“No, it only does one thing.”
“Alright then, I’ll wish for a million wishes.”
“It doesn’t work like that.”
“Well, what if… ?”
“… do you mind? I’m trying to be mystical and enigmatic.”
The angel took a breath. “Okay; the lamp contains shampoo.”
He went back to eating the food by the fire. Glen stared after him for a time.
“Is that it?!” Glen asked.
Holding up a finger, the angel hurriedly chewed and swallowed.
“To be truly healed of your afflictions, you must venture east across the desert. There you will find an oasis where you must wash your hair.”
” Why there? Ahhh, so that’s like the pool of Siloam? You stirred the waters there and when I get in, I’ll be alright.”
“No; nothing like that. You just need water to wash your hair. The shampoo’s the real cure.”
“I see. Is there any other conditions? Do I have to do it at midnight under the full moon or something?”
“No, you must go there between the hours of three and four of a Wednesday afternoon, riding on a camel, and wearing a pink hat.”
“What?!” Glen asked incredulously.
The angel smirked, then broke into raucous laughter. After a time, he abated, holding his stomach and wiping a tear from his eye.
“I’m sorry. I love doing that. Anyway; let’s not talk about this anymore. Just eat up, and when you’re finished, have a sleep, and the Lord will lead you there.”
Glen continued to eat, asking the angel about “his kind, and what it’s like in Heaven?” The angel answered curtly without giving any real information. When he had satisfied his hunger, he fought the urge to sleep. Nodding off, he lowered himself back on the cushion and closed his eyes.
It sounded audible, yet he saw no one in his immediate vicinity. The angel, the food, and the tent had all disappeared. Glen rolled into a kneeling position. Only crested dunes met his vision in all directions under the new night sky. He assumed he dreamt after he fainted late in the afternoon. The conversation with the angel, the food, and the lamp had only been imagined. With a sigh, he went to rise, nudging something cold against his knee. Reflecting the moon’s light, the copper lamp shone dully gold.
“It was real,” he whispered.
He picked it up and slowly turned in circles, wondering where to find east.
Which way do I go, Lord? He prayed, looking at the stars.
A dozen stars flared brighter, instantly forming an arrow.
Glen laughed. “I’m not going to find a manger that way; am I?”
The stars reformed into the word “no.”
“Fair enough,” said Glen, moving in the direction indicated.
He trekked for hours across the sandy floor. With no landmarks to break up the scenery, he began to wonder if he really made progress at all.
“How much further, Lord?”
A large arrow etched itself in the sand, pointing straight ahead; words followed. Not much further.