On New Year's Day night a local man lost his house, some of the cats he lived with, and a life time's worth of his belongings
. Virtually all of his documents were destroyed, from bank check books, birth records, phone numbers and addresses to people whom he knew far and wide - even his passport. In minutes he was rendered homeless.
He was fortunate to escape alive. The next day, as the smoke cleared, he realised he had some identification, some of his credit cards were not destroyed. A car key was found. A handful of people in town have helped him out. Overnight use of a couch in someone else's home; clothing that fit, essential grooming items. One man took the time to do repairs on his car and get it working again. It has taken a week for him to sort out some basics and find a temporary place to stay, though that remains tenuous.
Some of his neighbors said that he was very difficult to live near. That may be. He is not quick to speak to others and is easy to misunderstand. He was - likely still is - hermit-like. He could get angry at someone else with little apparent provocation. He was a collector of so much old stuff that what he had accumulated made a typical pack rat seem minimalist. He was determinedly protective of his privacy and would usher trespassers of his land with dispatch, sometimes in unconventional - even scary - ways. He kept to himself because that is - partly, how he chose to live; partly because it seems that few ever made the effort to get to find out who he is as a person.
Perhaps, as a result, only one neighbor family even attempted to find out if he was okay. Although he managed to escape wearing only night clothes, he had to call someone from another part of town to bring him something warm to wear, since he had nothing but what was on his back.
But you know, he's never actually harmed anyone. Working at labor intensive, low paying endeavors, he struggles hard just to get by - spurning human services "safety net" assistance, which always comes with strings anyway. He has an intimate knowledge of the plant and animal life around the area that I suspect few of his neighbors have any idea about. He takes solace in the animals around the area; so much so that even when people have abandoned pets near his property [and others have done this frequently over the years
], he didn't like to see them suffer or starve.
Once you take the time to speak with him, he can be quite sociable with people as well, knowledgeable on many subjects, even funny. Not that many neighbors ever found this out.
Most reprehensible, the worst in my book - was the woman who, in earshot of anyone nearby, spoke with malicious glee while he stood only yards away from her watching his life go up in flames.
She saw him standing there, shivering wearing nothing more than longjohns, a single sandal and a smoke smeared sweatshirt, yet she did nothing to assist him. In fact, she sounded happy to see his home, his property, all that he had accumulated in life, destroyed.
I wonder how she'd have felt if this devastation happened to her and no one offered her solace. She may have had reason for disliking the man, but whatever the source of the dislike, there is nothing that can justify her cruelty and indifference. Such actions on her part are disgusting and foul in ways that I cannot describe. Even vultures wait for their prey to die before feeding on the remains. I'm glad I know who she is and what she looks like. Like the Amish, I can shun her