What a character.
Word Count: 1462
The lamp laid on the sidewalk. Men spent most of their time trying to keep their wives from taking it home. Those same women claimed they could hear the sounds of romance when they stared at the stained glass shade. This story is not about one of those people.
This story is about what happens when the forgotten and destitute get their hands on an object they don't understand. Hector king of the dumpster divers is about to find it.
He saw the lamp and couldn't believe his good fortune. Hector closed his hand over the polished brass, and the stained glass sections softly clinked against their frames. "I need to get a fancier box. I shall be the envy of the alleyways.
Off Hector went in search of the perfect box to place his newest conversation piece. He was used to the stares and shouts of the washed faces that passed him. "I remember what it was like to be them. I had it all once. I can't say I was happy, but I had it all," he muttered to himself. He found more happiness in his current life than he did any other.
He snuck behind a furniture store and found a massive box with a wax coating. "Not only will I have the best furniture, I now have a fantastic waterproof place to sleep." He cried.
He found a clean area under a bridge, one with an electrical outlet no less. He picked through the gravel, found a sharp rock, and cut a hole in the side. With the lamp plugged in, he arranged the clothes he had stitched together using twine to make the softest bed possible. He pulled a battered copy of "The Grand Design" by Steven Hawking out and went to turn on the lamp. It wouldn't turn on.
"It must be one of those touch lamps." He tapped it twice, nothing. "No, No, you are the lamp I am the human. Now turn on," He said.
Hector touched the lamp three more times. A cloud of thick wispy smoke engulfed the cardboard box forcing Hector back out on the street.
Golden eyes peered out from the darkness within. "Did I send myself back inside the lamp again? Four hundred years and I still haven't got the hang of this gig." a voice boomed.
"Excuse me, that is my box you are currently occupying," Hector said. "I don't care who you are, but you need to leave."
"I would like to, but the lamp is my home. You set me free, so you're my master, and you get three wishes. Pretty sweet deal, huh?" the big voice said.
The dull orange glow from the street lamps only made it harder to see what occupied the box. "What am I going to do with three wishes? I have done everything I wanted to in my life."
One would have expected a genie to look as exotic as the desert people who dealt with them on a day to day basis. Hector shook his head as the smoke drifted out of the box and coalesced into a Viking in full battle gear. "I am the Stupendous Sorkvild. Isn't there something you wanted even if..."
Laughter came from Hector as he rolled around the sidewalk. "No offense, you sound ridiculous, look ridiculous, and I don't believe you're a genie."
Sorkvild summoned a gorgeous woman with the wave of his hand. Another wave of the hand she turned into a hairy troll, then a raven. "How does that grab you?" Sorkvild asked in a dignified tone.
"What would you do with a wish?" Hector asked. He was impressed, but a show in Vegas had more flash than the genie. His calloused hands scratched the stubble and released a less than pleasant aroma.
Sorkvild sighed and drifted to a nearby bench. "The worst part of being a genie, you know every wish by heart. I know how they are going to end, too." He fiddled with his sword pommel. "I would make a big stupid wish just to see what would happen."
"Wouldn't you know how it ended too?" Hector asked in a kind tone.
Sorkvild shook his head. "If anyone wishes me free, I lose all knowledge I had as a genie. I'd remember being one but would no longer see beyond the cosmic curtain."
"How about we switch places? You can have your big stupid wish, and I get to look at all the stuff Steven Hawkings talks about in his book," Hector suggested
"You are the strangest homeless man I have ever met. Are you sure you want to do this? The journey is long and filled with heartbreak. I wouldn't wish this life on my worst enemy," Sorkvild said.
"Too bad, I am giving you your big stupid wish. Sorkvild, I wish we would trade places," Hector said.
Sorkvild snapped his fingers, and nothing happened. "Seriously, that's it? Where is all the flash and..." In an instant, Hector felt like someone was driving a railway spike into his brain. He saw into eternity, the beginnings of the universe, and what lay beyond the veil of the living. All of it was beautiful beyond his imagination. "Oh, Mr. Hawkings, if you could borrow my eyes for a second, you would cry tears of joy."
Hector felt lighter than air as his body swirled into a mist and then reformed. He felt like he could turn a mountain inside out or smother a volcano until the lava turned to stone. Sorkvild was an insignificant speck compared to him, an insignificant speck with a wish.
Sorkvild clutched the lamp and cackled with glee. "I am free. I am...excuse me for a moment." Sorkvild went out of sight, and the familiar sound of urine on concrete entered his ears. "Ha Ha, I can't believe I missed this," Sorkvild Shouted.
Hector perused the cosmos while he waited. There was so much to see out in the universe he couldn't decide what interested him most. Sorkvild returned with a gleam in his eye. "Are you ready, Hector?"
Hector grinned. "Your wish is my command," Hector the once homeless genie said.
"I wish for a house of gold on a tropical beach somewhere in the Florida keys," Sorkvild said with enthusiasm.
A snap of the fingers and the two beings stood on a beach. Palm trees swayed gently in the tropical breeze, and the ocean licked the shoreline like a friendly dog. Behind them, was a Roman-style mansion, made of solid gold.
Sorkvild held his hand over his eyes, "I forgot light burns the eyes after a while. I never had to worry about this as a genie." His hands clapped against his head, and a look of horror was on his face. "My house is sinking!" he cried.
Hector watched the building sink beneath the countless grains of sand, like the titanic. "What were you expecting? Gold is heavy. It is a foolish man who builds his house upon the sand."
"If I wanted your opinion, I'd give it to you," Sorkvild said. "I need a minute to think about this." Sorkvild looked like he was constipated when deep in thought. A few minutes pass before a grin pranced its way across his face. " Can I wish for the laws of gravity to stop working?"
It was a question with a simple answer. "Gravity is an elementary force that helps hold the universe together. I can't undo it without undoing everything else," Hector said.
"Some genie you are." Sorkvild still looked like he was trying to grunt one out as he pondered his predicament. He raised his hand and shouted, "Eureka," Hector shouted. "I wish this house, and I were on a planet where the laws of gravity don't weigh everything down so much."
Hector saw the flaw in his wish. "A fool and his gold are soon parted. Your wish is my command." Hector snapped his fingers, and a bright flash followed. When the glow died down, the house floated an inch above the ground, on a heavily forested planet, with three moons.
Hector was so busy enjoying the scene he had forgotten about Sorkvild, who was gasping for air. His hand was outstretched desperate for Hector to take it. "I can't help you," Hector said. "You have to wish for it."
Sorkvild's last words were, "I wish..." and then he expired from oxygen deprivation.
Hector looked at the former genie's body and said, "You were right, Sorkvild, this is a heartbreaking business. May you find your way to the next life."
Three hundred years passed. Hector went from owner to owner until one asked, "What would you wish for?"
"A big, dumb, stupid, and senseless wish," Hector replied.