All the Wrong Wish-Givers

A piece of flash fiction by yours truly. Enjoy!

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Genies are over, man. You want three wishes nowadays? You visit the three Coyotes.

Yes – Coyotes, capital “c”. You think a regular prairie wolf could grant a wish? Please. We’re talking magic, here. If this were an Arabian night, that would mean spirits trapped in lamps and bottles, bound to a limited service contract with whoever rubs against their prison bars until they’re wished into retirement. But this is America and broad daylight, so that means native trickster gods.

Maybe you thought there was only one Coyote. You’d be wrong. There are always three, waiting out in the desert for someone to show up and start some excitement. They’re bored stiff, you know – actually bored petrified, all turned to stone inside over their compulsory inaction. They only get to move when someone looking for a wish finds them. And almost no one does find them, because they’re looking in all the wrong deserts for all the wrong wish-givers. It’s a busted system.

The story’s inspiration.

The story’s inspiration.

Me, I know what’s up, so I found the Coyotes easy, all lined up and ready, with legs, backs, and toothy mouths stretched in their frozen yawns. I stepped up to the first and scratched behind her furry ears. She came alive with a full-body shake, then grinned up at me.

“Thank you for waking me,” she said, or something like that. Her accent was a little thick, being an animal spirit and all. “Please allow me to catch you a rabbit in gratitude.”

I flatly turned her down. You let a live Coyote out of your sight for a second, and you’ll never see her again. Remember, these are tricksters. If you’re not in control of the game from the get-go, you’re the one who gets played, and you can forget about getting anything like what you would have wished for.

“Granting my wish will be gratitude enough,” I said.

“Name it,” said she.

Now, you can’t just make a wish any which way with a Coyote. Knew a guy, once, who said, “I wish I had a million dollars!” And what did the Coyote do? Conjured up a million dollars, only for it crumble to dust in the next moment. “There,” she’d said, “now you’ve had it,” and stretched back into immobility. The poor schmuck had to use his wish by the second Coyote on a million dollars he got to keep, only to find out that he couldn’t not keep it when he tried to spend it.

So I knew better, but my excitement got the better of me, and the fool thing I said was, “I wish to grant wishes again.”

“Done!” laughed the Coyote, and the next thing I knew, she was off and away. And because there must always be three, that left my now furry outsides and newly stony insides in her place.

So much for my great genie comeback, I thought in disgust. If I ever trick my way out of this mess, you can bet I’ll stay retired.

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