"Begorra, I am here to do your bidding," the genie said. He was not big or blue, but a small man in a red coat and short red pants who appeared when Patrick O'Donovan started polishing a brass lamp that his wife Maeve had brought home from the thrift shop this very afternoon. Maeve was always buying junk like this; she fancied herself an artistic person, and she was always decorating their house in some new style or pattern. It drove Patrick crazy, because he never knew if his living room was going to look like twelfth century China, 1920s Paris, or some godawful combination that nobody had thought of yet. Currently she was on a Middle Eastern kick, and that was why she had shown up with a carload of brass lamps, hookahs, and Oriental throw rugs purchased from some carpet store/antique shop in town.
"And where do I find myself at present?" said the genie.
"You find yourself on my kitchen table," Patrick said. "In the State of New Jersey, to be exact."
"Ah," the little man said. "New Jersey, is it?" He looked around at all the clutter in the house. "Not much room to breathe here."
"That's because of my wife," Patrick said. "She has a talent for creating chaos. And who are you, by the way?"
"Cornelius Fearghal Aloysius O'Toole, at your service," the little man said, bowing. "And by the way, thank you for letting me out of that lamp."
"You actually came from the lamp?" Patrick said. "You're not a--"
"Yes," Cornelius said. "I am what is commonly known as a genie."
Patrick snorted. "An Irish genie? I must be going mad. I thought you genies were supposed to be different, you know, sort of big and blue and--"
"Yes, that's the standard issue," Cornelius said. "However, things worked out a bit differently in my case."
"I can see that," Patrick said. "Just how did you get into that lamp?"
"Oh, it's a long story," Cornelius said. "You wouldn't have a drop of poteen on the premises, would you? My throat is terrible parched, and I don't think I can go into all the details without a drop or two to loosen up the vocal machinery."
"I'm sorry," Patrick said. "Maeve doesn't drink, so we don't keep alcohol in the house."
"Not a drop?" Cornelius said. "I'm stranded among teetotalers, you say? Faith, it's a terrible prospect for a man like me."
"Sorry," Patrick said. "Now, can you please tell me how someone like yourself ended up in that lamp?"
"Well," Cornelius said. "I'm one of the little folk, fairies as you generally call us, and I was minding me own business some time ago -- I suppose it would be 800 or so of your own years -- when I took it in mind to see a bit of the world. I stowed away on a ship bound for Palestine, during that little disturbance you had called the Crusades, and in no time at all I found meself in the middle of a disagreement about some gold that was stolen from a wizard in Syria."
"Oh?" Patrick said. "Did you steal the gold?"
"I wouldn't know the answer to that question," Cornelius said, clasping his arms behind his back and smiling innocently.
"Well, what happened next?" Patrick said.
"What happened next is that I was unjustly accused," Cornelius said, his brow furrowing. "And I was locked up inside that blasted lamp. Ah, it's a bitter world we live in isn't it? Me, a man who's the soul of honesty, locked up in that brass prison for a crime I didn't commit."
"That's a shame," Patrick said. "Moving on, however, I think there's another facet to this situation that we haven't yet explored."
Cornelius nodded. "Aye, that'd be the three wishes you're thinking of."
"Exactly," Patrick said. "Three wishes. I know exactly what I want."
"Do you now?" Cornelius said. "In my experience, most people think they know what they want, but when they get it, they find it's not what they wanted after all."
"Oh, no," Patrick said. "I'm very clear about what I want. I've known that for awhile."
"What is it then?"
"I want a hundred million dollars."
"Now that's a nice round number. And you think that will bring you happiness?" "I certainly do."
"Hmm, well, that's a shame."
"What do you mean?"
.... There is more of this story ...