Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22356 – 820:
Here’s the haps:
He lived in the wildest part of the wilderness of the forest in an ancient stone hut by choice. No trail led to it, it was in a wild, wooded place. There were two forest rangers that were the closest thing to friends that he had who knew his whereabouts but they never told anyone about him. He had used the vast resources he had at his disposal to make the little piece of property in the middle of the forest his. The rangers might not have known about him right away but when he very first moved into the stone hut he found a skeleton and knew he must notify the authorities. He had observed the ranger’s patterns and knew when one of them would be out on the ridge and he took a piece of mirror and reflected the sunlight at them. It took them several hours to get where he was at. When they finally got down to the hut there was the skeleton sitting in the corner with an empty shotgun and a pile of glasses he had been throwing at his attacker which was later determined to have been a grizzly bear. “He should have known better,” Ralph said, “People who live in stone houses shouldn’t throw glasses.” He had helped them solve a decades-old cold missing-persons case and told them to take the credit in exchange for leaving him be. They weren’t supposed to do this but he never bothered anything in the forest and was the best “no-trace” camper they had ever seen. He had helped with a couple of rescues as well. They never had to worry about that section of the forest because Ralph hated poachers and helped them take care of those situations, too. He only killed and fished what he could eat and no more so he was not a problem. Usually, they didn’t know he was there.
Ralph had grown up in urbane suburban surroundings. “No,” he would chortle mirthlessly at fancy-schmancy cocktail parties, “Not Harry Reasoner, Ralph Reckoner. Hahaha. Did you make that up yourself?” He used his wealth and education to learn more and more advanced outdoor survival and camping skills. He experimented with different ways of going off the grid. Finally, he announced to his family that he was going to give up the socialite, highfalutin lifestyle and go be a hermit in the woods. He told them so they would not hunt frantically for him. They were mostly relieved because he was something of an embarrassment to them. But he was family and they had made arrangements with him that if he ever came back for any reason he could use anything at all on the property. Ralph rarely needed anything and on the rare occasion that he did, his friends the rangers would help him out. He loved his solitary life.
Many, many long years went by and the hermit did begin to wonder how the family was faring. He knew they were better off with the situation as it was, but still, he had become curious and so decided to head off to town. He enjoyed the arduous journey and stood in the distance and watched as various family members went away for the evening. They really looked old. He laughed at the thought, stroking his long grey beard and running his fingers through his uncombed locks. He walked up to the gate and was greeted by the keeper, “Evening, Mr. Reckoner, shall I inform the house to expect you? It’s really nice to see you again, sir.” That was another problem his family had with him. He was too familiar with the help. Was it his fault that Johnson, the gatekeeper, had more personality in his little finger than all of their fancy friends combined? “No, Johnson, I don’t want too many people to know I’m here. I’m just nosing around.” “Yes, sir. As you wish.”
In the house, the servant’s quarters came alive with the buzz about Master Ralph coming back. They were all ready to jump at his every command. One of the few luxuries he had missed over the years was a hot shower. He went up to his old rooms and everything was still the same. He showered and shaved and dressed in his old top hat and tails, picked up a walking stick and looked in the mirror. Fred Astaire had nothing on him when it came to putting on the Ritz. He went to the kitchen and was greeted by the cook and some maids. “I’ve made some corned beef and cabbage sir if you’d like.” “Mother allows you to keep that in the kitchen? I’m incredulous!” “Well, er, sir, she doesn’t know about it. We just keep things ready for in case you come back.” They all laughed and talked and ate. If he could have kept his friends among these people he might have stayed.
“I’m going to take one of the cars out for a spin and look around before I head back.” “Oh, I’ll be happy to take you around,” said the chauffeur. “No, thank you so much, but I’d like to take a drive out alone.” “Yes sir, but these new cars are pretty different.” “I will come back right away if there are any difficulties.” “Yes, sir. Here are the keys to the garages.” He wanted to go alone. He liked to be alone.
When he picked out a car and got in, he began to think he had bitten off more than he could chew. There was no clutch or starter button or choke. He had a devil of a time figuring it all out but soon he got it all down, and roared down the driveway. He had always been a good driver. The problem really was that he was many years older and had not driven a car in all of those years. His reflexes were shot from age and disuse. He careened down the hill and sped around the corner and jumped the curb hitting the old oak tree in front of the police station.
At the appointed time in the courtroom Ralph told his whole story to the judge. “I realize these are serious charges your honor, but that’s what happened. I’ve already paid for the damage to oak tree. I just really want to get back to my little spot away from everything and everybody.” The judge looked at Ralph and said, “I normally am not lenient in such a case but these are extenuating circumstances. Since you’ve already paid restitution, I hereby lower your charges to a warning but let me tell you, I want no more recluse driving!”