© Copyright Joseph A. Hughes 2004, 2005, 2006. No part of this webpage can be reproduced or used by others in any way, shape or form unless by express written permission of the copyright holder.

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

In Portland things were already starting to get out of control. The morning commute had turned into a nightmare. The radio was reporting LA and San Francisco had been nuked, and everyone was trying to get off the freeways. Some were trying to get last minute things, and the news was telling everyone to go to their homes and wait for further instructions. This threw the people into a panic. Road rage was out of control, just making more traffic jams. The city was coming to a stand still. The radio was reporting that when LA and San Francisco were nuked that it took the West Coast power grid down, and no traffic lights were working. Bonneville informed that power would be back up in about an hour.

 

Jim was thinking, does my wife know what is going on? Did she get out the radio and hear what is happening? What is she doing? I got to get back home. I knew something was not right when I heard that we were bombing Iran. While leaving for work, but told myself we have done this many times before. Why would this be any different? Damn this is bad with the lights not working, I thought, as I waited in stop and go traffic. Looking through the passenger window, I could see a dump truck bellowing out black smoke. Then looking past the truck as it pulled forward, I saw that people were carrying stuff out of the 7-11 on the corner. It took me a minute to realize that they were just taking the stuff. Everyone there was robbing the store blind. Looking over to the other corner, at the Gas Station, I could see it was full of cars, not for gas, but trying to get around the non-working traffic light. Just then, I heard a loud crashing and scraping sound. Quickly I turned my head to see what it was. I saw the dump truck had drove through a fence, and was driving across the 7-11 parking lot on to Stark St. This is getting really bad, I thought to myself.  Let me think, nothing is going to be working. No ATM’s, Gas Stations, or Stores can stay open with no power. Damn I can’t imagine what it will be like when the power comes back on. I got to get home before that happens. I’m glad I didn’t make it on to the freeway before this happened. That must be like a parking lot. The last couple of blocks seemed to take forever. Then I pulled into the driveway.

 

Tonya came running out of the house yelling, “You must have heard.”

 

Jim yelled out the truck window,” Yeah, quick open the garage door so I can pull the truck in.”

 

 

The Next Day

 

“Can I get a cup of coffee out of your thermos?” I asked. “I’m starting to get really tired and need something.

 

“Sure go ahead,” Pete replied.

 

I bent over, got the thermos out of the cab, and poured my coffee. I saw Tonya walk over by Pete and point to the bridge we crossed on the way in. and heard Pete say, “Yes that is the bridge.”

 

Just then I heard Pete yell, “Jim come look at this!”

 

His tone was not like any I had ever heard from him before. I ran over to where he was standing. He pointed down to a spot by the river. I pulled up my binoculars and looked down on the spot. There was two trucks parked blocking the highway. They where hidden just around a corner, where you would not see then if coming down the highway. You come around the corner and by the time you see them it is to late, I thought.  Scanning around I saw 4 maybe 5 guys down by the river. Looking over a little just before the roadblock, I saw a truck and a SUV down over the bank by the river.

 

“Dam what is going on down there?” I asked.

 

“Road block, I think they are robbing anyone coming by,” Pete theorized.

 

“Let me see,” Tonya yelled in an excited voice.

 

I handed her my binoculars, and she looked down at the spot.

 

I asked, “Do you see it”

 

“Yes,” she said.

 

“Hey they’re moving back up to the highway,” Pete informed.

 

I turned and looked at Pete. “Can you see what they’re doing?”

 

“No they’re in the trees,” Pete replied.

 

“I think I do,” Tonya announced. “Look over here, there’s a car coming.

 

I looked where Tonya had pointed and saw the car moving along the highway. It was small without binoculars to look through, but I could see it. The car came around the corner and stopped at the roadblock. I could see the guys moving around the car, but they looked just a little bigger than ants.

 

“Hey what is going on?” I asked.

 

Pete replied, “They have guns and they’re moving around the car. They’re pulling a guy out of the driver side of the car.”

 

Just then, I heard a shot echo through the mountains.

 

“Damn bastards!” Pete shouted.

 

“Oh my god oh my god!” Tonya shouted.

 

I knew they shot him. I did not have to see it. The air got thick, and Tonya just kept shouting oh my god. Then I heard another shot echo through the mountains. Tonya dropped the binoculars and staggered towards the truck. Saying I’m sick.

 

“Damn sick bastards!” Pete yelled. “They’re worse than those commies invading this country. They need to be removed from the gene pool!”

 

I picked up the binoculars and walked over to Tonya. She was lying over the front of the truck. I grabbed hold of her and pulled her close to me. She kept saying, “They shot him,” over and over. I squeezed her tight and whispered, “don’t worry I would never let something like that happen to you.”

 

“Your dam right where going to take those bastards out.” Pete informed.

 

“What do you mean?” I questioned.

 

“What you did not see was them pull the woman out of the car. Then a little boy came out of the backseat to save his mommy, and they shot him,” Pete snarled.

 

Fear and anger filled me at the same time. I had been up over 30 hours and now I was wide-awake. The one I loved the most was shaking in my arms. This war was not right in my face it was in me. I could feel it pumping through my body.

 

Years earlier

 

Back in October of 1997 in Portland Ore., John was pulling into his driveway. He was driving a black 1989 Jeep Cherokee. It was not new looking, but it was a good runner. He turned off the key, and slung his arm over the back of the seat. Grabbing his pack off the back seat, he went into the house, and set his pack by the door. Shutting the door, he heard Evelyn call out “John is that you?”

 

“Yes.” He replied, as he saw her walk out of the kitchen. She was about 5’ 6”, and 120 lbs. with long black cruelly hair down over her shoulders. She gave him a smile and asked, “How was your day?”

 

With a little chuckle he replied, “Same old thing they wanted everything last week. You know they will just have to wait. I’m going as fast as I can, but they can’t make the computer chips fast enough.”

 

John was a Mechanical Designer, and did a lot of work for the companies that made computer chips. He had to find ways to change things over with out any loss of production. He was an average office worker about 6’ tall with a little extra around the middle. He could blame that on his wife’s good cooking. He took off his ball cap and laid it on the table. Then he ran his fingers through his short brown heir to straiten it out. “What is for dinner,” he questioned, “It smells good.”

 

In an excited voice she bragged, “Just some old peace of meat in mushroom sauce. I thought we could have it over rice, and some green beans from out of the garden. You know, the ones I canned last mouth.”

 

Evelyn was proud of the food that she canned herself. It was something that most people her age never learned. Sometimes she would tell stores of canning with her mom when she was a little girl.

 

Then, the timer went off beep, beep, beep. “Would you take the bread out of the oven, and put it on the table.” Evelyn requested.

 

John pulled opened a drawer, and took out a hot pad. Then he took the bread from the oven and put it on a cutting board. While Evelyn dished up their plates, and set them on the table. John sliced some bread and sat down at the table.

 

As they ate, Evelyn told John that she was out of canning jars, and she wanted to put up some pumpkin for pies. John thought to himself, I could probably buy it cheaper, but she likes doing that kind of thing. John told her he would pickup a case of jars on his way home tomorrow. She smiled and told John not to worry. That she would find something to put in the other jars. They talked about surfing the web after dinner. John thought that was a good idea, and told her that a pie would be nice too. She laughed and told him that she made an apple pie earlier in the day, and it was in the refrigerator. She would put it in the oven to warm up while they were on the computer.

 

Evelyn put the pie in the oven, and set the temperature at 250. Then they went in and sat at the computer. Evelyn sat at the keyboard, because she typed the best. She logged on to the web, and the browser loaded the home page. It was the weather page for their city. Cloudy 50 and a few showers, was the forecast. That was about average for a late October day in Portland. After looking at the forecast, she went to favorites and picked prep-board. This was a place where people posted things on how to be self-sufficient. Their board name was Wacko, so she typed in wacko and the password. The board came up, and the first post was from Endtimer. Endtimer was an Engineer, and was always posting things about how to build something. This post said, “Build a windmill from a car alternator. The next post was from Tec-guy. He had a dot-com business, and owned the server the board was on. His post said, “Y2K the end of time.” He was always posting about this end of the world thing, because computers would not work anymore.

 

John and Evelyn weren’t sure about this Y2K thing, but they would read what others would post. Someone would post a question, and Tec-Guy would try to answer it. The next post was from Commander, and then one from Rancher. They knew that Commander and Rancher lived some ware in eastern Oregon or Washington, because they had read things in their post about places around there. John told Evelyn to open Commander post. John wanted to meet Commander, but most people on this board were not that way. They didn’t mind sharing what they knew to help others, but they didn’t want anyone to know where they were, or their real name. He thought, if Commander knew me better. Then I might have a chance to meet him someday, so John always posted to his threads. This one said, “Harvest Time.” Evelyn picked it and it opened.

 

Commander posted that their garden was ready for plowing under. That his wife had been canning for weeks, and he just put the last of the squash in the root cellar. His post told how his wife got some little paper bags. The ones like they put kids candy in. She put a green tomato in each bag. Then put them on a shelf in the root cellar. We will take them out one at a time. Then put them in the kitchen window to ripen. Last year we had tomatoes at the end of December. Good thing too. The price of them in the store was out of this world.

 

Evelyn told John she would like to do that someday. Maybe when we move out to the country we can have a root cellar. That was Evelyn and John’s dream to move to the country someday. Evelyn knew John always posted to Commander, so she typed about canning the green beans. Then she told about doing the pumpkin in a few days. Just then, beep, beep, beep. The timer was going off. “The pie is ready,” Evelyn said.

 

They got up and headed for the kitchen. John and Evelyn sat at the table eating their pie, and talking about Endtimer’s post about the windmill. Evelyn told John that he always posted plans to build his projects. That she wanted to download them and print them out. John thought to himself, she has got three notebooks full of that kind of stuff. I’ll probably have to buy another ink cartridge and ream of paper soon. He knew she was saving all those things, for when they moved to the country, so he agreed to download them.

 

The next morning John got up, and got ready for work. He walked in the kitchen just as Evelyn was putting his breakfast on the table. He saw his to go cup on the counter ready to go. He ate gave his wife a kiss, and picked up his cup. He opened the door with one hand, and grabbed his pack with the other. Out at the jeep he put the pack in the back seat, and headed off to work.

 

On the freeway, it was stop and go. Pull ten feet and stop. It was like this most of the way to work. John hit a few places where he was moving along at twenty MPH for a wile. He had the same drive everyday, about an hour to go the 18 miles to work. He pulled into the parking lot at work, and saw Linda the secretary getting in her car. She was leaving, as he parked the Jeep. He slung his arm over the back of the seat, and grabbed his pack off the seat. Then he went into the office. After he set his pack by his desk he went to the break room to get a cup of coffee.

 

Mike and Dave were sitting at the table. “Good morning,” John announced.

 

“Not really,” Dave replied. “There is no coffee. The secretary went to get some, so you will have to wait if you want a cup.”

 

John just smiled, and walked over to the coffee maker. It had a spigot on the front for hot water. Most people used it for tea, but not John. He filled his cup with hot water, and went back to his desk. At his desk, John set down his cup, and picked up his pack. He opened it up and dug around. Then he pulled out a Tupperware container. Opened it, and took out what looked like a tea bag, but it was coffee. He dropped the bag in his cup, and put the Tupperware container back in the pack. He dipped the coffee bag up and down a few times. Then he threw it in his trashcan. He took a sip, and started laying out his day’s work.

 

Dave came walking up with his cup of coffee. He was a big burly guy with short black hair in his mid thirties. He had the desk next to John, and worked on most of the jobs with John. Looking down, and seeing the coffee in John’s cup. He questioned, “Hey I didn’t see you in the break room after Linda got back. How did you get coffee?”

 

John just smiled, and gave Dave a wink. Dave shook his head, and rolled his eyes, then sat at his desk. A few minutes later Mike came walking up with a set of plans. He told them that the Boss wanted the two of them to go to the plant. The contractor thought that some things might not fit. Dave told Mike that they all say that, so they can make more money for a change order, or do it a cheaper way to make more money. Mike set the plans on Dave’s desk, and informed. “Yeah then they blame us for the job taking so long to get done.”

 

John and Dave looked over the plans. Nether one could find anything wrong. Dave looked at John and insisted. “Guess we had better get over there. Are we going to take my car or yours?”

 

John thought for a minute, and told Dave this is going to take most of the day. If we each drive our own car, we won’t have to come back here. Dave thought it was a good idea, and concluded. “I’ll see you there.” Then rolled up the plans, and went out the door. John snapped the lid on his cup, and shut down his computer. Grabbing his pack, he went out the door.

 

John pulled up to the gate at the plant. It had the standard guard shack in the middle of the road. Inside he could see a big built man with gray hair, wearing a blue uniform. John stopped with his jeep window at the door of the guard shack. The guard stepped to the door, and asked John if he could help him. John told him what he was there for, and handed him his plant ID. The guard took his ID and swiped it through a reader. The reader was hooked to a computer, and tracked everyone that was in the plant. It worked a lot like sliding your bankcard at the store. Then a green light on the reader came on, and the guard handed John back his ID. The gate went up in the air, and John drove through. The plant was big, it sat on 60 acres, and John had to drive about a ½ mile around the plant. In the back of the plant was the contractor’s trailer. As he pulled up, he saw Dave standing by his car holding the plans.

 

John grabbed his pack, and put one strap over his shoulder. Walking up over to Dave he saw Dave shaking his head. He asked Dave what was the matter. He smiled and said, “That pack, you take it every where. You would think I would be use to it by now. You have been carrying that thing around for the last two years.”

 

“I know,” John replied. “But it has a lot of good stuff in it I might need.”

 

Dave with the plans in his hand and John with his pack over his shoulder went into see the contractor. They went over the plans. Then went into the plant, and looked at what he wanted to do. His idea was a good one. It would save him money, and the best part was it would speed up the job. After spending the day with the contractor John and Dave agreed. It would be best to do it his way. Not because it would save the contractor money, but because it would speed up the job.

 

Back outside standing in front of John’s jeep, Dave was telling John that this was a good day. Now if we could just get a few more things like this to happen. We would be back on schedule. John laughed and said, “Good luck,” as he slung his pack into the back seat. “See you Monday,” Dave said, as he walked to his car.

 

John stopped at the super market on the way home. He went inside and got a cart. Then headed to the canning aisle, and looked at the jars. He put a case of quart jars in his cart. Then he thought about the canning lids. The case came with lids, but you could only use them one time. I will need to buy them next year if I don’t get them now. He took two boxes off the shelf. Put them in the cart, and went to the check out stand. After paying for the jars, he put them in the jeep, and headed home. Pulling in the driveway, he saw Evelyn looking out the window. He grabbed his pack from the back seat, and went around to open the hatch. Evelyn came out and met him at the back of the jeep. John opened the hatch, and Evelyn took out the jars.

 

In the house, John set his pack buy the door, and took a big whiff. Then he proclaimed, “Wow, that smells good.”

 

The whole house had the sweet smell of pumpkin in the air. John looked at Evelyn as she carried the case of jars into the kitchen. She was wearing a blue-checkered flannel shirt, and blue jeans. She looked like she just walked in off the farm. This was not uncommon for Evelyn, because she had grown up on a farm in the country. She lived like she was in the country, even though she was trapped in the big city. That was one of the things that John loved about Evelyn, she was not like normal city women. She was a do it yourself person, and prided herself with making things work.

 

John walked up behind Evelyn, as she was taking the jars out of the case. He put his arms around her and gave her a kiss. “You want me to put the jars in the boiling water for you,” he asked.

 

John had learned a lot about this from Evelyn. He knew even though the jars were new that they had to be sterilized before they could be used. Evelyn told John that would be nice, so he picked up the tongs. Then he started putting the jars in the boiling water. Evelyn laid a towel on the kitchen counter to put the jars on. John put the first jar on the towel. Evelyn wasted no time she put the canning funnel on the jar. Then took a ladle she had laid out, and dipped it into a big stainless pot. She pored the pumpkin into the jar until it was filled to about one inch from the top. Then she he put on the lid, and screwed on the ring. In no time at all John was putting the full jars back into the boiling water. They had to be in the boiling water for about twenty minutes.

 

Evelyn asked John if he would slice the bread, and put it on the table. She took a casserole out of the oven, and set it on the table. They ate diner, and John told Evelyn about his day. Then there was a beep beep beep. The pumpkin was done. Evelyn cleaned off the table, and put the dishes in the dishwasher, while John took out the jars and put them on the towel.

 

Then like every night, they went into check the prep board. Evelyn had just picked the link for the prep board when they heard a pop. Evelyn looked at John and smiled. "That is one jar that sealed." Then there was another pop. Evelyn shook back and forth in her chair, and smiled as the prep page loaded. It made John happy to see Evelyn this way. She got so excited every time she canned something, and that made him feel good.

  

 

One year later October 1998.

 

By this time, the Y2K thing had become big news. It was in the paper, and on the news on the TV. There was stories about banks failing if they could not fix the problem, and power companies, phone companies, home computers, factories, credit card machines, cars, TV’s, VCR’s, and the list went on. There was stores about embedded chips, and software. It was getting confusing and complicated to most people. Some thought it was no big deal. Others thought it was the end of the world.

 

John and Evelyn sat at their computer waiting for the prep page to load. The board had changed over the last year. It had gone from a little over twenty members to over 1,200. The site was humming like a washing machine on the spin cycle. Most of the posts were about Y2K, and what would or wouldn’t fail. There were posts about books on how to survive the crash, posts about what to stock up on, and what other people were doing to prepare. With so many new members on the board, it was hard to find the posts of their friends from a year ago. Sometimes they would have to go back two or three pages to find them.

 

“Look there is one from Rancher,” John shouted.

 

It was three pages back, but he had only posted a few hours ago. Evelyn opened it. Stocking up was the title. Evelyn read the post aloud. “Got toilet paper?” (This was an on going joke on the board. A lot of people thought it would be worth a lot, if things got real bad.) “Food, water, and shelter are the most important things. Today’s post is about shelter. Most people’s home is a good shelter, but what about heat. What if the power goes out? How would you heat your home? A home can become hard to live in with no heat, and remember this thing is coming in the winter. We have a wood stove with a cook top. We can use it to heat and cook. This works for us, but you might not be able to do that, so why not share what you plan to do.”

 

The next post was from Tec-guy. He told about getting a big propane tank, a stove to cook on, and one for heat. John and Evelyn had thought about this, because there was a story about natural gas. It said that if the power goes out. They can’t pump the gas, and it might not work. They left a post for Rancher telling him thank you, and they liked all he was doing to help people prepare.

 

John and Evelyn had not done anything to prepare for Y2K, but they were talking about it a lot. With this thing being a little over a year away, they needed to start right away if they were going to do it. John thought they were already prepared. He had a wife that grew up in the country, and knew how to make do with what she had on hand. She could go a month, without going to the store. She kept the house that way, because on the farm, you only went to town once a month. He knew he could make it. He had an uncle who taught him how to hunt, fish, and what it took to survive in the woods. That is why John kept his pack with him at all times. It had everything in it he need to do that. He just saw the city as a different kind of woods, but this would be different. It would not just be him trying to survive. It would be him, and everyone in the city. John was not prepared for that, and it scared him a little just to think about it.

 

The next post John and Evelyn opened was from Been-Ready. The post read, “First Aid Kit.” Been-Ready had been on the board since they joined over a year ago. They knew he must work in the medical field, because most all of his posts were on that kind of stuff. As it came up Evelyn read it to John. “Found some good deals on rubbing alcohol today. It was a dollar a bottle. That is a good price. You should have at least ten in your stock of supplies. For a complete list of first aid supplies use the link below.”

 

The link had been edited with a note. “Link not working fixed by Tec-Guy.”

 

Evelyn had already printed out the list, and put it in one of her binders. After reading a few more post, they called it a night and went to bed.

 

The next morning, John awoke to a thud. It was coming from the spare bedroom next to his. He opened his eyes, and saw Evelyn was not in bed. Rolling over he looked at the clock. 6:33 is what he saw. What is she doing up this early on a Saturday, he thought. He got up and went into the next room.

 

There was Evelyn, she was moving everything to one side of the room.

 

“What are you doing?” John asked.

 

“Making room for the things we’re going to stock up on.” Evelyn replied.

 

“I thought we were still trying to decide on how much to prepare for?” John said.

 

With a little smile Evelyn said, “I know, but if we only buy things we already use. Then what does it mater? If nothing happens, then we just use the stuff. It is no defiant than your pack, or the spare tire in the jeep.”

 

John just stood there for a minute looking at Evelyn, thinking about how much he loved her. He would do anything to make her happy. He gave her a big smile and said. “Let me get dressed, and I will help you.

 

After they cleared one wall, John steeped back and looked at Evelyn. “Will I guess the next step is to go buy some shelves for that wall,” John informed. “We need something to put this stuff on when we get it.”

 

It was settled, they were going to stock up. John picked up his pack on the way out the door. Evelyn reminded him that was why his brother called him Wacko, because he took that pack everywhere.

 

John just smiled, as he put his hand on her head, and ran his fingers through her hair. By the end of the day, they had shelves along the wall. John steeped back and looked at them. John announced, “Looks good, to bad we don’t have anything to put on them.”

 

“Yes we do,” Evelyn said.

 

 Then she left the room, and came back caring some of her food she canned in jars. She put them on one of the shelves. Then John helped her carry the rest of them in, and put them on the shelves.

 

“There we’ve got a start,” Evelyn bubbled.

 

Putting his arm around her John whispered, “Yes we have”

 

The next day, Evelyn asks John if she could look for a job. She knew how John felt about that. He liked her at home making him homemade bread and things like that. She told him they could use the extra money to stock up. John didn’t want Evelyn to go to work, but he wanted her to be happy. He told her she could look, but he wanted to know what kind of job she would look for. She was not sure, but she would try to find something. Hopefully something that would not change their home life. She told him that if it caused any problems, she would quit. That made John feel better about Evelyn looking for work.

 

On Wednesday, Evelyn found a job. She sat at the kitchen table watching the clock, and looking out the window for John. She was so excited about her new job. It didn’t pay a lot, but it was her kind of job. Just then, John pulled in the driveway. She jumped up and ran to the door. She opened the door, as John stepped on the porch. Then she dove into his arms, knocking his pack out of his hand.

 

“I found the best job ever,” she screamed. She was talking so fast John could not make out what she was saying.

 

“Whoa,” John insisted. “Let me get in the house, and then you can tell me all about it.”

 

John picked up his pack, set it inside the door, and then sat on the couch. Evelyn sat next to him, and stared telling him about the new job. It is only pays $75 a week, but it’s only about a half mile away. It is 6 hours a day 3 days a week, taking care of a retired lady. She lives with her son, and daughter in-law. They have different days off, so I will only work on the days that they both work. That will be Monday through Wednesday.

 

John was happy that Evelyn was happy. Not that she got the job, but that she was happy.

 

Evelyn went to work, and every week she would buy some cases of can goods. John found a place he could buy bulk foods, 50 lbs. bags of flour, sugar, and 25 lbs. bags of beans and rice. He put it in 5-gallon buckets, and put them on the top shelves. By spring the shelves were full, but they didn’t stop there. They put up more shelves, and filled them up too. By November a year later the room looked like a small store. John and Evelyn had prepared for the worst to happen. They thought there was over a year’s supply of goods stocked in that room.

 

John stood next to Evelyn looking into the room. “Well I hope this was not a waste of time,” John muttered. “A little over a month and we will find out.”

 

Evelyn leaned her head on John’s shoulder and whispered. “It doesn’t matter what happens. This is stuff we use everyday, and if nothing happens, we use it. It is like a savings account. A lot of stuff we got at about half price, because we got it in bulk. I don’t think we can lose either way.”

 

December 31, 1999

 

John and Evelyn were sitting at the computer, watching the prep board. They had moved the TV, so they could see it from the computer. Today was the day they had been getting ready for. The board had grown even more over the last year. It had well over 2,000 members from all over the world. The time had come for the East Coast to roll into the New Year. They watched the TV, and the computer at the same time. Midnight came and went on the East Coast, and nothing happened at all. Power was still on, the phones still worked, not one thing failed. It was the same with the other time zones nothing. They went to bed wondering why nothing happened.

 

The next morning John and Evelyn got up, and checked the news. Nothing had happened. Not even one problem was on the news. They couldn’t believe it, so they went to the board to check it out. There were all kinds of post about why nothing happened. Some were like a stab in the back, and others said it needs more time.

 

After a week, the members on the board had dropped to about half of what it was. There were new dates, February 29 was the next one. It came and went, and nothing happened either. More dates were set for things to happen, but they came and went. Everyone was forgetting about the Y2K thing, and the board had dropped down to a few hundred. The pages went slow on the board. Some things would stay on the first page for two or three days. It was like when they first joined the board. John and Evelyn kept going to the board, and posting to their friends. They kept their stockpile of food, and slowly added to it. They had cut their food bill way down shopping that way, and liked the time together working the stock.

 

June 2001

 

John came in the door and set his pack down. He went into the kitchen looking for Evelyn, and she was not there. “Evelyn!” he shouted.

 

“In here,” he heard her voice come from down the hall. John went down the hall to the food storage room. There was Evelyn sitting on the floor. She had a black marker, and was putting dates on top of a case of cans. John looked at her and smiled. “I think we have enough food. What do you think?” John asked.

 

Evelyn stopped and got up, then walked over to John. She took him by the hand, and said. “Come look at this”

 

She took him into the computer, and showed him a program. She told him that Tec-Guy made it, and Been-Ready emailed it to them. It tracks our entire inventory. I spent all day putting everything we have into the program. My best guess is a little over two years of supplies. That should be enough no matter what happens.

 

I have news too John told her. They laid a guy off today, and there is no more overtime allowed. Things are slowing down, but there is still a lot of work out there. I’m sure everything is going to be fine, but it does make me feel good to have the storeroom. If things do get worse, and I’m laid off. We won’t have to waste money on food.

 

Evelyn stood up and put her arms around John. Then she whispered into his ear. “You worry too much.”

 

September 11 2001

 

John was in the shower when he heard Evelyn yelling. “John! John! A plane just flew into a building in New York.”

 

John jumped out of the shower. Wrapped a towel it around his waist, and went into the living room. He stood there dripped water on the floor looking at the TV.  Then he announced, “That’s one of the twin towers”

 

Just then, they saw another plane fly into the tower next to it. “Where under attack” John yelled. “We need to check the prep board. There are members in New York. Maybe they will post something.”

 

Then he went over, and turned on the computer. Evelyn went and sat in front of the computer, and John went to the bedroom. He put on some clothes, and came back and sat by Evelyn. He looked at the smoking buildings, as he passed the TV. Evelyn had the board on the screen, and they saw names of members that hadn’t been on for a year. The board was moving fast. Evelyn reloaded the page, and it had all changed. This was just like it was before Y2k.

 

John told Evelyn he was not going to work. He wanted to stay with her until they knew how bad it was going to get. He picked up the phone to call his work, but there was no dial tone. It had a busy single. The lines were over loaded. He tried it a few more times, and got a dial tone. He called his work, and got the voice mail. Then left a message that he was staying home, and they could call him there. Then a chime came from the computer. Evelyn knew it meant they had an email, so she opened the mail window.

 

“It’s from Been-Ready,” she announced.

 

She opened it and read it aloud. “Hey you two Wacko’s, just thought that I would remind you that now would be a good time to check your preps. If you need some things now would be the time. You should get them right away. You know if this gets bad. It will be like going into a store in Florida the day before a hurricane hit’s. I read on the board that one of the members stopped to get gas, and they wanted $20 a gallon. Some people are all ready going off the deep end. Lucky for us, most people are in shock, and don’t know what to do. Now check your preps, and go top off your tank.”

 

John jumped to his feet, and went and got his shoes.

 

Evelyn asked, “What are you doing?”

 

“I’m going to go fill the Jeep with gas. Just in case.” John replied.

 

Evelyn was replying to Been-Ready’s email, as John went out the door. She told him that Wacko went to top off the Jeep, and all there preps were topped off.

 

John pulled in the gas station. There were lines at all the pumps, but not too bad. There were more cars than normal for this time of day, but John was soon getting his gas. A lot of thoughts went through his head about what was happening. Was this the thing he was preparing for? Would things go back the way they were before? Will people stay calm through this? Just then, the pump kicked off, and snapped him out of his thoughts. He paid the attendant, and headed for home. Turing into the driveway he saw Evelyn setting on the porch.

 

She walked over to meet him. “A plane crashed into the Pentagon, and one crashed in a field somewhere. Well you were out getting gas.” Evelyn informed, as she met John by the Jeep.

 

“I heard that on the radio when I was getting gas.” John exclaimed, as he took Evelyn’s hand and walked to the house. “How come you’re not watching TV, or the prep board?” John questioned.

 

“The board is loading slow, and I keep getting server busy. Too many people on at one time I guess. The TV just keeps showing the same thing repeatedly, and the talking heads are just talking about a bunch of propaganda.

 

John spent the next two days with his wife. Things were getting better, and John went back to work. Over the next few weeks, things went back to the way they were. Well not exactly the same, that would never happen, but close enough.

 

February 2001

 

John walked into work and saw the boss standing at his desk. He told John he was sorry, but he had to lay him off. If things picked up, he would call him back. He knew it was coming for some time. This was the third round of layoffs. He had seen others go a few at a time, and the work kept getting less and less. He thought to himself, it might be good to take some time off. Besides, I have full unemployment to fall back on, and my wife has a job. They worried about this kind of thing happening, so they prepared for it.

 

It was about 3 months later in April when his wife was cut back to 2 days per week. Now they had a problem. With out the extra income they couldn’t make the bills. They talked about what they should do, and that’s when the wheel was set in motion.

 

John sat down by his wife on the couch. He told her either they had to sale the house or lose it.

 

Evelyn responded, “You know John, we have worked to hard to throw this all away.”

 

John queried, “Well what do you think we should do Evelyn”

 

She softly answered, “Just what we have talked about all of our life. Move out to the middle of nowhere and build a house.”

 

“That takes a lot of money, and we can’t even make the house payment after my unemployment is all gone. Besides, what would we live on?” he questioned.

 

“You worry too much John. We still have the two and a half years of food. I have been rotating for the last two years. Our bills would be next to nothing just power and food, oh and a little gas and miscellaneous things. We could probably get by on a low paying job.” Evelyn insisted.

 

“Well you won’t be able to go to the store, and get that little thing you need to go with dinner like we can now.” John argued.

 

 She smiled, “I don’t do that now. “I go to the pantry and get it, then add it to the list. I do most the shopping once a month already. It would be no problem to do it once every two months, if I have to. Milk is the only thing I get on a weekly bases, and we don’t have to have fresh milk.”

 

“Well I guess it is worth thinking about. It would be a big sacrifice though.” John informed.

 

“Hey lets go look at some property tomorrow. I’m not working and you don’t work. What do you think?” She announced in an excited voice.

 

John thought to himself, well, we will never find property for the money we could get for are house, but I will look. He agreed, “Ok honey east or west.”

 

“You know John we have looked before, and east is the best price. You don’t think we can do it. Do you?” she questioned.

 

John admitted, “Well, we'll see, but I don't think we will find anything.”

 

That night they sat at the computer, and put a post on the prep board about what They were going to do.

 

The next morning They set out for Eastern Oregon. They went out HWY 26, and up over Mt. Hood. Then spent the day stopping in all the little towns, and looking at property. They weren’t finding anything. Everything they look at had a problem. Evelyn wanted a place where she could have a garden, and that didn’t fit most of them. The property was either too rocky or just sagebrush. The one’s that where good, were either to much money, or didn’t have a well.

 

On their way home, the Jeep made a loud bang about five miles from the house. Then the tires started skidding. John pushed in the clutch, and coasted to the side of the road. Then took his pack and set it in his wife’s lap, and told her he was going to go call his brother. Have him come pick them up and take then home.

 

She queried, “Why I didn’t try to restart it?” He told her the motor was toast. That it blew up, there was no doubt about that. Then he walked about two blocks down the road, and called his brother from a pay phone. Then he went back to the Jeep and waited with Evelyn.

 

They saw Jim and Tonya pull up behind the Jeep. They were driving their Buick witch was a nice new car. Better than anything that they had, but they probably owed a lot of money on it. Evelyn got out carrying John’s pack, as Jim walked up to John’s door. John told his brother that the motor was toast, and he just needed a ride home. Jim told John that he would come get him tomorrow, and they could tow the Jeep home. John locked up the Jeep, and got into the back seat of Jim’s car.

 

Jokingly Jim teased, “I thought you were prepared for anything.”

 

This was an on going joke between John and his brother. Jim never prepared for anything he just took things as they came.

 

“I was prepared,” John insisted. “Prepared to call you that is.”

 

“I see that the bag you carry, and all that stuff you’ve stocked up on didn’t help you.” Jim replied.

 

Tonya snapped at Jim, “Knock it off Jim! Their Jeep just blew up, and they don’t want to hear that kind of stuff.”

 

It was quite the rest of the trip home, and no one spoke a word. When they got to the house, Tonya got out and gave Evelyn a hug. Then she told Evelyn that she was sorry about the Jeep. Jim didn’t get out of the car. He just rolled down the window, and told John he would see him in the morning. John told Jim thinks, as he watch Tonya get back in the car.

 

He went in the house, and saw Evelyn siting at the computer.

 

“Are you checking the prep board,” he asked.

 

“That and the email,” she replied.

 

John walked down the hall. Stopping at the bedroom they had all of their preps stored in. He looked through the door at all they had in there thinking; to bad we don’t have a motor in the preps. Then he went on down the hall to his bedroom. He sat in the chair next to the bed and took off his boots. Then went back into the living room, and sat next to Evelyn at the computer.

 

“I sent an email to Been-Ready telling him what happened. I didn’t want to post it on the board, but I had to tell some one.” She whispered.

 

“That’s ok,” John replied. “I’ve been thinking about it to. You know we have a little over $2,000 in savings, but we will need that if we find some property. We are just going to have to wait and see what comes along.”

 

They read some posts on the board then went to bed.

 

The next morning Been-Ready checked his email. Being a doctor he often got emails form other doctor’s on the weekend. After reading Evelyn’s email, he picked up the phone, and made a call.

 

“Hello,” said a sweet sounding voice.

 

“Is Chuck there?” He asked.

 

“Who is calling?” The sweet voice replied.

 

“Its doc,” he replied.

 

“Oh hi doc, Just a minute,” she instructed.

 

“Ha doc how is it going?” Chuck questioned.

 

“Not so good for wacko and his wife.” Doc replied. “The motor blew up in their Jeep. Their good friends and like family to me even though I’ve never met them, and don’t know exactly where they live. I want to buy them a good-used 4X4. They will need it when they move. Peat and Bill want to move them up there, but they weren’t sure how to do it.” Doc informed.

 

Chuck demanded, “No way am I letting you do that. I will go buy them a brand new one. You know they have been on my board sense the first week it went up. They have stuck with us through all the ups and downs, and it’s been over five years they have been helping us. Besides I have way more money than you, and you need me to make this happen.”

 

“Wait a minute Chuck,” Doc scolded. “This is my thing, and besides I don’t think a new one would be a good idea. If we did that, they would probably work hard to find out who did it.”

 

“You might be right doc.” Chuck agreed. “First we have to find out their real names, and where they live. I could make a program to send us the info off of their computer, but how do we get it on their computer.”

 

Doc informed, “I have a first aid program I could email them. If you could get it to load yours at the same time, they would never know.”

 

“That is a good idea,” Chuck maintained. “Email it to me, and I will get it started right a way. Tomorrow I’ll setup a conference call with the other guys”

 

“That sounds good to me,” Doc admitted. “I’ll send the program right now.”

 

Been-Ready hung up the telephone, and sent the program to Tec-Guy.

 

Evelyn and John were just finishing breakfast when they heard a knock at the door.

 

“It’s probably Jim,” John announced, as he walked over to the door. He opened the door, and Jim came in.

 

Looking at Evelyn Jim asked, “Any coffee left?”

 

“Sure.” Evelyn replied, and set a cup on the counter by the coffeepot. Then she filled it up and handed it to Jim, as she walked through the kitchen to the table.

 

Jim and John sat at the table, and talked about the best way to tow the Jeep home. Jim told John he was sorry about last night. That he was just joking, and didn’t mean to be an ass. John told him it was ok, and he knew it was a joke. He told John he stopped and borrowed a tow bar on the way over. It was in the back of his truck.

 

They went and got the Jeep, and it was back in the driveway about an hour later. John helped Jim load the tow bar back into his truck. Then he told Jim that he needed to bring Tonya for a visit. He said he would next time he came. John told Jim he would see him later, and went into the house.

 

Evelyn was siting at the computer typing when he came in. He went over and sat next to her and asked what she was typing. She told him that she was typing up a post about her garden. Telling everyone how she couldn’t have one this year, because they had to move. John had never thought about that. If they planted a garden they wouldn’t be there, and by the time they got a new place, it would be too late to plant one. He told her how sorry he was, because he knew how she was about her garden. he had her add some things to the post. They posted about the motor blowing up in the Jeep, and going to the Dalles next weekend to look for property. Then she added about not finding anything in Eastern Oregon. Evelyn posted their story, and they would check it once in a while.

 

Late in the afternoon, Rancher had posted a reply. He told them that in eastern Washington. You could plant right up until the end of May, and still have a good garden. Then there was a post from Dreamer. He told them he was excited about them moving into the country. He knew they would like it, and it would be good for them. Then there was a post from Tec-Guy. He told them that he was sorry about the Jeep, but things would work out. They always do, we all make it through these things. We are all survivors you know. We don’t quit just because of a little trouble. Then there was one from Been-Ready. It said that they had mail.

 

Evelyn opened the email. It said, “This is the best first aid program I have ever found.” There was an attachment, so they downloaded it. It was huge and took about a half-hour to download. They ran the install, and checked it out. Evelyn was excited, because it had pictures. There were pictures on how to do everything. It even showed how to stitch someone up. They sent an email telling Been-Ready thank you.

 

 

The next day 9:00 AM

 

Chuck walked into his office. He went straight to his secretary, and gave her a list of names and numbers. I need you to call everyone on this list, and setup a conference call. Then he went into his office. He was looking over the last week’s sales when his phone rang. He picked up the phone. It was Cindy his secretary. She told him the conference call was set up for 10:00 AM. Chuck told her thanks, and went and got a fresh cup of coffee. His phone rang and he picked it up. It was the conference call. Chuck took a roll call to make sure everyone was there.

 

Endtimer? “I’m here.”  (Enditmer is a Engineer)

 

Holeshot? “I’m here.” (Holeshot is a Lawyer)

 

Wind-Walker? “I’m here.” (Owns a wind surf shop in Hood River.)

 

River Rat? “I’m here.” (River Rat is a Fishing guide)

 

Dreamer? “I’m here.” (Dreamer is a Psychologist)

 

Bomb-b? “I’m here.” (Bomb-b is a Retired army bomb specialist) 

 

Been-Ready? “I’m here.” (Been-Ready is a Doctor)

 

Commander? “I’m here.” (Commander’s name is Pete, and he is a retired commander that is now a rancher.)

 

Rancher? “I’m here.” (Rancher’s name is Bill, and he is a rancher and farmer.)

 

Chuck told them about what he and Doc had talked about. They all liked the idea, and some wondered why it took so long to add them to their group. Chuck told them he had hired a PI to find out about them. Once I got their name off their computer. It only took me about ten minutes to find where they lived, I looked them up in the phone book, and there they were.

 

Wind-Walker told them that he had a brother in-law that owned a car lot and if they got the 4X4 through him. Then they would not be able to find out who did it.

 

Everyone thought that was a good idea, and agreed to it.

 

Then Bomb-b told them that it had to be a good runner, and he wanted to have new tires, brakes, hoses, and belts put on it. He told them he didn’t care how good they were. He wanted them to get it that way even if he had to pay for it himself.

 

Chuck told Bomb-b that he was paying for all of it. Then Beenrady told them he was paying for it, and he would work that out with Chuck.

 

Then Rancher told them he would get someone to come out, and survey out twenty acres of his land. I don’t know how we are going to get them to pick it out. We are going to have to come up with a good plan for that.

 

Chuck told them that they could work on that after the report came back from the PI. We need to get going on the 4X4 right away, or they might do something to mess it up. Like go take out a loan to fix their Jeep.

 

Holeshot suggest they all have another call Wednesday, and get the ball rolling on this now.

 

Everyone agreed, and they ended the conference call.

 

3:30 p.m. Wednesday

 

John was adding some potatoes to a pot of stew, and Evelyn was making dough for biscuits when they heard a knock at the door. John went to the door. There stood a strong looking man with black hair. He was holding a clipboard.

 

“John?” He asked.

 

“Yes,” John replied.

 

“Where do you want me to put your Jimmy?” He asked.

 

“What!” John queried. “I don’t have a Jimmy,” leaning to the side, and looking around him. John saw a flat bed tow truck with a dark red GMC Jimmy 4 door SUV on it. Evelyn had came to the door and was standing behind him.

 

“I have it right here,” he insisted. “You are John Hanson?”

 

 “Yes,” John replied.

 

Looking at the clipboard he informed, “It’s down here that you came and paid cash. Then you told them to deliver it here.”

 

John looked at Evelyn, and then looked at the tow truck driver. “Do you have a phone number of the place where I bought this? he asked.

 

“Sure” the driver replied.

 

Evelyn went and got the cordless phone, and John called the number. After talking with the man on the phone, he hung it up, and gave Evelyn a strange look. Then he said, “This is really weird, he described me right down to my boots, and my pack to.”

 

Evelyn leaned over and whispered in his ear. “Been-Ready, bet you he did it. I think he is a doctor and has a lot of money.”

 

John argued, “Ok put it in the driveway.”

 

The driver informed, “I need you to sign the title transfer, and that you received it.”

 

John signed the paper work, and went out to look at it. Evelyn was excited, and passed him almost knocking John off the porch when she went by. She was running from one side of the truck to the other, and stopping from time to time to jump up and down. John walked around the Jimmy looking it over, as the driver tipped the truck bed up. Looking at the tires, he saw they were new. The nubs weren’t even worn off yet. He was looking in the Jimmy, as the driver rolled it off the back of the truck. The inside looked like new, and the keys were hanging in the ignition.

 

Evelyn stepped behind him, and put her arms around his waist. He turned around and gave her a hug. She squeezed him tight, and whispered in his ear. “Do you think it really was Been-Ready?”

 

“I don’t know,” John replied, “Whoever it was didn’t want us to know it was them, or there is some guy out there that looks like me. This guy has the same name as me, and is carrying my pack. Then he gave them our address to send it to. Not likely, but I think if we play it right we can find out”

 

The Tow Truck driver opened the driver’s door, and set the parking brake. Then he announced, “There you go. The keys are in it.” Then he got in his truck, and left.

 

“Can we take it for a drive?” Evelyn asked.

 

“No,” John demanded. “I have a stew cooking on the stove.”

 

With out saying a word she ran in the house. John started to walk to the house. Then Evelyn came flying out the door, and yelled. “The stove is off, and the door is locked.”

 

John thought to himself. Guess we’re going for a drive. He turned around and got in the Jimmy. Evelyn jumped up into the passenger seat, and shut the door. Pulling the seatbelt around her waist she looked at John. In an excited voice she asked, “Are you going to start it?”

 

Looking at her and smiling, he confessed, “No I’m having too much fun watching you.”

 

She insisted, “Ok, you’re done watching me. Now start this thing, and see if it runs as good as it looks.”

 

John turned the key, and it started. Then he just sat there, and listened to it run. The motor was purring like a kitten.

 

Evelyn questioned, “Well are we just going to sit here and listen to it run, or are we going to check it out?”

 

He looked at her and smiled. Then announced, “Here we go”

 

He drove it around for a few until he was sure everything was working well. Then he let Evelyn drive it. She liked it and told hem it drove like a dream. That made him think, This is all like a dream. he just couldn’t get it out of his head. Who would do something like this? She pulled into the hardware store, and parked right in front by the door.

 

Looking at her John asked, “What are we here for?”

 

“To get keys made,” Evelyn informed. “There is only one set of keys, and I thought I would let you have a set.”

 

In a sarcastic voice John mumbled, “How nice of you to think about me.”

 

She disclosed, “I know. That’s why you love me, because I think about you”

 

They walked in the store, and She took his hand giving it a squeeze. Then held his hand, and swung his arm back and forth. She did this the whole time the guy was making the keys. Then they paid for the keys, and went out to the Jimmy. She told John to drive it home.

 

When they got back in the house he turned the stew back on, and Evelyn went back to cutting out the biscuits. Then John went into the computer and logged on to the web. He picked the link to the prep board, as it loaded he saw a post to wacko at the top.

 

It said, “Wacko how do you like the new Jimmy?” He clicked on it, and hollered “Evelyn come in here. You have to see this.”

 

She was standing right next to John when it opened. The post was from a name they had never seen before. “Guesswho,” it was there first post, and the date they joined was today. The post read, “How do you like your new Jimmy?”

 

The next post was from Tec-guy, and John read it. “Happy to hear you got a new Jimmy, and don’t have to worry about the Jeep anymore. I’m making this sticky, so it will stay at the top. Don’t want you to miss it.”

 

They scrolled down the page, and saw posts from just about every member they knew.

 

John looked at Evelyn and whined, “This makes a mess of things. I was going to use the board to try and find out who got us the Jimmy. Now everyone on the board knows about it, and there’s no chance of someone slipping up and posting the wrong thing now. I was hopping someone would slipup and post the wrong thing. Then we would know who it was. I think we have lost all chance of that now.”

 

“It’s ok John,” Evelyn whispered. “We will find out someday. I just hope it made them as happy to do it, as it has made us to get it. You want me to type up a reply to the post?”

 

John told her yes, and got up so she could sit down. She typed up a nice reply, and told everyone how they got it. Then told them they were going to The Dalles to check for property on Saturday.

 

Saturday morning they got up, ate, and set off for a drive. Evelyn wanted to take the Jimmy, but John told her he didn’t wont to take it on a long trip. Not until they had checked it out for a while. She agreed and they took the car. They drove for about an hour and a half. Then they stopped in a little city called The Dalles, and went to a phone booth to looked up the local real-estate office. There were a few so Evelyn wrote them down. Then they drove around until they found the first one on the list. It was in an old brick building, and looked like it was built back in the early nineteen hundreds. It had tall doors about eight feet with fancy leaded glass. All the windows had lace curtains from top to bottom.

 

John insisted, “This place looks too rich for us.”

 

Evelyn pleaded, “Come on John. They want our business just like anyone else.”

 

So they went in, and inside the door there stood a tall skinny man with a big full beard. He was wearing what looked like a fishing hat, and was wearing a flannel shirt and blue jeans. “Hi,” he said. “How are you folks today. I bet you are looking for some property. My name is Ray, come on over here and have a seat.” They walked over and sat down.

 

“What are you looking for,” Ray asked.

 

“Some land,” John informed.

 

“How much are you looking to spend,” he asked.

 

“About forty thousand for something with a well,” John replied.

 

He laughed, “Don’t we all. I’ll get you a list.” He walked across the room and informed. “Most of them don’t have a well, though.”

 

He pulled out a folder out of a file cabinet, and walked back to his desk. Took out a list and instructed. Here is what we have, and handed John the list. Looking at it, John saw the prices started at fifty thousand.

 

John announced, “If we spend that much we would have to live in a tent.”

 

He laughed again and said. “Yeah I know it has gone up a lot in the last ten years. You might want to go see Ben across the river in Washington about an hour northeast of here. He has some cheaper property up there. It’s kind of isolated though.”

 

He gave them some directions on how to get there. “Go east on Interstate 84 to exit 104. That is hwy 97, then go north on 97 about thirty miles to Goldendale, and take the second road on the left. Right after you turn it will be the first place on your left.”

 

John said, “Thank you.”

 

Then he thought to himself, what am I thanking him for, now Evelyn will want to go there? She did, so they where off to see this guy named Ben. They turned off the highway, and on to the road. John saw the real-estate office, and it was a single-wide trailer in a gravel lot. With a big old four wheel-drive parked in front. They sat there for a minute. It was quiet then Evelyn questioned, “Well aren’t we going in.”

John exclaimed, “Yes it just isn’t what I had expected.” Thinking to himself, This is going to be a waste of time. They got out of the car and started to walk towards the door. Then the door flew open, and there stood a big burly man.

 

“Howdy,” he said. “Come on in. looking for some summer property?”

 

“No,” John insisted, “Looking for some place to build a home for our retirement.” Not wanting him, to think they were serious about buying.

 

He offered, “Go ahead and sit down, my name is Ben.”

 

Looking around I replied, “Yeah I thought so, the guy in The Dalles sent us here.”

 

“Was it Ray?” he questioned.

 

“Sure was,” John replied.

 

“He sends people here all the time. He doesn’t want to waste his time on a no sale. You must not want to go deep in debt to get some property?” He asked.

 

“Was hoping to find something for under forty thousand,” John said. Well he thought, Right, what a waste of my time, but I love my wife so for her I’ll do this.

 

“Got a few in that range some even cheaper, in town or out of town?” He asked.

 

“Out of town,” Evelyn said before John could get a word out of my mouth.

 

Then he turned to the computer on his desk, typed –41k into a box on the screen, then hit enter, and a page was coming out of the printer.

 

John thought to himself, wow for a place that looks like it would take a day to get anything done. He did it faster than the fancy place in The Dalles.

 

He pulled the sheet from the printer, pulled open a desk drawer, and pulled out a map. Then he handed me the list, and informed, “Looks like there are about 20 in that price range.”

John took the list with a surprised look on his face. He was thinking they would be lucky if there was one on the list.

 

John questioned, “How many have a well?”

 

Ben replied, “Let me see.” He turned to his computer typed something and said, “Six.”

 

Then a page started printing. He grabbed the page and handed it to John.

 

John was looking it over when he asked, “Which one do you want to look at?”

 

John insisted, “The cheapest one.”

 

Ben said, “Well you won’t make it up there with that car you drove up in. We will have to go in my rig. Just let me close things up around here and we’ll go.”

 

John and Evelyn got up, and went out side to wait for Ben. John was showing Evelyn the list, when Ben came out and said’ “Go ahead and get in.” John had to help Evelyn up into the four-wheel drive, as she complained about how high it was. Ben hoped in and down the road they went.

 

We wet down Bickelton Highway about ten miles, and turned off on to a gravel road.

 

Ben informed them, “This is Old Mountain road. It is about eight 8 ½ miles up this road.”

 

John was looking all a round, as they went down the road. There were lots of old mobile homes from the fifties and sixties. They were just sitting out in the middle of fields. Then they drove past an old make shift shack. The shack had so much junk around it; you could not see the ground. You couldn’t walk from the road to the shack with out walking on top of junk. Old refrigerators, washing machines, car parts, and other junk, was just everywhere. John was thinking, This must be where the real hillbillies live, and we’re thinking of moving here. No way.  Just then, he was almost thrown out of his seat. he could feel Evelyn grabbing a hold of his arm tight, and Ben saying, “The road gets a little ruff from here.”

 

As we where being thrown around the truck I said, “My car will never make it in here.”

 

Ben questioned, “You have a SUV don’t you?”

 

“Yeah, we have a Jimmy. I use it for hunting and fishing.”

 

“That would work good up hear,” he informed.

 

Then John realized that he didn’t see power lines anymore, but before he could say anything.

 

Ben announced, “Here we are.” Then he pulled down a dirt road, and pulled in between two pine trees and came to a stop.

 

He said, “What do you think. You want to get out and take a look.”

 

John asked, “It has a well?”

 

“Yep”, Ben replied.

 

“I don’t see any power. Where is the nearest power?” John asked.

 

“About a mile back down the road,” Ben informed, as they got out.

 

John was thinking, This is too far out in the middle of nowhere.

 

Ben said, “That would be a nice place for a cabin right over there.” He pointed to a nice clearing between a stand of pine trees.

 

“It sure would,” John replied.

 

Evelyn insisted, “This won’t do. There’s no place for a garden, and it is too rocky to.”

 

John thought, phew, she saved me. He was afraid she might like it. Then John asked, “Ben how do you get the water out of the well with out power?” Then I realized dumb city boy question.

 

Nice and calmly Ben advised, “Hand pump or generator.”

 

Then I said, “Let’s look at the ones that have power and a well.”

 

Ben said, “That narrows it down to about 2. Let see.” Looking at the list he said, “There is a nice 20-acre piece just down the highway about a mile.”

 

“Sounds good to me lets take a look,” John replied.

 

They all got back into the truck, and headed down the road. The road seemed worse on the way out. Maybe Ben was driving faster, John didn’t know. He was just glad Evelyn didn’t like that property. The road was too bad for him, and there was no power. About ten minutes later, they were turning down a nice gravel road.

 

Ben announced, “About ¾ mile down this road is the place.”

 

John commented, “This road is a lot better.”

 

Then they drove out of the trees and into open farmland. John could see rolling farm fields for miles. Then Ben pulled into a stub of a driveway. All John could see was an open field with a big pond out in the middle of it.

 

Ben said, “This is it. Power right here at the road and a well right over there.” As he points to a big pipe sticking out of the ground.

 

Evelyn opened her door and got out before John could say a word, so he got out, thinking, what good is this there isn’t even a tree on the place.

 

Then Evelyn asked Ben, “What is it planted with?”

 

“Alfalfa” Ben replied. “You will get about a ton an acre two or if you are lucky three times a year. Most of the farmers around here will share crop it with you. That means they cut and bail it, and keep half and live half for you. Some will buy the other half or, you can sell it, or use it if you have live stock.”

 

Evelyn started walking off into the field. John went after her to see where she was going.

 

“Where are you going,” John ask as I caught up with her.

 

“To the pond,” she replied.

 

“Well I guess that is the only thing to look at here. It is either that or the pipe they call a well.” John whined.

 

“Are you being sarcastic?” She asked.

 

John replied, “No, but there is not even one tree here.”

 

“We can plant a tree if you want. I was thinking about planting some fruit trees anyway. When I was a little girl, we had some fruit trees, and my mom use to can the fruit. I would like to do that, and it would save money you know.” Thinking to herself, money must be all he is thinking about.

 

“I just thought you would want something like a cabin in the woods.” John replied.

 

“I would,” she said, “But that wouldn’t be very practical now would it. We need to think about being as self efficient as possible, and we are doing this to keep from losing the money we have in are house.”

 

How could he argue with that, she was right. Looking back, he could see Ben standing at the truck. Evelyn bubbled, “Look there are frogs down here. Then, a duck flew out of the grass by the pond. John looked into the water, it was deep and crystal clear.

 

“Wow I thought it would be green water wonder. Why is it so clear?” John asked in amazement.

 

“I don’t know,” Evelyn responded in an excited, “But be real quite, and look over there. See the little baby ducks.”

 

As John looked sure enough there were some little ducks. His mind started to wander to the peaceful surroundings.

 

“Well what are you thinking?” Evelyn asked.

 

Startled John admitted, “Just how quite it is here.”

 

She said, “I like it. What do you think?”

 

“Keeping you happy is what is most important to me,” John said. “If you like it, then I like it. I just see a lot of work to make this the way we want it.”

 

Jokingly she asked, “Are you afraid of some hard work?”

 

“No,” he replied, “But we should head back up to talk to Ben. We just left him standing there, and didn’t say a word when we left.”

 

They walked back to the truck holding hands, and it felt good to John, like when they just got married, and went looking for their first home. She had him sold on an empty field. He never thought it would be like this.

 

When they got to the truck John said, “This means we have to list are house you know. Hope this property is still available when it sells.”

 

“You worry too much,” Evelyn said.

 

Ben asked, “What do you think?”

 

“We like it,” John replied.

 

Ben said, “There is one other we can look at it if you want, but I can tell you right now that it is rocky, and a mile down a bad road.”

 

“Do you want to look at it?” John asked Evelyn.

 

“No I like this one,” she insisted.

 

Going back to the office, John asked Ben, “How fast do you think this will sell? We have to sell are house, before we would have the money.”

 

“No problem.” Ben informed, “We could offer a sale pending. That is when you guarantee to buy the property when your house sells. They usually want a couple thousand down incase you back out, or your house don’t sell.”

 

Back at the office, John and Evelyn made an offer on the property. Sighed the papers and went back to Portland.