Erik "Mystery" Glupsen was the krappiest magician maybe ever. He was Swedish. He would put on magic shows. They were awful. Boring. Slow. Everyone knew where his tricks were headed. He seemed to do every kind of magic trick poorly. Cards, mind reading, animal stuff, etc. He entertained possibly no one. He wasn't even entertainingly bad. Just bad.
"...And for me next treek, I'm going to figure out what card you thinking of!"
He'd declare in a vacant, rote voice. Then wouldn't figure it out.
"Watch me, I make this thing levitate!"
He was clumsy, his fingers ungraceful, he would forget how tricks were supposed to end, and he had horrible stage presence.
"If you please give a hand for my lovely assistant." He would say, as his assistant came out and was not lovely.
People wondered if he was playing a boring prank. Morbid curiosity for how bad he was began to draw a crowd. Many people wanted to see Erik "Mystery" Glupsen. The attendance was encouraging, the reaction was not.
"That was real bad!"
"I usually like magic, but I didn't like yours."
"I don't like magic anyway, so I had no expectations."
"I saw every trick coming!"
"You didn't fool me once."
"Illusion? More like 'ill loser'!"
"Why do they call him 'Mystery'? Is it that there was no mystery, and the mystery is that you have to figure out why they call him 'Mystery'?"
"Do they like this stuff in Sweden?"
Erik began to make a living. He was sad that no one liked his magic. He was offered a run at a theater that didn't discriminate over content.
"I don't know why they show up, but I deal with butts in seats, not good times had." said the theater owner. The reviews poured in, "The Lousiest Show in Town!", "Mehh-gic!", "Bad Show Draws Full House", "Real 'Mystery' is Why People Show Up".
Erik's show ran for a long time and he capitalized on being the worst magician. He kept doing his shows. Then something horrible happened. He got better. He became so practiced and professional at doing his show that his tricks became tight, his stage presence improved, he knew where laughs were coming and how to achieve a few "oohs" and "aahs".
"Hey that wasn't so bad."
"You got me with that chicken trick."
"I don't really like magic anyway, so..."
Erik went from being the worst magician to a polished okay magician. It did wonders for his ego, but damage to his attendance, which, in turn, did damage to his ego.
"Erik 'Mystery' Glupsen? He's not too bad." people would say.
The mystery about "Mystery" had been cracked. He tried practicing less to get worse, but he knew his tricks too well. He tried messing up his tricks, but it didn't matter. The word was out that he was decent at magic. He could draw wrong card after wrong card, but he could no longer draw the crowd. The theater canceled his show.
"Practice did not make perfect, it made better! And this time, better is worse than bad!" His failure brought him success and his improvement brought him failure.
Erik was out of luck and out of a job. He cursed any good advice he was given. He tried to recreate his success in other departments. He made bad sandwiches, no one wanted to eat them. He gave bad haircuts, no one wanted them. He drew bad portraits, no one looked at them.
One day he was walking down the street with his head down.
"Hey!" said a tiny little voice from the bushes.
"Who is there?"
Out jumped an impish sunburned looking man with black hair and BluBlocker sunglasses.
"How did you like our little deal?" the little man said.
"What deal?" said Erik.
"We made a deal, don't you remember?"
"We made a deal about you becoming a popular magician and me getting your soul."
"Hmm I'm certain I don't remember. Are you sure it's me?"
"Well maybe you have got detail mixed up, because I truly positive if we ever meet I don't recall shaking hand on any eternal details in exchange for confusing perspective on success."
The impish fellow was Jerry Balkaraph, a demon of deception.
Jerry rewound time and reviewed the exchange. He confirmed Erik was right. They had met one night in a bar when Erik was just starting out. He had merely shared his magician aspirations. But no deceptive deal had ever been set.
Jerry Balkaraph felt really bad about mixing up the details. This was a major F up. He returned to the present.
"Shit." said Jerry, "I really screwed stuff up. I guess I don't get your soul or anything. I'm sorry about all the inconvenience, I'm bad with bureaucracy... Um, do you want to file a complaint?"
Jerry hung his head low.
"No." said Erik.
Jerry popped his eyes back up, "Do you want to make any kind of other deals?"
"Definitely not." said Erik.
"Okay I understand. Best of luck."
The impish demon fellow, Jerry Balkaraph, walked away feeling really stupid and discouraged. He was bad at his job and made mistakes like this which caused mass inexplicable confusion across humanity often.