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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A short story I wrote. Told from the viewpoint of a 70 year old man. Broad strokes for the most part some detail toward the end. Parts could use some polish and some details could be changed. But, better to post than keep playing with it.:)

How did I get here? 70, on the run, few resources, few people that I can trust, and I am enjoying life more than I have in years.

I will start ten years ago, my father committed suicide, my wife died in a traffic accident, and I just started going through the motions of life. I thought about ending my life many times, but told myself I had to hang on for my mother, but my brothers and sisters lived closer than I did. And, she had the grand-kids and great-grand-kids around. I was the only one without kids, so that wasn’t a reason.

Finally realized I was hanging on for my dogs, my wife had picked them up and I couldn’t turn them over to someone else. At least that gave me a goal in life, to take care of them till their end came and since both were over 15 years old that shouldn’t take long. Took me about a year to realize that and it might have saved my life.

I had been taking some interest in prepping, but that died for a while and I pretty much dropped off the radar. Work at a low level Federal job and taking care of the dogs was my life for that year and most of the next.

My job brought me into regular contact with Federal security agencies which probably helped offset my earlier life choices. They knew me and I looked like another drone, uninterested in anything outside my little sphere. Oddities could be reasonably explained by my previous work and education. No life outside of work, actually for a couple of years no life just existence.

Then I started to wake up, first fixing up the house. To sell, I told myself, or for my heirs to sell after I was no more. That brought me into contact with more people outside of work and society in general. People seemed more depressed and suppressed; at first I thought it was just me. But, even the children seemed more cautious. Something started eating at me, vague at first. I started a garden, my first. Raised a few chickens. You know just to offset higher food prices.

I started noticing that politics had changed; the two party system had been reducing down to a one party system for a while. The two main parties had only had minor differences, but now they were in lockstep. The mavericks on both sides had disappeared, out of office and out of sight. Or, dead.

The media had changed; it was like watching one person with different faces and voices. Oh, sure there were some minor differences, but on anything major they were in lockstep. Local news had devolved into puff pieces and the weather. Everything else was by a national correspondent.

Saw on the news that a new national gun law had been passed. Citizens would be limited to a .22RF and a shotgun, both single shot. Seemed like a good time to reinforce my tornado shelter with some metal, in accordance with government guidelines of course. I had a few guns to turn in, a few rusted so tight that wouldn’t function that my father-in-law had stored in his attic and an old shotgun that I would chance firing. Of course I had my .22 and shotgun. A Rossi combo, a bit beat up and rusty. Shotgun barrel was even a bit bent.

When they showed up to collect the guns, I was polite and helpful. It was a hot day and offered them some bottled water and sodas, all well chilled. Talked about how we all worked for the government and the people seemed to be trusting us less and less. Hinting we were on the same side without making a point of it. We chatted for a bit before they went to the next house, didn’t bother to search my house, but checked off that they did. Nice to know people in common.

Started to notice that there were fewer older people around, the healthier ones were still to be seen. But, the ones that had O2 tanks, or motorized wheelchairs seemed to be disappearing. Conversations that I overheard indicated that they seemed to get sick easier and die more easily. Was the government reducing medical overhead? Wonder what else I was missing?

Fewer gang members arrested, seems that if there was a shoot-out a lot of them died. Some odd ones, supposed to be one gang fighting another one. But, all the bodies were of only one gang and it was wiped out. Gang presence was down also, less graffiti, fewer colors, and reports of a “drug drought” in the news.

Less mention of anti-government groups, liberal or conservative, and when they are mentioned it involves the arrest or conviction of a leader and their followers.

OK, I am starting to get worried or maybe just paranoid. But, I tell myself just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not out to get you.

I decide to fire up my blacksmithing hobby and start selling hand-forged garden tools at flea-markets, farmers markets, garden shows, etc. Do a circuit around the area listening and collecting information. Made sure I had the necessary government forms and paperwork completed. A little hand-made example (gift/bribe) helped in some cases.

Nothing concrete comes up, but a lot of other people are getting worried too. I make plans for a bigger garden, made a deal with a rancher for manure. Borrowed a tiller to work it in. Added some rabbits and pygmy goats for trade goods. Traded them off quick when they turned out to be more work than I wanted.

Four years have past, third year for my garden and chickens. Two for the blacksmithing circuit work. Still a Federal flunky will hang in as long as possible to that, too many useful contacts.

I am getting request for security bars for windows and doors now. Had a few all along, but now they are coming every week. And, people are willing to pay for my labor and material and profit. Cash or barter. I have a little demo showing how easy the big box store bars are cut, then invite them to cut one of mine. Good steel in a good size makes a difference, and the decorations make saw cuts difficult. And I think they are prettier.

Six years in and I have a security contractors license. I’ve been working with local security companies that do home and small business security. They do the electronics and basic physical hardware. I do the designer stuff that the higher end customers want. Turns out one of the perks is a concealed carry permit. Never thought of it before, but carrying now. No organized gangs like before, but the economy is sliding and people are resorting to crime to get by. I don’t really blame them, but will not be a victim either. Added home security, high-end bought wholesale and installed myself. Nice to have good neighbors that I have done favors for in the past and who have done favors for me.

Seven years on and I have been reduced to part-time as a cost cutting measure, old enough to retire so it doesn’t bother me. Just more time for other projects

Getting some farm security work, securing equipment and fuel. Just brute strength for these jobs and alarms to let someone know that there is a problem.

Nine years in and it all starts to crack apart. My mother dies, from a medical mistake. A nephew dies, he has diabetes and something goes wrong, but no one knows what. Same with his father, my brother-in-law. I hear of others dying from medical mistakes, mainly the old and those with chronic diseases. Fewer people are surviving accidents. More miscarriages or still-births. Something is wrong and smelling to high heaven, and the government is barely trying to hide it. People are being sentenced to prison for minor crimes, then being hired out, to pay for their keep. Whole families are being locked up, for the good of the children. Problems are world wide; economies are crashing, local wars everywhere. Somehow nothing major, nothing that hurts the major governments. Smaller governments are being swallowed by the larger and the larger are cooperating more and more.

Why am I still around? Seems I am still a valuable, reliable, resource. Who will be discarded as soon as something better comes along. It is time to act against whatever is happening. Past time. But what can one person do? Only one way to find out, do it. I start applying some almost forgotten skills. I start following the news and other public information as well as my private sources. Building a web that connects and leads to a hub a center that connects it all. It leads to New York City, one immensely wealthy man who is sitting in the center of the web spinning and controlling what happens around him.

But, how do I get him, and all those with him? He has survived many assignation attempts and someone around him is being trained to take his place, or is capable of doing so. His entire group must be eliminated. But again how?

He is coming to a nearby city, stroking the ego of the toad in charge there. But he is coming with most of his staff. How to get them?

Found out where they were staying, a mansion in the middle of a large estate by the river. I took a position across the river on a cliff, and crossed my fingers. Maybe I could still shoot as well once as I once could or maybe I would get lucky.

Luck won out, turns out I was not the only one. Place went up in a nice fireball. Saw some muzzle flashes, looked like out-bound and in-coming, to and from the grounds. Put my rifle back out of sight and sit back and watch the fireworks. Sirens all around and I don’t want to look like I am running from something.

Local police stop by and I explain I saw the sky light up and stopped to see what happened. Didn’t want to drive and maybe interfere with emergency vehicles. Offered them some “branch water”, to help them relax later. Showed them the well water I was drinking so I could drive later. They said they would stop by later to let me know it was safe to travel and would also let others know they had checked me out.

They knocked on my truck window later to wake me up and let me know it was safe to travel. Nice young fellows.

Got home about sunrise, had a call from a friend at a security company. Wanted to know if I would like to earn a little money for looking for the persons that set off the blast. The authorities were looking for reliable people to help and my name was on the list. Told me to bring my pistol, just in case. Brewed up some holly leaf tea, extra strong and took off.

At the meeting site, they were swearing us in and deputizing us. Nice little stainless badge for us to wear, easy for the right person to copy. Got a few pictures of me with the badge pinned to my jacket, easy to make out the details. Had a few with some other fellows too, even a couple of officers. Their badges looked more complicated, might take a person another thirty minutes to copy.

Sent me and a crew to search along a road along the top of the ridge about a mile from the house. I stayed along the road, couldn’t expect an old fool like me to traipse through the woods, might break a leg. I trailed the rest and planted little orange flags to mark where we had searched.

Going through a cut across a spur of the ridge I noticed something red splashed on the rocks. Had half the crew below me and out of sight and the other half above me and out of sight. I walked over and washed it off by draining some of the tea I had drank. Then looked for the source. Found a bundle of rags with hair and eyes watching me from under a bunch of bushes down in the ditch. Walked closer and it moved, asked if they would survive the day, got a nod. Tossed them half a sandwich and a bottle of water and said I would be back near sundown. Then took my stick and dug a piece of quartz out of the ground.

We finished about noon, and stood around for a couple of hours waiting for a truck to swing by to pick us up. Got back to the meeting site and stood around for another couple of hours. Seemed to be some disorganization, like the leadership might be sorting out who was in charge.

Finally had someone come around to pay us, told us to hang on the to badges for now, to save time the next time. Next time, what weren’t we being told?

Walked over to the country sheriff and pulled out the bit of quartz and asked if it was ok to go look for more. He looked at me like I was a senile, crazy, old coot and I gave him my senile, crazy, old coot smile back. He relaxed, smiled and said go ahead, just don’t break a leg.

Worked my way along the cut, timed to get to the bundle of rags about sundown. Picked up a bag of nice little quartz crystals. Use a couple in a nice paperweight I am planning for the sheriff. Had a few people drive by and wave. Sheriff stopped and I asked his opinion on the paper weight, drew a rough picture for him, another smile. Bigger smile when I pointed out it was advertising for me and not a bribe.

Waited for a clear stretch and picked up the bundle of rags and it barely stirred as I put it in the back of the truck and covered with a tarp. Dropped some road kill under the bushes, confuse any traces a bit. Worked on past that point and picked up some more quartz. Getting ready to quit and had a couple of state troopers stop by to talk. Asked if I had seen anything, took them over to the road kill. Talked about the quartz I was picking up, one asked if I had found any that could be used in jewelry making. His wife made jewelry and would be interested in some. I sorted through what I had and gave him a few suitable pieces to give to her, for her approval. As they drove away I was laughing at the thought that they didn’t know that I knew he was gay.

Driving away I was thankful that bundle of rags didn’t snore while they were there.

Pulled in the garage at the house and shut the door. Left the light off, bundle of rags started to get up and I put my hand on their head and pushed down. Reached in picked up the quartz, my bag of supplies, and bundle of rags. Just in case someone was watching.

Carried everything into the house and set the load down in the entryway. The windowless entryway. Turned the light on and had my first good look. And, wondered how much blood they had lost. And was thankful I had worn black denim instead of khaki. Rags stirred started to sit up and blacked out. I got my dog towels and blankets down from the cabinet, they don’t need them anymore. Started peeling Rags down to human to look at the damage. Found out it was not too bad, long cut on the scalp accounted for most of the blood, another across the hinny, and one foot raw where she had lost a shoe.

The thought arose that I might not be too old to be a dirty old man. But, I am man enough to wait for her to recover.

Also confirmed my hunch that she was not a random innocent. The rags were a homemade ghillie suit, and the darkness around her eyes was camo paint.

Cleaned the wounds with branch water, warm water and lye soap. She barely stirred, which bothered me, will have to keep a close eye on her. Wrapped her in some old blankets and tucked her in on my wife’s recliner. Thought it best to keep her head elevated. Kicked back in mine to keep close to her.

Woke up to find the sun peeping around the curtains and her peeping from under the blankets. Looked over and said, “I expect that you would like clothes, a toilet, food, and water. Maybe not in that order?”

She mumbled, “Toilet”.

I picked her up and carried her in and sat her on the edge of the tub. Asked, “Can you manage from here?” She said yes, I pointed out a set of my wives scrubs, house shoes and a pair of crutches and left her to take care of her business.

Boiled us some rice and eggs, holly tea, sorghum syrup for sweetener for her.

She yelled out, “Whose clothes are these?”

I yelled back, “My wife’s.”

“Where is she?”

“Dead”

Silence.

She stumbles out on the crutches, looking, I tell her to stand up straight and adjust them to fit better. Then, guide her to the table, into a chair, and dish out breakfast.

We eat quietly, except for me telling her to slow down so she doesn’t make her self sick. After we finish, I gather up the dishes, wash, rinse, and set to dry. All the time she is watching me. Shortly she asks if I am going ask her anything. “No”, I say, “If you want me to know you will tell me. On second thought I do need to know one thing, what do I call you? Doesn’t have to be your real name if you don’t want.”

“Toni”

“Good, can pass you off as a boy if we need to, might not make a difference to some in the city though.”

“Where are my clothes?”

“Been soaking in soap, water, and pecan hulls. Trying to cover up some stains that didn’t wash out. We are going to the vet to get you checked out, he’s close and a friend. Half his patients are people now so don’t worry. Then by the police station, more friends there tell them I picked up a stray that got kicked out. You don’t talk; just look mad, sad, and scared. Let their dirty minds work on what I am up to. Enough strays around they won’t push for information, but you will be legal on the books. My niece or grand-daughter maybe.”

Some time has passed since that day, life goes on. Toni healed up nicely, disappeared for a week, came back royally ticked off at her former friends, didn’t say much and even less that I would repeat. Cuddled with me for the first time that night, confirmed the dirty minds down at the police station over the next few months. Made the paperweight for the sheriff and got a few commissions off it, he stopped feeling guilty after the second one. Traded with the state trooper some, he was good at jewelry making and I have a knack for finding interesting material he can use. He has access to some interesting inventory.

Can’t say that anything really changed after that night as far as politics of the economy goes. Things have not gotten worse and might be getting better. Grocery store is getting some sugar in every couple of months and has salt in stock. Neither one is as white as before, but they are there. Case of olive oil in last month, first cooking oil in a few years.

Still have a job, miracle of miracles. Government still needs some things done and I am still alive to do them.

So here I am, running to help keep things together and make life and living a little better. Few resources, but what I have is more than most have. Few friends, more than before and they are true friends. Life is good and I am enjoying what I have. Still keeping an eye on the world, events are calming down, but who knows what will happen next.

End, finis, etc.

A few notes;
You can brew a caffeine loaded tea from some holly's, check what grows in your area.
I see more of a slow collapse with reduced government, industrial, and farming resources.
The main character does react poorly to deaths in the family, no joke.
 

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regular holly indigenous to the SE USA has caffiene? do you know if the red berries of the she-holly has any useful compounds? lots of those around here.
good story shapeing up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Holly

Yaupon holly is supposed to be the best in the States, mainly in the South East along the coast, but can be found West to Texas and North to Missouri. Most seem safe to drink in moderation, but some toxin can be present in other types. Use the leaves and small stem to make the tea.
 

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Kind of a nice spin on things, this time grey man is a blue man, at least from the authorities point of view, Seems very realistic to me
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
How did I get here age 60 to 61

Expanding a bit on the story. If there is interest I have a few more ideas of bits to add. No cliff hanger, violence, sex, etc. Just one man dealing with life.

Golden Years, bah, humbug, and anything else that I can think of to show my disgust with the whole ideal the media feeds us.

November, the beginning of the holiday season. The month that my life ended, at least it felt that way. Friday evening I called my mom and dad to talk about Thanksgiving and how they would be driving over to spend time with us. Next day I get a call from my brother to come home quick, just me. No reason given. I get home to find that my dad had killed himself; he had sent mom to the store for something and eaten a bullet. I called my boss and took a week off from work. Stayed to take care of mom and the funeral arrangements. Took all of the guns out of the house, she didn’t want to see them around. Wife was over for the funeral, we left for our home afterwards.

Week before school let out for Thanksgiving my wife was going in to work and was taken out by a drunk. Doctors said it was quick, at the speed he was going; there was no way to survive the accident. Lucky for him he didn’t either. Minister took care of the arrangements; mom came over to look after me. Burial in the family plot near dad, grandpa and grandpa. Five generations in that little cemetery now, counting my sister’s first-born, still-born.

We go to my brother’s place for Thanksgiving, ham and turkey. My father liked ham, my wife liked turkey, I don’t think I can eat either again.

Mom goes back to her home; relatives have cleaned it up and patched up so you can’t see anything. She keeps one room closed, closes out the memory. I go to my house, doesn’t seem like a home anymore. The three of us are left at the house, me and the two Mexican hybrid rats. We got them from an older couple who were going to a nursing home, no dogs allowed there. Day and Night, both are female and fixed. One solid black and the other white, sisters, at least that is what we were told. They are not taking her loss any better than I am, to honor her memory I will take care of them to the best of my ability.

Life falls into a routine, little thought needed get up feed the dogs and myself, get ready for work, go to work, come home, take care of the dogs, clean around the house. Laundry and household repairs to break the routine. Old house, nearing a hundred years old and a lot of upgrades and repairs needed.

Get setup on automatic payments for my bills, don’t want to miss a bill and get hit with penalties again. That hurts, pride and wallet. Also set up a couple of accounts to pay for replacing my wheels and appliances so that won’t be such a shock when they need to be replaced. Automatic payments to them too. Scale back automatic silver purchases; redo them to look more like collecting than hoarding or prepping.

I add tie-downs to the roof and foundation; they give a little additional protection in case of tornados or severe winds. The climate is changing, I don’t know if it man, nature, GOD, or Smokey Joe. Person just has to get ready for the worse and hope for the best.

Had new windows installed, DP15 rated, triple panes, all the right ratings to survive most winds and help insulate the house. Added insulation to the attic and basement walls also had it blown into the outside wall spaces.

House electrical service was upgraded to 400 amp with an automatic disconnect so I can add a generator later. Wired the place for cable and CAT-6 communications cable. Buried the wiring to the outbuildings, no worry about storm damage and a little extra metal in the ground doesn’t hurt anything.

One of the FEMA flunkeys called, he had been talking to one of my co-workers and found out I had NBC experience and had platform experience. Wanted to know if I was interested in teaching some classes. Seems that their usual instructor had moved out of state and they needed someone in a hurry. Sure, as long as I could bring my dogs. No problem might perk up the class.

Picked up the class material, canned lectures, boring, anyone listening to these instructions would end up dead, die of boredom listening to the lecture. Contacted DHS and the NBC office at the local reserve base to see if they had any training aids I could borrow to revive the lectures. Horrors, they were using the same material.

I have time to recreate them so people will at least stay awake. YouTube is a good source of material to mix for visuals. Start off with Tom Lehrer’s classic “We will all go together when we go” and end with Timbuk3’s "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades". Add in some videos from WWI gas attacks, some burn injuries. Flip charts and blank paper. Make it personal, something that can happen to them. No PowerPoint, spawn of the devil.

Classes went well. As I suspected they knew the information, they didn’t believe that it could happen to them or those around them. Maybe they still don’t, but it has a soundtrack now, that will help keep it in their minds. The only real way to learn this is practice and more practice. Maybe this will encourage a few to practice; it has in the past for other training.

Some grumbles that I went off script, told them I wrote my own script. Help some of the other instructors write their scripts, end up giving classes on how to train.

Life is getting more interesting, or at least I am starting to take more interest in life. Traveling around the state on weekend with my dogs, meeting new people, learning new stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
How did I get here, age 62?

Trying something a bit different for me, adding some background notes at the end.

Amazing how much the cost of everything has gone up. Actually noticed it first with food, buying groceries for one is more expensive than buying for two was a few years ago. Start buying online for more stuff as the price of gas keeps climbing. Free shipping from Dollar General and Amazon, some deals from other stores like Wal-Mart, you still have to pay sales tax, but you would have to pay that anyway.

Shopping for home repair and improvement supplies, I am noticing more people DIYing for the first time. Wondering around with lost looks trying to figure out what they need and how to do what needs to be done. The stores are carrying more supplies for securing the home and business. When you walk by people in those areas they stop talking, as if they don’t want anyone else to know what they are doing.

A couple of incidents stick in my mind. One, I was walking by a clerk I know, customer was talking to him when I walked by he clammed up. Clerk had been in a couple of my classes and thought I would know about audio/video and wanted my opinion, so called me over. The customer wanted to be able to see who was at the door, without having to put a hole in the door. I suggest building some decorative framework on the door with a micro mini camera hidden inside the framework. A light weight cable could be run inside the framework to the edge of the door and inside the house. Hook up to a flat video monitor mounted on the wall next to the door and have battery backup for both. Also, embed IR leds in the framework with a switch on the inside to turn them on when needed.

Second one another clerk, who had heard about me, asked for suggestions on keeping his garden from being dug up at night. He had flood lights with motion sensors, but that had stopped working. My suggestion was for the motion sensors to control a sprinkler valve in addition to the flood light. The sudden blast of water running out of a sprinkler worked to scare off his visitors until he could build a better fence around the garden.

I thought it might be a good idea to have my own garden. Fresh produce, exercise, and more time in the sunlight and fresh air couldn’t hurt. Mainly salad vegetables to start, plus a small herb section for extra flavor. Some extra tomatoes, peppers, and onions for salsa. Used the square foot gardening style with companion planting, no sense making it harder than necessary. Had some medicinal herbs also. Why? Store shelves were starting to show some strange gaps, and I don’t like being caught out.

Some fresh eggs and the occasional chicken sounded good. Started by building a chicken tractor for the coop used some pallets I broke down and chain-link fence I had salvaged for the main body. Few incidentals I had around the place finished it off. Wife always complained about the “junk” I collected, felt a bit like Moe on “Texas Storage Wars”.

Building the coop reminded me I had no source for pain or infection medication except the store. Alcohol, soap, and hot water would do for minor stuff I could treat myself and easy enough to set up to make. Pain? Willow bark! Make a tea from willow bark and twigs, provides a natural source of aspirin. I recall that my grandmother had made a nasty looking and tasting paste from the bud of a red flower that grew on her parent’s old homestead. Strong stuff really knocked out the pain and the patient. Started checking by there weekly to see if I could spot any blooming and collect some seeds later in the year.

Success, I spotted a couple of patches blooming. Been growing wild for years, they must be hardy. Recognized them too, poppies. Grandma had been treating with raw opium. Well not really raw opium but homemade laudanum. Reduced down to a paste for some reason.

Also noticed some tobacco growing wild, will be back to collect seeds from both later in the year.

Probably should mention my truck Blue. With gas and diesel prices through the roof so a person needs something economical to drive. Something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to fill up, so what do I have? My former hobby project, a Forest Service surplus M725. 5/4 ton Jeep based ambulance that had been converted to a Gamma Goat 6V53 multi-fuel diesel. I suspect that a mechanic had done the conversion when the original six blew up; they have a reputation for going out if you are not tender with them.

Feed it a mix of used motor oil thinned with gasoline so it is as thin as diesel. Gravity filter through a 55 gallon barrel of crushed limestone to take care of any acids. Also gives a settling tank effect to help separate out the good stuff from the bad. Actually filters with all the surface area to collect junk on. Feeds from there to another barrel, then to a water separator and a couple of good hydraulic filters, coarse then fine. Fine is finer than the diesel filters on the truck, has been good so far. I can usually get a barrel of oil from some of the small garages for free or pay for it at the quickie lube places. Cost runs about a quarter the price of diesel or gas at the pump.

I did collect the seeds; someone had beaten me to a couple of patches. There was enough for me and to leave some for next years growth. Stopped along the way home to scatter a few more seeds in likely spots, you never know what you might need.

Tobacco is a good treatment for insect bites and other problems and will also help keep insects out of your stored food. Growing a few plants cost little and will pay its way.

Researched the laudanum in some old recipe books, no had any mention of a paste form, only liquid. I did found a reference to a block in a history book of the War of 1812. Information has been lost through time, again. A paste is part way between a solid and a liquid, possibly a lost recipe.

Started mapping out the local resources, silos and wild berries alike. Noted farms and ranches along with good fishing holes and hunting spots I heard about. Bought my meat direct from the source, cheaper and better quality than the store bought stuff that was fattened up on grain.

Politics is more of a circus than ever. Campaigns are starting earlier, seems like that is all the politicians do is campaign. They get elected to office and start running for the next election. Their speeches are interchangeable, seems like they all use the same speech writer. They promise you a gold mine but all they deliver is the shaft.

The media is worthless for anything but what the governments want you to hear. Different faces all saying the same thing. Catch a foreign broadcast and it still sounds the same, maybe a different political slant. Homogenized news. The local news is the weather and local fluff pieces presented by pretty people, beautiful people in the bigger markets. I keep expecting one to do a strip during the broadcast, although with the way some dress for the evening news that is hardly necessary. One came close, they were doing a piece on a park renovation in the rain, looked like they were in a wet t-shirt contest. Only showed that once during the evening news and forever on YouTube.

Print is on the same path, the “alternative” media is no better than the regular media, just more excited. Both get their news for news services, plus puff pieces on the local scene

The news had public service announcements that the government was limiting people to a 22RF and a shotgun. Both had to be single shots. I had that covered with a Rossi combo 22/410. Have an H&R single shot 12 gauge, maybe they will count those as one 22 and one shotgun.

What to do with the rest? Time to do that tornado shelter reinforcing project. Federal government says to use metal reinforcing for your shelter and I have some metal I traded for. Wear strips from road graders. Eight foot long, six inches wide, and a half inch thick, the drivers have to change them out when they wear down and were glad to trade for a some beer money or a bit of help now and then. They should stop anything a storm can throw at them, overlapping with the tapered edge and cross braced, might even confuse a metal detector.

Agents showed up to collect guns, couple that I had taught in a couple of classes. Brought out some sealed bottles of water and soft drinks, since it was a hot day. Talked politics and how the politicians were making out jobs harder and they should pay us more. Did a bit of union recruiting, talking about the advantage of belonging to the union. One was a member and we gained up on the other a bit.

Showed them what I had and gave them a rusty pump 22 and a shotgun that my father in law had stored in his attic, under a leak. Told them they had belonged to him and I could bring myself to throw them away, but had no use for them. This collection solved my problem of what to do with them.

Starting toward the door I saw one of my shadow boxes on the wall, the one with a M96 Mauser pistol. And, so did they. Complete with shoulder stock, holster, and ammo on display for all to see. They did a double take and asked what that was; I told them just what it looked like. If they wanted to fire it I would load it and call an ambulance for them. That got a laugh; they both looked at it and commented that it looked almost real.

Checked off that I had only authorized guns in my procession. Kind of disappointed they didn’t look at the shelter walls.

Time to wrap-up this year of my life, pretty much hit the important points. Jumped around, but it is how I remember it. You try to put down what happened to you that long ago.

Notes;
Location, location is everything or at least very important. Near the White River, north of Stuttgart, Arkansas. Above the flood plain. Some of you might have seen a story in the New York Times about one of the people along the river that build a levee around their house to protect against the flood a couple of years ago. High point of the flood was about six feet below the lowest point on my land. Garden spot is about ten foot above the highest flood stage. House is higher still, with the floor of the basement above garden level. I won’t get much more specific than that, Google Street View has my place and I prefer my privacy.

This is not autobiographical; I do pull in some of my experience and mix in some from the news and extrapolations from the news.

The M725 is realistic; I drove one working for the Forest Service one summer in college. The Tornado Six in them had a weak crank and tended to break, the mechanics would replace them with what they had on hand. Heard of an M715 that had a 6V53 in it, the driver liked it. The Goat engine is a stretch, but I liked the idea.

The waste motor oil/gasoline mixture is used by some people. Well filtered. The limestone filter is my idea, based on the sand and gravel water filter. Limestone would tend to neutralize acids in the oil, and I know where there is a quarry. Quarry is outside of Batesville, AR if anyone is interested.

It is illegal to grow the opium poppies under Federal law, you have been warned. Seeds are to be found on the internet with a simple search and they are found growing wild around some old homesteads.

Tobacco is legal to grow in most areas, information can be found on the internet.

What I call road grader wear strips are actually the blades that are attached to the moldboard. They do wear out pretty quick and sometimes you can collect them from the operators, the motor grader owner, or the garage that maintains them. I had about a half ton at one time, but have used them up.

Collecting from the wild, don’t take it all and replant some in other locations where it will grow. Look up gorilla gardening for other ideas.
 

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How di I get here age 63 to 67 Part 1

I got off on a bit of a tangent here, but I think it works. Part 2 later this week, I hope.

Age 63 to 67 Part 1

It seems like I am seeing fewer sick people around, the ones with long term problems that need assistance. Haven’t seen anyone with an oxygen tank for months, walkers seem scarce, fewer people in wheelchairs. Even shorter lines at the SSA office in the building I work at are shorter and so are the lines at the pharmacy.

I lost weight over the last couple of years from the stress of losing my wife and father, so my blood pressure has dropped to normal and no serious health problems. I went in for my annual checkup and most people seemed fairly healthy, like me in for an annual checkup.

Overheard one conversation there, they were talking about a common friend of theirs. Seems like he had a few chronic problems, controlled by medication he got through Medicare. Took a downturn in health and died in a couple of weeks. They paused then started to talk about others that had died recently, died quickly. Doctor called me in about then so I didn’t hear the rest. As expected I had a clean bill of health, even told I could stop taking my pills, as long as I keep a close watch on my blood pressure.

Talked to a friend at SSA, he said he had wondered about it and was told it was just coincidence and things would return to normal. I had a gut feeling that this was the new “normal”. Stopping at the library and looking at back issue of the obits seemed to backup my gut, people with chronic problems were dying more often today, than last year. Young or old made no difference, if they had an expensive long term problem there was a target on their head.

Fewer gang members being arrested and those were high ranking ones that could afford good lawyers or ones that were providing evidence on other gang members. Seems like all the arrest turned into shootouts with no gang members surviving. Media coverage was always hours after the attempted arrest with the information spoon-fed to them by press spokesmen.

There is also an increase in drive-by shootings, gang members are targeted and the shooters are not caught. Gang graffiti and colors have disappeared from public view. They must still be out there because there are more reports of dopers dying from drug overdose, someone must be supplying them.

Political organizations seem to be shrinking; or rather the numbers and diversity seem to be shrinking. Groups on the left and right of the political spectrum are vanishing or moving mainstream. In theory the ones that vanish are absorbed by the ones that remain, even if their views are not represented by the group that absorbed them. But it is only the groups that “rock the boat” of the political mainstream power structure that vanish. NAMBLA stays but the Ayn Rand Institute is gone, CAIR is still around, but JFPO is not to be found.

Maybe I am just getting paranoid and imagining things as I get older, connecting dots that don’t exist. But the political ice cream dish seems to becoming plain vanilla with a sprinkling of nuts.

Had a fool try to mug me as I was waiting for my ride one day after work. Beat him off with my umbrella, made it myself in a machine shop class at the local vo-tech. It does double duty as a cane. 4 mm stainless steel shaft, stainless tip sized to hold a 1 inch rubber cane tip, stainless slider with a bronze bushing, handle a stainless cross shaft welded on with Osage Orange grip over it for comfort. Fiberglass ribs and supports with a waxed linen cover. Heavy and stupid expensive to build, but it has earned its keep. I made a cane for dry weather too. It is made with a core of four 1/8 music wire, swaged to an end made like the one for my umbrella, except it extends up four inches. Stacked leather washers over the wire for the body with a handle again like the umbrella.

Back to my previous thought.

It seemed like a good idea to expand my information gathering. I started to go to the various flea markets and farmers markets when I was on the road training people. Listening to what they were saying and talking about. And paying attention to what was not mentioned or was avoided. But, I was not known, an outsider, so people tended to shut up occasionally when I go too close. I needed a way to be on the inside, something that would let me be at different locations without being suspicious.

I noticed that gardening equipment was selling well at the markets. People were looking for the older tools that were better made than most of the stuff in stores. I could make good stuff with my blacksmithing setup and repair some of the older tools that had been damages or were just worn down. Handles wouldn’t be a problem, there was always a couple of people selling those at the markets, just had to make my stuff to fit what they had.

Made a few hoes and rakes to sell, plus made up a display to show how I could re-point plows and restore worn mattocks and other heavier tools by adding new steel. Surprising how many people started showing up with dad or granddad’s old tools, looking to have them put back in usable condition. Charged enough to make a good profit after paying expenses and gave good service.

It worked; people opened up and talked about what was going on in their communities and families. Things were tougher than I had thought they were. Government services were being cut back in many areas, small hospitals and clinics shutdown. For many people their gardens made the difference between going hungry and having enough to feed their family.

Cities weren’t much better, people still had the services, not as good as they were and more expensive stuff in the stores. Several groups had community gardens, needed several people so someone could be keeping watch all the time. Otherwise they would lose what they had worked for. Some places the local gangs were helping the groups keep outsiders away. Protecting their turf and their families. Made some branding irons for some gangs. Quicker and more impressive than tattoos. I would only make those for silver coins, got a bagful of Mexican Pesos a couple of times.

Started doing some bartering, people just didn’t have the ready cash, or had to save what they had for things they couldn’t barter for. Got a trailer load of manure from one farmer for some repair work and the loan of a trailer to haul it off. That convinced me it was time to start my own garden. It was too fresh, too “hot” to use right away. I set up an enclosure for it using some old chain link fence so it could age till next spring. Picked out a spot between my house and my neighbor with the green thumb, easier to pick her mind that way. Set up some forms for “square-foot” gardening, save a lot of bending that way. Used concrete blocks, surfaced bonded them and use landscape timbers at the corners to anchor them. Surface bonding would reduce moisture loss to the air. Used some fence boards on top of the blocks to give me a comfortable place to sit while I worked.

I would borrow the neighbors tiller to work the manure into some soil from the ditch by the road. County wasn’t cleaning it out like they should, but that would give me some good soil to use. Add in leaves from the trees this fall and I would have enough for a fair garden.

Bartered for some pygmy goats, thought they would be good for keeping the grass down. They were more of a headache than they were worth. Traded them off to a Hispanic family for labor in tearing down an abandoned house, another barter deal. They got the goats for a religious feast and some of the lumber for their own use. I got a good stock of old growth lumber and interesting bits and pieces for more deals.

Had one disturbing deal that I couldn’t turn down. I had traded for some rabbits with the ideal of raising them for meat, decided to stick with chickens. So I had brought them along this trip for trading material. I was offered a ten year old girl for them. Her father had tears in his eyes when he made the offer and her mother just said please take her. I just stared at them, I had dealt with them before, knew they were eating well. They had even traded me a pie for some decorative knick-knacks. Then this scared, pretty, little, black girl looked up at me an over-sized, old white man and said “Please take me with you, I can clean and do anything you want me to”.

After a moments shock I knew I needed the rest of the story. I told him to watch the merchandise for me and took the girl and mother in the back of my truck for an explanation. As soon as we were inside mother started babbling how they didn’t want to do this but had to get the girl someplace safe. I told her to shut-up and start from the beginning.

They had a new country sheriff; the last one had been corrupt but kept the peace and let people live their lives. He had disappeared a few months ago and the county judge had appointed his cousin as sheriff. The story that went around was that the judge had wanted the old sheriff to do something that he refused to do and started to arrest the judge for even suggesting it. The cousin had been present and had killed the sheriff. Now the two were running the county like some sort of evil kingdom. There had been drug trafficking through the area before now there was a warehouse setup in town for the runners to use. Guarded by the deputies.

There was a brothel set up in an old hotel downtown, some of the girls were said to not be there willingly, maybe none were willing to be there. They were controlled with drugs. And no one that knew the truth would talk.

The judge and his cousin had a taste for young girls. The cousin had some new deputies that shared his taste and were brutal to anyone that talked back. Several weeks back the girl and two of her friends had been “arrested” and taken to see the judge. They were released late the next day, beaten and abused. One had a broken arm; all had many visible bruises and had trouble walking. Since then it had happened to other girls, black and white, and even a few boys when the judge had special guest.

She wanted her daughter away before they came for her again, but were afraid to leave. Some families had tried to leave and disappeared. And, now some of that were being “arrested” were disappearing.

They knew from how I dealt with them and with others I was a good man, they also had heard that I had taught classed to the old sheriff and his deputies, as well as the state police and other police departments. They thought I had the connections to keep her and myself safe.

Thought about it and said OK. Called the Captain of the nearest state police station and talked with him for a few minutes. He had heard rumors, but no one would come forward. Said he would send a car over to escort me out of the county and to the station so we could talk in person.

I took a quick look out the window to make sure the coast was clean, and it wasn’t, the sheriff was coming down the row of vendors. Not too fast, stopping to talk and collect a little something from each one.

I had her mother go out through the cab door away from the sheriff while the girl and I stayed in the back of the truck. While we were waiting I told the girl to look sad and scared and do what I told her to. When he got to the next table over, I climbed out of the back and told the girl to stay there.

The sheriff looked up when I got out and walked over to say hello. He was an old rum running partner of a couple of my cousins in the area. We talked for a couple of moments about old times. I turned to the mom and dad and told them to load my truck up for me, had an emergency repair for the State Police.

Talked with the sheriff a bit more asked about the still I had built for him and my cousins. He said last he saw it was running fire, nobody died from drinking any made in it. They were making some “swamp water” from sweet sorghum, dark and sweet with a kick. He asked what I was up to. Told him about the same, trying to keep busy in my old age. Had a call to do a quick repair at the State Police station, patch job until they could get a replacement in. He asked about the girl, told him I was hiring her as a housekeeper. I needed a little company since my wife was dead, someone that would do as they were told with no backtalk. And, she had some training already. He smiled at that and walked back to the other table.

We loaded up, the mom and dad took the rabbits to their car, and the girl and I drove off to meet our police escort.

The escort meet us a few miles out of town and followed us to the station with no problems. No problems at the station, but no help either. The captain had a female officer to assist and both had trouble hearing the girl’s story and what her mother had told me. The officer was all for going in guns blazing, but the captain pointed out they needed backup and had to make a better case. The county judge had some pull at the state level, not much, just enough to call for caution and care on their side.

We left the station feeling a bit discouraged with the news. The officer offered to take the girl home with her, but the girl wanted to stay with me, I was the one her parents trusted and she would stay with me.

When we got to my home it was brought back to me how much better off I was than many others. She was surprised I had electricity all the time, hot and cold running water, satellite TV, and other minor things that were now luxuries.

I told her to go take a shower while I fixed us a bite to eat. She was thrilled by the shower, the first warm shower since that stopped the showers at the school near her home. A few minutes later she came out buck naked, walked over to me and started to unzip my pants. I grabbed her hands and asked what she was doing? She said she was just taking care of me, like she said she would. I told her, no, she was too young, even her mother was too young for me. She said the judge was as old as I was and she wasn’t too young for him. I told her that adults were not supposed to do things like that with little kids and the other things that he forced her and other girls to do were wrong for him to do. He was bad for forcing them, but they were not bad for being forced.

It took a while to convince her of all that, and many tears on her part as she realized that I meant what I said. She was not a bad girl for wanting to do things, but bad things had been done to her by bad people. And, I preferred women near my age.

Good thing I had fixed sandwiches and salads for us, nothing to get cold. Got her dressed and fed. Turned on the TV and handed her the controller so she could pick what she wanted to watch. She curled up on the recliner with a blanket and the remote, both of the dogs joined her. They demanded attention for a few moments then went to sleep, so did she after a few more moments.

I stayed awake for a while longer sketching out a plan to depose the judge and sheriff. The official system wouldn’t work in time; maybe it was time to try an alternate.

The next morning was Sunday, so we went to church. Church in the city, a church where I was known and knew the girl would get sympathy. And more than sympathy help in taking her community back from those that were destroying it.

Found out that the dealers were upset with their warehouse, they were charging dearly for storage and cutting the product. They would have high grade stuff brought in and lower grade would be returned. The judge and sheriff had a stranglehold on drug distribution in and through the state, using legal and extra-legal methods. Some main travel routes went through the state, east-west and north-south. It was cheaper to pay them off than to go around, barely.

The two had business ties outside and inside the state, but none that wouldn’t shift their allegiance if the profit was there.

Talking with my relatives in the area, I found that the judge was a newcomer that won elections by being unopposed. His opponents had a tendency to drop-out of disappear. We located one that everyone involved would accept, corrupt, but not greedy. Lot of family in the area so he could be counted on to do some good, with a little prodding. One of the old deputies was cut from the same cloth.

One evening as they were having a party for several out of town guest, they all disappeared, including the deputies. No one heard a thing, or saw anything unusual. The State Police investigated and concluded that they had taken off to parts unknown after finding out about a corruption investigation. Our two were appointed as temporary county judge and sheriff.

The drug warehouse is still in business, and being run honestly. The brothel is still in operation, but the only drug use is because the girls want to, not as a means of control. They even have a nurse on staff, a real nurse, to deal with minor medical problems and to screen customers. Some of the girls are younger than I feel is right, but they want to be there and away from their former homes.

I seem to have acquired a housekeeper who wants to be something more sometimes and others is content to be a little girl. Says she feels safer with me, visits her mom and dad often, enrolled in school. Takes care of our home when I am on the road.
 

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Very nice. More and more folks are coming around to the "slow decline" sort of collapse- I really like your take on it.

Thankyou
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Age 63 to 67 Part 2

Little slow getting this up.

Age 63 to 67 Part 2
I am starting to make more security screens and bars for doors and windows. People are worrying more about break-ins since the government took the guns from honest citizens. I use high carbon steel for the main body and as much as the gingerbread as I can work in. I lay them out so a hacksaw won’t fit in for a cut, little curls and details blocking a stroke. Even if they us a battery powered angle grinder, everything is tied together, forcing the bad guys to spend more time than most are willing to spend as well as make a lot of noise. Bolt cutters would have to nibble a bite a time, not enough room to get a full depth bite. The steel I use is thick enough to call for the big cutters taking a big bite, but not enough room to get them around the steel for a big bite. Mount them to the frame around the windows; it is stronger than the frame. Weld the bolts to the frame and mount using a through bolt with a nut or quick release inside the house.

Security doors are much the same as the windows. Have their own frame, bolted to the wall; some through bolts and others bolts hidden from the outside.

I usually hire a college kid art student to paint them; it adds a little extra and sets them apart from the crowd a little more. A little more expense, but these are not cheap to begin with. I like to mix some reflective glass beads into the paint, adds a little “bling”. Drawback to the glass is they tend to dull saw blades, but who would be trying to cut a painted surface anyway.

Made a few cages for farm fuel tanks, used 1 inch rebar, welded the joints then wrapped with 3/8 inch rebar and welded that. Welded the whole cage to the stand the tanks rest on, some one tries to pull the cage off and the whole tank goes with it. Well it would if it wasn’t for the concrete footings anchoring the whole thing.

Make the door frame from grader blades. The door is made from grader blades and rebar, the blades framing the door and serving as cross pieces, the rebar running through holes cut in the blades.

Managed to get some sucker tubing from a gas drilling operation, going to try using it for a gate for one customer to replace the beat-up one he has now. It is awkward to get too; otherwise it would have been destroyed by now. It set at the end of a bridge over a ditch, actually about two feet from the end and attached to telephone poles. The ditch is big enough to lose a semi in, one joker tried to us it to turn around, no guard rails, ended up with the nose buried in the mud at the bottom and the trailer trying to push it deeper. The driver claimed his pants were stained with mud. Actually only about 8 feet deep by 10 wide, about two foot of muddy water in the bottom, except after some good rains, then more like 7 feet and running out on the road further down.

Had an idea to make a cheaper door or window, using less decoration, but adding finger width sections of pipe over the rods. Hit them with an angle grinder and watch them spin. Using pipe big enough to call for some big bolt cutters is not a problem. Found a few customers for them.
 
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