“Miracle Man” 3

The following Monday was the day I had to break it to my manager.  I wasn’t quite sure how I’d explain it, and I certainly had a certain amount of fear that she’d leave me with the options of “don’t do this” or “get fired”. 

I waited outside like normal, coffee and plastic bag of lunch in hand.  I remember it being refreshingly cool, and I do mean refreshing.  The breeze was crisp, happy, blowing by in short drafts that were strong enough to catch your hair but lacking the maliciousness to pierce your clothes.  It really was a beautiful day, a pure spring day, where after months and months of Indiana winter, just the sight of the nascent green leaves and multitudes of flowers recoloring the streets and neighborhoods renews your purpose and desire to see the day through.  Where the winter provided a soul-depleting tapestry of white and greys and the familiar stink from trampled slush at any building’s entrance, spring, here spring meant something.  Which is why I didn’t mind waiting outside like this for my ride. 

Several minutes went by before he finally showed up.  Michael, Mike, usually referred to by his last name at work, Roberts, showed up at 7:36 that morning in his Honda CRV. 

Mike was a good guy.  He was the average sort of nice, always had a ready smile to greet you with, brown eyes, hooked nose, and a vague look in his eyes that was reassuringly pacifistic; the kind of person you knew meant no wrong.  He was also always ready to help you, so long as it didn’t cost more than two hours time, ten dollars, or cause him to be parted from something that was ultimately an inconvenience.  Like I said, an average sort of nice. 

As soon as he came to a stop, I got into the passenger seat.  My apartment complex was on his way to work, and I subsidized the convenience of him saving me gas and the higher likelihood of a stroke.

“Hey buddy, good morning.”  There’s that affable smile, bless him.

“Morning Mike.”  The Honda starts moving.  “How you doing?”

“I’m ok, ok, uh, had a pretty nice weekend.  Me and Alicia had a nice evening downtown, dinner and drinks.  Have you been down South Main lately?  There’s a lot of new places.  In fact, we just stayed around Colfax.”

“Yeah, I haven’t lately, it’s been a while.  I’ll check it out though, maybe this weekend.  You, uh, read the paper?”  Ever ask questions you know the answer to just for the sake of conversation? 

“Newspaper?” A chuckle to break his dialogue.   “I mean, I read the news.”

“Yeah, I read something  about a guy at the hospital who.. um..,” I stopped.  At that moment, the words dissolved in my mouth, I couldn’t explain it, couldn’t explain who this person was or why I should even bring it up.  This was dumb.  “Er, well, I read about a guy,” if I had any commitment to this idea, I had to just get it out, “who sounds like he may be special, someone to really talk to, to meet, um, you know for people who have a sort of sadness in their hearts they want something done about.”

Mike, thankfully much more engaged in a left-hand turn through traffic, nodded thoughtfully.  We were almost to the bank.  Being a loan officer wasn’t glorious, exciting, or really what I ever imagined I’d be doing in all the childhood years of parents, relatives, school teachers, and kindly pediatricians asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  However, as I said before, I’m comfortable, and I stay fed. 

It wouldn’t be until several hours later that I’d have the opportunity to talk to Karen.  Karen Whitmore, a Protestant woman of her late-forties, four children, drove a Ford Expedition.  Some people would follow up with their emotional description of their boss, great person or tyrant, but to be honest, our interactions were so brief and sterile, I had nothing.  In fact, I had no idea how the conversation was to go. 

“Excuse me, you want to do what?”

“Karen, I want to take an extended leave from the bank.  You know I rarely take vacation, and I want to roll up this and next year’s vacation periods into one.”

A porcelain angel next to a coffee cup full of pens stared at me.  Its cherubic face smiled.  I pursed my lips. 

“Josh, I’m a little upset that you’ve put me in this position of having to tell you that I can’t authorize that.  You’ve been with this bank long enough to know our policies.  I can’t let Terri be the only loan processor in this branch for that long.”

“Karen, I know, but please remember that I didn’t take any time off last year.”  I started to slump in the chair, a little exasperated at the resistance, but I didn’t know how to explain this.  This wasn’t me just taking time off for the sake of recouping lost days, this was something that “I need.  Karen, I-I need this.  Listen, I just need to get out of here for a while, and you know that I’ve been here every day, I don’t linger or take my time with accounts, and I do a good job.  I am very detailed and careful with what I do.  And, and I don’t ask for anything from you or anyone else around here, but God as my witness, I need this, I’ve just got to try.”

She leaned in from her desk and propped her elbows on the polished faux-wood surface.  The wall clock became very noticeable in its time-telling.  She was quiet, working her lips around as she was probably deciding if I was worth taking the flak later if someone higher than her wanted to ask a couple questions about staffing allocation and “policy”. 

“Ok Josh, fine.”  She smiled, with a light irritation still in her eyes.  “You have last year’s and this year’s vacation and not a day more.  You need to take care of yourself, and if this will help you, then I hope you find that help.”

I sat up immediately, planted my heels into that office carpet, and stood to shake her hand.  “Thank you Karen, really.  Thank you.”

She wished me the best of luck, and with that I was off.. to finish the work day and wait for my ride. 

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“Miracle Man” Part Dos

There I was, sitting on my patio with a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito, cell phone in hand with St. George Hospital’s number queued up.  My tongue was numb from that breakfast burrito.  Nuke it for a minute and a half, let it sit for twenty, or wind up not using the afflicted part of your mouth for the better part of the day.  I didn’t know how to start really, and I thought this was the best, most feeble way to go.  I called the first number listed on their website, got a hold of “Wendy”.  While the name brought up certain mental images, and hunger, the sound of her voice conjured images suiting a sixty-year old or so volunteer who probably devotes her time at the hospital to guide the grieving toward the necessary floor.  Part of me felt presumptuous, the other part really hoped she was a good soul.  I don’t know why it mattered. 

“Hello, St. George Hospital, my name is Wendy, how may I help you or direct your call?”

“Hi Wendy, my name is Josh, and I’m calling about a Miracle Man?  Do you, uh, happen to know who I’m talking about?”  You know those old samurai war masks with the really exaggerated frowns?  Pretty sure that was the look of utter cringe on my face.

“I’m sorry, no, I don’t know who that would be.”  The disappointment wasn’t genuine, but there was conviction in that answer. 

“Yeah, I’m sorry, I know that’s a strange question to ask.  There was an article in “The Observer” yesterday, someone writing in about a man she said she met there at St. George’s, and I was wondering if you knew had seen anyone there lately, of if there was any talk or mention of such a person..?”  The more I said that out loud, the dumber I felt for the effort. 

“Oh, you know?  We were talking about that this morning, yes, it was a nice article.  Someone brought that article in.  It was very nice.  You know, since you asked, hold on please.”

“Sure thing, absolutely.”  I took a big honking bite of that burrito because you don’t let a beefy delicious serving of alternative egg, cheese, probably ham, and likely real sausage go cold.  So delicious. 


“Yes, Wendy?”

“Yes sir, so I just talked to one of my co-workers, the one who brought the article in.  She was here that night in fact.  Would you like to speak with her?”

I couldn’t believe it.  Breakfast burrito and a break in one morning?  The hell you say…

“Absolutely!  If she’s able to, please.”

“Sir, I’ll put her on, one second please and have a great day.”

“Thank you Wendy, you too.”  Sip of coffee.


“Hello?  Hi, are you the one who saw the Miracle Man?”

“Yes sir, well sort of, you see.  I heard them talking while I was updating the check-ins for the day.  They were in the lobby, and the woman who wrote that article was standing just in front of him, so I couldn’t see his face.  But it was thankfully slow, and I could hear their whole conversation.  He seemed real sweet.  They chatted a little while after that whole piece you read about in the paper, just polite talk.”

While she was talking, that cup of coffee disappeared to just a little aromatic ring at the bottom of the cup.  My mind was reeling.  “Sounds like a great person!  Did you happen to catch a name, job, anything at all that might help me find him?  I know, I mean I know it sounds weird, but I’m hoping to find this guy, talk to him, you know?”

“Oh, I don’t know if it’s much help, but he did say he was on his way for business to Jackson, Mississippi I think.” 

“Jackson?  Jeez, he’s not exactly taking the quick route if he’s taking a pit stop here, is he?”  I laughed, sort of.  The polite attempt-at-casual-conversation sort of life. 

Well, so did she.  “Oh I know!  I don’t understand why he’d be at a hospital if he was traveling on business, well, he didn’t say he was waiting on anyone.  But he said he was driving to Jackson from Chicago, trying to make a trip of it.”

“Ma’am, thank you.  He didn’t happen to mention when he had to be here, did he?”

“No sir, but I hope you find him.  The way he sounded so sure, I think maybe the Lord did speak through him.”

After I hung up, I chewed over the last of the breakfast tortilla with a lot on my mind.  The dense flour material clung to my molars, and I felt excitedly stuck – what the hell was I going to do with this information?  It was feasible, certainly feasible, that this guy, whoever he is, was truly on his way to Jackson.  Being that he was in a hospital, maybe a doctor, maybe a miracle man in a figurative sense.  Do I need to find someone like this?  A kind stranger with nice words and a specialty in dermatology? 

A quick login to my bank account helped with the decision making.  When you have no one to spend money on and no reason to go out, it becomes significantly easier to save.  I knew I could survive a month without pay, the trick was to get my employer to buy on a leave of absence that long without being replaced.  I knew then if this was going to pan out the way I wanted it to, I’d need a full suitcase, a couple hundred dollars in cash, and no need to look behind, at least for a little while. 

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