The Healer calls it salvation. The police call it murder.
Easter Monday, Walthamstow. Father Charlie Salt witnesses a suicide in his church. Before killing himself, the victim speaks of a serial killer targeting male prostitutes – a killer known as “The Healer”.
As Salt starts investigating, two suspects present themselves: a charismatic pimp and a distrusting detective.
Feeling a personal connection with the victim, and believing the police won’t help, Salt must use his past to help with his investigation.
As he gets closer, will he overcome his wounds or be swallowed by his sins? Can he determine who is telling the truth and who wishes to heal again?
Before the end of Holy Week, his life, and those around him, will change forever.
The Healer opened up his photo album; a document that was as precious as any religious text. He breathed in, smelling the cleanliness of his flat. Not even a morgue could be more disinfected.
His black coffee became a momentarily still disc which he peered into. Seeing his reflection, he winked before bringing it to his lips and taking a sip. Replacing the cup on a white coaster, he felt the coffee was essential; a bitter taste to keep him awake, a taste which broke through his excitable thoughts of his drive ahead.
What he was about to do now was as good as placing a prayer in the wailing wall, as necessary as facing east, as mysterious as drinking blood.
On the first page behind the wax paper, a shroud like the sheet over a corpse, sat a Polaroid of the young man who touched his own lips before being healed. There was a secret in his mouth. Soon, there was only a scream, a howl, that The Healer heard clearly: Forgive me. For I have sinned.
The Healer tried to explain that the cure was under their skin. Far under the layers of flesh, far under the rivulets of blood, far under their pumping hearts, was the cure to the disease they’d been wracked with for years. Everything they had done in those years was a disease. And all along, they’ve had the cure inside of them - waiting to get out. The Healer smiled at the irony - an irony only he knew.
If he could get them younger, then all the better before they wasted another’s life. Everyone they touched was damaged.
On the second page was a boy. The Healer guessed he was no older than fourteen. He found out later that he was thirteen. When it was clear the healing had started, a piercing scream which The Healer believed would shatter the car windows left the boy. The cry was not for help. No. It was confirmation, a confirmation of how much the boy wanted the sacrament of remedy. It was a plea from a place The Healer knew well, a place he’d seen when he was a child and all those animals, who had their own problems, were healed.
Another smile appeared on his face, a trace of recollection for what he’d achieved. They never saw him coming, never knew who he was until it was too late, could not have guessed what he was capable of. That was his true achievement - he lulled people.
Even the dead were dubious about who he was. He dreamt that his victims remained unsure.
The two in his photo album were just tests: the first two years ago, the second last year. They were nothing more than a confirmation that what he was doing was right. They were the start of a book. The Healer knew he needed to make his book longer and that the gaps between the pages wouldn’t be a year. The gaps would be much closer.
Not months. Or weeks. Days. Twenty-four hours from one perfection to the next.
The Lord was calling to him. The Lord had always been with him. Time now, time for the Lord to speak.