With a final scrape of his knife, Lester flaked the last few barnacles off the old bottle. He held it up to the sun — something was inside the murky, sand-scored glass. He gripped the ornate stopper and started working it. It came out with a “Pop!”
From within a cloud of smoke burst out, accompanied by a booming voice.
“Free! Ha ha ha. Free at last!”
The smoke coalesced into a gigantic brown-skinned man with pointed ears, clad in an elaborately embroidered vest and silk trousers. He was at least twelve feet tall.
“You have freed me, Master! I am the djinn-of-the-bottle, and I am your slave.” He bowed. “You have but to ask and I shall grant you three wishes.”
Lester scratched his head and stared up at the djinn. The djinn grinned down at him with pointed teeth.
“What sort of things do people usually wish for?” Lester asked.
“All sorts of things, Master!” The djinn boomed. “An attractive, athletic body, enormous genitals, a huge sum of unearned wealth they could not spend in a lifetime, a long healthy life — you name it. There is no limit to the power of the djinni!”
“Yes,” Lester said, “I wish I had all those things.”
“What?” The djinn roared. “You misbegotten son-of-a-whore! You — ”
“Are you going to grant my first wish?” Lester asked. “I made it, fair and square.”
“Why you — ”
“I guess you don’t get out of the bottle much,” Lester remarked.
“I’ll curse the skin off your body with boils!” the djinn declared.
“First, you’ll grant my wishes.”
“Grrr!” The djinn’s face reddened like a furnace. “Very well, as you wish, master!”
Lester looked down. He’d lost at least thirty pounds, and had really muscled up as well. He adjusted his waistband and checked — yes, the djinn had come through with that as well. Pulling out his wallet, he found it stuffed with cash and a couple of platinum debit cards as well. He took a deep breath — he felt swell.
“My second wish,” Lester declared.
“What, oh deceitful son of a jackal?”
“You square all this wealth with the tax-men.”
“Is that all?”
“Yes, I wish you’d square all the benefits of my first wish with all earthly authorities so that there are no unseen penalties.”
The djinn sighed. “As you wish, master.”
“My third wish.” Lester said eagerly.
“Yes, oh master?” the djinn said eagerly.
“I wish you’d get back in your bottle and never bother me again.” Lester said.
The djinn howled as he billowed into smoke and flew back into the bottle. Lester stoppered it up tightly and heaved it back into the sea.
Michael D. Turner lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with his wife of twenty-five years, Deann, and a dozen or so cats.