The Gospel according to Vance Zepeda (Part I)…

If one more thing goes wrong, I’m going to…Why have you got it in for me? What did I ever do to you!? It was about time that the Universe heard Vance’s side of the story. It had been pushing him too hard and too fast recently and it was time to be put on trial! He pushed hard down on the woman’s chest, the combined actions of memories of the course he took at Christian Camp and the instructional words of the emergency services operator. The operator’s voice was low and soothing as it vibrated through the speaker of the phone; “Keep going Vance, you’re doing a great job, We’re almost with you now, keep-…” Her words drifted off as Vance used the remaining strength he had, trying to keep up the rhythmic pressure on the Engineer’s chest They don’t make it look this hard in NCIS! His thoughts were interrupted by the heavy clunk of footsteps entering the apartment and the reassuring voice; “Fantastic….We’ll take….great job” Vance’s brain was struggling to process all the information that was currently happening, filtering out some supposedly non-essential functions.
“You better sit down, mate, you look green. We ain’t got a bed for you an’all” the Paramedic tried to interject some humour into the situation. Vance meekly nodded, exhausted from his efforts. He was relieved to see them attaching various lines, wires and an oxygen-bag over the face of the woman. The Paramedic nodded towards Vance confirming that things were looking hopeful; “Do you know what happened? Did she take anything?”. Vance immediately shook his head, having been befuddled by the situation. Then he reconsidered, Stupid, stupid, how could you have forgotten and been so careless! The realization smacked him in the face like an overloaded lorry trying to squeeze under a bridge as he concluded there had previously been a full bowl of spaghetti on the worktop that he had cooked earlier. Why would you have thought that food was for you, I paid you to fix my computer, not eat my food. In a few seconds his mind played out various scenarios; not saying anything, pleading ignorance and the possibility of repercussions, wanting to save his own skin and just out rightly bolting for the door. A fear like he’d never known before abruptly gripped his chest in a vice-like grip and before he knew what was happening his body was betraying him, confessing to his sins of the laced-food and trying to sedate his neighbour! Shutup, Vance, shutup you idiot. Why are you telling them this. You’re doomed now, they will throw the book at you, that’s the end of your career! The only critiquing you will be doing is of the prison slop!
Vance would never forget the look on the Paramedic’s face, not one of judgement but of simple information being processed in a blank stare. His lips twitched, into a half-smile trying to express sympathy; “I have to notify you, Sir (suddenly it was Sir?) that I’m required to call the Police”. Vance nodded acknowledging the statement as he simultaneously pondered on the likelihood of escaping, living a life on the run in southern Italy and sipping Rioja for the remainder of his days.

Later on, at the Police Station…

01-17-18_8-33-20 AM

The Desk Sergeant’s tone was less than compassionate as he entered Vance’s particulars into the database. “Any outstandings?,” he queried, assuming that Vance would have any idea of what he was talking about. Vance tutted, his pride wounded. Can this cretin not see from my attire that I would not be the type to be known by local law enforcement? “Take that as a no then?” the Sergeant almost chuckled to himself, he always enjoyed insulting those he considered affluent within society and he could see from Vance’s dress-code that he fell into this category. He pointed toward the cells “Through there, please”, ever-ready with his extensive vocabulary.

01-17-18_8-39-37 AM

The interview took over three hours and Vance calculated how much income he had lost throughout this process as he had to keep repeating the same answers to their questions, over and over again.

01-17-18_8-41-00 AM

The fingerprinting made him feel as though his fate was sealed, they might as well have given him a name badge, Criminal.

01-17-18_8-56-45 AM

Vance sat, restless and watching an old lady delivering Bibles to people in the cells. She smiled sweetly as she approached Vance, offering him one, “You might as well, lovely.  Do what I do, focus on the juicy bits first, like a pear”. This appears to amuse her as she wanders off, chuckling to herself. Vance couldn’t recall the last time he’d met someone so quietly confident, but he wouldn’t allow his pride to win, placing the book far away from his reach. Don’t need to read that to know what it says. Same as the Christian Camp seminars, boring. Irrelevant. I’ve got enough problems in life without worrying about what God wants from me. No, there is no God, we simply are born, subjected to a life of misery and torment with brief interludes of enjoyment. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram-fudging social media everywhere, sharing every mundane detail of our pathetic lives in the vain hope that someone somewhere actually gives a snickers! Shameful work ethics, materialism and a thousand and one causes to support and donate to to distract you from the humdrum of your boring, mundane existence. The fight to do it all again the next day, next week or next year, to get more stuff so that we pass this messed-up attitute onto our kids, hoping they have the chances and things that we never did, along with the vain hope they will make it a better world than we ever did! There is no heaven, or hell, it’s just a method society uses to keep us all in order. We just die, that’s it, no do-over, no better luck next time, just the end, but everyone’s too afraid of that and so comforts themselves with…this! He sighs deeply, exhausting himself as a great sadness overwhelms him, deciding to lay in a fetal position on the cell bed as his only comfort.

You’ve been granted bail, but we have to ask you to surrender your passport….court date, the words seemed to spin around Vance’s head like a sucked-up teaspoon in a hoover, clattering around and destroying any state of peace. Exhausted from the day, Vance almost fell asleep in the lift as he entrusted himself to it’s metallic wall for support, the loud ‘ding’ awakening him before the spittle was able to depart from his chin for good. He sluggishly moved toward his front door, all his efforts being concentrated on the task of putting one foot in front of another, almost tripping over the yellow cautionary tape surrounding his flat. “Oh for the love of crisps, is this really necessary!? Why didn’t they just take out an advert in the paper – Vance Zepeda. Shame! He almost hit the Crime Scene Investigator with his own face as his pathway into his flat was blocked; “Sorry Sir, we can only allow you to grab a couple of things you might need for the night”. Vance blinked back, trying to process the information being given to him as he gathered his energy in which to engage in another heated-discussion; “What do you mean, things for the night, this is my flat, where else am I supposed to go?” Vance demanded. The Investigator thumbed behind him; “Not my problem, mate, we’ve still go hours of work to do here yet and you can’t stay here….risk of cross-contamination!” Livid, Vance just shouted “Fudge for you!”, slamming his door shut and promptly calling in the rescue-lifeboat.

The dial-tone interrupted his thoughts as Vance spluttered, his words being too energetic to be spoken coherently. His Father had terminated the call, offering Vance very little support. Go and get the solicitor details, they’re on the PC…No, in your mother’s room, he was triggered by his Father’s usual indifference about how Vance may be feeling, only focusing on the logical perspective. Vance’s cravings were also fighting for his attention, desiring both Alice and the substance she was able to offer him. The feeling was akin to a gnawing at his sides that was like a cat that refuses to accept it is not biscuit-time.

01-17-18_10-18-19 AM

Vance quickly made his way to his Mother’s room, turning on the PC he hoped she hadn’t been on one of her missions to update Facebook, which normally resulted in the entire computer being reworked and organized. How did someone in politics manage to exist in such disarray of computer aptitude? Spotting the information he needed, he almost cheered. Okay universe, you get upvoted for that at least, he thought as he grabbed his phone to take a screen-dump of the contact details. Vance was rudely interrupted by the click of the answer-phone, replaying a message from earlier; “We’ve got a job, need to discuss it with you, Pablo is bringing the pizza ’round, so don’t make any plans, Frank”. Frank? Who is Pablo? Mhmm pizza… Vance’s stomach rumbled in unison to approve with the idea but was sidelined by the consuming thought that his Father never ate pizza, he was allergic to cheese. Vance’s quest to earn approval with his Father stirred within him and he felt desperate to know what was going on. He checked his watch, then the battery on his phone as he planned where best to hide himself to watch the evening’s proceedings…

Author’s Note – Some of you may well be thinking that Vance’s views are rather harsh, and you might be right, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t ever experienced similar thoughts myself. I’ve walked away from the truth of who Jesus is several times and thankfully by his abundant grace, he has always gone to look for me as the Good Shepherd. There are two things in the Bible that, to me, show the relentless pursuit God has for us in wanting to find us and have a relationship with us; One is the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7 and the second is the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. Both parables show the lengths that the Father is willing to go to to pursue being able to know us. God’s rescue plan has been in action since the dawn of time but we see it fulfilled in the accomplishment of Christ on the cross where Jesus took all our sin upon himself while we were still deep in sin, so we could be free from the law of death (Romans 5:6-8).

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