Kelly F wishes: Dear Evil Genie, please give me a nice genie to grant my wishes. Love Kelly F.
The Evil Genie replies: The complicated thing about that is that there are no nice genies. You know the old Djinn saying: “Absolamp power corrupts absolamply.” But a wish is a wish! So boom, you have a nice genie to grant your wishes.
Your genie isn’t actually magic or culturally Djinn, but she is a sweet, diligent woman named Jeannie who is ready to help. How is she qualified? At 48, she is the proud mother of two fine and upstanding young men, but she has decided it’s time to get back to work. Her biggest inspiration is the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and so she answered a Craigslist Ad (her oldest showed her the site, he’s a wiz with computers) requesting a Genie to help make dreams a reality. “I’m a Jeannie!” she laughed. Her son rolled his eyes. She may or may not have expected you to be a child with cancer. Jeannie shows up at your doorstep with a big clipboard and a spring in her step.
“Hi Kel Farbs,” she chirps, “How can I make your dreams a reality?”
“Hi,” you say, surprised to see her standing there with two real legs and no lamp in sight. You plow ahead anyways. “My first wish is for two hundred billion dollars, tax free.”
Jeannie pales a little bit. She hadn’t anticipated such an extravagant wish. “Are you sure?” she asks.
You stare at her. “Yes?” you say impatiently, harshly.
Jeannie Hitchenbeck, in her nearly half a century, has never really tried to calculate an amount of money that incredibly large. Personally, she prefers life’s simple pleasures: improving the lives of others, reversible jackets from the Home Shopping Network, preserving her own preserves, yarn products, ducks. Jeannie had considered that perhaps the child she would help would want to do something crass, like meet a famous basketball player or attend a taping of that Dancing with the Stars show where they use their hips too much, but she hadn’t begun to think about how she would procure two hundred billion dollars for a healthy twenty-something. Suddenly, she isn’t sure that she believes in the inspirational power of wishes anymore. Still, she is a Jeannie of her word.
“Okay!” She says brightly, and turns on her heel. You watch her walk away, wondering where your money is.
As she marches away, she wonders how he will come up with this cash. The sad fact is that there a finite supply of money in the world, and for the most part, it belongs to other people who don’t much want to part with it. Should she take her own savings and invest it? This doesn’t seem very efficient. She could hold a bake sale or a car wash, but what would she say it was for? Who would donate? No, this money had to come from the people holding it, willingly or unwillingly. Should she rob a large bank? Should she kidnap Lady Gaga? Should she murder Bill Gates? Jeannie is frightened by how easily these thoughts occur to her, but a little thrilled.
Jeannie’s crime spree begins at home. If she is going to cobble together two hundred billion dollars, she is going to ease into the process. She breaks her younger son’s piggybank and, when the change spills all over his floor, finds a stack of pornography (actually Sears bra catalogs) under the bed. She wonders sadly what else she doesn’t know about her family. Jeannie takes her husband’s wallet and finds a receipt for a store she’s never heard of called “Guyz and Dollz.” When she sneaks into her older son’s room and roots around in his sock drawer, she finds a sizable wad of bills that surprises her. She wants to ask her son where the money came from, but she knows that, under the circumstances, she can’t. She sits down on the floor and starts to cry a little.
Her older son enters the room, and finds Jeannie weeping over his billfold. He knows that she’s going to ask where he got it and he’s terrified to tell her the truth: he’s been dealing drugs out of their small, suburban home. She looks up and him, and before he can explain, she tells him that she’s in trouble. He sits down next to her, and tells her he can help.
Jeannie’s son takes her to an underground poker game run by the Russian mafia, the same group that supplies the heroin he’s been selling. With tears in his eyes, he gives her his drug money and tells her to bet the house. At first, the mobsters are wary of this tiny housewife type, so Jeannie, ever the teetotaler, downs five shots of vodka, trying to prove that she fits in. And in the first round, she wins. Laughing it off as low stakes, the men let her live and play again, but again, she wins. Now they’re confused. On the next hand, she has a Royal Flush, which one of the henchmen mumbles he’s never actually seen before. She’s glowing. The power of wishing is real. Magic is real. Jeannie is going to make your wish come true.
Finding your address in her pocket, the mob drops Jeannie’s body on your doorstep, the place where you first met her merely a day before. The note pinned to her body says that you are now responsible for her debt: two hundred billion dollars.