Time and An Old Man

Time and An Old Man


Come with me this morning on a journey–not so far in miles, but a great distance in time and quite a giant leap in imagination. We’re going to struggle through years of wild undergrowth–bushes, weeds, grape vines, wild rose bushes, blackberry briars, giant oaks, and we’ll stop at the remains of a small, wood house. The chimney still stands on that house, straight and tall, sturdy. A few walls cling to each other, as if searching for comfort in the wilderness, but that’s all that’s left.

An old man once lived here, years, generations, decades ago. He was not a hospitable man; he kept to himself, except for a hound of mixed parentage. The dog went with him wherever he went, keeping close to his side.

He didn’t have time for company or visits from well-meaning people. Once a month, he drove an old Ford truck into town and loaded up on supplies. Every day, he walked to the mailbox that sat beside the dirt road, down the hill and across the creek. The mail he got was from far-away places; places like New York or Atlanta. 

People who traveled the road after dark could sometimes see a glimmer of light through the trees, up on the hill, barely visible through thick foliage. The light would be on far into the night and if they had dared make the climb to peep in the window, they would have seen a white-haired, bearded gentleman sitting at a table in front of a typewriter, writing, tapping out words on paper, cup of coffee getting cold on the table.

“How does he live?” people asked each other. “He doesn’t seem to have any money, yet, he’s always got enough for food for himself and that old dog.”

“He gets checks in the mail,” the mailman said, but that’s all he’d say.

 Rumors abounded, but the general consensus was the hermit (for that’s what he was) was a writer. Was he a good one? He must have been, else he wouldn’t have had the money even for his meager existence. But, if he was, why did he choose to live so poorly? No one had an answer.

Then, one day, he was gone. Nobody missed him at first, but the mailman became alarmed when there was no longer any mail to deliver. At last, the county sheriff took a trip up the trail to the old man’s cabin, fearing the worst. The sheriff didn’t find him or his dog or his typewriter. The man, the dog, and the dilapidated truck were gone. 

Time took its toll and, with no one to keep it up, the cabin fell into disrepair. At last, most of the walls collapsed and vines and wild flowers grew where the man once sat at his table. People soon forgot who had lived there. But, somewhere, he lived on. He always would, though no one would ever know his true name. He lived in the pages of the books that he had written.

Manos Mysteries

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