Rows and rows of pale, yellow certificates in shiny frames stared down at Matt from the wall behind the lawyer’s desk. This guy knows what he’s doing, they said. You can trust him.
The lawyer finished typing at his keyboard, then turned to face Matt and his parents. “That should be all I need. Thank you very much for coming in today, Matthew, Mr. and Mrs. Acuna. It’s been a pleasure to meet you.”
Matt’s parents said some pleasant and polite things as they all stood up and shook hands. The lawyer reached down to shake Matt’s hand too. “You’re a very lucky boy, Matthew,” the lawyer said, and Matt thought he saw a flash of jealousy in the lawyer’s eyes, so black that Matt couldn’t tell where the pupil was.
“Thanks,” Matthew gave him a half shrug.
“It’s a very special thing to find a genie in a… where did you say you found him?”
“A can of orange spray paint,” Matt showed the lawyer his orange stained finger tip.
“Ah, yes, an unusual imprisonment, but not unheard of,” the lawyer smiled again, then bent his tall, thin frame down so his face was on level with Matt’s. “Now remember, Matthew, for the next few days you must be very, very careful not to say the words, I wish, not until I’ve got your wishes properly written up for you. Do you know why?”
“Because,” Matt said, “you have to be careful what you wish for.”
“That’s exactly right!” The lawyer said. “They don’t imprison good genies in lamps or rings or spray cans. Only the bad ones. And the bad ones always find a way to turn your wishes against you, unless your wishes are put in proper legal terminology.” The lawyer turned to Matt’s parents. “Now, as for my fees, don’t worry about that. We’ll simply add a clause to one of Matthew’s wishes to wish some money into the firm’s bank account. I’ll call you when all the documents have been drawn up.”
On the way home, Matt sat in the back of the car and listened to his parents discussing all the things they could do with the hundred million dollars that Matt wanted to wish for. Without warning, the genie appeared beside Matt in his orange spattered turban. “Are you really going to wait for days and days to make your wishes, my boy?” the genie asked. “You don’t really think I mean you any harm, do you? I’m merely grateful for you setting me free from that can of spray paint. Terribly smelly in there, it was.”
Matt thought of all the stories he’d heard about wishes gone wrong. He thought of the hour he and his parents had spent with the lawyer. He thought about the genie, imprisoned in that can of spray paint for who knows what reason. Could he really go four days without saying “I wish” on accident? What if the lawyer made a mistake writing up the wishes? What if he made a mistake reading them?
Was it really worth it?
Matt whispered so his parents couldn’t hear, “I’m going to make my first wish right now.”
The genie grinned from ear to ear, mischief flashing in his eyes.
“I wish you would go back in your spray can and leave us alone.”
The genie vanished.
When they got home, Matt’s dad said, “So where is this genie? I want to meet him.”
“I wished him back in the spray can, Dad,” Matt said.
“You what? But what about your wishes?”
“Now dear,” Matt’s mom said, “I think Matt made the right decision.” She sounded relieved.
“But what about the legal fees? We can call the lawyer up and tell him to stop writing wishes, but the consultation alone was expensive!”
“Well,” Matt said, “Maybe we could offer to give him the spray can.”