After multiple tours through the hellscape called war, I thought to live out the remainder of my life as a peaceful man. “God, if I could return home, intact, I would put down my guns.” He heard my plea. I survived the war intact and returned home.
I put aside my weapons; I tried to live a peaceful life.
People wouldn’t leave me alone. When I went to town, they would give me that look usually reserved for those they considered ‘low class or no class.’
As if money was the single, most important aspect of class. Women clutched their babies close; their dads would mock me when I came near.
“Look kids, it’s Adventuresome Fred. He left home looking for something and got ahold of something he couldn’t turn loose.” The kids laughed, as did their parents. I’d hang my head and shuffle by.
“So, that’s what I defended. Irksome children and their idiot parents. That’s why my friends never returned home. Or why they came home with blown off limbs and shattered minds.”
I’ll admit it, their laughter embarrassed me. Worse, it angered me. Rage built in my heart when I considered the cost of freedom. I worried for my friends from war. Would I turn on the news one day and see where one of them went off the deep end? Would I one day lose control and unleash hell upon my town?
I couldn’t say that I wouldn’t, so, I bought a cabin far out in the woods. It came with twenty acres of hills and a small pond. The owners had built small cedar shops not far from the main house. It also came with the property.
We agreed on a sum, and I purchased it. I moved in on a cold, bitter day in January. There was no central air and heat unit. The house had propane heaters. I lit one and sat in my recliner.
In the quietness of my cabin, I sought solace for my mind. I prayed for my friends. The darkness of the cabin provided me with the quiet my mind needed to heal.
For years, I lived alone. Every now and then, I bought a dog or a gun. The world devolved into a maddening house of corruption and chaos. I wanted nothing to do with it, and I limited my comings and goings. When I went out, it was only for necessities.
Without even noticing it, I became a hermit.