by Mason Bushell
It wasn’t the squirrel bounding among the branches who had ten-month-old baby Petey gurgling from the picnic blanket. In fact, he was watching the man in the white suit on the bench making coins vanish and reappear from the air.
“Time to go home, Petey darling,” said his mother, Liza, lifting him from the blanket surrounded by a carpet of daisies on the park meadow. He smiled and took hold of a lock of her red hair. He was soon safely buckled into his pushchair. Liza paused at the bench to put her picnic rubbish in the bin. It was then the magician made a large silver coin appear. With a magical flourish it left his hand, and Petey found it in his. The baby looked to the mystical man, but he was gone before Petey’s mother even noticed he was there. Petey put the coin in his mouth and made a funny face, it tasted awful. Liza pushed him home blissfully unaware of what her son was holding.
Soon Petey was sat in his playpen at home. Surrounded by his array of colourful toys and the cartoons on the tv, he was a happy little fellow. Liza brought him a bottle of milk. Whilst helping him drink, she noticed the coin lodged in his romper suit.
“What’s this, hey baby?” she cooed her eyes taking in the sight of the demon surrounded in flames upon the old talisman. Petey just giggled and smiled. “Where did you get this?” Liza read the incantation written around the demon. The last word left her lips with a groan at the sound of the doorbell. She rose and left to answer it at once.
Petey clapped his hands on his legs and held his toes with a bemused smile. He could feel the room growing warmer. He watched his biggest teddy glowing orange. From behind it stepped a five-inch tall man with flame-red hair. The granite-like muscular body of the Jinn was clad yellow and red polka dot shorts, and white sunglasses.
“Yes, you summoned me.” he began in a bored voice. “What do you - oh no. Baby.” The Jinn grew wide-eyed as baby Petey grabbed him with a chubby hand. He began squealing with laughter as he shook the shrieking Jinn like a rattle.
“Waaa! What do you want? Milk, a nappy change, chocolate, teddy bears, dinosaurs, a Ferrari.” The Jinn was being shaken all over the playpen. “Ahhh! I’ll give you anything, just put - me – daaaaa!” The Jinn was sent free and flying through the air. He slammed into a rubber dinosaur, bounced off a squeaking elephant and disappeared in a heap of building blocks.
“Gaaa,” said Petey gleefully.
“No, that was not funny.” The Jinn dug himself out of the rubble of bricks and faced the baby. “Never do that again,” he warned. Petey had other ideas and seized him again. This time the Jinn found himself looking into the wide-open mouth of the baby.
Petey blew a spit bubble as the Jinn grew close to his mouth.
“No way, no sucking and drooling on my hairdo.” The Jinn wrestled an arm free and snapped his fingers. “I am not a chew toy. Have a pacifier.” he said as the yellow soother appeared, aimed and shot into the baby’s mouth. A millisecond later, the Jinn would have become a living gummy bear. Once more he found himself flying across the playpen. This time he vanished and reappeared on one of the pens posts. A second later a scream filled the air. Liza was back and she was terrified by what she was seeing.
“Why me? I have him throwing me around like a ragdoll and now you screaming at me.” The Jinn slapped his forehead. “Can everybody, please, calm down.”
“But, but, but you’re a, a.”
“Yes woman, I’m a five-inch tall man wearing stylish shorts and sunglasses.” The Jinn gave her a disarming smile. “Now seeing as that little monster in there can’t read yet. I’ll assume you read my coin and summoned me.”
“I guess I did.” Liza came a little closer. Picking up a toy drumstick she poked the little man in the chest, like he was a diseased rat. “What are you? You won’t hurt my baby, will you?”
“Easy lady.” the Jinn swatted the stick away. “I’m real and I’m a Jinn. You summon the big, evil, fiery one if you want your baby fried. You summon me if you want me to do things for you.” The Jinn put his palms together. “So, did you need something?”
“Well.” Liza took on a thoughtful gaze. “You can change his nappy if you like.”
“Ugh, I’d rather throw a lit match in a gas tank, than change his stinky nappies. Thank you very much.” The Jinn folded his arms. “Next request?”
“Goo, gaa, goo,” gurgled baby Petey trying to reach for the Jinn again.
“It’s okay, Darling. He’s not going to hurt you.” Liza moved to comfort her son.
“Actually, he just asked for his daddy to come and have a game with him.”
“I wish he could be here, Jinn. Daddy is always at work from seven in the morning until nine at night.” Liza told him.
The Jinn whistled. “Wow, that’s a lot of hours.” The Jinn snapped his fingers. In a moment a car was heard pulling up on the driveway. Liza listened to a person get out and shut the door. Footsteps crossed the gravel and her husband entered the house.
“Max, why are you home early?” Liza asked never noticing that the Jinn had vanished.
“I was working with a client when I had the strangest urge to come home. I got in the car and I realised that I really have no time for my darling wife and my special little man.” the man took off his suit jacket, picked up his son and pulled his wife into a family hug. “I’ve decided to significantly reduce my hours. I can still get my work done if I schedule properly. That way, I can also be here for the two of you more often.”
“Really? Oh, Petey, isn’t that great?” Liza beamed and kissed Max.
“Goo, gaa goo, goo.” Petey chuckled and took his daddy’s glasses off.
“Really. So, how was your morning?” Max took back his glasses and gave his son one of his dinosaurs instead.
“We had fun in the park, then…” Liza paused and looked for the Jinn. “Came home to watch Petey’s favourite TV shows. He’ll need a nappy change soon.”
“Great well you change his —” Max froze for a second, his eyes glazed. With a shake of his head, he smiled. “I’ll change his nappy, then hows about we drive to the seaside for the afternoon,” he said instead.
“We’d love that.” Liza smiled.
“Okay, won’t be too long.” Max left the room with baby Petey.
Liza looked about her with furrowed brows. “Hmm, where was the Jinn?”
“He’s a model husband now, don’t you think?” said the Jinn. Liza looked into the playpen to see the little man juggling building bricks. He looked every bit the circus clown with those polka dot shorts on.
“He is, thank you so much.”
“My pleasure, from now on he will share the chores and be with you both more. Return that love and you will be a happy family.” The Jinn vanished and reappeared near the door. “Oh, and don’t summon me near that baby again. I have a bloody headache from being used as rattle!” with that, his job was done, he snapped his fingers and vanished.
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