As we stood in the pouring rain, the white-haired merchant assured me the monkey’s paw would work. “This paw has granted many wishes for many owners. And each one has gotten more than he bargained for,” the man said, in a lilting accent I wouldn’t dare impersonate.
I was down to my last hundred dollars, and I told the man that my money might be better spent on food or rent than on a shriveled wad of ape flesh.
“Is there any other way to get what you truly desire?”
That question haunted me the entire way home. I laid awake in bed that night, staring at the ceiling of my shitty apartment and thinking about what the old-man-whose-ethnicity-isn’t-important had asked me. Are my dreams impossible? Can I ever get the things I want in life without turning to a cursed relic?
By the time the electronic clock struck midnight, I decided I had to try. I rose out of bed, pulled on my raincoat, and headed toward the door. I was nearly out the door before I noticed something that stopped me dead in my tracks. There was something hard, and hairy, in my coat pocket.
I couldn’t believe it. The monkey’s six-clawed paw had somehow found its way into my pocket without me even realizing. Finally, it was as if the universe said, “I’m listening.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, I grabbed the horrible talisman, closed my eyes and raise it above my head. With a clear and distinct voice, I invoked my heart’s true desire.
“I wish for more episodes of Frasier.”
A stillness set over my dingy apartment. Seconds passed, and then minutes, before I began to feel foolish. Hah! How silly I had been, for thinking I could just *have* more episodes of the greatest television show of all time. And just as I began to relax, the paw twisted in my hand like a snake. I dropped the wretched ape fist in shock and it clanged to the floor. I was still eyeing the paw when I felt the buzz in my other pocket. It was my phone, telling me that I have a Hollywood news alert.
“Good news, Frasier fans! Frasier’s back in an all-new made for tv-movie! Catch Frasier 2: The Reunion tonight on NBC!”
My wish came true! Frasier was back! Once more, I could watch the stars of my beloved sitcom. There was Frasier, the psychiatrist-turned-radio-host who can climb the social ladder but can’t crack the biggest problem: family. Then there was his brother Niles, a fellow psychiatrist and always a close competitor. And his live-in father, the grumpy blue collar Martin. And Daphne, the cheerful and eccentric housekeeper who ends up marrying Niles, that was a thrill! And Ros and Kenny and all the members of KACL radio, they were all there. I whooped and pounded my fist in the air as I witnessed the glorious return of Frasier in a two-hour, made for TV event.
But after one measly hour, it was over. I had torn through my new Frasier like a coke fiend through his parents’ trust fund. The credits of the final episode rolled and I stared at the screen in shock. I don’t want to go back to the way it was before. I can’t live without more Frasier.
I reached for the paw that rested on my mantle, but paused. Inexplicably, one of the monkey’s fingers was curled, leaving the total number of raised fingers to five. I had better use my remaining wishes wisely. So in a strong and clear voice, I summoned my fate: “I wish for more Frasier.”
Immediately the paw’s second finger curled, and I dropped the talisman on the mantle. Still unnerved by the strange magic, I reminded myself the magic had taken several hours to manifest the first time. So I went to bed, hoping that tomorrow would bring new delights.
The next morning, I checked my email, opened my news app story and immediately felt sick to my stomach. The article read: “Good news, Frasier fans! Frasier’s getting a reboot for a new generation!”
“In the new re-imagining, Frasier has been recast as Vanessa Hudgens and Niles is being played by Hailee Steinfeld. And Frasier’s father, Martin, will be played by LeBron James in old man makeup.”
I howled in fury. “This is not what I wanted!” Swearing and beating my chest, I yanked the paw off of the mantle. I had to try again.
“More Frasier!” I snarled at the paw. Again, the finger curled. Moments later, another news alert rattled my phone.
“Good news, Frasier fans! The original cast of Frasier has gotten together for a hilarious three-minute web video produced by Carnival Cruise Line! In the video, called “Beach Frasier!” the cast of Frasier enjoys a vacation at sea aboard the Carnival Horizon. It may not the reunion fans were hoping for. But as Frasier says in the video, “Life’s a Beach!”
I nearly threw up in my mouth. “Frasier is nothing without Seattle! It is crucial to the fabric of the show! You could even say Seattle is one of the main characters in the series!” I yelled at my neighbor through the shared wall of our apartment.
I threw the wretched paw into the fire. Better to let it burn than watch the cast of Frasier whore themselves out for a cruise ship.
But I had to fix my mistake. I grabbed the paw out of the fire. Time for another wish.
“I need more Frasier.”
Again the paw twisted, and again my phone rumbled. “Good news, Frasier fans! The original cast of Frasier has reunited… for an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Actors Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, and Jane Leeves rode with Mr. Seinfeld in the backseat of his 1996 Porsche Cayman and talked about their favorite LA. restaurants.”
In an era where the American dream is collapsing like a dying star, is it too much to ask for just ten episodes of some goddamn Frasier?
I was running out of wishes, but I had to have more. So I asked. And asked again. Each time, I jolted awake as my phone pinged. I yanked my iPhone off my nightstand to check my celeb news alerts:
“Good news, Frasier fans! The cast of Frasier reunited for a hilarious new Funny or Die video! Good news, Frasier fans! Frasier the mobile game is now available to download on Apple devices. Good news, Frasier fans! Frasier’s here to tell you what it means to be a libertarian.”
Tears streamed down my eyes and my throat felt raw. I had screamed so much I had given myself a migraine. In the midst of my confusion and rage, the truth slowly dawned on me: the paw was never going to work. Mike, you idiot, how can you be so naive? You think you can just GET new Frasier? Frasier was a beautiful but delicate thing. It should never have existed in the first place. Can’t you just accept that it was here, it had its moment, and it was gone?
I began to laugh at myself, laughing at my own stupidity, my own hubris. No, I could not accept this. There should still be one wish left. If I can’t have Frasier, I shall wish for death.
With a calm and steady hand, I reached for the mantle. But there was nothing there.