"S'what'd YOU do? I mean, y'know, if y'had wishes, li—like y'know... if you, if you could wish. Just... wish for—"
"—j's wish for ANYthing—" hiccup, pause for breath "—nnanything 'tall."
Faiz Al-Ghalib stared blankly at the ceiling, thinking. He rubbed his eyes and took a deep breath, and said:
Jim gestured with the neck of his beer. "N'yknow, you, if you, I mean if you— if y— if you, if YOU had the three wishes and there was—"
"What, from a genie?"
"No, 'mean if—"
"Don't wanna ask a genie."
"No look there's no genie, s'just, s'just you have the wishes."
"Dud'n matter, from a, from, from a wishing well, but—"
"Wishing wells is one wish."
"Look you JUST GOT SOME WISHES okay and you gotta— you gotta wish, uh, you gotta wish a thing. Things. 3 things."
Jim took another swig. "3 things."
Faiz stared at the ceiling again. Jim drained the last of his bottle and sunk a little lower into the sofa, and let the bottle fall on the floor with the others. Alcohol made the place bearable, but it took a lot of alcohol.
"I'd wish for..." Faiz began, "I'd wish for gardens."
"Gardens," Faiz went on, "just... gardens. Plants and grass and just... you can see the sky and it's not endless there's, there's trees and you can't see the horizon anymore. And there's no more horizons, and you can—"
"So you wish for... thr—*burp*—three gardens?" Jim grabbed another beer.
"Endless gardens. With a fountain—"
"—ENDLESS fountains. And there's a library, and the wind's nice. It plays on the leaves and... and there's no-one there."
"B'what about girls tho?"
"No girls!" said Faiz firmly.
"'kay I mean whatever I guess but I don't see why not have some guh— have some girls, all with nice tits and y'know and... stuff..."
Jim's mumbling petered out, distracted at the thought of tits and stuff.
"There will be gentle boys," muttered Faiz to himself, "carrying water, and sweet dates and sweet smiles. And under the moon we dance and we recite our poems to the stars and no-one asks for anything. Gentle boys in water skins and no horizons, like they promised me."
"Gardens is only one weh—wish."
"Oh. Oh I think my second wish is a car," said Faiz, and uncurled his white-knuckled hands, "a really nice one."
"Yeh," said Jim, "t'pick up girls."
Long ago, Jim had had three wishes. He spent the first on money, and the second on revenge. And when the money ran out and revenge came back to bite him, he'd wished for sanctuary.
Later that evening, in a dark New York back-alley, a hobo rubbed his finger across a tarnished old lamp, and became a billionaire. He died three weeks later, face-down in a prostitute's breasts, his heart fighting a losing battle with cocaine and viagra. His last, delirious thought had been how the stories never said anything about lamps with two genies.