“Uncle Jus’in, uncle Jus’in. Build sand castle.” Justin scooped the little girl into his arms and blew on her tummy.
“Where’s your daddy Bri-Bri? The little girl giggled and pointed to where her father was straddling his girlfriend, torturing her with tickles. “Hey Joey, shouldn’t you be watching this cute little bundle?”
The Italian looked up, grinning, “Why she’s with you?”
“Well she is now.” Justin snorted. He put the toddler onto the blanket he was sitting on and handed her a little pink spade. “Ok Bri-Bri, what kind of castle do you want to build?”
Brianna giggled and held her chubby little arms out wide. “Big one uncle Jus’in. Like Cinder’ella’s at Dissy world.”
“Ess, at Dissy world.” Justin smothered a laugh at the serious face the little girl was pulling as she shovelled fine powdery sand into her matching pink bucket.
“Well I’m not sure I can manage something that big cupcake, but I can make you one say, ohhhh, this high?” he held his hand up about two foot from the ground.
Brianna jumped up and down, clapping her tiny hands. “Ess, that’s it, big like Cinder’ellas!”
An hour later Justin was ready to put the finishing touches to the sandcastle. He sat back, puffing out his chest proudly as the little girl oohhh’d and ahhh’d, clapping her hands with excitement. “Uncle Jus’in, shells uncle Jus’in.” Getting up, Justin slipped his feet into his sandals, and then taking the little girls hand walked her slowly down to the waters edge. He watched smiling as she toddled off, pausing every now and then to pick shells from the sand and drop them into her bucket.
He kicked at the sand, drawing letters with his big toe, still keeping an eye on his friend’s daughter. He sighed wearily when he realised what he had unwittingly written in the damp sand. ‘Lonely’. Justin scrubbed his foot over the word, erasing it from sight, but it didn’t change the fact, he was lonely. He watched sadly as Lance cavorted with Chris in the waves and Joey rolled around in the sand with Kelly and wondered if he would ever find love for himself. He was brought back to the present by a tiny hand tugging on his shorts.
“Need a pee-pee uncle Jus’in.”
Justin lifted the baby girl up onto his hip and trenched up the beach to where here daddy was still making out with her mother and dumped her on top of them both. “She needs to pee, I draw the line at that.” he said sulkily, not waiting for a reply before marching off back to the waters edge.
He sat down at the waters edge, his knees bent and leaning back on his hands as he watched the waves breaking on the shore. The sun was still shining brightly, but to him the sky had turned grey. All he wanted was someone to love, who would love him in return. Someone that would be waiting for him when he got home from work. Someone to curl up with at night, just someone.
Justin jumped, startled as a bottle hit his feet. He looked around trying to see where it might have come from, deciding it must have washed up with the surf. He picked it up, picking at the barnacles that had settled onto the once smooth glass. It looked like it had been in the water for a long time. Justin stood up and carried it back to where he had left his stuff and shoved it in his backpack.
Brianna slept peacefully wrapped in a blanket while her parents and uncles drank beer in the fading light. Chris poked the fire and hugged Lance close to him, whispering smutty words in his ear and making him giggle. Justin sighed.
“Guys I think I’ll call it a night.”
“You going to be okay Justin?” Joey asked, concerned for the younger man.
“Yeah I’m just tired. I’ll call you.” Justin shouldered his backpack and trudged back up to where he parked his car earlier that morning.
Another long boring day. Justin sat behind his desk, tossing paper balls into his trashcan watching the clock as the big hand crept ever closer to the twelve. “A boring day now entering into a boring evening, and guess what folks, topping off into a boring night.” Justin muttered moodily to himself and tossed another paper ball at the already full can. “I Just once I wish something exciting and extraordinary would happen,” Justin sighed. He looked up at the clock again and rolled his eyes, only twenty more minutes to go then he was free, only what’s the point of being free when you had no one to share it with.
The phone rang and he grabbed the receiver. “Justin Harliss.”
“Yo, Justy, what’s up dude?”
“In spirit if not in reality dude. So what you doing tonight?”
“Washing my hair.”
Joey cracked up, letting out a raucous chuckle. “Gesh Justy, you kill me. Washing your hair, ha, ha, ha.”
“What’s so funny?”
“You ain’t go no hair Justin, you shave the fro remember?”
Justin ran his hand over his shaved head. “What you want Joey?”
“That’s what I like about you dude, cut to the chase.”
“Beers and biddles, your place at 8:30, be there or be square.”
Justin groaned. “I’ll already be there Joe. IT’S MY APARTMENT!”
Joey chuckled again, “Well then dude, you go no excuse for not coming. Later bro.”
“Joey!” the phone went dead and Justin cursed. Scrap the boring night. Now he had Lance and Chris groping each other to look forward to, topped off by a killer hangover the next day. He started to repeatedly bang his head on his desk; well it was going to start hurting in a few hours anyway.
The journey home was torturous, a packed subway, stifling heat and a ticket for jaywalking. Could life get worse? Justin quickly cleared around his home and grabbed a shower. He sifted about in his closet till he found his black jeans and topped it with a clean white short-sleeved shirt. He looked for his flip-flops, frowning when he couldn’t find them. Justin slapped his forehead; of course, he had left them in his backpack. He rooted around his closet again finding the dirty black bag, opening it and pulling out … a bottle? Justin scowled at the dirty object, wondering why the hell he had brought it home with him. He carried it over to the sink and submerged it in hot soapy water; leaving it to soak while he prepared some chips and dips for his self invited guests.
When he pulled it out all the grim had washed away leaving a beautifully decorated glass bottle. A large bulbous bottom, a long elegant neck and a round stopper. The glass its self was a mixture of rose and red hues that caught the light and sparkled like glitter. The rim and base were lined in gold and the whole thing was covered in gold filigree Justin pulled the stopper and sniffed. He tipped it upside down shaking it, it was empty. Justin picked up a cloth and started to buff the glass to a shine.
Suddenly a huge plume of bright pink smoke started to pour from the opening. Justin stumbled backwards, his mouth opening and shutting like a goldfish as the smoke formed a funnel and drifted across the room. It began to solidify, taking shape before his eyes. Then it was gone and in its place stood a vision in pick chiffon. The tall thin man with curly brunette locks looked slightly startled at his surroundings, but recovered quickly as he face Justin. He beamed happily as Justin stared at him in shock.
“What is your wish my master?” he asked. “Master?” he said puzzled as Justin hit the floor fainting dead away.
Justin groaned and hugged his pillow. “Man that was a crazy dream.”
“What was master?”
Justin scrambled up his bed, crouching against the headboard, gawping at the strange young man standing at the foot of his bed. He was the strangest looking person he had ever seen. He was wearing bright pink pantaloons and a pink crop top that revealed his bare midriff. On his feet he wore pink felt slippers with curled toes and on his head he wore a pink turban complete with a huge feather plumage, which sprouted from the biggest sapphire Justin had ever seen. The man looked concerned and took a step towards the shocked man on the bed. “Are you alright master?” he asked.
“Who are you?”
The strange man grinned. “I’m JC. I‘m the genie of the bottle.” He seemed to think that that explained everything.
“What are you doing in my house?”
JC rolled his big blue eyes. “Well Duh, you summoned me.”
“I did not!”
“I did not summon you!”
“Did Too,” JC crossed his arms across his chest and pouted. “Did, did, did!”
Justin would have torn at his hair if he had any. “Who the fuck are you?” he demanded.
The pink clad man sighed and rolled his eyes yet again. “I told you, I’m JC, you rubbed my bottle and now you are my master.” His face beamed again. “What is your wish O masterful master?”
Justin stuttered and spluttered, summoned? Bottle? Rubbed his what? He most defiantly didn’t rub anything that belonged to the strange excessively pink being. He squeezed his eyes shut and counted to ten, at the end opening just one very slowly. JC pushed his face into Justin’s, “Has master got a problem with his eyes? I can fix it you know.” JC stood back and crossed his arms across his chest, Blinked and nodded, promptly disappearing, leaving his turban to fall on the floor then also disappear with a loud pop.
Justin crawled down his bed to staring at the spot were just seconds before JC had been standing and rubbed his eyes. “Ok Justin, you have been working way too hard.” he muttered to himself. A knock at the door brought him back to reality. Cussing as he noticed the time, he rushed to let in his friends, all the time his eyes searched for the elusive disappearing man.
An inch high JC watched from behind a picture frame as his masters friends made themselves at home, tucking into the chips and beer with relish, he chewed on his bottom lip as Justin served a platter of garlic bread. That was too much; his master shouldn’t be waiting on others. He crossed his arms, blinked, nodded and popped out of exsistance only to reappear in Justin’s shiny chrome kitchen, his turban appearing thirty seconds later. He folded his arms, blinked, nodded again and his clothes changed. He grinned, pleased with himself and admired his reflection in the silvery fridge door. He was wearing a pair of black jeans that hung dangerously low on his hips and a pink sparkly wifebeater that finished a fraction beneath his navel, leaving a delicious sliver of flesh on display. He frowned looking down at his feet that were still encased in the pink curl-toed slippers. He blinked again and they transformed into bright pink flip-flops. There, now he was ready. He needed one more thing though. He conjured up a big steaming bowl of chilli and a plate of tacos, there, that was better. Holding his head up high, and a plate in each hand, he walked out into the living room.
Chris froze, his beer bottle hovering inches from his mouth, his eyes wide as the sparkly man sauntered casually out of Justin’s kitchen. Lance choked and Joey sniggered.
“OH my Fucking god Justin, where did you meet him?”
Justin turned to see what Joey was ranting about, falling off his chair when JC smiled widely.
“Hi, I’m JC.” JC put the bowls he was carrying onto the table and helped a speechless Justin off the floor. “Can I get you more beers?”
Chris gulped and let his eyes travel over JC’s body, inadvertently licking his lips and receiving a hard smack across the back of his head from Lance, who was glaring hostilely at him.
JC winced, and looked thoughtful, his face lit up, “I’m with Justin.” he though he should clarify that fact before anyone else got smacked across the head, well namely him, because his masters blond friend was shooting daggers at him through those evil green eyes and JC was defiantly beginning to feel uneasy.
All eyes fell on Justin, who stammered and tripped over the couch in a mad rush to reach his uninvited guest. JC rolled his eyes and picked his master off the floor … again. A tight hand clasped around JC’s arm and he felt himself being half pushed, half pulled back towards the kitchen. Justin gave a fake laugh. “Just have to help JC with the ... the … trifle, yes that’s it the trifle.” he shoved JC through the kitchen door slamming it behind him. “What the fuck are you doing here?” he hissed.
JC looked perplexed, “serving my masters guests,” he replied as if it was obvious.
“I’m not your master!”
“You are,” JC said seriously.
“I am not.”
“I am not.” JC opened his mouth to say ‘are too’ again and was silenced by Justin’s hand pressing hard against his lips. “If you say ‘are too’ once more I will thrust your bottle where the sun doesn’t shine, do I make myself clear?” JC nodded “Good,” Justin took his hand from JC’s mouth and the brunette promptly folded his arms, blinked, nodded and disappeared. Justin groaned, now he had to worry where he had gone to, and more importantly what he was doing.
“Hey Justin, JC, come on the movie is about to start,” Joey yelled. Justin looked around the kitchen one more time then letting out a groan went back to his friends.
When JC hadn’t re-materialised an hour later Justin began to relax, maybe the being had got the message and buggered off. He spent the rest of the night dodging questions about the worryingly absent man and collapsed with fevered relief when Joey, Chris and Lance decided to call it a night and go home. He snuggled down in bed, setting his alarm for 6:30 the next morning, before slipping into a nice relaxed sleep.
A long puff of pink smoke snaked its way out of the rosy hued bottle that sat on Justin’s bedside table and turned into JC, he was back in his original outfit. He stood watching his new master sleeping, marvelling at the lovely paleness of his skin. His eyes fixed on the alarm clock. His master needed his rest; with a quick blink he reset it to an hour later. There now maybe when he woke up his master would be in a better mood having had plenty of sleep. The genie wandered around his master’s apartment, cringing at the drab décor. Giggling to himself he made a decision. He crossed his arms, blinked, nodded and the room around him transformed. JC bent down and picked up his turban that had fallen on the floor, he really needed to put it on some elastic or something, just to keep the damned thing on his head. Extremely pleased with himself he turned back into a cloud of smoke and retreated back into his bottle.
Justin reached out groggily, banging around on his table until his hand met the source of that infernal ringing. He yawned and stretched, blinking his eyes in the bright morning light. 7:45 blinked back at him in inch high red neon numerals. He sat bolt upright swearing as he tumbled out of bed. He struggled into his clothes. Hopping to the bathroom, one leg in his pants as he rushed to clean his teeth. He grabbed his keys and dashed out into the hall slamming his door behind him. Justin stopped dead, and went back to his apartment opening the door cautiously, peering back into the room. His knees buckled and he grasped hold of the door handle to support himself. Great sheets of pink and red silk hung from his ceiling, draped to give the appearance of being in a tent, Persian carpets littered his floor and huge padded velvet cushions were in abundance and two gigantic amazons were wafting massive feathered fans too and fro. Justin came all the way back into his home, his mouth hanging open.
A puff of pink smoke coiled slowly almost sleepily from the bottle in Justin’s bedroom and seeped under the closed door, materializing into the sleepy genie, complete with pink PJ’s an a white fluffy teddy bear tucked under his arm.
“You yelled oh masterful master?”
“What you done to my apartment?” Justin demanded, pacing back and forth.
“I made it look nice.” JC yawned and started to suck on his thumb, rubbing the teddy to his face.
“Turn it back.”
“Why, its pretty?”
“Turn it back JC.” Justin sounded threatening now and JC seemed to suddenly wake up.
“I like it.” he protested.
“JC turn it back.”
“Turn it back, now.”
JC pouted and stamped his bare foot, crossed his arms, blinked and nodded and disappeared again. Justin screamed in frustration. “JC, turn it back now!”
The room transformed back to how it had been before and Justin breathed again. “Right I’m going to work, behave.” he got no answer because JC was curled back up in his bed at the bottom of his bottle and snoring softly.
Justin rolled into work more than an hour late thanks to his alarm not going off on time. He had no sooner sat down before he was buzzed.
“So nice of you to join us today Justin. Bring me in two coffees, and bring your note book.” Justin pulled a face at the intercom. “Yes Miss Spears.”
God he hated his job, he hated his boss and he had a mad pink-obsessed genie to boot. He poured the two coffees, resisting the urge to spit in one of them, then plastered on his smile and went into the lions den.
JC woke about noon, he stretched and yawned, crawling out of his pink silk sheets. God he hated pink. He blinked and he changed into his usual ensemble of pantaloons, crop-top and turban. Inwardly he cursed his former master, because of him, he was stuck with wearing pink. Everything he did involved pink in one way or another. He looked in his mirror and thought ‘black’ his clothing changed to black then instantly back to pink. JC let out a sad sigh, pink it was then. He crossed his arms, blinked nodded and vanished.
When he appeared again he was three inches high and concealed in the book shelves in the offices of Miss Brittany Spears, Interior Decorator Extraordinaire. JC bristled at the tone the young woman was using on his master.
Justin had his lip captured between his teeth as he scribbled shorthand in his note pad, while the unstoppable Miss Spears sold her newest idea to her biggest client to date. He gasped as he saw his idea being passed off as hers. She shot him a warning look. He clamped his mouth closed and swore at her in his head, shooting evil looks at her whenever he though she wasn’t looking.
Brittany, giggled and sat on top of her desk, crossing her long legs seductively at the dark skinned man that sat listening to her every word. From behind his book on the shelf JC folded his arms, blinked and nodded, catching his turban as it fell off.
Justin stifled a loud laugh as Brittany’s elaborate coiffure flopped down over her eyes and the desk she was sitting on groaned and collapsed with a loud bang. In the back of his head he heard a soft tinkling giggle and a soft pop. Justin hurried to help his bright red blushing boss out of the wooden mess that used to be her desk, trying not to laugh as her client walked out in disgust.
“master you are home.”
The genie was wearing pink sparkly shorts, white crop top, holding a pink feather duster and was sporting a shocking pink headscarf that covered his brunette curls and enhanced his brilliant blue eyes.
“JC what are you wearing?”
JC pouted, “I’m spring cleaning my bottle.” with a quick blink he changed back into his pantaloons.
“JC, did you come to my work today?”
JC put on his most innocent face, “Me master, oh no master.” Justin looked unconvinced but dropped the subject anyway. He dropped down onto the couch and pinched the bridge of his nose.
The genie dropped to his knees by Justin’s side and placed his head on his lap. “make a wish.” he whispered.
Justin chuckled. “a wish. And what would I wish for?”
JC sat up, a serious look on his face as his eyes met those of his master. “Your hearts desire master.” Justin stroked the side of the genies face, relishing his silky soft skin. He leaned down, his lips brushing briefly over JC’s. The genie popped out of existence, leaving Justin startled at his sudden disappearance. “JC?”
He got no answer.
In his bottle JC pouted, the first time in over two thousand years that someone kisses him and what happens? He’s yanked back into his bottle as punishment. He stamped his foot and screamed in frustration. He was sick of being a slave, he wanted to be free to be able to love his master without conditions. He threw himself onto his circular bed and buried his face into the silk pillows, screaming and kicking his feet until he cried softly again. The bottle would punish him for days maybe weeks for this. He looked up at the stopper that locked him in and hoped that Justin would notice his bottle was corked again.
Life slowly returned to normal for Justin. He couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to his genie, it had been days since the pleasantly pink man had made an appearance. He didn’t know that at the back of the bookcase JC’s bottle stayed hidden, just waiting to be discovered again.