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A Genie in a Jam

by Oonah V. Joslin

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DJ, an irresponsible young Djinn, wants to be a Genie. Despite the opposition of Obsidian, his old teacher, he persuades the Elders to allow him to take a position with a company selling jam.

DJ finds it’s no easy thing granting wishes, but humans and their vices fascinate him. Naively he blunders from job to job until at last he is called upon to answer some serious accusations. He faces a sentence of hard labour or worse. Just when things seem blackest, DJ realises how sweet life can be.

Genie, by Jerry Wright

Chapter 7: A Plum Job

DJ recognized at once that there’d been a diversion of sorts. He’d felt a pulling sensation during thermal initialization and could feel that his equilibrium was not quite in tune with normal Earth space. He’d materialized in an underground hall — a vast cavern of a place that would have reminded him of Djinn, were it not that the walls were made of dead rocks, and lichens grew where gemstones ought to have been flowering.

Almost at once he found himself in strange company. They just appeared out of the shadows, about twenty of them.

‘What do you people want?’ he asked, and he wasn’t referring to wishes.

‘How do you like that, now? People... people indeed! Had I known ye were going to insult us, I’d ha’ niver brought ye here. People he says!’

The owner of the voice was shorter and much fatter than DJ.

‘Well what are you then? You’re not dwarves or fairies... Pixies?’

‘Pixies? Would you listen to the fella making a bad situation worse? Sure he has the cheek o’ the very divil! Pixies! Indeed we are not.’

Two others piped up, ‘Aye that’s a cheek, right enough!’

‘Human, yersilf!’

Murmuring and laughter from all around indicated that there was more humour than hostility behind their banter, but DJ didn’t like the look of things. He tried to remember his Myths and Legends lessons in school. Taking into account their garb, mostly green and earthy tones, their accents, which were exceptionally lyrical, and their propensity for using many words to say very little, he surmised he was in the company of Leprechauns.

‘You appear to have me at a disadvantage, sirs,’ said DJ, trying not to flicker visibly. ‘This was supposed to be a plum job.’

‘Aye, well now it’s greengage,’ laughed the leader.

DJ didn’t find anything amusing about this statement but the leprechauns seemed to find it very funny.

‘Sean’s the name and here’s my hand for you, sir.’

DJ nervously took the proffered hand only to find that it was covered in sticky, green jam. The assembly roared with laughter and Sean, perceiving that DJ was disgruntled said, ‘Ugh, c’mon! Have ye no sense of humour? Sure it’s only a bit o’ fun... Eamon, get yer man here a cloth to wipe his mitts with. Sure, there’s no harm done.’

Eamon, who was ten feet tall, stepped forward and DJ reluctantly accepted the proffered hanky the size of a towel, although he checked it thoroughly for green substances before using it, which created more merriment.

‘Don’t mind Eamon. He’s a distant relation of Finn MaCool, the good giant, you know. Sure, he’s practically royalty, so he is.’

DJ handed the cloth back. ‘So, what am I doing here?’ he said, addressing Sean whilst keeping an eye on Eamon.

‘D’y’ see that? That’s not very friendly now, is it? You should luk a person in the eye when you’re speaking to them.’

The others seemed to agree. ‘Sean’s right, so he is...’

‘Aye, sure there’s no need to get all aggressively defensive so there isn’t...’

‘I thought genies were always deferential...’

‘Not this one,’ said DJ, ‘and you might as well know up front, that I can only grant one wish — not one each.’ He at once regretted saying anything about granting wishes, but the damage was done.

‘Well now, would that not depend on how many jars of greengage we had?’

‘That’s right. It would depend on how many jars,’ agreed Seamus.

‘Shut up, Seamus!’ said Sean.

There was something about the twinkle in Sean’s eye that DJ didn’t quite like.

‘Show ’im, lads.’

The group drew apart, revealing several large packing cases bearing the name Jeannie’s Jams, a picture of DJ himself and the company logo: ‘Jams of Genius since 1897’ written on the side. Sean looked smug.

DJ realized he’d been kidnapped to fulfill some purpose. It would take years to get through all that jam. Even if they opened a jar each, one after the other, it was inconceivable that anyone had envisaged him granting that many wishes.

Furthermore, it overstepped his contractual obligations by a long way. He knew he had to play it cool — which is difficult when you’re combustible. ‘What did you have in mind?’ asked DJ, mustering his composure.

‘Oh don’t worry, sure gold is all we want.’

He’d heard that about leprechauns.

‘And from what we’ve heard, there’s plenty of that where you come from.’

Plenty, yes, thought DJ, but not an inexhaustible supply, and none of it was actually his to give away. He didn’t think the High Council would be terribly impressed at his giving all their gold away to creatures who did not even appreciate its qualities — only its so-called value.

‘Well,’ said DJ, ‘before we get started... I have always heard of the legendary hospitality of the Irish and so far I’ve not seen a drop of it — gold or otherwise. A sample of that would go a long way towards... lubricating my generosity.’

‘Aye, sure what are we thinking of? Get this good genie a drop of the local legend, Seamus.’ Sean clapped DJ on the back in a show of camaraderie. Seamus came back with a bottle of finest Bushmills Malt.

DJ had a sip out of the first glass poured and made a great show of spluttering.

‘Not to your taste?’

‘Oh, on the contrary — an excellent distillation — exemplary — but perhaps a tad strong for me. I’m not used to it, you know. Perhaps some water...’ he suggested, ‘and I hate to drink alone...’

They showed DJ a spring of purest water plinking into a deep basin of stone. Seamus brought forth several cases of Original, Ten Year Malt and Black Bush and they all got into party mood.

DJ now realized that his plan required drastic action. Not only did he have to water down the first glass, but he had to pour every subsequent glass of this king amongst combustibles away into the soil and drink only water. It was both heartbreaking and disgusting, but it was the only way to stay sober whilst keeping up the pretence of getting drunk.

Gradually all the leprechauns fell asleep in a stupor and snored and grunted prodigiously, dreaming dreams of gold. But there sat Eamon, wide awake, still grinning his gigantic grin, sober as a judge and twice as gormless.

DJ thought for a minute. ‘Maybe if you opened the crates of jam, Eamon, I could get started on the gold,’ he said. If he could keep the giant busy, it might be safe to escape.

Eamon ripped the lid off the first case. DJ looked inside. There was no jam in there at all. It was a box of promotional T-shirts. The second box revealed similar contents — T-shirts, badges, DJ talking toys that said, ‘Grrreeetings,’ when you pulled the cord. How utterly humiliating!

‘What on earth...?’

‘No jam!’ wailed the disappointed giant, who cared for neither whiskey nor gold. He sat heavily on a large rock, ‘They tricked me. They said I could eat as much jam as I liked,’ and a giant tear rolled down his big cheek and soaked DJ to the skin.

‘Me too, it would seem,’ said DJ. He was more than cross now, having been watered inside and out. ‘I don’t know about you, Mr. Giant, but I don’t think either one of us owes these scoundrels anything. I’m out of here.’

‘Go,’ said the giant. ‘Go.’

He looked so miserable as he said this, that DJ took pity on him.

‘Before I do,’ said DJ, ‘a little gift.’

At Eamon’s feet appeared the largest pot of jam ever known. It was the jewel of all jams. At the bottom was a layer of raspberry, then there was blackcurrant, on top of that strawberry, further up, marmalade and so on through all the flavours and colours of sweet conserve at DJ’s disposal, topped off with greengage a foot thick.

The giant gave a great toothless grin as he twisted the lid off and there was an almighty POP! the like of which had never been heard in all the Glens.

All at once, DJ found himself back where he should have been to begin with — at the plum job. He sighed and wondered what this lot would want.

Copyright © 2010 by Oonah V. Joslin

Proceed to chapter 8...

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