What if you experienced a medical miracle?
I’m sitting on a bench and I feel a tingle on my legs. I rub. It feels good. White stuff like big chunks of dandruff fall around my shoes. Now my back itches—sort of. I rub it against the bench-back. That feels so good. Now my neck. My arms. What’s happening to me? I stand and shake my arms, pull up my cuffs. Whoa! My skin is clear. No ugly scales of skin—the icthyosis I’ve had all my life. I pull up my pant leg, rub my neck, look at my belly. All clear. Man. What’s going on?
A scruffy lady, kneeling on the other side of the stone coffin in the small round chapel stops saying her rosary, tightens the babushka under her chin and gives me slant eyes. I start to point at my mom’s back, bent, like over the stove, patting the tomb, praying for me. It’s her fault I’m here, I want to tell the old lady. I took her to the Eastern Market and then she conned me into stopping at this monastery where they got this monk who’s on the way to becoming a saint if he can only get a few more miracles in his name. I tried to tell her, “Ma, I don’t believe in miracles any more than I believe in Superman or the Easter Bunny. That kind of shit doesn’t happen in real life. God is wherever God is, and he doesn’t bother with us. Otherwise I’d have to blame him for ruining my life. Shit just happens. Fate. Luck. Genetics. Who knows why I got tagged with this ugly-ass condition. No women want to look at me, let alone touch me. And I don’t blame them. I even hate to touch myself.”
But damn. Right now, it feels like I’m cured. Some kind of miracle. I can’t wait to get home and take a shower and rub my clean skin all-over and walk out a new man. Just think, I’ll be like Lazarus when Jesus brought him back to life. Wonder what he felt? Was he pissed? Maybe he liked it on the other side. And maybe he’s thinking, ‘Damn, dying was bad enough one time. But now I got to face it again. Die twice in one lifetime. And all the folks be asking what’s it like to be dead and aren’t you something.’ That’s gonna be me. I’m gonna go viral, be on talk shows, the evening news. Hell, I might even have to write a book. Be the ‘freak of the year feel-good’ movie. Don’t want any of that. I’m the quiet man…learned to be.
I got to slide out of here before that old lady shouts, ‘Miracle’ and I get up in the whole sainthood gig for this guy who I don’t know or care about. Nothing personal…what’s your name Father…something or other. And, if somehow, you’re responsible for me getting rid of this…this awful shit, thanks. I guess. But I don’t want any part of pushing you along. As if folks can force God with prayers and PR to pony-up miracles for a Vatican All Star ballot based on incurable cures. Don’t get me wrong. I got nothing against saints. Nothing wrong with saying somebody was really good in their life, did some unselfish stuff and helped other people. Just sayin’…get your own damned miracles. Not that I don’t appreciate being rid of this frigging grief of a skin condition. Ha! I’m channeling old Lazarus. Him sayin’, ‘Thanks but no thanks. Don’t use me to make you look good. I don’t need all this attention.’
My mom stands up. She looks so sad. Never able to brag about her son. No grandchildren. She would be so excited. So famous. She’d love all the commotion. She deserves it. Okay, okay I’ll do it for her.
At the gate, I spot a Friar in a brown robe. I ask him if he could get me the main man. And under my breath I’m telling God, you better not pull the rug from under me, making me go back through it all again, like poor Lazarus must have.