Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Zack's Story-Part 1

Zack was an angry man.  Who could blame him?  He was a short, dumpy kind of a guy, who stood out from the crowd as one to be avoided.  Although that wasn't always the case; as we shall learn he brought most of this shunning upon himself.  In his youth he had stood out from the crowd for a completely different reason.  In those days Zack was the world's whipping boy--a mobile and accommodating punching bag for anyone and everyone to vent their frustrations, insecurities, and rage.  Only later did people's response to Zack change from exploitation born out of indifference, to pure hatred wrought by jealousy and envy.

Zack didn't know he was angry.  He regarded people too little to consciously muster such an emotion.  He may have known anger back in the day when how people felt about him mattered.  Now, for Zack, the public was nothing more than cattle to be bought or sold.  The damage he inflicted on them was far worse than the pitiful effects of the abuse he had received as a child and adolescent, and definitely more lucrative.  His antipathy towards his fellow race seared his conscience and rendered fleecing them a simple matter.  After all, it's easy to win the game when you don't have to play by the rules.

As with all families, being the second son disadvantaged Zack.  The contrast between him and his first born brother made Zack's plight far worse from the beginning.  His elder brother, Andrew, was a tall, handsome, strong, and self-confident man who shared his father's passions and aspirations.  On the other hand, Zack had been born prematurely, which stunted his growth, and left him weak, clumsy, pale, and sickly as a child.  He was a child only a mother could love. As one might expect, it was a no brainer for Zack's father to dote on Andrew and ignore Zack.  If in those inevitable public situations, Zack's father was forced to acknowledge both his sons, he quickly diverted all attention to Andrew.  Zack quickly learned to not fight it, and would happily and unobtrusively slip into the solace of the shadows.  After a time, the adults of the village hardly knew Zack was alive.

On one of those rare intimate moments Zack coveted with his father, his father told him, "Don't expect too much from life, boy."  Any other child would have starved on such meager nourishment; Zack would live off that thin gruel of his father's attention like a roach from a grease spot.

Zack's mother loved him. But in those days it was a man's world; a mother's love hardly mattered to a boy.  His father's obvious distain of Zack gave the other boys permission to taunt Zack.  And this they did with relentless relish.  Zack needed no mirror to see himself, his peers gladly assumed the role.  And the image they reported back to him was decidedly unflattering.

Zack was angry with God.

Yet Zack possessed one favorable trait that had gone unnoticed by his peers, the villagers, and his father: Zack was smart.  And it is an awesome thing to see what a brilliant mind can accomplish when left alone to contemplate.  A person can learn a lot by watching life from off-stage.  Zack quickly learned where people were most vulnerable.  When he completed his education, Zack departed home to make his fortune.

Zack the man knew business.  He could turn a denarius into a talent with a flick of his wrist.  He had become a financial wizard overnight.  Many suspected Zack of cheating, but could never prove it.  Zack did cheat. Some have said if a criminal genius put that intellect to honest work instead of crime he would be far richer.  Zack proved the aphorism false.  In short order Zack amassed enough to buy the muscle he had been robbed of at birth.  The little man had grown big.  No one was laughing any more, and there was nothing they could about it.

Zack settled down in the Las Vegas of Palestine--the oasis of the rich, famous, and influential at the cross-roads of the world.  Jericho was the perfect place for a man of Zack's means and genius to prosper.  Opportunity frequented Zack's door.  No one liked him, but Zack's business acumen brought patrons from the four corners of the empire--Phrygia, Alexandria, Carthage, Ephesus, Damascus, Tyre, Athens, Tarsus, Rome.  Zack grew richer just sitting by his swimming pool.

All this acquired power drowned out the anger burning within Zack like Gehenna outside Jerusalem.  Even though he no longer sensed it, his deep seated resentment lived on as a curse he long ago raised up to God for being born.

One of Zack's many slaves lowered a platter of fruit to him.  He drew a few figs from the plate as he recalled what his father had said.  Flinging one of the fruits into his mouth, he thought, I won't, Pops.

[Come back Sunday night for the conclusion of Zack's story......]