‘Three wishes,’ said the genie.
The man frowned. ‘No wishing for more wishes?’
‘No wishing for more genies?’
‘...or more lamps?’
‘No,’ sighed the genie. ‘Nope, nein, non, de nada. Definitely not.’
‘I see,’ said the man.
He thought for a while. The genie began to play solitaire.
‘I’ve decided,’ said the man.
‘Excellent,’ said the genie. ‘Your first wish?’
‘My first wish is for a trillion dollars,’ said the man. ‘Although I want you to make sure my spending doesn’t have any adverse effects on the economy.’
‘Done,’ said the genie. He handed the man an American Express Platinum card and told him the PIN number. ‘And your second wish?’
‘My second wish is for everlasting long life,’ said the man.
‘Done,’ said the genie, and the man felt a sudden rush of health and vitality. ‘And your third wish?’
The man looked down at his American Express card. ‘Can you come back to me on that one?’
‘Certainly,’ said the genie. ‘Just rub the lamp again and I’ll be there in a jiffy.’ And he was gone.
The man lived like a king. With his trillion dollars he spent his money on enormous palaces and thousands of acres of beautiful land all over the world. But no matter how hard he tried, he still had unimaginable amounts of money left. He donated billions to charities and made the world a better place. He lived a dozen lifetimes and became regarded as a God among men. He bought the Polynesian Islands and lived out there for the rest of his days.
When the Third World War started, the man rubbed the lamp again.
‘I trust you’ve enjoyed spending your money?’ said the genie.
‘Absolutely. The billions of people I’ve helped certainly enjoyed it too,’ said the man. Mushroom clouds were spreading on the horizon.
‘Well, no amount of money would ever have stopped human nature,’ said the genie. ‘Nothing could.’
The man was silent, looking out at the water.
‘And your third wish?’ said the genie.
‘I want you to send me back in time,’ said the man. ‘To half past three on November the third, 2012.’
‘Done,’ he said, and as the man vanished the genie realised he’d been had.
The man materialised with the lamp five seconds before he was due to rub it. He grinned an enormous grin.
The genie billowed from the lamp and regarded him. ‘Three wishes,’ it said.
‘Same again, please,’ said the man.
The genie frowned. ‘What?’