Three years earlier…
Glen, had dark hair, forming a curled mat across his crown. His glasses had thick, black frames almost naturally blending in with his dense, but neatly trimmed beard.
Only a few years ago, he moulted badly, leaving unsightly patches in his scalp and scabbing the outer dermis like mange. His beard too, grew sparsely, leaving gaps; exposing his skin like an adolescent attempting unsuccessfully to grow one.
He tried every hair regrowth formula on the market. With nowhere else to turn, he resorted to alternative medicines. At first he wore hats. People still noticed the scabbing and wispy hair beneath. He started wearing bandannas. People began to do pirate impressions wherever he went. Left with no method of hiding his shame and nowhere tolerant of his condition, he abandoned the western world in search of alternative medicines.
His quest took him to Iran. There, he could wear a keffiyeh, a middle eastern headdress where only the eyes showed. For a time, he learned the language and blended in, becoming relatively happy. The women of the region never appealed to him before now, but he could never reveal his face. It seemed he had merely exchanged one misery for another.
Mosques allured him with their chanted prayers.
Could the answer be religious?
For months, he took off his sandals and knelt on a mat with the other men. Five times a day he prayed, butting his head on the floor, determined to keep doing it until something happened… it didn’t.
Sighing, he raised his head, noting the church across the street from the mosque.
Become a Christian? Is there no other way?
Despondent, he dropped his head and shoulders, trudging across the street and inside. The same day, he gave his life to Christ and prayed for his affliction. Each morning thereafter for a year, he examined his face in the mirror. It still had the same scabrous look. Tears welled in his eyes as he wound his keffiyeh around his head. Sadly, it seemed even God wouldn’t help him.
Totally broken in spirit, he strayed into the desert. Hours into his trek, the last of civilisation fell behind him, and out of sight. By late afternoon, his mouth dried and his clothing heated him as much as shielded him from the sun. A dull ache evolved in his head, becoming more intense as he trekked on.
It’ll be over soon he assured himself.
His legs shuddered with every step. Even if he survived the first day; the night would surely finish him. The horizon seemed to swell and tilt like a rolling sea. Out of the core of the rippling heat, a dot moved. It evolved into a person. Although the person walked, he seemed to come rapidly closer, becoming a man wearing a white keffiyeh.
Panting, Glen dropped to his knees as the man stood before him.
“I… don’t want… your help.”
“But isn’t that what you asked for, Glen?”
Glen merely looked at him, too weary to make a response. He dropped resignedly onto his back. The stranger took a step closer, looking down on him.
“The Lord has heard your prayer.”
Glen laughed weakly, then yielded to unconsciousness.