by Mason Bushell,
A perfect summer's afternoon for a barbecue, at least Andrew’s family thought so. A typical scenario, everybody wanted something, but nobody actually wanted to help make it happen. Nevertheless, it was nice standing in the sun while setting coals in the tray of the barbecue. With that done Andrew, put a quick-light charcoal bag on the coals, and took out his gas lighter. It was then, Fred the black Labrador, climbed from the sun lounger and hid underneath it. The garden was filled with clicking noises then, swearing as the lighter refused to ignite the bag.
“Bloody things never works. Come on spark, you useless, mechanical, piece of crap,” Andrew complained while still pressing and clicking away at the device. Within five minutes, frustration overtook him, the lighter went flying over the sun lounger and disappeared into the hedge.
“Woof,” barked Fred running after it. He came back and sat before his master with the light in his mouth. Andrew had taken a coin from his pocket. He’d found it in the park with a hair clip baring the name Talia. It depicted a horned creature surrounded by fire and the words of an ancient incantation. He’d found the coin in the park this morning.
“Good boy, Fred. I need this flaming guy to get the bloody barbecue lit, I think.” Taking the lighter from Fred, he handed him a biscuit and smoothed his head for a moment. Fred retreated to the sun lounger to enjoy his biscuit. Andrew held the coin, and read the incantation. “You won't help demon, I better go and find some matches.” Chuckling to himself he added, “Stupid thing.” on his way indoors. Never did he realise that the coin was a talisman. He didn’t even notice the air growing warmer, and the darkness beneath the sunbed turn orange.
“Yes, you summoned me.” The Jinn walked to the edge of the sun lounger and peered out with a sigh.
“What do you want?” he asked. The Jinn stood only five-inches tall and had muscles that looked carved from granite. Thanks to Talia, he was no longer dripping in flames. Sure, he could still conjure them, but she’d freed him of their curse. Now he stood wearing Bermuda shorts and sunglasses. Something he could never do before. Hearing some thumping about above him, he looked for the cause. He found the largest, blackest pair of nostrils he’d ever seen, hovering a centimetre from his head. They sniffed so vigorously that they sucked his flame ginger hair right inside the enormous nose. The Jinn pressed his hands against the wet, rubbery snout and pulled himself free.
“Marvellous, I get summoned by nobody, and then rewarded by a doggy snot shampoo, just bloody marvellous,” he grumbled.
“Sorry about that, old chap,” said the dog. Had Andrew been outside, he’d have heard the dog whine instead of hearing the words.
“Don’t mention — " a loud sucking sound cut the Jinn off. All he saw was a massive pink tongue shoot out of the dog’s mouth, it slapped him off his feet as it licked him from head to foot. “The Jinn picked himself up, dripping wet with saliva. “If you kiss me again, I’m going to turn your tongue into bacon and use your teeth as piano keys got that?”
“I’m a dog, I like licking things. What do you expect?” Fred climbed from the sun lounger and sat on the grass, his nose a centimetre above the Jinn. “What are you?” he asked.
“I’m a Jinn.” The little man conjured some heat to dry himself off. “Here eat this.” Summoning a white lozenge-shaped thing, he held it aloft.
“Why?” asked the dog.
“It’s a mint sweet. Your breath smells like a horse’s backside.”
“Okay sorry.” The dog reached down with its jaws open and closed them on the mint. The Jinn yelped.
“Bloody hell, dog. Watch what you bite, will you.” The Jinn rubbed his squashed fingers. Above him, the dog crunched the mint and swallowed it.
“You’re mighty stroppy for a little man, aren’t you?” he said.
“So, would you be. I mean, you didn’t summon me, then you near sucked me into your nasal passages before half-drowning me with one hell of a French-kiss. I’m having a bad day.” The Jinn leant against the sun lounger with a sigh.
“French kiss, hey.” The dog paused to scratch himself, showering the Jinn with loose hairs. “You should see what my pack leader’s — ”
“Hell no! I do not want to know about the bedroom exploits of your humans, thank you very - bloody – much.” the Jinn brushed himself down. “And watch where you’re flinging your fur too. You’re damned lucky you’re not a fleabag.”
“Hey, who you calling a fleabag? I’ll have you know that I bathe regularly.” The dog laid down, setting his paws either side of the Jinn.
“Good. I don’t suppose you know why I was summoned do you?”
“I think my master was trying to make flames come out of that metal thing. When he does sausages usually fall out of it for me to eat.” The dog licked his lips. “I like sausages.”
“No doubt. I wouldn’t stay in this garden if I were you.”
“Why’s that, Jinn?”
“When humans can’t set fire to something, they’re so dumb that they resort to dangerous methods, and boom!” the Jinn raised his eyebrows.
“Right. When he comes out, I’m going indoors.” the dog looked toward the house. The sound of utensils bashing about could be heard inside. “So, you grant wishes, do you?”
“Something like that. You want something?”
“A nice big bone would be great.” The dog looked hopeful.
“Consider it done.” The Jinn winked.
Andrew had finally found some matches. Walking out into the garden he was hit by something so big and heavy that it knocked him flat.
“Where in Madam Wiffen’s bloomers did that come from.” Andrew sat up holding his head. Across his stomach was a tyrannosaurus leg bone. “I must be going mad.” Kicking the bone off him, he watched a pleased looking Fred clamp his jaws on and drag the bone across the lawn. “Even you can’t manage a bone that big, old fellow.” Andrew looked about him on the way to the barbecue. There were no planes in the blue sky and no rational explanations for the bone. Dismissing it, he struck a match and held it to the quick-light bag. It didn’t ignite, the match went out.
“Darling, hurry up with the barbecue. We’re hungry,” said his wife by the patio doors.
“Bloody barbecue.” Andrew failed to light it with four more matches. “Alright, dear,” he said before marching around the house.
The Jinn stood leaning on the leg of the sun lounger again. His eyes grew wide when the human man returned. He was holding a big red can with the word ‘petrol’ in white letters upon it. Even as he took flight, the Jinn saw him shaking some of the fuel into the bottom of the barbecue.
“You summoned me, and I must tell you not to do that,” he said. His voice booming around the garden. Andrew looked about him, seeing nothing and nobody. Shaking his head, he opened the matchbox again.
“Okay, barbecue, time to cook me some burgers, and fast.”
“If you light that match, you’re going to cook the whole bloody garden in a microsecond,” warned the Jinn landing on the table beside the man. Andrew looked right at him blinked a few times and refocused on the task at hand.
“Little man in Bermuda shorts, the heat must be making me mad,” he mumbled. Striking the match, he heard a whoomph and then his world went – BANG!
The barbecue blew apart in like an incendiary grenade. The lawn and hedges burst into flames as the quick-light bag flew over the neighbours like a stray comet.The sun lounger flipped over and Fred the dog streaked indoors. His last view was of the Jinn sailing threw the hedge with his boxer shorts on fire.
In the midst of his burning garden, Andrew climbed, choking and coughing to his feet. His clothes and hair smoking, and he looked brassed off.
“Tammy, dear, I’ve come to a decision,” he said.
“Yeah, what’s that?” she replied without coming outside.
“Bugger the barbecue, let’s go to MacDonald’s.”
“Good idea, you bloody idiot,” the Jinn landed in a pile of leaf litter amid the bushes. At once he slapped the flames out of his Bermuda shorts. “It’s supposed to be me setting peoples pants on fire, not you.” Standing he looked straight into the eyes of a toad.
“Croak … Bad day, friend? … Croak,” it said. The Jinn looked daggers at it.
“You hush and hop it.”
The Jinn looked back to the fiery garden. “Well Fred, I told you so, ” he said before disappearing back from whence he came.