Excerpt: Alligator Zoo-Park Magic by C.H. Hooks

About the Book:


Is Jeffers an Alligator Zoo-Park magician or the Messiah? Two friends live unapologetically on the edge of poverty in the rugged, un-decorous part of the South. Jimmy, a single father with an addict ex, and Jeffers, a magician whose tricks are closer to miracles–both are immersed in a place where trailers and Hot Pockets dominate the landscape, and alligators roam free. When Jimmy witnesses “losing” his best friend to his biggest trick gone awry, he reflects on their lifelong friendship and what it really means to escape.

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Featured In June/July 2019 Issue: Summer Reads

“Jeffers was looking like a ghost hanging upside down from that big old oak tree, the one we used to swing from out into the spring’s cool waters. That tree was there probably a few hundred

years not thinking it would ever be used for magic. But there was Jeffers, his nice-guy eyes plugged deep, a sleight of spirit in a head full of hurt. He took in a lifetime of everybody’s bad, and made

good. He hung by his ankles—all slithered up in rope coils—a bunny wrapped-up in a snake.

“I don’t get the trick,” some city-boy was saying, still looking down to make sure they’d followed the right directions out into our woods and far out of feeling comfortable. 

I don’t know that anybody there was knowing what to make of Jeffers in the trees, rope creaking, hanging by his feet in the orangey-pink twilight. People were swatting at their bodies and listening to the crickets and the frogs get their songs started. That little sliver of a moon was peeking through the trees, winking at everybody like it was in on the joke.

There were probably about a few hundred people out in the woods—road leading there was lined with trucks, vans and big-tired trans, and folks were still walking up the road. They brought their beach chairs and picnic blankets. There sure wasn’t enough space, so they just stood around eating buckets of chicken and drinking

out of rolling coolers. I cut my nerves with some smoke and hustled through my first couple beers.

Jeffers cut me out. He cut his lady, Miriam, too. We tried

asking separate, we tried asking together, but he just shook us off. I don’t think he had a real reason other than the need to be alone. He wanted to go solo into the danger of this one, Miriam told me. The only people close to him, he blocked out. Instead, he got Judd. Didn’t say why, wouldn’t even talk about it, but it pissed me off

plenty. Miriam tried to apologize for Jeffers, but didn’t even know what to say about it. She didn’t know a reason. Just knew I was hurt.”

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