“That’s it??” Jorge looked at the single five dollar bill in his hand then back to the blue half-genie tethered to the lamp. The genie shrugged.
“You got me,” he said with a genuinely confused look. “I don’t control the magic, I just channel it. The universe says you only need five dollars for the rest of your life? You get five dollars.”
“Can I trade it in for a different wish?” Jorge asked. The genie burst into deep, booming laughter while shaking his head.
“I’m not working retail here,” he said. “You got your one wish.” the genie shooed Jorge away with a gesture. “Move along.” The genie dissipated into light blue smoke that flowed back into the lamp. Jorge grumbled to himself. He thought about kicking the lamp but decided against it. Instead, he shoved his hands in his pockets and walked away from the hidden area.
Jorge jogged around the park in the mornings and that particular morning he noticed some hedges missing. He attributed it to the groundskeepers that were working throughout the park that day. Sounds of chainsaws and hedge trimmers filled the air. Curiosity led him through the opening where he found a small alcove that seemed to be about the size of his modest bathroom. The spot was hidden and closed off from the rest of the area by buildings on one side and the missing hedges and foliage on the other.
The area seemed interesting, but he feared he might be trespassing on someone’s property and turned to leave. Then he noticed a brilliant gleam coming from under a large over-grown blue orchid.
Now he walked out of the niche five dollars richer but in a worse mood than he started the day.
“What can I even do with five dollars?” he grumbled to himself as he cut through the park to his car; he decided to skip the rest of his walk. “Screw it,” he decided. “I’m blowing it the first chance I get.” As he made his decision a jingling bell caught his attention.
“Perfect,” he smiled a bit to himself when he noticed the ice cream cart setting up shop for the day. Ice cream for breakfast seemed like the perfect indulgence to fritter away his newfound wealth.
He changed course to head to the stand. He noticed a tall, pale girl with spiky white hair and a shorter girl with raven curls spilling off her shoulders, walking toward it as well. They reached the vendor first.
“You guys still use paper money?” Jorge heard the shorter, dark-haired girl ask the vendor with an annoyed tone. She pulled out a clear, glassy rectangle about the size of a playing card.
“Cash only, no card,” the vendor replied. He held two cones, each with a single scoop of vanilla. Both girls sighed.
“Nevermind,” the shorter one said. They spun on their heels and turned to walk away. The vendor shrugged and started to lower the cones back into the cooler. As they walked away Jorge remembered his decision to blow the fiver first chance he had.
“How much for the two cones?” he asked. The two girls heard his question and stopped walking to turn around.
“Five even,” the vendor replied.
“Why the hell not?” Jorge said. “I got it,” he traded the five dollar bill for the two cones, then took a step to the two girls to gift them the cones.
‘Thank you!” the shorter girl said then immediately began lapping at the white ball.
“Thanks,” the taller one said as she accepted the cone. “You didn’t have to, you know. I mean, we’re not starving or anything,” she shrugged. “Just didn’t have cash.” Jorge nodded.
“Yeah, it’s cool. It’s a beautiful morning for ice cream,” he chuckled. “I hope you enjoy it.” He gave them a polite wave, then headed back to his car.
“Hey wait, we need to pay you back,” Dread said.
“WATCH OUT!!!!!!!!!” Jorge heard someone yell and turned to see a uniformed worker in a hardhat frantically waving his arms at him and pointing upward. Jorge looked up to see a large tree falling directly on top of him.
“Stupid universe,” Jorge had time for a final thought as the tree was about to crush him. He closed his eyes.
“Hey. Are you gonna move or what?” Jorge recognized the taller girl’s voice and popped one eye open. She stood there holding her cone and looking at him with a sly smirk. He looked up at the tree and noticed it wasn’t moving. It remained fixed in the air at a 45-degree angle about to squash him.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked her. Then he stepped out from under the hovering tree. The tall girl pointed at the shorter one behind him.
“Dirge can stop time. I’m Dread,” she extended her free hand and Jorge shook it.
“Jorge,” he said.
“You clear?” Dirge asked from behind him. Jorge looked around himself then took a few more steps out of the way.
“Clear,” he said. The moment he did the tree finished crashing into the ground. “Thanks,” he said.
“Now we’re even, right?” Dirge asked. The short girl walked up beside Dread. Dread shook her head.
“Nah that doesn’t count,” she said as she reached into the pocket of her blue jeans. Then she pulled out a clear, glass card like Dirge had. “You would’ve done that anyway,” she smiled at her friend then turned her attention to Jorge.
“Here. We don’t have any cash but this’ll work if you swipe it at any credit card reader. There’s no limit.”
“What? Are you serious?” Dread nodded and Jorge eagerly accepted the gift. “Why aren’t you using it?” Dirge held hers up and Dread showed him two more.
“We got plenty and we’re just passing through anyway.” As she said that Jorge noticed Dirge making gestures at the air with her free hand. A tall black portal opened next to them.
“What the hell?” Jorge asked. He turned around to see if anyone else noticed the large hole in reality, but everyone in the park was frozen in time again. The workers that were rushing to help him hovered in the air mid-step.
“See ya around,” Dread waved and stepped into the black hole. Dirge followed.