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  • Writer's pictureJabe Stafford

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You could say I had an abusive master.

His last wish had been, “I wish for you to be trapped in there for all eternity.” Three quarters of the way through his wish, I’d summoned every plume of energy within me and shoved my lamp off the bookshelf of his New York apartment. Fifty-one hundred years of spell muscle led to a two hundred foot tumble out a window and into a hotdog stand’s steaming interior.

Glory, thy name ain’t magic.

For most of the late 90’s, I couldn’t keep track of where the cart’s owner went. Leaving the lamp only to linger in a container of steamed meat tubes was a bigger curse than the ones I’d dished out for my old masters. East coast accents, barking dogs, and taxi horns through the cart walls were the only inputs I got. Aside from frequent lid openings for re-stocks and frankfurter sales, I got zero views of the city outside. The rotund, tan-skinned woman who schlepped the cart around lower Manhattan scoured the sides of the thing enough to count as rubbing it. My ex’s wish kept me locked in tighter than a tuna can.

Dog Dame Deb’s what the reporters and tabloids called her. On the days when she wasn’t cheerfully praising me-the holy cart-in front of customers, she was cursing at reckless drivers and packs of nut jobs that tried to snatch the entire stand. The old knock-yourself-out-a-window trick didn’t help stop thieves as much as the Dame’s revolver did. If any incident was a glaring chance at escape, it was the night seven people got away with Deb’s cart.

A curly haired head and shoulders plunged down among the wieners to loud guffaws from his compatriots. Now that a person’s head was in my living space, I could get a quickie wish out of him and escape. “I am Zuula, genie of this stand. Wish for something now, master.”

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