Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Fire Demons

Nancy Higgens listened to her sister, Betsy, describe her latest adventures with the church organ. It took all of her sororal spirit to not set the phone down and do something more fun, like go stub her toes.

"That's wonderful, dear, I'm glad you could learn to repair the organ. I'm sure the parish would be lost without the choral blats of your playing. Ta ta, I have a date for tea," Nancy said when Betsy paused for a breath.

Nancy hung up the phone and went to get ready. She pulled on her sauciest retro garters, which had not been retro when she first purchased them, and slipped on a dress that had once inspired Frank Sinatra to croon some nonsense. She wanted to look her best for the old friend who had sent her the note requesting tea.

She called a limo and arrived at the restaurant in style,in case her old friend was standing outside smoking as was his wont. It simply wouldn't do to allow him to think of her as shabby.

With her elegance arrayed around her like a host of impeccably dressed angels, she entered the restaurant. There she found her old friend, his elbows carelessly scattered around the table and the tablecloth gently on fire.

"Good Afternoon, Al-ani," Nancy said, seating herself. "It is lovely to see you again."

"I only go by Alan now," said her friend.

"Alan. My first fiance was a fellow by the name of Alan. He was not half as handsome and not a quarter as talented as yourself, as you'll recall," Nancy said.

"Flattery will get you everywhere," Alan said. He pointed at her teacup. "I told the waiter to bring two cups, and I'm afraid that yours has gone lukewarm."

He reached across the table and put his finger against the china. Nancy flinched. It wouldn't have been the first time that she got porcelain splinters in her face and boiling tea in her lap because of Alan, but he pulled his hand away and when she touched the cup, it was pleasantly warm. She took a sip.

"I think that I can finally invite you over to my house again," Nancy said.

Alan smiled. "Did I or did I not dry that spill?"

"I would have preferred that you use towels rather than spilling the tea and then setting part of my house on fire, but you're right, the tea was boiled away."

Alan swept several of his hands in a broad mea culpa.

"So what has brought you back to Constantinople after all these years?" Nancy asked.

"Oh, I don't know. The weather. Illinois is lovely this time of year. The tulips muscling their way out of their bulbous prisons. I feel a kinship with them," Alan said. "I can think of no finer pastime than sunbathing."

"As is unsurprising. Do you still keep your lamp?"

"Yes!" Alan said. "I keep it in a locked box to see how it likes being imprisoned. Not very much, as occasionally I will hear it squawking in the night like a chicken being throttled."

"Are you back in town for long? You are always welcome to stay at my apartment, of course. I would very much enjoy catching up with you properly," Nancy said. "My god, it has been a long time. A long time and, well, I must say, a long list of suitors who could never measure up."

"Pssh, now your flattery has gone too far, my dear! Don't pretend that I had spoiled you on human men. My talents are with flame, not love. Djinn have no special considerations when it comes to romance."

"I know that, Alan. I have met other djinn. It is you that I miss," Nancy said.

Alan tried to avoid visibly squirming, but it is hard to keep that many arms under control.

"What's wrong? Oh, I've been too earnest with you," Nancy said, flushing.

"No, certainly not! I won't have you beat yourself up over it. It is my fault entirely. I came here to ask of you a favor but it is now ridiculous. Come, let us just catch up."

"A favor? Anything, Alan, don't let my schoolgirl faux pas interfere with any assistance from me that you need."

Alan looked miserable. He rummaged in a bag next to him and produced an oil lamp.

"That looks familiar...did you take it out of its prison?"

"No, no, this is not my prison. That wretched contraption, I swear by the gods, will enjoy neither the light of the sun or fresh air ever again. But it does look just like mine. How similar it is...and I hope you understand why I have come to you. You see, I've never met another who can free djinns from their prisons. Please believe me when I say that I have searched the world, long and far, in many dangerous places, but have been met with only disappointment," Alan said.

"I will certainly free one of your kind from the lamp," Nancy said. "Allow me to do so at once!"

Before Alan could stop her, she seized the lamp. With a puff of smoke that smelled like burnt cedar and spices, a djinn stood next to the table. A female djinn.

With steaming tears in his eyes, Alan leapt from his chair and embraced the woman.

"Meotia!" Alan cried.

Nancy kept her face silent as her heart screamed. She set the lamp on the table, smiled at the couple, and left.

The Moral: dating sites need their "Looking For" option to include "Flings to fill the void until I find the prison that holds my long-lost love and then I might call you up years later to ask you to break her from jail."

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