"It is absolutely unconscionable."
The camera focussed tightly on the face pouring out the vitriol making sure that every scrap of anger was transferred to the watching public.
"There is not one shred of evidence to support his actions - it's total quackery and as far as hygiene goes, if we've heard the real story and there's some doubt about that, as far as hygiene goes - well let's throw out everything we've learnt since Florence Nightingale and Lister and go back to witch doctors. Actually I'd rather throw him out of the country." the voice angrily powered on.
The cameras cut back to show the reporter and the doctor being interviewed as he walked around in an obviously busy Admissions Area at one of the local hospitals. The reporter continued as the doctor moved on to tend to patients.
"That's the hospital's point of view on these amazing circumstances, Helen. I believe that back at the studio there you have a legal point of view as well."
The broadcast focus shifted back to the Anchor Desk at the TV studio where Helen joined the conversation.
"Steve, it's not exactly a legal opinion. What we have is a representative from a public action group called Real Justice For All or RJFA, but while he is representing that group, I suppose as a lawyer he is also giving a legal opinion. Thanks for the report - we'll be back to you later. We'll talk to the RJFA representative in a minute, but just to recap on the events for those who may have missed the story.
"Earlier today at the Simorran hospital a man known to us only as Jason walked in for an eye test. Apparently he wanted a doctor's certificate so that he could go for a driver's licence test. Nothing out of the ordinary you would think, however when alert staff checked his medical records, Jason was supposed to have had congenital blindness. Quite an extraordinary situation."
The camera shot changed to show a neatly attired man sitting beside the Anchor Desk.
"Thanks for coming Trevor. How do you explain how a man who has been totally and permanently blind from birth, suddenly getting his sight to the point where he wants a driver's licence, and what is RFJA's interest in this situation?"
"Thanks for inviting me Helen. As you said, my qualifications are legal rather than medical, however it only takes common sense to realise that incurable blindness is just that - incurable. For someone to claim otherwise can only be because they are either mentally unbalanced or running a scam. Either way, RFJA is interested so that the rights of all the socially repressed people in the nation are protected.
"If Jason is mentally unbalanced, we need to get him the appropriate care, and quickly, before some of the right wing groups try to make out more to the story than there really is. If it's a scam, then we need to get to the bottom of it quickly. Whether he takes money from the government coffers or people's purses doesn't really matter. There will still be less money to go around, and that can't be good for the socially repressed who are already under the poverty line, without having the little bit they do have taken away from them."
Helen interjected, "So you think it is bad news whatever the real story is?"
"Oh absolutely," Trevor replied. "Absolutely. Time will tell, but my favourite theory at the moment is that the man at the hospital is not really Jason at all."
"Oh! So who do you think it is?"
"It's quite possible that with congenital blindness, Jason was left alone. Most families don't know how to cope with such disabilities, and it can be a lot easier to ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist. Jason would have ended up in an institution, or on the streets, or maybe in a place on his own as a result of some government normalisation program and then left to fend for himself. You know the government agencies do that a lot with disabled people. They give them some limited training in life skills, put them up in accommodation somewhere, and then pretend the problem has been fixed because these people are now integrated into normal society while all the while they are just struggling to stay alive, let alone integrated."
"And you don't think that is a good thing?"
"In many cases, no. Take Jason for example. He struggles along for a bit, and then some good Samaritan arrives on the scene and befriends him. Sooner or later something untoward happens to Jason, and the good Samaritan's true colours show. He takes over Jason's social security cheque and gets a free ride from society."
"Then why would this impostor risk everything with such a crazy stunt as this?"
"It often happens, Helen, but I must admit that this one is particularly inventive. The impostors get to a point where carrying on the charade gets too difficult and they have to find a way out of it. I don't think he realised just how much attention this would generate. I mean there's a million weirdo religious types out there these days and no-one really pays any attention to them. I think the mistake this fellow made was claiming that something real actually happened. It's easy enough to check up on and now he has been caught out. RFJA wants this whole episode brought out in the open, and quite frankly, we want charges laid and people put in jail over this fraud."
"Speaking of verification, I believe that we have Jason's parents on the line." Helen looks at the paperwork in front of her. "Our researchers have managed to find out some more information about Jason. Let's see- He was one of six children to the Cantwell family who live in a small farming community in .. in the other side of the country." Helen looked up. "Due to the sensitive nature of this case, we have been asked not to reveal certain details to respect the privacy of the people concerned.
"Mr. and Mrs. Cantwell, Good Afternoon."
"Good afternoon, Helen." Mr. Cantwell replied for the both of them while Mrs. Cantwell stood nervously beside him.
"It would appear that your son Jason is the recipient of some divine intervention that has allowed him to see again."
"We're not really sure what has happened ourselves." a cautious Mr Cantwell responded. "Since the government program moved him to your side of the country, we have to rely on phone calls - blind people can't write of course - and of late we have both been busy - it's planting time on the farm you know - and we haven't kept up the phone calls the way we normally do."
"Do you have any indication at all of what has happened over these last few days or weeks then?"
"Well Jason has left messages on the answering machine - we put that in when we kept missing calls last summer during the harvest - and come to think of it, he hasn't quite been his usual self. It's not like Jason to get too excited - he's had a hard life you know being born blind and all that - but he has been leaving messages about some man he met that has been helping him."
Trevor interrupted, "Yes, that fits the pattern."
Helen responded to the interruption, "Fits the pattern, you say. I believe you have other evidence to support your earlier statement."
"Oh yes. It fits the profile developed by RJFA perfectly."
"Mr. and Mrs. Cantwell, what do you think of Trevor's idea that some impostor is involved here?"
"We're not really sure about that - it's planting time on the farm you know and as we said earlier, we haven't had as much contact with Jason as we normally do. He did seem a lot happier though from the messages he left, particularly when he was talking about this fellow Jesus that was helping him. Why don't you ask Jason himself?"
"Wait a minute, I think Steve has some more news from the hospital. Steve, are you there?"
"Yes Helen, I'm here. I have just been talking with one of the nurses involved with the Jason Cantwell case on the condition of anonymity and found out a bit more why the doctor was so upset earlier. I can confirm there is a man called Jesus involved with Jason just like the Cantwell's indicated. If we believe Jason's story, then it is Jesus that brought this miracle into his life and this is where the medical profession is up in arms.
"The story, apparently, is that Jesus met Jason through some friends of Jason. He then took Jason away to the outskirts of the suburb, presumably away from the public eye, and this is where the story gets really interesting. Jesus then spits on Jason's eyes. That right, he spits - as in forcefully ejecting saliva out of his mouth. Jason purportedly could then see, but not clearly enough to distinguish details. Jesus then puts his hands on Jason's eyes and everything snaps into focus. Just like that.
"Now the medicos have a number of problems with the story. First of all, congenital blindness just can't be cured - it's a medical impossibility. Second, basic hygiene principles were thrown out of the window with this spitting process that happened. Even before the threat of AIDS, medicos knew the dangers of disease transmission via saliva. Apparently Jason is refusing to take an AIDS test no matter how strongly the doctors suggest it. Then there's the qualifications of this man Jesus. He just doesn't have any - nothing at all. He's not a doctor; he's not a paramedic; doesn't even have a basic First Aid Certificate. He's done this under the guise of religion and even there he's out on a limb. Not one religious organisation, mainline or otherwise, was willing to claim him as their own. Actually some of the comments by these religious leaders were very blunt; too blunt to be put on air.
"Another comment that has been made that bears thinking is this. If we assume there is some truth in the story, then this saliva is the elixir of life and worth billions of dollars. Now what sort of person would keep such a medical breakthrough a secret for so long, but then give it away for nothing without hope of a return. Just that alone tends to shake the credibility of the story."
"I see." said Helen, "That is interesting and does shed some light on the reactions that we have seen. We have in the studio with us now a psychiatrist. Dr Lemminn, thanks for your time today. What is your view on this situation?"
"Hello Helen, and thanks for inviting me. I have heard the comments made by many of the people you have spoken to, and there is another possibility that might explain the situation if we look at it from a psychological point of view."
"So you believe that there might be some truth in this story?"
"Well truth depends on how you look at a situation and in based on the information that you have available to you at the time. I was talking to Jason's parents while you were talking to Steve earlier, and it does appear that Jason did have come measure of sight when he was younger, but it was a degenerative disease and by the time he reached his teen years, he was for all intents and purposes totally blind.
"Psychologically speaking, this is a much more severe situation than if he were born totally blind, because he knows what he is missing. If he was born totally blind, he would know he is missing something, but not exactly what it is. For him to have had sight and then lost it would have produced a very severe angst in his inner psyche that has been repressed over the years. Now there have been documented cases where a major psychological trauma has in fact released physiological healing into the body. For example, people in life or death situations have found spastic limbs - that's limbs where the muscles are too tight - suddenly become usable when they absolutely needed them to get out of difficult situations. Being spat upon, particularly in the face, is certainly traumatic, and the adrenalin released by the "Fight or Flight" reaction may well have been enough to reverse whatever neurological blockage was occurring in the optical nervous system. Undoubtedly, Jason himself believes there was some sort of divine intervention so that's truth from his perspective, which may well be a different sort of truth from the medical perspective."
All the while, Jason had been sitting in a hospital waiting area watching the news reports, wondering why they never bothered to ask him. He didn't understand all the fuss and bother and why people had to find complicated explanations for something that was ultimately very simple. He had met the Son of the God who made him, and Jesus had simply put his eyes back in line with the Maker's Specifications. If they wanted the truth, all they had to do was ask.
Darryl Severn 2002
Copyright Darryl Severn 2002