I used to run through the bush at my grandparents house. I felt it behind me, watching me, never losing sight of me, eyes of knowing on the back of my neck, surrounding me in the rustling of the wind. I would think, I’ve got to run faster, I can’t let it catch me. And then sometimes I would think I might like to surrender to it and let it take me someplace else.
There were two places in the bush that I would go. I don’t know why I was so fascinated with the old hermit’s place. You couldn’t really call it a place any more because my grandfather, father and my uncles burned it to the ground. It was an eyesore they said. Erase it. No need to have a reminder of it. Old hermit was long gone. What was left of him could be found in the old whiskey bottles and various rusted out things left behind.
What I would never forget though, was his old car, long abandoned and rusted, some relic from the 1950’s. It was like something out of a nightmare, with its’ winged taillights, three red dots on each obscene wing. Even brand new I was convinced it had been ugly, a nightmare on wheels thundering through the pine filled backroads of Muskoka. And if you were to look through the windshield, you would see the hermit driving the beast, his eyes as red as the red winged taillights that arrogantly reached towards the sky.
I wondered what a man like that thought about, what he lived for? Had he been a dead man walking, already lost to this world, surviving in some kind of no man’s land? I would ask my grandparents, parents, and any one who would listen to me what they knew about the hermit, where he came from, what his story was. No one seemed to know, or if they did, they weren’t telling.
Deana Lafleur 2011