I look at my watch and sigh.
“Stood up?” a man asks from the bar.
“No, my friend is really ill.”
“Is that the guy being sick in the toilet?”
“Yes,” I say.
“I saw him, he’s going to be in there a while. Can I get you a drink?”
“I’m driving,” I say.
“Come on, you can have one.”
He pats the stool next to him.
“Thanks,” I reply, feeling let down my best friend got into this situation.
The man holds up his hand, signalling for two more drinks.
“I’m not much of a spirit drinker,” I say.
“Spirits are made for this situation, down it and don’t think.”
I sit next to him, the bartender fills a glass with brown liquid and slides it over to me. I knock it back and wince as the burning fills my throat.
“Better?” the man asks.
“Not really, I think I may need to join my friend.”
“How long have you known him?” he asks and I worry he’s trying to chat me up.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I say overly defensive, “his wife died last week. He needed a blow out, but he’s overdone it. He’s a recovering alcoholic, and I’m the designated driver. He’s not driven drunk for a long time. But after what’s happened, I don’t want to take the chance.”
“You sound like a good friend. If you could have a wish, what would it be?” he asks earnestly.
Slightly taken aback by the question I say, “If I could wish for anything it would be for money. If I had more money I could help him out.”
“Not for his wife to be alive again?”
“No,” I say arrogantly, “she’s dead, there’s nothing we can do to bring her back.”
“How did you meet?”
“Wow, that’s a long story. My sister was due to move in with me. She had just finished university, she got a job locally, something temporary while she applied for roles more in line with her degree. I wasn’t earning much so was very happy she was moving in. She had parked her car outside my house and went to get her suitcases from the boot when, bam, she was hit by a car. Jeff,” I say and gesture, “the guy in the toilet, tended to her, he even brought her flowers. He was amazing. He rode in the ambulance with her and stayed by her side until I arrived. We hit it off as it were. He needed a place to stay, so I said he could stay with me until my sister was back on her feet. She died a week later.”
“That’s a horrible story,” the man says.
“Yeah, but the silver lining is, I met Jeff. I’ve never met anyone as giving as him. You know people say they have a guardian angel that looks after them? If I believed in that, I’d say Jeff was mine.”
I look in the direction of the toilet and wonder if I should go in and help. Then I think of the bile and vomit and decide to stay seated.
“He sounds like a wonderful man.”
“He is,” I say, “he was the best man at my wedding. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”
“Your sister though, did they catch the guy who hit her?”
“No,” I say irritated, “that bastard got away with it. I wish I knew who did it! I’d fucking kill them.”
The man’s hand reached for mine, I pulled it away.
“It’s okay,” he says and places his fingers on mine.
“What are you doing?” I reply, trying to pull away, but his grip is too tight.
A jolt runs through me and the room goes dark. I choke for air until a scene unfolds in front of me.
I am standing on the road opposite my old house. I see my sister’s car slow and my heart races. She smiles as she parks the car. She picks up a bunch of flowers from the driver’s seat and gets out. She opens the boot and struggles to remove a large heavy suitcase.
I try to shout for her, but my voice is mute. She looks around confused.
“Karen!” I shout again.
Our eyes meet. She waves and takes two steps forward. I want to warn her that a car is about to hit her, but no words come out. In slow motion I see her body contort as the vehicle hits her at full speed.
The screech of the tyres is deafening. A man gets out and holds his hands to his head. He looks panicked. He gets back in the car and drives away.
My sister lies motionless in the road. I try to shout out after him, he’s oblivious to me.
Moments later I see him rushing down the street. He continuously gazes around, as if looking for witnesses. My body floats forward and I recognise him instantly, it’s Jeff.
He approaches my sister and falls to his knees, crying out for help. He takes out his phone. The events speed up and I see the ambulance arrive and stretcher her away. Jeff rubs his hair and gets in the back of the vehicle with her.
I open my eyes and am back at the bar.
“Are you okay?” the man asks.
“What the fuck was that?” I say, feeling a sweat that drips from my forehead, “who are you?”
I stand up and push the stool away.
“You said you wanted to know who did it,” he says.
“Get away from me!” I demand.
That’s when I see Jeff emerge from the toilet. His skin is pale, his shirt drenched in water. He wipes his lips with his sleeve and stares at me vacantly.
“You killed her!” I say to him.
“Huh?” is all he can manage.
“You killed my sister!” I blurt out.
It looks as if he’s about to heave.
“I… I…” he stutters, shocked I finally know, “It was an accident!” he pleads.
“Were you drunk?” I ask.
He hangs his head.
“And the flowers, they were for me, weren’t they?”
“I’m sorry,” he says, dropping to his knees.
I’d seen him like that before.
“I’ve changed,” he cries, “I’ve not drunk since that day.”
“You’re drunk now!” I said, a rage grew inside me.
“My wife died.”
“I wish you were dead, you piece of shit. You ruined my life!”
The man from the bar raises his glass and nods knowingly.
“Please,” Jeff says.
I peer between Jeff and the man at the bar.
“Fuck you both,” I say and leave the pub.
The cold night air envelopes me and sobers me instantly. I stamp along the pavement and down the side street to where my car is parked. I get in and drive away impatiently. The anger is so overwhelming I don’t see the man that ambles drunkenly in the road. My headlights blind him, he instinctively brings his hands to his face. I feel a jolt as the car lurches upwards, crunching over the body. I slam on the brakes to see the limp and lifeless body in the rearview mirror. Jeff.
A real Djinn can be indistinguishable between you and me, not like the one portrayed in Aladdin. You do not need to rub a lamp for it to appear. In some cultures, they believe that these beings have free will and they certainly do not have to be benevolent.
It’s been two months now and a large sum of money has been deposited into my account. Jeff didn’t have any next of kin. He bequeathed me to inherit everything he had.
I wish I never sat next to that man, but I’m out of wishes.