A Michigan woman was blind and now she can see, after being touched by a young man who calls himself Juvenal. Maybe it was just coincidence, but Bill Hill -- who used to run the spectacular Uni-Faith Ministry in Dalton, Georgia, and now sells RVs -- can see dollar signs when he looks at this kid with the magic "touch." The trouble is that others see them also, including a wacko fundamentalist fascist with his own private army of the faithful and an assortment of media leeches. But everyone who's looking to put the touch on the healer is in for a big surprise -- because Juvenal's got a trick or two up his sleeve that nobody sees coming.
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July 30, 2002
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Excerpt from Touch by Elmore Leonard
FRANK SINATRA, JR., was saying, "I don't have to take this," getting up out of the guest chair, walking out. Howard Hart was grinning at him with his capped teeth.
Virginia was saying, "What's Frank Sinatra, Jr., doing What's Howard Hart doing "
Elwin sidearmed an empty Early Times bottle at the TV set, shattering the sixteen-inch screen, wiping out Howard Hart's grin and Frank Sinatra, Jr., going out the door. Elwin took down the presidential plates from the rail over the couch -- Eisenhower, Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, all the portraits done in color -- and sailed the plates one at a time at the piano, trying to skim off the silver-framed photograph of Virginia seated at the console of the Mighty Hammond organ. He missed five out of five but destroyed each of the plates against the wall back of the piano. The Early Times bottle was still good, so he smashed the photograph with that, looked around for something else, and threw the bottle end over end, like a tomahawk, exploding the big picture window for the high ultimate in glass-shattering noise.
Then he grabbed Virginia, the real Virginia -- thirty pounds heavier than the smiling organist in the photograph -- and as she pushed and clawed at him, trying to get loose, he threw a wild punch that grazed her head and set her screaming. Finally he was able to connect with a good one, belting her square in the face, grazing that long, skinny nose, hitting her hard enough that he hurt his hand and had to go out in the kitchen and run water on it.
When Bill Hill arrived Elwin let him in and went back through the living room to the kitchen, saying only, "She called you, huh When she do that " Elwin didn't care if he got an answer. He reached up to a top cupboard shelf and pulled a fifth of Jim Beam from behind the garden-fresh canned peas and cream-style corn.
Bill Hill had on his good light blue summer suit and a burgundy sport shirt with the collar open to show the heavy gold chain and medallion that was inscribed Thank you, Jesus. He had his dark hair swirled down over his forehead and sprayed hard, ready to go out for the evening, almost out the door when Virginia called. She was on the sofa now sobbing into a little satin pillow. He bent over her and said, "Here, let me see," gently taking the pillow from her face. The dark hollows of her eyes were wet, her rouge smeared and streaked, one side of her face swollen as though she had an abscessed tooth. The skin was scraped, beginning to show a bruise, but it wasn't cut or bleeding.