CHARLATAN

The bus stops, the people gather, curious, demanding, hopeful, they are desperate to see me for I carry the gift, it was handed down from my mother, from her father, then from his, I feel their awe, hear their tears and sighs as I step down, me dressed in humble cloth and furs, all for effect, in truth, it made me hot but I knew they loved it, they didn’t want me to look too much like them, the first one rushes forward, I place my gift upon him, he weeps, stands, walks away, all can see he is a changed man, a swarm of squiter drones float above us, recording the changes of all so blessed, sending out video of my works into the sky for all in the crowd to see, and beyond the horizon so anyone may watch, our followers now scattered throughout the world, then another one approaches, will my child ever speak, she asks, yes, I reply, and now a man of fifty kneels before me, stares up, will I get alzheimer’s, his voice is trembling, but the gift is clear, yes, I tell him, his tears now sobs, he tries to verbalize his fears, can I be saved, he asks, but I hesitate, the gift may not guarantee the future though in this instance it suggests he can, stand, I tell him, and he stands, wiping the tears from his face, yes, you can be saved, now go inside the bus, there is healing for you, I spot a child edging toward me, come closer little girl, I tell her, the crowds are always most hopeful that a child will be saved, do not be afraid, in truth many are afraid of me, and many jealous, I am not from here, I possess the gift and they do not, I look different, my skin glowing, bright, off, bright, off, like a firefly over the dry grass, no one knows why it does this, some say it is from the gene therapy, a blessing from before I was born, an older man comes next, I can feel the heat from him, his blood rising, his heart pounding, it’s my side, he tells me, the pain, and the gift tells me his liver is dead, I nod, he understands, will you save me, he pleads, no, I reply, and he goes away, then another, the crowd grows, the line gets still longer, I cannot sleep, this one tells me, which the gift confirms, will I live he asks, and the gift makes me aware that the man suffers from sleep apnea, his fat and throat muscles preventing him from a deep rest, and I tell him to go and gather his assets, everything he possesses, and to leave it all inside the bus, and he walks away, sad, but this is how it must be, next a young woman, soft, hesitant, please forgive me, she says, I took their money, I knew it was wrong, I now carry inside me their precious pet, and I command the vile spirit to leave her, now go inside the bus, child, and they will cleanse you and you will need never fear what’s inside you, there are so many now, I can’t stop bleeding, he tells me, which the gift informs me is a cancer of his colon, and at only….the gift isn’t always immediate…at only 34 years of age, tragic, put your affairs in order, I say, now an older woman, obese, the gift tells me her glucose levels, the diabetes sapping her body of its life, now a little boy pushed forward by his mother, he refuses to listen, she says, holding him down, I smile, here, take this, a tonic for the ears, he does not hear you as you believe he does, that is all, this boy is a blessing — liar! — comes the call from within the crowd — charlatan! — it is a young woman, she rushes towards me, I stand in place, she stops, face staring into mine, you are a false prophet she howls, turning back now to face the crowd, most are angry with her but not all, I lay the gift upon her forehead, it again speak its truth, you are 23, you weigh 112 pounds, your heartrate betrays your courage, but she is not bowed, guesses, she shouts, magic, tell me my blood type, which I do, the gift informs me it is O negative, at which her body tenses, she goes silent for a few moments, I motion for her to kneel before me, I lay the gift upon her and speak, the first symptoms of parkinson’s will present themselves before you reach 30, and she screams in fear more so than disbelief, it cannot be, she yells, but the gift is not wrong, and your heart will fail you at age 39, I reply, you will die from this, which was a lie, the gift tells me no such thing but I will not tolerate those who challenge me, she is weeping now, begging at my feet, no, please, please, no, heal me, and I tell her to promise here before the crowd to devote herself to the bus and all within it, which she promises, then a rail-thin man steps forward, informing me that it hurts when he passes water, which the gift confirms is a mere infection, I hand him a balm and refuse to accept his offering, keep it, I say, share it with your neighbors, then I raise my arms, I will hear one more I tell them, and the crowd pushes a sickly man forward, they shove him to the ground, and at once the gift tells me what it is, and I tell the crowd that this man has brought tuberculosis into your town, many of you will die as a result, you may punish him however you see fit, they drag his body away, his screams growing fiercer first, then softer, and despite their pleading, despite their tears, many of them now tossing money at my feet, I tell them I must continue onward, and once inside the bus I place my gift inside a small pouch I keep on my person, I close my eyes and sleep, letting the bus take us wherever it does.