The Wish Sellsman

“‘Wishes for sell! Wishes for sell!’ A voice called out in my garden. It was a sweet, intoxicating voice and it woke me from my sleep. ‘Wishes for sell, wishes for sell!’ I looked at the clock, it was just past midnight and the voice kept calling from the garden. I pushed myself up from my bed and went to the window, drawing back the curtain and looked down onto my lawn—”

“Ah, this story again, Carlson?” The four people in the bar laughed as the old man’s story was interrupted, “Ain’t nothing happen, Carlson.” The voice belonged to a bald man with dark, aged skin. Carlson himself seemed as a bear: he had a great white beard and a long white mane for hair. I scrawled his words into a journal that I carried with me.

There were four people in the bar, I had jotted down their descriptions. One was Carlson: the bear like man with the long, scruff hair. The other was another man that was referred to as Johnson. He was the black fellow who stopped Carlson’s story and the other was another elderly man: Asian, peppered hair and black, almond eyes. He kept mostly to himself, though, his name, from what I had gathered, was Chu.

“I’m telling ya it happened, Johnson. I heard it and went to go–” The four laughed again.

“Yeah, yeah, Carlson, we know.” The three patrons seemed to be good friends, or at least seemed to know each other, perhaps just from being around each other in this shoddy bar.

The bar itself smelled of stale beer and had wooden plaster walls that were painted to look like wood. It was a cheap bar, but cheap bars are what I frequented. I didn’t mind it at all.

“Lemme continue!” Carlson stated, and the others nodded, still laughing. He cleared his throat and poured an almost empty bottle of beer into his mouth and pushed it aside, “Now where was I?”

“‘Wishes for sell, wishes for sell!’ The voice was still callin’ but I didn’t see anyone. The garden was empty. I closed the curtain and rubbed my head,  I was confused, nothin’ like this has ever happened. ‘Wishes for sell,’ the voice didn’t call from my garden no more..” he paused for dramatic effect, “It came from behind. I saw the glimmer of  light from behind me. ‘Wishes for sell, wishes for sell,’ I turned around and saw a little man: the top of his head reached just under my chin. He held one of those paper lamp things in his hand and had a white mask with two beady eyes and a painted smile where his mouth should have been. ‘Hello, sir, would you like to buy a wish?’ He looked at me with those beady eyes and cocked his head.” Carlson’s face twisted as a look of soft horror as he continued, “ ‘Any wish?’ I asked the little man and he nodded at me…’

“Alright Carlson, you’ve had enough.” The bartender took the bottle from his hand. Carlson nodded, he didn’t seem like he wanted to continue his story anyhow. They stayed around a couple of more hours and I had a few more drinks before I pushed myself from the rickety bar stool and headed towards the two barn doors that acted as the doors to this establishment. Carlson soon followed.

“The wish I made…” Carlson said from behind me, I pivoted on my heel. The flickering neon light was the only thing illuminating otherwise empty parking. “The two of them….Johnson and Chu were..” he stopped for a while, “They were dead before last week.” His voice was choking at this point.

“Dead?” I sounded incredulous. I looked him over, “Are you sure you aren’t drunk, Carlson?” I go over and pat the bear-like man on his shoulder. He swatted my hand away.

“I know they were! I watched them die..we were in Vietnam: I killed Chu with my own hands! I saw Johnson die from a stake pit…I wished them back, from the Wish Sellsman…he gave me a candle and I lit it. The next day they were back…but the memories: I have two sets of lives in my head, one from when they died and from when they didn’t.” His knees banged against the asphalt parking lot: his face contorted in sorrow and in confusion, “Which one is real…” he cried. “Which is a dream?”

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