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  • Writer's pictureMadame Edgewise

Wheel, Sin Eater, Process

I once went to a very good Halloween party filled with strange artists and beautiful musicians and enough drink and otherwise to satisfy them all. And at this party, our Host promised to perform a straight-jacket escape at midnight. Said Host subsequently sampled a selection of the aforementioned drink and otherwise and, more than slightly impaired, when the time came to perform their daring bit of escape magic, made the grave error of selecting the two biggest guests as his assistants. Both men stood well over six foot and could easily lift our Host with one hand (and have fingers to spare), and both had also indulged in the inebriatory delights on offer. They saw the straps of our Host's straight-jacket as a challenge of strength, and proceeded to strap them in as securely as the canvas would allow.

And so our Host found themself completely and formidably trapped, surrounded by a Dionysian crowd of cheering onlookers.

Our Host began to pull. Testing their prison. One arm, then the other, straining against the thick canvas.

A minute passed. Two.

Our Host dropped to the ground, trying to use the floor as leverage, or possibly just losing their balance. The crowd started drifting back to the conversation of the kitchen, or the cigarettes on the roof.

Four minutes. Five.

Only a few of us left as witnesses, the cheering long ago replaced with a hushed, nervous awareness that at some point we might be called upon to release our Host from their embarrassed defeat. But our Host did not ask for help. Indeed, our Host had their eyes closed, their face placid, now in a world consisting only of their own body and the interior walls of their personal cell. Luck had conspired against our Host, but still they kept pushing, twisting, pulling, centimeter by centimeter, one direction, another.

Seven minutes. Eight.

Our Host's hand appeared from out the bottom edge of the straight-jacket, fingers wide, as though taking a deep breath. The hand sought out the closest strap, between their legs, and painfully pulled, trying to find enough purchase to release the clasp. (Knowing how these sorts of escapes work, I may have begun cheering at this point, because escape now was inevitable, but that is another story.)

Eleven minutes after midnight, our Host stood up, pulled their straight-jacket over their head, and threw it at their feet. They were coated in sweat and clearly humbled, but still… quietly triumphant. They did not speak, but I heard a lesson:

The Wheel spins, inevitable. Sometimes where it lands is less than welcome. But trust your own skills. Know that no matter how much discomfort you feel, blood rushing to your head and hands cramping with effort, your skills will still guide you. The process is there to help you face everything fate may throw at you. You can endure all that fortune throws at you, with patience, and skill.

But it doesn't hurt to have a few spotters on hand to help you to your feet and hand you a drink after.


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