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Fiction

As he opened the door and turned on the lights that morning of the miracle, the dust particles glittered in the air, a sparkling portent of the day to come.  Floating and drifting, they were brighter than Bo had ever seen them. JP, another X-ray technician and Kailani, the nurse receptionist followed right behind him into the Radiology office. Bo tried to act normal while he anxiously waited for the reaction, any moment…

“BO!  What the heck!” JP shouted, staring at his workstation.  Slight with a thin beard, he was the token white guy of the office. His pale complexion turned bright red in anger. 

Against the faded beige walls and the worn cubicle partitions, JP’s desk was too bright to look at, the surface reflecting the ceiling lights.  Along with the desk and chair,  every single item on his desk, the monitor, keyboard, phone, stapler, the pen caddy, and the pens themselves were wrapped tightly in tin foil. The whole desk blazed, an offering to the cubicle gods.    

 Bo had struck again. Like previous pranks of putting live fish in the desk drawer,  posting hundreds of shirtless Justin Bieber pictures or hiding a speaker playing cat meows, it was at the expense of his co-worker JP. 

 Bo and Kailani were bent over laughing at the practical joke.  Well built, and bald,  Bo looked like Dwayne ‘Rock’ Johnson, if the Rock was half Chinese and wore glasses.

“I'm just helping you out, here is a hat too." Bo handed JP a triangular tinfoil hat. “Make sure the X-rays don't get you!”  

Bo and Kailani were laughing again.

JP grabbed the hat and crushed it in his hand before throwing it to the ground.

“Damn you Bo!” JP called out. “Man, don’t you care about anything? If work isn’t important to you, what is? And what will Ms. Patricia say if she sees this, or a patient?  You're the best X-ray tech in the whole hospital, but all you do is goof off! Do you take anything seriously?”

Bo grinned at JP. But the adrenaline rush from the prank was wearing off and he felt that anxiety again, the fear that he was just wasting his life away, not going anywhere.  The pranks gave him something to plan for, focus on, instead of the job. Being an X-Ray technician used to be interesting, a technical skill he was excited to master,  now it was just work. 

“Come on, lighten up, we are just taking pictures. Boss does not care about us. It is just a joke.”

 “Don't you care about anyone except yourself? ” JP started ripping the tinfoil off his desk.

“Your first appointment is here for you Bo, '' Kailani interrupted from the reception area.  Young enough to be his daughter, the tall long haired nurse was the mature one of the group. Organized and competent, Kailani managed the Radiology Department and kept the two X-Ray Technicians in line. 

“Do you remember Ms. Sylvia? She was in a few weeks ago with a broken arm.”

“I remember her,” Bo said. She wore black, and in so much pain I almost couldn't get her into position.  She has bone cancer too, right? Why is she back so soon, does she need her arm re-set?”

“No…she is saying her arm is healed.”

“What!” 

“She says it is a miracle. She met with a priest, and he cured her arm. She is back to get definite proof from the X-ray.” Kailani said, with a skeptical look.

“That nice old lady got fooled by some crank?  Damn. I hope she is OK when she learns the priest lied to her.”

An older woman walked into the exam room,  wearing a brightly colored dress and standing tall with a big smile. “Hello!” She said with a vibrant energy that filled the room. Bo, had her sit on the exam chair and then went back out to Kailani.  

“That is not Ms. Sylvia?” Bo said.

 Kailani nodded with her eyes wide. “Quite a difference, huh?”

Bo went back into the exam room, and began setting up Ms. Sylvia’s arm, still in its cast.  His practiced hands carefully moved and prodded her arm into place in the X-ray machine. 

“Last time we were here you wouldn’t even let me touch your arm.” Bo said. “I hear it is not broken anymore?” 

“Father Graham blessed me with a miracle!” Ms. Sylvia said.

“How do you know he cured you?” Bo moved the machine in place. 

“He held a special mass just for me, and through the grace of God he healed my arm and cured my cancer.  Ever since he prayed over my arm, I have been pain free!”

Ms. Sylvia just smiled. “I just feel so much better, so light. It is like a weight has been lifted off of me. My cousin Nicole told me about him, he had cured her headaches, and so I met with him."

She looked down at her lap. “I didn’t believe, at first.  I go to a different church, Catholic, St. Mary’s Cathedral.  Father Graham is a bit more, eccentric than I am used to.” 

She straightened her dress in her chair. 

“You might have seen him in the paper, he says he has cured everything from Alzheimer's to cancer. Father Graham said some healings take a few months, but for me, he said all I had to do is believe. That night I prayed and I woke up cured.”

Ms. Sylvia gestured to her arm in a cast, her eyes blazing with passion. 

“Because I was worried about falling again, I haven't been able to see my granddaughter, and I've been so tired. But now my energy is back, and Arabella and I went to ice cream yesterday!  It is a miracle!”

Ms. Silvia looked Bo directly in his eyes. 

“He is amazing, he saved my life!” 

Father Graham is a damn fool, taking advantage of this old woman, Bo thought to himself. 

“‘That is, unbelievable. Did you have to make a donation to Father Graham’s church?”  

“Well, yes I made a donation.” Her voice softened. “But I wanted to do it, and of course it was worth every penny. He is a miracle worker!” She practically shouted. 

“Let me tell you again how this works.” Bo said. “ X-rays are a type of radiation that can pass through our bodies. As they pass through,  the X-ray machine can focus on what we want to see,  for you it is the bones in your arm. Everything else will just be a shadow.  I am going to go take the X-Ray now, so stay still.''

 Bo stepped out into the next room, and pushed the button.

Waiting for the image to appear he thought of Ms. Silvia and all she had been promised by this priest.  He wished for her arm to be healed, for the miracle to be true. She believes she could be happy again. The digital image showed up on his screen. 

Still broken. He saw the image of her fragile, thin bones re-set in the cast. Bo saw signs of bone cancer still on her arm, he pointed at the screen, there and there. Damn.

He let Ms. Sylvia know a Radiology Doctor would contact her in a day or two. He did not know how to say anything else. 

JP watched her walk out of the door. “Let me guess, no miracles today?”

Bo shook, his head frustrated.

“I have heard about Father Graham before.” JP said. “His Sunday services are packed with people looking for miracles.”

“I can’t understand how people can be so dumb!” Bo said, his temper rising. “How can he get away with this?” Bo kicked a garbage can filled with tinfoil into the wall.

“Well, Bo, if you are so upset, what are you going to do about it?”

After his shift, Bo went to go see Father Graham.

He easily found the address from the news reports. The only difference between the small storefront church and liquor store next door were the many flyers and posters promoting Father Graham’s miracle cures. 

Bo walked in and saw Father Graham at once.  A lean,  distinguished black man, he was wearing a custom tailored three piece suit.  He was laying his hands on an old woman’s head. Bo looked around at packing boxes stacked against the wall, and several people in the back moving papers into boxes.  A large cross was on the floor leaning against the wall.   A smell of mold, old carpet and tired desperation hung in the room.

The older woman left and Father Graham turned to Bo. “How can I help you young man, '' he said in a deep booming voice.  "I apologize for the mess, we are moving downtown, to a new bigger church. Our supporters have been very generous.  He smiled as he walked forward. “Are you here to be cured- what is your malady?”

“My name is Bo, and no, I am not here to be cured.” Bo stepped quickly toward the man grabbing his lapels with his strong hands and pulling him in close, lifting him up.

“I am here because you are a fraud.”  Bo started, his lips quivering in anger. “Ms. Silvia, do you know her? You told her you healed her broken arm, her bone cancer, but I have seen the X-rays- it is still broken!  Are you interested in her, or her money?” 

Bo stared at Father Graham’s smooth, unlined face, still with a smirk on his lips. 

“Why are you lying to these people? Don't you care about anyone except yourself?” 

The words echoed in Bo’s memory, but he didn’t know why. 

Father Graham's smile grew larger, with no attempt to be released.

“God works in mysterious ways. I do remember Ms. Silvia. She was ill both spiritually and physically. Her cancer, her fall, they affected her outlook on life. Did you get a chance to meet Ms. Silvia before she came to me?”

“Yes, I did.”  Bo said, “She was in a lot of pain, and depressed."

“She was.  And how was she when you last saw her?”

“She was on top of the world.” Bo glared at Father Graham, “because she thought she had been cured.”

Father Graham nodded. 

“I am but a humble servant of God. I do not cure anyone, I do not fix broken bones or remove disease. God works through me. For Ms. Silvia, God provided her with a new outlook, a new perspective on life. Maybe for you she is still broken, but in my line of work, that is healing.”

Father Graham stared at Bo, his eyes searching as if he was looking into Bo’s soul. 

“I sense some despair in you, Mister Bo. Some ennui.”

“What?”  Bo let go, and  Father Graham reached out as if to shake hands. Bo instinctually put his hand out as well, and then Father Graham grasped it in both of his large hands. The soft warmth radiated from Bo’s right hand up his arm and tingled the back of his neck. 

Father Graham locked eyes with Bo.

“You have a problem with your vision.”

“Well, yes, I wear glasses…” Bo said. 

“-No, it’s  your peripheral vision. You see what affects you clearly enough. You do not see the big picture,  how your words and actions affect others.  There is a big world out there you are missing out on.  Your vision now is like that X-ray, so focused you are missing what is important.”

Father Graham said an Our Father prayer. 

“Go and open your eyes, Mr. Bo. You are healed.”

The conversation Bo wanted to have had turned upside down on him, somehow.  He turned and walked out of the dim church, and into the bright sunlight afternoon, blinking back the glare.

He turned his head to see if anyone was watching, then timidly took his glasses off, and looked around, could it be true?  Still blurry, he couldn’t see a thing, his vision as bad as always.  

Putting his glasses back on, he tried to make sense of what Father Graham had said about his vision, and what he focused on.  He remembered JP asking him what was important to him. 

A memory from long ago pulled at him, of working to help people who were broken, people like Ms. Silvia.  He didn’t know what happened to turn his job into an effort to avoid work as much as possible.  

He wanted to believe in something again, to work toward a meaning in his life.  Ms. Sylvia believed herself to be miraculously healed, and she stopped feeling pain, overcame her fear, and her life is better for it. Who is he to judge a miracle?

As Bo walked back down the street he looked around at the beautiful blue sky and saw the trees lining the street, really seeing them for the first time. He was amazed at their colors, the vibrant reds and oranges, and the leaves moving in the soft breeze.  He noticed the people walking around, breathing, thinking, living.  People who are more than just the bones holding them up. Bones and ligaments that he has seen a thousand times but today recognizes the people themselves are miracles. Stopping and watching every thing around him, a squirrel stops and stares back.  What took you so long to notice, Bo hears it say.

He flashes back to his wife at home and his daughter. The daughter he realized with shame  he yelled at just that morning for, for something. He doesn’t even remember.

 He feels an urgency in his step as he heads to his car and the ride home. There are miracles at home he needs to focus on, miracles he wants to see and to hold again. 

July 01, 2022 20:26

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2 comments

Katy Borobia
03:32 Jul 09, 2022

Lovely story, Marty. Thank you for sharing!

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Marty B
06:28 Jul 09, 2022

Thanks!

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