Courtship of the Recluse
“Mary? This is Cynthia.” She said when a familiar voice answered on the fifth ring.
“Hey, you’ll never guess what happened tonight.”
The voice on the other end of the line responded dryly. “You accepted a date.”
“That’s as far out as I can get. What happened?”
“You know that man I was telling you about - the one who comes in at exactly eight
every Friday night?”
“The good looking one?”
“I didn’t say he was good looking,” Cynthia said. “I said he had interesting eyes.”
“Yeah, okay - whatever. Did he ask you out?”
“No - well, in a way, I guess. He offered me a job out at his place.”
A moment of silence preceded Mary’s response.
“Let me get this straight. You are talking about the guy everyone in town calls the
hermit - Russell Cade.”
Cynthia grinned. “One and the same. He needs someone to look after his house
while he’s working the ranch.”
After a long pause, Mary’s voice sounded concerned.
“Cindy, that’s forty miles out in the middle of nowhere. Have you seen that house? It
looks like something out of a horror movie. Besides, it’s huge.”
“So he says. No, I haven’t seen it, but I won’t be driving the forty miles every day,
either. He offered me a hundred dollars a week plus room and board.”
Mary gasped. “You intend to stay out there - alone with him?”
Cynthia looped the coils of the telephone cord around her finger. “It does sound a
little eccentric, doesn’t it?”
“Eccentric? It sounds downright scary.”
“Oh, he’s not mean. He just isn’t social. What can you expect out of a recluse?”
“Cindy, I’ve known Russell Cade since he first moved to this area - since high
school. He’s as sweet as he can be and I have no doubt his intentions are honorable.
But aren’t you a little concerned about what people will say? I mean, a pretty young girl
living alone with an eccentric bachelor - and what about Russ? Don’t you think he might
“You make him sound like an old lecher. Do you know something I don’t? As for
what the town thinks, I don’t care. I didn’t grow up around here like you, and I don’t
intend to spend the rest of my life working at the diner. Not that anyone cares what I do.
We’re living in the 21st century, Mary. Anyway, I’m not pretty. In fact, I’m tall, skinny and
awkward. My mouth is too big and all teeth.”
“You’d put on some weight if you’d slow down a little. You do more work than the
other two girls put together. Sure, you’re thin, but you’ve got everything situated right. If
he isn’t blind or dead, I’m sure he’s noticed. As for your mouth, people are always
commenting on your beautiful smile and how those blue eyes of yours are so full of life.
Are you trying to tell me he hasn’t even noticed all that?”
“Don’t forget the mess of red hair and freckles. I suppose he missed those. Oh, and
you know what they say: Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.”
“Auburn hair - and you barely have enough freckles for anyone to notice. Don’t get
on that kick about how ugly you are. I’ve noticed the guys eyeing you - glasses and all.
Now tell me. What else does the hermit want for his $100 a week?”