See The Great Meliakoff’s LAST EVER performance!said the posters.
Anatoly Meliakoff was the greatest magician of his age. Crowds would flock from miles around to see him, and word of his coming would travel ahead of him like fire until whole towns burned with anticipation of his illusions.
On stage he was habitually accompanied by an assistant, a small figure with scaly blue skin and a hideous grinning face, whom the magician called Azamat, his demon helper. Every time the magician performed a trick the small figure would clap his hands and laugh, and then the magic would occur. The crowds loved it.
On the night of his final performance the audience could barely contain themselves.
“Tonight is my final act,” Meliakoff announced sadly, before commencing with his routine. He directed his assistant about the stage, and the little blue figure twirled and somersaulted and clapped his hands, directing illusions that left the audience dumbfounded.
At the end of the show Meliakoff and his assistant bowed low, and the audience burst into applause.
“How do you do it?” people called.
“Yes! You’re retiring, you can tell us!”
The Great Meliakoff looked questioningly at his assistant.
“Tell them,” said the little blue figure, hopping from foot to foot and leering horribly, “Tell them!”
The magician licked his lips nervously.
“The truth is,” he said, “I don’t.”
“That’s right!” said his assistant, and he laughed and clapped his hands.
There was a sulphurous flash, and with that the magician and Azamat disappeared. The crowd went wild.
Final EVER performance! said the posters. The Great Meliakoff will NEVER be seen again!