Sheik Gamal, young, handsome, rich and used to commanding his little corner of the world, knelt in the grass, concentrating with all his might. His car failed to appreciate his greatness; it sat unresponsive on the side of the road, refusing to heed his command that it ‘GO!’
The Great Gamal was angry. How dare even inanimate objects defy him! He struggled to get his frustration under control.
Hidden from the view of strangers was the small bottle that was never far from his side. Offering up a prayer for patience, he opened his eyes. He took a quick look at his surroundings, making sure no one was in sight. Reassured, he reached beneath his flowing white robe, pulling out the smoke-colored bottle.
It had come to this.
Forced by circumstances – in this case, the stalled vehicle that refused to abide by his will – the Great Gamal, his noble brow furrowed, decided it was time for action. With deliberation, he began to rub the smoky glass of the ancient bottle, his long, slender fingers making small circular motions while he chanted a magical incantation.
A wisp of green mist suddenly appeared. Out of the mist stepped Jeannie, a beautiful woman dressed in a skimpy outfit, sporting a blond ponytail, and looking suspiciously like a former TV star.
“Master!” she cried, her voice conveying happiness. Her large eyes sparkled with anticipation. “Oh, thank you for calling me out, Master! It was getting cramped inside that small bottle.”
The Great Gamal sighed. “I need your assistance, Jeannie.”
“Dear Master! Your wish is my command!”
He looked at her, his face grim. “Yes, well, don’t err this time – understand? Otherwise, I shall seal your bottle and toss it into the farthest ocean!”
Jeannie’s eyes grew moist. “But, Master! My wish is only to please you. That little, um, situation with your father was most regrettable… but my intentions were honorable.”
The Great Gamal pursed his lips. One never knew what to expect when dealing with a genie – especially his Jeannie. She was capricious.
The last time he’d requested her assistance it was to keep his too inquisitive father engaged until he could complete a deal he’d brokered with American oil barons. That had backfired. Jeannie had conjured up a storyteller, a busty siren who called herself Scheherazade. Jeannie instructed her to keep Gamal’s father occupied while Gamal completed his secret transactions.
Night after night, Scheherazade held his father spellbound with stories of princes and palaces and distant battles fought for love and power. The problem was that once Gamal had completed his deal, he wanted his wise father to again turn his attention to earthly matters. Instead, Scheherazade continued to enthrall the old man, who made her his chief wife rather than lose her wonderful stories. He remained as addicted to those stories as an American teenager was to video games.
It is unseemly, thought the Great Gamal.
“No more excuses, Jeannie. I have a specific reason for calling you. If you please me, I shall let you remain outside your bottle for a month.”
“Oh Master!” Jeannie cried. Filled with joy, she clapped her hands together. “What is your wish, Master? I shall grant you whatever you desire!”
“It’s that damnable automobile sitting over there,” he said, pointing in the car’s direction. “It has again stopped working!”
No longer able to contain his frustration, he jumped to his feet. It was with irritation that he looked up at the heavens and shook his fist. “A camel! A camel! My kingdom for a camel!”
Jeanie crossed her arms against her chest, and gave her upper torso a quick shake and –
A large brown camel materialized out of a giant plume of gray smoke.
The Great Gamal looked at the big, dumb animal in disbelief. “Jeannie! What is this? What have you done?” he cried.
“It’s a camel, Master,” replied Jeannie, her tone uncertain in light of her master’s apparent distress.
“I can see that! What is it doing here?”
“You asked for a camel,” said Jeannie, confused. Her master could be a very difficult man to please.
“I didn’t mean it literally, you fool! Have you never read ‘Richard III,’ you silly twit? I was taking literary license!”
Shaking with anger, the Great Gamal struggled to find the packet of cigarettes hidden in his robe. He needed a smoke; his Jeannie drove him crazy. Damn, where were those cigarettes? Finally he located the pack but it was empty. In disgust, he threw the empty pack to the ground and stamped his foot.
“Oh, Master!” Comprehension dawned suddenly in Jeannie’s eyes. “Now I understand! A camel!”
Before the Great Gamal knew what she was about, Jeannie again crossed her arms, gave her trademark shake, and –
A packet of cigarettes fell out of the plume of gray smoke, dropping at the feet of the Great Gamal.
Stupefied, he simply stared at the cigarettes. Finally, he looked up at Jeannie. “Cigarettes?”
“Yes, Master! Camels!”
“Cigarettes,” remarked the Great Gamal to himself in disbelief. “She sends me a packet of cigarettes.”
Realizing she’d blundered yet again, tears began to leak from the corners of her beautiful eyes. “I just never get things right. I guess this is why I came in last in Genie Class.”
Morose, she sank down to the grass, staring at the small bottle that was her home. “I guess you’re going to toss me into the ocean – and I get seasick so easily.”
Something in Jeannie’s sad voice caught the Great Gamal’s attention and he sighed. It was always like this with Jeannie. She drove him mad, was totally ineffectual, but she always managed to worm her way back into his good graces.
“Don’t worry,” he said, handing her the hem of his robe to dry her tears. “I won’t toss your bottle into the ocean.”
Sitting down next to her, he shook his head. “I guess we’re stuck with one another.”
“You won’t seal me up for a thousand years, will you, Master?” she asked.
“No…you make me crazy, but I suppose I’d miss you…”
Jeannie smiled. “You are such a good Master.”
She folded her arms across her chest and gave a quick shake. Another plume of smoke and then a cell phone dropped into the Great Gamal’s lap. It began to buzz.
Bemused, the Great Gamal answered the phone. “Hello?”
“Jake’s Towing Service – we hear you need a tow. We’ll be there in ten minutes.”
The Great Gamal watched the cell phone dissolve as the call ended.
Jeannie giggled, kissing her Master on the cheek.
The Great Gamal smiled.
Sometimes his life was like a sitcom.
Word Count: 1,118
Author’s Note: This whimsical tale is written in response to Keith Channing’s photo prompt on his blog, Keith Kreates, which can be found here. The picture of the gentleman kneeling on the ground was the prompt.
Photo credit (first photo) – Keith Channing.