The Clean Wish

 

A product of Schweppe Fiction Incorporated, USA, US PAT OFFICE, 2012

 

AUTHOR’S DISCLAIMER:

The characters and events depicted in this story are strictly fictitious.  Any similarity to ACTUAL PERSONS, living, dead, or who happen to be turning 50 years old, is all purely coincidental and cannot be attributed to any deliberate or other such malicious intent.  Attempting to successfully compare the fictitious characters in this story to real persons is pure folly and about as likely to succeed in proving as winning the freakin Powerball tomorrow!  Should the reader reach such unfortunate negative conclusions or worse, their legal options will be severely limited.  Any other intended punitive efforts may include perhaps a brief rude prank call or slashed tires.  However, such hopelessly useless retaliations represent merely a petty ineffective expression of said subject’s outrage and will have no impact on the author whatsoever.

 

-Disclaimer copyright per Sheister, Chisler, and Sheister Law Partners, Esquire LLC, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, 2012

 

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Once upon a time…long ago in a mountainous green misty fisher cat infested forest far far away, there was a house occupied by just one woman.  Her name was Gwenda and she kept her home in such perfect appearance and cleanliness that few dared to venture inside it for fear of making it dirty.  Day after day, Gwenda toiled to sweep carpets, vacuum drapes, wipe counters, wash windows, reorganize her refrigerator, wipe down the cabinets, mop the kitchen floor, and dust anything that didn’t move.  Even though she allowed animals to roam the house, Gwenda somehow managed to keep the décor in perfect cleanliness.  Her dogs and cats were forced to live on the back deck or slunk in dark corners as to minimize their polluting nature which she loathed.  Gwenda had a husband and two children, but they lived in another house several miles away because they could not stay clean enough to satisfy Gwenda’s demands.  Sometimes her husband, Neil, would visit the house in spite of her protest (…he was a very stubborn man who drove fast recreational vehicles).

 

Gwenda’s zeal to purge all filth frightened her friends and the villagers of EnosFallmus as well.  Sadly, her obsession was to the point that no one visited her anymore.  Since neighbors’ homes were not nearly so clean, Gwenda refused to visit them.  Thus, she lived a lonely life of collecting high price kitchen appliances, smoking cigars, and sewing smocking patterns of cleaning tools on alpaca sweaters.  The good news with her lonely existence was that Gwenda baked the most fabulous breakfast scones ever made and was able to stay in contact with people from a distance as they came from near and far to eat her famous baked goods.  Still, she was lonely and carried a desperate secret in her heart.  As much as Gwenda wanted everything to be clean, she longed even more so to be free of the drudgery of working so hard to achieve such purity of her surroundings.  One day, in a fit of bitter frustration while experimenting with hairspray on one of her cats to keep their dander down, Gwenda tripped and fell.  The can of hairspray upon striking the floor, exploded, leaving her cat’s shed fur permanently glued on the wood floor.  The mishap also destroyed the bottom edge of her new white drapes which had perfectly symmetrical patterns of two blue hoover vacuum cleaners.  Oh, how she had worked so hard and for so long on those drapes!  Gwenda’s exasperation spewed as dramatically as the hairspray had.

 

She cried out, “Uuuggh!  Woe is me!  Trapped in this abysmal daily drudgery.  Oh how I WISH…Yes!  If I had just one wish… I would wish for everything to be perfectly clean…FOREVER!!!”

 

Quite suddenly, a strange man appeared before her.  He was about her height, mustached, caucasion, and wearing a multicolored lama hat with long bushy tassels.  Although this strange man was somewhat overweight, he wore his extra body fat well in tasteful fashionable winter clothing. 

 

Gwenda was completely startled, but managed to speak, “Who… Who.. are you?”

 

The lama-hatted man replied with a sly smile, “I am the Wizard of Bakersmarsh!  I have heard your laments and have come to grant you any single wish you like!”

 

Gwenda said, “But how is this possible?  What are you?  Why me?”

 

The Wizard replied, “I am an enchanted creature of this region who has magical powers to grant wishes to anyone I so desire.  The delicious scones you bake have impressed me for many these years.  I heard your cry for help just now and determined that I would grant you a wish.  You need now only to wish it!”

 

Gwenda said, “Oh wonderful Wizard of Bakersmarsh!  The most precious wish of my life is to….”

 

But the Wizard interrupted with an enchanted disclaimer, “BE CAREFUL my child with what you wish for!  I am a literal wizard who must grant the wish according to what words are used by the wisher.  I can do nothing more and nothing less!  Now.. What is it that you wish for?”

 

Gwenda paused for a moment, gathered her thoughts and uttered her wish, “I wish oh great wizard that everything be clean forever!!”

 

The Wizard of Bakersmarsh half-closed one eye, scratched his chin in deep concentration and then uttered the following incantation…

 

World of constant pestilence, dirt, and debris… With perfect cleanliness you are now free!”

 

A brilliant flash of light engulfed Gwenda and all around her.  Covering her eyes from the intense luminescence, Gwenda felt a kind of tingling run up and down her spine and then…  She found herself once more in the hallway of her home.  The Wizard of Bakersmarsh was nowhere to be seen.  The hairspray can on the floor was upright and intact.  There was no hairspray mess, loose hair or stain on the draperies.  In the far corner of the hallway sat the cat shivering.  Gwenda shuddered.  There was not one single hair on the cat’s body!  Bootsy was completely naked!  As Gwenda touched the drapes to see if any stain were on them, she felt the same tingling she had before when the Wizard did his enchantment.  In fact, everything that Gwenda touched tingled.  She realized that this was some kind of automatic cleaning magic.  Although Bootsy’s hairlessness disturbed her, Gwenda suddenly felt exhilaration as she realized that nothing would ever be dirty again! Floors gleamed, cabinets shined and there was not so much as a single smudge on anything she could see. 

 

Suddenly, the entire house shook and began leaning to one side.  Gwenda screamed and gripped the nearby stair railing.  The lurching movement stopped and Gwenda frantically ran outside to investigate.  She looked in horror as the entire house sat precariously on just a couple large boulders and piles of rock underneath it.  A vast chasm surrounded the house with a bare rocky outcropping in the backyard instead of a wooded hill.  As far as her eye could see, there was nothing but rocky hills and boulders.  Forests and fields were non-existent anymore.  All the dirt and soil was gone! 

 

Gwenda panicked, “Oh no!  I wished for everything to be “clean”.  The Wizard’s enchantment has removed all dirt from the world!” 

 

Gwenda wasn’t feeling well at this point and rushed to the bathroom but there was NO toilet there.  In fact, there was no tub or sink either!  Why have washing receptacles if there was no dirt to wash off?   The wish the Wizard had granted her was indeed complete and comprehensive! 

 

Gwenda realized now that she had made a horrible mistake and cried out, “Please!  Pleeeease great Wizard of Bakersmarsh!  Take this terrible wish away and make everything as it was!  I beg of you!  I’ll do anything… ANYTHING to have all the dirt back as it was!”

 

All Gwenda could hear was the wind rustling over the barren rockscape.  The air was crisp and empty of all smells.  Gwenda wept all night.  She could feel the magical tingling sensation of her dirty tears dry up and dissipate on her cheeks.  How Gwenda longed for her world to be normal again.  The seemingly endless cleanly night gave way to a spotless dawn with still no answer from the Wizard.  Then, Gwenda smelled something stale and spoiled in the air.  Nothing had changed, yet these ugly aromas wafted all around her.  From a few miles away, a great dark wall formed and moved towards Gwenda’s house.  At first it was too far away for Gwenda to understand what it was, but then the strange apparition drew nearer.

 

Gwenda leapt for joy, “Yes!  Yes!  It’s dirt!  It’s a giant storm of dirt coming this way!  Oh great Wizard… Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!”

 

The whirling wall of filth engulfed Gwenda’s home, filling every nook and cranny with dust, insects, grime and all other manner of dirtiness.   In the midst of this great swirl, Gwenda ran outside and danced all about the yard in joyous bliss.  In the aftermath of the storm, Gwenda found her home once more planted solidly on soil.  Bootsy had her fur back and the can of hairspray lay ruptured with messy contents all over the floor.  The nearby drapes were ruined.  The toilet was back as well as the tub and sink.  Upon seeing all of this, Gwenda wept with joy and laid down on the soot that now covered one of her favorite rugs.  As she happily wallowed amidst the welcome filth, the Wizard appeared once more before her.

 

The Wizard said, “Greetings again my child!  I have reversed your wish and restored what had been.  I ask only one thing of you…”

 

“What’s that?” said a blissful Gwenda.

 

“That you supply me forever with your best most scrumptious scones!” he declared.

 

Gwenda replied, “Oh great Wizard of Bakersmarsh… I shall do so for your gracious gesture, but I ask only one more thing of you before you go…”

 

“What’s that?” said the Wizard puzzling.

 

“Can you please pick up that damn messy can of hairspray and throw it out for me?”

 

The Wizard did as she asked.

 

Gwenda lived happily ever afterwards… that is, after the Wizard picked up the messy hairspray can for her…

 

-THE END

 

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Epilogue…

Two weeks later, Gwenda’s husband Neil and daughters Enid and Retisha all moved back in and helped her keep up with all the daily scone deliveries she had to make to the Wizard of Bakersmarsh.  The scones baking kept Gwenda so busy that she never got a chance to relapse in to her cleaning obsession again.  Smart Wizard!

 

-The End…again.

 

 

Day of Thunder

 

Something is wrong, but I don’t know what it is.  I feel as if a violent storm or some other calamity is imminent.  The sea gulls seem to share my apprehension.  Hundreds of them have suddenly begun flying out to sea since this morning.  I have never seen gulls do that before.  Our ship, the U.S.S. Wateree, reached the harbor of Arica Chile yesterday.  The Wateree launched in 1863, just a few short years ago.  Boasting a flat bottom hull made entirely of iron, she is one of the newest warship innovations of the Navy. 

 

The people of Arica take little notice of our ship though. The city is distracted as usual with Chilean vendors selling their fresh fish and shimmering jewelry in the crowded streets.  Our cargo for the American base is already unloaded.  Commander Billings has ordered most of the crew back on board to get ready for our return to San Francisco.  It’s five o’clock and almost time for dinner at last! 

 

What’s this?  My friend, Midshipman Dawson, is launching a dinghy.

 

“Ahoy Dawson!  Where are you going?  Who authorized your use of that?” I chide.

 

Dawson replies, “It’s nothing for you to worry about Cavanaugh!  We’re picking up some extra supplies in town. We’ll be back in an hour.  Don’t worry your self.”

 

“Oh, I see.  You just want another excuse to go back in to town and purchase that dress for your lovely wife.  Well, maybe I’ll just tell the Commander what you’re up to and..” 

 

I suddenly hear a strange low GRRRUMMMMM.  The ship’s deck begins to vibrate beneath my feet.  Every crewman on board has stopped.  Dawson has ceased his efforts as well.

 

“What is it?” he calls up to me.

 

“Not..NOT SURE!” I shout.

 

The deep GGRUMMM has quickly become a continuous groaning in the air like a thousand large rocks rolling down a hillside all around me.  My eyes pan towards the city.  A CRRASSHH resounds against the ship.  RIIIP! BOOM!

 

“Look!  The warehouse!” exclaims Dawson.

 

The three-story building directly in front of our ship crumbles to the ground.  The Wateree is just far enough away to miss the debris as it smashes on to the dock. 

 

“It’s a..a..quake.  The crew!” Dawson points.

 

I see five of our men on a nearby dinghy struggling to row to our starboard side.  The water has suddenly become like a mad boiling soup with sailor-high waves frothing in every direction. 

 

“Quickly, Dawson,” I yell, “Get back on board.”

 

     “Not without them,” he says.

 

Dawson braves the insane churning water in his dinghy like a man bouncing about on a trampoline.  He manages to grab a line from the other boat.  

 

“Dawson, we’ll bring you and the others up on board,” I say.

 

“Hurry!  The water is pulling us out!” another sailor cries.

 

Indeed, the water in the harbor is flowing out to sea as if some great drain has opened somewhere and is swallowing it up.  CRRAACK! CRRRASSH!  The shaking ground knocks the whole pier next to the Wateree into the harbor.  CLAANNG! BAANNG!  Two heavy iron moorings on shore barely miss smashing Dawson’s boat as they tumble off the collapsing dock. Dawson and the others frantically climb aboard.  Water has receded so much now from the harbor that we can actually see the bottom.  I look further out.  In amazement, I spot large fish flopping about the freshly bared mud. 

 

The water has receded out to sea beyond sight.  Several other ships anchored in the harbor with bowed keels have toppled over on to their sides.  In contrast, the Wateree’s flat bottom has enabled it to rest upright on the harbor bottom.

 

It is 5:30, but the darkening sky makes the late afternoon seem like late evening.  The ocean has begun to surge back in to the harbor and tosses the fallen ships all about.  The Wateree is drifting aimlessly with no way to control itself in the turbulence.  Then, something more ominous grabs our attention. Dawson points out to sea.

 

     “Look!  What is that?”

 

     “A distant white ridge of surf is breaking out beyond the harbor.  I can hear it now,” I say.

 

     Only minutes later, the distant churn has become a tumultuous roar.  The whole ocean is rising up at the head of the harbor into a towering wall of brown water.  It’s racing straight towards us.

 

     “Get below!  Get below!  Secure the hatches!  Run!  RUN!” I scream.

 

     The monstrous surge thunders towards us like a thousand locomotives.  As the wave crashes down over the Wateree, I close the hatch and hold on to a steel railing with all my strength.  The ship abruptly lurches and groans under the tremendous force seizing it.  Will the Wateree rip apart?

 

Panic grips me, “I don’t want to die, Please help.. AAAHHH!”

 

The ship rolls over completely and the porthole next to me goes dark.  The Wateree is under water!  Several impossibly long minutes pass and then, like a runaway elevator, the ship starts to rise.  Light breaks in from the porthole.  We are on the surface again!  I know I should try to go up on deck to help save the ship, but the Wateree is still being tossed wildly about. I’m terrified.  

 

I say to my self, “Come on Cavanaugh.  Get out there.  Keep your wits about you.  You’ve got to help the crew.”

 

I finally muster some courage and open the hatch.  Cold salty water splashes my face.  To my relief, I see Dawson and other crewmen already running about the deck.  I’m dazed but call out to my friend.

 

     “Dawson!  I’ll check the aft for damage.”

 

     “Hurry Cavanaugh.  Look for people too and take a gaff hook with you,” he responds.

 

     I’m puzzled at first by his instruction.  Then, I look down at the turbulent waters and understand.  The great wave is carrying us over the city of Arica itself!  The Wateree is floating by the tops of church steeples, houses and other buildings.  People are clinging to debris and floundering in the water.  I see a little girl holding on to part of a roof.  The Wateree is drifting swiftly past her.  I only have a moment to save her.

 

     “Hold on Miss!  Grab this.  I’ll pull you in,” I yell.

 

     It is past seven o’clock.  Darkness has fallen over the Wateree.  The crew has rescued dozens of people who, like the girl I saved earlier, are all huddled and shivering with blankets.  The Wateree is aground in a sandy ravine.  We are several hundred yards inland from the harbor. 

 

What an astounding tale I will have to share with my friends and family!  I suddenly realize too how incredible it is that I’m even alive to tell of this.

 

Epilogue

The great Arica Chile quake, one of the ten most powerful earthquakes in history, occurred on August 13, 1868 at approximately 5:05pm.  The quake registered a Richter scale magnitude of 8.5.  Several tsunamis generated by the quake struck the harbor.  The second wave, which carried the U.S.S. Wateree inland, was estimated to be over ninety feet tall.  The stability of the Wateree’s unique flat bottom design is likely the reason why it was the only ship of three anchored in the harbor at that time to survive the disaster.  The Wateree never sailed again and was sold for scrap metal several years later.  The city of Arica was completely destroyed by this disaster which claimed more than 25,000 lives.  A monument stands on the north shore of Arica today as a memorial of the disaster and a tribute to the brave crewmen of the U.S.S. Wateree.