Adventures in Assemblage
Partners, Part 2
Meditation and the Part-Time Painter
News for August
Interview with Karyn Lewis
Fiddle-Faddleby Michael A. Kechula
Liz slammed an antique bottle on the counter at Ye Olde Curio Shoppe. "Nothing in this place is any damn good!" she shouted.
"What's the problem?" asked the gnomish shopkeeper.
"Remember last week when I rented a Wizard In A Bottle, and it turned out to be empty?"
"Right. And I gave you this one as a replacement. So, what's the problem now?"
"I only got two wishes. The wizard owes me two more."
"You must've done something wrong. Did you say the exact words on the instruction sheet and talk real nice to him?"
"Sure did. Every time I made a wish, I said pretty please with mustard, onions, and sauerkraut on top. For the first two wishes, everything worked out fine. He got me a hundred billion in cash, and moved the Palace of Versailles from France to Beverly Hills."
"Well, maybe you should count your blessings," the shopkeeper said. "You have enough money to last a lifetime of fantastic luxury, and you have a fine new home. How many bathrooms does it have?"
"Don't change the subject. I have two more wishes coming. If I don't get them immediately, I want half my rental fee refunded."
"Frankly, I never heard of a Wizard In A Bottle failing to carry out a customer's wishes."
"Well, this one did. Just as I was making my third wish, he interrupted me right in the middle of the sentence."
"Hmm. That's highly irregular. What did he say?"
"That he wanted beer and a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese. I wondered what the hell was going on. Since when does a bottle wizard have the right to order me around? It's supposed to be the other way around. And I told him so."
"What did he say to that?"
"No beer and pizza, no wish. I asked why he wanted that stuff at a time like this. Do you know what he said?"
"I can't imagine."
"'I've been cooped up in this bottle for 800 years, and I'm famished. Get what I want, or no third wish.' So, I called a pizzeria and had them deliver. Would you believe that tiny thing drank a whole quart of beer and ate an extra large pizza? He didn't even offer me a slice. After guzzling the beer, he got tipsy and sang very bawdy songs. He said he learned them from Merlin the Magician. I never heard such filthy language. Then he passed out."
"I assure you I'll report this to the Wizard Supply Warehouse," said the shopkeeper. "You can be certain he'll be strongly reprimanded."
"Serves him right. But there's more. When he woke up, I tried again. I said, 'Oh most handsome and magical Wizard In A Bottle, I wish that all the oil in the Middle East be placed in the ground under my palace in Beverly Hills, pretty please with mustard, onions, and sauerkraut on top.'"
"He just sat there with his arms crossed, looking pissed. 'What's the problem now?' I asked. Know what he said?"
"I'm afraid to ask."
"He said from now on, he wants me to say, pretty please with mustard, onions, sauerkraut, and dill pickles on top. So, I reminded him that wasn't the magic formula on the instruction sheet you gave me, and that he was just stalling. I told him again to get the oil like I just wished for. But he wouldn't even raise his wand. He took out a marking pen, a piece of cardboard, and made a sign that said ON STRIKE. You can see it taped to the inside of the bottle."
The shopkeeper examined the bottle. "This is awful. I'm going to call the Wizard Supply Warehouse right now."
Grabbing his cell phone the shopkeeper dialed. "Hello is this Customer Service? I got a problem. A very irate customer's in my shop, and she's complaining about one of your wizards. What's his name? I'm checking the bottom of the bottle now. It's Fiddle-Faddle. Oh, I see. Well, that explains it."
"What did they say?" asked Liz.
"He's a defective model. They shipped him accidentally. They said I should swap this bottle for another. Only problem is, all my wizard-filled bottles are rented. None are due back until a week from Tuesday."
"That's OK," Liz said. "By then, oil prices will jump to at least $200 a barrel."
Before leaving, Liz picked up the bottle. "Hey Wizard. I think you're the handsomest guy I've ever seen. My fourth wish after you got the oil was gonna be that the spell that trapped you inside the bottle would be ended. And that you'd be a normal man again. Then I would've married you, and we could've had a fabulous time together living in my palace, spending my money, and selling oil to the world. Wouldn't that have been better than being trapped inside a stupid bottle for the next gazillion years? Imagine all the beer and pepperoni pizzas you could've had."
The wizard tore up the sign, waved his wand, and said, "Fiddle-faddle-fiddly-dee. It is done. Not only has all the oil in the Middle East just been relocated to the land under your palace in Beverly Hill, but I threw in every drop the United States has offshore. Now make your last wish so I can get out of this damn bottle and help you spend all that money."
"Can't do it," Liz said.
"I'm on strike."
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