On the 4th day of Christmas: the next installment of the short story, The Miracle Man. (Check out previous paragraphs in “Past Posts” under “Love, Joy & Miracles.”)
“It’s like this: no one wants to invest in a product that will be last year’s model. THAT, my friend, is a tough selling environment. But like I always say, tough times—”
“‘Only make you tougher,’” Wendell finishes, hoping to quell the conversation.
Ira steams ahead at full speed. “I follow a hunch; make a call. And do you know what happened?”
Wendell spies Ruth boarding the bus. “You wish you’d gone shopping at the mall.”
“What,” Ira blurts as he pushes his glasses back up his nose. “No, not shopping, I got the account. It was like tapping into Fort Knox! My boss couldn’t believe it. He nicknamed me–”
“The Miracle Man.” Wendell turns his attention back to Ira. “What the hell does any of that have to do with joy?”
“Simple: Since I know what it’s like to live without joy, now that I’ve found it, I’m qualified to be its salesman.”
“Oh Judas,” Wendell fumes. “You’re going to start preaching about religion again, aren’t you?”
Ira waves him off. “No, not religion. Besides, it never did much for me anyway. What I’m talking about is joy and Christmas.”
Wendell wags a finger in front of Ira. “Then you’re still talking religion. Like I’ve told you time and time before, I don’t doubt Jesus existed, but to claim he’s God, born of a virgin? Those can be explained with science and logic.”
“Unless it was a miracle.”
Wendell grinds his teeth and drifts back in time…
He sits beside Ellen’s bed, holding her limp fingers; machines clack and whiz in the background. Tubes are in her nose, arms; face is snowy white.
This isn’t how he planned it. This had to be a mistake. He is Wendell Bennett, top-notch trial attorney for Goddard County. His prestigious degrees, good looks and panache had given him the footing to storm up success like a marine hitting Omaha beach. Over the years he became so iconic in the courts that he is known only by his last name. When defense attorneys learn that Bennett is on the case, the matter is quickly settled out of court. Those that are opportunistic eye him like a gunslinger, but he mows them down. Mercilessly.
He is at the top of his game, ready to enjoy life with Ellen: trips to Europe, long walks on the beach, visiting grandkids, sipping wine in Napa Valley. Ellen isn’t supposed to find a lump. The oncologist isn’t supposed to tell them it’s malignant.
He is Wendell Bennett and cowers to no one, so he attacks Ellen’s disease with the fervor he is noted for as an attorney. Second opinions. Third. Fourth. He reads books and magazines on the topic, attends seminars and workshops, even gets out of his comfort zone and blogs. Only the best centers will do: Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Stanford. He tries holistic health, wellness retreats, even the black market. All promise a cure. All let him down.
He leaves no stone unturned. He tries Eastern yoga, mysticism, Pentecostal pastors, Catholic priests, holy men of Yemen.
The cancer, like a plague of microscopic locusts, continues to gnaw away at Ellen. Weak and haggard, she begs for home, longing for the comfort of her own bed with family and friends nearby. He obliges, but Bennett never loses, so he makes one last ditch effort.
He prays to God for a miracle.
He begs, willing to swap his life for hers, vowing all of his time and money to pious service if only God will answer his prayer. For months he prays, daring to hope, steeling his faith, yearning for God’s healing touch.
Now he sits beside her. Tears well, vision blurs. Ellen lifts a weak hand and touches his cheek, and in a frail voice, gives him God’s answer: “Let me go.”