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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 8: Bitter Dispute

‘There’s no such thing as Orange Jam!’ protested the genie, ‘and I’m NOT DOING IT.’

Nikes planted firmly on the floor, he folded his arms and set his jaw squarely to show the board that he would not budge on this issue. ‘It’s grossly unfair. The job is difficult enough without entering into bitter disputes — and marmalade.’

‘I feel I must point out that you are in fact under contract for a certain number of appearances, Mr. DJ,’ said the director in placating tones. He had no wish to upset the Djinn.

Joel Jarre remembered his great-grandfather often repeating the story about the Genie of the Jam. At the time he hadn’t given it much credence. When he’d advertised the post, the last thing he’d expected was for a real genie to turn up for interview. He’d been delighted to seize the opportunity of course, but DJ could be trying at times, real Genie or no.

‘My contract says nothing about marmalade,’ said DJ, who’d at least read it by now.

‘Indeed it doesn’t, my dear genie,’ agreed the old man, ‘and that is precisely why I can see no reason for your objection.’

DJ was a bit stumped for a rejoinder. There was no logical reason behind his protest. He was just fed up with being sent out there to do the impossible; sick of being ignored, abused, put upon... Besides, orange wasn’t his colour.

‘It creates precedence,’ stated the genie, trying to sound authoritative without any idea what he was talking about. It always sounded good in those courtroom dramas on TV. ‘And what will it be next, I wonder? Lemon and Lime? Quince?’

‘Oooh, we don’t do a line in quince do we?’ chirped the director’s PA. ‘I’ll write that down.’

DJ put his head in his hands and groaned.

The company solicitor referred to the contract he’d been studying closely during the argument. ‘Under paragraph three section C, it states that you, the employee, are contractually obliged to grant a minimum number of appearances from, and I quote; “a variety of Jeannie’s Jams products.” That does not specify jams only, but products.’

The director sat back in his chair, folded his hands across his fat tummy and smiled. That had him, surely.

DJ was in a foul mood now. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘during my time with this firm I have been ignored, humiliated, abused, kidnapped for God’s sake, and I have never once complained — but I DO NOT DO MARMALADE!’ He fairly screeched this affirmation. ‘You can get yourselves another Genie of the Jam.’

A shocked intake of breath from several board members alerted DJ to the fact that he might have said something of great moment... but he couldn’t think what.

The director leaned forward on his chair. ‘Now don’t let’s be too hasty, my young friend. I feel we’re getting a little upset here.’ He flashed a warning glance at the solicitor, who nodded gravely. ‘I’m sure we can come to an equitable agreement, after all a genie has free will and we are and always have been an accommodating company concerned for the welfare of all our employees.’

DJ wavered in his resolve. He did not relish the thought of explaining to the Djinn High Council why he had failed in his contractual commitments, let alone quit his job. That was the kind of thing that gave genies a bad name and Obsidian would jump on him. He awaited the terms.

Director Jarre and his solicitor were deep in discussion but DJ could catch only a few words.

‘...plenty of other genies after all.’

‘but we can’t be sure whether he has made the appearance...’

‘you mean this is the same...?

‘...want a seat on the board, next!’

DJ couldn’t see what they were finding so funny.

‘What do you say to making a single marmalade appearance provided we amend the present contract right here and now, to exclude, in future, all products but jam?’ The director thought this a sound compromise, under the circumstances.

DJ got the impression that had he pressed the point, he could have got out of even this one appearance but the thought of Obsidian and the gem mines had quite drained his courage. He agreed, and the documents were duly amended and signed but there was something deeply unsatisfying about this outcome that DJ just couldn’t pinpoint.

So it was that, on his next engagement, DJ found himself at the breakfast table of yet another couple, only this time they were not newlyweds. The man was bald and the woman was round and grey-haired, with one arm in plaster.

‘Grrreeetings,’ he trilled, trying to sound more sociable than he felt. His orange T-shirt clashed garishly with his bright yellow socks and the woman looked at this apparition but then continued as if DJ wasn’t there.

‘I hate orange,’ said the woman, looking from DJ’s garb to the marmalade.

‘Since when? I thought you liked it,’ said her husband.

‘How long have we been married, Dan?’ she asked.

She took the explosive silence that followed as testament to the fact that Dan didn’t know the answer.

‘Almost fifty years!’ she answered her own question. ‘And in all that time you didn’t notice that I don’t like anything orange...’

Dan’s mouth moved but no sound came out. He looked dumbly at DJ. His man-to-man expression said help, and DJ sympathized, but that didn’t amount to a wish. A wish had to be vocal.

‘I suppose you’ve forgotten about our Golden Wedding Anniversary too, haven’t you?’

Dan wanted to deny it but he didn’t get the chance.

‘I see! I’ve given you the best years of my life, Daniel. All I wish for in return, is a pot of Lemon and Lime Marmalade and you can’t even manage that much.’

‘Hold on, I can fix that,’ said DJ who was sick of being ignored and immediately the confection became a mild shade of sappy green.

‘Martha, you absolute plonker! Can’t you see the Genie? What a waste of a wish! We could have had anything! Well, I tell you what — you can celebrate your ruddy anniversary on your own next Saturday. The party’s off!’

Martha burst into tears. ‘Party? Oh, Danny... you did remember! You arranged a party? You’re so sweet! I’m so sorry...’ She made to kiss her husband and DJ made a hasty disappearance. Even for a Jam Genie there are some sights that are just too cloying.

Copyright © 2010 by Oonah V. Joslin

Proceed to chapter 9...

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