Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Decision Maker Finale

Isaac had stopped his presentation while the women were absent. “Are you ready to continue, Rose?” She nodded yes and the reporter stopped filling in for the down time and prepared to listen. “The day my wife and daughter were killed changed my life forever. I swore an oath to my God that I would find their murderers and bring them to justice. I have to admit, I don’t hold myself to my oath, because I came to realize that my God never existed. What kind of God would allow the holocaust to occur? Nevertheless, I am committed to stay my course. After many decades of searching, I have finally found my wife’s killers.” He pointed over at the Heinz brothers who were still kneeling on the floor.

Chief Gray pulled off his gag and asked, “Is that true? How can you be certain?”

Isaac nodded, “Finally, you say something that matters.” He walked over to the two old men. “The two killers had a special mark on their shoulders, a tattoo. Not just any tattoo, but the tattoo of the Nazi storm troopers, complete with swastika.” He pulled a knife from his boot and held the knife menacingly at them. Rose gasped as he grabbed their shirts and cut them from their bodies, exposing their backs. Each of them bore the tattoo of the Nazi storm troopers. The cameraman leaned forward and zoomed in on them.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the two of the three killers of my wife and daughter. One of them held their arms while another shot them. The Blitz Brothers.”

“But they are the Heinz brothers.” Chief Gray interjected.

“When they fled Europe after the Allies destroyed the 3rd Reich, they changed their names and started over. All along, you never knew that there were killers in your midst.”

Cato held up a hand, “You said that there were three. Who is the third?”

Isaac waved a dismissing hand at him, “Don’t concern yourself with that. I found the three of them hiding in Argentina, amongst all the Jewish refugees, trying to blend in with the very people they so hated. When I finally tracked them down, I found Ruben at Pan de Azucar, a small mountain village near Cordoba. After I presented my evidence to the village, they hung him in the tree on the square. That was in ten years ago. David and Adolph fled to the United States and have been in hiding until today.” He turned his attention to the chief, “I understand that you are friends with these killers?” Chief Gray swallowed hard, but couldn’t find an answer. “Don’t worry, Hans Goldbaum, I am not looking for you today.”

“Hans Goldbaum? Who is that?”

“Miss Kincaid, that is the real name of Chief Gray. He changed his name when he came to the United States. He was only a boy, but he aided the Germans by trading them information for food and lodging. He was one of the Jews who betrayed my family and our hiding place.”

Chief Gray had nothing to say. His face was ashen and for once, he was unable to speak. He was acutely aware that the TV camera was focused on him.

Cato spoke again, breaking the awkward silence. “So, what do you intend to do?”

“Oh, I intend to bring them to justice. They will meet with the death penalty today.” He walked over to the brothers and held up his pistol. “Do you have any last words?”

The Germans spoke to each other in Spanish and then spoke back to him in German. “Ah, so you choose to remain the swine you are. Very well, have it your way.” He pointed the gun at David’s head.

“Mr. Jacobs?”

The gun never wavered, “Yes, Mr. Cato, do you have something to say?”

“Well, I reckon that these two fellows are guilty, just like you said. What can I do to save them the death sentence?”

“Why would you want to spare them?”

“Because all of us have sinned. There isn’t any of us that could pick up a stone and cast it at these two. We are all guilty of the same thing.”

“You have murdered, Mr. Cato? I find that highly improbable.”

“Well, the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not commit murder,’ but Jesus said that if we hate anyone that we have committed murder in our hearts. I’ll bet that every person in this room has hated someone at some point in their lives, right?” He turned to the crowd, who sat dumbfounded. “What about you, Rose? Who have you hated?”

“The father of my baby.”

“What about you, Miss Kincaid?”

“Well, I hate all men.”

“Fair enough.”

“What about you, Mr. Cato?” Rose asked.

“I spent most of my time hating God.”

Isaac turned around, clearly surprised, “God? I thought you said you were at peace with God.”

“I am now. There was a time in my past that I hated God. A few years ago, I was a fifth generation rancher, right here in Texas. My family had owned the Cato Cattle Company, the 3C Ranch, every since Texas has been a state. They fought Indians and Mexicans to maintain it. Then they fought West Texas weather. My family’s blood and sweat bought and maintained that country. But a few years ago, when the droughts started, I lost everything. I lost my children’s inheritance and I lost the family legacy. I prayed everyday that God would intervene, but He didn’t. I believed in Him up to the day they served me with the foreclosure papers. What I didn’t know was that God was allowing a work of redemption to take place in my heart. You see, I just thought I was a Christian because I went to the Baptist church, but that wasn’t enough. Just like sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car. I had to find myself at the bottom to find redemption. I had nowhere else to go expect to God.”

“I assume that you have a point, Mr. Cato.”

“Well, sir. It seems to me that we have all committed murder in God’s sight. We are all guilty of breaking His law. We all deserve death. Including you, Isaac.”

“That may be, Mr. Cato, but I have lived my entire life expecting to kill these two gentlemen, and I fully intend to do so. Someone will die today.”

“Then I will take their place, just like Jesus took my place. Don’t you see? Jesus made it possible for us to be saved, because he paid the ultimate price for our freedom. I don’t know why God allowed the holocaust to happen. I just know that God was there. Sometimes He doesn’t make sense. Our ways aren’t His ways and our thoughts aren’t His thoughts. I can’t explain why bad things like wars and ethnic cleansings take place, except that we are all sinners, but I can tell you that God will forgive us of our sins. Even the Blitz Brothers, yourself included, Mr. Jacobs.”

“Oh, it’s much too late for me, Mr. Cato.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, sir. But it will be too late when you die of cancer. You are no better than those two murderers. You have committed the same crime. The only difference is that their crime hurt more people than yours. You are just as guilty as they are. And all of you need God’s forgiveness, just as I did.”

Isaac considered his words for a moment. Was it possible? He had given up on God so many years before, could it be that God hadn’t given up on him? There was so much hatred spilling its venom deep into his soul. Not only had he hated the Germans, he had also hated God, whom he held responsible for the demise of so many devout Jews. Where was God during the holocaust? “Mr. Cato, where was God during the holocaust? Why did He abandon us to death and destruction?”

“I don’t know. I’m not a theologian. What I do know is this, God was there. It’s hard to imagine, but it is true. It was bad enough as it was, can you imagine what it would have been like without Him? The holocaust wasn’t the first time that the Jews were persecuted. Remember what happened with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They also were burned alive, just not by the Nazis, but by a different regime, the Babylonians. Those three might have lived through it, but how many of their brethren were slaughtered by the Babylonians? What about the Egyptians? They also enslaved the Jews for their own selfish purposes. After all of these came the Romans. But God was there for them. I don’t have an answer for you, except that God will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“You make a most persuasive argument, Mr. Cato. Yet, I am not willing that these men should go free. What do you propose?”

“If they are guilty, then I don’t want them to go free either. If they are guilty, then they must stand and give an account of their lives. Even when we ask God for forgiveness, there are still consequences for our actions. Allow the law to bring these men to justice. Isaac, one day soon you will die, then you will face the Throne of Judgment. I am more concerned that when you are brought to justice before God that you are found innocent. The only way to do that is to repent of your sins and trust in the blood of Jesus and allow Him to forgive you.”

Silence encompassed the group, each of whom sat with their heads bowed deep in thought. The camera continued to record, but the reporter could not bring himself to break the silence. Isaac appeared to be struggling within himself, fighting for control. Yet, Cato’s words had burned deep within his heart, ripping the calluses off his seared conscience. For so many years, one desire consumed him – kill. Cato’s words rang true, vibrating through every tissue, into the core of his being.

Adolph Blitz sighed deeply and almost slumped to the floor, then righted himself and spoke softly, “I’m glad its over.”

David spoke harshly in his native tongue, but Adolph ignored his warning. “No, David, its over. I’m very tired of the nightmares. I want them to end. I’m tired of running.” He looked at Isaac, who still lorded over them, pistol drawn. “Mr. Jacobs, my apology is pitiful compared to my sins, but I still offer it. I was the one who held your wife that night. David shot her. Up to that point, I had not killed or seen anyone killed. But I realized that I was now a part of…. Somehow, I thought that I was serving God. But… I was wrong. I allowed anonymity to conceal my desire to be important, but it only created more thirst for power. Everyday, I remember my actions and everyday I wish to be forgiven. If only it was possible. Please kill me; I don’t deserve to live. That is all I have to say.”

Cato stood and walked over to Isaac. “Mr. Jacobs? It’s over. No one is going to die today.” He reached for the gun and carefully removed it from his non-responsive fingers. “Let the court decide their fate. After all, you still have to stand before God in judgment. I think you have enough to consider with your own guilt without playing Judge also.”

Isaac’s hands trembled as the hatred began to melt within him. He nodded at Cato, then, suddenly old, sat carefully in a chair and waited for the police to end his hostage situation.

The reporter kneeled down beside him, “Isaac? I promise that I will tell your story. I will be a voice for you; I will find a way to help you.”

Isaac smiled gratefully, “Thank you, but my life is over soon enough. For the first time, I now have to worry about my future.”


Anonymous said...

Good story. I'd write more, but I want to go to bed.

Alison said...

So many huge themes in this. I wonder how Isaac spent the years and decades between the Holocaust and the story...I can only imagine. Rose's story line adds an emotional and pointedly appropriate underscoring of the preciousness of life.
I first read this story a year ago, and it's still as powerful as it was then. So, will we see more an expanded version of this story? Hmmm.