The Modern Hermit
The Modern Hermit stared in irritation at the beautiful morning. He should be there, not stuck in a work station. The Vacuum Called Mark was babbling as usual. The morning had just received its donation from humanity, Good Old Sexless Dennis, a lost, boozy mediocrity whose main occupation was attempting to prove he was working while being One of the Boys, as mediocrities do.
Even so, The Modern Hermit had to smile at the contrast between Good Old Sexless Dennis and the dazzling morning. It was like putting a cow in a jeweler’s exhibition. Fortunately Good Old Sexless Dennis didn’t see him smiling. He was apparently engaged in a battle of superficialities with the whining sycophant who was the only person in the building who’d voluntarily talk to him. An intense conversation about napkins was evidently challenging both of them.
“We need some of those… What d’you call them… services?” asked Good Old Sexless Dennis, for once looking like he was capable of having a nervous system.
“Servings… surpluses… serviles! That’s it!” said the whining object, happily.
Good Old Sexless Dennis picked up the phone and ordered 100 serviles. There was no argument from the other end. The Modern Hermit had had enough. He’d accumulated a lot of extra time on his worksheet, had very little to do, and was entitled to take leave with flexi hours anyway, or lose the hours.
He informed Good Old Sexless Dennis he’d just realized he was likely to lose the extra hours, and they weren’t busy, so he wanted the time off.
For the first time in memory Good Old Sexless Dennis seemed glad to see him. The whining thing was still there, and they’d run out of things to talk about. The Modern Hermit mentioned in an almost friendly voice he’d been practicing for some months that Mark had a funny story to tell, he should hear it. Mark was duly excavated from some incredible difficulty with an envelope and summoned to tell his story.
Meanwhile The Modern Hermit had got the OK for his day off. Out into the dazzling morning, a Spring morning with a laugh in the cool air, he went to exorcise the work environment effects.
A cup of coffee, and a stroll through the op shops and used books was his first self indulgence. Not Kafka- He wasn’t feeling very first person-ish. Huxley- Hadn’t read for a while. Graves, Heller- He’d hit the mother lode in a new bookstore selling a very surprising collection of good books. There were even old computer and board games, some Chinese bric a brac, and-
She stood there with armful of Asimov books he’d missed. He had to laugh, explained why he was laughing, and she cracked up as well.
They were the first couple to hold a wedding in a bookshop, a year or so later.
It’s worth being a Modern Hermit. You miss a lot, if you’re not.