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Story Not Quite Eden
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  1. #41
    Patience, I would like to tell U how much I appreciate this story.
    It is so nice to see folks working together to rebuild their world.
    Everyone helping everyone else, no bad guys coming in trying to take over or kill ppl.
    I'm on chapter 47 and hope this is a long story.
    Thanks for spending the time with us.
    Prayers sent for your health.
    Thanks again.

  2. #42
    great story!! thank you. Even with peaceful people, there is still a LOT to learn!

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    1,314
    There are no words ....... Prayer's are all I can offer.

    Thank you for sharing your health issue with and of course thank you for this fine story.

  4. #44
    Chapter 65



    "The Doc has a radiation meter. It hasn't been calibrated for a couple years, but he says it wil still be good enough to know we aren't getting hammered with radiation," Zach said. "We talked for a long time about this tonight and he thinks it is because of the wind patterns. Or, maybe someobdy has kept some of the nuclear plants west of us from melting down. No way to know without going exploring."

    "So," Misti said, "we're safe, at least for now."

    "Yeah, we're safe for now. The bad part is, a lot of other places aren't safe. You can just about write off everything on the east coast. Look at this map he gave me."

    http://www.energyjustice.net/map/nuclearoperating

    "Wow! The whole east coast has them all over," Misti said.

    "Yep. Those people are toast. There are 3 or 4 that could threaten us. We have no way of knowing if they melted down, or not, and we can't tell for sure how much radiation we'd get if they did."

    Misti said, "But it has to be 400 or 500 miles to the closest one to us. We should be okay this far away."

    "I wish I could say that for sure, but there is the airborne stuff. What happened at Fukishima, Japan sent stuff into the atmosphere and it travelled all around the world. We'll get some; it's just a matter of how much and how long until it gets here."

    Misti sighed and said, "Okay. What does this mean to us?"

    Zach shrugged and said, "We don't know for sure. Doc said it would mean we'll get enough radiation over time to have health effects. Undoubtedly more cancers, more goofy things happening we can't explain where people get sick and we don't know what it is. Basically, none of us are going to live as long as we might have expected without this."

    ********

    Zach Felson and James Cooper spoke at the next Sunday meeting about the radiation danger. They had spent more time with Doctor Van Derver who also gave his opinions about what to expect and said he would report any changes in radiation level he found. He had some rechargeable batteries for his radiation meter, but they would only be good for a few more years.

    He reccomended making a crude substitute called an electroscope. It was a simple device with a pair of thin aluminum foil leaves on pivots inside a jar. It could be charged with static electricity and would naturally discharge over time. The discharge, shown by the leaves falling together, would be faster is more radiation were present.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroscope

    If they built one now and measured both the background radiation level with his meter, and the time it took the electroscope to discharge, they would have a standard time measurement they could compare to future readings. If the leaves discharged notably faster, the radiation level was higher. It was crude, but it did not depend on batteries.

    He had also worked out how to operate his radiation meter by powering it with his solar batteries, although if they were damaged somehow, the electroscope was a last-ditch way to check for radiation.

    The science graduates were quick to explain how all this worked to the others at the meeting, but one last question came from Jacob Knepp.

    "If we have more radiation, what do we do then?"

    The doctor said, "There is little you can do , other than move somewhere that has less of it. Right now, we don't know where that would be."

    Jacob asked, "If that is so, then all we can do is wait for God's Will on the matter. What does this radiation do to us?"

    "It will damage your cells in ways that can cause cancer, or damage to your internal organs over time. It means you won't live as long as you would have without the raditaion exposure. I will venture a guess that all of us will be affected to some degree. There is no way to know how much. In young people, it can cause birth defects in their children, or damage to their growing cells that can result in many diseases. We will, none of us, live as long."

    Jacob said, "We have unleashed a devil in our midst."

    Nobody disagreed with him.

    After the meeting, many people had questions for the doctor. The pregnant women were insistent in asking about the effect of radiation on an unborn child. He answered their concerns as best he could. He finally summarized before a group of them, saying, "If the human race is to have a future, we need to begin reproducing at a younger age and raise as many healthy children as we can. It is the only chance we have."

    "We can help stay healthy by washing our food well to remove any contamination, and eating lower on the food chain, that is, less meat and more grains and vegetables. As animals eat plants that are contaminated, they concentrate that in their bodies, particlularly in organ meats and bones. Bear that in mind when planning your diet and we can avoid most of the problems as long as it doesn't get too bad. I would particularly avoid fish for a few years."

    On the way home from the meeting, Clay told Amy, "This means we better not venture too far away trying to salvage things, and if we need to, we better not stay there long."

    The Flynns and the some other parents went home with mixed emotions about the teenage girls in their families. If they had children too young, the mothers would be at risk from their own immaturity. If they waited too long to have children, the risk of birth defects would increase. There were no good answers, and no clear guidance to give the young people.

    The teenagers in the crowd had a different take on the matter. Several couples had exchanged looks at the meeting. Later they talked seriously among themselves and all came to the same conclusions. Most of them decided that if they weren't going to live to old age, they should get on with living now. It made no sense to them to wait before choosing a mate.

    ********


    Chapter 66


    Jim Crawford had once thought about studying to be a minister, but had gotten married instead and was soon busy making a living. He had begun to think more about this now and had led prayers and the Sunday meetings many times. He could see as well as anyone that the news about radiation would cause a rash of young people wanting to be married, or acting like it whether they were officially so, or not. He made his decision and told his wife that he wanted to take on the task of ministering to their community.

    Word got around that Mr. Crawford would be the minister and he had met with Marta who agreed to keep records of marriages he performed. They talked at some length. Roscoe pointed out the need for records of who had taken over which properties and thought there was a need to record those officially, also. He had a heavy old safe he had bought at auction years before where he kept a few valuables. He would provide that to keep records for the community, mostly for fire protection.

    Within two weeks, Mr. Crawford had several weddings scheduled. Kevin Collier was marrying Andrea. In the Flynn household, Patrick Hughes would marry Amy Richards. Other couples were Jordan Alexander and Destiny Jennings, John Anderson and Diana Hawkins, Jack Alexander and Angel Hawkins, Zachary Felson, environmentalist and Misti Fordyce, gardener/historian, James Cooper, the biologist/environmental science man and Ruth Bennett the potter, Pietro Mundii and Alena Lekas, and Isaac Kelley the blacksmith/physicist would marry Esther Morris the weaver.

    Anne Capper would have immediately married Paul Dickenson before the gun issue came up, but they were still trying to come to terms with that. Mackenzie Jennings had not yet convinced Austin Mills that it would be a good idea.

    *********

    Patrick and Amy were working hard on the old farmhouse down the hill from the Flynn place to get it cleaned and repaired for them to move into. Patrick had gotten himself a new truck at the Ford dealership and was hauling a load in every day to make repairs and set up their household. Their work had to slow down when the big canning season rush hit, but they spent every spare minute workingon their own place.

    The other young couples had to look further for a place to live. All the cabins at the lake community were filled, either with occupants or, in one case, the pottery business which was off to a fine start with Ruth's first firing of pots made from the local clay. It was a resounding success in her mind, even though she had many pieces crack and some glaze failures in this first run in the newly built kiln. Part of that was due to a crack in the kiln that she quickly repaired.

    When Eddie Grimes and Martha Knepp announced they were to be wed, Chris Hamilton had arranged to move across the road into a small house. It wanted some repairs, but it already had most of what was needed for him. Eddie helped him get it in shape, motivated by wanting to hurry up his wedding date. They had agreed to get him a personal garden fixed up for nest year, but the one they had worked together this year yielded enough for all concerned. Jacob Knepp gave the couple a fine team of horses for a wedding present. Eddie was a bit scared of them but his ew wife would mock him into learning how to deal with them. That was not the first nor the least of the personal adjustments each would be making.

    The housing crisis at the park was solved temporarily by Jordan moving back into the gatehouse with Destiny, then two other couples took over a pair of camping trailers that had been left at the park. They were fairly large Airstream trailers that were in perfect condition, and water was available to them from the new springhouse system. They did, however, have to build a pair of new outhouses since the sewage system no longer worked for the trailer spots. There simply wasn't enough water available to operate flush toilets.

    *********

    "We are going to need a sawmill someday," Pietro said.

    Alena said, "There must be sawmills around here with so much forest. We will find one. Roscoe or Mr. Crawford will know where to find you one."

    "No, Mr. Crawford already has thea bandsaw mill. What i meant was, we will need a sawmill we can run without fuel like we have now. That is much more difficult to do. It is an energy problem. We have to find ways to do such heavy work that does not depend on diesel fuel and gasoline. Already, some of the gasoline engines are hard to start."

    "Ah, I see," Alena said. "Can't a sawmill be run by water power?"

    "Yes, if we had water power. There is none here. I asked Isaac about that. He said Rich Dalton told him the lake doesn't have enough water for that, and it is not high enough to get much power from it. Some of us have been talking about a steam engine, but we dont have anybody who could make one. There are a few very old steam engines that exist, but they could be dangerous. Steam boilers can explode and kill people."

    "Is there no other way? What about biodiesel fuel? That was a big topic at college."

    "We could do that, but it wouldn't last very many years before we have problems with the machinery involved. The oil presses were mostly made in China, and are not durable enough. In a few years we would have put a lot of work into raising the oilseed crops and getting that all working, then we would have problems running out of chemicals, or the electronics on th processor would go bad, or some other thing put a stop to it. We need something we can make ourselves, and fix ourselves. Like a water wheel. Something simple."

    "I will talk to the women and ask what they know about. They may not know how to work a machine but someone will know where to find a machine."

    At the meeting two days hence, Alena asked Marta Beam who was the woman who knew about the antiques?

    "Oh, that's Sylvia Collier that led us to you folks! She's over there talking to Anita Harris, her neighbor."

    Alena went to talk to Sylvia and explained what she wanted to know.

    Sylvia said, "Yes, I know where there are steam engines, several of them. We talked about getting them on the trip when we met you, but we put it off until another time. We knew we'd need them sometime. I suppose now is the time. We'll have to plan another expedition to get them moved here."

    *********


    Chapter 67



    "I never thought it would be this much work to get married," Patrick said.

    Amy said, "We're not just getting married. We're starting a whole life."

    "Yeah, I guess so. Still, it's a lot of work. I never thought about most of this. We gotta have water, so we need a new well pump. Thank goodness the well is okay. And on and on it goes. I don't know how many trips we've made to get stuff."

    "I wonder how many trips it took to get the family's house set up. They started with a BARN! Why didn't they just buy a house out here?"

    "Didn't want it noticeable, Wayne said. And they could make it the way they wanted, since it was just empty space inside."

    "That carpet needs to go," Amy said. "It's so dirty it's awful."

    A big sigh from Patrick indicated his feelings about it, but he said, "Yeah, it's pretty bad. Let's rip it out. I can put it in the burn pile I suppose."

    He got a pry bar and ripped up the molding, then used it to start tearing out the carpet. In the process he broke a short piece off the wide baseboard by the front door.

    "Well crap! Now I'll have to fix that!"

    The foot long piece of the tall molding fell away easily leaving a dark hole behind it. He automatically used the pry bar to drag out some trash inside the wall, a wad of very old newspaper. There was a dirty old jar behind the paper and it was heavy. He pulled out the blue glass pint jar and looked at it for a minute before he figured out the rusty wire bail thing on top and pried it open. It was filled with very old coins. Gold coins.

    Amy came over to see what he was doing and said, "That's GOLD! That's worth a fortune!"

    Patrick looked at it for a minute, then looked at her and asked, "Where ya gonna spend it?"

    ********

    A five day trip to Elnora, Indiana netted the community 3 semi's with lowboy trailers, 2 of them the drop center type loaded with steam engines and machinery. The smaller machinery from the wood and metal shops rode on 2 other flatbed trailers. Isaac Kelley had a wonderful time checking out all the equipment and fired up the big steam engine from the sawmill to drive the monster onto a trailer.

    Isaac told Clay, "There's no other way to load that thing. It has to weigh 5 tons or more. Besides, if it didn't work, there's no point in taking it home."

    Except for clearing some tree branches from the highways, the trip home went smoothly until they got just past the small town of Loogootee. In a river bottom there, someone shot a hole in the windshield of Jim Collier's truck. The convoy instantly opened fire on the surrounding thick forest and kept driving. They didn't stop until they got to the town of Mitchell, over 20 miles down the road, having learned by radios that everyone was okay.

    "I'd sure like to get a piece of that SOB that shot at me!!" were the first words out of Jim's mouth when they stopped for a break.

    "I think I did," Kevin said. "He shot three or four rounds and I saw a muzzle flash in the thicket. I emptied a mag in there and cut a lot of weeds. If he was anywhere close he was livin' hard."

    "Why the hell would anybody shoot at us? We ain't hurtin' anybody!" Jim was white with anger.

    "I can't figure it out," Clay said. "Martin County is about a pore a place as I know about. They ain't nothin' there worth stealin', and we ain't takin' anything that belongs to anybody."

    "Nothin' worth stealin', 'cept for the trucks we drove," Chris Hamilton said. "Mebbe somebody didn't have nothin' that would run."

    Clay said, "That guy in town was goin' to shoot me 'n Pietro for our pickup. Could be you hit on it."

    "Why'nt they just step out and ask for a ride?" Isaac said.

    "Some folks don't think like that," Kevin told him.

    "Well, we'll just leave that sort to their own misery," Roscoe said. "We don't need to go back that direction for anything I know of."

    Kevin said, "Yeah. And let's hope they don't decide to come our direction, either."

    Jim Collier had calmed down some, but he was still as mad as anyone had ever seen him. He said, "I think a good forest fire this Fall would flush out some of 'em where I could get a shot at 'em."

    "Nah," Kevin said. "Let 'em try to come to us if they want to. They ain't got any idea where we're goin' anyway."

    Isaac said, "I hope you're right."

    ********


    Chapter 68


    "That little steam engine is just what we need to run things around the park," Isaac said. "We got a burr mill, too, so we can grind meal and flour with it."

    "I think we'd better not use it until we have to. No need to wear it out while we can use regular engines," Zachary said. "Better not load the cabbage too deep in the truck, or it'll get bruised."

    "Yeah. I think we had better take this load to the women and maybe they'll let us sit in the shade and cut it up for sauerkraut. That would be a lot better than being out in this heat."

    They got in the truck and started for the school kitchen.

    Isaac was driving and said, "I'll park under the shelter house for now. We have to trim this stuff, so we might as well do it in the shade. Leave the trash in the truck bed and I'll drive it down to the compost pile later."

    "This is going to be a lot of work to get it all shredded," Zach said.

    "There's got to be some kids around to help with that. I wish we had more of those mandolin things for shredding it. Two of them are just too slow."

    "Better than using a knife. I've done it that way and it's a real bore," Zach said.

    "Back to that steam engine," Isaac said. "What did you have in mind for it to do?"

    "Nothing special, except that burr mill. We need to figure out how all this stuff works while we can still do something about it if we have problems," Zach told him.

    "I guess that's right. I was just worried about what we will do when these things break or wear out. We don't have any experts at making parts for them, or even running them, for that matter."

    "You're as close as we've got to a machinist, Isaac."

    "I know. That's what worries me."

    *********

    "Does anybody know if there is a bigger source of water power around here?" Richard Dalton asked at the Sunday meeting.

    "There's Spring Mill Park, where all those folks were camped," Roscoe said nodding in the direction JimCrawford and Bill Simmon's families.

    "How far away is that?"

    "Mmm, 'bout 30 miles, give or take," Roscoe said.

    "Anything closer?"

    "There's Beck's MIll, about 4 or 5 miles south of town. Say about 12 miles from here."

    "That's more doable. Any others?"

    "There's a big cave spring over at Cave River Valley, but no mill there. That's over close to the Flynn's place, about 6 or 8 miles to the west."

    Richard said, "The reason I'm asking is, we need a sustainable way to grind flour and corn meal, and to power some other things."

    "That's nice and all, but what about using the steam engines we got?" Clay asked.

    "They'll break down eventually and we don't have anyone who can make parts for them. The boilers will go bad someday and leak, or blow up. We need to do things we can keep going."

    It got quiet for a time before various people began to talk to nearby friends and family. Bill Simmons stood up and said, "We need somebody in charge of this power thing. Somebody to make sure the right things get done. Time is going by and we all know what that means. Some day we'll wake up with no gas or diesel engines that will run. We have to have a leader to make sure we get things done."

    "Are you campaigning Bill?" Raymond Alexander asked.

    "Most certainly not! I want somebody in charge that knows what they are doing here."

    Richard Dalton said, "I don't think we need an expert in charge for this. We have some people with expertise, but what we really need is an organizer. Like Mrs. Collier did with the steam engine trip. She doesn't know much about how steam engines WORK, but she knew where they were and she knew who to talk to about getting it done. That's what we need on the energy problem."

    "How about one of you young people? You are all educated and you're smart," Roscoe said.

    Isaac Kelley said, "I don't think so. We're not managers, were scientists and engineers and historians. We need someone with management skills."

    "JIm Crawford was our territory sales manager," Jeff Hobart said. "Jim, do you want to do this?"

    "I think I may have a full time job marrying young folks," Jim said.

    Roscoe smiled and said, "They'll all be married pretty soon, and besides, it doesn't take that long. Looks like you're it Jim."

    "But I don't know anything about energy and water power!"

    "Don't have to know about it Mr. Crawford," Misti Fordyce said. "You just have to know who DOES know about it. And we can help you with that."

    Bill Simmons laughed and said, "Looks like you've got the job, Jim!"

    ********

  5. #45
    Chapter 69


    "How can we work this? I need to know who can tell me something about what's going on with this energy thing," Jim Crawford said.

    "Well, I'm into blacksmithing, and wind power and steam power," Isaac told him. Rich Dalton knows more than anybody about water power. Zach Felsen is the guy for solar power, especially on the engineering side of it. But Alena has built a few solar ovens and done more cooking in them than anyone I've heard about. Pietro is a historian. He knows about how old water mills were built in Europe and around the world."

    Jim said, "Good! You are all nominated to my advisory committee. Anybody else know about energy?"

    Marta Beam said, "Yes. Doctor VanDerver knows a LOT about solar electric power. And Eddie and Chris put my solar lights in."

    Roscoe said, "Jacob Knepp knows more about horse power than I ever dreamed. We're going to need him."

    Jim Crawford said, "Okay. If there is anyone else who can help us figure this out, we really need you to tell us. I'm going to say we need to have a get acquainted meeting to start this off. No time like the present. Everybody do what you need to get comfortable and meet here in 10 or 20 minutes then? Can we do that?"

    Murmurs of agreement accompanied nodding of heads as Jim looked around the group. He said, "Okay. See you in a few minutes."

    ********

    It was Monday so Ruth Bennett/Cooper, Esther Morris/Kelley, and Mary Hanover/Dalton got on the horse drawn wagon to go to the garden field for the day. Jordan Alexander and John Anderson loaded up two one-row cultivators and joined them. When they got to the field, the boys would use the horses individually with the cultivators. It saved an immense amount of hoeing. The horses could still get through the row middles, even though the crops were mature and growing tall.

    The women took a 5 gallon bucket each and began to cut okra, pick beans, and pick squash and cucumbers. The bean picking went slowest, a job that suited Mary Dalton. It was quiet and peaceful in the field with the other women 100 yards away in rows of the far side of the field. The two boys were watching their horses walk down the row middles and steering the cultivators. All Mary could hear was the occassional clank of a cultivator hitting rock and the soft rattle of trace chains brushing the plants. She paid close attention to the size of the beans, only picking the ones that were full grown.

    She didn't hear a sound, but something made her look up ahead of her. A wolfish looking dog stood in the bean row, his eyes gleaming at her. He was too thin to be healthy. Mary was startled, but spoke to the dog and it growled in return. It began a stalking walk in her direction, lips curled away from its' long canine fangs. The low throaty growl stopped when it speeded up to a lope.

    Mary screamed loud and long, and instinctively held her bucket in front of her in defense. The dog had 10 feet to go before it reached her and was just preparing to lunge at it's next step when two shots sounded loud. The dog fell but tried to get up. Jordan was running across the bean rows, his pistol aimed, trying to get closer for a surer shot. Mary stumbled backwards, keeping her bucket in front of her. Jordan stopped, aimed, and shot three more times. The dog collapsed in a pile, shot in the head.

    Mary stood in the field, a puddle forming under her. Her face was pale as she watched Jordan look at the dog, then kick it once to make sure it was dead. Satisfied, he went over to Mary who looked wide-eyed at him, then at the pistol in his hand.

    "You look like you're more scared of my gun than you was of the dog," Jordan said.

    "I....I guess I am. Guns kill people!"

    "Bullsh!t! People kill people. They might use a gun, or a rock or whatever."

    Mary said nothing as she kept staring at the gun.

    "Look lady, I just saved your butt, y'know? That dog was gonna have you for lunch! Don't you understand that?"

    "Get away from me with that gun!"

    Jordan stared at her like she was from another planet. Finally he said, "Okay. I'll do that. You don't need my help, so you figure out how to get the dead dog outa yer bean row. You can figure out how to find dry clothes, too!"

    He turned and stomped back toward his horse, standing nervously a few rows over. He spoke to the horse to calm it down and looped the driving lines over his shoulder, telling the horse, "Whoa, settle down. It's all right."

    Jordan finally remembered to reload his pistol, put it on safety and stuck it in his holster. By that time, John Anderson had stopped his horse, tied it to a bush, and was running their direction. The other women were following him. Jordan stayed where he was until John reached him.

    "What happened?" John asked, breathless.

    "Dog tried to have Mary for lunch. I shot him. She peed her pants and then she ran me off! More scared of my gun than the dog! She's a damned idiot! Fulla that religious crap about non-violence! Next time I'll let her fight the dog and see if she likes that better. I'm outa here!"

    He slapped the lines on the horse's rump and said, "GIDDAP!"

    He had made two more rounds cultivating when he saw the women walking toward the park road with Mary. John had watched from a distance, then wisely left the women to attend to Mary and went back to cultivating himself. It was an hour later when he saw Ruth and Esther return to the field, but he didn't see Mary. Ruth and Esther were carrying pistols on their belts.

    ********


    Chapter 70


    "Why?" Rich Dalton asked Mary. "Why are you so terrified of guns? There has to be a reason and I don't want to hear about church teachings."

    "Guns kill people!" she said defiantly.

    "About the same number of people used to get killed each year by car wrecks as guns, but you ride in cars and trucks and you always did. Now tell me WHY!"

    "My little brother was shot and killed. He didn't do anything! They just shot him! One of those gang things. A drive-by they called it. We have to get rid of guns! We have to!"

    "Where did this happen?" Rich asked softly.

    "He'd gone to Indianapolis to the Zoo with a church group. They were walking a long ways back to where they parked the bus. This car went by and they just started shooting! They hit another girl, but she lived. They said Cody died instantly. He was only fourteen! He was a GOOD kid!"

    It was a long evening at the Dalton house before Mary went to sleep crying.

    *******

    "She's a nut case," Jordan told Destiny.

    "Something made her that way. I'd like to know what it was."

    "I don't want any more to do with her. I'm not perfect, but she treated me like dirt for no reason! I can do without people like her."

    "It wasn't you, it was the gun she was afraid of," Destiny said. "No, you're not perfect, but you're a good guy. And I love you for it. You did save her from probably being killed."

    "Makes me wonder if it was a good idea," Jordan said. "The dog needed shot, though."

    *******

    While canning and drying were proceeding at the park kitchen, the Flynn homestead was doing likewise. The hot weather made the creek bottom steamy with humidity, so the family had taken to getting up very early to work in the garden and other outdoor chores. It was nearly noon when they all trudged toward the house with their buckets of produce to make some lunch and cool off in the shade while they processed the food for canning.

    Nathan Hertel walked behind Hannah and couldn't help admiring her walk. Her mother Janice was beside her, so Nathan was careful about cadging looks at the girl. He had made friends with her since they began living here, but she didn't seem to have nearly the interest in him that he'd hoped. She hada pixie face and she was a fiesty kid. He liked that, so he made the most of her sharp wit and teased her just enough to get her attention. He was wondering how he could get her to like him more.

    He was also thinking about how he could start a place of his own. The adults were talking about that for all the kids, and he took it seriously about what he needed to do like Patrick and Amy had done, fixing up the farm house. There was a place on down the creek that had a really nice house, but no outbuildings except a big pole barn. He had mentioned that he'd like to have that place and nobody had objected. The family wanted to fill the whole valley and get the fields in shape before they got overgrown from neglect.

    Nathan had a truck of his own now, and had a big gas tank in the bed they had gotten at a farm store. The truck had a heavy trailer hitch and he had pulled home a trailer from the same place, a 12 footer. They were running out of parking places, or he'd already have a tractor at home, too. He decided it was time to work on the property down the road, as soon as the summer work was finished. He would need a Bush Hog to clear the fields with. He could probably haul that on his trailer, he thought.

    Then he noticed Hannah walking up the steps to the house ahead of him and got distracted again. She was past 16 now and she had really nice legs like her Mom. Her Mom was pregnant again and had a big belly, but her face was beautiful. Nathan wondered if all pregnant women looked that good and if Hannah would look that much better pregnant? If that were true, she would be a knockout, he thought.

    He wondered, too, if it was just because she was the only girl available to him that had him so interested. Brandi Sullivan had made it clear that she had dibs on Brandon Flynn, so she was off the market as far as he was concerned. That only left Hannah for him, since the girls at the park were too far away.

    They sat their buckets in the shade of the porch they'd built on the lower level of the converted barn. Hannah turned and looked at him with a smile and said, "You're awful quiet back there."

    Nathan tried to think of something to say and only got out, "It's too hot to talk."

    He was busy taking in her flushed face, the dew of sweat in her upper lip, and the bangs that came almost to her eyes. No, he thought, it's not just because she's the only one around.

    Lunch was cold sandwiches and a salad from the garden, made rich with boiled eggs from their chickens. They talked some while they cut corn off the cobs for canning and sliced squash for drying. Nathan had his head cleared enough he could think, so he made his bid for taking over the property down the road. He talked with Wayne about that and got some good ideas about what he needed to do there.

    At the hand well pump, he found himself washing ears of corn with Hannah who was washing more squash. She said to him, "I'll help you work on that house down there if you want."

    It took him a minute to realize what she meant. He was always slow on the uptake about that sort of thing. As quickly as he could get it out, he said, "Yeah. I'd sure like that."

    They exchanged smiles that lingered and worked with more enthusiasm. Something had changed between them, and Nathan was overjoyed.

    ********


    Chapter 71


    "We're growing into quite a little community," Misti said at supper. "It's getting to be like the ancient villages I studied."

    "How so?" Zach asked.

    "Well, we have the weaver and the potter, the farmers and the doctor, a blacksmith, a carpenter and a baker. What else does it take to be a village?"

    "Hmph. Pretty soon you'll be wanting a village head man. A mayor, of tribal chief, or whatever."

    Misti said, "It might be a good idea."

    "We need a foundry a lot worse. And a machinist, and a stone cutter and a mason and I don't know how many more."

    "We're going to need a government and laws pretty soon," Misti said.

    "What for? We all get along pretty well. If somebody has a problem they work it out. It's not like this is a big city."

    "It's going to be big some day, so we need to lay the ground work for that," she said.

    "I wouldn't talk about that too much. People aren't going to like it," Zach said.

    "Why not? It's for their own good. They'll understand that."

    Zach chuckled and said, "Tell you what, you talk to Alena, or Pietro about that and see what happens."

    "Oh, Alena is a sweetie. She'll like the idea."

    "Uh-huh. Don't say I didn't warn you." Zach grinned as he said it.

    Misti didn't know what to think about Zach's remarks. Alena was a friend of hers and they gossiped a lot. Surely Zach must be wrong.

    Tina Marie Rankin was baking bread with Alena when Misti went to the big outdoor oven to get some bread. Alena had begun to take IOU's for bread because trading sometimes got too complicated. She gave the IOU's to Roscoe who was grinding flour for her, and to whoever went to town to get other things she needed. People were beginning to treat the IOU's like money, trading them among themselves for many different things. When someone 'collected' on an IOU, they tore it up, signifying the debt as paid. It was working for everyone when they didn't have an obvious trade to get what they wanted.

    Misti said, "That sure smells good!"

    "It'll be out in a few minutes," Tina Marie said. "Have you got any eggs? We're going to need some later today."

    "No, but I can go get some from Michelle. She said her hens are laying their heads off. You can use the older ones in the bread, can't you?"

    "Yeah. We usually ask her for the old ones because we don't want any to go to waste, and they mix up easier, too. Fresh ones are better to fry for breakfast. Here's a basket to put them in."

    "I'll be back in a minute," Misti said, glad to get away from the blistering hot oven. She had noticed that both women were sweating profusely. They definitely earned their pay for baking.

    She gave Michelle an IOU for 2 dozen eggs and came back with them as the two women were scooping out the round loaves with a wooden paddle they called a 'peel'. Pietro had made that and a wooden cooling rack where the loaves sat until someone picked them up.

    They had agreed some time ago that a dozen eggs were worth 2 loaves of bread. Alena and Tina Marie measured their dough out in a small metal bowl for a loaf, so they always came out the same size. Misti put her 4 loaves in the basket she'd brought, covered them with a towel, and said goodbye to the women, knowing they were too busy to discuss government and laws. She had to agree with Zachary that things were indeed working very well. It was just fine now, but people were bound to have disagreements and then it would be good to have someone to help settle them. They needed to agree on what laws would be, too. She had to think about this some more.

    ********

    Jacob Knepp was thinking about what to do about the problem of money. IOU's had become the way of doing business in the valley community, but that was troublesome when he had sold a beef for butchering last winter, and he was still collecting on it, in products and labor from various ones. He wasn't sure if he had gotten a fair price for his beef, or not.

    Money would make things simpler. But nobody would accept the old money now with the government gone. Everyone still put prices on their IOU's in dollars, but they also wrote what it was for--a day's labor, or a weaned pig, or a bushel of beans. They needed some form of money that everyone would accept to make trading easier.

    He had heard of silver and gold coins, but nobody had any of them here. And if they found some, who would own them, and what would they be worth? Paper would someday all be gone, so they had to find something else for money.

    Jacob didn't like the idea of paper money anyway. The Amish had always done most of their money business among themselves until recently they began to use banks more. He had some money in the bank when they closed forever and now it wasn't worth anything because anyone could go break into a bank and get all the paper money they wanted. He had to find a better way, and one that everyone would agree on.

    To make it even harder, some things weren't worth much now, like clothing, or kitchen things, but they would be priceless years from now when the supply of them ran out. Nobody could spare the time to go collect a lot of those things and there was nowhere to store them. He could see a lot of problems coming, but he had no answers for them.

    ********


    Chapter 71


    "It's cool here in the shade," Hannah said.

    She sat down on the front porch step of the nearly new house with the big old shade trees. Nathan went to the fake rock in the overgrown flower bed and got the house key. He had been inside several times, she had not. He wondered what she would think of it.

    "I left some windows open. It shouldn't be too hot inside," he said, and opened the door for her.

    "Wow! It's a really nice place!"

    "Yeah. It looks good, but it's all electric. There's a chimney in the basement, but no stove. I don't know why, but I didn't find any busted pipes. There wasn't any water leaked out or anything like Pat found in their old house."

    "It's all so neat and clean, and the kitchen is really nice! Lots of counter space. Wonder who lived here?" Hannah asked.

    "It was some old couple. The guy left a note to his kids, I guess. Said his wife was sick and he was taking her to the hospital. They never came back, 'cause there's no car here, just an old truck in the garage."
    Hannah was opening cabinets. Mice had been in them and made a mess of anything in paper and cardboard packages, but the rest was intact. "I can have this in shape pretty quick, but we'll have to find some way to cook and get water."

    Nathan said, "The old well outside is good. The pump works and everything. That's part of why I wanted this place, 'cause I didn't want to have to dig a well."

    "Why didn't Pat and Amy go for this place?"

    Nathan grinned and said, "They'd never been in here and I wasn't telling him about it. The weeds were all grown up so it looked pretty bad until I mowed it last week. First time I ever got ahead of Pat. He's gonna be sore when he see's what he missed."

    He opened the sliding glass door to the back porch and said, "There's good sidewalks to the pole barn and around to the front porch. There was a walker in the bedroom, so that made me think they were old people. And you can see where there were walks to some other buildings. The root cellar is the only thing left. It looks like they tore down some old farm buildings and just put up this pole barn. Like they built this house and just quit farming.

    Hannah looked around outside and said, "It's sad to think they probably spent their whole lives on this farm and then didn't get to enjoy their retirement."

    "There's a big disc sitting out there in the weeds. Somebody was farming the ground. Probably rented it out. I figure the tractor has to be in the neighborhood somewhere."

    "We'll need to make a place for horses soon," Hannah said.

    "There's plenty of room in that pole barn. It's huge. There's some straw bales in there, and some bags of grass seed the mice didn't get into."

    Hannah asked, "Do you think we can find wood stoves for the house?"

    "I already did. My truck was full when I saw them at the farm store or I'd have brought one home."

    He licked his lips then and said, "Uh, do you... I mean, we're talking like we're gonna move in here, but is that for real, or are you thinking it's just for me?"

    "Of course I want to live here with you! You can be so dense sometimes," Hannah said.

    She stepped closer to him and kissed him. That soon got more serious.

    Later, they sat at the table and ate the lunches they'd brought along. Nathan said, "I dreamed about this for months. It is so cool to be here with you. I was afraid it would never happen."

    Hannah smiled around her mouthful of food and finally swallowed. Then she said, "You're really sweet."

    She reached for his hand and said, "Let's make a trip and get what we need here. I want to move in before winter comes, you know?"

    Nathan said, "I'll get some paper and make a list."

    He headed for the beautiful desk in the living room and came back with a note pad and pencil, then said, "What are we getting in town? You can have anything you want. I mean, it's like the end of the world, and we're the only people left. We can have it all."

    "We need a wood stove to cook on," Hannah said. "Where could we find one of those? They're like, all old and rusty, if you can find one. Mom and Dad had to do all kinds of work to get theirs fixed up."

    "Oh, crap. I forgot about that. The chimney is in the wrong place, too. I'll have to build one, I guess. I hope I can do that."

    "What about those metal chimneys like Dad used? They just put the pipes together and stuck it through the roof."

    Nathan said, "I'll have to ask you Dad where to get that. We might find a cooking stove at one of those antique places."

    Hannah said, "I heard the Amish girls talking about having their stove outside in a barn in hot weather to keep the house cool. That sounded good to me. Let's see if we can find two stoves, then we won't have to move it out for summer and back inside in winter."

    "Yeah! That'd be cool. Hey! Nobody has been to the little towns out here looking for stuff. I heard 'em all talking about where they went to get the old farm machines and stuff. I bet we can find something in Paoli, or Orleans, or someplace like that."

    Hannah said, "That's where Amos came from, the Amish guy. I bet there are more Amish out that way that had wood stoves. That's where we ought to look."

    "Those things are heavy. I'd better get Pat to go with us, and maybe Wayne and Jason, too."

    "We can eat at home for now. We need to get plenty of firewood cut and food canned for winter. The stove can wait until later," Hannah said.

    "Okay," Nathan said. "Oh, I've got to get the fields mowed and then plowed up, Wayne said. There's little bushes starting to grow out there. Man! This is going to take a while."

    "I can drive a tractor," Hannah said. "You need to get me one that's not too big. I can mow and you can plow, okay?"

    "Yeah!"

    *********

  6. #46
    Chapter 72



    "Firewood and solar are our best resources for future energy," Richard Dalton said. "They are the only forms of energy we will have access to in the future. That's what our last meeting with Jim concluded."

    "Indiana has a lot of coal," Zachary Felsen said. "Wish we could use that. It's so concentrated."

    "Yes, but. We're too far from the mines to haul it here without trains or big trucks, and without diesel fuel to run draglines, we can't strip mine it. That's a thing of the past. Besides, it has so much sulfur in it that it would be a major polluter without modern technology to clean it up."

    "The community is growing already with so many women pregnant. It won't be long until we have to go a long ways for firewood," Zach said.

    James Cooper said, "There is plenty of forest in the area to keep us going if we selectively cut it. We have plenty of cleared land for farming, so we don't need to clear cut forests. It's a matter of sensible timber management. Our big problem is going to be keeping enough of the cleared land from growing up in trees. That needs to be on everybody's agenda or we will be short of cleared land within a generation. As long as we don't try to live too close together, we'll be okay. We need to spread out."

    Isaac Kelley said, "If we can keep the diesel stuff running for a few more years, we'll have a good chance. We could put a lot of land in grass pasture and gather cattle and horses to run on it to keep the ground clear of trees. Just have to mow it every year. That's easy enough with big equipment. We don't want our kids and grandkids having to clear land with axes and pulling stumps with oxen."

    "We need to keep a sawmill running," Pietro said. "The steam engines will last for a while, but they will want repairs and we don't have anyone who knows how to make parts for them. This could have us building log houses before many years."

    Isaac said, "At least we've gathered enough tools to do it that way for a while. What worries me is that the whole area will run out of steel to make things. Smelting steel and making castings is heavy industry work and it takes iron ore, coal and limestone, IF we had a furnace and we don't. We have limestone, but crushing it would be a problem. Indiana coal has too much sulfur to do good smelting and Kentucky coal is across the Ohio River from us. Iron ore is not available within hundreds of miles. We had better preserve all the steel we can get our hands on."

    Zachary said, "This is getting beyond my ability to think about with a head full of Paul's strawberry wine. It goes down like Koolade, but then it kicks your butt. I'm going home to bed."

    James said, "I need to go in the house, too. It's getting late. Somebody make sure the campfire gets put out. We don't have a fire department, y'know."

    "Yeah, we'll get it," a couple men said as more of them started to drift away.

    ********

    Mateo Rojas had awakened stiff from sleeping slumped in the corner of the truck cab. He opened his eyes and looked all around him before he moved a muscle, then reassured all was well, he moved around to loosen up and quietly opened the cab door. His wife Paulina still slept soundly in the seat. He saw his brother Luis stir in his truck when he heard Mateo's truck door click shut. Luis looked under the brim of his hat, saw who it was and closed his eyes again. Not much got past him, Mateo thought.

    The thicket at this old rest stop hid the trucks well. Mateo walked behind a tree from their camp and relieved himself, still cautiously watching the area. There was no water available here, so they would have to move soon. He would not use water near a city, having learned that city water supplies carried the dreaded plague, a bio-warfare attack. His Uncle Alejandro had told him he accidentally heard that on the National Guard radio, although his CO had denied it. Alejandro had reported for duty when he was called, but when his commanding officer had lied about this, he decided that his enlistment was up. The few who had reported in were outfitted to quell riots in Dayton, Ohio, a few miles south.

    Alejandro hated being lied to. He told 2 of his buddies the truth, then went outside the Armory. He did not think twice as he walked out the door and started his assigned duece and a half. The rest of the troop watched him leave and the CO did nothing because there were several troops standing around the CO yelling at him as he pulled onto the street. They had not been outfitted with CBN gear, and felt betrayed like him. Alejandro guessed that they were going to be assigned to "containment" duty, to keep the plague from spreading . That would explain all the M4 carbines and the .50 cal in his truck.

    When Alejandro got to his family home, he was wondering how many others left like he did. His truck was loaded with enough supplies and gear for 8 men for a 2 month tour and pulled a 500 gallon fuel trailer. He thought that would take them wherever they wanted to go. The deuce and a half was an old one, typical of Guard equipment, but it was in good shape. It had not been to the sandbox and was still painted OD green.

    Mateo liked the big old truck. It would go practically anywhere, although not very fast. He looked at it and saw Alejandro peering out at him. He nodded in the direction of his uncle and walked back to the camp site. The rest of their large extended family was beginning to stir, so he got the camp stove going and proceeded to make coffee.

    The family had decided it was not safe so close to the city and immediately packed up and left for their cousin's place south of Mitchell, Indiana. Their 5 pickups and trailers following the deuce and a half made it slow going, but they had arrived at the small farm in 3 days. Their cousins were all dead or missing. None had come home during the entire winter. The livestock were healthy, though, being watered by a generous spring in the pasture. They had laboriously carried water from that spring and boiled it before drinking for months. They finally began to use from the hand dug well near the house after trying it on a couple chickens and pigs for weeks.

    The following April, they had gotten his cousin's tractor going and put in a crop of vegetables and corn, then taken hay from a deserted neighboring farm for the cattle and horses. The horses had been brought home after the riding concession had closed for the season at Spring Mill State Park. His cousin had contracted horses to the park for years and made a good living by farming some while his wife worked for a dentist in Bedford. Mateo guessed correctly that she had contracted the disease from patients and gave it to the family.

    It was that Spring when they heard vehicles in the park not far away. Luis' son Vicente was tending the cattle and had given chase on horseback as far as the highway to learn what he could. All he had seen was a school bus followed by several trucks going south. He thought it better to stay out of sight and let them go. They had stayed on the farm except for rare trips to Mitchell for some needed things, and had no knowledge of the group at the park. Although they were less than 2 miles away, their paths had not crossed.

    *********



    Chapter 73


    Vicente rode a little behind Alejandro through the big trees long the edge of the valley. The horses were thirsty, so they let them have their heads and go to the small creek that wandered through the valley. A pair of whitetail does pricked up their ears and looked at their approach. Unafraid of the horses, the deer went back to drinking 50 yards downstream. The creek was shallow, but the water moved pretty fast and was cool and clean. The horses drank deeply while Vicente went up stream and filled their spare canteens.

    Vicente liked his uncle a lot, his father's uncle really. Alejandro was 29, enough older than him at 21 that he idolized him, hanging on every word he told about his deployments to other countres and his military experiences. Both of them had grown up in Ohio working for a big cattle operation there as teenagers, mostly helping with haying and winter feeding, but they had some riding work when cattle were moved to fresh pastures, not unlike their grandfather's tales of living in Texas.

    The family had moved to Ohio when Vicente was very young, so he had almost no memory of Texas, but had learned the family's cowboy background from stories. The wages were better in the northern industrial towns, and they had made friends with several families in the small towns north of Dayton. It had been a good life, far better than the poverty of Mexico where his ancestors had lived. The whole extended family had thrived, first working on the farms in the area, then in various city jobs. His father Luis had become an electrician, and his uncle Ignacio had become a machinist, but when the automobile plants around Dayton had fallen on hard times, Ignacio went to work for a steel fabrication company building special equipment for other industries.

    "Es no peligro, Alejandro. The deer are not worried. Why are you so wary?"

    "Es no peligro until peligro finds you," Alejandro said.

    "Si, but it is a beautiful day, no?"

    "It is God's day. He gives it to us. We do our best with it."

    Vicente loaded the canteens back on the horses and mounted to follow again.

    "This is a good place," Alejandro said. "The soil is rich here. There may be floods, but not bad, I think. We may do better here. We will look a while."

    Their course along the creek was parallel to a county road that led toward some farm buildings in the distance. The sound of an engine starting shocked them both. Alejandro pulled up and got off his horse, leading it deeper into the brush. Vicente dismounted and followed.

    The tractor drove from near the big barn to a field of tall grass and small bushes. Soon the sound of the big Bush Hog began and the tractor travelled along a fence, beginning what looked to be a day's work of mowing.

    Vicente said, "It's a CHICA!!"

    "Si. Her man is close I think. We stay here a while and watch."

    The sound of hammering came from the barn, then a generator fired up and the whine of a saw filled the air. Half an hour later, a young man came out of the barn and went to the hand pump in the yard for a drink. He wore a pistol on his belt, but did not appear to be worried about anything.

    "We will ride the horses down the road," Alejandro said. "It will tell him that someone comes so he does not get so scared."

    "Will he not shoot at us?"

    "I think not. He is young and he is working. That is a good sign."

    They walked the horses to the road and rode them at a walk until they came in sight of the farm house. The young man came out to the road to meet them, his hand on his pistol.

    "HELLO!" Alejandro said, waving his hand in greeting as they both stopped their horses.

    "Hello!" the young man answered. "Who are you?"

    "My name is Alejandro Rojas. This is my nephew Vicente. We come to look for a better place to live, if it is possible."

    "Uh, I'm Nathan Hertel. This farm is taken, but there are plenty more. Is it just the two of you?"

    "We have a big family. We live on our cousin's farm now, but it is poor ground. This land here is rich, no?"

    "Oh, yeah, it's good ground. Our family raised good crops last year. Where did you come from? How did you live through the plague? You're not sick are you?"

    "No, my friend, we are not sick. We come from Ohio to find my cousin, but he was gone like so many. He never came home. We lived on his farm, all of us, five families, so it is crowded and we want to find a better place."

    As they each told their stories, Nathan invited the pair to come sit in the shade and offered them a drink from the well. They were stil talking when Hannah came around the field and noticed the visitors. She stopped the tractor and came to the house, her hand on her sidearm. Introductions were made and after talking a while she decided she liked the polite men.

    "It's almost lunch time," She said. "Will you eat with us? It's just a pot of soup I made, but there's plenty of it. We have cornbread, too."

    "That is most gracious of you Senora, but we have our own food. We would not impose on your hospitality,"

    "It's no bother and we have plenty," She said. "It is so good to meet new people! Nathan, come help me get the food out. Let's eat outside. It's hot in the house."

    Nathan thought a minute and said, "You can put your horses in the barn if you want. Do they need water?"

    "Thank you. No, we watered at the creek."

    As they walked to the barn, Vicente said, "You are building something? We heard hammering and a saw."

    "Yeah. I'm making a pig pen. We have to get some livestock caught up before winter. Animals are running around loose down here, but they are getting mean and hard to catch. We want to catch more for breeding stock."

    Alejandro smiled and said, "We can help you with that! Most of my brothers worked on ranchos. We have horses and can do a round up. We will kill a cow and have a barbecue for everyone! Will that be good?"

    "It sure would! You need to meet our folks. After lunch we'll go down there. It's the next farm on that way," Nathan said, pointing over his shoulder. "But I'm hungry. Let's go eat."

    **********



    Chapter 74


    Four windmills were spinning in the afternoon breeze atop the ridge behind the campground. Each had a washing machine operating in small buildings, and 2 had small grist mills. Despite the objections of many who were concerned about their safety, Clay Whitaker, Eddie Grimes, and Chris Hamilton had made another trip to Elnora, Indiana and loaded a semi trailer with all the antique artifacts they could find in the area. They took a roundabout route home to avoid the spot where they had been shot at on the last trip and came back unharmed with a load of wringer washing machines, horse implements, new horse collars, and the entire stock of a complete leather shop.

    Eddie Grimes had found an old, but serviceable crane at a fabrication shop and learned to use it to lay down windmills they found standing on farms. That reduced the recovery time a lot by allowing them to disassemble the windmills on the ground without risk. They had a total of 11 windmills now, 7 of them still in town where they would be sandblasted and repainted before installation. They were stored in an old truck terminal that had been converted years ago to use as a truck service garage.

    The self-named Energy Team had copies of books on making improved wood-gas generators and the conversion of gasoline engines to wood gas operation. They concluded that this was a sensible way to power a sawmill and planing mill and had tasked Eddie and Chris with recovering the materials needed. Those were stored in a now empty hay barn on the farm where a large bandsaw mill had been in operation up until the plague hit. Searches of the business records there located their suppliers and began a mission to collect the necessary saw blades and maintenance items to keep the mill going for a long time. At a Sunday meeting in late August they reported their progress to the community group.

    "No, it is not a long term answer," Isaac said, "but it will work for the medium term and get us what we need to build sustainable things. Jim Crawford's mill can supply us as long as we can keep his diesel running. We've looked at biodiesel production, but for now, it is more productive to use the available diesel fuel we find and add preservatives to it. By keeping it in the underground storage tanks at filling stations, it should be good for at least 10 years, or until the tanks rust out and it leaks away, whichever comes first."

    Roscoe asked, "What about the steam engines we have?"

    Zach Felsen answered. "We have done our best to preserve them for now, after some research at the library. Keeping them in good repair is our concern, and that will take special skills we don't have. But I have some news about that! On our trip to look at Cave River Valley yesterday as a water power site, we talked to Wayne and Jason Flynn. They are getting new neighbors! There are 5 families that were living near Mitchell, not far from Spring Mill Park. They want to move to the creek bottoms near the Flynns because of the rich soil down there. There is one man who is a journeyman machinist! He has some experience in steel fabrication, too, and his brother is an electrician!"

    Questions about the new people filled the air, until Zach called for quiet.

    "We will meet them soon. They have agreed to come to our next Sunday meeting. There are 5 couples, all with children from newborns to young adults, and they have a variety of skills. They are Hispanic people who have done ranching and cattle herding the old way. Their cousin had the horse riding concession at Spring Mill Park and they have over 20 head of good riding horses. Two of the families are now in the process of moving to farms in the Flynn's valley and the other 3 families will move into Cave River Valley. They plan to build a water mill there next year."

    "Why didn't they just use the mill at Spring Mill Park?" somebody asked.

    "They said it was too old and not worth the trouble to keep it going. Their machinist said he could build a mill that made more power with less water using a turbine wheel. He wants to power a machine shop that way," Zach said.

    ********

    Michelle Compton had finally tied the knot with Doctor Van Derver after she told him last month that she was pregnant. Anthony was delighted, much to her surprise. She had been taking birth control pills until she became worried that he would choose his younger nurse assistant over her. The fact that she had been sleeping with him for months did not keep her from being jealous of the time he spent with the young girl.

    Michelle had taken more than one man from another woman, so she assumed this was what Melanie Draper was up to. Melanie was an early blooming 16 year old and a young beauty that overcame 39 year old Michelle with jealousy. Michelle decided that it would be necessary to latch onto the doctor permanently as soon as possible. It wasn't her first pregnancy. The first one had ended in an abortion, paid for by the parents of the boy responsible. It wasn't what she wanted, but she was a poor working girl at the time and thought it was her only choice. She had regretted that choice every day since then, and was determined to have her own child and the best husband she could find. Anthony fit the bill perfectly and she would not let some young girl take him away from her.

    Melanie had sensed jealousy from the older woman, but had done her best to get along with her. Learning medicine was foremost in her mind, something she would not give up. She thought about how to deal with the problem, to no avail.

    That problem solved itself when David Flynn came into their clinic with a case of ringworm. She saw the looks on his face, the hurried brushing his hair back, and all the classic signs of teenage infatuation. He was a nice boy and Melanie let him know she thought so. She flirted with him outrageously and asked him if he was coming to the meeting next Sunday? It would be a date.

    Michelle saw all this from her desk and thought maybe, just maybe, the girl would be out of her way soon. Doctor Anthony had no clue what was going on except for noticing that his nurse aide was happy to see David. He liked young people and thought it was a good thing.

    *********

    Vicente walked back toward the house to carry more household things out to the horse trailer for moving to their new place. Alejandro and Mateo were in the yard discussing what to take with them on the move and the women were inside. Vicente noticed movement in the woods beyond the barn and saw a reflection of light from something that told him it wasn't an animal. He got to the porch where he was out of sight of the woods and waved at Alejandro who was facing his way, imploring him to come to the porch.

    "Que' es eso?"

    "COME!" He mouthed silently, but waving frantically.

    Alejandro glanced around and then walked to the porch, asking, "Que'?" (What?)

    "Someone is in the woods behind the barn. I saw light from something in the sun there."

    Mateo was looking their way when he jerked as they heard a shot.

    ********

  7. #47
    This is a great story. Lots of information in it.
    Thanks for sharing. More please...

  8. #48
    thanks for the new work

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
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    Thanks!

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    South East South Dakota
    Posts
    302
    Aha! A machinist. There is hope now for their long term future. Most people don't realize how vital machining skills are to civilization, but they are. Same with electrical and plumbing.

    Thanks again patience for your hard and superlative writing. I get totally lost in the story about five seconds after I start reading.


    Cat

  11. #51
    Thanks

    D.
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  12. #52
    Chapter 75


    Another shot hit the house from beyond the barn. Alejandro ducked and grabbed Vicente, shoving him into the house ahead of himself. As they came in, the women shrieked. Paulina had seen Mateo fall to the ground and tried to get past Alejandro to go to her husband. Alejandro grabbed her and threw her back into the room, saying, "They will shoot you! Get on the floor, all of you! Crawl to the next room and get the ninos in the cellar!"

    Alejandro crawled to the closet and got out 2 of the short ugly black rifles he'd taken from the Guard truck. Vicente caught the one tossed to him and then the bag of magazines as it slid across the floor. He looked at His uncle with wide eyes.

    Alejandro said, "Tell Luis to get his shotgun and stay in here. I look for a way to get outside."

    "But, Mateo..."

    "He is dead, or his is not. Let him lay for now. We will try to fight them. There are at least two, probably more. We go to the lane where it is low, and we will take the fight to them."

    Alejandro said a few harsh words to the women and children in the cellar and closed the door. Vicente found his father Luis and relayed what he'd been told. Luis agreed to stay inside and defend the house with his brothers Ignacio and Miguel who had been taught with Vicente about the black rifles. Vicente crawled back to the kitchen with Alejandro who motioned him to follow. They began to crawl to the side porch where a huge Clematis vine covered a trellis on the side toward the woods. They slipped outside leaving the door for Miguel to close and belly crawled first to the woodshed, then to the edge of the lane.

    Weeds covered their movements from the side the shots had come from as they slid into the old dirt lane that led to the back of the farm. Alejandro was faster than him, but Vicente did his best to keep up at a low crawl. A hundred yards of that was exhausting, but he was running on adrenaline. They stopped where the lane entered the woods and rested for a minute.

    Over the edge of the bank besdie the lane Vicente saw two men, no. Three. They came out of the woods and made their way toward the lane, apparently hoping for cover to approach the house. Another man's head briefly appeared at the edge of the woods from behind a tree.

    "Wait!" Alejandro said softly. "They come this way. Put the lever here, so! It shoots tres times, eh? Remember?"

    "Si! I remember."

    "Shoot one tres times! Move to another and shoot tres times. Okay?'

    "Si! I got it."

    "I shoot one on right, you shoot one on left, we both shoot the middle, okay?"

    The one in the woods made the mistake of sticking his head out again to look at the house. A heavy rifle fired once and he flopped back out of sight. The other 3 ran for the lane where they met a hail of shooting and dropped like falling stones. Alejandro held his hand up flat for "WAIT!"

    The two men laid in the lane for what seemed like hours. No sound came their way except those of nature. When their hearing began to normalize they could hear birds chirping and the harsh caws of a crow in the field as it flew over the fallen men. It landed on a high limb at the edge of the woods and sat there silently.

    "Our friend the crow says there is nothing in the woods. We go look at the ones in the field from the hill top."

    They crawled back up the lane slowly, every movement reminding Vicente of where he had banged into rocks on the way out. From the higher ground they could see the men lying motionless in the field.

    "I go check them now. You stay here and watch the woods. If something moves, kill it."

    Vicente scanned the edge of the woods but saw no sign of anyone. He could see out of the corner of his eye that Alejandro had reached the men lying in the field, but then he crouched lower. Alejandro had picked up one of the men and then dropped him again, going on to the next one. A minute later, Vicente heard a scream, but he could see Alejandro standing with his rifle pointed at the man on the ground. He heard his uncle say, "TALK TO ME!"

    Soon, Alejandro was coming back to the lane, carrying his rifle in one hand and dragging a man with the other. He got to the lane and laid the unconscious man down. He looked dead, but soon began to moan. Alejandro said to him, "How many are you?"

    The man moaned again, holding his bloody side. Alejandro stuck a thumb in his eye and said, "HOW MANY ARE YOU?"

    The man screamed as he took the thumb away and covered his face with one hand.

    "TELL ME NOW, and I will make it short."

    "Four," came out in a gasp. Then the man curled in a ball and moaned again.

    "Four is all?"

    The wounded man nodded yes.

    "Are there more where you came from?"

    "No."

    "Do not LIE TO ME!"
    Alejandro reached to gouge the eye again and the man recoiled away.

    "How many at home?"

    "Four. Two men. Two women," he said faintly.

    "Where are they?"

    "Mitchell. Two trucks," he gasped. Then he shuddered and died.

    Vicente stared at the dead man, no older than himself. He gagged at the smell. The dying man had fouled himself. His belly was covered with blood and his pants were wet.

    Alejandro said, "Get the guns. I'll get the packs off them."

    Vicente was still staring at the dead man.

    Alejandro said forcefully, "Do it PRONTO!"

    "We must bury them."

    "No. We will go now. The devil will dispose of his own."

    At the house, Vicente and Alejandro dropped their burdens and went to Mateo, sitting on the porch. He had a bandage on his shoulder and looked pretty weak. Paulina said, "He needs the doctor! We must get him to the doctor!"

    "Is everything loaded?" Alejandro asked.

    "Si. We are ready to go now," Miguel said.

    Paulina was getting frantic and screamed at Alejandro, "We go to the doctor NOW!"

    Alejandro held her hand and said, "Paz, Senora, paz. We go to the Flynns and they show us the way to the doctor's house. Mateo will be fine. I have been shot before. I know of what I say. I give him medicine for pain now and he will sleep as we go."

    He went to the military truck, got a pack from the back, and went to the kitchen with some pills. He crushed them into powder with a spoon on the counter and scraped up the powder. That went into a small glass of water that he stirred.

    "Drink this and the pain will be less," he told Mateo.

    The salvaged gear from the intruders was thrown in the back of the duece and a half while Paulina and Ignacio's wife, Regina helped Mateo into his truck.

    "Can you drive?" Alejandro asked Paulina.

    She nodded and bit her lip. "I can drive."

    "The roads are crooked. We go slow. Be careful on the hills and go slow. We will get Mateo to the doctor in plenty of time. The bullet passed through, so he does not need surgery, only good cleaning and medicine. Keep him warm to keep him from shock. It is better for him to rest now, so take it easy, okay? The ninos can ride with Luis, okay?"

    She nodded again and said, "Thank you Alejandro. We go now."

    He approved of the look of determination on her face. He started the big military truck to lead the way. Rosa climbed in with him and they started down the road.

    *********



    Chapter 76


    David Flynn volunteered to go with his father and the Rojas family to the doctor and introduce them. As they rode together, he asked his dad, "Why did somebody shoot the man?"

    Jason said, "Some people would rather steal than to work for what they want."

    "That's stupid! They don't have to work for anything! Stuff is just lying around everywhere for the taking!"

    "I know, but trucks need work to get them going, and food needs gathered, and firewood needs cut. Some people never learned how to do those things. That's what this looks like. No way to know, now that they're dead."

    "There's no need to kill people for stuff!"

    "I know, son, but they do it anyway."

    Jason parked in the doctor's driveway and went inside quickly to tell them what was going on. Anthony hurried outside just as Paulina stopped her truck.

    "I'm Doctor Van Derver. Let me look at him before we move him."

    "Si, he is sleeping. His brother gave him pain pills. He said to tell you they were "Dilaudid", two big ones an hour ago."

    "How did he take them? Under his tongue?"

    "No. He mixed them in water and Mateo drank it."

    The doctor nodded his head at this and said, "It will be a little slower acting that way and last longer. Okay. How do you feel Mateo? A lot of pain?"

    "Nah so bad now. Sleepy."

    "We need to get you inside and clean that wound. Can you walk okay?"

    "Dizzy."

    "Okay. Ma'am, you take his good arm and help him walk. I'll hold him from this side. Mateo, let's put your hand in your pocket, okay? You need to hold it still."

    The doctor came back out of the bedroom he used for examination and said, "He's resting now. Don't worry, he'll be fine. I don't know your name Ma'am."

    "I am Paulina Rojas. He is my husband Mateo. We are very grateful to you. We will pay you somehow."

    Anthony shook his head and said, "I don't take money. People help me with what I need, but that is all. You should not be worried about that now. First, we will do our best for your husband so he heals completely. He is a young man, and strong, so he will heal fast. I gave him some antibiotics and cleaned the wound, and I gave him all he could drink with some electrolytes in it. You will need to change the dressing on it regularly. I will show you how to do that."

    "I will take the best care of him!"

    "I'm sure you will. I'll show you all you need to know about it. But right now, he needs to rest. He is sleeping in bed now and I strongly suggest you stay the night with him right where he is. It will be less stress on him. This is my wife, Michelle. She will show you around the house."

    Michelle asked, "Are you hungry?"

    "I have no thought of food."

    "Well, come have a cup of coffee with us and we will try to make you comfortable. There's not much to do now but let him rest."

    Paulina said, "I must do something for your kindness. What can I do?"

    Michelle sighed and said, "I'll let you do the dishes or something, if you insist, but let's get some food into you. When your panic is gone you will be very tired."

    "Si, I am tired. The trip was hard. I do not drive much and I do not know the roads."

    Paulina collapsed in a kitchen chair while Michelle poured the coffee and lit the gas stove under some pans.

    Jason told Doctor Anthony, "Could David stay here tonight to direct them back to our place? I'm not sure the woman could find it, as strung out as she was coming over here."

    "Sure! We have an extra room. That will be fine."

    "David, are you okay with that?" Jason asked.

    "Sure, Dad! I'll stay."

    Jason noticed his son's glance at the girl in the nurse's outfit, but didn't comment.

    ********

    Alejandro helped his brothers unload the trailers at the farm he and Rosa had chosen, then followed them down the road to the next farm where Ignacio would live. For now, both his and Miguel's families would stay together and get one place in order. When the women were cooking supper over a campfire in the yard, Miguel said, "We have to go back. There are more of them you said."

    Alejandro nodded, then said, "Manana. For now, we eat and rest. It is a long day today."

    Miguel said, "Si. Muy malo day.

    Jason's truck drove up to the Ignacio's place casung everyone to gather around for news of Mateo.

    Jason got out and said, "Mateo is sleeping. The doctor said he'll be fine, but it will take some weeks for him to heal up. Paulina will stay with him there tonight and my son David stayed to make sure they can find their way back here tomorrow."

    Luis said, "We will all stay on this place for a while. We will take care of their ninos and all will be well."

    Jason said, "It bothers me that there are that kind of people still around."

    Alejandro said, "Not for long. Tomorrow we will go hunting."

    "There are more of them?"

    "Si. The one told me there are four in the town called Mitchell. He died before he said any more. We will find them. They will not come here. They will die THERE!"

    Jason said, "You want some help?"

    "No, my friend. This is our fight. You have done enough. We will do this."

    "Hey, you need anything, let us know," Jason said.

    "Gracias, my friend! We will ask where to find some things, I am sure. We are new to this place," Luis said.

    "No problem. We can find whatever you want." Jason shook Luis' hand and left for home thinking they had some good neighbors.

    **********

  13. #53
    Chapter 77


    David walked Melanie home to Roscoe Beam's farm, a third of a mile away. Marta invited him inside, saying, "What brings you to our neighborhood today?"

    "I'm staying the night at Doctor Anthony's. One of the Mexican guys got shot at their old place and Doc is fixing him up. I'm going to show them the way back tomorrow."

    "OH! Is he going to be all right? How did that happen?"

    Melanie said, "He's okay. I mean, he's hurting and all, but he'll be all right. It was just under his shoulder, like in his armpit, so it didn't break any bones or anything. His wife is pretty frantic, though."

    "I'll bet she is! So, his wife is there with him?"

    "Yeah," David said. "She drove him in following me and Dad to show 'em how to get here. They're moving in close to us, but they haven't been over here yet. They're from Ohio. His brother said they were attacked at their old farm and had a shootout. The bad guys got killed, but he said there were more of 'em in Mitchell and Dad said he bet the Mexican guys go kick their butts. That brother of his is a bad dude."

    Melanie said, "He was a nice guy! He was being really good to Paulina. His name is Alejandro. It sounds like that is Spanish for Alexander. I liked him."

    "Yeah, he's okay, but I mean I wouldn't want him mad at ME! He's a soldier, or something."

    Melanie said, "Paulina said he was in the National Guard before they came here, but he's a rancher, sort of a cowboy. They worked on a big cattle farm, him and his nephew."

    "His nephew shot some of the bad guys, too, she said. They killed four of 'em that were trying to take their stuff."

    Roscoe heard most of the talk, having come in from doing the feeding. They filled him in on what he had missed and he said, "I hope we don't run into that kind of trouble here."

    David said, "I bet the Mexicans all go kill the rest of 'em. They said they found out there were 4 more in Mitchell somewhere."

    Roscoe said, "It's been pretty quiet here for a long time. I hate to think there are still people out there that will kill you for nothing. What did they want?"

    David said, "I don't know, but I got the idea they wanted to take over the farm and steal their stuff. It doesn't make any sense to me. They could just get stuff that nobody is using, like everyone else. You don't gotta kill anybody for it."

    Marta looked at Roscoe and then said, "Probably they were after the women, too."

    David said, "That would stupid. Paulina really loves her husband and I think she would kill anybody that hurt him if she could. You shoulda seen the looks on her face!"

    "We need to put more thinking into security around here. We've gotten pretty lax about that, with everything peaceful for so long."

    Melanie frowned and said, "I don't want to have to carry a gun the rest of my life, but it looks like maybe I should. That's just crazy. I want to help people get well, not kill them!"

    *******

    The next morning after a good breakfast, Mateo was hurting, but he was feeling a lot better after a long night's sleep. Paulina said, "You look better today."

    Mateo groaned as he got up from the table and said, "I don't feel so good."

    Anthony said, "It will take a few days to get your strength back, but each day will be better. Just keep the wound clean and take all the medicine to keep from getting an infection. I'd like to see you again in a few days. This is Tuesday, are you coming to the Sunday meeting with us here?"

    Paulina said, "Yes, we want to meet everyone here. It has been lonely, even with a big family."

    Mateo said, "You will do the driving, okay love?"

    She smiled and said, "Si, I will drive."

    ********

    Alejandro drove cautiously to the edge of town just after dawn and stopped the truck. He told his brother Miguel to climb on top of the old factory building and listen for sounds of people. Vicente climbed on top of the truck and listened while Alejandro walked across the street and climbed up on top of a drugstore, listening and watching in another direction.

    Vicente said, "There! I see smoke. Someone is cooking, maybe."

    Miguel came down at his brother's signal and joined the other two.

    "It is close, maybe 3 or 4 blocks," Vicente said.

    "We should walk so they don't hear the truck," Miguel said.

    Alejandro nodded agreement and they set off down the residential street, away form the industrial section of town. Shade trees were plentiful and overgrown grass and weeds in once well kept yards, now deserted. Some gutters were sagging and there were missing shingles on some houses, a few showing a broken window, but the area looked pretty much like everyone had simply left. From their sidewalk perspective, there was no sign of habitation.

    That changed when they came to a corner at the end of the fourth block. They had been smelling smoke for some time, and some kind of meat cooking. Miguel extended an arm for them to stop when he saw a little smoke over the top of the house on the next corner. Alejandro noted that there were no birds singing and was looking in all directions. Vicente brought up the rear, looking back the way they had come at intervals. At Miguel's signal, he stopped and stood beside a big tree.

    Alejandro signalled for them to go around a house out of sight from the target house, and approach the rear of a defunct body shop. A rusted old flat bed truck was parked behind the shop. Climbing on top of the truck allowed Miguel to get on the flat roof of that building where he took a position at the roof's edge. He hand signalled to the others on the ground that he saw two men. He poked his .270 hunting rifle through the vines that covered the front corner, resting the rifle stock on the raised concrete block facade of the building. A few bugs crawled around frantically, but he paid them no attention, sighting on the opposite side of the house from where the others lay hidden.

    Vicente and Alejandro began a slow stalk from one parked car to another to approach the house from the side, waiting for a signal from Miguel that noone was in sight. From their hiding place behind a stone wall they saw a teenager and an older man begin to take food from a skillet over the fire. The voices were low, but clear enough as they began to eat.

    "Reckon we'll have to save some fer the wimmen. Didn't feed 'em yestiddy," the older man said.

    "I ain't givin' 'em nuthin', after that girl clawed me up," the young one said. He rubbed the side of his face and winced, then greedily began to eat again. "Ain't much to a couple squirrels, any
    how."

    "Better'n that weevily oatmeal we had fer 2 days, ain't it?"

    The young one gave him a dirty look and kept eating. The canned food they'd found lately had all been frozen and burst. There was little left to salvage in the houses they had plundered. It had been short rations for too long and the men were both on the skinny side.

    Vicente looked at his uncle who nodded his head and signalled for him to take the one on his side and he would get the other. The shots were very close together and both men fell heavily. Some noises came from inside the house, but noone came out while they watched for several minutes. The fallen men did not move. Alejandro hand signalled to Miguel that they were going in the house. He signalled in return that he would cover the front of it.

    The back door was open as they stepped inside. As quiet as they could be, their footsteps were still audible on the creaky flooring. Alejandro cleared one room after another, with Vicente beside him for backup. They found them in a bedroom, tied to the bed with wire around their wrists. The two women were nearly naked and emaciated. They were conscious, but had a glazed look to their eyes when Alejandro spoke to them.

    "We are here to help you. Those men are dead," he said.

    The pair made no answer, but looked at him with wide eyes. Alejandro told Vicente, "Get them loose. We will find clothing for them."

    Vicente set about untwisting the wire that was tight enough the older woman's hands had begun to turn blue. When the wire was taken off, she cried in pain as circulation began to return to her hands. The younger girl was in better shape, but not by much. One of her wrists was cut by a sharp end of the wire. When she was freed, she collapsed on the floor. Both had cracked lips and were breathing shallowly. They were thin to the point of being emaciated.

    Alejandro said, "Go get Miguel. We need to get some water and food into these women."

    That was done and at noon the women were still sleeping. The truck had been fetched and food and water with electrolytes given to the women. Miguel had stirred the fire in the back yard and heated some water to make soup from the contents of a couple MRE's. Vicente spoke softly to the women, saying, "Wake up, there is food."

    When he touched the women in turn, they jerked in fear and tried to curl up in a ball, but he persisted and got them awake enough to recognize him. When Miguel presented the soup in their canteen cups, they nodded thanks and began to drink the broth. Alejandro gave them spoons and the men joined them eating their own MRE's.

    Two houses down they found some clothing in a house with no human remains and brought it back for the women. After they were washed, dressed and fed, the older woman said in a cracked voice, "Thank you." The younger girl had not spoken yet, except to cry out when she was awakened.

    Miguel said, "All the men who were here are dead. Four of them attacked us at our home and we killed all of them. One said there were two men and two women here before he died. The two men are dead. You are safe now. Our family will take care of you. We will get you to a real doctor and make you well again. You will come with us?"

    The older woman nodded her head, agreeing. The younger girl looked at her and gave a sigh. Whether it was relief, or resignation was hard to tell. They loaded up in the truck willingly enough, Miguel and Vicente giving up their seats to ride in the truck bed. The girl was in the back seat of the crew cab, lying down. On the way down the highway at twenty five miles an hour, the woman began to talk.

    "Where are we going?" the older woman asked.

    "We just moved to two farms in a valley outside Cambellsburg. It is near Cave River Valley, if you know that place." Alejandro said as he drove. "We were leaving to go there when we were attacked at our old place near Spring Mill Park. My name is Alejandro Rojas. In the back are my brother Miguel, who did the cooking today, and Vicente, my nephew."

    "I'm Sandra," she said softly. "Sandra Cummings. This is Shelley Crane, my neighbor's daughter. We're all that was left in Paoli, until those men came."

    She bit her lip and was silent then.

    "We are a big family," Alejandro said quietly, hoping to calm the woman. "There are 5 brothers and their wives and all the ninos, ah, children. We will all have our own farms, but for now we live on 2 farms. There are neighbors, who invited us to this place. They are two brothers named Flynn. And they know people who live in another valley, near Salem. There are many people there. We go to meet them in 3 days at their Sunday meeting. You may go with us and meet these people if you like."

    He glanced in her direction for her answer, but she was leaning into the corner, sound asleep. A look at the girl proved her to be sleeping as well. He said no more until they reached Ignacio's farm.

    ********


    Chapter 78


    The rest of the Rojas families had been busy. There was food waiting on the table, covered with a cloth. Buckets of water were sitting on the kitchen counter, and a pot was steaming over the campfire outside. Beds were ready for everyone for that night, and the chickens were scratching and pecking happily in the yard that had just been mowed with a scythe and the cuttings raked for the cow. Pigs and a milk cow had been moved into the barn and fed, and the morning's milk was cooling in plastic bottles sitting in a tub of cool water on the porch. Someone was mowing the field behind the house and barn with a big tractor. Alejandro thought that must be the young man he had first met in this valley.

    Vicente was the first to hop out of the truck bed and run to his mother Camila at the back door.

    "Mama'! We found them! They had two senoritas tied to a bed and we saved them! They are with us! "

    "The senoritas are not malos?"

    "No, Mama', no. They were tied with wire! They were very hungry, and muy asustada (afraid). They do not speak."

    "Oh! Let me see them. They were prisoners?"

    "Si! The men, they treat them muy malo (very bad), I think."

    Sandra had come awake when the truck stopped, and the girl Shelley was beginning to stir in her seat. When Camila got to the truck, Miguel was helping Sandra out and Alejandro was talking to Shelley who was just waking up. Alejandro's wife Rosa wasn't far behind the others. She met and kissed her husband's cheek as he talked to the girl.

    "There is a good bed in the house for you," he said. My wife Rosa will help you there. Come, we will find you something to drink, and Rosa will look after you."

    Rosa helped the girl out of the truck and was astonished at how light she was. "This girl is skin and bones! We must feed her! Shelley leaned on her shoulder and made it to the house where she sat down on the porch, too tired to go further. Paulina came out with glasses of water and Ignacio's wife Regina brought plates of food. Both women ate again, but could not hold much.

    Camila said, loud enough for all to hear, "You men go away now. We will take care of them. Go!"

    Soon the women had shepherded the new arrivals inside to minister to their needs. Miguel went to the truck and came back with a large plastic bag of clothing he had gotten for them. He left this on the porch after telling his wife Luciana what it was.

    The men talked a while about the trip and then went their separate ways to work on getting the place into shape to live there. A couple hours later, Camila came out and told her husband Luis, "These women have been hurt. They must see the doctor that helped Mateo."

    "Should we go now? Are they bleeding?"

    "No. They are too tired. We go manana (tomorrow). We bathed them with warm water, they ate, and they are asleep again. Let them sleep tonight. They have many bruises and may be hurt inside. The doctor will know what to do."

    "How is Mateo doing?"

    "He is resting, too. The doctor said for him to rest and let his arm heal. He ate a good meal at noon and is sleeping now."

    Miguel was thinking that the house would be overflowing with people tonight. It was okay for the women to have his bed. They were hurt and very weak. He didn't mind to sleep on the floor for awhile. He'd had worse before. He would tell Luciana she could sleep on the nice couch in Ignacio's new house. Women were to be treated with respect and courtesy. When he thought about how these two had been treated he wished he'd had a shot at the men.

    *********

    Ignacio looked over the mowed field in back of the barn with satisfaction. These were good people who would help a new neighbor get started. He had been very discouraged when the disease had killed so many. Already he had started over in life 3 times, once when they left Mexico when he was a just married, again in Texas after he lost his oil field job and he had to work on a ranch for very low wages, and last in Ohio where they had gone to live near Luis to find better jobs.

    There, he had served an apprenticeship as a machinist and gotten a good job in the factory. That job ended when the factory closed, and he was back to working on a big cattle farm nearby. There he had learned some welding and had proven to be a good mechanic, so the owner had given him a raise just before the plague hit.

    Although the plague and its' aftermath had worn him down again, he was encouraged here. There were no rules now, except what men made for themselves. He had owned a small home in Ohio with a big mortgage, but here there was no mortgage, only the challenge to find what you needed and make it work. He had wondered if he could endure starting over again, but the mowed field encouraged him. Ignacio decided he could do it again, and this time, he there would be nothing in the way of his success. He had to succeed. If he did not, his family would suffer and he would not allow that.

    He thought about the big spring Jason had told him about. It was somewhere not too far away. He had said he could build a water mill there and he was sure he could do that with is brothers' help. There was much to do before the cold winter came, but he would go see that spring soon so he could think about it this winter. He would have to help Mateo and Paulina while his brother's wound healed, so they must first get everyone settled in a home and make sure there was enough food and firewood for winter. Then they would find hay and feed and livestock. It was a lot to do in very short time.

    ********

    Sunday came and the Rojas families were up early.

    Rosa said, "Find a box for me, Vicente. Something to carry the food. And get your brother and sister dressed in clean clothes! We must not look like beggars to these fine people who make us welcome."

    Luis and Camila loaded up with Vicente and their other three children in their crew cab truck and would haul the food because they had a camper shell to protect it in case of bad weather. The only other pickup was Mateo and his wife Paulina with their 4 year old daughter Natalia, and the two rescued women, Sandra and Shelley. Everyone else rode in the canvas covered bed of the military truck driven by Alejandro with his wife Rosa and two children. They would lag behind and let the 2 pickups arrive first to assure the meeting crowd they were not being invaded. It made sense to Alejandro to drive the big truck because they had plenty of diesel fuel for it.

    The Sunday meeting crowd was prepared for a big crowd at the park campground. Several extra picnic tables had been brought to the meeting area for more seating and gallons of extra drinks prepared. It was Jacob Knepp's turn to lead the prayers at the meeting and he was a bit nervous ab out it. His close friends were Amish and he was now accustomed to the Baptists, Quakers, and others of indeterminate faiths, but he had never prayed with Catholics before. He hoped they would join in the multiple faith gathering and feel welcome. He planned his opening remarks with that in mind.

    ********

  14. #54
    Chapter 79


    Jacob led the group to pray for the new arrivals in the community, then asked Jim Crawford to lead a song that most people knew. Jacob then spoke for a few minutes, a simple message about the value of each soul before God, and His love for all of us. It followed naturally to quote Jesus' answer to the Pharisees, who sought to entrap him into a blasphemous remark when they asked which commandment was the most important? Jacob read from his Bible that he said "there are two; love God and love your neighbor". He closed with the Lord's Prayer, the words slightly different when he translated from German, but everyone understood.

    Jacob watched the Hispanic people each pray with him, with bowed heads, then make the sign of the cross when he finished. He decided that this was going to work and breathed a little easier. He said, "Amen" and then, "Let us go in peace and enjoy the blessings of food and friendship today."

    That was the signal for everyone to turn their thoughts to the meal at hand, and the young people hurried to get started. Jacob noticed that the Hispanic children hung back until encouraged by their parents to get in line for food. Other children joined them and began to talk and ask bold questions, as children do. Jacob's concerns melted away as all the children began to mingle and all the adults, taking their example, also began to talk together. The tables filled with hungry people, associating in that most basic of rituals, that of sharing food together as a sign of unity.

    "You have chickens already?" Marta asked Rosa as she savored the chicken burrito.

    "No, we must find more chickens. This carne (meat) we canned last year. Soon we must can more for winter. We only have a few chickens now. We keep them for eggs."

    Marta said, "Oh, we can find you some chickens. They are running loose all over the place south of town. There used to be a big chicken farm there. The fun part wil be catching them!"

    "AH! We will catch them with trampa (trap)! We must find some corn and it will be easy," Rosa said.

    Roscoe was sitting across the table from Luis and Camila, eating heartily. His plate was piled high with unfamiliar food they had offered him.

    "Man! This sure is good! What is this sausage in the cornhusks? And the cheese is wonderful. I love this stuff."

    "Ah! Ees Chorizo!" Camila said. "Last year we had goats. I make cheese and we canned the meat. I make the Chorizo yesterday."

    "Would you show Marta how to make this? I want some more of it."

    "Si! We must find more goats for queso (cheese)." Camila said.

    Luis asked, "Are there goats here? We only have tres (three) and we are so many we must find more."

    "There was a guy down south of town had a lot of goats. We can go look. Maybe some survived. I'll show you where they were," Roscoe said. "We have livestock trailers and we can get you some grain until you can raise a crop."

    Luis said, "It is bad to be a beggar, but we must find everything for farming. We have a tractor! There was a John Deere not far from us and Jason helped get it started with a new battery. Good batteries are hard to find."

    Roscoe nodded as he chewed a mouthful. He swallowed and said, "There is a big battery delaer in Louisville that has dry charge batteries. We can go get some and put the acid in. They will be like new and and they have all kinds. We'll take a big truck and get some more."

    Luis said, "We must do something for your kindness. How can we help you?"

    Roscoe said, "First we get your farms going. Then we can work together on some things. I was told you are an electrician, is that right?"

    "Si, I worked for a contractor who did factories and business buildings."

    "Boy, do we have work for you! But all in good time. Right now we have to get you ready for winter."

    Luis looked worried and said, "We need to cut firewood and we need wood stoves in our houses. It is a problem for us."

    Clay and Amy were at the next table and overheard. He smiled at Luis and said, "Don't worry about that. We'll get you some chainsaws and stoves put in. Gotta take care of folks who make great food!"

    Luis was enjoying some fresh corn on the cob, the last of the season, with butter and salt. Mateo was doing his best with some one-handed, his injured arm in a sling. The children with messy faces gathered at the hand pump and washed up, some clothing getting wet in the process, then they were off to the playground swings with some new found friends to show them around.

    ************

    "I finally got Sandra to talk to me a little," Marta said on their way home. "Shelley didn't say much, but they both ate good, so maybe we can get some meat on their bones and they will start feeling better."

    Roscoe said, "Those women looked--I don't know what to call it--haunted, maybe. They must have had some bad times."

    "They did, from what Rosa told me. She was worried about them. Melanie said the doctor checked them out and said all they needed was rest, food, and kindness and they would heal up just fine. I think he was doing his best to encourage them."

    "Doc is a fine man. He loves people and it shows. I wondered how it would go with them seeing a man doctor after what happened to them."

    "Melanie said she went in with them and I'm sure that helped. Doc saw them together, too, so I think he knew what he was doing to make them as comfortable as he could while he did their checkups. That girl Shelley was pretty traumatized, but she was talking to a few people today. I think she'll come out of it. I told Sandra to come over and we'd go through the Wal Mart trailers and find them whatever clothes they needed. That kinda floored her, but I expplained hwo we did things around here and I think she'll come over soon. I told her we'd find her a car and some gas so she and Shelley could go where they want to, but she seemed like she wasn't ready for that yet."

    "You could go see them and pick them up to shop for clothes and stuff," Roscoe said.

    "I told her we'd do that. She asked if it was safe to travel around here and I told her I always carry a gun and she could, too. And, we'd find a man to go with us to make her feel safer, too. I think I'll give it a couple days before we do that, but we have to get them out and going fast, or I'm afraid they'll just crawl into a shell and stay there, especially Shelley."

    "I told Luis we would help them find canned food that is still good, and anything else they need to get started. I'm going over there tomorrow and we'll go look around town with a couple of his brothers. They are ready to make things happen ontheir new places and hope they can get enough done to be on separate farms before winter. That's a tall order, but from what Jason and Wayne Flynn said, they are making things happen fast on the two places they already tackled."

    Marta said, "Those women are workers, for sure. They dove into cleaning up after the meal and had things done before the rest of us could get started. And they had their kids in there helping, too. The kids are a really sweet bunch. I can't wait to get them in school this Fall! We'll need to get some more desks. I think there are about a dozen that are school age."

    Roscoe said, "Luis said they would come help with harvest this year for a share of the grain. I told him they were welcome to what they needed, but he insisted on working for it. I told him that if they could plow this Fall on their farms, we'll find seed for them and they can get a wheat crop and some pasture going. He got a little choked up over that and said he had never been treated so well. I told him we needed him and all his people, and we need them bad to make our community work like it needs to. I don't know if he understood that, but he will before long. I shoed him the windmills up on the hill and he said he could wire that kind of thing."

    "I have to talk to Sandra and Shelley about where they want to live soon. They did get to talk to several people today, but it's a lot to take in all at once. After we get some good clothes on them, we'll see how things go."

    They turned into their farm and Roscoe said, "I need to do the feeding and then have Dylan help me get the stock racks on the truck so we can haul more for Luis tomorrow. One step at a time, and we'll get there."

    *********



    Chapter 80


    Three weeks later the weather was just beginning to cool off from the heat of August. A third farm had been taken over by Luis and Camila. Miguel and Luciana would live there with them and help get the place going, while Mateo and Paulina were going to live with Ignacio and Regina for the winter. They had collectively decided that 3 farms were all they should tackle before cold weather, and it would be a race to provide heat, fuel, cooking facilities, livestock and feed, and food for all before winter closed in.

    Part of their reasoning was that these 3 adjacent properties had old fashioned wells with hand pumps on 2 of them, and a gravity feed water system from a hillside spring to Ignacio's place in addition to the hand dug well by the house. All the families had gotten their fill of carrying water at their cousin's farm. Ingacio's house was the largest, a refurbished old farmhouse that was probably over 100 years old. His property was the only one that still had a functioning wood cooking range, the reason everyone gathered there initially.

    All these farms had barns of one sort or another, and some machinery, but most of it was old and they were only able to get 2 tractors started out of the lot of them. That was enough to make some things happen, mostly mowing and repairing fences using a tractor mounted post hole digger. The pastures chosen were the ones with ponds for livestock water where they kept the horses and the milk cow they'd brought along from their cousin's place.

    Clay had helped haul in the goats they captured at a farm 5 miles south of town, most of them happy to see people again. Eddie and Chris Hamilton had taken their backhoe to the valley and dug pits then constructed outhouses on the 3 newly occupied properties. It was easier than carrying water in to flush the toilets in the houses. Jerry Hawkins, Don Blake, Jordan Alexander and others from the park community found wood stoves, canned food, and other needed items then hauled all that plus whatever clothing was wanted to the Hispanic community, then returned a couple days to cut a some firewood.

    With the immediate needs taken care of, a cattle roundup was planned. There were cattle scattered all through the creek bottoms, having broken out of their home farms. Most had gathered into one larger herd overseen by a big Charolais bull. He was big and he was mean, so the men pondered how they would tackle the problem of getting the herd home.

    Luis said, "We must not risk anyone being injured by this bull. It has to be done carefully."

    Miguel said, "There are other bulls around. I have seen them. They don't get close to the big old one. They stay away, but not too far. I have an idea we should have a barbecue with that big bull and use the younger ones to breed the cattle."

    "He is huge!" Vicente said. "That is too much beef. It would spoil in the warm weather."

    Alejandro said, "We promised these people a barbecue. We will invite them all! What we don't eat, they can take home and use, or can the meat. We owe them for all the help. Let Miguel use his rifle. We will tell all the people when to come, okay?"

    All the men looked at each other and remembered all the people at the Sunday meetings. Yes, it would work out, if they planned it well. They decided they would try to arrange it for the next week, a day or two after the Sunday meeting so everyone could be notified. Meat not cooked and used immediately could be cooled in the creek water and distributed among all who could come. Women would be invited to help cut meat so it could be done fast and the meat cooled quickly. It would be a major event for the surviving community.

    *******

    At the next Sunday meeting, not everyone was there, but it was still a big crowd. After the meal, Jim Crawford called for attention and announced the cow hunt and butchering day. He introduced Ingacio who explained what they planned to do, and it was set for the following Wednesday, if all went well and the bull cooperated.

    "How big is this bull?" Wayne asked Ignacio.

    "Vicente said he is as big as two of our cows."

    "That's a ton of beef," Jason said. "The one we had butchered several years ago came out with about half the weight of meat. That would be 1,000 pounds of meat."

    "That's too much beef to deal with here," Lori said. "We need to set this up here at the park and use the big kitchen here to can all that extra meat."

    Plans were made and canning equipment would be readied.

    ********

    Miguel got up well before daylight again on Wednesday as he had the past 2 days. As he expected, the herd of cattle was bedded down in their usual place along the creek where it bent in close to the foot of the hill. Some small red cedar brush was between him and the herd, but he wanted to be downwind from them. That bull had winded him once on Monday and got pretty disturbed, pacing around his herd and snorting.

    Miguel's hiding place was about 20 feet higher on the slope the other side of the hollow where the herd was. He felt the cool night air coming off the hillside behind him, so he was confident it was the same where the cattle were and would take his scent away from them into the valley below. He was comfortable on the ground, a blanket beneath him and his rifle resting on a very old deadfall log. The rising sun was to his right, so no reflection of light would reach the herd. He thought about how this was so much like hunting wild game, and realized that the cattle were probably as wild now as they would ever be.

    The big Charolais bull walked slowly out of the shade of the big trees and into the overgrown meadow, switching his tail and moving his head from side to side, sniffing the breeze. Miguel wanted a head shot. It was a very big animal, and his .270 was about the minimum to take it down from 150 yards away. He had his favorite Remington core-lokt 150 grain ammo, the heaviest load available for his rifle. This load had dropped everything he had ever shot with the rifle, but the white bull was bigger than anything he'd tried before. He knew that shot placement was vitally important. He had to be right on target.

    The bull turned his head away from Miguel and started to walk that direction, but then he lifted his head and turned back. A young bull was in the trees above Miguel and to his left somewhere. The old one stood his ground like a statue and waited for the intruder to show himself. It got quiet and Miguel was afraid the old one would turn away again, but he stood there while the crosshairs lined up on the curly spot between his eyes. Miguel's finger tightened and the smooth trigger on the old Remington surprised him as usual when it broke.

    The noise of the shot crashed through the trees and Miguel was vaguely aware of a disturbance to his left as the young bull ran away. The rifle came down again after the recoil and Miguel reaquired his target in the scope, having unconsciously worked the bolt in the meantime. The bull stood for another two seconds, then his knees buckled and he fell forward on his nose. Miguel could feel the thump he made when he hit the ground. There was no movement except for the big head slowly falling sideways. The 6X scope showed clearly that the bull's tongue was hanging out of his open mouth. Still, he waited for another five minutes, watching, giving the animal time to die.

    Most of the herd had jumped at the sound of the shot, but didn't go anywhere, looking around nervously. One old cow walked out toward the bull on the ground and stopped 15 yards away, snorting her suspicions. She shook her lowered head and then walked a few steps closer. The bull didn't move. When she went past him and the breeze brought the smell of blood to her, she bolted back toward the trees, tail in the air. A few others joined her panic for a ways then stopped again.

    Miguel kept his rifle at the ready and walked to where the bull lay. The eyes were glassy looking, but he was taking no chances with the huge animal. He walked behind the bull's head and from a foot away he put another round into the brain stem. The cows in the trees scattered up the hill away from the shot. The bull did not move, except slightly from the impact of the bullet. Satisfied the bull was dead, Miguel took out his knife and cut the animal's throat, letting him bleed out on the grass.

    He keyed his radio and called his brothers to help field dress the animal. Twenty minutes later, they had Luis' old tractor hooked to the bull and were dragging him toward the road a 1/4 mile away, leaving the gut pile where he had fallen. It took half an hour to skin and cut the animal into quarters, then lift the meat with the bucket loader onto the trailer. It took another few minutes to make the half mile trip back to Luis' farm where they used many buckets of water from the creek to wash the meat and cool it. By 7 AM, they were on the road to the park with the beef on the trailer and the rest of the families following in an assortment of trucks loaded with what it would take to process the meat.

    Word spread from the park entrance when they came in and people began to gather at the old restaurant kitchen. A car left to notify others and soon vehicles began to pour into the park. By 8 AM there was a big fire burning in a prepared pit and meat was being cut up on several picnic tables.

    ********

  15. #55
    Thanks this is a really good one.

  16. #56
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Thank you Patience... MMMMMM Barbeque beef!!!

  17. #57
    This tale is NOT complete at this time, but I am working slowly on chapter 96 today. Hope to finish it before very long, but some days it doesn't go very well. Have to wait and see how I feel each day.

  18. #58
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    On the Rock
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    Yummmm... BBQ! Thanks patience. Its a really great story!

  19. #59
    thank you once more

    D.
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  20. #60
    Love this story!!!


    WAB
    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."---- Robert A. Heinlein

  21. #61
    wonderful gift you have. Positive thoughts for healing.

  22. #62
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    456
    Thank you Patience, God bless, my prayers are with you and yours.
    How many miles to Galt's Gulch?

  23. #63
    Wonderful story, Patience; thank you for sharing it with us. Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers...

  24. #64
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    East Central WI
    Posts
    596
    Thank You Patience, you truly have a gift!

    ... and Yes, prayers headed up for you from WI as well...

  25. #65
    Chapter 81

    The next day Marta looked at the jars of canned beef sat on the kitchen counter and said, "I thought that bull would be tough, but it was really good!"

    Roscoe chuckled and said, "Slow cooking it over the pit all day made a big difference, I'd say. I bet you still have to cook the canned stuff for half a day to get it tender."

    "Maybe so, but every family got 20 pounds or more of beef canned and that will make a difference this winter. We can cook it in soups and stews, or make pot roast with it and it will be good."

    "That will be okay, but if you tried to fry a steak from that critter, I bet the GRAVY would be tough!"

    Marta rolled her eyes at that and changed the subject. "I was talking to Rosa and she said they need more canning jars. We need to show them where they are at the Wal Mart warehouse in Seymour."

    Roscoe said, "We could take one of the women along and go make a trip for them. That bunch has all they can do and more before winter. They need all the help they can get. Maybe take those two women they rescued, too. They showed up with nothing at all."

    "Wonder who that is?" Marta said, hearing something in the driveway.

    ********

    Mateo was chafing at being unable to work. He did what he could with one hand, but it wasn't much. He was still weak from loss of blood, he thought it was, and that would only change with time and good food and water. He just finished throwing some grain to the chickens when Luis, Miguel and Alejandro rode in on horseback. They had begun gathering cattle from the wooded hollows beside the valley floor. The doctor had told him that riding was strictly forbidden for a couple weeks yet, no matter that he could sit a horse just fine.

    The men unsaddled their tired horses at the barn, then led them to the creek for a drink and closed the gate behind them, leaving them to rest and graze. At the house, Ignacio called Regina and asked if she had coffee made.

    "Si. It is on the stove. I will get cups."

    Alejandro said, "It is hard to get the cows from the woods. They have been there too long and know all the ways to get away."

    Mateo listened to his brothers talk about rounding up cattle and how much trouble it was in the wooded hills. He finally asked, "Where are you taking them?"

    Ignacio said, "Some to each farm, here, to Alejandro's, and to Luis' farm. Each will have plenty of cattle, and we will find hay for them for the winter. There is hay to be found, not far away."

    Mateo said, "The cows lived through the last 2 winters where they are. Why not leave them there?"

    "But we must..." Ignacio began, but Luis began to laugh and interrupted him.

    Luis said, "I like that! It is like the Texas ranchos. The cows go where they please, until time to round up and brand them. We don't even have to brand them! There is nobody to steal them!"

    Alejandro and Ignacio looked at each other, then at Luis and finally Mateo. Finally, Ignacio said, "It is a good idea. We can put hay where we want them to go, and mow pastures for them. They will stay where they have good feed. There is no need for ranching like in Ohio, where everyone had fences. It can be open range again, just like 100 years ago."

    ALejandro nodded agreement and said, "We might want to chase some out of the hills to the pastures. We could put salt blocks out there and they will come to them. Little brother is right. We have been working too hard."

    He aimed a bright smile at Mateo who felt a lot better after his idea was accepted. Regina came out with a pot of coffee and sat it on the porch floor. Vicente came out with a tray of cups and his 18 year old sister Elena followed with a big bowl of pastries.

    The men were in a much better mood after settling on their new plan and laughed as they told the family about it. Paulina smiled at her Mateo and gave him a wink. His arm didn't seem to bother him much as they all talked about mowing more pastures and gathering hay from anywhere they could find it.

    ********

    Marta peered out the glass in the door and said, "It's a little white car, but I don't recognize it."

    Roscoe automatically reached to the shotgun by the door as he looked out. The car stopped and two women got out. Marta said, "Oh! It's Sandra and Shelley!

    She opened the door and said, "You two look so different I didn't recognize you at first!"

    "We just got haircuts and some different clothes," Sandra said. "We came to ask if you know where we can find work."

    "Come in! I'll get some coffee on and we can visit. What's this about work? Doesn't the Rojas family have enough work to do?"

    Shelley said, "Yeah, they do, but we feel like we're imposing on their good nature. We need to find a job and a place of our own."

    Roscoe looked at the women with a puzzled expression. "You can have any place that isn't already claimed by somebody else. Why do you want a job?"

    Sandra said, "Well, uh, we want to have our own things, and we hate to be just living off somebody else. It's pretty crowded there at Ignacio's. They really don't have room for us. We were hoping you might know somebody who needs help, like in the house, or something. I can cook pretty well and I did cooking at the school cafeteria. Shelley worked at a restaurant and she can learn fast."

    Marta sat some cups in front of the two young women and said, "You need to think about this. Where did you get the car?"

    Sandra said, "Mateo took us to town one day and got it at the car dealer. He got the jumper cables to get it started and it ran okay, so he stole some gas from a couple other cars in town and filled it up. I hate to be driving a stolen car, but I guess there wasn't much choice. I mean, there was nobody to sell it."

    Roscoe asked, "How did you live after the plague hit?"

    Shelley said, "We were neighbors out at the edge of town. My Dad got sick and went to work, but he never came home, so I moved in with Sandra."

    Sandra said, "My husband died on the way home from the quarry. He had a wreck, but I think he had it and maybe that caused him to wreck. I found him, but I was afraid to touch him."

    "We just went to the store and there was nobody there," Shelley said. "We took what we needed and we left money for it, because there was no clerk there."

    Marta said, "So you found enough to eat?"

    "Oh, yeah. We had some chickens in the backyard and I went and got more feed for them. I was out of money by then and I left a note that said I'd pay for it."

    "We've just been stealing since then," Shelley said. "That's not right, but we didn't have any money."

    Marta shook her head and said, "You need to think hard about this. Money doesn't mean anything now. We have to do for ourselves. And we need to make use of what is still out there before it all goes bad, do you understand what I'm saying?"

    Sandra looked horrified and said, "That's what those men said! They said they could just take what they wanted and nobody could stop them! They took us and made us watch while they killed an old couple and took everything they had! I won't be like that! I WON'T!"

    Marta could see near hysteria in Sandra's eyes and agreed with her to calm her down.

    "Yes, that is very wrong. They tried to kill your Mexican friends, too, and that's why they killed them."

    Shelley said, "Alejandro and Miguel and Vicente, they came and got us loose. Those men needed to be killed. I would have shot 'em but I didn't have a gun. They were too fast and they had guns and they...."

    She began to cry and laid over on Sandra's shoulder. Marta until Shelley had calmed down some and said softly, "That is over now. We have to go on and live. It will be lunch time soon. Would you give me a hand in the kitchen? Roscoe, it's about time to see after the pigs and chickens, isn't it?"

    He took the hint and said, "Yeah, I'd better get busy at it. You all give me a holler when lunch is ready."

    He quickly put on a cap and went outside while his wife comforted the women. He found Dylan at work building a pig feed trough, and went to help him. He was glad that Emma had gone to spend the night with Gina at Clay and Amy's place. Those women would need all the help they could get for a while.

    *********



    Chapter 82


    "Well, I tried to make them think about the new world we live in now, but it's going to take time for them to get it into their heads. They are both stuck in how things used to be," Marta said.

    Roscoe shook his head and said, "Yes, that was obvious with them asking for a job. There are so many jobs all around us we'll never get them all done! They need to get with the program and do it fast."

    "They are both hanging onto the way things used to be because they don't have what it takes to face a completely different world. They are going to have to get there gradually. I got them both started thinking about where they would like to live now as something to focus on. I think the Rojas family will get them going that direction, too. Those folks are not going to wait on anything."

    Roscoe chuckled and said, "Yeah, they'll have to get up to speed quick or be left behind that bunch. Did you know they are already surveying in Cave River Valley for putting in a water mill?"

    "Really?"

    "Yeah, that's what Luis said when we took the goats over there. He said Ignacio wants to look for a machine shop he can move to their farm. I told Luis I'd show him the one in town and see if that suits him. I was in there with the college boys working on the windmills, and there is some heavy machinery in there. Isaac Kelley knew how a lot of it worked, and got the windmills fixed up with better bearings and all. We need to get him together with Ignacio and see what they come up with."

    "Hmm. I'm going down to the park today to work on getting ready for school, so I'll talk to Isaac and see what he says about that."

    *********

    It was a slow trip back to the Rojas farms and Sandra had been thinking furiously. She hadn't said anything much, but she was seeing things differently. She got yanked out of her thoughts when Shelley said, "I just want things to get back to normal."

    Sandra was driving and had to concentrate on the crooked road. She came to a straight stretch and said, "I don't think things will ever get back to the way they were. Didn't you see all those empty stores in town?"

    "Yeah, but they just need people to run them. Then things will be okay again."

    "There aren't many people left, Shelley. Marta was right. We have to make our own things now. There's nobody to run the factories and stores, so we'll have to make things at home."

    Shelley said, "But we can't make everything! I don't know how to make houses and dishes and phones!

    "I know how to make clothes, if we can find fabric. And there are a lot of things you can do to help like we have been at Ignacio's."

    "I don't want to live there forever," Shelley said, sounding dejected. "I want to have my own house and all."

    "Like Marta said, there are houses free for the taking. We'll have to find a way to get food. And make sure there is water to use."

    "I don't know how to farm, or make a garden, or a water pump. Maybe it woulda been better if those men had just killed us," Shelley said. "What are we going to do?"

    Sandra was quiet for a minute. She stopped at an intersection, although there was no chance of any traffic. She looked seriously at Shelley and said, "We're going to find men who know how to do those things, that's what. It's what women have always done."

    Shelley's face got more pale than her normal blond complexion. She said, "I don't want a man close to me. I just CAN'T!"

    "You can find a good man. Vicente is looking at you like you are the most beautiful thing he ever saw! Haven't you noticed that?"

    "Yeah, but he's just..."

    "Just what? A kid? He's past 20, and he's a nice guy."

    "Yeah, he's nice."

    "Then go after him. It's either find yourself a good man or do it all yourself."

    Shelley stared at her. Sandra had taken the place of her mother for the past months, or more like a big sister. Shelley was going on 19 and Sandra was only 30-something. Shelley couldn't think of anything better, and she realized that Vicente could probably take care of her. He seemed to know what to do for a lot of things. Then she wondered about Sandra and asked, "What are you going to do?"

    "I'm not sure yet, but I'll think of something. I can't bring Billy back, that's for sure."

    Shelley saw the tears on Sandra's face and thought how hard it must be to have lost her husband. Her mother had left a long time ago, but her Dad had been good to her. She wasn't finished grieving for him, and that left a hollow place inside her that she hadn't had time to think about. Their car was still sitting there idling when Sandra said, "I have to go on and live. And you do too. We have to leave all the rest behind us."

    Sandra looked a question at Shelley, as if to ask could she do that. Shelley looked at Sandra and saw the pain and loss showing, but she saw determination, too. Shelley nodded and said softly, "Yeah."

    *********

    Shelley was in the kitchen helping make tortillas when Vicente rode in with Miguel. Seh watched them stop at the creek where it wound behind the house and get off their horses. He does have a nice butt, she thought, then turned a bit red when Camila gave her a slight smile.

    "He is a good boy, you know," Camila said.

    "Yeah," Shelley said, thoroughly embarrassed. "He's really nice."

    Camila left her alone to her work and her thoughts while she went about cooking the meat for a vast number of tacos. Camila hoped she had a better poker face than the girl, but she wanted her to know it was fine with her if she liked her son. The girl needed someone now, and Vicente could make her feel better, she was sure. It would be a good match.

    Camila felt a bit of smug satisfaction when Shelley sat next to Vicente at lunch and she saw his eyes light up.

    *********

  26. #66
    Chapter 83


    After the Sunday meeting and dinner, the crowd quickly gathered into smaller groups like always, with purposful conversations everywhere. Eddie and Chris had landed some work for the Hispanic clan, digging new and bigger root cellars. Eddie was off visiting with his in-laws the Knepp family and talking about how they could make their farm more productive. Chris Hamilton, left to his own devices had sought out the company of the unattached young woman Sandra. Marta was talking to Jim Crawford about getting more desks installed before school started, and Roscoe had gotten into a conversation with Isaac Kelley and Ignacio about how best to put together a machine shop to serve the community's needs.

    Ignacio asked Roscoe, "Is there somewhere we can find steel to make things? Maybe in the bigger cities, there is a place that sold steel?"

    Roscoe frowned and said, "There must be, but I don't know where it would be. Eddie might know. He grew up in the city."

    He walked over to the Knepp family table where Eddie was and said, "The machinists need to find a place to get steel. Do you know where we might get it?"

    Eddie thought for a minute and said, "There's a couple big steel places in Louisville, and one in Jeff. When I worked construction, they sent trucks over with the I-beams and trusses. They probably had other steel, too. We need a phone book to look 'em up."

    Nobody had a Louisville telephone book, but Chris overheard the conversation and said, "I know where it's at. Neill Lavielle is a big yard over on Floyd street. I've been there a few times with the boss to get steel. I can take you right to it. They got everything! Rebar, beams, plates, round stock, angles, and all that. Better take a lot of help, 'cause they used a big electric crane to load trucks, and if you have to do it the hard way, that stuff is heavy! It'll take a semi with a flatbed, 'cause all that stuff is 20 or 40 feet long. It's gonna be a hard day to haul much steel."

    Ignacio said, "To build a water mill we will need many things. We need some big bearings, too, and a way to weld heavy steel. Maybe a big generator, or a welder with an engine on it."

    Eddie joined the conversation and said, "We've got a gas powered welder. It's 200 amp Miller, and it's a good one. We got hydraulic jacks, and chain hoists, and all that stuff for riggin' steel. If there ain't a forklift we can use at the steel place, we can take a loader tractor or something."

    Chris said, "Sounds like we'll have to pour a lot of concrete. How big is this building going to be?"

    Ignacio and Luis talked a little then Luis said, "We think it should be big enough for a flour mill besides the machine shop. Maybe 30 feet by 60 feet."

    Chris said, "That is a lot of concrete. I hope we don't have to move a lot of dirt for it."

    Luis said, "We have looked at this. If we can get a big pipe to bring the water to the mill, there is a good place that is flat. It will take a lot of pipe."

    Chris said, "There's pipe supply house in Indy. They got big stuff. I been there once and it's a huge place."

    Isaac said, "We need to measure that spring and see how much water is coming out. Dick Dalton knows how to do that. Then we can plan how big the pipe has to be."

    Chris said, "This is going to be a big job. It ain't gonna happen in one season. It'll take a lot of manpower. Is it worth going to that much work?"

    Isaac said, "Unless you like to grind wheat and corn by hand, it is. And we have to have a way to make machinery parts. A water mill could low a bellows for a big forege, too. We don't need it right now, but when we can't get gas or diesel engines to run, we'd better have an alternative."

    Nobody said anything about that, but there were a lot of sober faces in the group of men and a few women who were listening. Jason Flynn spoke up.

    "The old woman we bought our place from talked a lot about that spring. She said it was a shame the old mill had been let go to ruin. Said they used to run that mill year around, because the spring never slowed down. There's a lot of water behind that. I think it's our best bet for power of some kind. If we go to Louisville, we can get some of our equipment to help. We've done a lot of steel erection, and we have a 20 ton crane. I'm not very good with it, but Wayne is. We can make this happen. It's what we used to do."

    Chris Hamilton asked, "How does everybody get paid for a job like this? We've been trading for our work, but this is way bigger than makes sense to trade for food and firewood."

    Jim Crawford had been listening and suggested, "How about shares of ownership in the mill? Somebody keeps track of the value of what each person puts into it, and then they each get stock in the mill when it's finished?"

    That promoted a long discussion about how to value each person's work, and how the shares would work. In the end, Jason and Wayne Flynn were to be the general contractors and they would keep books on how much each person contributed in old dollar amounts, since everyone was familiar with that. Each subcontractor would be allowed a wage rate they would all agree to, then their hours would be recorded to get a value for their contribution. The mill would hire people to work it for a wage, and mill charges would be high enough to allow a profit for the shareholders. The women wanted in on this, too, and suggested that they make it large enough to include a room for textile work, and Jacob Knepp wanted a space for certain work in his tanning of leather.

    The community's first company was born that day, and Jim Crawford was scratching his head, trying to figure out a way to get money going in the community. It would make this sort of venture work so much simpler than barter, but he was still at a loss.

    ********


    Chapter 84


    Louisville was far more of a mess than anyone had anticipated. The bridges were bad enough, but there were not only vehicles blocking the streets, there was trash everywhere and human remains, if you could call those bits of bone and clothing human. The overall stench was the worst. In some areas it wasn't so bad, but in others it was an unidentifiable odor of death and decay.

    Eddie drove construction truck as the support vehicle, pulling their equipment trailer with the heavy backhoe on it. Isaac rode shotgun and scanned the area for threats, but found nothing moving, not even a stray dog or cat. Clay drove his pickup with Kevin Collier on board for security. Ignacio Rojas drove his own pickup with Alejandro for security, each having a shopping list of their own, and Ignacio designated to select steel for their needs. Chris and Jim Collier drove a semi to haul steel if they could find it and get it loaded and Jason and Wayne Flynn drove another one. The convoy drove slowly, about 25 MPH, down I-65 dodging stalled cars and a few wrecks. The elevated expressway let them see the carnage of burned buildings and overgrown lots below, the air full of that stench of decay. They made steady progress until they came to the exit for the Watterson Expressway. A major pileup of semi's, cars, and medium sized trucks were in a hopeless snarl blocking the exit ramp.

    Clay and Kevin were in front and looked it over, knowing they had to take another route. After some discussion with the other drivers they concluded they could get around the mess by moving a couple wrecks near the on ramp from the airport and then driving the wrong way on a couple others through the complicated maze that served the major airport, the Kentucky State fairgrounds, and much more. It was a roundabout route, but they got headed east down the Watterson Expressway with no real blockages and went off the exit ramp to Newburgh Road and then turned onto Bishop Lane where they found the steel warehouse intact behind a locked gate in the chain link fence.

    It was an industrial grade lock housed in a tamper proof cover that disallowed using bolt cutters on it, but Eddie got rid of that in short order with his cutting torch. He noted there wasn't a lot left in his tank of oxygen, and although he'd brought a spare full tank it was the last full one they had. They'd have to find some tanks of acetylene and oxygen soon, or do without that most important tool. He had a rough idea where the Airco distributor was located, but they'd have to follow the old city map he had to get there.

    The gate rolled back, protesting with loud squeaking. Kevin looked nervously about, but saw nothing that could be threat. Still, he stayed in the bed of Clay's truck, looking around over the steel toolboxes they had added to it, grateful for the M4 carbine given to him by Alejandro.

    Inside the huge steel building, two semi's with the company name on the doors blocked access to the steel stored inside. It would be a lot easier to move them under their own power than to overcome the airbrakes, so they got to work. Two hours later, after much ado, both trucks started roughly and smoked a lot until their fuel additive reached the injectors and the engines began to run smoothly. Eddie and Jim Collier looked them over and decided to use these trucks instead of their own. They had obviously been well maintained and were right for the purpose. Besides, they were full of fuel, too. They spent the next 3 hours loading steel, mostly by hand with some assistance by the backhoe, before they broke for lunch leaving the semi's idling inside the building. The diesel exhaust was getting thick in there, so they managed to get a huge rollling door open on the other end and let a slight breeze begin to clear it out before they returned to work.

    With both semi's loaded heavily, they moved them outside and loaded the ones Chris and Wayne had driven. They had no way to estimate the loads, but were sure they had all they dared put on the trailers as indicated by the tires that were sagging a bit, although they had made sure they were up to pressure. Tiedown straps were pulled tight and they agreed to not try any high speeds on the way home. The crew closed doors and gates and departed for the Airco distributor.

    A truck was loaded with tanks ready to run the delivery route with welding gases, making their job easy after they got it running 2 hours later. One inside dual was low on pressure which Eddie filled with their gasoline powered compressor on the service truck. It was holding pressure an hour later when they were ready to leave, so he thought it would be okay. They added all the tanks the truck would haul to those already on the truck, electing to change some of the MIG welding gases on board for more acetylene and oxygen tanks. Alejandro volunteered to drive the Airco truck and they were on their way, already planning a second trip to get all the full tanks they could find.

    Once across the Kennedy bridge, the convoy of 4 semi's and 2 pickups with the service truck trailing them drove sedately back up I-65 to the Salem exit and toward home. The plan was to house the trailers inside the exhibit buildings at the county fairgrounds. Until they had a better place to store the materials that would keep them out of the weather. It wasn't until they pulled into the fairgrounds that Isaac noticed the little sprial bound notebook under his feet and picked it up.

    "Here," he said to Eddie. "You probably don't want to lose this."

    Eddie was stopped, waiting for the other trucks to get into position and parked. He looked at the notebook and said, "It ain't mine. Where'd you get it?"

    "It was on the floor. I thought you dropped it."

    "Huh. Let's see that." Eddie opened it and found printed with a pencil on the first page. He read aloud:

    "DID NOT WANT SHOT, SO DID NOT SPEAK TO YOU. IF YOU WANT CONTACT, MONITOR THESE RADIO FREQS 2 HRS AFTER SUNDOWN EACH DAY. OUR GROUP WANTS TRADE AND NEEDS MEDICAL HELP. CHARLENE"

    Below was a listing of radio frequencies.

    "I'll be damned! How the hell did they get that in this truck?" Eddie exclaimed.

    "Musta been when we were working in the steel warehouse," Isaac said.

    ********

  27. #67
    I love your stories Patience! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  28. #68
    Thanks.

    I don't want to be screaming MOAR at you as I want you focused on healing most of the time, but if you put up any moar I'll sure be reading it.

    I'm glad that people survived and are managing.

    Thanks for sharing you energy to write this for our enjoyment and education.

    Dosadi
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  29. #69
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    1,314
    Really enjoying your story. Thank you.

  30. #70
    Chapter 85


    "Those are military frequencies," Alejandro said.

    "Oh, crap," Kevin said. "That could be trouble. Better be real careful about contacting them. They could triangulate our location and be on us like a coat of paint."

    "Yeah," Alejandro said. "But I can take the Deuce way off somewhere and let 'em wonder where we are. It's got radios. If I go up on those hills above the river, it would reach a long ways into Kentucky. And I can be gone from there in nothing flat and watch the spot for trouble. What does everybody else think about that?"

    "We'd better take it up at the meeting Sunday," Jim Collier said.

    "Ignacio nodded and said, "That would be the right thing. Everyone should know about this."

    Slowly the group of men got back to the task at hand and unhooked trailers in the fairgrounds buildings. The semi tractors were taken outside, not having enough room otherwise to close the doors. The Airco truck got parked at Eddie's place and the men made it to their respective homes just after sunset. When the evening meal was over, Alejandro drove the Deuce and a half with Vicente and his wife Rosa to the top of the ridge surrounding the valley where they lived. When his watch said 2 hours had passed, he switched on the military radio and got a decent signal on the chosen frequency.

    A woman's voice said, "This is trader calling steel trucks. Trader Charlene calling steel trucks. Do you read me, over?"

    After a few seconds the call was repeated, then again at intervals. Alejandro was determined to not reply until after they had discussed it with the community, so they sat and listened. They could hear an engine running in the background.

    "This is Charlene. Good security would be to not answer, but only listen. That's okay. We are a group of mostly women who survived the dying. We now live a long way out Dixie Highway in the country. We have food and water and everything we need except medical care. We have four women who are pregnant and want prenatal care. We have healthy livestock to trade. We can get gold and silver. I will repeat this message each evening for at least a month. We have means to keep our batteries charged. Please respond."


    She repeated the calls and the message a couple more times before Alejandro turned the radio off and they headed home.

    *******

    Chris Hamilton and Eddie Grimes got back to preparing the mill site the next day. They had decided to worry about the mill sluice pipe later because it winter wasn't that far away and they wanted to get the concrete poured soon. An old building in the nearby small town of Campbellsburg had seen better days, but the old steel trusses were still as good as new. It was less work than it looked like it might be to get them removed with the benefit of the crane they had. Sandra proved to be a willing and able helper at this, unafraid of heights and having some farm construction experience. The lowboy trailer hauled them to the site 2 at a time and the backhoe and crawler with the high lift bucket got them unloaded at the site.

    Mateo volunteered for go-fer duty at the construction site because he couldn't be much help at home, leaving the other men free to haul hay and grain home from neighboring farms. Their livestock being thus provided for the winter, the men got back to work at construction.

    Four days passed and it was Sunday and meeting time again. Everyone had heard about the note and the radio messages by this time, and everyone had an opinion. A lively discussion ensued at the meeting, with a consensus being reached to contact the people in the safest possible manner. Alejandro had removed the radio from the big, slow military truck and installed it in his own pickup. He drove to the little town of Floyds Knobs and stopped at a tiny strip mall there, once a popular meeting spot at the corner business named The Hob Knob Coffee Shop. From there, he had 3 directions to move away quickly, north, east, or west. And it was line of sight over the ridge of hills above the Ohio River Valley to Louisville.

    It was early on that Monday evening when he and Kevin Collier arrived and turned on the radio. They heard nothing but a low level hiss until the appointed time.

    "Breaker, Trader Charlene calling steel trucks. Come in. Over."

    Kevin waited until her third call and responded. "Steel trucker here, over."

    "Thank God! Uh, Charlene here. So glad to hear you. We thought we were the only ones left alive until I saw you."

    "We're alive and well. Let's keep this short to avoid anyone tracking us. State your business."

    "Would you meet with one of us somehow so we can talk? We need a doctor and we need help with farm equipment. We have some experts who might be able to help you, a chemist and an engineer among others."

    "Where and how would you want to meet?" Alejandro asked.

    "It doesn't matter. We have vehicles that still run, so you tell me and we'll do it your way."

    "How about two days from now at the old Hap's Airport in Clarksville, Indiana?"

    "How do I get there?"

    Kevin gave directions and said to be there at noon. They would expect only one vehicle and if more than two people showed up, they would not respond to the meeting. They should go to the tower and wait outside in plain sight, unarmed.

    Two days later, Charlene and another woman, both obviously pregnant, drove into the old airport and parked a short distance from the tower. When they got to the tower, they found directions written with crayon to go to the first truck stop north of there on I-65. Kevin, Alejandro, Vicente, and Roscoe Beam followed them at a distance in their pickup, then pulled up beside them in the parking lot.

    The women looked pale, but resolute as they got out of their car.

    Kevin said, "I apologize for the formalities, but things are not as they were."

    He introduced the other men and said, "What can we do for you?"

    Charlene said, "This is Mallory Dorsey, and I'm Charlene Kail. We are hoping you know where we can find someone to help us when our babies are due. Mallory is the chemist I spoke of. I am--was--a math professor at U of L. There are a dozen others that worked at the University and we live at the farm of one of the maintenance men. If we have anything you want, we'll be glad to trade for medical attention."

    "We know a doctor, in fact he lives in our community," Roscoe said. "But before we show you where it is, we want to see where you live to see if there is any threat to us. We've had some bad experiences."

    Kevin looked over the two women, deciding that they were in their thirties, and looked to be healthy. He didn't get any bad vibes that they posed any danger, but he kept watch on them just the same. He said, "Do you mind if we look in your car for weapons?"

    "Uh, no. Go right ahead. There's a pistol under the seat on the drivers' side and there's a shotgun in the back seat. We're women, but we're not stupid," Charlene said with a little heat.

    Roscoe glanced in the car and saw the shotgun, then turned back to the women and asked, "How far is it to your home? We need to see your group and make an assessment."

    "Well, it's not ours," Mallory began, "It belongs to the maintenance guy, Carter Whelan. We're not supposed to bring anyone back there, but..."

    "But can you convince them otherwise? Maybe meet us somewhere not too far away?"

    "Maybe. Probably we can. Something like this," Charlene said.

    "What do you have to offer us for medical services?" Alejandro asked.

    Mallory said, "I'm a chemistry professor, she's a math professor like she said, and there are a mechanical engineering professor, a botanist, an electrical engineering professor, a civil engineer, a psychology professor, and a couple lab techs. Carter was in the National Guard and rigged up the radio for us. Surely there is something we can do for you."

    Charlene said, "We got Carter to agree to offering one of his Jersey heifers if that appeals to you. And we have been saving seeds of many kinds. We don't have a surplus of everything, but there is a lot to choose from. We know how to get some gold and silver. One of our group owned a big coin store."

    Roscoe said, "Let's set up a meeting. Our community is fairly large, and we could sure use a lot of that knowledge."

    He was privately thinking that if he let this opportunity pass by, Marta would beat him savagely when she learned of it. They discussed some possiblities and quickly left. Two hours later they were talking to the rest of the group. They looked a bit worse for the wear of the past couple years, but they all seemed to be healthy and strong enough. Finally, the men decided to let Charlene, Mallory and two other women, the pyschologist and a lab tech, follow them to the doctor's place. They would plan to spend the night and return the next day to confer with the others about future matters.

    It didn't quite work out as planned, because the lab tech, a younger woman named Jocelyn, went into labor on the way out. The other women did return to their group the next day, having seen what the valley community had to offer and ready to sell their group on moving there. Jocelyn's baby, her first, arrived in due course very late that night, attended by the doctor and his wife.

    They learned from Jocelyn over the next couple days that the group had mostly worked together at the University, and fled the city with the maintenance man to his farm. The pregnant women's husbands, and in Jocelyn's case, her boyfriend, had succumbed to the plague before they could find refuge. Their mates had been found at work, or at home already expired. That meant they could not get any of their personal goods without too great a risk and arrived with nothing. Subsequent salvaging had them pretty much equipped, but the first winter had been iffy and the next they only got by on salvaged food. Thereafter, the farm had kept them fed, but not the best. Jocelyn was amazed at the doctor having electricity, and even more so at the meals she was given.

    ********

    Carter Whelan was tired after the past two years. He had done everything right and was as prepared as anyone could expect to be for a disaster, but he didn't count on having to support so many people. His small farm was only 40 acres, and it was a stretch to feed them with only his stores and what they dared to scavenge initially. He looked a lot older than his 44 years, and felt it even more. But he couldn't turn away all those women who had nowhere else to go that was safe. The college professors were long on theoretical knowledge and very short on practical application of it. They were willing, but nearly useless for a while on the farm. His wife felt the same way, but she was worn out from all the labor and stresses involved, too. The new community sounded like heaven on earth to them.

    Their move was a foregone conclusion once Carter saw the valley community and how well it was functioning, but it would not be accomplished easily. He and his wife would stay at his place and finish the Fall harvesting with two of the women to help. The rest moved to their new chosen properties sturng out down the creek valley from the Amish families down toward Clay Hamilton's farm. The men of the group, under tutelage from some of the valley people, learned fast how to cut and store firewood, where to find what they needed otherwise, and how to go about getting it to their new homes.

    The 9 women and 4 men set up properties to live in for the winter, with the 4 new mothers electing to stay together in one place. The Whelans had moved their livestock and other goods to a 160 acre farm nearby. Two other couples, the electrical engineer and his wife at one farm and the mechanical engineer and his wife and 36 year old Sybil Orliss, the botanist, next door. Willow Hastings, a lab tech who had worked closely on stress analysis with Marty Edelston, the civil engineer, had decided quickly to move in with him. Marty was 10 years older than her 29 years, but she never gave that a thought. they got along great and they had seen the best and worst of each other in the past couple years. Neither of them having any more than gardening experience, they chose a house with a few acres of gone-to-seed pasture behind it, just down the road from the Whelans.

    Jim Crawford got the park community busy who moved goods, food, feed grains, and other necessities to the newcomers' places in record time. In turn, the men of the new group were given jobs a couple days a week working on construction of the new mill building. The beginning of the school year would delayed by agreement. There was too much to do and not enough time. All the children were busy at something, helping with harvesting and canning, caring for livestock, moving goods, and some helping at the construction site.

    There were enough people to feed that at least one cow was butchered each week to keep everyone fed. The Rojas family providing many of those from wild cattle they found roaming in the small valleys north and west of their farms. Vicente found that he had a full time job rounding up cattle with Mateo to help, now that he was healing up and could do some riding. Yearlings and pregnant cows, they herded toward the family farms if they could and somehow got most of them inside the pasture fences. They were paid like everyone else, with IOU's that were good for barter anywhere in the area. Sundays were often settlement days when IOU's were traded and cancelled out against receipts for goods or services rendered, usually at the behest of the parties involved, but not always. The IOU's were becoming money of a sort, and they were all denominated in old dollar amounts, with notations of the value of goods or services.

    Everyone was working from daylight until dark and that wasn't enough to feel like they were catching up. Hard work and long hours made tempers short, but arguments and disagreements were soon quelled, often by the simple expedient of someone saying, "Winter's coming. We don't have time for this." There was no doubt in anyone's mind what that meant in this new life.

    The women may have worked hardest of all, many of them having to do cooking over open fires outside and laundry the same way. They kept everyone fed and clothed and drafted the kids to help in any way they could to ease the drudgery of day to day living. When the first hard frost hit in late October, everyone gave their pantries a hard look and the woodpiles still didn't seem to be big enough.

    ********

  31. #71
    Chapter 86



    Frost was on the ground in shaded spots as people arrived for the Sunday meeting at the park. The crowd was so large that they had moved all the furniture out of the main room of the old restaurant, now their combination community building and schoolhouse. It was still standing room only inside. The new mothers were accorded the courtesy of some folding chairs along one wall where they could see and hear what was going on, and they took up the whole wall. The baby boom in the valley was in full swing.

    Jim Crawford took his turn to say prayers and lead the group singing a couple old church songs, the words having been hand printed on the school chalkboards in front. Jim stood on a low stool so he could see over the crowd and hoped they could all hear him. After the short service, Jim asked the crowd to be patient while he gave some announcements.

    "As most of you know, we have been joined by a group of people from Kentucky, whom most of you have already been helping get settled in the community. With school starting tomorrow, you should know that 7 of them were professors at the University of Louisville, and will be teaching in their respective fields in our school. Please be patient with them, since they have barely had time to find places to lay their heads, and no time at all to get ready to teach again."

    "They will be providing new and some advanced classes 2 or 3 days a week in Math, Botany and General Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, Civil Engineering, and Chemistry. They will first give high schoollevel classes in these subjects, but as time goes by and our children grow, there are tentative plans to offer college level classes to those who want them."

    "Also, I will be hosting a meeting for all who are interested tonight on the subject of a currency for our community. We have been getting along with IOU's and that works for most things, but a currency would be very helpful for some kinds of business, particularly when the new mill begins operations. One of our new members from Louisville has access to a quantity of gold and silver coins, and thinks we can find more to make them available in quantity. We need to discuss the best way to introduce currency here. All are welcome to attend and we will begin the meeting a few hours from now to give everyone time to take care of other matters today."

    "Last, I want to thank everyone who has worked on the new mill project. As you know, it is under roof and we will be able to continue to finish the inside even in inclement weather. Talk to the Flynn brothers who are acting as general contractors on this project. They will know what needs done and the work should be planned today so we can share rides to the site next week."

    "The ladies tell me that food is ready, so I'll shut up and let you get to it. Thank you and enjoy your meals."

    A general hubbub of conversation began, speculating on how the new currency might work, with some doubters and many enthusiasts, each with their opinions on the matter. In the midst of that, Marta found herself surrounded by the professors who would be the new teachers at the school.

    Mallory Dorsey asked her, "How much can we earn at teaching? Will it be enough to pay people for what they have done for us? Can we live on what we earn there?"

    "What about engineering? I doubt if there will be many students ready for college level classes," Marty Edelston said. "Can we even make enough to live on?"

    Other questions flew fast and furiously until Marta held up her hand for quiet and said, "The answer is, we don't know those things yet, but we can assure you that you won't go hungry here if you are willing to work as needed. We'll work out the details later. For now, stick with the IOU system and do what work you can as it is available. Our little school has grown and there is room for several of you to teach lower level classes right away. So calm down and let this work itself out, okay?"

    Outside, Jim Crawford was also surrounded by people asking questions about the new currency.

    "What about our IOU's? Will they still be good, or not?"

    "Who gets the gold and how will it work?"

    "I have some old coins. Will they be good in the new system?"

    "How do we set pay rates with this new money?"

    Jim picked up a stick of firewood from the pile by the meeting house wall and banged it on a picnic table for attention. "Listen up folks! Be quiet for a minute!"

    "Look, I don't know how this is going to work, or even if we can make it work. That's what the meeting will be about this afternoon. I will say one thing, though, that all of us must go into this meeting with the idea that we will honor our debts and make sure everyone is treated fairly. We have been getting along just fine trusting each other so far, and we will continue to do that, or this community will come apart at the seams! Is that understood?"

    "But how can we do that?" Jim Collier asked. "There are so many things to consider, I don't see how it will be possible."

    Crawford grinned at him and said, "Be careful Jim, or you'll wind up getting appointed to figure it out like I was on the energy thing!"

    That got a laugh from several people and the crowd began to relax somewhat.

    Crawford continued, "Just come to the meeting and we'll talk about it. I don't think it is going to get settled today. There's too much to do. We just need to get started talking about it today."

    *******
    "Hello, and thank you to all of you that have been so generous helping our group get started here. I'm David Levinson. I'm an electrical engineer and I taught at U of L, but that is past and I am trying to make a living like all the rest of you here. It is not easy getting by now, so I would like to offer something back to all of you and that is why I asked Mr. Crawford to consider my ideas."

    "I also inherited a large coin shop in Louisville. I say inherited because my father owned it and I found him dead inside. I haven't been back there and it was undisturbed the last I knew. There is a large vault there because the building was originally a bank. My father rented vault space to several other coin dealers in the city and also stored precious metals for customers, so I believe there is a large amount in that vault."

    "What I propose to do is to SPEND those coins into the economy here. I don't have many useful skills for the way the world is now, but I do have these coins."

    "What about our IOU's? What will they be worth?" Jim Collier asked.

    "Whatever you say they are worth. The face value. You keep using them just as you always have. You mark on an IOU what the value is in old dollars, and that has been working. Keep doing it. If you
    can all agree on what my gold and silver is worth in the same old dollar amounts, I will spend it for what I need and and you can all use that as money as you see fit. I would suggest that you think about it like this. In ancient Rome, an ounce of gold would buy you a new outfit of clothing, sandals, robe, belt, undergarments and all. It was about the same in 1850 and 1925. So think about what it should be worth today. What you might remember of gold and silver prices from the past few years I don't think is necessarily what it should be today."

    Pietro Muntii said, "Clothing is not worth much now, because there is so much of it for the taking. We should use another thing to compare. Maybe days of labor, or the value of something we all need, like food, or firewood. In Rome, a soldier was paid one silver denarius per day. That is about the same as a US silver dime. That might be a place to start."

    David Levinson said, "That is fine with me. I will not be part of the discussion about what the value of the coins will be. The reason I think gold and silver would work for money here is that they have always been regarded as money, and even after they were put aside infavor of paper money, they still had value because they are scarce, they cannot be counterfeited, and they are durable. If we can agree what they are worth, I believe it will make life easier for doing business. Everyone is still free to charge what they want for work they do and goods they sell."

    "That would make you a very rich man," William Simmons said.

    "Yes, it would," David said. "And anyone who can go find more gold and silver coins can be rich as well. That would make prices rise on everything, so we all would soon be right back where we are starting now, at agreed upon values for what we do. I will do this to try and make this easier to start. I will donate half of what I find in the vault and distribute it equally to every person above age 18, which I think is about what you see as an adult now. But we have to agree first on what the coins will be worth."

    Jim Crawford stood and said, "I move that we all think about this for a week and come back to it next Sunday. Is that agreeable to all? Let's hear ayes and nays."

    The voice vote carried that suggestion and David followed that saying, "I will make an effort to collect the coins this week, and additionally, all the coins I can help others find other places on the same trip. We should have a total amount of what is available by then."

    ********

    Chapter 87


    The baby boom had increased the demand for milk, because the doctor had advised all the new nursing mothers to drink plenty of it to avoid a calcium deficiency. Carter Whelan and his wife were used to hard work and long days. It was a natural thing for them to keep their 4 jersey cows milking and to make what butter and cheese they could from milk that wasn't sold outright. He had two heifer calves and two bull calves from the last breeding, and was determined to keep the best bull calf, even though Jersey bulls were known to be viciously mean. He had to have a bull for breeding to stay in business. The other one would become meat for the table when the weather got cold enough to butcher.

    Jacob Knepp made his acquaintance within days and they made a handshake deal to trade breeding services for the dairy cattle. Jacob had cut his household use of milk trying to supply the community, and was glad to have another dairyman here. They discussed farming in the area and the need to wait on planting until the danger of Spring flooding was past, the bane of using rich bottom land for crops. Both men had wisely chosen properties with some hillside pastures that would not become too wet to use in the wet season, and also had dependable springs for a sanitary home water supply.

    They found they had a lot in common and quickly came to respect each others opinions. Carter liked the down to earth Amish man for his common sense approach to things, and Jacob saw that the somewhat older Carter was astute and had experience in the modern world that would benefit him.

    *******

    "Four women in a house together just doesn't seem quite right to me. There's something a little off there," Betty Crawford said as she picked up her loaves of fresh baked bread.

    Alena Muntii said, "It makes some kind of sense with them all having babies, or soon will have. They can share the care of them and have some time to themselves."

    "I suppose that's right, but the babies are another thing I was thinking about. They all said they had husbands that died, but that was a long time ago. Their husbands had been long dead, so they surely didn't get them pregnant. So who did? That must have been some affair at that farm they came from."

    Alena ignored the sniff that followed Betty's remarks and said, "They are an interesting bunch, that's for sure. From what I've seen, college professors don't think like everybody else. They are all pretty independent."

    Betty said, "Well. I'm just putting two and two together and it doesn't add up right, that's all. And that Sybil woman, living with the older couple, now why would she do that? Surely she could have found a man of her own."

    Alena thought that was pretty caustic, knowing that the women had outnumbered men in the group, and they had only been here a little over a week. Betty left with her nose out of joint and Alena thought about what she'd said. It was almost a sure thing that the women had gotten pregnant by some of the men in their group, and while she didn't really care, it would be hard to accept for some of the more traditional thinking people in the community. She just hoped it didn't cause trouble. Alena knew that every woman in the valley would figure it out the same way as Betty.

    ********

    "I don't like it," Jim Collier said. "That guy David wants to bring his gold in here and just buy up whatever he wants that everybody worked so hard for. That ain't right and you'll never convince me it is. It amounts to stealing!"

    Roscoe said, "I agree with that. He needs to figure out how to provide for himself like everybody else. Still, it would be real handy to have money again. Make things a lot simpler."

    "It's not going to happen if I have anything to say about it!"

    "Yes, we need a better way to get that started, but I can see the benefit of having money again," Roscoe said. "We need to think about this some more."

    "What's that?" Marta asked, coming outside with an empty bucket.

    "Oh, we're talking about the gold coin thing," Roscoe said. "Jim doesn't like it because the guy with all the gold basically gets something for nothing when he spends it."

    "That's not right. I won't go for that either," she said.

    "You got any idea how we could do it?" Roscoe asked.

    "Why do we need to? What's wrong with what we're doing now?"

    "Well, it's not very convenient for trading, and sometimes it takes forever to get paid for what you sell. You know that," Roscoe said. "We have to depend on people making good on their IOU's, too."

    "We'd give most all of 'em credit anyway," Marta said.

    "I know, but when we get the new mill running and people go there to get flour ground and machine work done, or whatever, it sure would be nice to be able to just pay with money and keep accounts that way. Think what a hassle it will be to pay out shares from the mill to the stockholders that helped build it! This is going to get out of hand fast."

    Jim said, "We can just write it all down and it won't be that big a deal. We can pay people with paper receipts like we talked about to start with."

    Marta said, "That will work for now, but someday we are going to run out of paper to write on and pencils to write with. We need to find some more soon for the school kids. We need to find a way to make paper it looks like, and we will need some kind of money, eventually."

    Jim said, "Maybe so, but I'm not giving away anything to that professor with his gold coins."

    *********

    "The thing is, once you introduce money, the next thing you know, you have a banker popping up somewhere and we all know how much trouble that caused before. They ended up owning everything," Pietro said. "All the history I studied shows that and I saw it for myself."

    Misti Felsen, a student of classical civilizations, said, "It ancient times, the kings took care of this, and later whatever government was there did it and the people had no say in the matter. It worked out, though."

    "Yes, it worked out with the kings being rich and everybody else being poor! We don't need any government, and I won't stand by and let it happen again! They ruined everything! Kings are the ones who started wars to get rich stealing from other countries, and the poor people died for that. We must not go down that path again!" Pietro fumed. "Too much of my family in Europe died over these things."

    Richard Dalton said, "Mary and I saw enough of what big corporations do when we worked for BP as co-op students. They ran roughshod over anything that got in their way. We don't need any super-rich dudes around now. I don't want this professor guy coming in here and taking over everything we've got going. I don't know him and already I don't like him."

    ********

    Blissfully unaware of the talk in the community, David Levinson and Marty Edelston set off for Louisville in the truck they had recently acquired. It was a new diesel model and drove smoothly. They were well aware there could be undesirable people around and other dangers, so they each had found some guns at a store in Clarksville to augment the pistols they'd borrowed from the park armory. The trip went without problems, however, and David produced his keys at the shop door. It still stunk inside, although he had ventilated the place as well as he could when he was there before. They kept the office door closed where he'd found his father's body and that helped some.

    The vault yielded to David's memorized combination, and they were shocked at the sheer volume of coins inside. Most of it was silver, but there was a lot of gold, too. There were the heavy green "monster boxes" of one ounce silver Eagles, and many bags of pre-1964 "junk" silver coins. Gold coins of many nations were in drawers with customer's names on them. The tubes of briliant gold coins reflected dully in the yellow glow of kerosene lamps they had brought to light their way.

    Two hours of hard labor later, they still had more boxes to move. They took a break to eat a snack and drink some water then went back to work. The truck was heavily laden when they finished. David said, "I was going to check at the other big coin shop, but they have a vault, too. It wouldn't be easy to get into. We'll have to come back better equipped for that. Maybe that construction guy can get us into that vault. Let's go back with this for now."

    "Suits me. I'm tired and hungry," Marty said.

    "We can eat on the way back. I want to get out of here. The city is spooky with nobody around," David said.

    Two hours later they turned into David's new place and saw his wife pumping water from the hand pump behind the house. David thought that he would have to get some kind of better arrangement for water when he spent some of his gold. This place was far better than the past two years, but he expected things to improve even more dramatically for him soon. He and Marty began the long process of carrying the load of coins down to the cellar under his house. It was the most secure place he could think of here.

    ********

  32. #72
    Chapter 88


    "No," Jim Collier said at the outset of the meeting.

    David Levinson looked at him, wondering, and asked, "What do you mean, no?"

    "I mean NO, we ain't going for it. You keep your gold and we'll keep going like we have been. I'm not giving you anything I worked for without I get something like that in return. Gold ain't worth anything to me."

    "You're entitled to your opinion, of course. Possibly others feel differently," David said.

    Jacob Knepp stood and said, "I am thinking the same. We do just fine with no gold. My neighbor, he works on my farm and I give him what he needs. This works good for us. Things are not like they used to be."

    Wayne Flynn said, "We used to deal in money all the time like everybody else. We had a construction business and money was the thing to have. It's what made the world go around. But we've lived without money long enough it makes me wonder how everybody got caught up in all that. I didn't think it was possible to live without money, but we have been for quite a while now, and we're in business again, contracting. It's working out just fine and for once, the damned banker doesn't get most of our profit on the job! I say don't let a banker get a foothold here. We don't need 'em and all they are is parasites!"

    There was a chorus of like minded feelings from the big group, some far enough back they were having trouble hearing and being heard. It seemed like practically everyone had turned out for this meeting.

    Jim Crawford called for order and said, "We can discuss this for a while if you want to, but let's keep it orderly."

    Patrick Hughes stood up and said, "My wife and I found a big jar of old gold coins in our old house. She was tickled pink until I asked her where she could spend it. Nobody wants gold. They want a pig to make ham and bacon, or firewood to keep warm and do the cooking. Gold ain't any use to anybody."

    David could not believe what he was hearing. He protested, "But everybody wants GOLD! It's always been money! It's the foundation of civilization! Gold is what makes business possible! Think about this. You can pay each other and have something in your pocket to show for it. You can save up money for old age. You can finance big projects like the mill you are building. The world works so much better with money! You really need to do this. If my idea doesn't appeal to you, then let someone else propose a way to do it. We can have a bank to loan money to those who need it, and we can have investments and all the rest of a civilized life if we use gold and silver!"

    William Simmons stood and said, "Like I said before, you end up a very rich man in the deal at our expense. That is robbery, no matter what you say!"

    A lot of people shouted agreement and Jim Crawford had to ask for quiet again. He finally got to speak and said, "Let's take a vote. Do we need to use paper ballots?"

    "NO!" somebody yelled from the crowd.

    "Very well, those in favor of adopting gold and silver as money, say Aye."

    Nobody spoke.

    "Those opposed?"

    A loud chorus of NAYS left no doubt of the outcome.

    David stood there with his mouth agape, staring at the crowd who stared back with unfriendly faces. He sat down at the table and took a couple deep breaths while Jim Crawford spoke to the crowd.

    "I guess that concludes the business for today. Thank you all for coming."

    The crowd began to disperse into smaller groups, still talking and giving David angry looks now and then as they left. This Sunday meeting broke up somewhat sooner than normally.

    David left the community building still stunned at what he'd heard. He hadn't even had the opportunity to tell the people that each would get, by his valuation, over $20,000 apiece in gold and silver. He passed one small group on his way to his truck and overheard someone say, "I say if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it!"

    He drove somewhat aimlessly to his new home. He knew that an electrical engineer wasn't in high demand now with no electrical power. He wondered how he could possibly make a living.

    ********


    Chapter 89


    The millhouse was well enclosed, insulated, and warm inside when the first flakes of snow began to fall in late November. Ignacio was well pleased with the wood stove Chris and Eddie had built. Chris let Eddie do most of the welding with their gasoline powered Miller portable and Chris complimented him on his work. The building had a tight insulated ceiling that helped reflect the heat and allowed warm air convection currents to distribute the heat. While Chris and Eddie worked on building a turbine housing, Ignacio worked on the mainshaft and a forming die to make turbine vanes.

    Outside, more men were working furiously on installing the rest of a 16" diameter pipe onto its' foundation piers. The pipe led back to a natural dam in the spring cave that had been built higher with poured concrete. A flange bolted the pipe to the inlet through the concrete part of the dam. The temporary outlet and diversion coffer dam used during construction had been removed and water overflowed the raised dam now, awaiting opening the huge valve in the delivery pipe.

    At the point where the water would enter the turbine downhill from the spring, it would have a total of 18 feet of "head", or elevation difference resulting in almost 8 PSI of pressure where it would enter the turbine. Richard Dalton had done the math and calculated the flow rate. He estimated that there was enough water flow and pressure to produce well over 30 horsepower. How much they actually got from the turbine depended on how efficient their design was. Richard was hoping for 25 horsepower. If less power was required, they could simply throttle back the flow rate until the turbine speed stabilized where they wanted it and save water in the process. Richard was delighted to be involved in his first real hydro power project.

    They were using a very old turbine design that had been developed for water mills long ago. It had adjustable stator vanes that could be set to operate fairly efficiently at widely varying rates of water flow. Richard had chosen that over more efficient, but less versatile types, anticipating times of less water flow. He hoped fervently he had made a good choice. It was one used in many so-called 3rd world countries because it was not only pretty efficient, but fairly easy to build.

    Eddie and Chris had searched to find enough stainless steel in the required sizes and shapes to build the turbine. The stainless steel pipe had been a real find, salvaged from a pharmaceutical company in Indianapolis, complete with flanges, gaskets and bolts. It had taken a week of hard work for an 8 man crew to get that apart, loaded and hauled over 100 miles to the mill site.

    James Cooper had been bitten by a rat during the salvage operation and was terrified of what disease he might contract from that, but they had also taken all the bottled and bagged antibiotics they could find in the huge warehouse, packed and ready for shipment. They had to obtain a van body truck to haul it all and it took an extra day, but doctor was estatic at the haul. Doctor Anthony had dosed James with a combination of drugs and besides feeling poorly from the medicine, he was pronounced fine after 10 days.

    Harvest had gone well this year, which the Flynn brothers counted as a great blessing because it left more workers available for moving all the heavy materials. The machine shop was still in town, being left until later since it was close by and moving the machinery was a less risky job if the weather turned bad on them. The brothers bemoaned the lack of cell phones to coordinate all this, but with careful planning it had gone with few problems.

    The mill site was only half a mile from their farm, but there was no direct road across the steep ridge between their valley and Cave River Valley. That made it a 6 mile trip around through the back roads to get there. They soon learned to ride a couple of the older horses that the Rojas ranch offered them and simply cut across the ridge to save time and driving. Their trail was well worn when winter came.

    An early snow covered the county roads and made the steep hills treacherous, so they did not risk moving anything with heavy trucks until it melted away a couple weeks later. That motivated everyone to get all the needed materials and equipment moved quickly so work could proceed in bad weather. More men and trucks were sent out in many directions to haul in everything they could think of they would need. Machinery, shafting, pulleys, bearings and much more were hauled in and left sitting in trucks for storage. That was a good thing, because when winter came in earnest, the roads were impassable for weeks.

    ********

    The bad road conditions caused school to be shut down for a month. The new teachers were glad for a break.

    "I don't know what it is about these students," Sybil Orliss said. "They pay attention in class and they do the work. Some of the boys are really into plant genetics, even, but they just don't seem to like me."

    Charlene was glad of Sybil coming to visit. She was getting cabin fever she thought. She agreed with Sybil and said, "I know. They act like we are from another planet or something. Well, the adults do it too. They laugh and joke at the Sunday meetings, but when we talk to them , or if we are just passing they get serious and the talk changes. It's like we have Leprosy or something."

    Mallory Dorsey said, "I think it all came from that nonsense that David tried to pull on them. They hate him like nothing I've ever seen. I don't think much of him either, for that matter."

    Her voice had a trace of bitterness in it and Charlene knew why. The other women guessed, but said nothing. They had seen David's attentions to her in the past and surmised what had happened. Mallory was a very attractive girl, and 10 years younger than David's somewhat plain wife. The winters at the Whelan farm had been long and lonely for them all. And Mallory's baby boy had curly hair like David.

    Erika Gibbs, the Pyschiatry professor said, "That's it, of course. Now we will all have to prove ourselves worthy here. The good church women are all gossiping about us and who fathered our babies. Why can't they mind their own business? But no, that is to be expected here. They will adjust to it in time."

    "Marty said he heard one of the old biddies say she thought we must all be bisexual to live together," Mallory said. She laughed and said, "They can't call us lesbian when we've all got babies, can they?"

    The women all chuckled at that, but not happily.

    "Marty's a good sort," Mallory said. "I wish I'd caught him before Willow did, but that's over."

    "Do you suppose they will get married here?" Sybil asked her.

    "Why not? That would make the locals happy," Erika said.

    Sybil was silent, and Charlene knew why. There was no chance for a lesbian woman to find a partner in such a place as this, from what she had seen. Charlene guessed that some of the students had sensed Sybil's nature and that was why they treated her more coolly than the rest of them. She would like to help Sybil, but she had no idea how.

    ********

  33. #73
    Awesome story Patience! Am praying for you for healing.

  34. #74
    Thanks.

    some really knotty problems.

    I'd like to suggest (even if not for the story) that you take a look at the old hue and cry system of law, Where everyone was called out if there was trouble. What your folk are doing, but it might be helpful.

    Also the shunning and banishment of people. In the norse countries banishment was almost a death sentence, and even shunning could leave one in a very bad way. I suspect it tended to reduce a lot of crime, knowing the cost it carried.

    There is a online novel called: And then there were none. http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.php. It is about a anarchic agorist society. It also might interest you. I read it in a few hours and found it interesting. It also deals with peaceful resistance and ghandi's thoughts.

    Not wanting to write this for you, just offering some reading / ideas that I suspect you would find interesting.

    Get well, the world needs more of your stories.

    D.
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  35. #75
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Southern born, Southern bred
    Posts
    3,376
    Patience, my prayers are with you. May God give you the strength to to fight this disease and peace of mind of knowing that He is with you every step of the way.

    Sully
    Got Jesus? It's hell without Him.

    * When the People become scared of the government it's called Tyranny. When the government becomes scared of the people it's called LIBERTY!!*
    Thomas Jefferson

  36. #76
    Just a few more chapters to go and you'll have all I have written so far. Working on it, but it is slow going.


    Chapter 90


    The first concrete they had poured was the bed for the turbine which would be placed like a wheel laid flat in the bottom of the excavated creek bed. That dictated where every other part of the mill would be located in relation to the turbine output shaft. The turbine itself was slightly off to the side of the natural stream bed and would be dry unless there was an unusual amount of water coming over the dam. The men figured they could place the turbine in winter as long as there was no accumulation of ice or snow in the concrete base. Part of the mill building overhung where the 4 foot diameter turbine would be placed and a heavy chain hoist was placed above it permanently so it could be removed for bearing replacement and repairs when they were needed.

    The machinery would have the electric motors removed and be powered mechanically from the turbine shaft, but David Levinson had found short term employment at the mill when they decided to install a small generator for lights and other small needs. He had chosen a suitable size DC generator head and supervised the installation wiring of it's control panel. When the turbine was finally ready and installed the generator was the first thing it powered.

    David had a voltmeter in the control panel to monitor the generator output. The operator could watch the voltmeter and govern the turbine RPM by regulating the valve manually. The supply of light bulbs would be the only thing limiting their ability to light the mill building. David explained that regular AC light bulbs would last much longer with DC power, because it did not have the 'flickering' effect of AC. He had done a good job and he knew it. The lights came on and he smiled at the crew amid the noisy machinery. They smiled back at him and gave him a thumbs up.

    The long days had been worth it to David. He knew the men would treat him differently now that they had seen his work and he strutted a little as he walked over to the control panel to check the voltage. With his head held high, David didn't notice the open trap door over the turbine 20 feet below and stepped off the edge into air. He fell only a short distance before one foot hit a support beam and flipped him upside down, to fall headfirst onto the turbine below. He died before his body landed in the millrace of the turbine exhaust water, to be swept out and down stream a short way before his body lodged against the side of the stream bed.

    Ignacio had seen him walk toward the opening in the floor and yelled loudly, too late to stop him. He ran outside and saw the body lodge on the stream bank below, calling for help.

    ********

    It was the first funeral in the small community, and their first widow. David's wife was inconsolable at first and depressed after that, not knowing what the future held for her. The traditional gifts of prepared food were given and the community tended to the burial at the small churchyard cemetery up the valley.

    The day after the burial, Erika Gibbs walked down the road to Krystal Levinson's home and knocked on the door. There was no answer for a while so she knocked again, harder this time. She heard a shuffling inside, then the door opened and Krystal looked out at her without speaking.

    "Can I come in? I thought you might need some company," Erika said.

    "Coming to check on the crazy woman, I guess," Krystal said.

    "I knew you were alone and I wanted to see how you were," Erika said as she went inside.

    "There's not much to say. I loved him. At least I did until he started chasing you younger women. Did you sleep with him, too?"

    "No. I wouldn't do that," Erika said firmly.

    "Yes you would. You did. With him or somebody else, but you got pregnant. Maybe it was that nice pretty Marty Edelston. Or one of the older men. Who was it, if it wasn't David?"

    Krystal's hair was stringy like it hadn't been combed in days. She still wore the dress she had on at the funeral, and she looked haggard. Her eyes had a bleak look that would accept no social niceties or dodging the issue.

    Erika said, "It was Marty. I wouldn't sleep with a married man."

    Krystal looked her dead in the eyes and finally said, "You might not, but David would go to bed with any sweet young thing that would have him. I gave up on him a long time ago."

    "But you didn't leave him."

    "No. I should have. But I was comfortable by then, and I didn't know how to get along without a man. I still don't, but I don't want another man. I'm through with men. I guess I'll starve here. I don't know how to live this way. But it doesn't matter."

    "I don't think you will starve unless you want to. The neighbors will provide for you. I will," Erika said.

    "Why do you care?"

    "You're a human being, and you used to be a friend. Are you still a friend of mine?"

    "I guess so. I don't feel like a friend. I don't feel much of anything."

    "That is your mind taking care of you while you sort things out," Erika told her.

    "That's right, you're the head doctor, aren't you? You know all about these things."

    "Yes, I do know about these things. I know you need to drink plenty of water and eat right. You need to have a hot bath, even if it's a lot of trouble to heat the water. And speaking of food, I bought some. It's just soup, but it's still hot. Go in there to the table and I'll get you some."

    It took a while to find a clean bowl and a spoon, but Erika got her seated at the table and fed. Before she could object, Erika had the fire built up in the kitchen stove and was heating water on it.

    She told Krystal, "The neighbors went to a lot of trouble to get these stoves for everyone. They had to drive to some big city to find them in antique shops. The least you can do is USE it to feed yourself. You owe them that much."

    Krystal looked at her and said, "So I OWE them? They wouldn't even speak to me, not until David died and then they were all nice again when they were burying him."

    "They didn't reject you, they were mad at him for trying to put one over on them with the gold thing, and you know it. You're feeling sorry for yourself."

    "I've got a right to feel sorry for myself! Are you saying I shouldn't?"

    "No, just telling you what I see is all. It's your choice how you choose to feel."

    Krystal didn't answer that. The water was getting hot, so Erika poured some into the kitchen sink, added cold water from a bucket until it was reasonable for washing and said, "Time to wash up. Get your clothes off. It's plenty warm in here now."

    Krystal obeyed and began to wash. Erika went to her bedroom, the only one obviously occupied, and dug for clean clothing. She found a nice dress she hadn't seen before and some clean underclothes that she took to the kitchen where she found Krystal towelling off. Privacy had not been available to any of their group for a couple of years, so it was not an issue. She handed Krystal the clothes and said, "When you get the underwear on, I'll help you wash your hair."

    Erika dipped and poured the warm soapy water while Krystal scrubbed her hair and then gave her two quick rinses. When she'd wrung out her fairly long hair and wrapped it in a towel, she handed her the dress and sat the small kettle of soup she'd brought onto the back of the wood stove to stay warm.

    "Promise me you'll eat some more for supper."

    "Okay, I'll eat," Krystal said with a sigh.

    They sat down at the table again while Krystal combed out her hair. Erika asked, "How are you doing now? Feel better?"

    Krystal nodded, agreeing that she did.

    "Okay. I have to go. It's time to feed the baby. My milk is getitng too full. I'll send somebody over here in the morning, okay?"

    "Yes, that's okay. I'll be here."

    Erika handed her a paperback book she had found somewhere, an old Agatha Christie mystery. She said, "Here. Something to do tonight. I have to go. Bye."

    Erika leaned over and gave Krystal a hug, kissed her on the cheek, and then bustled out the door. Krystal watched her go, thinking about the kindness of some women. It was so different from the men she'd known. David had not been kind at all. He'd always been too busy thinking about David, she reflected. She really didn't miss him all that much.

    *********


    Chapter 91


    "I know we need this thing, but MAN! This is a lot of work!" Zach said.

    "Yeah, and being cold out doesn 't make it any easier," Isaac said. "My fingers are frozen."

    "Be careful. Truck rear ends this size must weigh half a ton."

    "Not that much, probably several hundred pounds, though."

    "I wish we could just torch off those u-bolts."

    "Nope. Need 'em to mount it at the mill," Isaac said.

    "There. One more nut is off. So, how is this gonna work?"

    "This gets mounted above the turbine, because the turbine shaft comes straight up and all the machinery will have horizontal shafts. The driveshaft on this goes to the turbine, and the axles will be hooked to the overhead line shafts. Then we'll put pulleys on the lineshaft to run each machine."

    "Okay. This end it loose," Zach said.

    "Mine too. Let's get that loader started and lift the truck frame, then we can roll this thing out from under the truck."

    The old loader at the junkyard started easily enough. It had been used a lot lately to help salvage parts. Zach drove it and loaded the heavy rear differential onto Eddie's service truck and they were on their way to the mill.

    "How do we get it off the truck?" Zach asked.

    "It'll FALL off the truck. The problem will be getting it inside the mill and up near the ceiling to mount it. We can back it in the big door and roll it off onto the floor, then roll it over where we can hoist it up."

    "Who's that guy?" Zach asked as they drove into the mill yard.

    "I dunno. Haven't seen him before."

    They were both excited about meeting someone new, wondering where he came from and all about him. Curiousity would have to wait. Isaac had to park the truck at the mill dock where it could be unloaded and rolled downhill to start it again, the battery being on it's last legs. Zach got out to direct him as he backed up to the dock, so by the time Isaac got inside, Zach had gone to talk to the newcomer.

    Isaac heard someone say, "Where'd you find him?"

    "At the steel place in Louisville. His buddy went back to their community down by Elizabethtown, and he came with me. They want to do some trading."

    Isaac saw the speaker was Walter Rankin. He had been on a run to get more steel with 3 other men. Ignacio Rojas was asking the questions and addressed the new man.

    "Your name sir?"

    "I'm Jesse Sparks."

    "My name is Ignacio Rojas. I am pleased to see more people! You want to trade something?"

    "We're hoping to find somebody that has harness for horses. Our mechanic says the gas isn't very good now, and the diesel will get bad before long. We have to raise food to live."

    "There is a harnessmaker here, but tanning leather is very slow. What do you have to trade?"

    "We ran onto a truckload of sugar, and we found some spices, too. And there's a train we found that has coal for the power company, good hard Eastern Kentucky coal. If you have a blacksmith, he'll be wanting some coal."

    Ignacio knew that if they searched long enough, they could probably find these things, but it make take a long time, and time they did not have in the race to prepare for living without fuels and trucks. He said, "We would be interested in these things. How would you want to trade?"

    Jesse said, "What we really want is to learn how to tan leather and make harness ourselves. We got a good blacksmith and a guy who is tanning leather, but we want a couple sets of harness to get started farming that way before our tractors quit working. And we need a man to learn how to make the stuff. We'd really like to get somebody trained to do that."

    "I see. Maybe there is a way to do this. It will take time to arrange things, to talk back and forth."

    "Do you have radios? We have HAM radio and can probably reach you on that if you have an antenna up high somewhere," Jesse said.

    "We have only the military radio. My brother knows how to work that one, but we have no others."

    "OH! We have a couple radio guys that can set you up if you want! Then you could listen to the rest of the country, too. There are people who survived all over, but they are all small groups. If we could all communicate, it would help. Maybe we could trade training on radios for training on harnessmaking?"

    Ignacio said, "Yes, that might work out. We have a meeting each Sunday to talk about things. We will discuss this. You will go home soon?"

    "Mr. Rankin said they would be going back to Louisville tomorrow, so I will ride back with him. My brother will meet me at the steel yard. We needed some things there, too."

    "So, I should have thought sooner. How many people are in your group?" Ignacio asked.

    "Uh, well, there's 7 families, and if you count the kids--some of 'em are pretty well grown up--there's 32 of us. But half a dozen are little kids, and there's grandma who is pretty old."

    "I see. We are more than that, but I can't say just how many. We have a lot of people who can teach things. There may be more teaching we can trade. We will see later. Do you have a place to stay tonight?"

    "Walter said I could stay with him. Say, are you interested in salt? We found a lot of it in a train car, but it's a bulk hopper. Have to have your own things to put it in."

    Ignacio was thinking fast and said, "Si, we need salt. What would you want to trade for it?"

    "We don't need much else, how about gold, if you have some? We heard on the HAM radio that there's people on south of us that are trading for gold and silver. Looks like that's going to be the new money."

    ***********

  37. #77
    Chapter 92


    "What the devil is THAT thing?" Erika Gibbs asked.

    "It's a pressure canner," Jocelyn said.

    "We don't know anything about canning food. You should take it to the people over at the park by the lake. They do all the canning over there," Erika said.

    "I'm not going to can food in it. Well, I might somethime, but I got it because I need an autoclave," Jocelyn said. "I'm a dental tech, remember? I saw a little Amish girl last Sunday that had a toothache. That was just a permanent tooth coming in, so she'll be fine, but it got me to thinking. There has to be a lot of cavities around here and somebody needs to be ready to deal with them. So, I'm going to get ready."

    "Your going to be a dentist, just like that?"

    "No, but I'm the best they've got. I've pulled teeth before, and I've made fillings at the dental school. I was pretty good at it. I've even made silver and gold amalgams with mercury for fillings. They still taught that, even though everybody had gone to plastic fillings. The heck of it is, we don't have what we need to do the work. We'll have to raid a dentist's office."

    "Isn't mercury illegal now? It's poisonous," Mallory said.

    "People got by with it for ages. So it's going to leach a little mercury into your system. So what? You'd rather die of an abcessed tooth, maybe?" Jocelyn said.

    "And this has what to do with a pressure canner?"

    "It's the only way I could think of to sterilize instruments. We'll run out of disinfectants. Even bleach doesn't last forever. It goes bad. I can cook anything in here at 15 pounds of pressure and get them hot enough to kill about anything. If I can souse things in alcohol, then pressure cook them, they will be as sterile as we can make them," Jocelyn said. "It's a way to make a living, right?"

    "Where do you get the alcohol?" Erika asked.

    "The young men at the park are already making wine. We just need somebody to make a still and we can have alcohol. Another big pressure canner will make a still. They were thinking about it because the herb woman, I think her name is Anita Harris, she wants some alcohol to make herb concoctions. They were talking about making corn liquor to do that for her."

    Mallory said, "We could probably make some things you'd need if we had a lab of some sort. I'd have to do some digging in the old textbooks I brought, but we could probably make bleach if we had salt and some other things, but it will take me a while to figure it out."

    "Can you make an anaesthetic of some kind?" Jocelyn asked.

    "That would be tough. The chemistry is complicated to synthesize those."

    "Is there a doper around the community? Somebody who sold illegal drugs, or made them? Or maybe the herb woman knows how to make something," Charlene said.

    "I don't know," Jocelyn said. "I'll ask around. Maybe somebody has poppies and knows how to make opium. For now, the patients are just going to have to tough it out, until we can do better. What I need is an old fashioned dentist's office so I can find a drill that doesn't need electricity. The college boys over at the park said the gasoline is going to go bad before too long, so a generator is out of the question, unless they can get some homemade fuel going."

    Erika said, "I know! I heard somebody talking about a museum in town somewhere. The woodworking guy with the beautiful curly hair. He's a foreigner of some kind. Peter somebody."

    "That's Pietro Muntii," Jocelyn said. "He's from Romania, and he's taken, so hands off of him. He's married to the Greek girl who does the baking in that big mud thing."

    "Yeah, well, he said something about getting wood working tools at the museum in town. They might have some old dental stuff, you think?"

    "Well, there is bound to be a dentist's office around even a small town like this. We can raid them all," Charlene said. She was thinking about how bad it would be to have a toothache and no way to fix it. Then she said, "There's plenty of room here. We could set you up an office in that old parlor room in the front. Hang out a shingle and you're in business!"

    "It's going to take more than that," Jocelyn said. "I'll need so much stuff. And we'll need running water in there somehow. Gotta be able to wash out their mouth, and all that. We're going to need a plumber."

    "Why not just set a tank upstairs?" Mallory asked. "We could run a hose or something down here and fill the tank with buckets from the well."

    Jocelyn asked, "Mallory, how come you are so enthusiastic about this?"

    "Because I don't want to have to live like Daniel Boone, that's why! If we can get a business going here, we can trade for what we need to eat. I'm not into digging in the dirt. We did enough of that at the Whelan's to last me a lifetime. I'll be glad to be your dental assistant and let somebody else feed the pigs. I saw what's going on at Doctor Van Derver's. HE doesn't grow anything! People bring him stuff all the time. That's what I'm wanting. And I never wanted to have to depend on some man to support me, either. I made my own money when I was married and I've had enough of begging."

    *********

    "How are you fixed for diesel fuel now?" Jim Collier asked Roscoe.

    "Got my 300 gallon tank filled again from that tanker truck down at the park. I ran it into the portable tank on my truck and then used the 12 volt pump to put it into the farm tank. It took 5 trips, though."

    "Yeah, that's what I did. I wonder what's left in the tanker?"

    "It was about half full when we checked it with a stick. Probably about 1,500 gallons in there," Roscoe said.

    "Hmm. We need to find some more. Those folks are using it faster than I thought. Lots of running around to get stuff, I guess. There wasn't any more a that truck stop in Seymour, either, unless we could get it pumped out of the tanks in the ground somehow," Jim said.

    "We could get more 12 volt pumps at the farm stores and rig that up. Anybody check the tanks in the ground there?"

    "Don't think so. But we'd better look into this. My truck is running a little rough now. I found some additive and put in it, so it still starts okay, but we might have a problem beofre too long. That worries me a lot. We could be back to horse farming before we know it."

    *********

    "We need a new battery in the service truck," Eddie said.

    "I know, but Clay said there wasn't any more that size at the battery place in Louisville. Maybe we can get somebody to find some in another city."

    "Sounds like another long trip coming up. I can steal the battery from the track hoe for now, but we need one soon. It ain't so good, either."

    *********

    The college boys, as everyone called them, were having one of their gabfests, being well lubricated by some homemade wine and a good meal. For a November night, is wasn't too cold out, so they had built a campfire and said they were fishing, but the poles didn't get much attention.

    Isaac said, "We need that mill running for a lot of reasons. And it had better run for a LONG time."

    Richard Dalton knew all the reasons. They had to have ways to power all kinds of equipment, especially for grinding grain to keep them fed without hours of drudgery cranking hand mills. People were needed for too many other kinds of work. But the biggest reason was their need for the machine shop that would keep other machines repaired and running to make what they needed. It could run the bellows and a trip hammer, too, for blacksmithing bigger parts. Ignacio was talking about finding a medium size punch press to make things in quantity. If they couldn't set up now to make things, they would run out some day and there would be only hand methods. It would be like going back in time over 200 years.

    What he said was, "It won't be enough. It's just one little mill. We can make some things, but we can't make EVERYTHING. We will be going back to cottage industries to make things like buttons and needles, and thread. I don't see any way that we can make glass, or steel, or even wire. Those are pretty basic industries. Our kids are going to have to learn to make paper and ink and quill pens, because those were heavy industries that took massive amounts of power."

    James Cooper said, "We are just staving off the inevitable with solar power, and the water mill with modern bearings and steel parts. In another 30 years, those things will all quit working and there won't be any way to get new parts for them. Nobody can make ball bearings now. God only knows if there will ever be another steel mill running."

    Zach nodded and said, "We took a lot for granted before."

    Paul Dickenson said, "We can still do a lot. Ruth is making some fine glazed pottery. Between Isaac and Ignacio, they can make about anything out of metal. Esther is doing good with the flax we rasied for her this year. The linen she weaves out of that is tougher than most modern fabrics were. It won't be going back to the Stone Age."

    Richard said, "No, but all those processes are so SLOW, that we'll never get ahead, really. And even if we go back as far as using copper and lead alloys for bearings, where do we get the tin, antimony, or arsenic to harden them? Nobody is going to Bolivia, or Cornwall for tin anytime soon. We'll have to mine old things for a lot of metals. How long can we keep our kids educated to all those old technologies so they even know where to look for the right metals? Two generations? Maybe three? Then we'll be right back to exploring for lead mines, and all that sort of thing. If someone did not survive where the mines were, we're sunk."

    Pietro started to say something, but he heard Mary call Richard to the house.

    "There's somebody on the radio," she yelled at him.

    ********

  38. #78
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  39. #79
    Join Date
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    Patience, Thank you. Sure an awful lot to think about all the things we take for granted everyday. And, so many industries we have outsourced to other nations.

  40. #80
    Thanks. An all to real assessment of where we as a species are heading, and nothing seems likely to stop it.

    Thanks

    D.
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

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