Survivalist Forum banner

Alice the nomad

28145 Views 102 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  bjoyce09
Alice the nomad

My name is Alice and I don’t own or want a restaurant. Maybe an auto repair shop or even a lawn mower shop someday.

Right now all I want is a little time to recover from the sandbox, getting away from people in my face all the time and sand everywhere. I want green growing things all around me and the sound of running water, birds flying overhead and singing in the bushes. I don’t want to have to put up with people and their noises and smells anymore for a long time.

Getting home and it is just as good as I hoped it would be and just as bad as I feared it would be. Everyone is happy to see me and want to hear about everything that happened. My father is complaining that women shouldn’t be in combat. Mother is crying about my scars, at least she can’t see the worse of the physical or any of the mental. My sisters want to know everything, but mainly about my love life and is there anyone serious. They think the scars are cool and I am still the prettiest one in the family. It doesn’t take long for that to start getting on my nerves and I have to get away.

I was able to last three days before packing up to head out, three times as long as my last leave home. I look up to see mom standing in the door.

“You lasted longer than I expected, must have been a lot worse than you let on.”

“It was, and I still won’t talk about it. Some things still hurt to much to relive by talking about them.”

“Your Uncle said it would be that way that you would need to find answers. Answers for questions that you are still searching for, he said that some questions don’t have questions and some answers don’t have questions. Sounds like his usual BS.”

Uncle, I have several uncles that have names, Uncle Pete, Uncle Willie, and a half dozen more. But, I have only one Uncle, no name just Uncle. I don’t know if he even has a name, I never have heard anyone use it if he does. Question without an answer or answer without a question?

“He called the day before you got home and said he wanted you to house sit for him for a couple of weeks while he is away for training. Asked for us to drive you down to the airport to meet him and say hello/goodbye. He has an early flight so we will have to leave about 3 to meet him. He is driving up and wants you to take his truck back. He said he will have all the information you need written out. He really wants to talk with you about your life.”

“OK mom, I will be ready to go early in the morning.”

Uncle wants to talk with me about my life! Knowing him he won’t ask any questions about what happened to me, he will ask about what I am going to do with the rest of my life and is giving me two weeks away from the rest of the family to think about it.

He won’t talk about his military time, doesn’t even say what branch he was in or how long he served. It is just a blank spot to the rest of the family. Mom says he was a Marine, Uncle Pete says he was Army; no one has said Air Force or Navy yet. When he found out I had enlisted he spent all of our free time teaching me what he thought I needed to know and after I was in basic he wrote letters full of more information that I should know that wasn’t being taught. He even signed and addressed his letters Uncle, lot of kidding from the others in the platoon when they found out. Until I started teaching them what he had taught me and was continuing to teach in his letters.

The end of basic came and we were getting our first weekend pass, a whole weekend to get away for all of this, I can’t think of the words to say how I felt and I could see that the other girls felt the same way. Most were talking about their boyfriends coming to meet them or some cute guy they had meet on base or some cute guy they hoped to meet. For a few substitute girl for guy, but the same hopes for the weekend. There were even a few others like me that just planned on getting a room with a comfortable bed and sleep the weekend away.

That evening I was called to the HQ hut and told to report to the Duty Officer. Lt. Sims was on duty that night, no one wanted to be called before her, she was the coldest, meanest, least forgiving person I ever knew. You did not want to do anything that would annoy her because she would get revenge.

I reported in, expecting a death in the family or worse. She acknowledged with a distracted “At Ease”. She said that my pass had been cancelled and I was to escort the lady. What lady? I had been in such a hurry that I hadn’t noticed anyone else in the room. The LT motioned me to turn around and there was the most perfect woman I had ever seen. She looked as perfect as a statue out of cold hard steel and just as warm, giving, and human. The LT said that the orders had been passed down through the base commander.

OK I am thoroughly confused; of course I was still a naïve teenager at the time. Compared to her I think that description still applies. No time for questions, she took my elbow and guided me outside to her limo, complete with chauffeur and body guard. More living steel statues.

Once in the car and on the move she smiled and said “OK boys relax” and the statues were gone, replaced by real people. Continuing she said, “Your uncle asked me to check in on you, but those twits running the place kept throwing up roadblocks. I tired of playing their games and let them try a round in my game.”

“Your uncle asked me to look you up and make sure you had a good time on your time off. As I recall when I was in your shoes what I wanted on my free time was a good bed, good food, and if I was in the mood a good man. My company has a suite in one of the better local hotels reserved in our name full-time. The hotel has an excellent restaurant. You will be my guest at my expense any time you want a place to crash. You are going to be a mechanic? I have checked the schools that you might go to and here is a list of the hotels near them where I have suites. Not a word of objection, I owe your uncle a lot. Is he still afraid of fires? Of course he is that is not something you get over.”

“He saved my life from a fire, he could have got out on his own and no one would have said a word. But, he didn’t, we hated each others guts before the fire. But, he risked his life to save mine. He claimed his pants were so wet that there was never any danger. I never forgave him for putting me in his debt, this is only paying off a little, a very little of the interest. Now, get out here is the hotel and they are expecting you, the concierge has instruction to take care of you. Everything except companions, for that you are on your own. But, that shouldn’t be a problem for you.”

When I got out the concierge was waiting right by the limo. The doorman was holding the door the concierge gave a little bow/nod of the head, and said “let me show you to your suite”. That bed was beyond anything I had ever dreamed of, and the bath did more things than I could imagine, I still don’t know what some functions were for. Just for the record, a bidet is a wonderful invention and I love the French for inventing it.

What can I say about mechanic training? It was wonderful, OK so I’m a tomboy. The actual training, not so much. But, being around some of the people there and learning the ins and outs of how things work and what happens when they don’t. Building things with my own hands and making them work. That is a real rush. I managed to get recognized as a maker and not just a mechanic. I worried for awhile that my Uncle was involved, but realized that even if he was I was the one who was actually doing. Others had helped teach and guide me, but in the end it was me doing.

First assignment, bleah. They kept trying to make me a secretary; I kept getting my hands dirty. Contacted some of people I had met at school asking if they knew any assignments that would be interesting. Nothing at first, realize now they were seeing how I would act in the real world.

Finally found out about a posting that was exciting, turns out a little too exciting toward the end. None of the work I can talk about and what I can talk about I won’t. Learned some interesting things, including what plastic surgery is like, picked up some interesting scars, found out that the interesting guys don’t mind scars and like the way I look in a bikini.

Out with a disability pension; don’t really feel that disabled but the pain and nightmares surely deserve it.

Civilian (?) contractor offered me a ridiculous salary to keep doing the same thing and be based out of Rome. I must have still been a little naive, I took it. Out of Rome is right, saw it four times as I flew in and out. Most of the time was in Europe, along the borders. Last location was back in the sandbox, nice safe area with all the comforts of home. That is if your neighbors are trying to kill each other and the water looks and smells like it has been through a horse at least once. One year and out and home, with a nice grubstake.

Anyway, drifting off a bit. Back to the airport.

We met my Uncle in the parking lot. He was standing by the curb with a roll-a-round and a young black girl. Neither of my parents looked pleased to see her, my father said he was surprised there wasn’t a couple of babies around.

Uncle gave me his usual greeting, picked me up and gave me a hug. Somehow I hadn’t thought he would do that he is old, big but old. And I am big, big enough that most guys have to look up and strong enough to change the tires on a deuce with hand tools.

He set me down gently and said “one of these days I am going to be too old to do that” and smiled.

He pulled the girl forward and said “this is Sonya, my housekeeper”. Then he gave a hard look at my father and said “she takes care of the house, not me”.

“Alice I need some work done that fit your skills better than anyone else in the state. I need some work done on a van I have been working on, I call him Floyd.” And then he grinned, everyone around that noticed that grin couldn’t help by return it. “Let’s go look at it while I explain what needs to be done”

We walked over to a bright pink van, an old bright pink van, an old Ford bright pink van. Getting closed I saw there was a strip of red poppies painted around the beltline. It struck me, no shiny chrome anywhere to be seen. Anything that wasn’t pink was poppy red; even the tires seemed to be red surrounded by all of that pink.

I looked at my Uncle and asked him if he had mugged Mary Kay? No, he said, just working on a plan. He said he would tell me about it later. First he wanted to tell me about the van and see if I could work out the bugs.

First of all he says, “it is a 1964 Ford Falcon van converted to a cargo van by removing the windows and filling the holes with sheet metal. The engine has been replaced with a 250 six and upgraded with Australian Ford six parts. Megasquirt fuel injections to get the fuel in. It has been set up to run on E85; compression has been bumped up to get more power out of the ethanol. “

‘Automatic transmission with add-on overdrive, fully independent four wheel drive pulled from a ford Explorer. Body laminated on the inside to make it bullet resistant.”

“The problems are that it will knock if not fed E85, there is a knock sensor but it doesn’t seem to be effective. The handling is not where I think it should be. The transmission needs to be upgraded or replaced to handle the additional power.”

“Can you fix it?”

“Yes, but it will take more than two weeks and it will take time and money to get the parts I need”

“Not a problem, you can stay in my guest house as long as you want. If you can source the parts we can get them.”

“Deal, I can use the downtime to decompress some more. And there will be downtime finding the parts and waiting for them to come in. Why the armor? Expecting a war?”

“Part of my plan and a precaution. Someone might think this is a pink elephant and shoot it.”

“Oh, I almost forgot. I also want it set up to live in the back. Enough for one person and the occasional friend. I will go into that in more detail when I get back, have to catch my plane.”

“Here are the keys; Sonya will help you get setup at home”

We walked him into the terminal and good-bys were said all around. His good-bye to Sonya was like he was saying good-bye to a daughter. Like my dad said good-bye to me after being home on leave. Hers to him was different somehow.

Driving to his home she was quiet at first, watching me and listening as I talked to myself about the van and how I would fix it.

First thing she pops out with was. “you are very pretty”

“Thank you. So are you”

“Thank you. Is the Old Man really your uncle? I have never seen you around before.”

“Yes he is my Uncle, I have been away in the Army and working overseas for the last few years. The last time I was home was for the funeral of his wife, my aunt.”

“Oh, that explains it; I have only been living with him for three years. My mom and dad asked him to take me in. Some men had taken me and some other girls away for a week and they were afraid they would again”

“Didn’t the police do anything?”

“One of them was the county judge and the other the sheriff, plus they had some deputies as well as some big shots from the city.”

“What happened to them? Did they get arrested? Are they in jail?”

“The Old Man and his friend happened to them. I heard he fed them to the pigs”.

It sounds like there is more to my Uncle than I thought. And, I am not sure I want to know it all.

“Why aren’t you living with your parents now? It is safe to go home isn’t it?”

“I want to stay with him. Home is safe now, the Old Man saw to that. He got a new judge and sheriff and they don’t hurt good people. I gotta ask you, does the Old Man like girls? I’ve tried to make love to him and he just says I’m too young. Others around my home have tried to be with him and he just turn them down, nice and gentle, but still no. He even turns down the girls at Miss Sally’s, our brothel. They want to thank him too.”

“As far as I know he likes women, after all he was married for almost 40 years to one. I never heard any different from my mom or dad.”

“Oh, maybe he likes someone close to his age, but I am still going to keep trying. He needs some relief, don’t all men?”

“Maybe he has outgrown it?”

“Maybe, but I am gonna keep trying.”

We spent the rest of the trip with her telling me about school, the teachers, and the boys there. What life is like in her home town, gossip about anything and everything. Getting close to Uncle’s home she turned to me and said that she had bad nightmares sometimes and needed someone to hold her, would if be alright if she came to my bed when she did? I said sure, but give me a little notice, I sleep naked. She said that was alright so did she. That gave me a little pause, this very pretty girl crawling around on my Uncle trying to turn him on and he keeps saying no. I need to get that image out of my head.

Uncle’s guest house is about the size of a large efficiency apartment, but it is detached from the main house. There is a breezeway separating them that is big enough to drive a full size car through. I had forgotten how big his shop is. The people he bought the place from had a truck repair business and the shop is big enough to drive a semi through and tall enough to raise a dump bed. He has added some overhead storage along the side walls and enclosed space for an office and toilet with shower since I was here last.

His blacksmith shop is the same as I recall, against the side of the shop, concrete block, concrete siding, metal studs, and sheet metal roof, chain link on the side toward the street. He said if people can see what you are doing they ignore you. He claimed to have worked part of one summer wearing only a leather apron and sandals before anyone noticed.

The handling problem turned out to be pretty straight forward. It was set for the Explorer that the parts had come from. The wheelbase on the van was about 2 foot shorter than the Explorer. Adjust the front and rear to account for the difference and it was like a different vehicle.

Setting up the Megasquirt was simple (?). Hookup a laptop, drive and tweak until it works the way I think it should. I set it up for economy at cruise and idle, with performance under throttle.

One of the many surprises was the Zena under-hood welder. Inside the van looked like something you would take on a short trip; bed, sink, stove, fridge, porta potty, etc. Storage was build-in everywhere. Some obvious and others less so. Sonya had to show me some of them. He had enough tools in there to repair almost anything and to make parts when they couldn’t be found.

One thing that I was embarrassed not to have noticed was a pull-out storage bin. I was the floor of the van from the back doors to just behind the front seats. Pull it out and the top provided a work table with 4 inch deep compartments inside to store spare parts and tools. Even with all the tools and spares for the van, half of it was empty.

I asked Sonya if this was more of Uncle’s plan. She said it was, part of business partnership he was going to offer me. And not another clue could I get out of her, no matter how I threatened or tickled her.

Speaking of Sonya, she did have nightmares. The first time it happened while I was there was the first night. She woke me up banging on my door; I threw on a robe and looked out the door. When I saw here I threw it open and bundled her up into my arms. She was a pale as she could be and frightened worse than anyone I had seen in a long time, even worse than me after one of my nightmares.

She told be that she had been having a nightmare and went to find Uncle, half asleep and not finding him she was frightened that the men would find her and hurt her like before. She remembered me, but didn’t know what was nightmare and what was real. She was frightened that no one would be there to protect her.

After that we slept in the same bed, she had a few mild nightmares. She was comforted by someone next to her. Her being there helped comfort me during my nightmares. We talked about our nightmares and their cause. That helped bring them out in the open where we could deal with them better and reduce their impact, just like my psych said it would. It was the first time either one of us had really been able to talk about them to anyone. She had told other about what happened to her, but it was like telling a story that happened to someone else she said. Not her story, so she didn’t get away from them. My experience was much the same, not being able to really tell what happened as it happened to me, I always talked about it like it happened to someone else.

Uncle got back after the two weeks; we picked him up at the airport. Naturally I was full of questions about what sort of partnership he had in mind and what my part would be. His response, all would be explained when we got home.

My plan was to keep peppering him with question on the way home. Foiled! I got in the drivers seat, Sonya started to get in the back but he waved her toward the front, said he wanted to lie down. He gets in the back lies down in the bed, buckles in and is snoring before we get out of the parking lot. I fume for a moment, but can’t stay upset, long plane trips have the same effect on me.

We get home, unpack, and put away everything he had with him before he will answer any questions about the business. At least he didn’t want a bath.

“Alice here is what I have in mind. The areas further away for the main traffic corridors are having trouble getting some of the luxuries of life and when they do they are outrageously expensive. Also equipment is breaking down and there is no one to repair it and most of the time no parts even if there was someone.”

“You have the skills to repair almost anything; I’ve seen that in you since you were a little girl and fixed your Barbie Jeep. And, later when you took apart the Jeep to power your bicycle. There are clinics that can’t help people because their equipment is broken. Markets that have broken freezers. Farmers that have a thousand small things that they could fix, but the parts are not to be found. “

“I have sources for the luxuries and some parts. You have the skill to make more parts on the road and still more can be made here or at shops I know.”

“Also, there are medical supplies that are not to be found, at least not for areas outside the cities. I can source those also.”

“It sound like a lot and it is, but someone has to do something. I think you are the someone that can do the most good here at this time.”

“How about it? Do you want to be the traveling Mary Kay mechanic/drug smuggler?”

Uncle had read me right. I wanted to help people to help theirselves. Some people would want a handout; I would give a hand up. If that wasn’t enough, tough.

Some people said I was mad to be doing what I was doing, some joked and some serious. I painted NoMad along both sides of the van in poppy red to give both something to laugh about. Soon everyone was calling me Alice the Nomad because of my wandering ways.

Enough for now. I need to get down the true story behind myself, cousin Lavon, and Hairy Larry our local Sasquatch (?).

Alice is a composite of various girls and women I have known over the years. Nieces, cousins, and unrelated. I have worked with several women that were much better techs than I am.

I debated between four different vans for the story. A Dodge with the 225 six, a Chevy with a 262 V6 Olds diesel, a Volkswagen 4 wheel drive Vanagon with water-cooled engine and the Ford I used. I don’t like the headlights on the Dodge, not to my taste. I wanted to go with a gas engine this time, used diesels twice already, might work it in later. Volkswagen I ruled out because the engine is more vulnerable. The American vans would all have a doghouse for the engine inside the passenger cabin.

More to come on Alice in this thread, hit a wall writing about her. Working on more for my story "After the Fall"

More in this world with some of the same people.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
61 - 80 of 103 Posts
Thanks for sharing your work. It's enjoyable to read something that is not constantly full of guns blazing and hordes of MZB's.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Alice is back


I am trying to figure out if I am surprised or not at what Don Jose’s people had for me. Dried herbs and other plant material from the Rockies to deliver to Sassafras. It is part a complicated trade agreement where these herbs are sent to Sassafras, finished medicines from Sassafras are sent to a Nevada, silver from there is sent to the operation in the Rockies. Don Jose had stepped in when the transportation broke down for a cut of the silver, but an emergency call came in to his local office and since I was in the area they asked me to finish the delivery, for a few ounces of silver.

They are one ounce ingots with a maker’s mark of crossed arrows over a bow. .999 fine and a 1 ounce stamp also on each one. I haven’t seen that mark before, but if it is good enough for Don Jose it is good enough for me.

100 five gallon buckets of assorted herbs. I put the better smelling ones toward the front and in the passenger seat, the stinky ones at the back with the vents cranked open over them. Some very aromatic plants, hopefully the Goose will air out fast.

I pull into Sassafras about sundown and unload in their warehouse. Mary and some of the other ladies are up in Minnesota making a deal for wild rice and some local herbs.

I accept a bed for the night along with supper. Play with the kids a bit and tell them some stories, they call me the Pirate Lady and want pirate stories. I oblige, retelling some of the Disney movies I saw when I was little as pirate stories. Ella of Port Royal goes over well, some not so well, but we all have fun. I help tuck them in and hit my own bed, next thing I know is one of the boys bringing me breakfast with his sister bringing a jug of juice. That is a bit unusual; Linda has a rule about everyone eating in the dining hall.

The two don’t want to talk about why they brought me breakfast and before I can get it out of them Linda and Sarah come in. This is starting to make connections, Sarah has been raising them since they arrived here. But where it is going I don’t have a clue.

Linda starts off, “Alice I don’t want to impose on you, but can you take Sarah, Joe, and Jolene to your cousin’s Lavon’s compound? Joe is becoming a man and we don’t allow men here. Jolene refuses to stay if he leaves and Sarah wants to stay with them to see that they are brought up right. Lavon has offered Sarah a position as teacher for the children of his employees and some of the surrounding families. He also has jobs for Joe and Jolene at the compound. Sarah has experience teaching as do all of the women here, as well as compounding the cures we make here. Joe and Jolene also have experience with the herbs and Lavon thinks that they will be a good addition to his team.”

I think to myself that sounds like Lavon making sure everyone is taken care of that works for him. His brother can handle the older kids and the more technical training, but little kids are really outside his comfort zone.

I have noticed that Sarah has been growing restless the last few times I have visited here. Worried about Joe or the communal experience? My bet is that she wants a more normal community experience. She and the two kids are all here after being released from slavers, the three are from the same area in Eastern Europe. They have been writing letters to their relatives back home and things are pretty dismal there. Maybe they are planning on getting some relatives brought to the states?

“Sarah, what do you think about the move? Lavon has a working farm that is providing for a lot of people in the area. There will be quite a few kids to teach, black and white. I would guess that the teaching would need to be scheduled around the needs of the farm. Mother Nature sets the schedule there not man.”

“Joe, Jolene, and I are from small farming villages, in some ways it will be like home. There is even a nearby church of the faith we grew up with, and many of its members have roots in the old country. We will be fine there.”

Linda’s face tightens up while Sarah is talking. She hates losing any of her women, she really hates for one of them to go where they could be corrupted by man and church. She quickly relaxes when she notices me looking.

“Thank you for taking them. Their belongings have been put in your van, along with some herbs for Lavon. A special preparation for treating malaria. So many of the old disease are making a comeback with the breakdown of society. But, that is necessary to make way for the next stage of humanities growth.”

“I am sure that you will be ready to leave after you have taken a shower”

In other words she wants them out of here ASAP. I wonder what else is going on.

Linda walks out and you can feel the atmosphere relax. I tell the kids to go say good-bye to their friends while I talk to Sarah. They take off to see their friends for last good-byes. Sarah takes a seat by the bed and pours herself some juice.

“Sarah, what is troubling Linda? She seems much tenser than normal. She is normally so relaxed, even when she is stressed you can sense the calm at the center.”

“I think she is having trouble adjusting to what is happening to Sassafras. She had a vision of a place where women could retreat from the outside world and live simply in harmony with nature. But she finds herself in charge of a business that deals all around the country and also operating a sanctuary for those women and children that have been abused. She was a marketing executive with many people under her before she left her old life, so I have no doubt that she can handle the problems here. She has problems reconciling her goals with the reality sometimes. She has just sent out the first team to deal with people outside the commune. Before she had done all the dealing, but she knows she must delegate so is making the effort to train others to handle the responsibilities. Another problem is the boys growing into men. She will not bend enough to allow them to stay and the women like me do not want to release them into the world until they are older. We can see her point of view and she can see ours, but neither side can yield. It causes pain for both sides.”

“I hope that you are right and Linda can adjust to the changes in her dream. If not I am afraid it will destroy her and Sassafras. She and Sassafras have many friends around the area and around the state. Much good has come out of Sassafras and much more can be done in the future.”

“I need to take a shower and pack my gear, is there anyone you want to talk to before we leave. Not god-bye that sounds too final.”

“Yes I have friends I would like a few moments with, I will have Joe and Jolene at your van in an hour. I don’t want to cause Linda anymore pain and the sooner we leave the better.”

We are a somber group heading out of the commune; several people are there to see us off. One of the girls seems to be paying extra attention to Joe and seems sadder than most to see him leave. His good-bye hug to her is prolonged also, there might be more to why Linda wants him out than she said.

After a few miles Jolene breaks the silence. “It smells funny in here”

I laugh, “After riding with all those herbs I thought that I would smell funny for a long time. Thank God for strong soap and hot water.”

Sarah showed that she had the instincts of a good teacher, “Jolene can you name the herbs you smell? How about you Joe? Write down what you smell and why you think it is that herb, pull out your pencils and notebooks and smell around the van.”

Jolene starts sniffing and scribbling in her notebook, in a moment Joe is starting. Half-hearted at first, but soon both are acting like bloodhounds sniffing around the Goose, trying to ferret out the different aromas and identify them.

They had an impromptu class going down the road, name the herb they smelled, why it was that one and not another, and what were the uses for the herb.

That lasted till we hit the flatlands and the kids discovered that they were hungry. We stopped at a park in a small town and pulled out the lunch that Linda had the cooks pack for us. I had been expecting sandwiches what they pulled out was a meat and vegetable dish too thick to be called a stew inside bowls made of hardtack. Small loaves of bread still warm from the oven with honey and butter in more hardtack. Even hardtack spoons to eat with and hardtack knives to spread the butter. By the time we finished eating the spoon and bowls had started to soften from hard as rock to hard as oak, not much of an improvement.

“What do we do with our dishes? I don’t plan to eat mine. “

Jolene laughed and said, “At the commune when we went on field trips we would leave them for the birds and animals. I don’t know about here.”

Joe piped up with, “Keep the honey dish for a treat later. I don’t think we should just leave the rest here though.”

Sarah said that she had been told a secret. Put them all together in a pot with hot water overnight and in the morning they would have bread pudding.

That got the kids interest and everything went back in the box it came from.

A few minutes after we took off the kids had nodded off and even Sarah was more asleep than awake. I envied them, but still had the job of getting them to Lavon’s before supper. My deadline, I had called him before leaving and they were have fried catfish and hush puppies, sweet potato fries, and blackberry cobbler for supper.

Friday evening meals they do up better than during the week, so I knew that there would be something special tonight.

Pulling off the main road onto the dirt leading to Lavon’s woke everyone up. Sarah and the kids were looking around trying to take everything in, quite a change from the tree covered hills to the flat fields and swamps here. Didn’t even have to see it, you could smell it in the air.

When we pulled up to his compound there was quite a crowd waiting to meet the new arrivals. They have a good early warning system, but with the state border being so near they need one.

Lavon was first in line to open the door for Sarah, judging from the looks the exchanged there is more to the story than I was told.

Lavon turned to the crowd and introduced them. “This lovely lady is Sarah our new school teacher, she will be the one making sure that all of the kids have an education and are able to count to twenty without taking their shoes off.” Big laugh from the crowd at that. “This is her son Joe and her daughter Jolene. I want all of you to welcome them into our home here and our lives.”

“Could some of you ladies show Sarah and her children where the facilities are inside, I am sure they want to clean up before they eat.”

I saw several of the girls eyeing Joe; he is going to be like fresh meat to hungry wolves to this bunch. I hope he learned enough at the commune to be able to handle the situation. I don’t think I know enough to handle that situation.

I pull over to my usual parking spot and go clean up. It is nice to be ignored for a change.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
excellent, glad to see more of the pirate princess world.
  • Like
Reactions: 1

Trying something different in the next two post. This post I have references to some of the technology mentioned in the story. The second one I go into more detail than usual, not sure if I like it or not, but it is a short post and can be ignored without harming the story. Let me know what you think.


Good food and company for the evening and back on the road today. Picked up the laudanum and some molasses from Lavon. Now up to the capitol to get the parts for the oil press and back to Sassafras for the herbs for the clinics.

The parts needed for the oil press are some bearings and seals. It is an import from India; fortunately the importer overhauled it and changed all the common wear items to USA standard sizes. Trying to source Indian or British sized bearing in today’s economy would be like finding the skunk monster.

Most of the bearing supply houses had all that I needed in stock, I choose the one that COGIC recommended. Dropped off a gallon of molasses at their food pantry, as a thank you for their help with the kids I helped rescued. Not much I know, but I try to drop off something every time I am through.

Left a quart of molasses and some molasses candy at the bearing house also, we are having a dry spell for sweets and that sweetened the deal enough that they tossed in some food grade bearing grease and a bundle of shop rags.

Stayed with some friends for the night and on to Sassafras the next morning. I didn’t want to seem like I was imposing by staying there too often.

Linda stopped by for a bit when I was picking up the herbs for distribution. She was looking for something stronger for pain than what they made. One of the women had broken a tooth out and the local dentist was out of everything for pain. I gave her a pint of the laudanum and told her the recommended dosage and warnings.

I also stopped by the kitchen while I was there and gave them a gallon of molasses and a couple of pounds of candy. They gave me a couple of pounds of soft farmer’s cheese and a dozen hard boiled eggs in olive oil. They offered some hardtack, I asked for some of the bread they were baking instead.

When I left Sassafras I went to the north east corner of the state and worked my way down the border area. That sounds way too straight forward. Meandered is more like it. Hitting every place that had a clinic, helping them stock up on what they need, putting together a shopping list of what they would need for the next trip. Patching up equipment that was out of date a hundred years ago, but brought back in service because it could be made to work and the newer thing required too many special parts that are not made any more and can’t be made by hand.

With supplies lacking dentist are pulling teeth that once could have been saved and doctors are amputating to reduce the chances of gangrene. Even in the cities the resources are limited and they are doing the same if the person cannot afford better. The poor get what the government is willing to pay for and the rich get what they can afford.

Just found out there has been a bank holiday for since Monday! No effect that I have seen along the route I have been working. Cash and barter are still working and with little being imported from outside the area the stores are little affected. No major banks in the area, they all closed for lack of business. A few local banks that are not part of the Federal system, so they were not affected by the holiday.

Minor chaos in the cities, bigger the city the bigger the chaos. I should say metro area and not city, there are three metro areas that include more than one city. Still there are only five in the state that are affected and even the biggest is only hit lightly. There is enough cash in circulation to keep most businesses going and the larger ones are extending credit to their customers, trusting the banks to reopen soon. Or, their customers to pay them back as they earn cash.

The people that rely on Federal or other government payments are the ones that tend to be the worse off. Without the banks to process the payment they are not receiving their money.

Hey, that includes me! And I didn’t even notice. I’ve been living off what I make doing the route and bartering for what I need, just been letting my account grow from deposits. What do I do when the banks reopen? It doesn’t seem safe to leave my money at their mercy.

Silver is accepted everywhere, even the silver tokens that a few companies are producing. Might be a smart idea to convert most of my bank account to silver. I can stash it in different places, Uncle and Lavon will let me keep some there. I think that Linda and Don Jose will hold some for me also, that should be spread out enough so I won’t lose all of it if something goes wrong.

Some gold too, a little too concentrated wealth for my taste, but a little goes a long ways.

Stopped at an interstate truck stop, surprised to see how busy it was. Not normal busy, but still more business than I would have guessed. Listening and asking questions I found out that the big companies had anticipated this and had arrangement to trade for what they needed with each other so they could keep their businesses going. Complicated swap agreements and lines of credit based on what each needed and what each wanted. Retail gift cards being issued to pay suppliers and being traded for just about everything.

Creaky and complicated system but they are keeping the system moving and people from suffering as much as they might have.

Enough economic thoughts for now. Time to work on the oil press. I guess that is still economics, just some that I can get my hands on.

They have converted the press from diesel power to ox power. Home brewed right angle drive to convert the motion of the vertical shaft turned by the ox to horizontal drive for the press. Made their own gear for the drive with two steel plates, sized to give the ratio they wanted. Had steel pins inserted so that one plate would drive the other. Much simpler that making modern gear teeth and easier to repair if bent. Not much good at high speeds, but this is a slow speed operation. Too fast and the oil overheats and is not as valuable.

Used a locust post as the main beam the ox walked around. A steel bound wooden wheel as the pivot with a post running from there to the ox yoke. Oil from the press used to lube everything. Steel pipe running from the wheel to a spot above most people head for the gear takeoff. Wooden bearings inside the pipe to keep wear down on the post and the pipe.

They are looking at building another one using a truck rear end, but no hurry about it this one is working fine for now and producing what they can use. Still experimenting with different feedstock, soybean is the choice now, but they are trying anything cheap that can produce oil.

Helped them convert an old wood lathe to treadle power. Used a gear cluster and freewheel from an old bicycle to provide a range of speeds and a spring on the back of the treadle to pull it back after the treadle is pushed down. The ancient spring pole lathe updated.

They also have a bandsaw set up for treadle power, two person operation for safety. And a scroll saw for small parts.

A drill press is the next project, once they find the right donor for the parts. As a stopgap they are using a brace setup so pressure can be applied by stepping on a lever. The drilling effort is still Armstrong but the alignment is helped by the setup.

One odd bit that they have is a metal shaper, manual operated slotter. Crank the handle back and forth to move a cutting head. Not as fast as a milling machine, but faster a hammer and chisel. Able to work an inside slot easier than either.

Now up to the north east corner of the state to take a look at a packaging machine for herbs.

They are trying to adapt machinery used to package snacks to work with herbs. The big problem seems to be the light weight of the dried herbs. That would not be a problem in normal times, just adapt the machinery used for chips and other lightweight snacks. But that is not acceptable to their customer, too many artificial and manmade materials needed. They want all natural packaging.

There is a problem with static charge build up, but that is solved by running grounding wires around the material handling sections. The light weight means that air movement has to be controlled and directed to more the herbs only where they are wanted.

There is a product on the market that has the same requirement! Slow, slow, slow thinking, focusing down too narrow on snacks.

Tea bags, light weight product, natural packaging, some anyway.

I call it in to the packaging machine company. I am explaining my idea to the engineer and hear him slap his head. “What wrong? Mosquitoes?”

“No, I am sitting here drinking a cup of herbal tea, the answer has been right in front of me for weeks”

Trying something, references to some of the devices mentioned in the text.
Helpful or no?

Commercial oil press

DIY small metal shaper plans

DIY Treadle wood lathe

DIY drill presses, three different

DIY scroll saws, two different

Geared rope making machine, one example of homemade gears

Illustration of peg gears in operation

How to layout your gear

See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
Helping out in the city

I dashed this out quickly, as an experiment on having more details of what is going on. Pardon the rough edges.

Helping out in the city

Gave Uncle a call to find out if there was anything I should get on to. Nothing hot, but the ladies at COGIC and Jehovah’s Witnesses had got together and were putting together some emergency kits. The Mormon ladies had given them some ideas for what to put in them and he thought I might like to be involved.

When I got there I found that they were putting together a kit now, with a couple of others planned for the future.

One was an emergency kit for women. A grab and go bag in case of tornado, flood, or other problem. They had made the bags from old work pants, styled them after a messenger bag. Most of the women were used to a purse over one shoulder and they felt more comfortable with that than a backpack.

Inside the bag they put two water bottles and a small bottle holding a couple of ounces of bleach. The water bottles were some cheap metal ones that one of them had found at an auction. They would be able to boil water in them if necessary and there would be worries about the bleach reacting with the metal like it could with plastic.

For food they used homemade hardtack, not my first choice but they have a very limited budget and it would provide something to fill the stomach. It was suggested that they add jerky, peanut butter, or other source of calories.

For warmth and shelter they had two fleece blankets and an emergency poncho, cheap and good for short term, plus they were light to carry.

Light was next on their list, keychain flashlights from the dollar store went in every bag. They would have liked better, but funds were limited.

Fire, disposable lighters and dryer lint. Even if the lighter is dry the spark can spark a fire in the lint.

First aid, not a place to be cutting corners, but every penny had to count. Gauze and tape, some small band aids for kids, antibiotic cream, Benadryl for allergies, toothache medicine, hand sanitizer wipes, super glue for bad cuts. Dental floss, salt, honey, and baking soda.

Knife, a paring knife from a department store. Everyone was used to them and comfortable using them for everything. They managed to get a group buy on some that came with blade protectors.

Hygiene, reusable pads, several days’ worth. Toilet paper, soap, and a towel. Other items that the women would add to their taste and needs.

Pencil, permanent marker, and a small notebook.

Bandana, all-purpose piece of cloth.

They wanted to add a radio of some kind, but didn’t have the budget for everyone.

They included a suggested list of additions, to be added if they could be afforded. Water filter, jerky, lightweight strong poncho, prescription medication, better flashlight, radio, etc. They were also warned to keep it light, under 20 pounds less is better.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
interesting the last two articles, helps show your thinking on the story. If this were a normal book they would be well suited to the epilogue/afterword type chapter.

  • Like
Reactions: 1
Package from Linda for the Church ladies

Linda heard about what the ladies were doing and sent down a packet of seeds to help them out. Various herbs and other plants that are easy and safe to use and grow. Of course easy to grow is a relative term; I have a black thumb and could kill a rock garden.

The seeds were divided into groups by primary use, antibiotic, cough, women’s problems, stress, and pain relief. There is some overlap between groups as some herbs and plants can be used for more than one problem. She sent the ones that she thought were best suited to their needs.

Antibiotic –Comfrey, Purple Coneflower, Yarrow

Cough –Evening Primrose, Marshmallow

Pain Reliever –Prickly pear (pads sent instead of seeds), Red Pepper, Rosemary

Stress – Catnip, Chamomile, Chicory, Lavender, Lemon Balm

Women’s problems – Black Cohosh, Valerian, Red Clover, Sage, Alfalfa, Northern Maidenhair Fern, Pennyroyal, Horehound, Bugleweed,

Linda also included growing instruction and usage instruction for all of the plants.

We spent several days building raised garden beds and filling them with compost and soil. In some cases we just added on to existing gardens and in other we built enough raised garden area to supply some of their food needs.

The garden beds were built roughly circular and about 4 foot diameter. This was to minimize water loss and make it easier to tend to all of the bed. They were built 2 foot tall with walls of concrete blocks, bricks, or stone. The walls were built wide enough to sit on comfortably. All in all they were designed for easy care and maximum use of minimum resources.

One of the ladies wanted to try something different. Her husband worked for an excavating company and had some used equipment tires they wanted to use. Time will tell if anything leaches out of the tires and into the soil. I think they should be safe, but some people are concerned about possible toxic chemicals seeping from the tires.

Water collection was setup to catch the runoff from the roofs and feed it to barrels or other catchers. Easiest setup was the houses that had gutters installed. Others had to have gutters installed to catch the runoff. The new gutters were built from salvaged boards in a V shape. A very generous slope was used when installing them to help them drain and dry faster. Downspouts were also made of wood, top cut to fit the gutters. Holes were drilled into the downspouts to help them dry, drilled from the outside at an angle so the water would go down and not out.

Two weeks of hard work, long hours of hard work. The majority of the heavy work is done and I am heading out on another run. Actually glad to get away and not because of the work. Too many people trying to get me to join their church and leave a life of sin behind.

Run isn’t quite the right word for this job. Helping set up a small machine shop to serve a rural area. Most of the work was general building stuff, upgrading the wiring for heavier loads. Sinking bolts in the floor to bolt the machinery down and wiring everything in. The equipment generally came from factory closings, too many of those going on now.

A big problem was that the new shop only had single phase 220 power and the machines were setup for three phase 440. Most machines had variable speed drives that could take in single phase and spit out three-phase. Still needed to wire the motors for 220 instead of 440.

A few of the older pieces didn’t have drives that would handle the conversion. For these we built a rotary convertor to convert single phase power to three phase power. Fairly simple operation, take a three phase motor, higher horsepower than what are running. Put single phase in on two leads and three phase out on three. Not as efficient as real three phase but these machines were not planned to be used much. We also added a magnetic switch for safety, a starting capacitor to make it easier to start and run capacitors to balance the power between the phases.

We talked about building a multimachine to handle some of the more specialized task, thinking it would be better to dedicate a machine to some of the common task. That was put on hold until enough business had come through the shop to see if it was a money making idea.

Plant references

Phase convertor literature

MultiMachine and other open source machinery
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
Thanks for more background info.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Meeting Bud

Meeting Bud

Sam, CPT Franks’ daughter, called and asked if I could help. She was bringing a boy south to stay with his friend and family and wanted to know if I could take him from the railroad station to the farm of his friend’s family. She had planned to drop him off right at the farm, but the tracks by there had a derailment that wouldn’t be cleared for a couple of days. She had heard about me from her father, who had heard about me from Don Jose. She told me about the trauma the boy had been through and how he had no one left at home. She had contacted the family and they would be happy to have him live with them. What could I say but that I would be happy to help out

Sam said that she wouldn’t be there to meet me, her friend Sally would be there with Bud. The station was about three hours from where I am now, Checked in with Uncle, he was out but Sonya was there. She said that there was a package at the Capitol that needed to be delivered to a clinic near Sassafras. Some medical equipment that a hospital had surplused. It would need my skills to get installed and working, but the clinic was one of the bigger ones and needed the equipment to grow to help the growing local population.

Population seems to be growing around Sassafras, I hope Linda is adapting. Maybe Sassafras is the growing population; I know that some of the women volunteer at the clinic. Barter their skills for medical help for the commune, but volunteering is not taxed and bartering is taxed.

I hit the hospital to pick up the supplies, several boxes of expired gloves, needles, and other expendables. How can a steel needle go bad just sitting around? Government regulations in action. The big deal in the load is a portable sonogram machine. Disable according to regulations, the maintenance chief at the hospital shows me how to repair if and loses the spare parts in the Goose.

The hospital director comes down to ask me to stay for a few more minutes. Some more supplies are coming in. We talk about the other hospitals in the area and when they will have some surplus for me to dispose of, there will be some x-ray machine spares coming up soon. I know the clinic that can use them.

When I get back to the Goose there is a city and a state patrol car beside the Goose with the officers leaning against the dock talking to some of the warehouse men. Paranoid, me? Yes, a little.

The city officer sees me first and comes over. Big black guy, looks like he could fight a grizzly and win. “Mizz Alice? I am Waylon White, my sister told me of how you have been helping them over at the Church and when I heard you were coming here I thought to bring over some supplies we confiscated recently. I know you will get them to the right hands”

About the time he stops talking the state officer comes over, not that he is small by comparison, he is just small. Must have been wearing heels and wearing a lead belt to meet the minimum requirement. “Miss Alice, the chief sent over a few things for you as a way of saying thank you for the help you have been.”

“OK. I am confused, what help?”

“The clinics you have been keeping in operation have saved the lives of several officers and helped out many more. If you don’t mind I have the supplies in my car, if we can put them in your van?”

“Mizz Alice, I have put the supplies in your van and get back on patrol. You have a safe trip and a blessed day”


“Adel, Officer Adel. They are in the trunk. They should fit easily into your van.”

We move a five gallon bucket of honey and another of raw opium from his car to the Goose. The honey is a saturated solution of opium and honey.

“Miss Alice you have a safe trip, very few people that the chief would trust with that load.”

“Thank you and the chief, it will be put to good use caring for the people of the state, hopefully none of your comrades will need any of what I have on the Goose.”

“I hope so also, but expect that they will. God speed.”

I check the present that Waylon left, prescription drugs, no telling the street value.

Stan from the warehouse walks over, “they are all good and in date, but the hospital can’t take them because they were not under controlled care, they should be a boon to some of the clinics out there.”

We talked for a bit more before I left to pick up Bud. Two hours to the station from here, an hour before it is scheduled to be in, three hours before I could expect it to be in. The detour around the derailment was eating up time.

Train was still on the way when I got there, called the local clinic to see if they needed anything I had extra. They were in pretty good shape, the railroad had been taking care of them, new white jacket for the doctor and a couple of used ones, some scrubs for him and the nurses, box of pre-threated needles, and a box of tape were all they needed.

Feeling a little thirsty and the train still not in I stopped at the café across the street from the station and had a bottle of wine. I had tried the coffee and tea her before and the water has a strong alkali taste. The wine is local, but they use a different well than the city supply. The water supply was that way when the times were good, the locals must be used to it.

Paid two silver dimes for the wine, cheaper than the coffee or the tea since it is a local product and they are imported. Left another wine bottle as my deposit. Good bottles cost almost as much as what goes in them, good thing they are reusable.

I hear the train coming down the tracks, musical sound; it has its own rhythm. I realize that I don’t know what Sally and Bud look like, but I bet they will recognize me. I am told that my hair really stands out in a crowd.

I am leaning against the station wall on the landing by the tracks when the train stops. Only two people get off, one is a woman in Frank’s security uniform and the other is a boy almost as big as her. They see me and head my way, the boy is almost running, dragging her along behind. One hand in hers and one pack on his back and the other in his free hand. As they get closer he slows down till he is almost hiding behind her, I realize he is not big she is tiny.

“Hello, my name is Sally, this wallflower is Bud, and you must be Alice.”

I stuck out my hand and said, “good to meet you, Sam said to expect you here. I see that the train schedule is as reliable as it ever was.”

Sally and I shook hands and I offered my hand to Bud, he was a little timid about taking it, but only hesitated a few seconds. His eyes kept going from my hook to my eye patch and back, finally he asked, “are you a real pirate?”

“Do I look like a pirate?”

More glance from the eye patch to the hook, then “yes … sort of … I think so … maybe.”

“Let’s just go with maybe for now, OK?”


“Alice, I need to get back to the train so they can start moving again. Already three hours behind schedule, likely to be four by the time we hit the end of the line. And I have someone waiting for me there.”

“Say hello to Sam for me when you see her, safe trip.”

“Safe trip to you too.”

“Bud, let’s go to the Goose and get you to your friends”

“You really drive a Goose?”

“That’s what her name is, at least that is what it is now. She used to be the Pink Lady. Now she is the Grey Goose.”

He is looking a little confused but says, “OK”

We walk through the station, he never lets go of my hand since we shook hands. A bit awkward, his right hand holding my right hand, but he is short enough to reach over so my arm is resting on his shoulder. His eyes trying to see everything at once.

We get outside and I point out the Goose, he smiles and nods his head. “Why was your van named the Pink Lady? She is grey like a goose.”

“When Uncle gave her to me she was pink, bright pink. But, that is not my color, grey is more to my taste. So, I painted her.”

“Let’s get your stuff on board and head out to your friends place.”

“Have you had anything to eat? Want anything to eat?”

“No thank you, I ate on the train. A real hamburger and French fries.”

“Saddle up then, uh, you will need to let go my hand.”

He looks embarrassed and lets go, I just smile at him. We put his bags in a bin in the back of the Goose and saddle up.

We ride quietly for a while. He has been looking at my hook and eye patch, trying not to let me catch him. He ask me what happened to my hand and eye. I tell him bad men, but they are dead.

“A bad man killed my grandma and hurt me, he is dead too.”

“Sam told me. You were brave and smart.”

“No I wasn’t, I was scared and hurting.”

“That is the hardest kind of brave and smart. Being able to do the right thing when you are scared and in pain.”

That seemed to relax him some and he settled back to enjoy the scenery for a while. After a few more minutes he has nodded off. I have seen that in others that have been through trauma, sleep heals. As long as it doesn’t turn into a way of hiding from the world.

It was an hour’s drive to his friend’s home, he slept the whole way. Over hill and dale, around hairpin corners and down dirt roads. The worse the road the more relaxed he became, maybe the contrast to the city streets he had left?

Bud woke up when we stopped at the gate. A woman stepped from around the house and yelled that they had been expecting us, just open the gate and come through. Bud jumped out and after a little struggle got the gate open and shut it behind the Goose.

As he was walking up to get back in another boy appeared and yelled out, “Bud”.

Bud looked up yelled, “Spence” and ran over toward him. They grabbed each other and were going on about how glad they were to see each other. The woman on the porch was looking at them and smiling, some more adults came from behind the building. Spence started introducing Bud to his relatives.

I drove up beside the other vehicles and walked over to the woman. She introduced herself as Mary, Spence’s aunt. We talked for a few moments while Bud was being introduced around, and gradually making their way toward us.

Mary called back into the house, “Barry, Spence’s friend Bud is here. Alice brought him, the Alice they were talking about down at the clinic.”

She turned to me, “Barry was cutting firewood, just dropped a tree and stepped back when a snag came loose from the tree behind him. Clipped him pretty good on the side of the head, ripped the scalp open so you could see the bone. We took him down to the clinic and were surprised to see that they had supplies in, they were all bragging on you and how you were keeping the clinics around the state supplied with goods that had been impossible to get for over a year before you showed up. They cleaned the wound and sewed him up, said to use lye soap to clean the wound three times a day, even had a little something for the pain. He was just in washing his head after taking care of the cows, all that dust and straw flying around can’t be healthy if it gets into the stitches.”

Bud was just coming up the steps when Barry stepped out of the house. He took one look at Barry and yelled, “Billy, your dead, I killed you!” He jumped behind me and was mumbling something I couldn’t understand, wrapped his arms around me and shook. Took me a couple of seconds he was crying, and trying to be quiet.

Everyone just froze for a moment, looked at Bud, looked at Barry, looked at me, looked at each other. Then you could see realization dawning as they remembered what had happened to Bud.

Spence came over and talked to him, telling him that it was his uncle Barry and he didn’t look anything like Billy. And Bud was saying I know, but he does, all the time with his face buried in my back.

Barry started to come forward, but Mary held him back with a gesture and motioned him back inside. She called over to Bud that it was safe Barry was back inside out of sight.

Bud peeked around me, tears still running from his eyes. Then started crying again and trying to speak. “I know he is not Billy but when I see him I see Billy like he was when I shot him. I’m sorry but I remember and it is like it is all happening again.”
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
I am told that my hair really stands out in a crowd.
You are a talented writer but stuff like that is wry. Little details that make quality, like sanding and staining the back of a drawer no one ever sees.
  • Like
Reactions: 2
'I am told that my hair really stands out in a crowd.' Must be a red head, mmm yummy :).

excellent as always mr Yates, please keep up the good work.


geez, and at birthday spankings we always said " a pinch to grow an inch", in this case NOT!
  • Like
Reactions: 1
great video, didn't understand a word yet understood it all. It is always the bullies and cowards that only attack when they greatly outnumber or outgunn. Those scum will never engage in a standup fight.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
and so many of the lovely female soldiers are armed to the nu"" uh teeth
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Change of plans for Bud

Change of plans for Bud

The grownups are talking about what to do, all I know is that I can’t stay here. Spence and I are talking, he doesn’t understand at first. Billy had always been nice at the school; I had to tell him what had happened to grandma and the girls and me. I don’t think he still understood, but he saw how much it hurt me just to talk about it. I don’t think I ever want him to understand, to really understand. Spence is my best friend in the whole world, but I can’t stay here. Maybe Alice can take me with her, I can help her and she would keep me safe, she is a pirate queen.

I walk over to where Alice and Mary are talking; they are saying something about sassafras maybe being good for me? How is some tea going to make a difference?

“Alice I want to stay with you, I can help you and everything.”

Mary started, “Bud you are still a …” then Alice interrupted her, “Bud you need to go to school, you can help me during the summer break, how’s that?”

“No, I don’t want to go to school there will be other men like Billy and I won’t be around anyone like him again.”

“The school I am thinking of has boys and girls and women, no men. It is at Sassafras commune, they have people from all over the world there and you can learn a lot. Besides I visit there a lot … and I could take you with me during breaks. It is out in the country not too far from here. Spence goes to school there as do most of the kids around here. You would be living at the school and would be safe there. How does that sound? “

That really sound better than traveling with Alice, I could see Spence at school every day and have a bed to sleep in at night instead of sleeping in her van. Traveling with her sounds exciting and I think that I have had enough excitement for a while.

“OK, if that is what you think is best. I will be able to see Spence so it won’t be like I don’t know anyone.”

Spence said, “Thanksgiving break at the school now, no classes for two weeks. Miss Linda and your friend Mary are gone up North to pick up something and won’t be back till next week.”

Alice said, “I will still go over and put everything in motion. Is Helen there? Linda usually leaves her in charge.”

“I think so; at least she was the last day of school.”

“Good, I get along with her. Bud, let’s saddle up and ride the Goose up the Sassafras Trail.”

I smiled at that, this is getting better and better, I get to spend some more time with Alice and I’ll be going to a school away from bad men.

We got to Sassafras pretty quick; it is real different from the city here. Lots of trees and open places, hardly any buildings or people. Everyone smiles and waves when we go by, Alice smiles and waves back, so I do too. I am really smiling, my old home is starting to seem far away, I still remember everyone, but it doesn’t hurt as much, now. What happened at Spence’s seemed to help, but that seems silly.

Sassafras is a surprise, everything is clean and neat, but not like a school or something is clean and neat. More like a home is clean and neat. Lots of kids about my age around, some women with them, no men! I shouldn’t feel that way dad and grandpa were men, I should think of them and other good men, not the bad ones.

We park in front of a long building and go inside; Alice knows right where we should go and leads me to an office. She knocks on the door frame, the door is open, the lady inside looks up, sees Alice and smiles, then waves us in.

Alice introduces us to each other; she introduces me just like I was a grownup. I really like her. She tells Helen that she wants to enroll me as a resident student. That means I would live here while school was going on and be free to travel with Alice the rest of the time. Does she really want me to travel with her? I hope so.

Helen says that they are painting the boys dormitory and they don’t have a spare bed now, but will next week and I will be welcome to move in then. That sounds good to me.

Helen says she needs to speak with Alice about some business, would I like to go to the cafeteria and eat. Yes!

The three of us go there and get trays of food, they ask me to stay there while they go back to the office and talk over dinner.

I sat down at one of the tables and start eating, it is not crowded, there must be a lot of people out.

It is good food, better than the school back home ever served. Even the green stuff taste good. I notice a couple of girls about my age looking at me and talking. The get up and bring their trays over and sit beside me.

One is blonde and the other is a red head. The blonde starts talking in an odd accent.

“I am Sasha and she is Karen. You must be Bud, we saw you come in with Alice.”

“You know Alice? But, how do you know me?”

“Silly everyone knows Alice. Spence has been talking about his best friend Bud since he started here and yesterday he walked down here from his home and said you would be in today. Spence is my boyfriend, he tells me everything. Karen is my best friend and since you are Spence’s best friend, you have to be Karen’s boyfriend.”

“I’m too young to have a girlfriend.”

“Silly, those are outside rules, not the rules here. Spence walked over here late yesterday and told us. It was dark when he got here so I made him eat a supper here and sleep with me last night. He left after breakfast this morning. We teased him in the shower this morning, he blushes all over. You’re blushing, do you blush all over?”

Grandpa said that there are times to just keep your mouth shut and let the women do all the talking, I think this is one of them.

“Karen, give Bud a kiss on the cheek so the other girls will see that he is yours. Bye, I am going out now so you too can talk. Karen will give you a real kiss when no adults are around.”

First kiss from a girl! I didn’t even notice when Sasha left and went to a table with other girls. Karen stayed with me. I started eating again, didn’t know what to do, but that seemed safe.

“Bud, don’t you like me? Sasha can be kind of pushy but she is really nice. She helped me and other girls and boys get through being captured by slave traders. Even after the things they did to us and made us do with each other, she kept our spirits alive. Many of us here would be broken if she hadn’t been with us.”

“Yes, I like you, I think I like you or will like you when I get to know you. “ What do I say? This is all too much too quick.

“Spence told us you and some girls had been captured and hurt. A lot of us here knows what it is like to have been captured and hurt. But we lived through it, and we will be stronger and better than those that captured and hurt us.”

“He didn’t know much, just that you had killed the man that had you and you got the girls free and got all of you home. You are a hero to a lot of us for that. Alice brought some of us here after other men had freed us from the ones that had us. But, you are the only one we know of that freed himself and his friends. We know of some others that got free, but they just took care of their own butts.“

“I am no hero, I just did what needed to be done, anyone else would have done the same.”

“You are too a hero and we are going to treat you like a hero, we are …”

Alice said from behind us, “Maybe I should leave you here, sounds like someone wants to share a bed with you.” I turned and she was smiling, Miss Helen was behind her and trying to keep a smile off her face.

“I will take you with me and show you around a bit, bring you back next week. Maybe things will have settled down a bit by then.”

I need time to settle down and think about all of this, it is happening to fast. “OK, I am done eating so we can go as soon as I take the tray up to be washed.”

Karen, put her hand on my cheek and turned my head toward her, “I will take care of your tray, the sooner you are gone, the sooner you will be back.” Then she smiled and kissed me on the lips and put her tongue in my mouth! I just froze; she pulled back, looked disappointed for a moment, then smiled. “First kiss like that? I think I have a lot of thing I can teach you.” Then she took my tray and left. Kinda of wiggling as she walked away.

Miss Helen was smiling now, “Linda is going to have a cow over having you here with what the other students think about you. But if we don’t have you here we will have a mutiny until you are here. A lot of the children have been forced and used as they had to grow up fast in some ways. Bud, I think you are in for interesting times, just don’t let them go to your head.”

I follow Alice over to the Goose and get in, my head is going in so many different directions I don’t know what to think.

Alice just looks at me for a moment before she starts the Goose, then says, “You look a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry things will start to come together. We have a few days before you get back, maybe I can explain a few things to you.”

People are waving good-bye as we pull out. Sasha and Karen are at the front, both of them smiling; an odd sort of smile and Karen licks her lips and gives me an odd look. Should I be afraid or pleased?

Alice tries to explain how and why the see me as a hero, but I just don’t get it. I just did what I needed to do, wouldn’t anyone do that?

Finally she says that she will take me to her uncle’s home. He has a housekeeper that might be able to explain it better than her. She starts telling me about what she has been doing and the places she has seen and the people she has meet since getting home. She won’t talk about what happened to her eye or hand. She talks a little about her time in the dessert and working there. I think she is leaving things out that she doesn’t want to talk about. But there is so much she has done it is amazing, I hope I can be like her someday.

We get to her uncle’s house and a black girl about my age comes running out and jumps into Alice’s arms and gives her a kiss on the lips, Alice kisses her back and it looks like they put their tongues in each other’s mouths. They stop kissing and she looks over at me and says, “Hi, who are you” still hanging from Alice’s shoulders.

“I’m Bud.” What else do I say? I think my head is going to blow up.

“Sonya”, Alice said, “this is Bud, CPT Franks daughter brought him down from up north to get away from some bad people. He was going to stay with the family of a friend of his but that didn’t work out. He will be going to school at Sassafras and living there.”

“He will be staying with me till next week, they are painting the boys dorm and don’t have any spare beds. One of the girls there has already told him that he is her boyfriend because he is a hero. But he doesn’t believe that he is a hero because he just did what he thought he needed to do.”

“Alice, don’t tell her what happened it is too embarrassing.”

“Bud, Sonya needs to know so she can explain why you are really a hero. You are even showing that you are one by not wanting anyone to know what you did”

Alice tells Sonya what she had heard had happened and added some of what she guessed. I just tried to hide my shame at what had happened, but the tears kept leaking out. I was using my arm to wipe my eyes and nose when she finished.

Sonya came over to me and slapped me, hard. I dropped my arm and she slapped me again on the other cheek. “You don’t have anything to be ashamed of, most grown men couldn’t have done what you did”. Then she grabbed me in a big hug and kissed me like Karen had, except she was rubbing up against me and I started to kiss back the same way.

She let go and stepped back after a moment, I start to rub my face with my hands, realize that may pants are getting tight and drop my hand to cover myself.

Sonya looks at me smiles an odd smile, Alice has the same smile on her face. I feel myself turning bright red.

Sonya reached down and grabs one of my hands, “Come with me I want to talk to you away from everyone else and maybe beat some sense into your head.”

She pulls me into the house and we talk for a long time. She tells me what happened to her and some other kid and how no one had done anything until Alice’s uncle had got a group together to take care of the bad men. How I was a hero like he was because I did something to take care of the girls and how I didn’t leave them behind like most men would have done, most would have been too worried about their own skin to help anyone else. I think I understand, but I still don’t feel like a hero. And, tell her so. “That’s okay; you are one even if you are the only one that doesn’t think so.” Then she gives me a kiss on the cheek. “Karen has first claim on you, but I want to spend time with you this summer after school is out, maybe you will start to believe a little.”

We walked out, Sonya was smiling and I think I was. Alice looked at us then said, “Sonya did you …”

“No we didn’t, I wanted to, but we just talked. Karen has first claim on him, but I want to visit with him some after school is out”

“OK, we need to get rolling. Lavon just called and has a emergency deliver I need to make tomorrow. If we leave now, we should be there in time to eat and sleep.”

“Tell Uncle I was here and will be back next week, several things on my plate this week. And thank you for talking to Bud, you seemed to have got his attention.”

“Okay, safe journey and watch out for the night riders.”

“I have heard they are operating in one area, but I should be through there before they start their nonsense.”

We head out, this part of the trip is boring, flat, straight highways, looking over fields that all look the same. I wake up when Alice stops. Things are making a little more sense now, maybe by the time school starts it will be straight in my head. I think when I get back to Sassafras for school everything will be confused again.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
got some little girls at sassafras that don't seem to be of the same option of boys as the main boss lady. My my my.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
got some little girls at sassafras that don't seem to be of the same option of boys as the main boss lady. My my my.
They are coming from two different worlds. Linda wanted a women's commune where they could sit around holding hands and thinking loving, peaceful thoughts.

The girls and many of the new women have been rescued from sex slavers, looking for security more than anything else
  • Like
Reactions: 2
A Delivery

A Delivery

The sun has set by the time I pull into Lavon’s compound. Sarah is there to meet us along with Joe and Jolene. There are looking more at ease here than they did at Sassafras.

They take Bud and me over to their house, the “big house” as everyone calls it. Lavon lives there and they live with him. Sarah and I exchange small talk for a bit, then she drops a bomb. She and Lavon are getting married after Thanksgiving, they will have time for a honeymoon then and they plan on going to the Dells to celebrate. He has already started the paperwork to adopt Joe and Jolene, even with the speed of the state’s bureaucrats that should be finalized in time. All three are excited, Lavon is loved by all and this shows them that he loves them too.

She has a pot of pork vegetable soup waiting for us, lean wild pig, hot and sweet peppers, root vegetables that I can’t identify, and lots of tomatoes. Biscuit root tea to drink, sweetened with sorghum and it’s not bad.

Joe and Jolene are talking with Bud about what they hope to do in the future and what is happening around the farm. No one wants to talk about their past, too many painful memories. It is better to look forward.

Sarah and I talk about her life here and her plans for the future. I kid her about Lavon being old enough to be her father; she laughs and says he is still young enough to be the father of their baby. She smiles and pats her stomach at that. I ask if he knows, she says yes, he is not that dense. The birth should be before planting starts next year.

She ask when am I getting married and I reply by holding up my hook and saying, “when I find someone that this doesn’t scare off”.

She laughs and says, “The only ones that I have seen scared off by that are the ones you wanted to scare, the rest can see you and not the metal you wear.”

“Well maybe that is true, but don’t start sounding too much like my mother and sisters.”

We go on for a bit longer until Bud and I have finished eating. Sarah takes me to the storeroom to show what I will be taking tomorrow. Bud stays and listens to Joe and Jolene talking about living on the farm and what Sassafras was like for them.

Sarah explains that there has been a building collapse and the local clinics are out of Laudanum and I will be taking a couple of cask of Laudanum and a couple of barrels of alcohol. The bulk of the load will be bales of tree tobacco leaves to be used as a poultice on the open wounds. There have been a lot of injuries lately with the harvest in that area. More hand work and less mechanized, and the people are not experienced, so more injuries.

Seems to be a lot of supplies for work injuries, I will find out what happened when I get there. I don’t think it would be a good place to take Bud. I don’t think it would be a good place to take me either, but I signed up for it, well more or less.

“Sarah, could Bud stay with you and Lavon for a few days? The dust from the leaves could be dangerous for a growing boy.”

“Yes, of course. I was going to suggest he stay. Joe and the rest of the boys will like having a new face around. Some new stories to hear and an audience for their old ones. Plus an extra hand to help with chores.”

“Let’s back to the house and see what they think.”

Bud seems pleased with the idea. I would imagine that this is a more “normal” lifestyle than Sassafras and less of a mental shock.

Bud bunks with Joe; I wonder how much sleep they will get, they seem to be hitting it off. Bud will bet more rest here than at Sassafras.

Up and out early the next morning, breakfast is already being served to the crew here. Well it is a farm and they don’t waste daylight. Bud is already put to work, cleaning tables and sweeping. He looks like he is half asleep but happy. Joe and Jolene are also cleaning. Holiday break from school, I bet they will be happy to go back to school and away from some of the chores they are given during their break.

Load up, first some tarps down to protect the inside of the Goose and my stuff. Barrels and cask next, then the bales of leaves around them to help cushion the bumps.

On the road and a straight shot north. Well it would be a straight shot if any roads led straight north, zigzag path working my way north, taking the quickest route.

Blue lights behind me? State police stopping me, why? The one riding shotgun gets out and comes up the passenger side of the Goose; I roll down the window a crack. He is big, has to bend over to talk through the window. Looks like a stunt double for the Hulk.

“Miss Alice? We heard you were coming this way. The Feds have a blockade set up where you were going to cross the interstate. We are here to guide you around them.”

“Thank you, I don’t …”

“Don’t say anymore, what we don’t know we don’t have to lie about.” Big smile.

I give him one back and notice the wedding ring; further thoughts on him are put aside.

“Just follow us, we will be turning you over to the local county police to guide you the safest path.”

They take off in the lead, light and siren off. About ten miles down the road the county patrol car is waiting. When they see us they pull out and the state turns around. The handoff is repeated a couple of times, the last one stopping and waving me around. I stop by him, he says, “sorry for the runaround but the Feds started putting out roving patrols and we had to keep dodging them.” And off he goes.

I continue down the road we are on, trusting to my GPS to figure out how to get where I want to go. First intersection I come to is the first clinic I was headed for, no wonder I was handed-off they didn’t want to be seen out of their home counties. Still surprised I ended up where I was heading.

At the clinic I transfer to their containers and drop off a bale of the leaves. Interesting industrial injuries, look like 9mm holes in some of the patients. The doctor says that Johnson will fill me in when I get to his clinic. Fill like I am back in uniform for a moment, I hope they have a better reason for keeping secrets than some that I served with.

I repeat at a couple of clinics before getting to Johnson’s, I recall he is a veterinarian. He is used to dealing with patients that bite and don’t follow instructions, good training for any doctor.

We go in his office so he can explain what happened. “Alice we don’t intend to keep you in the dark, it is just that the incident happened near here and hopefully I have the best information. There was a raiding party from the north; they crossed the state line on the back roads. Trying to avoid detection would be my guess. Bad idea, isolated area like that everyone notices anything out of the ordinary and passes the word to all of their friends and relatives. A convoy of armed men escorting a couple of semi’s, that bothers some people and just gets some peoples back up.”

“First town they hit was only about a hundred people, but it has a clinic and a store. They hit both and stripped them of anything useful. Then they searched the town, building by building. Word had been sent ahead so everyone had scattered to a safe spot. Other raids had been reported and plans had been put in place to deal with them. We were just lucky they didn’t stop at the farms along the way, more damage could have been done there, but they were after bigger scores.”

We stopped them at a wooden bridge, replaced some of the boards with lighter boards that wouldn’t support the weight of a vehicle and waited. The lead vehicle hit the weak spot and the front fell through, hung up at the windshield post. Chain reaction pileup knocked it and a couple others in the water, mud bottom there so they were sitting ducks. The trailing vehicle was blown up, blocking their retreat. We opened up from the other side of the ditches on both sides of the road and the far side of the creek. Our big problem was lack of cover, flat land around here and nothing that would hold up to sustained fire. They fought to the end, we lost a few and had a lot of people shot. “

“Odd thing is they worked as a trained team, not a collection of thugs. The vehicles were all of the type you would find in a government motor pool. Civilian vehicles, but fleet type. We had turned on a jammer as soon as the first vehicle hit the bridge so they didn’t have a chance to get a message out, good thing too they had so high-end gear, high-power transmitters and satellite phones. One more odd thing, they were sanitized, no identification on any of them or their vehicles. My suspicion and that of most around here is that they were sponsored by or actually agents of a Federal agency.”

“Everything has been disposed of vehicle dismantled and pieced out, weapons hidden, bodies dumped in a sand pit and buried. Now we are waiting to see what happens next. Police are reporting that the Feds have increased their presence and are very nosey. They are being led to investigate along the river where some pirates have been operating; maybe they will do some good there.”

“You mean all of these men were shot by one small group of raiders in one engagement?”

“Yes. It was not a small group and they were using sanitized Sten submachine guns. Also, we were also using 9mm in a crossfire ambush, so people were probably hit by friendly fire. But, don’t tell them that.”

“OK, I can see that happening. Some people are more dangerous to their own side than the enemy.”

“The Sten’s were they new production or war relics? There are rumors that production has started for use in covert operations. And this is sounding like an operation by the Fed’s against this area for some reason.”

“The outsides on the ones I saw were stained and beat-up, but I was told that the insides were clean enough to have just come off the assembly line. I would say that there is something to the rumors.”

I want one of them, I really want one. But I don’t need one and it would be too dangerous for me to be found with one. Dangerous enough to be found with what I normally carry around.

“Alice, it seems to me and some others that the Feds are losing control and will stop at nothing to reestablish their role as the central, controlling government of the country. Right now they are strongest in some of the old blue states and weakest in the old red states. Even in their stronghold states they have lost power to gangs and political strongmen. In the red states, some are like us and essentially ignore their less reasonable regulations and laws and give lip service to most of the rest. A couple of almost declared as independent countries, but I have heard that California and Hawaii are operating as independent countries with casual ties to the Feds. Can’t get much bluer than they are.”

“Yes the country is acting more like it is under the Articles of Confederation than under the Constitution. I think that is a good thing in many ways. Centralized power is good for dealing with other centralized powers, but with the nations of the world breaking down into regional states instead of empires there is less need for the overhead of a massive central government.”

“On another note it sounds like there is a need for some small unit tactics training, to reduce injuries if nothing else.”

“I need to get back on the road and make more deliveries. I know enough and maybe too much now. Stay safe.”

“You too, Alice and a safe journey.”

This has some aspects to it that I can’t figure out. Is it the last gasp of a dying power or the resurgence of tyranny? Could go either way from where I am sitting, maybe Uncle has a better insight, he usually does. And better information.

One more stop today and get a bunk for the night. Nice café in town, one of the few towns that can support one around here. Great hamburgers from local cows, too bad tomatoes are out of season.

“Hey Alice, your usual hamburger and fries? Or would you like to try something different?”

“Hank, what do you have?”

“Something we haven’t had for a long time, potato chips.”

“The factory start up again? I wouldn’t think there was enough market for them now.”

“No, homemade right here in our kitchen, fresh and hot out of the fryer. All a potato chip is is thin sliced potatoes; I hadn’t made them before because it takes so long to slice them. My meat slicer doesn’t make thin enough slices, but I traded for a slicer that makes slices that you can almost see through.”

“Load me up, been years since I had a potato chip and it was stale. Hot and fresh sounds better than anything out of a bag.”

Good food, good company, and homemade ketchup. I am a happy girl. Bunked in a room at the café, close to breakfast and quieter than the hotel and their working girls.

Wheat groats sweetened with sorghum, boiled egg, apple juice, and milk for breakfast. I am not sure what the hot brown stuff in the pitcher is, but it is not coffee. No matter what anyone says.

Two more deliveries and back to Lavon’s. Word is the Fed’s aren’t working their blockade, no result except making people mad and that is not a good thing for them to do and they know it. Some places they could get by staying there a month, here a week is the limit.

Back at Lavon’s for supper, even a little early. Lavon is there along with Sarah, Bud, Joe, and Jolene. Bud is looking happier than I have seen him, all of them looking like they have a big surprise. Lavon springs it.

“Alice, Bud would like to stay with us. He is a big help around here and he says that he would rather be here than Sassafras. It is just too different from what he is used to living.”

“I can understand that, nice place to visit but not where I would want to live.”

“But, Bud what will I tell Karen? She is looking forward to having you at Sassafras.” Bud turns red and Sarah, Joe, and Jolene look at him. They know Karen from their time at Sassafras; I wonder what he is going to tell them. They won’t try too hard to get his story, they respect others secrets and expect the same respect from others. I wonder too what Sonya is going to do when she finds out, I expect her to spend Christmas with her parents and they live near here.

I walk over to Bud and give him a big hug, and whisper in his ear just to tell them he doesn’t want to talk about it yet. They will understand. I don, tell him that their guess might be close to the truth.

We have a good supper, I tell about my trip and what I learned. They talk about the farm and the plans for their wedding and the future.

I think I will take care of some work in the southwest corner of the state, far from Karen, Sonya, and Bud. I have Bud write a letter to Helen telling her where he is staying; she will tell Karen the way she thinks is best. I wonder if she will volunteer to come help on the farm this summer. At least this gives him some time to adjust, maybe the changes will keep him from dwelling on what he has lost.

Tree Tobacco

Biscuit root ROOT.htm

Potato chip slicer
For home use a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler or slicer works fine, for quantity you want a machine. I suggest a large pot of boiling lard to cook them for the best taste and crispness, quick cooking, drain and salt to taste.

Articles of Confederation
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
61 - 80 of 103 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.