Steve’s scratching the Scratcher he just bought cause he was feeling the itch; when Wizkey, the self-proclaimed Hoodoo Guru that can heal all but himself, comes pushing a Vons’ shopping cart full of fallen treasure up to where Steve was seated on a Blue-Line bus bench; and offers Steve a ride on the Night Train Express - Keeping the curb comfy since The Great Depression..,

Steve takes a hit and hands the bottle back; the fortified wine burning down the back of Steve's throat sent shivers up his spine.

“Hey Steve, check it out, I found a Genie’s Lamp in that alley off Seventh and Broadway.”

“A Genie’s Lamp? Like you get three wishes? Does it work?”

“Well it’s cracked..,”

And he shows Steve the crack; it ran about three-quarters along one side, splitting the design of an ancient symbol – sacred geometry – nonsense to popular culture but;

“.., so you can only get one wish.”

“One wish?”

Wizkey takes a hit of the vagrant vintage, burps, and hands the bottle back.

“Yeah, one wish; I tried three with Lay-Z-Luna, but could only get one.., she wished-up an STD for her ex.., good for a blow-job.  So just one wish and I’m letting you have it for that ten you fronted me last week.”

“It was twenty.”

“Twenty? No, I remember very clearly asking for ten.”

“Yes but all I had was a twenty and..,”

“Fine, have it your way. It’s twenty.., I’ll let you have the wish for twenty.”

“One wish?”

“Yeah, one wish so you better make it a good one.., take your time.”

“Ok, Ok.., one wish, and I cannot wish for more wishes, right?”

“No, go ahead, it’s been de-regulated; there are no rules.., regardless of integrity.”

Steve, ignoring doctor’s advice, takes another hit of the rot-gut; sends it back; slides into stupid.., and;


“I don’t know what you’ve heard.., what you believe.., but this is the United States of America, the greatest country in all of time and space; and this is an American Genie’s Lamp.., says right here, made in China.., you’re free to wish for anything you want.., it’s not the Middle East.., so, of course, yes you can wish for more wishes. Got these Jin’s coming in on H1B Visas, daily.”


“You can use that one wish to wish for more wishes.., if that’s what you wish to do.”

Wizkey finishes off the short-dog and hands it back to Steve.

“How ‘bout I wish for ten wishes.”

“If you don’t give a fuck about mortgage rates.”

“I don’t give a fuck about mortgage rates.”

“Then why ten wishes? Why not wish for one hundred, a thousand or even billions?”

“I didn’t want to be greedy. That’s the trick, right.., the moral of the story?”

Steve drank from the empty bottle; doesn't notice; then tries handing it back.

But Wizkey starts laughing; then uncontrollably for like ten but closer-to five minutes; finally all doubled-up on the ground; attracting attention you’d rather not attract.., Steve thought he’d have to call paramedics but last time they locked the guru up for seventy-two hour, observation.

Then Wizkey stands up; looks at Steve with disappointment and disdain; then turning to compassion without corruption; smashes the Genie’s Lamp to the curb and says..,

“You’re wrong!”


“People be wishing for all kinds of bullshit; and always want more wishes..,”

“It’s not as easy as it sounds. One opportunity, one chance to get it right, it’ll never go down like this again; once in a lifetime.., got to take advantage; and everybody always fucks up the first two anyway.., so with only one.., like I said.., you know, the pressure.., it’s not so..,”

“It couldn’t be simpler.,”


“And if you need more than one wish; even a billion would not be enough.”

“But people need stuff.., especially in this economy.”

“Like what? What stuff?”

“You know.., money, power, security.., Need to get laid..,”

“Why they need all those things?”

“I don’t know.., you know.., to be happy.., right?”

“Why don’t they just wish to be happy.”

Then up drives this cover-girl blond in a cherry red, late model, BMW..,


And Wizkey jumps into the convertible; slams the door shut; and off the guru and blonde sped, disappearing into the hills; abandoning the Vons’ shopping cart full of junk, like an opening prop at a closing curtain.

Steve checked his scratcher.., matched three and a bonus; won twenty bucks.., parlayed and went bust.


© 2017 by Stephen Ian McNaught