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Be Careful What You Wish For – Ch. 5

I don’t hear from Reese again until the next morning. I head into work early to finish coding that insufferable database, avoiding most of my co-workers as I make my way to my cubicle. I sit down and set my briefcase on the floor, logging in to my workstation with a sigh. A breath of wind brushes the side of my head and I turn stiffly in my chair, trying to see which of my cubicle neighbors is having a menopausal hot-flash.

“I found her,” Reese says, sitting in the corner of my little box, his hands clasped in front of him. “You were right — she’s alive.”

“I thought I said no surprise visits,” I say, sitting up taller in my chair to peer over the cubicle walls. No one seems to have noticed my sudden visitor.

“I know,” he says, “but I thought you would want to see this. Theresa was using it and I don’t know what it is.” He reaches into his jacket and pulls out a small black plastic box which he sets on the desk in front of me.

“It’s a skimmer,” I tell him, picking up my briefcase and releasing the catches. “This must be how she’s been providing for herself.” I grab the skimmer and tuck it out of sight in in the briefcase, a frown creasing my brow as I feel something sticky on my hand. I reach for my handkerchief, but stop as the red color on my skin registers. “Is this blood? What did you do to her?”

“It’s not her blood,” he says, and I look down at his hands again. He’s holding his left hand with his right, bright, fresh blood smeared between his fingers.

“What happened?”

“I spooked her and she ran. Seems she has trust issues. I tried to stop her and she cut me. I lost her.”

“Let me see that,” I say, pulling my clean handkerchief out of my pocket. He holds out his hand and I wince at the deep slice across the heel. “I thought you were a three thousand year old spirit with magic powers. How did you get hurt by a girl with a box cutter?

“She caught me off guard.”

“But aren’t you immortal?” I press the cloth to the injury and see the skin around his eyes tighten in pain.

“Under normal circumstances, I am. I…I don’t know how this happened.”

I don’t believe him, but I don’t say anything. I turn his hand over and tie the corners of the handkerchief together to form a makeshift bandage.

“I can give you the address of a clinic where you can get that looked at,” I say.

“Or you could wish for it to heal.”

I’m not surprised or even disappointed. I’ve been expecting something like this. “Oh? You mean you still have your powers?”

He frowns. “Why would you think I didn’t?”

“I figured if you did, you would have healed yourself already.”

Reese gives me a long, appraising look. “That’s not how my magic works. I can only serve my master.”

“I see. And hijacking my phone and unzipping my pants was serving me?”

“That was my intent, yes,” he says, an edge to his tone. “I wanted to make it easier for you to contact me and for me to please you.”

“But wouldn’t you be serving me if you healed your own injury so that I don’t have to pay for frivolous wishes?”

He doesn’t like my choice of words, his posture growing stiff. “I suppose a human might be able to rationalize it in such a way, but I’m just a genie and my only thought is how much I want it to stop hurting, which is a purely self-serving reason.”

I make a note on a Post-It and hand it to him. “Here’s the address for that clinic. They should be able to help.”

“What about the girl?” he asks, scowling at the note as he takes it. “Do you wish for me to find her again?”

“No,” I say, turning back to my computer. “I can access the data on the skimmer and trace her location when she tries to sell the account numbers online. I’ll call you if I need your help again.”

I expect him to leave in the same way he arrived, but he stands up and starts to walk away, then turns back and leans down, his hand on my shoulder and his voice low in my ear.

“Was it really that bad?”

“It was…degrading,” I reply, sitting forward to pull away from his touch. “My body is not a commodity.”

“So that’s what a girl’s life is worth to you. Perhaps I was mistaken about you.”

“I know the feeling,” I say. He straightens up and I can feel him standing behind me. Neither of us speaks and after a minute I hear his footsteps retreating. He’s barely out of earshot when I hear a familiar voice and look up to find Angie, one of my least unlikable co-workers, leaning her forearms on the edge of the cubicle wall, a small smile twisting the corners of her mouth.

“So…who’s your friend, Harold?” she asks. I can’t tell if she’s asking because she wants to know if he’s single or if she thinks he and I would make a cute couple. She’s nice enough, just hard to read. I make up a story about him being a headhunter for a rival company and ask her not to spread it around. She promises and I actually believe her.

After she walks away, I try to get to work, but I can’t focus. So that’s what a girl’s life is worth to you. Perhaps I was mistaken about you. How dare he. I would give anything, do anything to save a life, including whoring myself out to a horny genie, but that doesn’t mean it will be my first choice. I can find Theresa, perhaps I can even help her, without making a deal with a devil. Wishes are too easy and the cost is too great, like a drug, deceptive and seductive, and now that I know that I can’t trust him, he will become a tool of last resort.

I should have known he would lie to me. Mythology tells of genies and djinns as trickster spirits, demons out to torment mankind, offering dreams but delivering nightmares. Clearly, he is no different. He said he wouldn’t try to make me wish, then he gives me a mind-blowing blowjob and calls it payment, and the next thing I know he gets hurt and loses the girl again, so that I’ll make more wishes and he can continue to seduce me, because if he just comes out and rapes me, like he probably wants to, he knows I’ll toss his lamp into the East River. He’s clever, but I’m wise to his game now. The upper hand is mine.

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One Comment
  1. Ooo… the plot thickens! I like this mind-game of one-upmanship. But I’m also thinking Reese got hurt because he’s falling in love with a human — and his master to boot!

    Fave line: “Wishes are too easy and the cost is too great, like a drug…” Hmm! Good point.

    “in in the briefcase” and Reese didn’t mention that she’d done it with boxcutters. 😉

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