The Strange Tale of the North Pond Hermit

Michael Finkel:

Perkins-Vance called dispatch and learned that Knight had no criminal record. He said he grew up in a nearby community, and his senior picture was soon located in the 1984 Lawrence High School yearbook. He was wearing the same eyeglasses.

For close to three decades, Knight said, he had not seen a doctor or taken any medicine. He mentioned that he had never once been sick. You had to have contact with other humans, he claimed, in order to get sick.

When, said Perkins-Vance, was the last time he'd had contact with another person?

Sometime in the 1990s, answered Knight, he passed a hiker while walking in the woods.

"What did you say?" asked Perkins-Vance.

"I said, 'Hi,' " Knight replied. Other than that single syllable, he insisted, he had not spoken with or touched another human being, until this night, for twenty-seven years.

The best part of this is the juxtaposition of the whiffs you get of his conservatism and/or libertarianism (“‘Don’t mistake me for some bird-watching PBS type,’ he warned”) and the fact that he’s the epitome of the Welfare Queen caricature. You’ll laugh bitterly when you see his jail sentence.