A Genie in a Jam
by Oonah V. Joslin
|Table of Contents|
Chapter 9: Conserving the Christmas Spirit
When Cranberry was first mentioned, DJ had been about to throw another tantrum, its being a sauce rather than a jam; but upon reflection, he’d decided it wasn’t really worth the hassle. Then Geoffrey had mentioned that it was Cranberry with Grand Marnier. Well, that put it in a class of its own as far as DJ was concerned, and he would be happy to dimensionally co-exist with any such high-status condiment.
Besides, he’d heard Christmas could be quite uplifting. There was turkey and all the trimmings — you couldn’t really object to that or to the presents set out so tantalizingly beneath the tree; you just had to have a snoop. When opened, most were probably yawningly familiar items, but Christmas was really the only time of year when things sparkled as in Djinn, with colourful wrappings, and bright baubles and lights.
The songs and carols were repeated so often, DJ had quickly learned them and had found himself singing along. He had a rather good baritone voice. Yes, there was a certain indefinable magic about the season, and when everyone was distracted by the festivities, there might be the odd nip of gin to be had too.
DJ was excessively fond of the odd nip of gin. Also he’d always wanted to meet the real Father Christmas — not that Saint Nicholas person but the unsung member of his own race who’d taken on the role and had been fulfilling wishes the world over for many centuries.
Few recognized his true identity. Who but a Djinn could change his local thermal equilibrium to a temperature suitable for descending chimneys, even when a fire was lit?
And so it came to pass that when the Peabodys twisted the lid off their cranberry sauce, a little prematurely on Christmas Eve, the genie appeareth unto them, a light shone all around him and he sayeth unto them, ‘Chrrristmas Grrreetings to you all.’
Well, he would have sayeth it unto them had he been able to make himself heard, but the party was in full swing and he was drowned out by loud music, party poppers and people shouting conversation over the din.
Most were busy filling their plates from the inordinately admirable buffet that Mrs. Peabody had prepared and nobody took any notice of poor DJ, who got kicked several times and had to take refuge beneath the table — handy things, tables, as he’d often observed.
Cranberry came in very small pots and DJ’s diminutive appearance reflected this fact. This was yet another snag in the contract that he had not familiarized himself with before signing. But sometimes it was of benefit to go unnoticed and as he had only one wish to grant, it was probably just as well on this occasion.
Only little Jemima Peabody had noticed his advent and she immediately followed him under the table and whispered in conspiratorial fashion, ‘Are you the fairy off the tree?’
Indignantly DJ enquired, ‘Do I look like a fairy?’
Jemima, who was five and three-quarters and prided herself in always getting the correct answer, took in his pointy eyebrows, deep red turban, white T-shirt with a logo she couldn’t read, green tights, yellow socks and white Nikes, furrowed her little brow and pronounced her verdict. ‘Ye-es.’
‘Well that takes the biscuit!’ pronounced the genie.
No sooner had he said this than Jemima disappeared, although not in the literal sense, reappearing a few moments later with a whole packet of luxury Belgian chocolate biscuits.
‘There you are, mister.’
‘These are delicious,’ said DJ with his mouth full. He’d not really made a study of food etiquette; he was still busy researching fluidity. ‘Call me DJ,’ he said, then wiping a chocolaty hand on his tights, he held it out to be shaken.
‘I’m Jemima, but my friends call me Jam.’
‘Some people call me Mr. Jam too,’ explained DJ. ‘I am the Genie of the Jam, you see and...’
‘What’s a genie?’ asked the child. ‘Does it mean you’re very smart?’
‘Well, I am very smart,’ said DJ, ‘but it really means I’m a Djinn.’ DJ would have gone on but she upped and disappeared again, this time coming back with an almost full bottle of gin.
‘How kind,’ said DJ, taking a nip out of the bottle — more like a slug than a nip. ‘Now where was I? Oh yes. Well you’ll have heard the expression there’s no smoke without...’
Away she went again. She was evidently a very hyperactive child but most hospitable, it had to be said. DJ couldn’t think why she’d gone this time. Maybe she required a leak.
Jemima took a while to come back, so DJ helped himself to more gin. The party had turned into a carol karaoke by now. The genie kept on slurping from the bottle, not minding in the least that the gin was neat. No one save the little girl seemed to have the least idea he was there, so he decided that he would grant her the wish the moment she returned. ‘Most host-hick-it-pit-able child!’
‘I had to find the matches,’ a breathless Jemima explained, ‘but I got you a smoke,’ she said, handing them to DJ along with a huge Christmas cigar. ‘I’m not allowed matches you see, or cigars.’
DJ intimated that he was glad to hear it. He’d save the cigar for later.
‘Now Jim-in-im-ima,’ he began, ‘if you could have a Christmas wish, what would it be?’
‘Santa’s bringing me a pony,’ she said, ‘and hay to feed him and a saddle and everything.’
‘Oh that’s nice. Isn’t there something else?’
Jemima thought hard about this. Usually when Mum used that tone she’d forgotten to say thank you, but thank you didn’t seem appropriate here. In the end she took a cue from the karaoke going on outside.
‘I know,’ she said happily clapping her hands, thinking she’d solved a riddle. ‘A Merry Christmas!’ and she launched into the song: ‘I wish you a Merry Christmas. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’.’
‘Well, I’m most touched, Jemin, Jenim, Jam,’ he said. Just at that moment, her mother called her to stop playing whatever silly game it was under the table and get off to bed this instant.
‘Sorry, I have to go to bed now or Santa won’t come.’
‘I’m sure he will,’ reassured DJ. ‘You’re a very good girl.’
Full of chocolate biscuits and gin, DJ fell happily asleep under the table and was awoken much later by someone pulling at his foot.
‘Ho, Ho, Ho, what have we here?’ asked Santa, pulling the cloth up. He’d heard snoring and, seeing a trainer poking out from under the table, decided to investigate whether some naughty child was not in bed.
A disheveled DJ roused himself and hurried out. ‘I’m so pleased to meet you Father Christmas,’ he blustered and then groaned with the effort and held his head.
‘My word, a genie! And been on the gin, by the look of it.’ Santa shook the much depleted contents of the bottle and smelled DJ’s breath.
At that moment DJ’s main concern was that Santa here might report him to the Elders for drunkenness, so he did a little groveling. ‘Never been to a Christmas before and little Jem-in-nina insisted and Obsijin would throw me in the gemime-mine-me... if...’
‘Needn’t worry about that, lad,’ said the older Djinn, patting him on the back. ‘I won’t tell. Never could stand that lot of self-opinionated old miseries m’self. Prefer humans any day. That’s why I took the job, don’t ye know. And you are...?’
‘DJ — Genie of the Jam — your servant, sir.’ He bowed lower than usual and nearly fell over.
‘And did you grant the little girl her wish?’
‘I was going to do so when she wished me a Merry Christmas and now you’re here.’
‘Well you’ve certainly made merry, I’ll give you that. And what extra wish would you have me grant your little hostess, since you could not oblige?’
DJ wanted to make it something special, she was such a terrific little girl and the older Djinn was capable of so much more than he. Mustering his entire sobriety for the speech he said, ‘As much goodwill throughout a long, lustrous life as she has shown this genie, sir,’ he bowed again and this time he did fall over.
The old fellow beamed down at him. ‘That is truly the spirit of Christmas,’ he said. ‘You know DJ, drunk or not, I think you’re a damned fine genie. Keep up the good work, son.’ Father Christmas patted him on the back, snapped his fingers and was away.
DJ felt the spread of a warm Christmas glow throughout his being as he adjusted his thermal equilibrium for the dimensional shift, then he too disappeared.
Copyright © 2010 by Oonah V. Joslin