Speculation about the temporary janitor seemed to relieve the monotony and dreariness, which sometimes gripped the midnight shift of the children’s ward of the Nix Hospital in downtown San Antonio. Even though he was temporary and it was his last night, he mopped the floor carefully. As he made his way down the hall, it was evident he took pride in his work. His floors shone.
The curiosity over the quiet stranger waned after two weeks and Julie Kilpatrick and the other nurses began to occupy their thoughts over reports of sightings of the Virgin Mary. One report placed her in Tucson, another in Nueva Laredo, and another sighting was reported in Juarez. The news media had begun to report the sightings as a curious phenomenon of Columbus Day; a day that had arrived at midnight just after the nurses had begun their shift.
“Too bad she can’t help poor Angela”, Julie, the head charge nurse, commented.
Angela Garcia was a ten-year-old girl in Room 314 who seemed to have lost the will to live and was wasting away from a rare disease. Normally a skeptic, Julie wondered if miracles were really possible and while you’re at it, give that poor man some joy. She saw the janitor working on the floor near Angela’s room.
The door to room 314 opened and the man looked up. This was a new nurse. She beckoned him into the room. He had never seen this nurse before. He noted her radiant smile..
“Mr. King, I need your help.”
“How did you know my name?”
She smiled again.
“It’s on your name tag.”
The man went into the room. There was a scent of roses in the air.
He stood there in the room and looked around. There wasn’t any sign of any mess. He had assumed that the nurse wanted him to clean a mess of some sort. The young girl on the bed opened her eyes.
“Are you here to sing me my song?”
“No, I’m just the janitor.”
“But the nurse said you would come in and sing me a song.”
“I used to sing some, but I haven’t sung anything hardly in over twenty years.”
“Please sing for me.”
The man looked around; the nurse seemed to have disappeared. Then, he noticed a painting of the Virgin Mary on the wall. It didn’t seem to be there when he entered the room.
Down the hall, the music drifted past the nurses’ station.
“Somebody’s playing the radio. I haven’t heard him sing in years.”
“Where’s it coming from?”
“314, I think. I don’t have the heart to tell her to turn the radio off.”
“Well, let her finish this song, then I’ll go tell her to turn it off.”
Later, Julie walked down to check the room. The music had stopped. As she walked down the hall, she saw the janitor getting in the freight elevator. She waved goodbye; it was his last night. She noticed tears in his eyes.
She opened the door and looked in. That’s funny! No radio. Angela lay there sleeping with a smile on her face. There was a rose on the pillow next to her face. Julie instinctively knew that Angela had somehow turned a corner and would be okay.
The mystery puzzled Julie. Who had been playing the radio at three o’clock in the morning? And where?
Julie noticed a new painting on the wall. The painting depicted three ships. There was the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. In the painting, the Santa Maria, the “Saint Mary”, proudly led the other two as Columbus led his voyage of discovery. The Santa Maria gleamed in the early morning sun and above the ship, an image of the Virgin Mary floated in the sky.
In the meantime, the man headed for the bus station. It’s time, Elvis thought, to discover what my grandchildren are like.
I never submitted this one for publication because I did not think any editor would buy it. It was close to Columbus Day in 1998 and I had to come up with something quickly for a writers group i had joined. This was the result. I hope you enjoyed this little story. I always like to write about the endurance and goodness of the human spirit. (Ed Benjamin, Jan 16, 2013)
Shameless Self Promotion:
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Amazon Kindle US: http://tinyurl.com/7oqwv3n
Barnes and Noble Nook: http://tinyurl.com/758ubdw
Apple iBookstore: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/harrys-war/id502735441?mt=11&ls=1
Amazon Kindle UK: http://urlcut.me/aFZ
Amazon Kindle Canada: http://tinyurl.com/a7em4fb
Amazon Kindle Spain: http://tinyurl.com/d2eeuhf