Antonio walked along the beach, scouring the sands and the pebbles for shells, washed up by the sea’s relentless, ever moving water. He spotted one, half buried, and bent to pick it up, but it had been broken, shattered by some sea creature or smashed against a rock. Looking ahead, he noticed the dull sun’s glare glinting off something dull and metallic a few yards down the beach. He glanced back and forth. Searchers with metal detectors had combed this area not long ago but they hadn’t found it. Odd. He rose to his feet to investigate.
He drove his fingertips into the wet sand, scratching against the surface of the rounded object, until he found a handle. He tugged. Not quite enough. He dug some more until at last the shape was revealed. It was a lamp. An old lamp, of the style a genie came out of in all the stories. Antonio laughed. It was almost too bizarre to be real. He opened the lid of the lamp. Full of sand. He carefully poured the sand onto the beach and stared at the thing. What did all the movies say? Try to clean it? He rubbed the lamp against the bottom of his t-shirt, only a tiny part of his mind daring to hope a genie would pop out. Nothing happened, of course.
“A thousand pardons young sir, but I believe that is mine.” Antonio turned to see a tall, dark haired man. Dressed all in white, with sandals and a perfectly trimmed black beard, he looked like many of the rich tourists the boy had seen that day. The boy laughed.
“So, you’re a genie?” He joked. “And you grant three wishes?” The man eyed him gravely, his lips pursed in a frown, his eyes hidden behind expensive black sunglasses. Before Antonio could move, the man made a subtle motion with his fingers. A whirlwind, appearing out of thin air, whipped across the beach. It picked up sand and shells and threw them about, scattering beach goers before it dipped out to sea and disappeared.
“No, and no.” The tall man responded shortly. “Do not mock the Jinn, boy.” Antonio clutched the lamp, suddenly afraid. The man’s lips softened a little. “I do not grant wishes,” he smiled. “But I can make you a bargain.” He pointed to the lamp in the boy’s hands. “I will grant you three requests, for the lamp.”
Antonio nodded. This was more like what he had expected. He tried to think of all the things he could wish for. The most logical thing seemed to be money. But then he thought of the house his family lived in. His parents were always complaining about how run down it was, and how it could use repairs. He could get a new mansion for them to live in!
“I request a mansion, a beautiful mansion for my family to live in. With a hundred rooms.” He thought frantically. “And a pool.” The man nodded with a small smile on his face.
Excited, Antonio raced home. But when he got there, he found it surrounded with police cars, their sirens had been turned off but their lights were flashing. His mother and father were safe, but the neighbors were in the front yard, screaming at them. His father was trying to placate the woman, trying to explain that he didn’t know how a pool had appeared in her living room, but that he was certain it was all a mistake. Antonio stared at the mansion.
It was bigger than he had expected, filling not only the space where his home had once stood, but also the entire yard as well as the neighbors’ yards on all sides! One by one, they had come home, seen what had happened and called the police — or started to fight. Antonio’s heart sank.
“This appears less than ideal.” The Jinn’s voice came from behind Antonio. He whirled to see the white clothed man standing there. A small smile was toying about the edges of his dark beard.
“You did that on purpose!” The boy pointed a finger at the man and shouted.
The Jinn shrugged. “I merely granted your request.” He spoke innocently. “The consequences are your own.” Antonio had a thought come to him.
“I wish…” The Jinn frowned and the boy changed his phrasing. “I request that the mansion be tall instead of wide.” The Jinn pointed a long dark finger, and Antonio quickly added “And all the neighbor’s houses be fixed.”
Before his very eyes, like Legos reassembling, pieces of the mansion moved and changed and set one on top of the other until it became a large building ten stories high. The neighbors, who were still shouting at his parents, watched in awe as their own houses were restored to their previous shapes and sizes. They stopped shouting and meekly returned to their homes. The police officers, shook their heads, and walked back to their cars, relieved that the shouting was over.
Antonio smiled at the Jinn, who merely nodded in response. The boy started towards his parents, ready to explain to them what had happened, when a long-sleek black car pulled up next to the driveway. A blonde woman with short tightly wound hair stepped out, dressed in a crisp suit, and dark sun glasses.
She called out to Antonio’s parents. “It has come to the attention of the Internal Revenue Service that you have come into the possession of a mansion worth 2.4 million dollars, and yet we have no record of you earning any such money. The IRS and the FBI are both launching investigations.”
The boy’s parents stammered and tried to explain that they had no idea where the mansion came from, but the woman merely held up her hand. “You realize that attempting to defraud the government is a felony, punishable by up to twenty years in prison correct?”
His parents tried to explain that they didn’t know where the mansion had come from, and they hadn’t defrauded anyone but the woman only nodded and demanded to be shown their receipts. Antonio’s father led the way into the mansion. The boy turned to the Jinn, sadly. He knew what he had to do.
“You can put everything back the way it was right?” The dark man merely looked at him behind his sunglasses. His face expressionless as he nodded.
“Okay, I request you put everything back the way it was.” The dark bearded man smiled and nodded once. By the time Antonio turned around his old home was back and the woman from the IRS had disappeared. The lamp had disappeared from the boy’s clutched finger tips and the Jinn now held it in his hands, but Antonio didn’t care about that.
He ran into the house, happy to be home. His home.
The moral of this story is as simple as it is obvious. Everything is connected in life. We may think we want something – be it lots of money or a big mansion. But these things can’t just be handed to us by a genie. And even if they could, there would be consequences. You cannot escape the Law of Cause and Effect. Nor can you approach life only thinking of yourself. You must consider how your choices and actions will affect others.
The dreams you cultivate and the goals you set must be done with awareness, wisdom, sensitivity to others, and a commitment to self-discipline. Otherwise…
Be careful what you wish for.
For my Christian readers who may object to a story about a genie, please read…