At a new diner in a new city, a boy, Bobby, comes to see The Man. The Man says that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and Bobby says that his friend Conner’s dad got kicked out of his house and hasn’t been seen, and he was really sick. Bobby wants to help his friend but The Man warns him that when someone makes a deal with him, anything can happen. After a moment, Bobby turns and leaves.
Later, The Man meets with Cheryl, who explains that her three-year-old daughter isn’t going right. She has MRI photos but the Man asks for actual photos. When Cheryl says that she wants to explain what is wrong so he can fix it, The Man says that he doesn’t fix things and wants to focus on Cheryl. She’s heard of how The Man arranged for a criminal to walk out of prison after he was convicted, and The Man tells her that she has to find a woman without family or friends and torture her, or her daughter will die.
A young man, Dillon, comes to see The Man. After commenting about the pastrami sandwich and making sure he has the right person, Dillon sits down and tells The Man that he doesn’t want to die. The Man asks for specifics and Dillon explains that he doesn’t want to be hurt and he doesn’t want to age. When The Man wonders why, Dillon says that he wants to be able to enjoy his life and wants a lot of time to sort it out. He asks if it’s real and The Man says that if he wants to get his wish then he has to be honest.
The Man’s next visitor is Maria, who gives the code phrase. The Man has her sit down and Maria explains that her mother is unhappy. Maria’s father died recently and her sister is in a clinic for addictions. Maria wants her sister to be cured, and The Man suggests that her father could be brought back from the dead. However, he insists that he doesn’t do anything: she does it by completing the tasks he gives her. Maria worries that it’s too much power, but The Man tells her that they crack the world with every action that they take. She agrees and asks that her mother feel love for what is in front of her. The Man gets out his ledger and tells Maria that she has to make five people cry.
Later, Henry returns and says that he’s thought over specifically what he wants. He tells The Man that he wants to have been always married to Katie for twenty years, and have his current marriage wiped out as if it never happened. Henry wants everything else in his life to be exactly the same. The Man points out that he won’t actually have had those twenty years with Katie, but Henry insists that’s what he wants and asks what he has to do. After a moment, The Man says that he wants specifics about why Henry isn’t happy with his current wife, Heather. Henry hesitates and then says that it wasn’t what he expected and that he isn’t happy. He refuses to give specific until The Man says that it’s part of the deal. Henry says that there’s no sex and The Man asks why, pointing out that it’s important enough that Henry wants to eliminate twenty years of marriage.
Theresa comes in and tells The Man that she went to a movie theater and picked up a man that didn’t look threatening. She says that he looked lonely and The Man asks her what she means. Theresa explains that he looks like the kind of man that no one notices. She then talks about how she went up the aisle to him and sat down next to her choice, and they sat there pretending to watch a movie. Theresa’s cell phone rings and she answers it, and then tells The Man that it’s son and she has to go. The Man watches her go and takes in the fact that she has a son.
The Man’s next visitor is Jack, who hands him a pen. He says that he cased the house several nights to make sure no one was home, and lied to his wife about why he was going out. Jack thinks that his wife feels that he’s suffering from dementia, and admits that she has good reason to believe it since he’s taking orders from a man in the diner. He then tells The Man that he found the key under the flowerpot as usual and used it to get inside the house and take the pen. The Man asks him what his criteria is for choosing but Jack complains that people are making it too easy for him. This time Jack took a pen that was laying in plain sight and The Man asks why he risked it. Jack tells him that he’s angry at people that don’t pay attention, and if they did then he wouldn’t need his wish. The Man tells him that he has to steal five more times and then Jack’s grandchildren will be safe.
Cheryl returns and confirms the conditions of her task. She has to torture a woman with no family or friends. When Cheryl worries that she can’t do it, The Man assures her that she’ll sort it out and she’ll find a good reason to torture someone. When Cheryl says that she doesn’t know where to start, The Man suggests that she think of all the things she wouldn’t do to someone and start there. She closes her eyes and imagines, and then jumps in fear and horror.
Bobby comes back with his friend Conner, but The Man initially refuses to deal with them. He admits that it isn’t precise what age his clients have to be, and Conner complains that only adults get what they want. The Man says that Conner doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into, but Conner says that he just wants his father home and things the way they were. After a moment’s hesitation, The Man says that there are always consequences and that it’s hard to stop changes once they start. Bobby insists that Conner just wants to change his dad, not the world, but Conner says that he knows it’s no small thing. The Man looks carefully at Conner and then agrees.
Later, The Man is looking through his ledger when Doris sits down in the booth next to his. She points out that it’s been a while but The Man says it hasn’t been that long. He admits that he didn’t say goodbye and that he likes to move on. Doris tells him that he followed a teenage girl that came to see him, a girl named Melody that everyone thought had died. The Man doesn’t want to discuss it, saying he has work to do, but Doris persists. She says that the serial killer’s real victim was beaten so badly that she was misidentified by everyone, even Melody’s own father. Melody herself turned up okay and Doris points out that Melody’s father spoke to The Man. He asks who she is and what she wants, but Doris reminds him that she asked him that first.
That night, The Man pours himself more tea and looks out the window. Melody is outside, watching him. After a moment, she turns and walks away. Share this article with your friends