Story Go Round 11/29/2009, #14

Wizard's Wish

I recall the day I first discovered that wishing well. How was I to know that throwing a penny into that well would lead to my current situation? Yes, thinking back on these memories makes me feel young again and very, very old. My name is Bob, and I have many pennies. I dug through my pocket and took them all out. It's important to pick just the right coin for the wish. In fact, the wrong coin is the main reason most people do not get their wish when they throw a penny in the well. It's not a decision you should make lightly.

But of course, I chose the wrong penny this time. The well threw it back. “Bob, come on. I need the 1967D penny. I know you have one. Cough it up.”

1967D? Geez. I emptied my pockets. Quarters, lifesavers, an unopened condom.

“Come on, Bob.” The well sounded impatient.

I backed away. Maybe if I kept very quiet, the well would think I'd gone.

It wasn't fooled. “I know you're there, Bob. Give me the right penny.”

Thing is — I didn't have it. I'd already turned out my pockets. It wasn't there.

“Check your shoe,” the well said helpfully. “Sometimes, people put pennies there.”

I felt silly as hell. One, for taking off my shoe right there. Two, for listening to a talking waterhole.

“Penny loafers?” The well was hopeful.

“Chucks,” I replied, and though I felt like a fool for doing it, I looked inside my shoe. To my surprise, I saw a gleam of something lodged beneath the Dr. Scholl's. But, as I fished it out, I realized it wasn't a penny.

For one thing, it had serrated edges and it wasn't round at all. How could anyone have mistaken it for a penny? I held it close to my nose, examining the object carefully, seeing the way the light glinted strangely off its surface.

What was that dratted talking fountain playing at?

But the strange serrated thing was made of copper, and it did have the number 1967D on it, and it did show the face of Abraham Lincoln — or an Abraham Lincoln, one with a mohawk and a ring in his nose, and the fierce grin of a cannibal warrior. But it said LINCOLN beneath the portrait and he had the same beard, so who was I to judge?

With a shrug, I tossed the “penny” into the well. It seemed forever before I heard the splash echoing from far below.

A noise emanated from the well, a long satisfied-sounding gurgle. “Aww yah,” the well said. “That's the stuff.”

The well began to chuckle. I started backing away, feeling like I'd been played for a chump.

“That is the STUFF!” the well roared happily, and sparks came from it. Swirly pink mist came up. “Ohhhh, yeah! I'm off to travel the world! Hehehehehe!”

As the swirly, colorful mist flew off, I could only think, “uhoh.” I had made a tactical error.

What could I do, though? It was a wishing well, and I was... Bob.

“You are not merely Bob,” said a small voice on my shoulder. “You are The Bob, The Chosen Bob. And your destiny will now be fulfilled.”

I didn't like the sound of that.

I mean sure, destiny, that's all well (pardon the pun) and good, but whatever was on my shoulder had to go. Or at least speak in a less shrill voice if it wanted my help.

I expressed my concerns. It switched to a deeper baritone. Okay, this could work out.

At least I wasn't dealing with non-Euclidean sentient water works anymore. I turned around, and saw the writhing liquid mass behind me.

“Dammit!” I thought. “Who let the wishing well out?” Oh, it was me. I seemed to be losing my mind. And my shape. I sank slowly to the ground. The liquid in front of me became a mirror, showing me. Then I collapsed into a puddle and I looked up at myself — standing over me, moving fluidly away now. While I oozed slowly for the well.

“Wait, wasn't I a wizard?”

The shape of me was stopped by an old man in white. I, Bob, was restored to my normal self.

The old man explained, “Boy, can't you read the warning sign?”

“What warning sign,” I growled.

The old man noticed this and his face went pale. "Oh dear" he chuckled. "I should've kept a closer eye on things. There's an evil spirit in that well. I'll teach you to be a wizard.”

And that was how I started towards becoming a wizard and meeting my brilliant if absentminded teacher, Larry Funkenheimer.