Ali Dabber and the Genii
by Tim Scott

art by Peter Zenger

Learn to rely on magic.

     Biff Maguire was still smarting from the humiliation he’d suffered at the hands of Rip Brown and vowed to get even with the teacher.

     He had a dog called Ali Dabber whom he’d acquired on one of his vacation trips to the Far East. This dog had magical gifts  which he was fond of revealing to Biff, but Biff, who hated magic, paid no attention to the dog—and promised him a beating if he tried any magic on him.

     However, Biff decided to visit Rip’s house on the sly during the teaching day, and use his dog’s magic for a purpose.

     Taking his dog, he went down the narrow, shabby cobblestone street to Rip’s house. Biff let himself in with a skeleton key, and he and Ali proceeded to the attic, where they found Rip’s cat Trixie. She was an ordinary cat and knew no magic, but offered no resistance.

     Biff told Ali Dabber to turn her into a harem lady with flowing silk bloomers, parti-colored blouse, and long blonde hair. Thus attired, Trixie sat down on a sofa and invited Ali to sit down beside her. She patted the dog and purred words of love. (He truly was a handsome mastiff.) He began to enjoy her company.

     She then told the dog how mean his master Biff had been on the previous visit, and how he had made life miserable for her master Rip Brown. Ali Dabber bristled at this untoward news and the hair along his neck became stiff as his anger grew.

     Biff seemed unaware of what was going on between them. He seemed tired from their walk. Trixie repeated the word “squatchemelone” to Ali Dabber, but he didn’t understand anything about the word. She tried to utter it but her vocal chords were not up to it. While they were talking Ali Dabber carelessly reached his paw out to touch a lamp on a nearby table. He began to stroke it. Suddenly a genii appeared in the room before them. He appeared to be a wraith of blue smoke, and he told Ali he had three wishes.

     Biff was sitting in an old naugahide armchair and barely noticed what was going on. He seemed mesmerized by the genii, who spoke softly to Trixie and Ali.

     Ali asked the genii to turn him into a handsome Arab chieftain with gold and horses, and clothes of many colors. Suddenly Ali became a handsome prince and stood beside his betrothed Trixie. Biff, overcome by emotion, jumped out of his chair and offered his loyalty and fealty to the lovers. He then called for a taxi and they all went together to Biff’s rich and sumptuous home in a large and elegant suburb, with much acreage between houses. Biff called his connections in city hall, and they were married immediately and given a choice bedroom in the lavish house. Ali carried his lamp under his flowing robes.

     The genii had admonished Ali not to ever utter one word, “squatchamelone”, a forbidden one throughout the Arab world; otherwise, the wonderful changes that had taken place would be revoked and he and Trixie would return to their former state. Both promised never to utter that ugly word.

     But, alas, the wicked Biff had managed to cast off his bemused trance and overheard what the genii had told the lovers. He smiled crookedly to himself, knowing his power over them. If he were to utter that word before them and the magic lamp, all would be lost for them. When he saw his opportunity, Biff told them that unless they asked the genii to provide what Biff wanted, he’d utter the forbidden word. He said he wanted a new off-white Mercedes 3-door sedan, replete with black leather upholstery and liveried chauffeur. 

     Biff made quite a splash around the school with his new car and seemed to smile again. He sent in a new evaluation report to the super in which he described Rip’s performance as a teacher in glowing terms. The two grew quite friendly and other teachers began to complain—they were always in Biff’s office talking sports. Finally he broke down and told Rip what had happened to Trixie. Rip could hardly believe his ears. He asked Rip to take him there where he could witness the transformation. When they got there the couple had decamped for greener pastures.

     Rip was of two minds on the matter. He still loathed Biff and was envious of his new car. He started to say the forbidden word, but before he could Biff was on him like a tiger and overcame him. He tied him up and put him in a spare room, binding his mouth with tape. It was a waste of time and energy as the lamp was no longer in his possession—they’d taken it. Rip broke down and began to shout the word. As he repeated it Biff threatened to murder him, but finally came to his senses. He begged rip to say nothing about the fight, promising him a job as an assistant principal, whereby he could learn more magic.

     Time went pleasantly at Shadytown High, where magic lessons were de rigueur, and the magic program went swimmingly. They hired a new super-computer for the auditorium with a program that taught the students how to become magicians. This was popular with the whole student body and magic became a way of life there.

     One day there was a big parade with a visit from a sheik and his harem from Iran. All the dignitaries from Guerre and the surrounding towns were to greet the visiting potentate. He and his retainers rode magnificent white Arabian horses down the main street. Biff and Rip rode behind them. The crafty Biff got Rip to agree to utter the word that would turn the principal’s world to ashes, but for the life of them they couldn’t remember it. They uttered many words resembling it when they found themselves in the presence of the prince. However the real word was never uttered and the wed lovers lived a long, happy and productive life.