My name is Malachy – which means ‘messenger’. And that’s what I do. I’m a ‘gopher’ and a courier for my boss, Judge Curtis, who is a high court judge and a powerful person. He pays well but he’s a hard man who has been known, in private, to lose his temper. He once clouted me round the head – and now I don’t hear too well in my left ear.
A strange thing happened a few months ago. We had all heard news about a rabble-rousing religious fanatic, whose followers claimed he could heal people. He was a subversive political agitator who might incite a riot against the authorities. The police and the security services were trying to catch this criminal. One evening, the day before a big festival in the city, an informer told my boss that the preacher would be holding a secret meeting that night in a park on the lower slopes of a hill. Curtis told a senior police officer who decided to arrest him under cover of darkness when he had few of his protective thugs around him.
The forces of law and order consisted of police and soldiers, who were carrying weapons and powerful torches. They had to be sure their quarry wouldn’t escape and planned to grab him and put him in custody to await trial. I was sent along to see how things panned out and to report directly to Curtis. We set off after midnight and I discovered that some of the group were nervous about the encounter.
As we approached, all seemed treacherously calm, until we caught sight of a small group of men beneath the trees. The informer stepped forward and pointed out their man. I slipped through to the front of the arresting party to get a better look at the notorious rebel preacher. He appeared to be unarmed and didn’t look to be very dangerous. He made no move to fight back but at this point a couple of his gang, armed with no more than knives, lunged forward to protect him and attack us.
Close to me a knife glinted in the torch light and I leapt back. A split second later, I felt a sear of hot sharp pain as the blade sliced into my left ear. I let out a shriek of agony and put my hand up to my head to discover that my ear was almost severed and hanging by a sinew. The pain was excruciating and as I moaned I heard the man say to his henchman, “No more of this. Put your knife away”.
Then the strangest thing that has ever happened to me took place. The arrested man, who was not struggling in any way, reached out and touched my bleeding ear and the pain stopped. Seconds later, I heard him say, “I told you I am the man you want. You’re looking for me, so let my men go.” As his gang ran off and the police and soldiers dragged the guilty man away, I was left alone. I felt my ear and miraculously it was as if it had never been injured.
That strange man had given me back my ear. Not only was the cut healed but also my hearing had come back. Some while later I heard that the preacher, whilst he was alive, had often said: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”