Jeremiah Zore

Damon Runyon

Jeremiah Zore was a mean man. He was one of the six meanest men in Our Town.

He stood third on the list.

Jeremiah Zore had a thin body, thin hair, thin lips, and a thin soul.

He got rich through lending money on property, and squeezing every nickel he got hold of. He loved foreclosing mortgages and throwing people out of their homes on Christmas Eve.

He was mean to everybody, and especially to his wife, Mame Zore. She was married to Jeremiah for twenty-nine years, and never laughed once after the first two months of their marriage.

She had one new dress in six years, and she made it herself.

They had one child, a son named Jonathan, and Jeremiah Zore was kind to him on four different occasions in sixteen years. They were the only occasions that Jeremiah was kind to anybody or anything.

Jeremiah Zore was secretly proud of Jonathan, and tried to make friends with him, but he was so mean to Mame Zore that Jonathan hated him, and on his seventeenth birthday he ran away from home.

Some said Jeremiah Zore brooded over Jonathan running away and kept hoping he would return, but Jeremiah never let on to anybody. Meantime, he was getting meaner, and meaner, and richer and richer.

He knew that everybody in Our Town hated him, and one day he said he was going to build a monument to himself that would make Our Town remember him, anyway.

So he built a twenty-four story building on Commercial Avenue, with a tall tower on top of it.

It was the tallest building in our section of the state, and everybody in Our Town was quite proud of it until it was completed and Jeremiah Zore put his rents so low he almost ruined all the owners of the other downtown office buildings.

He admitted that this was his idea in the first place.

It was a beautiful building by day and would have been beautiful by night if Jeremiah had permitted the tower to be lighted up, but he was too stingy for that.

It shows you what a mean man he was.

Then one day Jeremiah lay dying, and he told Mame Zore his only wish was to see his son once more. He said he had never for a moment ceased thinking of Jonathan, who was a famous aviator, back East.

So Mame sent word to Jonathan and asked him to come as a favor to her and Jonathan sent word back he was flying his own plane to Our Town, and Jeremiah Zore cheered up and became so strong that there was great fear he would recover.

It was a black night, and storming heavily when Jonathan Zore arrived over Our Town in his plane, and flying very low looking for the landing field, he crashed into the tower on the Zore Building and was instantly killed.

He did not know the building had been erected and there was no light on the tower, so Jeremiah Zore died without seeing his son, Jonathan, after all.