Tom Howard

Tom Howard is a banking software analyst in Little Rock, Arkansas and thanks the Central Arkansas Speculative Fiction Writing Group for their help and support.


By: Tom Howard
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This testimony is not part of the official record utilized in the beatification and subsequent canonization of Saint Joan nor was it released to the advocatus diaboli, the devil’s advocate. Due to the youthfulness of the witness, the length of time between the events and the recording of the testimony, and the lack of collaborative witness accounts, it has been deemed of limited and dubious value. Saint Joan died in 1945 and yet served her little parish for the twenty years afterwards, truly a miracle by any definition.

Pope Mark Zebralius II, Papal Archives,
Vatican City, 1965, Permanently Sealed

Retrieved by Omar the All-Seeing under the
Religious Freedom of Information Act, 1990.

My name is Jose Arguedas, and I am a dock worker in Puerto Callamos, Peru. I am originally from San Joye de Uzuna, a small mountain village not far from here. Families in our little town worked from sunup to sundown to grow what little they could while keeping a watchful eye on their herds of llamas and alpacas. Our town had no school or running water, but like all good Christian towns it had a chapel. The village was too poor and too small to afford a full-time priest so we shared a traveling clergyman and were blessed with the teachings and wisdom of Sister Joan, a nun from America who lived in our village. She had a small room off the chapel and was a teacher, healer, friend, and eventually the savior of our village. Sister Joan taught religious lessons, helped us through mumps and measles, and watched over her flock between Father Anthony’s irregular visits. She spoke Spanish better than my grandfather and was the first to offer help where it was needed. Everyone in our little village was very proud of our nun in residence, even if she looked…unusual.

The good sister was called Sister Joan the Two-Headed Llama outside our village, but any grandmother in town would have slapped one of us if we’d said it. But it was true, Sister Joan had two llama heads. Instead of one regular human head, she had two average-sized animal heads. Two graceful necks held furry faces with the dark coloring of a fine llama. Her eyelashes were long by human standards, and everyone wondered – silently, of course – if she would spit if she was startled or angry. Fortunately, Sister Joan had never been seen to be either. She obviously had two separate brains with two functional voice boxes. Her right head was pious and pleasant, and apparently the dominant one. Her left head, however, had been heard to swear unexpectedly on rare occasions when she spoke.

Like Paulo with his peg leg or Maria with the birthmark on her face shaped like a giant hand, we didn’t notice that Sister Joan didn’t look like the rest of us. She was just someone who helped the midwife with Maria’s sixth child or said a few words over my grandpapa Ferdinand when he passed away. If one of the women threw her husband out for the night for drinking too much, Sister Joan always had a blanket and an admonition for him in the chapel. No one could remember exactly when Sister Joan had arrived, or why she left America, but she was an important member of our community.
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