Gene Comes Through

I once discovered an old root cellar beneath the dilapidated shed I had just demolished, behind the little house we were fixing up for an Airbnb. Interestingly, the shed was an old sheepherder’s wagon, but with nothing to salvage; plus, its location was ruining the feng shui. In the surprise cellar we found a variety of old soda bottles, which I had hoped to just bury along with the crumbling cellar walls, but my wife told me to salvage them for their old-timey charm. Beverages just don’t have labels like “Purity” or “Orbitz” on them these days, especially painted right on there. But she was a bit disappointed that more nifty treasures hadn’t been discovered.

Weeks later I was organizing stuff in our new galvanized shed which I had erected in a more suitable location with merely twelve hours of tedious assembly (the price one pays for an inexpensive, efficiently boxed unit). I was in the process of storing the cute bottles on a shelf, preserving them for that special time when they would be moved to another location that people might see, when the Purity bottle spoke up. More precisely, something inside the bottle, in a deadpan male voice:

“Alright, you found me. ‘Ding ding’, winner. What’s your wish?”

“Excuse me? Are you some kind of genie?”

“Sheesh! How many kinds are there? Yes, I’m a genie. Name’s ‘Gene.’”


“Funny…So we’re done with this, then? I can relocate now….”

“No, no! Sorry, Gene. Glad to meet you. I truly get a wish?”

“Yeah, I’m obligated to announce that you are entitled to one wish, and that you may read our official terms or opt-out at ‘J-E-A-N-N-I-E dot com’. But no bottle rubbing or anything. This isn’t silver anyway, so that’s not how it works…I get in and out of my own volition.”

“Fine with that, Gene. But shouldn’t the website be ‘G-E-N-I-E dot com’?

“Yes, smarty pants, but that was domain was taken. Most of our female genies are named ‘Jeannie’ with a ‘J’ anyway, so it worked out good for them. For short, some of them go by ‘Jean’ but not with a ‘G’ like me so it’s all a bit confusing and corporate is working on new guidelines. Anyway, what is your name and what did you want?

“’Chard’. Richard without the ‘R-I’. What are my options?”

“Anything, Master ‘Richard without the R-I.’”

“Really! No strings attached?!”

“Of course not. Kidding. It’s been a while since I had someone who was realistic about it, so you caught me off guard. I’m used to letting people down after they ask for infinite wealth or something stupid like that, or think they are clever and ask for extra wishes or a permanent genie.”

“Ha, I see. No, you got a pessimist this time, so anything’s a win for me basically; I’m sure I’d come out ahead compared to pawning your bottle, so I’m stoked. Again, what are my options?”

“Yeah, so a one-time service within our capacity, or a surprise box of duplicate Amazon orders.”

“Hmm…I don’t care so much for stuff. Especially surprise stuff. Can I get foundation repair for this house?”

“No. Liability issues. We stay away from rentals.”

“How about getting me a new body. I’m almost 55. Good one, huh?”

“Chard, we actually have an amazing medical division. Let me check.”

[Gene returns into the bottle. Barely heard are the tinny sounds of mini cell phone conversations. Gene comes back out.]

“Yeah, so Medical says they can do just about anything with their technology, but they have a bit of a surgeon shortage, so it must be narrowed down to a major organ or perhaps one system. A lot of guys go for a new ticker—you need a heart?”

“No thanks—years and years of running. Heart’s good.”

“Aha, then, they often fulfil requests for the ‘Package package’: Prostate reduction, libido recharge, straightening of the…”

“No thanks. I’m good there. Not great, but good. Prefer not to have procedures down there if possible.”

“Fine.” [Pauses to think] You don’t happen to have Irish in you…?”

“Excuse me?”

“New liver. That usually goes over well with those from the old sod.”

“Oh. Well, no, I sometimes try to drink like an Irishman, but I end up a sleepy German and have to cut myself off.”

“What’s your objective here, Chard?”

“To feel the enthusiasm of a youthful body.”

“Yeah, that’s tricky. The ladies often go for new skin but then nobody believes it’s them and it doesn’t really fit right anyway. Lots of guys go for fresh muscles, all powerful and fast-twitchy, but I’ll warn you that they just go out and destroy their old tendons and ligaments playing pickup basketball with those new fibers.”


“That’s it, Gene. Connective tissue.”

“Yeah, that’s another way to say it, Chard. The new muscles are too much for the ‘connective tissue.’”

“No, that’s my wish: Connective tissue. I can keep my muscles, which aren’t that bad, and they are definitely not too strong for a fresh young set of tendons and ligaments. They’ll never tear, I’ll have mobility, no arthritis…I want a connective tissue replacement.”

“Brilliant. That’s a first for me. I’ve heard it done but it’s not one of the sexy options. A sound choice. I’ll get you scheduled.  Last chance—wanna change your mind, Chard?”

“No, no brain transplant, please.”

“That’s not what I meant. Mind stuff is proprietary anyway, Medical won’t allow it. I mean, are you for-sure on the connective tissue replacement?”

“Yes! As long as they provide general anesthesia during the procedure. Seems like something I don’t want to be conscious for.”

“Anesthesia is included. In fact, it’s included with all wishes, medical or not—part of the wish procedure—so you won’t remember our conversation. If everyone knew about the prevalence of genies, they would take us for granted and start making demands.”

– – –

[Weeks later at home]

“Chard, hon, could you please try to be more quiet in the morning? This springing out of bed at 5:00 a.m. lately is not ideal.”

“Sorry babe, I’m just feeling so chipper. Wanna play Twister again?”

“No. I want coffee. Dart on over to the kitchen would ya and get me some.”


[Sitting on the front porch together drinking coffee, as the windows start to shake and rattle…]

“Carrie, what’s that…an earthquake?”

“No, it’s your legs. Quit bouncing.”

“Weird that I’m doing that so much again. Can’t seem to help it.  Feels AWESOME.”

“Yes, weird, Chard. I agree.”

“I’m going to play pick-up basketball again this afternoon. I’ll be back in time to help with dinner.”

“You sure they want you? You shoot like crap.”

“I know, but they like how I hustle to fetch out-of-bounds balls. I’m feeling so helpful lately, like a mature responsible person with actual physical motivation. LOVE it!”

“Well, yes, there have been some benefits to your recent mysterious change. Okay, I’ll see you before dinner. Just calm down a bit when you get home, okay? I can’t have you flying through the front door and startling me again.”

Copyright © 2022 Richard Berndt – All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: