Donna and the Genie


Dennis Goldberg

Donna sped across the street from the 'Lazy Lounge' and bolted inside the cafe. Well, some call it a cafe and some call it a diner and some call it a coffee shop and some call it, well you get the idea. Anyway, this just under five feet tall singer with a big voice and even bigger body, plopped panting into the corner booth and waved for the waiter.

He sauntered over with her personal cup filled to the brim with hot chocolate, whipped cream, marshmallow and a cherry on top. He smiled as he put the cup in front of her and made small talk because the diner was empty, well almost without patrons except there were three in the opposite corner. "So, Donna, how'd the show go?"

"Like always."

"Big crowd?"

"Like always."

"Good tips."

"Like always."

"Looks like it's going to rain."

"Like always."

"Want I should have cook make your bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich?"

"Like always."

The waiter strolled behind the counter, rang the order bell and shoved the written order onto the revolving metal rack. "Order up. Donna's usual." He took the coffee pot to the other patrons and warmed their cups.

Donna picked the cherry by its stem from the whipped cream, raised it high over her head and slowly brought it to her fat, open lips. Her tongue jutted anxiously outward and when the cherry touched the tip, she slowly engulfed it and sucked the meat from the stem. Keeping her brown eyes closed, she relished chewing the cherry until it was ready to swallow, then quickly sent it into her huge belly to be followed immediately by the tepid tan liquid. She lowered her head and the many chins below the real one wrinkled into several folds.

When Donna opened her eyes, she was startled, then alarmed and ultimately astonished - all of which annoyed her since it upset her usual aplomb - because sitting across from her was an Indian!

Let me tell you, this old man was no ordinary Indian. He sat in full Medicine Man dress wearing a necklace of bones. Many bone beads adorned his braided hair. A bag full of bones hung from his belt with a large leg bone club beside it. This Indian was so old, he looked like a bunch of bones wrapped with tanned leathery, wrinkled skin. His skeleton-like form was blanketed by loosely fitted buckskin.

Donna finally found her voice. "Excuse me, buster, this is my booth."

"Like always?"


"Like always, between sets?"


"Like always, hot chocolate?"


"Like always, a BLTC sandwich?"


"Like always, an Indian medicine man sits across from you?"

"Not like always." Donna eyed this man from his headdress of many feathers to his chest of many bones. "Who are you?"

"I am Little Squirrel Who Walks In The Woods By Day And Sleeps With The Fishes At Night Who Also Is The One Who Grants Wishes To Deserving Ones In Diners Between Sets."

"Oh." Donna sipped her cocoa while gathering her wits.

"You may call me John, or Jim, or Tom, or Tim, but never -- and I mean never -- call me Tonto."


"Now, here's the deal."

Donna had reclaimed her self assurance. "Excuse me, but this really is my table and I really want to be alone and I really don't care to make any deals with Tonto."

"I told you to never call me that."

"That's why I did, so you'd get the message and leave."


"Broke a leg bone, did we?" She smirked nastily.

"Something like that."

"Well, you're the medicine man, fix it and move on before I call Brian."

"The waiter and I are old friends. Call him if you like, but he won't interfere."

"Wanna bet?" Donna waved her chunky arm and shouted, "Hey, Brian, come here."

The waiter shuffled from the counter to the corner table. "Yes, Donna?" He was much too polite, almost solicitous. Anyway, he bowed to the indian. "Hi, Tony. Thanks for fixing my dog's tail. It sure wags nice now."

"This man, Tonto, with a huge last name is bothering me," Donna said pentulently.

"Really? I'm surprised. Usually, he's very helpful -- and don't call him Tonto."

"He just showed up at my table, uninvited. I want you to dis-invite him and show him the door!"


"Why not?"

"He paid for your drink."

"I didn't ask him to."

"But he did, so try to be nice to him. Tony's really a great guy when you get to know him."

"I'll bet he's just a bone yard of laughs."

The medicine man sat slowly fingering his bony necklace. He moved from neck bones to back bones to tail bones as if doing the Rosary and all the while he chanted quietly. Then he slowly extracted a small box from his fur skin bag and placed it on the table.

"Does he come here often?"

"Always, but at closing."

"Does he have to make those noises?"


"Does he have to count his bones?"


Tony held the wrapped container in front of Donna like an offering. "As always, I come bearing gifts."

Sarcastic and scornful as usual, but a little taken aback, Donna asked, "Is that supposed to be for me? You can't bribe me." However, she reached a fat hand toward the decorated container.

"Not so fast, Donna. Not so fast." The indian removed her fingers from the package and waved the box near her nose. "Smell."

Donna sniffed the aromas of roast leg of lamb, mashed potatoes covered in gravy topped with a slice of crab apple, steamed peas smothered with melted butter and French bread. She smacked her lips, ran her tongue over the roof of her mouth and sampled each fragrance as if the flavors had wafted into her taste buds. "That's yummy," she murmured, then caught herself. "I told you, you can't bribe me."

The Shaman waved the box past her nose one last time.

Suddenly, it disappeared.

"Where did it go?" Donna looked around the room, then under the table. "You some kind of magician?"

"You might say that."

"I might, if you were, but if you're not, what are you?"

"Tony's a genuine genie." Brian smiled toward her.

"Indians can't be genies, those are from Arabia."

"Well, Tony's a very old and wise genie and don't let his dress fool you."

"That ain't no dress he's wearing, and he ain't no Arabian."

"How observant of you to notice I'm not a horse." Tony smiled a toothless grin.

"I meant person from the Middle East."

"Have to tend the counter. Call me again when you need a refill." Brian left to care for his other customers.

Donna leaned forward. Her huge bust covered a goodly portion of the table. "Okay, Tony, where'd ya hide my present?"

"Not so fast, young lady, you told me you couldn't be bribed. I think we have to talk, you know, get acquainted and like."

"I ain't that type."

"I ain't either."

"So, what's the deal, Indian man?"

"Well, it's something like this. I let you into the magic box after you agree to give me something I want."

"I told you, I ain't that type." Donna sat back and drank some of her cocoa, licking the whipped cream from her lips.

Tony sat straight as an arrow. His prune-like skin grew taut. "Like I said, I'm sort of a genie and have the power to grant your desired passion."

"Look buster, I keep telling you, I ain't that type. I may be a bar singer but I'm no floozy."

"Sorry, bad choice of words. I have the power to fulfill your passionate craving for ..."

"Yes, I'm waiting."

"You, my dear, have to say it."

"I won't."

"Then you'll never get into the box."

"You can't coax me."

From nowhere, Tony produced the wrapped bundle and slid it under her nose. "Here."

Donna's nostrils flared at the aroma of fresh licorice which, after a moment, changed to wild raspberries, then to that of bananas, and finally to the fragrance of fresh strawberries. She smacked her lips, ran her tongue over the roof of her mouth and sampled each aroma as if the flavor had wafted deliciously over her taste buds. "That's yummy," she murmured then caught herself. "But I told you, you can't bribe me."

He shoved the pretty package into her hand.

She let it drop to the table.

Tony waved his bony finger.

The box rose, then floated around Donna's nostrils.

"Stop this." Donna's self-assurance had fled, and she could not control her senses. She sniffed and sniffed, inhaling the heavenly odors which nearly overwhelmed her. I must have it, she thought.

"Very well, my dear, you may."

"You read my mind!"

"As always."

Donna grabbed the box and ripped at the flowered paper.

It did not tear.

She ran her finger nails under the seams and yanked.

The wrapping did not rip.

She put the corner between her teeth and tugged.

Again the paper remained steadfast.

"What do I have to do to get inside?"

"Make a wish."

"That's it, just make a wish?"

"That's it."

"That's it?"

"I just said 'that's it'."

"That's all I have to do, make a wish?"

"That's it."

"You said that. And too many times at that."

The Indian's face changed from kindly ancient witch doctor to enraged warrior. "Get on with it!"

"Just a minute. Just a minute."

"Hurry, your time is nearly up."

"You never said anything about time."

"And I never said anything about you taking forever, either."

"Don't rush me. A wish is a very important thing."

"As always."

Donna closed her eyes as if in deep thought. She opened her right one to just a slit and watched the medicine man who remained straight as an arrow. She wrinkled her brow as if more deeply concentrating and eyed the Indian who remained motionless. Finally, Donna announced, "I made a wish."

"I didn't hear it."

"I thought you could read my mind?"

"As always."


"You didn't wish."

"Listen buster, all my life I wished and wished and wished. When I was young, I had grown taller than all the kids in first grade, then second grade and even third grade. I was five feet tall at the age of ten and a head over every kid in class."

"You got your wish."

"Sure, all the others grew but I remained five feet tall. Now I'm three-hundred-fifty odd pounds in a size twenty-five dress. I'm the original Ms. five by five. I wished to be tiny but came up short."

"So, now what do you wish?"

"To again be tiny."

The Indian raised his arms toward the ceiling and the deer skin fringe on his sleeves leaped like millions of suede fingers dancing in a breeze.

Brian watched from behind the counter. He knew what was about to happen. He had seen it many times before. In fact, he was the one who had invited the red man to his diner.

Donna stared at the Indian. "Nothing's happening. My wish is not coming true." She mocked him.

"In a moment, in a moment." He shook the box, put it on the table then clasped his hands as if in prayer.

The colored wrapping unfolded from the container. The red walnut lid rose above the exposed square wooden box, floated to the side and gently settled onto the table. Music from a myriad of Native American flutes floated through Donna's ears.

She smiled as the tune carried her from her seat to the ceiling and then over the table. She found herself delighted in being airborne.

With a whoosh, a flash of many puffs of smoke and a single long note from the array of flutes, Donna sped around the room like a balloon rapidly letting out its air. She became smaller and smaller until she was tinier than the container.

Shrunken Donna flew into the box, the lid floated over it, then snugly fit, resealing the container. The wrapper quickly secured the box.

Tony smiled. "Her wish has been granted. She is tiny at last, and can enjoy the wonders of the box forever. And I -- I have her bones for my collection."

Brian shook his head sadly. "I'm gonna miss that woman. She really appreciated a good meal. But you and me, we're even now, right? My debt's paid?"

Tony nodded. "You will not see me again unless you wish it in a time of great need."

Brian shuddered. "Then I'll never see you again. My wishing days are over."

Tony stood, and Brian stepped back to let him pass. Then the old man walked toward the back of the diner, and kept walking, rising up from the floor as if climbing an invisible hillside. He passed through the ceiling as if it was the membrane separating two soap bubbles and was gone.

Brian picked up Donna's mug and plate, and scowled. Tony had paid Donna's bill, but neither Tony nor Donna had left a tip.


2005 by Dennis Goldberg

Mr. Goldberg says: "I am an award winning, produced screenwriter who has had the following short stories published: 2004 - 'Blackmail' published by Orchard Press Mysteries LLC; 'Edith's Adonis' published by; 'Don't Upset The Bee's Nest' - Published by Mocha Memoirs; 2002 - 'Troy's Tree' published on line by Cenotaph Pocket Edition; 'The Ring', WINNER of the 1999, last quarter, short story contest of the Writer's Web West."

E-mail: Dennis Goldberg

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