An unknown entity is constructing an RV park up 401, about a mile and a half from our house. David and I often walk this road and, for the most part, enjoy the views and creature-sightings. But the place where the RV park is being built must be the most ugly piece of land in the Hill Country. As there are many extremely attractive RV sites in the area, with clear water, live oaks, and hiking trails, the placement makes no sense. This project is miles from shops or gentle shadowy hills or any of the lakes. We’ve been keeping an eye on its progress, and what we see is a big square cut out of the hard dirt, offering nothing but cactus and rocks.
So, not thrilled about this addition to our calm neighborhood, and realizing that all decisions were finalized long before we moved here, I make a trip to the Burnet County Land Office to find out who owns the land and how this development gained sanction. Here’s the story as told to me by a heavy woman on the other side of the counter:
“Herb’s been in trouble all his life, from the time he was a child, all the way to right now.” She shakes her head in sad disapproval. “He’s been in and out of jail several times for minor offences, until, finally, the police said next time he got arrested for doing something stupid, they were going to throw the book at him.”
“That’s not good,” I say. “But what does this have to do with anything?”
“I’m telling you. And then he got drunk and peed in the fountain, which was right across the street from the police station, and that demonstrates what sort of a lack of brains we’re talking about. And they threw the book at him, just like they said they would. So instead of being incarcerated for a couple of weeks, they put him away for a couple of months. And though I don’t believe in throwing people in jail for being stupid, I’d be the first to agree that something had to be done.”
“Still not getting the connection.”
“So Herb’s mom, Carol, a nice woman, but troubled, she goes to her brother, Mike—he’s the one with the money in the family—and asks him please to find work for Herb. This makes Mike none too happy. He knows Carol’s had a hard time, and she’s never come to him for help, but here she is, expecting him to come up with employment so easy an imbecile can do it.”
“There’re lots of jobs imbeciles can do.” I hear the panic in my voice. I see where this is going, and I’m not delighted.
“And it’s best if Herb’s away from town, where he can’t get into trouble.”
“But Main Street’s only seven minutes away from 401.” I know; I’ve timed it.
“Mike already owned the land, and the outlay is minimal—just needs some landscaping, plumbing hook-ups, and electricity.”
“And this Herb, who has no sense and drinks too much and pees in public, is going to manage this RV park around the corner from our gated community?”
“Ah, now, not to worry. Herb’s harmless. Besides, it’s not going to draw many people when there are so many nicer places around.”
“So an unpopular RV park, built on the cheap, is going in because someone’s nephew peed in a fountain?”
“That’s about right.”
I thank her and take my leave.
Later, when David and I are on the back porch drinking our evening wine, I tell him what the lady told me.
“And this guy’s name is Herb?” David asks. “Are you making this up?”
"Why would I do that?"