if a magician, or conjurer as I like to call them, is even just moderately well practiced in his/her art they are still able to fool the audience. As a conjurer, when you accomplish this deed and know how simply you did it regardless of all these obstacles, that gives you quite a different perspective on the world of the supernatural. Whether it be a simple trick with a deck of cards, or blood dripping from the eyes of a statue of the Virgin Mary in some failing church in El Salvador, when people are faced with these conflicts against what they know, they search for answers, often through the most easiest of routes. It is much easier to call these things miracles, acts of gods or acts of the devil, ghosts, or even aliens. It is not always easy to search for truth. To say, that some unexplained occurrence is a miracle or an act of God is much easier than spending a lifetime testing and retesting until truth, real truth with all the evidence is exposed. For most, they never really get a sense that something else could be behind the things that they have come to believe are the miraculous. I’ve seen tens of thousands of faces in awe at my shows. I’ve been asked the question, “How did you do that?” literally a million times. I’ve even been called a demon and a heretic because some just can’t accept that they are unable to explain what I have just done in the name of entertainment. All of this makes my perspective different. I’ve been in this business almost my entire life. Of course, especially in my youth, I too have been tricked and deceived by my colleagues, and found myself asking, “How did they do that?” But I’m a card-carrying member of this business now. I peddle in the same wears in a relatively small community and I have been privy to their secrets for long enough to know that there is always a logical explanation to their trickery, whether they pronounce their trickery or not. My foundation is not here to attack your belief, or even your religious institutions. It is here to offer you knowledge, and with knowledge comes power and protection. We serve the purpose of eradicating all the succubae and parasites that feed on the unknown. Although I am not a religious man, I never push my beliefs on others. I only care that everyone can pursue their beliefs with the knowledge that there are those out there like myself, who are willing to expose the criminals that will pray upon your willingness to believe.”

“I think all would agree that this is a worthy pursuit, but you do have many critics, right?”

“Yes, and that is putting it lightly. I think enemies are a closer summation of the vindictiveness some fight against the truth. We’re dealing with a lot of money here. Praying on the weak and the destitute is a multi-billion dollar business. Many of these crooks have become incredibly rich. They will do almost anything for their greed, which is why it is funny my prize has remained unclaimed for so long. Just think, if they were actually able to claim my prize, how famous they would become… how disgustingly rich. Literally hundreds of million, maybe even billions of people would flock to them. They would become… a god themselves. How else are messiahs formed?”

“Do you think that your skepticism inherently stacks the cards in your favor?”

“Well, I am a conjurer, stacking the cards in my favor is part of my job.” They both laughed.

“But I mean, do you think that is why these people are so reluctant to take on your challenge? I mean… to be shown as a fraud in such a public domain… that could ruin them, even if they are the real deal.”

“I do my best to approach every situation with an open mind. A part of me would even love to discover proof of the paranormal or supernatural. If such thing should happen, I would be the first to line up for a blessing. I’m getting to be an old man. Although I have come to terms with death and no longer fear it, it would be great to find out that there is a realm after this- even if it is just communicating the initials of my name to a sensitive, or haunting the place where I died by opening and closing doors and moving objects. And, I would be ecstatic to find out that there is a heaven where all those I have lost over the years are their waiting for me. When you get to be my age, that crowd starts to get bigger than those that are still alive.”

“Would you ever be willing to take on a challenge anonymously? Without exposing the person as a fraud- just in the name of science?”

“Do you have someone in mind?”

“No, just hypothetically.”

“Well, that is an interesting question as really my goal is to expose these people for who they are. In exposing their fraud, it helps educate the public against their cons and makes these con artists go out in get real jobs, or at the very least puts some skeptics in their audiences to make their job a little more difficult. I’ve always worked for a living, so I have no sympathy for these bottom feeders. I’ve been in the business a long time, but I’ve always informed my audiences that they will be tricked by a skill, not a magical force. I guess it would really come down to the situation. In some cases, I have been willing to meet with some to discuss the ground rules for my investigations. This has been done off the record.  But often, just these discussions cause these people to back out.”

“Really?”

“Of course, because they know they will be discovered for who they are. I suppose if I saw something that was significant… I mean something that really put me in a quandary, I would be willing to accept such terms only because as a Conjurer, I am still very much interested in the craft and always want to learn something I don’t already know.”

“Well, perhaps that is a starting point.”

“You seem quite set on giving away my $5 Million tonight,” Philip smirked.

“Well, it would make a good story and that is my business, right?”

“Are you making a proposition?”

“Sure, if I bring some people…”

“Some people? Now come on now, that is completely going against…”

“No, only those who are truly remarkable.”

“Ok, within reason.”

“Ok. If I bring you some truly remarkable people, I mean just the cream of the crop, those that don’t want money or fame. You agree that you will give them some of your precious time without openly exposing them as a fraud. If one of these people should really mesmerize you… I mean really stump you. You carry out your investigation without any exposure. If they are a fraud, they will move on without you saying a word, but if they are real… I mean the true deal, we get the exclusive when they accept your prize.”

Philip thought about this for a moment. “Ok, you have a deal.”  

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