Drew sat on the train with his head in his hands. The anger consuming him was hard to contain. He’d just got off a phone call to his date that he was en route to meet. The call had been brief. Her parting words before said call was abruptly terminated rang in his ears: “Two strikes and out! Goodbye!”
Yes, this date had been rearranged after a freak occurrence had prevented Drew from attending the first one. On that occasion, he’d been on his way to the train station when the skies darkened, the clouds opened, and a downpour began despite the weather reports having said there would be sunshine all day. To make matters worse, a lorry drove through a deep puddle at the side of the road and proceeded to drench him completely. He couldn’t turn up looking like he’d been swimming fully clothed in dirty water, thus they rearranged with the warning that, if he didn’t turn up to the next date, they wouldn’t rearrange again.
This time, an even freakier turn in the weather ruined things. A thunder storm passed overhead unannounced. A well-placed lightning bolt had caused the overhead power lines to go down and all trains on that line to grind to a halt. He was stuck somewhere in between his hometown and the destination of the rendezvous, unable to leave the train for health and safety reasons and with no indication as to when the problem would be resolved. His date had stuck true to her word.
“Bastard weather!” he grumbled under his breath.
It had been many months since he last went on a date. Despite his best efforts on the online dating scene, there just hadn’t been any biters. Even with this date, he’d had to do some metaphorical arm twisting to get her to agree. It had felt like a reward for his hard work and tenacity to finally land a meeting with Andrea, who was, it had to be said, stunning. A little egotistical maybe, but Drew reasoned she was attractive enough to justify that. Now, that hard work was undone, all because the weather clearly had a vendetta against him.
It took over an hour for the train to get moving. When it got there, Drew decided he might as well do some window shopping and get a coffee to ensure it wasn’t a completely wasted trip. Just as he was coming to terms with his misfortune, an unexpected gust of wind caused him to stumble, lose his footing, and fall into a conveniently placed puddle that was a couple of inches deep. A few people laughed; a few came over to help and make sure he was okay.
The calmness he hoped he was portraying belied the utter fury that boiled within. He kept his emotions in check for the people who had come over to help, ensuring they knew he was very grateful for their aid. Having purchased new clothing, he went to the public toilets in a nearby shopping centre to get changed into them. This was where he allowed the venting of his fury, letting out an exasperated growl in the toilet stall he dressed inside of.
“Fuck the weather! Fuck the fucking weather! How many times is it going to screw me over?!” The rant was immediately followed by a punch aimed at the door of the toilet stall that caused a loud bang.
When he’d finished dressing a few minutes later, he exited the stall and came practically face to face with an old man who looked at him quizzically but said nothing.
“What?! Don’t look at me like I’ve done something wrong! You don’t know me. You don’t know my troubles. Shove your judgement up your arse!”
“I… I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”
Drew’s aggression was quickly replaced with guilt. “Uhm… yeah. I fell into a puddle and had to change my clothes. I’m just frustrated and didn’t mean to lash out.”
“Blimey! Well, it could be worse I suppose.”
“Yeah,” Drew said with a snort. He walked away towards the door of the public toilets and stopped at the door to say, “it could be a damn sight better as well!”
A couple of hours later, Drew walked through his front door. The anger was still present because the rain had decided to start again as he walked home, ensuring he’d get drenched against his will for a second time that day. As the door shut, he crumpled to his knees, let out a sigh, and then collapsed dramatically to the ground altogether. He was aware he was allowing himself to wallow in self-pity. He didn’t care; it was justifiable in his mind.
After a couple of minutes laid out on the hallway carpet, Drew picked himself up and moved into the kitchen where he filled up the kettle and prepared a mug to make himself a cup of tea. While the water boiled, he went into the living room and groaned in despair at the sight that greeted him.
“For God’s sake, Søren!” he muttered, alluding to his pet cat, as he bent to retrieve an antique lamp that had been knocked on the floor.
Søren sat a few feet away, staring intently and unblinking at his owner. It wasn’t the smug expression that usually adorned the feline’s face; in fact, he looked a little anxious if anything and it was duly noted by Drew.
“What’s up buddy? You aren’t looking proud of yourself like you normally do when you’ve done something naughty.”
For a few more seconds, Søren kept his gaze trained on Drew before suddenly darting away out of the room in a blur of white fur.
“Strange,” Drew muttered.
He noticed a smudge on the ornate lamp, tutted, and used his sleeve to rub the muck away.
A loud bang caused Drew to holler and fall to the floor as the room was filled with a bright, blue light. He’d involuntarily dropped the lamp, but it hadn’t fallen to the floor. It levitated a few inches above the living room carpet, still plugged in at the wall. An amazed Drew was about to approach it when there was another loud bang and he reeled back again. He was convinced he was about to die and a number of regrets passed through his mind.
Then the light dimmed and all seemed to return as it should have been—with one marked exception. A tall, garishly dressed man stood bowlegged over the lamp with his arms crossed. He sported an impressive forked beard and his dark hair was scraped back into a long ponytail.
“Greetings master!” the man boomed.
“What the…? Who… who are you?”
“I am the Genie of the Lamp!”
“The Genie of the Lamp?” Drew asked incredulously. “That’s just a fairytale! Plus, my lamp isn’t the right kind of lamp. It’s a light. The one in the story was, like, a metallic decanter of some sort.”
“What story? This is not a story. I haven’t the faintest idea of what you speak. You have freed me from the lamp and I therefore offer you three wishes, oh master.”
Drew’s eyes narrowed. “You’re the Genie of the Lamp… and you haven’t heard the story of the Genie of the Lamp? Aladdin? Baghdad?”
The Genie’s eyes darted left and right. “I wish not to sound insubordinate, but I am quite confused by what you are saying.”
“Alright, let’s forget it!” Drew got to his feet. “I have a million questions I could ask, such as where in an electric lamp are you hiding? However, we’ll breeze past all that and get back to what you were saying about the wishes. What are your terms, if I’m really even going to get the wishes at all that is? I’m expecting this is some kind of wind up.”
“Terms? There are no terms! There is no catch! There is no judgement! I am the Genie of the Lamp and my purpose is to serve the one who freed me with three wishes. Anything they so desire will be.”
“Anything!” the Genie said with a somewhat conspiratorial smirk.
“So… if I wished for endless sums of money? To be invincible? To be the overlord of the entire earth. To be God?”
“All could be yours!”
“What if I wished for endless wishes?”
“Ah! Well, that is not permi—”
“You said anything. No terms; no catches.”
“I… hmmm… I did say that, didn’t I?”
Drew nodded slowly with a sly grin.
“Shit! Alright, so there is maybe that one term. I apologise for misleading you.”
“It’s fine. I was only teasing you anyway.” Drew scratched his head and looked towards the ceiling. Then he had an epiphany and looked down at his still damp clothing. “I know exactly what I’d like to wish for first.”
“You do? Oh, how exciting!”
“It’s quite complex.”
“Complex is good. When you have spent thousands of years conjuring up piles of money, anything beyond simple avarice is a refreshing break. You know, there was once a man who wished to be the son of God? He also wished for five loaves and two fishes to feed nigh on five thousand people and to be able to survive forty days and forty nights in the desert with the Devil tempting him. Strange chap. He was crucified in the end.”
“Was his name Jesus Christ by any chance?”
“Yes! That is him! Do you know him?”
“Oh wow! Let’s really not get into that now or I’ll never stop asking about it. My wish: I have a serious vendetta against someone. Or rather something. It’s time I put that something in its place and gave it a taste of its own medicine.”
“Revenge.” The Genie rolled his eyes.
“I see. Not only are there catches and terms, but there’s judgement too. I’m starting to think you’re full of crap!”
“Come on mate,” the Genie said, dropping his properly-spoken veneer. “I’ve been stuck in that fucking thing since the Second World War. I don’t need your crap! Do you know how uncomfortable it is being cooped up inside a table lamp?”
“You’re telling me that lamp is thousands of years old?”
“Of course not, dummy! I have to move from place to place to keep up with the times. Now, are you gonna get on with these wishes or what?”
“Wow! Uptight or what? Okay, my issue is with the weather. Lately, it seems like every time I want to do something, the weather decides it’ll rain on my parade—often literally. I’ve had enough of it ruining my life.”
“Little anyone can do about the weather. I can ensure you’re bathed only in golden sunshine from now on if you so desire?”
“No. That isn’t what I want. I want the weather to learn a damned lesson! It does what it likes with impunity and no reprisal; not anymore.”
“What do you want?” the Genie asked, sounding a little unnerved.
“I wish for the weather to be given a human form for an hour, presented to me in my basement, and bound to a chair while I use a selection of weapons to torture it!”
There was silence for a few moments. This really was unlike any request the Genie had ever taken before. He had no choice other than to acquiesce, as were the rules of his release. “And there I was thinking Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler were mad!” he muttered under his breath. “Your wish is granted, oh master!”
TO BE CONTINUED