“What to Wish For”
"I'll take it. But only in black, with black tint, and cream interior. And put the five star rims on it too." The short salesman nodded as he jotted down my instructions onto his clipboard.
"Alright T.J.. No problem, we'll get that set up for you. Can I get you anything else?"
"No, thank you," I respond as I turn away and catch my reflection in the window.
"Come back again soon," he replies.
Before I walk away I straighten my tie underneath my tailored black suit in the reflection I see of myself in the window. My cell phone rings, and I peak at the caller ID. It's my wife.
She answers, "Hey baby! Are we still on for tonight?"
"Of course. The reservations are already set. Are you still at your shoot?"
"Yeah, but the beach is starting to get crowded and we're shutting down soon. I'll be back around 7:00 tonight," and this was my favorite part, "I can't wait to see you. Oh, and I got a big bonus from this last shoot and so -- (rinnnng)-- we should, -- (rinnnng), celebra... -- (rinnng)....
Where is that ringing coming from? It's so loud I can hardly hear what my lady is saying, "Jess, Jess,"... There is more ringing and, I can't hear her at all now... "Hello, hello...?"
Shit, I snap back into reality and open my eyes. Another dream interrupted at it's best part. I really hate it when that happens. "Ring, ring." More ringing, only now I roll over and answer the real phone. Almost with a growl I greet my caller, "Yeah."
"Hello sir this is Jessica and I'm calling on behalf of...," a voice comes screaming out of the receiver at a thousand miles per hour. Telemarketing.
Hell no! I can't deal with this right now. I ask her to hold on, and place the phone down near the stereo and turn it up. "In the Club," is playing as I roll out of bed. I hope she likes Fifty.
It's 10:00 in the morning, but to me it's just the beginning of another long day in my life. I get up, shower, get dressed in my store-bought suit, and then hop into my Hyundai and drive off to work. At work, I basically just take orders. Four years of college and all I needed to know is how to be obedient. After work, it's usually off to the bar with my friends, Tim and Mike to look for girls. Though this is a search that has yet to work out in my favor. Not that I'm ugly though. I admit I'm not the best-looking guy but I'm far from the worst. In school I was an athlete and I still keep a regular workout routine that I manage to squeeze in at the end of my boring days. I'm about 6' 2", black hair, brown eyes, always clean, and I'll even turn some heads when I dress up.
"Should've stayed asleep where all my wishes were coming true."
"Shit." I had just been standing by the sink daydreaming and forgot about the girl on the phone. "Hello, hello...," she had hung up, "Guess she didn't like that song." I turned on the T.V. to the news. They were doing a story about some guy who had just won millions playing the lotto from around my city. It was amazing, this guy almost looks like me, maybe a little chubbier, but I could be this guy's twin brother. "I should go claim that ticket." But no, I never get that lucky.
The heat outside is an unbearably dry heat, it feels like the sun is sitting on my shoulders. There's no AC in my Hyundai so all my windows are rolled down. I can feel the warm air breathe on my face as I cruise down the empty road leading to the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the highway. After that I sit in the bumper-to-bumper traffic in-between the mile-high skyscrapers of the city. Waiting for lights to change. I take a right on to 109th St., and as I get to the first stop light I realize that I have been daydreaming again. Snapping back into reality this time I notice that since I have been on 109th St. I have been the only person on the road. In fact as I start to look around, I slowly come to realize that I'm the only person anywhere.
"I must still be dreaming!" is my first thought, as I begin to panic. Only it doesn't feel like it, everything is so real. The silence is terrifying and so frantically I begin looking around for another soul, anyone. I snap my neck right to left and out of the corner of my eye I notice something move in an alley, "What the hell is that? Should I go check? Hell no!"
After the slight hesitation I begin to press on the accelerator and just then the figure stands up tall, only it's not so tall at all, and I realize, it's just a child. I slam on the breaks as my conscience is screaming at me, "Don't leave that kid out there," so I shake off my hesitations and jump out of the car.
"Hey kid...," no answer, "Hey...," still no response. I walk closer to get a better look to make sure nothing is wrong and freeze in shock when I see the face. This is not a kid at all, he's more of a little person, his nose is pointy and he has big long ears. All the other features on his face droop down like an old mans. He is wearing an old pastel colored green cloak with holes in it and it looks and smells like he got it out of the garbage he is standing next to. He reminds me of a troll out of an old fairy tale. "What the hell is happening?" I think to myself.
"I'll tell you what's happening T.J." The creature answered my question with a deep raspy voice that sounds like he needs to clear his throat. But how did he know my name and did I even say that out loud? He continues.
"It's your lucky day." Only coming from him this didn't sound so good. "My name is Bricks. I come from underneath the earth and I rose to grant you three wishes."
It all seemed like a dream so I pinch myself, and feel the sharp pain run up my arm. Nope no dream I am awake, "Is this real?" I ask him.
"Very real. I assure you this is no hoax," and with that Bricks snaps his fingers. My phone starts ringing, "Answer it," Bricks says.
"Hello...," it was my boss.
"T.J. some good news for you, they need to spray your office so you have the day off."
Still in shock I answer, "OK thank-you sir," and hang the phone up.
"There you go," said Bricks, "You have one day to make your decision and I'll be back."
"No need for an entire day," I say, dream or not. "That's OK I want to be rich, famous, and young forever."
Bricks just looks up with a smile on his face and says, "You have one day to make your decision so think about it and I'll see you tomorrow." He snaps his fingers again and is gone into a cloud of smoke.
Just in that moment the streets are crowded again, people are walking around like usual, only my car still sat with the door open in the street. Bricks was nowhere to be seen. What had happened? It seemed unreal so I just get back into my car and head to work. When I get there I run into my boss at the door.
"I just talked to you, what are you doing here?"
"I could have sworn I was dreaming," I reply.
"Nope no dream you can go home, enjoy your day." He turns away and walks inside again, I get back into my car, and sit grinning for twenty minutes. Anything, anything I want I can have, this was my dream.
I already know what I want and a day isn't going to change that. As I am pulling out of my parking spot I see something that looks like a dollar bill laying on the road. I stop to pick it up and, it had to be my day, it is a hundred dollar bill. My luck had changed, time to hit up the mall.
I stop at the mall ready to spend my new found fortune, but the parking lot is packed, so I drive around for a minute looking for somewhere to park. I find a spot near the back across from another Hyundai and as soon as I get out of my car I am approached by a beautiful smiling woman. She is tall, she has long legs, black hair and dark eyes that look like they could hypnotize me if I look too deep in them, she had to be a model or an actress.
"Excuse me," she said, " sorry to bother you but I have that same piece of crap car only mine just died right here, my name is Leslie. I usually wouldn't walk up to you like this but you look trustworthy and I'm in a bind, I really need a ride to the station."
Still awestruck staring at her I manage to get out, "Sure no problem, I'm T.J."
As I drove her there we talked. She is smart, beautiful, in her last year in school, and very appreciative. She even offers her phone number before I could ask and tells me to give her a call so she can make me dinner to thank me.
After I drop her off I head back to the mall but before I got there I am stopped at a light. The streets are full.
"There he is mommy," there is a kid in the car next to me pointing in my direction. I look over my other shoulder to see who is over there and realize he is pointing at me.
"He won the lotto." says the kid, he has mistaken me for the guy on T.V.. He sat there staring as I wonder if this kids parents ever teach him any manners.
"No, it's not me," I say but they ignore me and keep smiling. Finally a green light. I guess I did look just like that guy, because when I get to the mall I notice everyone in the building is looking at me. A couple people came up to me and I have to try and explain that I am not the same guy. Most people just look at me funny. I am feeling uneasy with all the eyes on me, but there is one guy selling fake Rolex watches and he wouldn't leave me alone. I finally look at them and they actually look really good so I end up spending $80 on one of them. Then I leave to head back home.
I feel better at the house and lounge around for the rest of the day. Later that evening I give Leslie a call to set up the dinner. She sounds just as excited as me, as she suggests we get together later tonight. Just what I was thinking, she is all I had been thinking about since I have gotten home. Could she be the one?
I dress again after we hang up, this time in some beige slacks and a nice button up, and put on some cologne. I pick up my watch and check it out. It's a hour off so I pull out the pin on the side to set it. Right as I begin to twist it though the big hand on the dial pops off and then the small hand. What a piece of shit, what a dumb waste of money, and I toss the fake Rolex in the trash. I lost my hundred dollars, how can I be so stupid. 100 dollars was laid in my lap and I lost it. I wish I were smarter than that.
I get over to Leslie's place with a rose and a six pack.
The best I could do, which was enough trouble thanks to the crowd that I attracted in the supermarket.
Now I am late, I wish people would let me be about my business.
She answers the door in an apron and sweats and says sorry for how she looks, but I think she looks better in her more relaxed outfit. "Sorry I'm late," I say.
" No it's cool I've been a little slow with dinner so come on into the kitchen." Her place is nice, very clean and it smells so good. The whole apartment smells like fresh baked bread and cleaning supplies. There was nothing out of place, everything looks sparkling and shining, I wonder if she is some sort of neat freak.
"You keep this place pretty clean," I say.
"Thanks for noticing. My parents came down for the weekend so I did a little extra cleaning and I haven't been here enough lately to dirty it up again."
I wish I could come home to her everyday.
We get along so well and the food is amazing. She used to be an athlete just like me, and loves seafood as well. She laughs at all my jokes and when I stumble on my way to the kitchen she even teases me about it. Everything goes on so easy that we don't look at the clock until it's 2:00 in the morning.
"Oh man it's time for me to get to sleep," I say and I get up. On my way home I feel more relaxed than I ever been. I haven't even thought about the decision I have to make later this morning. I lay down on the bed when I get home and think until I fall asleep.
I wake up the next morning and get started with my routine same as every morning. There's no way those things really happened yesterday.
"Isn't there?" Was the answer to my question coming from the kitchen. It is the troll from yesterday, sitting at the table. I stand open jawed once again, Bricks just asks "Have you decided what your wishes will be yet? Do you still want money, fame, and to be young forever."
I sit back and think for a second then answer, "No."
"OK. Then what do you want?"
"Well instead of money I want knowledge. Because no matter how much money you have, it doesn't do you any good without the brains. And instead of fame I want people to respect me. I don't want people treating me any differently. And third I don't want to be young forever. I found someone I might want to grow old with. So instead I want love."
"OK. You will get these things," and he snaps his fingers again. "I knew you were smart, that's why I chose you, enjoy your wishes," and with another snap he is gone.
The phone rings again and I go to pick it up. "Hello," it was Leslie, just who I wanted to hear. And it isn't a dream.
Acknowledgments: Thanks to the entire class and Prof. Heller. And, "That's the bricks."