Long-missing Bauton resident Richard Milk, a former potter turned freak, returned late Thursday night to stock up on supplies. Milk, 36, has been living in a cave since his self-imposed exile.

“I come in the dead of night to avoid those who would shun me!” an agitated Milk said. “I want for nothing save enough supplies so that I need never show my face to humanity again! Don’t look at me! I’m hideous! Hideous, I tell you!”

Milk appeared at Bauton’s Gasss-Up, a convenience store located on Union Street, at approximately 11:30 p.m. He was loaded down with various pelts and dried berries. While on the premises, he gathered as many snack foods, canned products, and olives as he could hold, all the while keeping his head down and ducking into shadows.

“I was sure that he was some pervert,” clerk Gina Kaliwictz said. “I was getting ready to call the cops. But when I saw his face, I was stunned. It was not my life that I feared for, but rather for all people should this man be let loose into society.”

When Kaliwictz refused to accept the stack of uncured pelts and berries as payment for Milk’s purchase, Milk ran from the store with tears of rejection streaming down his face.

“My hideous visage and banshee voice should not be experienced by anyone,” shrieked Milk. “Go away! Go now or I shall let flow the boiling oil!”

Milk, whose features have been described as “somewhat unpleasant,” left his family at age 19 to live in one of the many caves which dot the town’s surrounding hills. There, he has set up a modest living space consisting of a pile of dank rags and a spoon.

“My spoon understands my pain!” Milk said. “My spoon is my only friend! I call him Roundy the spoon, and we are friends. Now leave! Leave me to my eternal suffering and misery!”

One person, 8-year-old Bauton resident Amanda Golden, attempted to befriend Milk by taking some fresh baked cookies to his cave. Less than a minute after entering the cave, she emerged screaming, her face contorted with terror.

“Mommy said that there was no such thing as a monster,” she said with a blanket wrapped around her trembling body. “Now I know that she lied.”

According to sources close to the family, Golden has been unable to sleep without a light since the incident.

Milk’s mother, Anita, was surprised to hear that her son was still alive.

“Richard was always a bright and compassionate boy,” Anita Milk said. “He knew better than anyone that he was an abomination, unfit for society. Why he hasn’t killed himself yet is a mystery to me.”

Bauton has contended with freaks in the past. However, since the 1987 repeal of a 100-year-old law permitting the killing of “those who offend the eye in profound ways,” Bauton has wrestled with how to deal with them.

A town meeting is scheduled for next week, during which community members will decide whether to hunt Milk down and kill him, or to exploit him.

If Bauton goes ahead with full-blown exploitation, the most popular plan among townspeople calls for the sealing of Milk’s cave with iron bars. Visitors would then be charged $5 to throw either pies or rocks at his face. Another option is to capture and sell Milk to the circus, which could yield upwards of $500 for the cash-strapped town.