The genie wasn’t how I had always envisioned them in my head.
For one thing, he wasn’t big and blue, with bulging muscles and those metal bands around his fat wrists. Instead, he was wearing a tee shirt, the logo faded to obscurity amid what had to be years of occasional stains, and a pair of faded and scuffed jeans. He looked more like a surfer than a magical being.
Currently, he was staring down at me with a rather pained expression. He was quite tall, so he could pull off a very imposing downward stare. “Well?” he demanded.
“Ugh. Come on, haven’t you mortals figured this out yet?” The man rolled his eyes, looking around at the dusty antiques surrounding us without much interest. “God, I always end up coming through in places like this,” he complained.
Was mortals an insult? Not quite knowing what to say, I instead gestured towards the front of the shop. “We could go for a walk outside if you wanted some fresh air?” I suggested.
For the first time, the genie actually looked vaguely interested. “Sounds great,” he replied. One hand gestured back behind him as he strode forward. “Don’t forget to grab the lamp.”
I reached out and snatched up the lamp (a rather hideous thing, I was just trying to buff some dirt off the crest to see if I recognized the name), sticking it under one arm as I hurried after the genie.
“Ahh, that’s better!” the man announced with considerably more appreciation as we exited the shop. I had been caught by the elderly little storekeeper, and ended up having to fork over four dollars in wrinkled bills before she let me leave with the lamp. She had insisted on wrapping it up in some old newspaper, and it now sat at the bottom of a small shopping bag.
Every now and then, the man walking in front of me would send a glance backward towards that bag. They were casual, barely even noticeable, but I saw them. He was definitely attached to the lamp.
“So how does this work?” I finally spoke up, after two blocks. “I get three wishes?”
“Yeah, exactly. Then I get to get out of this stupid dimension.”
“Are there any restrictions?”
The genie shrugged. “Heck, not really. I’ve heard them all, but most of them are totally possible. You can’t mess up the laws of physics too much, but other than that, go nuts.”
I didn’t have much experience with genies, or wishes, for that matter. Most of my wishes had dwindled down in my mind over the years. Instead of looking forward to achieving world peace or fame, I simply looked forward to the end of the day, to maybe affording that nice jacket I’d seen in the department store window.
Not something that requires divine intervention.
We were still walking, and I tried to think of what I knew of genies. Unfortunately, most of my experience came from when I’d had to sit through Aladdin four times with my niece’s kid. And that wasn’t quite the most modern available reference. I couldn’t think of any other alternatives, though.
“So,” I finally ventured. “Do you want me to wish for you to be set free?”