Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)
TITLE: John Three Sixteen
By Helen Dowd
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"Wait!" Officer Miriam stopped her partner as he was about to give the fellow another boot. "Look! Look around you. Do you see any drug needles or booze bottles? Do you?" Although she was a junior officer, she was not afraid to speak out. As she took the fellow's arm, gently leading him to the car, Officer Blake looked back at the dock. Miriam was right.
"Hospital," shouted Blake, now realizing that there was something wrong with the man. He slammed the car into gear, racing down the road, sirens blaring.
In the back seat, Miriam held the man's hand. "What's your name?" Gently she prodded him for an answer. He gawked at her, letting out a groan.
At the hospital, the officers searched the man's pockets for I.D. None! So he was registered as "John Doe." What else could the registrar do? She assigned him to his room. He would have to be under surveillance, twenty-four-seven.
"I'd like the job," offered Miriam. "I'll even ask for a leave of absence so I can be here full time." Who WAS this young man? She had to find out. Her mind flipped back to her brother, drowned years ago in a boating accident. She estimated this man to be about twenty, same age as her brother had been.
Blake, seeing his partner's passion, and knowing about her having lost her brother, pulled some strings, making it so that Miriam could sit with John.
Under sedation, John slept for hours. Miriam held his hand, watching him. Clutching her Bible, she prayed, half dozing. Suddenly her eyes flew open. Her charge had groaned. Gently she placed the Bible into the young man's hand. He opened his eyes, squeezing the Bible.
"Can you tell me your name?" Miriam whispered into his ear. Another blank stare. But she was encouraged by the fact that he had clutched the Bible. "He must be acquainted with it," her mind reasoned. She had an idea. She would read to him from it.
She remembered her father saying: "If you're ever in doubt where to read, begin with the Gospel of John." How fitting! She would read the book of John to the man in the bed, labelled "John."
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God--" she began.
"John's" eyes flew open. "And the Word was God..." He continued reciting the first chapter of John.
Miriam was mesmerized. Her charge flawlessly recited the second chapter, and on into the third, right to verse 16. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son--"
He stopped short, sat up and stared at her. "Do you remember your name?" Miriam prodded.
"John Three Sixteen. John Three Sixteen." He said, pointing to the sign pasted on his bed end.
Miriam followed his glance: on the foot of the bed was his hospital I.D. - "Patient, 'John', floor 3, room 16."
Days passed. "John" floated in and out of consciousness. Miriam could often hear him muttering, "John Three Sixteen…My Angel." Oh, who could this remarkable young man be?... She'd listened to the alerts on the radio: "Anyone knowing who the mystery man may be, please contact the police." There'd been no response. Until—until—
A middle aged woman poked her head in the door of floor 3, room 16. "My son!" she cried, throwing herself at the young man.
Memories began flooding the man's mind. "Mom? Mom! Where have you been? I've been looking all over for you. Why did you take so long? I've been asking my angel to find you." He turned to Miriam: "And you did! You did! Oh thank you!"
While the three of them sat enjoying the first real meal John (and that actually WAS his name) had had for—he couldn't remember when—John poured his heart out. "My canoe tipped over…Then…He squeezed his eyes shut…I don't remember…anything…but my angel…and…and John Three Sixteen. Then you walked in the door, Mom." He shuddered, grabbing his mom's and Miriam's hands.
With tears streaming down his eyes, John prayed: "Thank you, God, oh thank You…for Mom…for my Angel…and for my restored memory."
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