by m. james moore
"Tell me about your injury."
"Well, when I was 16 I was in a very peculiar accident. I was walking across a street to school and I blacked out. The next thing I know I wake up in a hospital bed without two of my fingers -- the index and middle of the left hand."
"But you clearly have them now."
"I do. No other injuries. No witnesses. The person who found me said it might have been a hit-and-run because she'd heard tires screech and came outside to investigate."
"And that had to have been over 20 years ago?"
"Yes, closer to 30, actually," she said, wiggling her fingers. "All I remember is that I had fingers again after the man left. I was working in the garden, I saw him walk up and we talked briefly, and he left. And I had my fingers back."
"And the man?"
"I wouldn't call him a man exactly. He was male, certainly, but seemed too... distant, too.. not altogether present."
"Was he a teenager?"
"No, late twenties probably. More like a guy."
"A guy. Did he mention his name?"
"No, but he gave me this little shred of paper with the numbers on it."
"Two three eight. What does that mean?"
"I have no idea."
"What did you talk about?"
"I don't even remember."
"Thank you for your time, Mrs. Whitmire."
"Certainly, Mr. Wesson."
"When did you first meet this man?"
"I wouldn't call him a man exactly, but I met him just in passing a few weeks ago. I was driving my usual way to work and was picking up a newspaper from a street vendor that stands at the turning lane onto twelfth from Wilson Road. The man was there talking to the vendor, just standing there out in the middle of the open."
"What did he look like?"
"I would describe the fellow as somewhat rundown or ragged. In a tired way but not quite in a homeless way. He had a peculiar confidence about him, but at the same time a downtrodden expression on his face like the was struggling with some great philosophical issue."
"What was he doing there? Talking to the vendor?"
"Yes. The vendor, a Mr. Smith or Smitty or Smiles or whatever, usually had a scar along the back of his forearm that I always saw when he handed me my change. I noticed it wasn't there this time, and that's probably what made me look at the fellow next to him. He just struck me as unusual. He was talking to him about some conspiracy or hidden information... a treasure perhaps? I really don't remember. It was only after I got to work that I realized my appendix scar no longer itched, and upon examining it in the ladies room, it wasn't even there. I went to the clinic on my lunch break and the doctor performed a check up, even seeing that I'd had my appendix removed not 2 months ago and had a history of the itching even with the prescription with the ointment, but did some tests and found my appendix was either never removed or somehow grew back. We are all just baffled."
"That _is_ unusual, isn't it, Mrs. Strauss."
"Yes it is. Have you found this man? I'd like to thank him if I could."
"If I find him, I will definately tell him."
"Thank you, Mr. Wesson."
"Thank you for your help. Here is my card, I may give you a ring if I have any more questions."
"I would be glad to answer them," she said.
"You wish to remain anonymous?"
"Yes, if you wouldn't mind."
"That's not a problem. You said you have a daughter?"
"Yes, her name is Rhu."
"Oh, the terminal from South General?"
"That's her. The only one who wasn't healed a few years ago."
"Right. Is she..?"
"Rather, she isn't -- might be a better way to put it."
"Right. Your questions?"
"Right. You say your dauhter -- Rhu -- told you about the man? How is she certain it was him if she wasn't healed?"
"She just asked me to trust her, and I do. She said she had a dream about him. She said his name was two-thirty eight. Two three eight. I have no idea why."
"Does she have any idea why she wasn't healed?"
"I was getting to that."
"My apologies, do continue."
"Right. She had this dream about him, about an older fellow who she fell deeply in love with. She was only 14 then, and up until the end never looked upon any guy the same way except with Mr. Two-thirty Eight was mentioned, when she would perk up. Well she said the guy she dreamt about just walked right into the hospital room. No nurses buzzing around as usual, no doctors even in the hall she guess by the unusual silence. But there was the guy, there in the room with her. She offered to show herself to him, but he asked her not to. He said he was struggling with thoughts about her and had to leave, maybe never to see her again."
"We haven't been given any sign that he was even present the first time, much less any sign of trying to communicate again. It's not as if he could anyway, Rhu's been gone 8 months now."
"Did she say anything else about him?"
"She did mention that he admitted to having the identical dream but from his perspective, and knew she would be in this room of the hospital. That's all I can think of. I'm really having a hard time remembering right now. I remember though that she said he wouldn't be healed because he loved her. That doesn't make any sense to me."
"Because he loved her. He let her die."
"She would have died anyway. Not like we were expecting some miracle man to waltz in.. I.. excuse me."
"I didn't mean to push you, if it seemed like I did."
"No, it's okay. You're searching for this fellow, and I'm glad you are. I hope you find him. He might be able to answer a few questions of my own."
"If I do find him, I have a list of questions past interviewees have wanted answered, or thanks to be given for healings."
"He has appeared to others?"
"Not in the appearance as like a Virgin Mary sighting, but just as a casual guy on the street they passed, spoke to briefly, or thought otherwise noteworthy for some peculiar reason. Afterward they mention having been miraculously healed by some unknown cause, estimating that the change occurred about the same time they had seen this man."
"I wouldn't call him a man exactly. More like a fellow, or a guy. Him. Two Thirty Eight."
"That's what everyone else has said. Like he wasn't altogether present. Definately male but not a man, but not a teenager or a youth. A guy. A joe. You're the first to mention this number, though. No idea what it means? A time maybe?"
"That's what Rhu called him, and that's part of what made him special I guess."
"We'll keep in touch, here's my card."
"Thanks, Mr. Wesson."
"When did you first notice your glasses no longer worked?"
"It had to be less than two weeks ago. I was legally blind, and these sodabottle glasses weigh heavily on my nose some days it hurts. I put them on when I woke up in the morning and started making the morning coffee, just absentmindedly, when I went out to get the paper. I opened it up and couldn't read a single thing. I guessed that I had simply forgotten to put my glasses on and out of reflex my hand went up to my face to feel for them. But sure enough, they were there on my nose and I was looking right through them. Keeping up so far?"
"Yes, Do go on," Wesson said, scribbling as the tape recorder kept up for him.
"Well, I took them off my face to clean them with my shirt, squinting my eyes from the morning sunlight through the window, there, and put them back on but everything was still terribly blurry -- so much that it began to give me a headache. Well, I got up to get some Tylenol from the cabinet when the glasses just slipped right off my face and fell onto the kitchen floor and broke into more pieces than I have hairs. And no comments from you on that."
"I would not have mentioned it."
"Good. Well, it dawned on me than despite my glasses being strewn aplenty about the floor, I could see the pattern of the linoleum as clear as day. I could even see the individual glass shards as they scattered about on the floor. I was dumbstruck."
"That is amazing."
"And the only time that I can think that it might have happened -- the healing -- was the night before as I was walking home. It was dark and I was making a short trip to the convenience store here up on Loop 65 for a six pack of Shastas when I saw a guy coming my direction. Now normally I'd be very wary of a person coming towards me in the dark, but this was somehow different. I don't know what it was about him, but he was just .. set apart as one might say. I had a sense of honor or esteem for him that I couldn't understand where it could have been coming from. He passed right on by without a word. I stood there for a moment looking back toward him in perplexity, but went on walking back home. When I got home I put the Shastas in the fridge, set down to bed and put my glasses on the stand next to me and drifted down. Sometime, couldn't have been 10 minutes later that I'd set down, I opened my eyes to glance at the clock across the room and saw it clearly as if I'd had my glasses on. I was so sleepy I didn't even think to take them off, even though I already had."
"Your story matches right in line with other reports we've had of similar events in the area. I appreciate you taking the time to tell your story again. We have had an interview with someone who claims to know his name. Did you want to know it?"
"I was just about to ask you that, but I think I already know it."
"Is it really strange? Like a number?"
"Two thirty eight?" they said in unison.
"How did you come about that name? Only one person claims so far to have heard it."
"Well I was at the supermarket up on 33rd and at least two different times I saw the price of 2 dollars and 38 cents that just struck me as an odd number for a price. Then not last week at my grandson's football game I saw 3 players standing next to each other, with 2, 3, and 8 on their jersies, all right in a row. That struck me again as peculiar, and I got to thinking, the time on the clock that I had glanced at -- I wasn't going to mention it when I told you about seeing it clearly earlier -- was 2:38 in the morning. I just knew that had something to do with him. That is just plain weird."
"And he didn't talk to you at all as he went past?"
"If he did I don't remember it, and at my age that's surely possible. But I've remembered everything since then practically, clear as a bell, and that my good man is amazing."
"You have my great appreciation for your time, Mrs. Wimberley," the reporter said, standing.
"You are very much welcome, Mr. Wesson. Do give me a call if you have any more questions."
"You know you want to. Do it."
"No, go away. Stop bothering me."
"Go on, miracle boy. Imagine it. Your body yearns for it. Kill her."
"I can't hurt Rhu! She's... Rhu. Stop bothering me. Go away."
"You know I'll never leave you, boy."
"Go away. I'll bind you."
"No you won't, you like me here. You won't bind me because you enjoy my presence."
"See there? You admit it with your heart. You like my words."
"Stop talking to me. I can't kill her. She's Rhu."
"Rhu wants you to. She asked you to. She her? She's got her head back waiting for you."
"Go away, she's not doing that. She's not even alive anymore."
"All because of you, boy. You didn't heal her."
"Stop. It's not me doing the healing. Go away."
"Of course it's all your fault. Everyone says you're the healing man? Oh, excuse me, the healing 'guy'. Why couldn't you heal Rhu? You wanted to kill her didn't you?"
"No, I wanted her to live the most."
"So you let her die? How's that for love?"
"You know I didn't want her to die."
"But you didn't heal her."
"It's not me doing the healing! Go AWAY!"
"Okay okay, no need to get testy."
"You said you saw him, sir? Just a few days ago?"
"Yep, it must have been him. I swear it. I'd heard all the stories on the news and I'm actually from Idaho, two states over. I came this way to see if I could get my knee healed, it's been bothering me for some twenty years now. I just knew I'd find him."
"Yes, you seem to be walking just fine now."
"Yep. Useta need a wheelchair ever so often, but now I can dance around like Danny Kaye!"
"Yes, I see that. Did you talk to him?"
"Sure did, but can't even really remember what we talked about. It boggles the mind to try and remember. It's not like he hypnotized me or anything, it was just a regular conversation with some joe on the street asking for a few quarters for a soda. Having known of the mercy of God in my own life I gave him two dollars out of my wallet and all the change in my pocket. Musta been somethin like a quarter, a dime and a few pennies in there, but he gladly took them with lots of thanks. I think I even saw a tear from his eye in thanks for just those few little coins and pieces of cotton paper. Just as he was walking away did I notice I wasn't hobbling anymore. When I turned back around to see if that was him, I only say his foot just move around the corner of the block. If only I could remember what he told me."
"Did you go after him?"
"I did, but as I rounded the corner there was no one there. I didn't think of running after him, but you can bet I did run back to the car and called Zelda, my wife. She told me to come back that instant, so I did. Never did see him again. It's the goshdarndest thing, I can't remember what he said. It seemed real important. I just can't get over my joy for my knee being healed, but now wondering what he told me is nagging more than my knee ever did."
"I appreciate your help in my story, Mr. Thistlethwaite."
"It's my pleasure. Would you give me a ring if you ever find anyone who else has met him?"
"Oh, well sir I've intereviewed quite a number."
"Did any of them catch what they told him?"
"Only the word of a parent of that girl Rhu who wasn't healed in the first incident. Rhu said she'd talked to him at length, but refused to say what they talked about. No one else can remember what he said, some of them didn't even talk to him."
"Well if you find out, at least send me a copy of your write up. Here's my address. I'd be much obliged. This means a lot to me."
"I'll keep you in mind."
"Good luck with your search, Mr. Wesson. Use your gut. Keep up the good work."
"Thank you, sir."
"I was just sitting there at the bus stop, when POW! It was like I someone had just slapped me in the back of the head."
"Not that I could tell, although there was a dude standing there that I hadn't noticed before."
"That's when your glass eye fell out?"
"More like popped out. It had some speed on it. Hit the inside of the little covered bus stop with a clink. Behind my head was the other side of the stop's little thin clear wall, but it was solid."
"And that's when you noticed you could see with both eyes?"
"Yes. It didn't register at first, but it seemed as if the dude standing there had something to do with it. I couldn't tell why though. I could see the glass eye down on the concrete though, split open, in all it's three dimensional glory. I was going to ask him, but he'd gotten on the bus and I'd missed my ride just gawking at my old glass eyeball down on the ground."
"That was the 2:30 bus to Oxford Lane?"
"Yep, but it was running a little late. I'd be darned if it wasnn't just shy of ten minutes late. Arnold's never that bogged down. I think there was a parade though, and that's happened before. What was I talking about?"
"Your eye on the ground. Or, your new one."
"Yeah! So instead of taking the bus, since I missed it anyway, I picked up the little broken ball and just walked about halfmile or so down to my eye doc and he noticed something different about me right away. He was probably more amazed than me."
"That's quite remarkable."
"You know that's right, son. You got any ailins? You oughta find that dude and he'll hook you up!"
"He never said anything to you?"
"Not that I recall. He did kinda hold his head like he had a headache, or was thinking about something and was trying to shake it out. Other than that, seemed right mighty kosher to me. If you'll excuse me, I've got to make a flight here in a bit."
"Another doctor checking you out?"
"Yes indeed. They'd like to figure out how this happened exactly. What time is it?"
"Just past 11:00 pm."
"Well there's gate eight. That's it."
"Have a good flight there, Mr. Krinshaw."
"Much obliged. You find that dude!"
"She's got a nice neck, doesn't she?"
"I thought I told you to go away?"
"Look at those veins. Just jumping out at you. What say we take a quick bite?"
"Buzz off, devil."
"Getting down to business now, are we?"
"You heard me, shove off."
"No, not before you sink your teeth into that sweetie over there."
"No, stop talking to me."
"I can feel it that you'd like to. You like those younger girls, those.. underage girls. The idea that they're illegal makes it even better. You can't mask your attraction for them. You know you want to kill her. Maybe even.."
"Shut up. I told you to go away."
"Your flesh betrays you, boy! No takers? What about her?"
"No, be quiet. I don't think like that anymore."
"Oh, but you WANT to. You body needs to, you're so used to it. Wouldn't hurt just to think about it, would it?"
"You know it would, so quit making me even consider it. Go away!"
"He admits it! C'mon, just even a quick smooch on the nape? I can smell her scent from here."
"Knock it off. See now they're even looking at me. Leave me alone."
"Just walk away, boy. It's not like you could ever get a girl even if you wanted to."
"I'm too afraid you'll be bothering me about her the way you usually do. It's your fault. Go away."
"I can't. You appreciate my company too much."
"Then why is I keep telling you to leave me alone?"
"Your body wants me here. It likes me."
"Well I don't like it. And I don't like you. Don't make me cast you out."
"You couldn't cast me out if you wanted to."
"I know someone who can."
"But He won't listen to you. He doesn't hear your prayers. He's just a figment people make up to feel better about death. He's not real."
"You sure seem real. If you're real then He is. And it sure seems that you are plenty at ease to try and dismiss Him because you want me to forget about Him. That is your goal, is it not, father of lies?"
"You try my patience, boy. What about her over there? She looks just your type."
"What are you trying to pull?"
"I'm trying to get you to realize your true self. Your flesh is all you have! Why not follow what nature intended?"
"You're one to talk about nature, hoofboy. Did I mention you should go away?"
"I think you did, but I wasn't paying attention."
"Well do it."
"Only if you take a slice out of that hottie over there. Ouch! Check out those tendons."
"I'm not a vampire. I'm standing here in the sunlight. I've got a cross around my neck. I trust Christ. What vampire does that?"
"You do! You're the power hungriest, blood thirstiest, hyprocrite of them all! The fact that you still lust after young girls in your neck fetish way and revel most nights at the thought of killing some veiny throated woman betrays what you claim to be! You're not saved at all. What have you been thinking?"
"I've been thinking that ever since I accepted Christ you've been ever-present. That sure seems to mean something, now, doesn't it?"
"I've always been here, you can just hear me now."
"Because of Him in my life, that's how. I trust Him, not you."
"Then why do you talk to me the most?"
"Kind of hard when you're always around, huh? Or is that the idea? I see that it is, Lucy. You're just trying to distract me. That's even more proof that He's real. Leave me alone."
"You're fighting a lost war, my boy!"
"I'm not your boy."
"Oh, you'll always be my boy. I'll never leave you."
"Lord, make him go away."
"Oh, don't say that. It's not like he can hear you anyway, he's got too many other prayers to worry about."
"I don't think He is going to lis..."
:::: I am always with you ::::
"I trust you alone, Lord. Please bless those girls I thought ill of. Heal them, on account of my thoughts. I trust in you alone, no one else. I will not forget you, you are my God, my King..."