“Where on earth are we?” Jim asked.
“Rajasthan.” Frank said as he pulled a pair of Rebook Pumps out of his cap. “It’s a neat little province on the western border of India. Lots of lovely folks live here, but the weather sucks if you ask me.”
“Oh, I get it!” Jim said. “So the smartest man in the world is like some scientist or something studying stuff out here, right?”
“No, but come on, they’re about to serve up some tea.” Jim turned around and saw a small group of buildings about a hundred meters off. Just simple little stick huts with a few goats and chickens running around. He followed Frank toward the village. Brightly dressed women walked around the buildings, attending to various daily chores. A few old men relaxed on straw mats on the ground, leisurely talking to each other. It seemed like a rather odd place to meet the most intelligent man on the planet. Frank approached one of the men and began talking in a language Jim didn’t understand. The men stood and welcomed Jim and his green companion into the largest hut of the village. They either didn’t notice or didn’t care that Frank was green and mostly naked. As they sat down on the floor a woman wearing every color imaginable scurried in with a tray of clay bowls filled with hot, creamy tea.
“This stuff is great.” Frank said to Jim. “Drink up.” Jim took a bowl and drank. It was indeed good, but he was wondering where this super-intelligent person was.
“She’s coming.” Said Frank, hearing Jim’s thoughts. “She’s killing a chicken at the moment and she’ll come in once that’s done.”
“She’s killing a chicken?”
“Would you rather eat a live one? Shut up and drink your tea.” Frank resumed his chatting with the bearded men. Jim couldn’t understand what was going on. What was the smartest person in the world killing a chicken for?
“For lunch, dumbass.” Frank said, interrupting Jim’s thoughts again.
“I don’t think I like you poking into my brain whenever you feel like it.” Jim said.
“I’m not poking, I have limited omniscience. I simply know all there is to know about all people. It’s impossible for me not to look at what’s going on in that puny brain of yours.”
Jim was trying to think of a witty comeback when a small, dirty woman in her early twenties appeared at the doorway. She was brightly dressed like all the other women of the village with five or six pounds of bracelets hugging her arms and a nose-ring the size of Texas hanging from her left nostril. She was wiping chicken remains from her hands. Frank stood immediately when she entered the room and said many flowery-sounding things to her. He placed his hand on her head and she smiled shyly.
“James,” Frank said, “I’d like you to come meet my friend, Ajoti, the most intelligent human being on the planet.”
Had Frank said that Ajoti was an alien from Jupiter doing reconnaissance work among the tribal people of Rajasthan, Jim would not have been more confused. He gave Frank the Jinn a sideways look. He tried to understand what Frank was saying.
“You mean, one day she will become the most intelligent person in the world?”
“No, she is already. There is no-one alive today that has a better brain than my little friend here.” Frank said, putting his arm around Ajoti.
“I’m quite confused.” Jim said with a not-so-bright look on his face.
“I know you are.” Said Frank. “And let me tell you why. You’re confused because you assumed that the most intelligent person alive would be some sort of doctor or mathematician or something. You can’t understand how this simple-looking girl at my side, who is at present picking her nose with chicken-soiled fingers, could possibly have an intellect greater than all those scientists you see on TV. In fact, she strikes you as rather dumb, doesn’t she?”
“Well, she is picking her nose.”
“I’ll tell you what makes Ajoti special. Ajoti has the finest working brain of any person alive today. In fact, it’s the best brain that’s come around for a few hundred years. She really is quite special. However, Ajoti will never become famous. She will never even learn how to write her own name. In fact she will never leave this little village or go to any school, even though if she did she would shock and amaze the world with her staggering intellect. If she studied mathematics, Pythagoras would be quickly forgotten. If she studied theology, she would be able to teach St. Paul a thing or two. If she played chess, Bobby Fisher wouldn’t stand a chance. As it is she studies cooking and cleaning, and I promise you that you have never had chicken like the chicken you’re gonna get in half an hour.” At this Frank said a few quick words to Ajoti and she left shyly.
“I still don’t get it. If she’s so smart why doesn’t she go to school or try to make this village better?”
“Do you remember what you learned in elementary school?”
“I remember I got beat up a lot.”
“But do you remember what the classes were about? Or even in high school, can you remember the facts and figures you learned?”
“Not really, but no one does, which is why I think it was a waste of time.”
“Ah, but it wasn’t actually a waste of time. You know, the brain is like a car. Everybody has a different kind of car for a brain. Ajoti was given a Lamborghini Diablo, your brain is more like a Volkswagen. The thing is that Ajoti’s Diablo has never had a tune up. It never went through the testing and tuning that you got with a basic education. As a result of that it doesn’t run as well as it could. It runs fine, to be sure. She’s quite bright on he own even without education, but it could run so much better. Your education wasn’t actually designed to make you remember facts; it was designed to give your brain a workout. And as a result of that workout in some areas you brain runs just as good as Ajoti’s Lamborghini.”
“Wow.” Said Jim after the minute of silence it took for him to understand. “I guess it’s pretty tragic that she’s stuck in this village.”
“Maybe. But she doesn’t think so. She’s quite happy here.”
Eventually food was served and indeed it exceeded Frank’s predictions. After eating, drinking, eating a little more and having one more cup of tea the two travelers were getting ready to depart. They bid farewell to Ajoti and the tribe and began to walk back into the desert.
“It really doesn’t seem right.” Jim said after they had walked a ways.
“I know. It’s far too hot here. But I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it.”
“I mean about that girl. It seems…evil to let her float along without reaching her full potential. The leaders of whatever country we’re in must be totally corrupt.”
Frank laughed. “First, tell me, what makes you think she hasn’t reached her full potential? She’s attained a level of happiness higher than most folks. Secondly, lemme tell you, if the most upright, ethical person in the world was running this country, this would not be much different. It’s not always morals that hinder governments from making good changes in their countries. Sometimes it’s just manpower. We’re out in the desert. There’s about five more little villages like that one within twenty miles of this place, how could you build a school here? It’s pretty tough.”
“I bet a good man could figure it out.”
“Dude, trust me, I know who the goodest man is, and he really couldn’t do much that’s not already being done.”
“Who is the goodest man? Could I meet him next?”
Frank paused for a moment. “What?” He said with what might have been interpreted as fear in his voice.
“Yeah, that would be pretty interesting.” Jim said. “Let’s go meet the most good person in the world next.”
Frank looked at Jim thoughtfully and took a cigarette out of his hat. He chewed it slowly and finally said, “No.”
“Hey man.” Jim said crossly, “I gave up my last pack of smokes and you promised me three wishes. You better deliver!”
Frank spat out his cigarette indignantly. “First,” he said, “I did not promise you any wishes. I only said that I could do a few things for you. Second, I have already taken you around the world to a place that no Canadian has even seen, I think that makes up for the half-pack of smokes you gave up. Third, I am a powerful Jinn from a higher plane and am accountable to no man, who are you gonna tell even if I did break some sort of deal? I will not take you to the best man alive. I can’t do it.”
“Why not? I thought you could do anything in regards to people and stuff.”
“It is within my ability to take you to him, but not within my will. I don’t want to do it, therefore I can’t.”
“But why not?”
Frank thought for a moment and said, “You wouldn’t like him much. You wouldn’t appreciate him. It would be a waste of time.”
Jim paused to take that in. Frank changed the subject before he could think about it too much. “Now, I could take you to the most evil man alive. I think you’d understand that guy a little better.”
“Why would I understand him better?”
“You’ll be able to relate better.”
Before Jim could object green smoke began pouring out of Frank’s shoes. It soon enveloped them completely and Jim noticed the temperature drastically change again as the smoke blinded him. The smoke faded and Jim’s ears were bombarded with a voice over a loudspeaker speaking what he thought was German. It later turned out to be French.
“Where are we now?” Jim asked, looking around for Frank, who seemed to have disappeared. Jim examined his surroundings and found himself in a desolate subway station. He wandered around a little, wondering if Frank had gotten lost on the way. He heard a train approaching. Above the sound of the train he could hear Frank’s voice approaching in the form of a gleeful scream. The train pulled into the station and Jim saw Frank hanging off the front with a wild grin on his face. He had added a white golf shirt to his wardrobe and was evidently enjoying himself. As the train slowed Frank leapt off like a jungle cat and strolled over to Jim as if he was walking out of a convenience store.
“Hey there.” He said, doing up the buttons around his collar.
“What are we doing in Germany?”
“Switzerland.” Frank corrected. “And we’re waiting for the most evil man in the world to step off the train.”
“He’s on that train?!”
“Not anymore.” The train door opened and scores of people poured out. Jim’s jinn took Jim by the hand and pulled him roughly toward the crowd. Frank must have pulled rather hard because Jim noticed his feet lifting off the ground. Soon he noticed that his feet couldn’t touch the ground at all. By the time Jim realized that he and Frank were shrinking they were perched on the right shoulder of a man in a business suit. Jim was about to scream in uncontrollable fear when Frank slapped him in the face with such a force as to throw him against their transportation’s neck.
“What did you do that for?!”
“I thought you were about to scream out in uncontrollable fear.”
“I was not.” Jim said, rubbing his cheek. “What’s going on? Where are we?”
“Well, I thought that this would be the best way to get to know the most evil man in the world. I personally don’t want to talk to the guy; from here he can’t hear or see us. We’ll just watch him for a while.”
And so they did. For hours they stayed in their invisible perch atop their host’s shoulder. They watched as he went to work. They watched as he ate his lunch. They watched as he talked with friends, clients and other people he bumped into. Jim was anxiously waiting for him to flip out in crazy evilness or something. But it never happened. Five hours from the time the jinn slapped his human companion Frank decided they had seen enough.
“What the crap was that?” Jim asked in the coffee shop they retired to after their long day of observations.
“No kidding.” The jinn said. “Can you believe the nerve of that guy? I’m surprised God lets that one walk around breathing!”
Jim was confused. “What? He didn’t do anything bad. He was just acting like a normal guy. What was so evil about him?”
“I keep forgetting that your brain is far too small to pick up the thoughts and attitudes of others.” Frank said this while gulping down a steaming mocha and chewing on the last of his cigarettes. “You should have heard what was going on in his head.”
“Hate. Just pure hate. With everyone he talked to he was pulsating with hate. He actually longs for the pain and sorrow of pretty much everyone he meets.”
“How could that be? He was friendly with all those people.”
“Only because society dictates that he must be friendly. You need to realize that evil is not what you’ve thought it was. Evil starts in the heart. Sometimes it is allowed to grow and exert its power outside through the body. Hitler wasn’t the most evil man to ever live, but his hate was given a lot more freedom than most. I tell you the truth, if that man on whom we sat was ever given the same power that Hitler had there would be a conflict far bloodier than WWII. I feel dirty just having listened to his hate-rants for the last five hours. Evil, evil, evil.”
“But I saw him give money to the beggar.”
“Yet you didn’t hear what he was thinking at the time. He hated that beggar. He actually had imagined how it would feel to strangle him to death with his bare hands!”
“I don’t understand how he would be considered so evil if he didn’t do any evil.”
“He did do evil. The evil dwelling in his heart was enough to convict him. Evil, evil, evil.”
Jim computed this in silence over the next five minutes while Frank drank two more caffeinated drinks. Frank stood, took out a few gold coins from his Tupperware hat and tossed them on the table.
“Well, I’m outta here.” He said, pulling a motorcycle out of his hat.
“What? You’re leaving?”
“Yeah.” Frank pulled his hat at the corners. It elongated and formed a helmet of sorts. “I’m done. I have a few buddies I haven’t seen in a couple hundred years. Lots of catching up to do.”
“But I only got two wishes!”
“And that’s two more than you deserve. Don’t worry. I’ll drop you off at your home on my way.” Frank started up the bike. Green smoke poured out of the tailpipe. As the smoke blinded Jim he felt something like a fist plunging into his gut. He fell backward against a cold, dirt wall and slumped to the ground. He was back in the cave in which he started.
“Whoa.” Frank was nowhere to be seen. Jim picked himself up and walked out of the cave. The weather was unchanged from when he entered. He was mildly disappointed with his adventure and mused about that on the slow way home.
“Why are you disappointed?” Said a voice beside him.
Jim jumped and turned to see Frank, standing gloriously beside him wearing flowing silken robes and a great gold and red turban. “Holy crap!”
“Not at all. No crap is holy.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I finished catching up and I decided to grant one more wish.”
“How did you…”
“Shut up and listen.” Frank said gently. “You got something great and you shouldn’t feel bad if it turned out differently than you thought it would. You’ll find most things that turn out for the best are way outside our best laid plans. You’ve got to realize that the things you see and feel only represent a tiny percentage of what is reality. If you don’t grasp this you’ll never be happy, holy or wise. Unless you’re insanely brilliant you’ll never be able to judge things by their appearances. Remember these things because they are very important: The things you desire most in life will often kill you. The things that hurt you most are often the most helpful. Also remember that you and everyone else are very sinful. The difference between you and Adolf Hitler is negligible compared to the different between you and God. Lastly, only he can give you any amount of joy in this life. Find him and don’t let go. Trust me.” With his last two words he started to sink into the earth.
“Wait! Why did you tell me all this? What does that even mean?”
“I just granted your third wish.” The path was at his waist now.
“I didn’t even make it yet!”
“I granted the wish that you would have made forty years from now had I not talked to you. Bye bye!” He disappeared in the path, leaving a peach in the place he had stood. Jim picked up the peach. He looked up at the sky and back at the peach. He dusted it off, took a bite and started walking hope. Yep, he thought to himself, August is the best time for peaches.