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Be Careful What You Wish For – Ch. 2

It’s almost dark when the hallucination returns. I had gone into the ‘lounge’ area where I kept a small refrigerator and portable hotplate to make myself a cup of tea, and when I came back, I found him sitting in my chair, a rather smug look on his handsome face.

I almost don’t recognize him; no longer is he wearing silk pants and slippers, but a black suit over a white shirt with the top three buttons undone. The earring is gone, but I think I can see a glint of gold from his bracelets under the cuffs of his sleeves. He looks like a day-trader on casual Friday.

“I hope you don’t mind, I thought the Persian outfit was a little too conspicuous,” he says, giving his open collar a slight tug.

“You’re back,” I say, trying to resist the urge to panic. Tumor? Aneurysm? Stroke? Accidental ingestion of a psychotropic substance? I decide to make an appointment at one of the clinics that I own. A CAT scan probably wouldn’t hurt. I limp over to the table where I’d left my cell phone, trying not to spill my tea as my hand shakes.

“Your wish has been granted,” he says as I set my mug down and reach for the phone. The motion strains the damaged muscles in my lower back and I wince, drawing my arm back. “Are you all right?”

“You’re in my way,” I say, refusing to look at him. He pushes away from the table, the chair rolling backward over the cement floor. I step in front of him and pick up the phone.

“I can fix that, you know,” he says and I jump as I feel his hands on my hips. He’s very strong and surprisingly…tangible for a hallucination. “All you have to do is make a wish.”

I push his hands away and move back, frowning down at my cell as I try to remember the number for the nearest clinic.

“Did you hear me?” he asks after a moment. “I said your wish had been granted. Don’t you want to know why your Machine gave you her number?”

I hesitate. “Why?”

“She’s involved with a gang of corrupt cops,” he says. “Instead of arresting drug dealers, they murder them and steal their product, which they then sell back to other dealers. It’s her job to frame up petty criminals for the killings so that no one gets suspicious, but her co-counsel, a man named Wheeler, is on to her, so she’s sending her dirty cop lackeys to kill him. Tonight. Right now, probably. And I took the liberty of looking in on him — he’s got his son with him, so the boy will either be killed as well, or he’ll witness his father’s murder.”

I stare at him, dumbfounded. What he’s saying cannot be accurate, he can’t know that, but as I turn the facts over in my head, comparing them to information I had gathered on my own, bits and pieces that made no sense without a big picture to look at, all the fragments fall neatly into place. There’s no reason why he can’t be right.

Except for the fact that he’s not real.

But what if he is? And what if he’s right? And what if I don’t do something and two more lives are lost? Can I live with that?

“Can you stop it?” I ask him.

“Of course,” he says. “Just make a wish.”

I take a deep breath. This is insane. “I wish…you would stop Diane Hanson and the corrupt cops.”

“Your wish is my command, Master Finch.” He gives me a brief, crooked smile, then vanishes in another flourish of smoke. I’m shaking as I sink into my chair, now that he’s vacated it. The seat is warm. This is an extremely detailed delusion.

I sit and sip my tea, my eyes unfocused, staring at nothing while my mind wanders. I thought about calling the police and leaving an anonymous tip on the attempt on Wheeler’s life, but there are so many dirty cops in the NYPD. If I’m crazy and making this all up in my head, I don’t want the wrong people thinking Wheeler is a threat. Or Hanson, for that matter, if this is all a bunch of bullshit. And if it’s not, if Reese is real — God help me for even considering it — I don’t want those dirty cops being warned off the hit. They’d just try again later, perhaps at a time when Reese isn’t there to stop them.

I wait all night for him to return. I fall asleep at the table, my head pillowed on one arm, turned as far to one side as it will go, and I wake up at dawn exhausted and stiff. I groan as I rub my neck, biting back a whimper as I lever myself out of the chair and hobble down the hall to the bathroom. When I return, I’m actually relieved to find my chair occupied.

“Well?” I say.

He gives me a small, self-satisfied smile. “Your wish has been granted.”

“Wheeler and his son are alive?”

“They never even knew they were in danger,” he says. “Diane Hanson is in police custody. One of her corrupt cop buddies is with her, another is in the hospital, and the third is dead.”

“Dead?” I repeat, feeling like my heart has stopped. “You killed him?”

He nods.

“I didn’t tell you to kill anyone!”

“You didn’t tell me not to,” he replies with a frown. “He was a vicious, greedy son-of-a-bitch and I had no choice. You said to ‘stop them’ and I did. Next time, be more specific.”

“I’m sorry, I– Next time?”

“Yes, you have at least one more wish left.”

“One more free one, then I have to pay.”

“That’s right. It’s like an introductory offer, to give you an idea of what you can get if you choose to keep wishing.”

“And if I choose not to? If I take my three free wishes and stop?”

“I’ll be very sad, but that’s your prerogative. I won’t do anything to you to make you keep wishing. So what can I do for you, Master Finch? Put an end to that ache in your neck? Get rid of that limp? Say the word and I can make you as good as new.”

“No,” I say, turning away before the temptation has a chance to get a hold of me. I deserve to be this way. It is penance for my arrogance, and if I can’t wish my dead friend back to life, then I can’t wish away my punishment for his death, either. “I’m going to save it until I can use it to help someone,” I say. “I’ll let you know when I have another number.”

“As you wish,” he says, his voice soft. “You know where to find me.”

When I turn back around, he’s gone.

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One Comment
  1. Fave lines: “Tumor? Aneurysm? Stroke? Accidental ingestion of a psychotropic substance?” XD
    “This is an extremely detailed delusion.” 😉

    One typo: “I don’t want those dirty cops being warned off the hit.”

    On to the next chappie! (Before I have to get back to work… :p)

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