ALADDIN'S LAMP IS PASSED AROUND THE PSYCHIATRIC WARD
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
"I just wish it was Thursday, yes," Carmen said, picking at the yellow flowers embroidered on her robe.
"This Thursday or last Thursday?" the djinn asked.
"By next Thursday, do you mean the one coming up in four days or next week Thursday?"
"Next Thursday, yes. You know what? Any Thursday will do. I just like Thursday. The week's almost over but you don't have to worry about the weekend just yet."
"Are you in that Blue Man Group?" Sally asked.
"I wish! Those guys are awesome! But I'm afraid not. My skin is naturally this color."
"I wish I had hot and cold running mail," Norris said.
"And what exactly is that?" the djinn asked. He didn't care much for Norris. The old man had dropped the lamp twice now and he smelled like a diabolical combination of juice box remnants.
"You're the djinn, you figure it out. All I know is I want to be able to turn a faucet and get my mail at the temperature I so choose."
"As you wish."
The djinn parted the yellow curtains and looked down into the brown city streets. How in the world had he wound up here?
"The guy in the mirror has cooler stuff than me," Sam cried from behind him. "I want cooler stuff!"
A better question: How soon could he get out of here? These people had to sleep some time.
"Isn't there anyone here who wants money? Or love? How about love?"
Harold cleared his throat from the back of the TV room.
Harold rose from his blue plastic stackable chair and slowly crossed the floor, watching the others while avoiding their eyes. Terror warped his face. Now at the front, he whispered:
"The first erotic dream I ever had was about Ruth Buzzi sitting on my toilet in her underwear. I was seventeen years old. Let me have that."
"You want Ruth Buzzi now, or from the Laugh-In era?"
"I don't want Ruth Buzzi at all, I wouldn't know what to say to her. I'm not very good with women. I just want the dream again."
Simon's eyes were wet and shone a cold grey in the flourescent light. "I want the asphalt to rise from the earth and form itself into a twenty foot tall asphalt monster named Asphalty. He has eyes made of ice and spits safety pins. Poor people lurk behind Asphalty's path of destruction to gather safety pins and sell them to new mothers. They buy bread and Jell-o with the money. Then they make Jell-o sandwiches in a rainbow of colors. Unfortunately, Asphalty is attracted by the smell of rainbow colored Jell-O sandwiches. It's the circle of life."
The Djinn clapped his hands with a boom. "Finally! Someone decisive!"
"You realize your daily schedule hasn't altered in the last twelve and a half years?" the djinn asked.
"Just do it. I know what Thursday feels like, yes."
"It is so."