“Zachary Star,” was the name, assigned to him, a long time ago, by the Supervising Social Worker; the first name, arbitrary, the last name, for the unusual, but pretty, star-like mark on his right hand.
Soon after stealthily and resolutely, stepping out through the rear exit of the “Vineland Residence for Boys,” Zachary noticed, at his feet in the new fallen snow, a shiny, silver colored, medallion, brightly lit, by that night’s full moon. The Medallion seemed to be of ceramic construction, and appeared to be in an odd shape, conceivably, resembling a kidney bean. It had an appended neck chain, and Zachary, reflexively, put it around his neck, and continued, quickly, and silently on his route.
Early on, he had been informed, that he was simply left, at the Residence Entrance, approximately fourteen years ago, by an unidentified person, presumably, his natural mother. Only recently, had he made a bold determination to leave, and, on this night, steeled himself, to actually, depart from the cold and loveless institution, in an idealized quest for high adventure, or at the very least, a more satisfactory life.
The sum total of his personal possessions, were, two shirts, one clean pair of jeans and three pairs of underwear. He had a second bag with food, consisting of a wrapped, whole loaf of sliced white bread, a half- full jar of peanut butter and two apples, all of which he had stolen from the kitchen pantry.
He wandered, without any destination or resolved purpose, except, that of putting distance between himself and the cold, regimented life, endured at the Home. Although his fingers were cold, he, somehow derived some (perhaps, imagined) relief from fingering the found medallion.
He soon thereafter, located an ample recess, in the doorway of a closed barbershop, and found some needed rest and sleep. When he awoke, dawn was beginning to break. As he sleepily and hungrily, stood, he felt, at his feet, a young, soft, furry cat, rubbing against him, while profusely, purring. He shared some of his bread and peanut butter with the young cat (marveling at the cat’s acceptance of such food) petted the cat and continued on his way, resolutely, followed, by the little, furry animal.
Zachary, followed closely by his new animal companion, traveling in a direction, which he perceived, was taking him away from the Home, came upon a market square, in which produce of every kind was sold. He chanced to notice, in the increasing daylight, some farmers bringing their produce to the market for sale. He reflexly, fingered his medallion, when he observed, that it’s ceramic configuration, was virtually, identical to the kidney beans, displayed, by the farmers, for sale.
He soon came upon a small group of old men, nearby, trying to warm themselves around an active fire, burning, in an empty oil can and stopped at the fire, to warm himself, diffidently, reaching over the brim, to warm his hands. A rather ancient appearing, dark skinned man with braided hair, noticed the medallion around Zach’s neck, and inquired as to its manner of acquisition. Zachary, truthfully related, that he found it on the ground, shining in the moonlight. The man, resembling an elderly American Indian, advised him that it was a magical, good luck medallion, and that his manner of finding it, was especially indicative of imminent good fortune. Zachary, looked down and discovered that the little cat seemed to be purring in response to the statement and, possibly to indicate moral encouragement.
As the light of day began to gradually, brighten in intensity, Zachary found himself, transfixed by the unmistakable, delicious aroma of freshly baked bread and cakes, and was drawn, mouthwateringly, into a bakery, in which, many varieties of highly delectable, baked products, were displayed for sale. The observant and empathic baker, observing the lone youngster’s condition, gave him some free baked products to eat. After a satisfying and somewhat extensive conversation with the needy young man, the baker offered him, a try-out, of his, sorely needed, position of delivery boy, and upon Zachary’s acceptance of the offer, immediately gave him instructions and set him to work. Positive and very satisfactory feedback, from customers, was received by the baker, and, after a few days the baker offered him the job, plus a rent-free warm room, in the back of the shop, as a temporary residence.
The close proximity of the two occupants of the premises, soon led to the mutual realization of the comfort of a close, family-type relationship [the baker was still young and unmarried]. When the baker was not feeling well or tired, he would allow Zack to fill in for him at the sales counter, and received many complimentary comments on his courteous service. The baker furnished Zachery’s back room, in a style of pleasant and comfortable ambiance.
A harmonious period of time had passed by, when the baker, suddenly, rushed into Zachary’s room, where he was reading, with the cat in his lap, and, nervously, and breathlessly, asked him to take over at the counter to serve the customer. Zack, dutifully, rushed to the counter, assuming that the baker had suddenly felt ill. When he arrived, he noticed a young attractive woman, who stated that she had just returned home, after being away for a couple of weeks. She said that she had always patronized the bakery and would, as previously done, come by, from time to time to buy baked products.
After the woman left with her purchases, Zachery solicitously, inquired after the baker’s state of present health, and received the response of “fine.” On further discussion, the baker admitted that he knew the woman customer, for some time, and loved her, but was shocked, suddenly, to see her after a period of her absence. Apparently, he had failed in his resolve, and, at her expectation, to propose marriage to her; and so, she unhappily, went away. He thanked Zachary, and agreed that if, and when she returns, they would both serve her.
Two days later, the woman returned to purchase some goods, Zachary was at the counter, at the time. For some reason, the cat was, excitedly, rubbing herself, against his leg. Zach, seemed to feel a pull or drag at his medallion, as both he and the woman, for some reason, reddened, and stared at each other. Zachery’s stomach began to become upset, and he started to tremble for no accountable reason. He thought that this time, it was he that was ill, and was relieved to see the baker return to the sales counter. However, the baker was also nervously trembling, visibly, at the sight of the woman. He began speaking at an uncommon speed, included in which was a profuse apology, and a tearful explanation of events, and most significantly, a heartfelt, sincere proposal of marriage. The woman sobbingly, but, clearly, accepted the proposal and the two [ Zachary was overjoyed to observe] locked each other in an embrace and loving kiss.
The cat purred loudly, as she brushed against Zachary’s leg, the medallion felt unnaturally heavy, and most miraculous of all, was the, unmistakable shape of a star on the woman’s right hand.
The couple married, mother and child were reunited, and the small, furry cat, still resides with the happy family threesome. At the first snowfall, Zachery removed the Medallion and generously, and very gently, left it on the ground, atop some fallen snow in front of the nearby Children’s Hospital.