Mr. P.T. Widdle, the owner and operator of this concern, had been looking for strange and odd exhibits to present alongside his main attraction, that being I, Smallini, the World’s Tiniest Magician. Getting the idea from a biography of P.T. Barnum that he recently read, Mr. Widdle set out to find an authentic Fiji (aka Feejee) Mermaid to display in his theater of Wonders. This task at first seemed to be folly due to the fact that Barnum’s original Fiji Mermaid (thought to be the only one of its kind), had been destroyed in a tragic fire years ago. However, with some diligent research and quiet inquires made into dark areas of the World Wide Web, Mr. Widdle found some anthropologists and scientists who believed that there did indeed exist other examples of this so-called mythological creature. Agents of oddities who are friendly with Mr. Widdle led him to a promising lead of a well-preserved mermaid that was being kept somewhere in Texas. After much subterfuge and negotiation, the keeper of the specimen (who will only be known as The Dusty Tentacle), agreed upon a suitable price and shipped her to our headquarters in New York City.
For weeks (due to the recent fragile state of the US postal delivery service - alas, Mr. Widdle refused to pay more for a private shipper due to an already substantial outlay for the item itself), we waited nervously for the Fiji Mermaid to arrive. One day at an odd hour we heard a loud thump outside our front door. A wooden crate with the stencil, “DO NOT OPEN” was on the doorstep. Wrapped carefully in straw and what appeared to be dry seaweed was what you see in the accompanying photographs to this diary entry:
“Well now, let’s not assume it was a man. It could have been a woman-fish sporting that nice beard. Maybe all the feejee mermaids had them.”
With enough said on that point, we inspected the preserved remains of this mesmerizing specimen and plotted, I mean, planned how to present her/him/them to the Suitcase of Wonders’ curious audience. Just as we expected, the creature fit perfectly inside the theater, and with the addition of some creative lighting and a slowly rotating black pedestal, one would receive quite the jolt when the curtain was raised to reveal the mermaid (mer-them?).
Mr. Widdle and I agreed that a low musical number would play while I, Smallini, stood at the front of the stage touting the wondrous creature for all to see.
I must admit that the addition of this exhibition has given new excitement around here. Mr. Widdle is already at work contacting oddities agents in Russia about other items of interest that we can display, ones that are more in line with my own smallish proportions. I’ve overheard him on the phone talking (in broken Russian) about a unique set of conjoined twins preserved in lucite, and a set of “evolution skulls,” apparently very hard to find. In any case, I am thrilled to have some interesting company to entertain and amaze alongside my illusion program. The Suitcase of Wonders is living up to its name more than ever before!