It was the last week in May. The spring carnival was in town, and Darren and his friends, Ty and Chris, were going. They were excited. The town’s spring carnival was one of the most fun events of the year, and it happened right before school let out for the summer. There would be food, games, prizes, good music, and fun rides. Soon, Darren was in the car with his mom and dad, and on the way to pick up his friends.
Darren and his friends were the undersized, over-intelligent, lower classmen version of the “nerd patrol”. They were at the end of their sophomore year of high school. Soon they would be getting their drivers’ licenses. All three of them were honor students in the academically gifted program, and all had been straight A students pretty much since kindergarten. They were really into video games and anything technology related. The only thing that was not going right for them was how they were treated at school. As the smart, undersized kids – all of whom had glasses, braces, skinny bodies, and nerdy looks, they were often picked on and shunned by the bigger, more muscular, athletic, and “beautiful” kids.
They tried not to let that get them down. After all, they were the ones who were most likely to get full scholarships to college, and amount to much more in life than many of the “beautiful people” who would one day find out that the way things work in high school doesn’t work anymore once they get out into the real world.
Soon, Darren’s parents had picked up Ty and Chris. They sat in the back seat with Darren, and they immediately started chatting excitedly about the carnival, and of course, about video games. When they got to the carnival, Darren’s dad gave him a $20 bill for the ride pass, and $20 more for games and food, and asked his friends if they had money. They did. “Well, you guys go have fun. If you need us, you can reach us on our cell phones. Meet us back here at 9 pm so we can take you home,” he said, as the boys ran off in one direction, and Darren’s parents, Marty and Jeanine, went off in the other direction.
“Hey guys, let’s go ride some rides,” Ty said, excitedly, as his friends nodded in agreement. They each went and bought a $20 all day ride pass, and began riding some of the carnival’s rides. After riding some of the rides, they went to get something to eat.
They went to a food vendor and sat at picnic tables as they ate hotdogs, hamburgers, and French fries. While eating, they talked about what they wanted to do next. The three of them decided that they all wanted to go do some of the non-ride activities and play some games before the night was over.
After eating, they walked around and played a few games. Soon, they came by a weird booth. There was an old gypsy woman sitting there in a rocking chair. The game was called “Guess the Riddle”. As they walked by, Darren became intrigued by this. He came a little closer, as his friends followed.
“Hey, what’s the object of this game?” Darren asked the old gypsy woman.
“You pay me a dollar. I speak a riddle to you. If you are able to solve it, I grant you a wish – any wish you want,” the slightly creepy old gypsy woman replied.
“Sounds like a rip-off to me,” Ty said, smiling.
“Yeah, come on, let’s go,” Chris said.
“No, I want to try it, here’s $1 – tell me your riddle,” Darren said.
“Ok, young man, what has a head, a tail, is brown, and has no legs?” she asked, smiling at the boys.
Darren thought about it for a minute. He looked at his friends. They shrugged their shoulders.
Darren really didn’t know either, but he guessed: “A snake,” he said.
The old woman tilted her head and looked back at him.
“Well, did I get it right?” he asked.
“Well, technically, the answer is a penny. But, your answer is also technically correct, so yes, you win. But be careful what you wish for…wishes have consequences,” the old lady said in a creepy tone of voice.
“So, I can wish for ANYTHING, right?” Darren asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“And you will grant it?” he asked again.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Ok, I want to be big, muscular, fit, healthy, and very athletic. I want my body to be like that so I’m not a skinny little geek that gets picked on all the time. I want to be a big, muscular stud around school and get treated right. I want to play sports, and be good at them. I want all of the girls to like me and want me,” he said.
“Oh my! That is quite the wish,” said the old gypsy woman.
“Well, can you do it or not?” Darren demanded, becoming a little bit annoyed.
“Yes, I can do it, but you have to be sure…is this what you really want?” she asked.
“YES, YES, YES!” Darren said.
“Be careful what you wish for…,” she said, repeating her earlier warning.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know…but I want it. And I want it now. You gonna give it to me or what?” he asked, as his friends stood by, rolling their eyes.
“Yes, come closer,” she said.
Darren came closer to the old woman.
“May the changes this young man has requested be bestowed upon him by the mother goddess,” she said, as she waved her hand in front of his face and blew her breath on him. Her breath was pretty rank – it smelled of rotten cabbage and cigarettes. Darren winced when he smelled it.
“That’s it?” he asked, disappointed.
“Yes, that’s it,” she replied.
“Um…I don’t feel or see anything yet,” he replied.
“These things take time, dear. By this time next week, you will start to see the changes you have requested,” the old gypsy woman said. “Now run along. You got your wish.”
“Come on, man,” Ty said.
“Yeah, let’s get out of here,” Chris said.
“Looks like she just took your dollar,” Ty said, laughing.
Chris nodded his head in agreement.
“Yeah, I guess so.” Darren said.
“Yep, but hey, at least you solved that riddle. It wasn’t easy,” Chris said, trying to comfort him.
“Come on, let’s play some more games,” Ty said, as they went off in the other direction.
A couple of weeks later, after school had let out for the summer, Darren got up on a Saturday morning. He ate breakfast, took a shower, and looked in the mirror. His teeth, that were still crooked just days earlier, were suddenly straight. The braces now hurt. His teeth had somehow become straight overnight. He also noticed he was looking at this in the mirror, and seeing it very clearly, without his glasses. That was weird. He had been very nearsighted since about second grade, and his eyes had gotten progressively worse, not better. But somehow, he was seeing perfectly clearly without his glasses.
Maybe that gypsy woman wasn’t full of bull after all. Maybe she actually granted my wish…he thought to himself. Nah…couldn’t be…no way, he thought to himself.
He went back to his room and got out a pair of jeans. He tried pulling them up, but he could not get them above his mid thigh. He tried another pair, and they were also too tight. Finally, he grabbed a pair of stretchy athletic shorts that he usually wore during physical education class. He got them on, but they were tight, whereas before, they had been loose.
He went back to the bathroom and got on the scale. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He now weighed 125 lbs. Just a couple of weeks ago, he only weighed 90 lbs. He looked down at his thighs and calves. Instead of being stick-like, they now were shapely and muscular. He grinned.
NO WAY, he thought to himself.
He walked into the kitchen. Immediately, Marty, Darren’s dad, looked him over. “Darren,” he said, “Where are your glasses, son?”
“I don’t need them anymore,” Darren replied.
Being skeptical, Marty said, “Look, son, I know you want contact lenses. We can take you to the eye doctor and get you contacts. But for now, you need to wear your glasses,” he said.
“No, seriously, dad, I can see better without them now,” Darren replied.
“OK, let’s just see. Stay where you are,” Marty said, as he took a piece of paper and wrote 4 numbers on it, about 1 inch tall. He then held it up. “Read these numbers for me,” he said, as Darren stood almost all the way on the other side of the room.
“3, 4, 7, 2,” Darren said, reading them perfectly.
“Wow. You got them right. Hey Jeanine, we need to take Darren to the eye doctor. I think his eyes are ok now. He might not need glasses anymore,” Marty said, as Jeanine came into the room.
“Where are your pants and shirt, young man?” she asked, as Darren was standing there in the kitchen, wearing only a tight pair of his physical education shorts from school.
“They don’t fit anymore,” he said.
“Are you serious?” his mom asked.
“Yes. I can’t even get my jeans on anymore. And my braces hurt my mouth now. I think my teeth are straight. I need these off,” he said.
“Let me see…” his mom said, as he came closer and opened his mouth.
She looked his teeth over. Sure enough, they were perfectly straight.
“WOW. I guess I need to make an appointment for you to see the eye doctor and the orthodontist,” she said.
“And you need to take this boy to the mall today, and get him some pants and shirts that fit too,” his dad said.
“Well I can do that now,” his mom said, as she and Darren began to get ready.
She took him to the mall and got him all new clothes, and then took him to the eye doctor’s office that was in the mall. Sure enough, his vision was now a perfect 20/20 without glasses. She was stunned. The ophthalmologist said that it was rare, but that once in a while a kid’s vision could correct itself.
On Monday, his mom took him to get his braces removed. The orthodontist, although shocked, said that occasionally, teeth will straighten themselves out faster than expected. But by now, Darren knew what had really fixed everything.
A few days later, Darren asked his mom and dad if he could go join a gym and start working out. Marty and Jeanine had a discussion about it.
“I don’t know, we’ve spent so much money on him recently. This is another expense. Can we afford it?” Jeanine asked.
“Yeah, we can afford it. I like it. I am glad to see our son taking up more ‘manly’ activities,” Marty said.
With that, Marty took Darren to the gym and bought him a membership.
A few weeks later, Darren had already grown out of his new clothes. His weight was now up to 170 lbs, and he was looking fantastic. He had ripped 6 pack abs, bulging biceps, muscular calves and thighs, and a big, thick chest and back. Even his face looked better. Instead of the weak jaw, pointed nose, and long, skinny neck, he now had a very strong jaw line, a thick neck, and a normal shaped nose.
A few days later, he was at the gym working out, when the football coach showed up. “Wow, who’s that kid?” the coach asked, looking at Darren and admiring his physique and strength.
“Oh, that’s a new kid. His name is Darren. He just joined a couple of weeks ago,” the guy at the front desk said.
“What high school does he go to?” the coach asked.
“South,” the gym instructor replied.
“Why have I never seen him before? And why is he not playing football for me?” the coach asked.
“I don’t know, maybe you should ask him yourself,” the instructor replied.
“I think I will,” the coach said, as he walked over and introduced himself.
When he got there, he thought he recognized Darren. “Hey, aren’t you the kid that won the science fair last year?” the coach asked.
“Yes sir, that’s me,” Darren replied.
“You ever thought about playing football?” Coach Smith asked.
“Not really,” Darren answered.
“Would you mind running a 40 yard dash for me, and letting me time you?” the coach asked.
“Sure,” Darren replied.
They went out to the parking lot. The coach showed him a red line beside of the last parking spot in the lot. “Stand here. When I lower my hand and yell ‘GO’, I want you to run as fast as you can, past me, to the last parking spot on the other end, ok?” he said.
“Sure,” Darren replied.
The coach stood on the other end of the parking lot, got out his stopwatch, held up his hand, then dropped it and yelled “GO!” Darren ran past the coach as fast as he could.
“NICE!!! 4.6 seconds!” Coach Smith said. “Hey, I want you to come play football for me. I think you would do really well.”
When Darren’s mom came to pick him up from the gym, he told her what the coach said.
“I don’t know, sweetie, football is such a dangerous sport,” she said.
“I really want to play, mom. All I need is a physical exam and a signed form from you and the doctor, and I can play,” he said.
After asking Darren’s dad about it later, he, of course, approved. So, Darren’s mom took him to the doctor and got his physical exam. He passed, and later that week, he also got his driver’s license. He then drove himself to practice.
At practice, the coach introduced him to the other guys on the team. They already knew him, but they could hardly believe it was the same guy. He had blossomed from only 90 lbs the last time they had seen him to now an amazing 170 lbs of solid muscle, and a full six inches taller. He had also lost the glasses and braces. Some of the guys started a rumor that he was on steroids. Darren heard it, and it made him angry. The coach assigned him to try playing the free safety position.
Later on, he was covering a wide receiver that used to bully him. The receiver caught the ball, and Darren hit him hard, putting his helmet on the receiver’s arm and the ball. He hit the guy so hard it broke his arm, and he fell to the ground crying. Darren picked up the ball and ran a touchdown.
“WOW!” the coach exclaimed, as he was proud of Darren for his natural football prowess.
Soon, Darren had earned the nickname “Hitman” for his ability for delivering crushing blows to receivers. His coach even had to ask him to let up in practice so as not to hurt the offensive players.
A few weeks later, school started. He parked in the lot and walked in. His friends, who hadn’t seen him in a month or so, barely recognized him.
“Darren?” Chris asked.
“Yeah?” Darren replied, in a much deeper voice than he had before.
“WOW!!! Look at you!” Chris replied.
“You’re HUGE!” Ty said, in disbelief at how big his friend had gotten.
“Yeah,” Darren replied, nonchalantly, as he kept on walking by.
“Are you not going to sit with us?” Ty and Chris asked.
“Nah, I’m going to go sit with the team,” Darren replied, as he kept walking. His friends were stunned.
As Darren walked by the cheerleaders, one of them tapped her friend on the shoulder and pointed at him. They began whispering and giggling as they admired him walking by. One of them whistled.
“Who is he?” one of them asked.
Darren heard it and just grinned as he walked on by. Later in the day, several cheerleaders were seen talking to him.
At the game that night, he was the most valuable player. He caught two interceptions, had two QB sacks, and ran one of those interceptions back for a touchdown. He also had four tackles. The coach gave him the game ball. The team chanted “HITMAN, HITMAN, HITMAN,” as he accepted the game ball.
After the game, they went to a pool party. It was there he was offered his first drink. A beautiful cheerleader named Jenny offered him a fuzzy navel. He tried it. It tasted so good. He couldn’t even taste the alcohol in it. He had two more. Soon, he was in a drunken haze. Jenny took him into an empty bedroom in the house. She seduced him there, and as they made love, Heather, another cheerleader that he had been interested in earlier, walked in. She screamed in anger when she saw he and Jenny together. He went after her, and she scratched his face and slapped him.
Still in a drunken haze, he went out to his car to take a drive and clear his head. When he rounded a curve, he was blinded by headlights.
He woke up a couple of days later in a hospital, and found he was handcuffed to the bed. He had killed two people in a drunken driving accident. Heather, in her rage and jealousy, had also falsely accused him of sexual assault.
A few days later, in his jail cell, as his court appointed attorney advised him to take a plea bargain that would only get him a year in jail, he remembered the old gypsy woman’s words, “Be careful what you wish for…”