Meeting Jesse for the first time was an extremely unsettling experience. I was riding the city bus one Sunday afternoon in 2012, happily absorbed in a book, when a man got on. I may never have noticed him, except that my mother immediately called out a greeting and proceeded to introduce us. She had chanced to meet him once before at a bus stop, and had later waxed enthusiastic about his story of healing by a Chinese doctor and subsequent apprenticeship. My response had been a roll of the eyes, as she had a history of meeting “fascinating” people on the bus, notably overly friendly men a little too keen on her smile.
Smiling brightly now she said, “Rose, meet Jesse.”
I looked up from my book, prepared with the usual polite smile I gave all strangers in whom I had no interest, and was startled to silence. Jesse was looking at me unsmiling…
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