Here’s an interesting effect that is well worth the extra effort. I’ll describe it the way I performed it not too long ago.
I was recently at a friend’s second-story apartment, lounging in his den with him (we’ll call him Zack) and his girlfriend (whom we’ll call Suzanne). We will call them these names because that is what their real names are.
At any rate, young Suzanne asked me to perform some ‘crazy mental magic’ resembling one of the minor miracles I had thrown her way in the past. I told her I would do a card trick instead, to purposely throw her a little off-guard. Standing across from her in the center of the den, I gave her a deck of cards, had her choose any one of them while shuffling, then hand the deck back to me. I then had her sign the card with the name of someone, living or dead, who was very close to her. She did so, then returned her card to the deck, whereupon I shuffled the deck thoroughly. I turned my head towards Zack and asked him if he had an ordinary envelope in the house. He said he did and stepped into the study quickly to retrieve it. When he returned, I had Suzanne place the entire deck In the envelope and seal it up.
I then explained to her that Joseph Dunninger, a remarkable magician with unbelievable ‘psychic’ powers, had passed away several years ago. However, before his passing, he left instructions for his family to contact him on ‘the other side.’ I explained that Dunninger was my favorite magician of all time, and that I had thouroughly researched the man’s past and by pure luck, had run into this very same ‘instructional’ letter. ‘Since that day,’ I continued, ‘I have talked to Joe on several occassions, and he is always glad to help me out when I need him while performing. You always know it’s Joe when you hear five solid knocks. Now there’s no way for me to get into that envelope and get that signed card out of the deck but the ghost of Joseph Dunninger could do it and you would never know.’
At that time there was a knock at the front door, roughly five feet behind us. Yes, it was five knocks! Suzanne opened the door (a little reluctantly) to find an envelope hanging on a thread from the ceiling, with the inscription ‘to Suzanne, from J. Dunninger.’ She pulled the envelope down and inside it was her signed card.
When Suzanne returned her signed card, I shuffled the deck to bring it to the top. I palmed the card and tossed it down the hallway towards the study, behind Suzanne. When Zack, her boyfriend, went to get the envelope, he picked up the card and tossed it out of his study window, two stories up. Outside, my brother was waiting for the card; he put it in the envelope that I had prepared with J.D.’s signature, ran upstairs, planted it outside the door, knocked five times and then took off. The trick was over, and it was time for me to wrap it all up.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a two-story apartment; this just makes the knock a little more eerie. Also, finding the right helpers is not very difficult; find two people who love a good con, and they’ll enjoy the thing more than anyone else!