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CHAPTER 3

         

 

 Bill slid open the door on the poll barn, and John backed in the Rider truck. They unloaded the truck into Bill’s barn and John told Bill he thought he would never make it to this point. Bill asked John if he was looking forward to spending his first night on the property. John looked at Evelyn and said, “I would sleep any where with that sweet gal.”

 

Bill laughed, and announced. “Well we will see how you feel after a month in Pete’s camper.”

 

“We have camped a lot before”, John said. “We have power and water, which is more than we’ve had at times, and we’re not in a tent thanks to Pete.”

 

“Yep Pete’s a good old boy,” Bill declared. “Just better get a house before hunting season, or you will be in a tent. When it comes to hunting nothing holds him back.”

 

“They said our house would be delivered in six weeks,” Evelyn replied. “If every thing goes good we should be in our house in two months or so.”

 

Bill asked, “Are you going to take the truck back to The Dalles tomorrow?”

 

“Yes,” John replied.

 

Bill informed, “I’ll come over tomorrow, and follow you down, and give you a ride back from the Dalles. That will give Evelyn time to settle in.”

 

“Sounds good to me, I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

Evelyn and John got in the Jimmy and went to the camper. John set at the table while Evelyn rolled out the sleeping bags, and made the bed. He told her that it was almost too much for one day. Making two trips to Portland, loading, and unloading the truck twice wore him out. Even though Jim and Tonya helped them load the truck. He told her that he hurt all over, and couldn’t wait to get into bed. She told John the bed was ready, so he climbed up into the back of the cab-over bed.

 

Evelyn got in next to him, and informed, “I’m really happy about all of this, and glad we are here.” She was still talking to him as he drifted off to sleep. John kind of faded in, and out a few times, but was not sure what all she said.

 

The next thing John knew Evelyn was making some coffee. He could here the perking of the coffeepot as he rolled over, and opened his eyes. “Good morning,” Evelyn said. “Did you sleep well?”

 

“Yes,” John replied, “But I feel like I could use some more sleep.”

 

Then there was a knock at the door. Evelyn opened the door, and it was Bill.

 

“Is he up yet.” Bill asked.

 

“Well he is awake, but he’s still in bed. Come on in the coffee is almost ready,” Evelyn said.

 

Bill stepped up into the camper, and had a seat at the table. “Are you going to get up, or just lay there all day?” Bill asked.

 

“Just a little slow moving this morning  yesterday was a long day for me,” John replied.

 

“Well it is all ready 7 o’clock, and if you don’t get moving. Taking the truck back is going to be an all day thing.” Bill said with a little laugh.

 

Evelyn poured the coffee, as John got dressed. Then Bill took him down to his place to pick up the Rider truck. They took the truck back to The Dalles, and picked up some supplies well they where in town. On the way back, Bill told John that tomorrow they would have to start cutting hay. The next two months would be hell. We will be cutting, baling, and stacking hay everyday. He said he would be down to pick him up at about four in the morning.

 

The next day Bill picked John up at four in the morning. They went back to his house and started up both of his tractors. He had them all setup and ready to go. Bill took the big tractor and had John follow him with the other tractor. Barbara followed them both with the four-way flashers on. About a mile down the road, Bill pulled off into a field. John turned in and stopped next to him. Barbara turned around, waved, and went back home. Bill came over and climbed up on the tractor next to John. He told him all he had to do was follow about 100 feet behind him. He would cut a strip and John was to cut the strip next to his. He told him to just engage the PTO and drop the three point and go for it. That is how it went. Bill took off, and John followed him hanging back about 100 feet. They were out there driving around for what seamed like forever. John was getting hungry, and the sun was getting high in the sky. He knew it was getting close to noon. Then he saw his Jimmy coming across the field. Bill stopped his tractor and John stopped. They went and met Evelyn and Barbara at the Jimmy.

 

Barbara got out carrying the picnic basket. They sat with their wife’s and ate lunch. Then it was back to work. They didn’t stop until about 8 o’clock. It went on like this for the next week. Then they did it all over this time baling all the hay they cut. John felt like he was going to drop dead, but that was the easy part. The next week Pete came and drove Bill’s big five-ton truck. Bill put forks on the tractor and a pallet. Bill drove down a row of bales and John road on the pallet. He would stop and John would stack the hay bales on the pallet. When it was full, Bill would drive over to the truck. Then Pete and John would stack the hay bales on the truck. When the truck got full, they would take it to the barn. One load to Bill’s barn the next load to Pete’s. The only rest John would get was riding in the truck, and then after the hay was stacked in the barn.

 

Evelyn felt sorry for him. He was working so hard some nights he would fall asleep before dinner. She was doing her best to give him support. She would go to Barbara’s and wait for him to come in on the truck. Then bring him something cold to drink. After he would leave she would drive over to Suzy’s and wait for him there.

 

John staggered out of Pete’s barn. Fell to the ground, and leaned against the barn. He was covered with sweat and sore as hell. Looking up he saw Evelyn walking towards the barn. She was carrying a tray with glasses of ice tea. She handed one to Pete and Bill. Then came over and sat next to John. She leaned her head on his shoulder, as she handed him a glass of ice tea. The glass felt like it weighted 100 pounds. It was all John could do to lift it and take a drink.

 

Bill looked over at John and said, “You look like hell John.”

 

John looked up at Bill and informed, “It is this heat. It is killing me.”

 

“I know,” Bill said. “It has been close to 100 the last few days.”

 

Just then, John heard Suzy say, “102 right now.”

 

John didn’t even see her come out. He was so tired he was foggy headed. Looking over at Bill he said, “I think I’m done for the day. I can’t lift another bale.”

 

Pete reached out and pulled Suzy in next to his side. Then put his arm around her and groaned, “Thank God! I was afraid John was going to work me in the ground. What do you think Bill? Take a day off then go to nights.”

 

Bill lifted up his hat and wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve. Took a deep breath then gave a sigh. “That sounds like a good plan to me.” Then he looked at John and asked, “How is that dream going Wacko? Has it turned into a nightmare yet?”

 

John bellowed, “Hell no! We passed nightmare a week ago. This is just plain hell.”

 

Everyone busted up laughing. Then Pete informed, “Don’t do that again. If I laugh like that one more time I might fall down.”

 

And that is how it was for the next two weeks. They would work from midnight to noon.

 

The sun was just coming up, and the dim light was changing to brightness. It must have been seventy, and John knew it was going to be another scorcher. He was wearing shorts and a tee shirt and holding Evelyn’s hand, as they walked out to the chicken coop. Evelyn swung the wicker egg basket back and forth in her other hand. This was his first day off in a month and a half, and the day their home was coming. He fed the chickens while Evelyn got the eggs. They were both excited about this day. Not only was their home coming, but Jim and Tonya were coming too.

 

This would be the first time they saw where they lived. John knew that Jim would not be impressed. He thought John was an idiot for giving up his college degree to stack hay. He didn’t understand that John had no choice. That the job he did went to some foreign country.

 

Walking back to the camper, they saw Bill and Barbara pull in. Evelyn and Barbara went into the camper, and Bill and John walked over to the concrete slab.

 

“Looks like the guy you had do the pad for your home did a nice job. Bill commented.”

 

John replied, “Yap, but that was just about the last of the money from our home. Things are going to be tight from now on.”

 

Bill lifted up his hat and ran his fingers through his hair. Then put his hat back on. John knew he was going to give him advice or tell him a story. He was getting to know Bill pretty good, and knew most of his habits.

 

“I think you worry about things that aren’t there.” Bill insisted, “Your belly is full, you have a warm place to sleep, and a woman that would do anything for you. What more can you ask for?”

 

“I know I have it good Bill,” John replied. “It’s just when my brother gets here he is going to be all over me. Asking me why I would give up the good life of the city to stack hay and chase cows. I love it here, but I don’t think he will ever understand.”

 

Bill looked at John and gave him a wink. Then asked, “Your freezer is plugged in down in my barn? Right."

 

“Yeah,” John replied.

 

“I keep it full of meat? Right."

 

“Oh yeah,” John replied.

 

“You could have steak and pot roast every night if you want,” Bill replied. Then he asked, “Can your brother afford that.”

 

John said, “Damn Bill when you put it that way I’m rich. Well at least I eat like a rich man”

 

Tell you what, you bring your brother and his wife down to my place for dinner. Then I will cook up some stakes so big and thick he will think he died and went to heaven, Bill remarked. Then he yelled, “Barbara!”

 

She stuck her head out the camper door and asked, “What!”

 

“We’re cooking up a feast for John’s brother and his wife. We’re going to show them how country people live, Bill replied. “John and I are going to town and rent them a room.”

 

“What if their house comes while your gone?” Barbara asked.

 

“They know what they were paid to do, and we don’t need to be here. See you in few,” Bill informed.

 

Barbara pulled her head back in the door, and turned to Evelyn and said. Looks like Bill is trying to make your in-laws jealous of country life.

 

They were at the Motel in town when John saw Jim and Tonya at the gas station. Bill came out and threw John the key as he got in the truck. He told him his brother was at the gas station across the street. Bill drove over and parked next to his car. Jim walked over to the truck and said, “I couldn’t find the place. I stopped here and called that number you gave me, but there was no answer. I ask if anyone knew you and no one knew. Don’t you ever come here for gas?”

 

“No,” John replied. “Bill has a 3000 gallon tank on the farm. He has the gas delivered out there, and I just fill up when I want. Just one of the perks of the job. Are you ready to go?”

 

“I guess,” Jim said.

 

“Ok, just follow us and you will find out where we live,” John replied.

 

We pulled out and Jim and Tonya were following us. Bill laughed and assured, “Yeah that is how you do it. Bet it has got him thinking all ready. Did you see the look on his face when you told him you don’t buy gas?”

 

“Yeah I did, and it felt good. Thanks Bill,” John commented.

 

Jim looked over at Tonya as he followed John and Bill. Then ask Tonya, “Damn did you see John’s arms?”

 

“No doubt!” She replied. “He has got mussels bulging from every part of his body.”

 

They pulled in and parked next to the camper. John could see Evelyn and Barbara in the garden. He got out and walked back to Jim’s car. Jim got out and they walked over to see where the house was going. Tonya headed for the garden. Evelyn and Barbara walked to the edge of the garden to meet her.

 

In an excited voice Tonya said, “Hi Evelyn.”

 

Evelyn gave Tonya a hug. Then said, “This is Barbara”

 

Tonya said, “Nice to meet you.” Then she looked around the garden and acknowledged, “Wow look at this garden it is huge, just like John.”

 

Evelyn got a puzzled look on her face. Then she asked, “What do you mean by that?”

 

Tonya looked at Evelyn and informed. “Don’t you ever look at John? He is buff girl. Damn he has turned into a stud.”

 

Evelyn stared over at John well Barbara snickered. She had been with him every day, and not even noticed. After taking a long look at John. Evelyn looked back at Tonya and smiled. Then she informed, “Looks like John to me. Pick up that basket and we will get some salad stuff for dinner.”

 

Barbara, Evelyn, and Tonya cut some lettuce and put it in the basket. Then Evelyn pulled up some carrots. They were small and not full-grown, but would be nice and tender for dinner. Then they picked some cucumbers and tomatoes.

 

“Here it comes!” Evelyn yelled. Then she ran out of the garden like a deer crossing the road. “Here it comes!” she yelled. She ran up, took John’s arm, and gave it a tug. John looked down the road, and saw what she saw. It was the house all right. It was way down the road moving slow. He kept looking at it, as Evelyn drug him out to the road. She was so excited she was jumping up and down. Saying, “We have a house. We have a house.” There was a car in front of it with flashing lights and a wide load sign. The car pulled up and stopped. The man driving the car looked at Evelyn jumping up and down. Then questioned, “This must be where the house goes.”

 

Evelyn said, “Yes! Right over there,” as she pointed to the concrete slab.

 

Everyone had walked out to the road. Then John heard Jim say, “Here comes the other half.”

 

Looking down the road, John saw two trucks followed by the other half of the house. The pilot car pulled out into his field. The driver got out and went over to the truck towing the first half of the house. Talked to the driver and pointed to the slab. The driver pulled out into the field, and backed the first half of the house on the slab. Then he got out, blocked up the tongue, and unhooked the house. Then he pulled his truck out into the field. Ten minutes later the other half was on the slab. Then the two trucks pulled in and a big man with gray hair and big mustache got out and walked over to them. While four young men got out of the trucks, and were unloading block.

 

He said, “We’ll have this thing married in about five hours. Then the rest is up to you.”

 

Evelyn took Tonya and Barbara and walked around the house. She was pointing to the windows and telling them what room it was.

 

John reached in his pocket, pulled out the key for the Motel, and handed it to Jim. “You know how to get back there don’t you?” John asked.

 

“Yeah, just take this road to the highway and go to town. What do you think, I’m stupid?” Jim replied.   

 

“No!” John replied. “I just didn’t want to see you driving the wrong way in the dark.”

 

Evelyn walked up and gave John a kiss on the cheek. Then she said, “We’re going down to Barbara’s. I need to put the lettuce on some ice so it don’t wilt.”

 

John nodded, “Ok. We’ll be down in a little while.”

 

Bill got out the lawn chairs from under the camper. Then they sat there like three kings watching the men work.

 

Jim looked at John and said, “This farm work must be hard.”

 

He replied, “No, not really. Unless you think driving a tractor around, or watching a water trough fill up is hard work.” He could see Bill doing his best not to laugh.

 

“I’m not buying that Bull John” Jim said. “Look at those arms you got. You don’t get arms like that watering cows.”

 

“Oh those. That is from arm wrestling Evelyn for sex. She won’t give it to me unless I win. She has been down right mean since we moved up here.”

 

Bill could not hold it in any more and busted up laughing. That made John lose it and he started laughing to.

 

“Guess I’m not going to get the truth out of you.” Jim said in a sarcastic voice. “At least you haven’t been on me to prepare for the end of the world.”

 

“Nope I gave up on that. You’re never going to prepare for anything, so I prepared for you. A few more weeks and I will have this home all setup. Come fall Evelyn will have that entire garden canned in jars. Then we could have a complete collapse, or war, or what ever. I’m ready. Then it is up to you to make it here, so don’t worry about it.”

 

Looking straight into John’s eyes, like he was trying to stare him down. Jim asked, “Why would you do something like that?”

 

“Because I love you and Tonya,” John replied, and went on. “You know this means you still have to prepare to make it up here.”

 

Jim teased, “Yeah like you were prepared to call me when your Jeep blew up.”

 

John could tell Bill didn’t like Jim’s answer. He didn’t know Jim the way John did, and that he was picking on him. It was like a sick twisted joke.

 

Bill spoke in a calm tone, “What do you think he would have done if you weren’t home. I can tell you he would have gone to a backup plan. Everyone needs a backup plan.”

 

Jim snickered, “No wonder you like it up here John. You found another wacko just like you.”

 

John could tell Bill was going to say something about what Jim said, so he spoke fast. “Look they got all the plastic off, and are moving the two halves together. There was one guy on the roof and two under the house. The other guy was rolling up the plastic. They’re boss was yelling, “Nice and easy. That’s it, slow, a little at a time. Keep it coming. That’s it! Bolt this baby together.” He walked over to where they were sitting. Then reached up and giving his long mustache a tug and twist as he announced, “It went together real nice. We will get the block under it, and level it. Then we’ll do the carpet and put the roof cap on. For a little extra we can hookup the water and sewer.”

 

“Bill and I are going to hook that up, but thanks for offering.” John replied.

 

“Ok then,” he informed, “We’ll finish this up. Then it is all yours.”

 

Bill leaned forward in his chair and asked, “You think it is time to head to my place.”

 

“Sure, John agreed then asked Jim. “Are you taking your car or riding in the truck with us”

 

Jim asked John when they were coming back, and John informed him, “Before these guys leave. I want to check their work before they take off.”

 

“Then I will ride up in the truck with you,” Jim replied.

 

Bill went over to the Forman, and told him his driveway was the next one down the road, and told him to come there if he needed anything. They got in Bill’s truck and went to his house.

 

Bill pulled in and parked next to the Jimmy. Evelyn and Tonya waved through the kitchen window. It was getting pretty hot at least in the nineties. Bill asked if we wanted something to drink. John told him some ice tea would be nice, and Jim asked if it was to early for a beer. Bill told him nope and went in the house. He came out with a beer in one hand and a shotgun in the other. He handed Jim his beer and asked. “You want to shoot some clay pigeons.”

 

“Can we do that out here?” Jim asked.

 

Bill smiled and said, “I’m not sure maybe I better ask my neighbor. John can we shoot off my shotgun?”

 

John laughed, “I’ll go get the trap and some clays out of the barn.”

 

Bill and Jim walked around behind the barn. John got the trap and a stack of clay pigeons, and met them behind the barn. He setup the trap and loaded a clay. Bill set a box of shells on an old hitching post, and pulled out a shell and put it in the gun. Bill hollered, “Pull!” John pulled the cord on the trap, and the clay flew up in the air. Boom! Then the clay flew apart. John loaded another clay, and Bill asked who is next. Jim said he would give it a try. John watch Bill pull a shell from his shirt pocket. He knew what was going on, because Bill pulled this trick on him. He knew it had a double powder load, and would make the Shotgun kick like a mule. Bill put the shell in the shotgun and gave it a pump, then handed it to Jim.

 

Jim hollered, “Pull!”

 

John pulled the cord. Then Boom! Fire shot out the end of the barrel, and Jim took a few steps backwards. John could tell it took all he had to keep from falling on his ass.

 

“What the Fuck!” Jim yelled. “That son of a bitch just about tour my arm off. What kind of shotgun is this?”

 

John put another clay in the trap and answered, “Twelve gage pump. Here let me give it a try. John took the shotgun then took a shell from the box, and put it in the gun. He gave it a pump and yelled, “Pull.”

 

Bill pulled the cord. Boom! John took the shot and the clay pigeon flew apart. 

 

“Nice shot John. Looks like we’re all are up one.” Bill said.

 

John turned and handed the gun to Bill saying, “It is your shot.”

 

He looked over at Jim, and he was rubbing his shoulder. Then John said, “You’re up next Jim.”

 

He said, “Fuss.” Then he got a strange look on his face. John looked over to see what he was looking at. There stood Evelyn holding two glasses of ice tea. Just then, Bill yelled, “Pull!” John pulled the cord and boom.

 

Bill turned around and saw Evelyn and said, “It must be break time.” Then leaned the shotgun up against the hitching post, and took a glass of ice tea from Evelyn. John walked over, gave her a kiss, and told her thanks as he took the other glass of tea. She asked Jim if he wanted another beer, and he said, “yes then added maybe two. These two are crazy and John has gone past the wacko stage now.”

 

Evelyn looked straight at John. “What did you do now?” She asked.

 

John shrugged his shoulders and insisted, “Nothing.”

 

“Yeah right John. I know you better than that,” she commented as she walked away.

 

“I’m sorry Jim, but Bill pulled the same trick on me.” John assured.

 

Bill affirmed, “Hell you did better than John. His ass was on the ground when he got done.”

 

“Hey Bill you got any more of those shells,” Jim asked.

 

“Sure,” Bill replied, “Why?”

 

Jim inquired, “I would like to get a couple of them from you if I could.”

 

“You got someone you want to get even with?” Bill asked.

 

“That is for sure, and this would be the ticket.” Jim replied.

 

Bill agreed, “I’ll give you a box of them. My friend Pete makes them for me, and I can get as many as I want. Just don’t let me forget before you leave.”

 

They shot a few more clay pigeons. Then went back down to John’s house to see how it was coming.

 

When they pulled in the big man with gray hair and big mustache walked over. He told them they were putting the last shingles on the roof, and he would be done in a few. Then asked if we wanted to walk through the house, and check it out. That is what we came for John told him. “Lets do it then,” he said.

 

They walked over to the steps they had put up to get in the house. As we walked in the house he said, “There will be a crew here tomorrow to do your porch and deck.”

 

“Wow look at this,” Jim said. “This is huge”

 

We walked into the living room, and it was open to the kitchen and dining room. This made it seam bigger than it was.

 

“I think it is the high vaulted ceilings that makes it look so big,” John informed.

 

Bill and Jim were checking out all the rooms in the house. John had seen the house before, and knew what it was like inside. He was more interested in checking the work that the contractor had done. Jim and Bill went down the hall, and John was checking the carpet. It looked nice, and he couldn’t even tell they took it up and put it back down. He looked over the big false beam that ran down the middle of the house. This was where the two halves of the house joined, and it looked nice. Just like when Evelyn and him looked at the house before they bought it. He went into the master bedroom and checked it out. Then laid on the floor where he thought Evelyn would put the bed. He was thinking how nice it would be to have a house again. Jim and Bill walked in and looked at John lying on the floor.

 

“Looks like John has already moved in,” Bill said.

 

“Damn this place is nice,” Jim insisted. “Tonya is going to be jealous when she sees it.”

 

Bill commented, “You have a good view of the pond from your family room.”

 

John just laid there staring into space like they weren’t there. Then he heard Bill say, “Wacko! Rancher is ready to go cook some steaks.”

 

Bill knew that John knew he was Rancher from the prep board. They both knew who they were but wouldn’t admit it to each other. John rolled his eyes over and looked at Bill, then informed. “You know next week I will have a phone, and my computer will be up and going.”

 

Jim asked, “What the hell does that have to do with cooking steaks?”

 

Bill new that meant Wacko would be back on the prep board again. He looked at Jim and said, “Let’s go. He has gone wacko and we have steaks to cook.”

 

Bill and Jim headed out the door, so John got up and followed them. Outside the crew was done, and getting into their trucks. John saw his Jimmy coming down the road as they pulled out. Bill told him it looks like the girls are coming to look at the house. Their wives got out of the Jimmy and Evelyn walked over to John.

 

“Can we go in side,” she asked.

 

“Sure can,” John replied. “They did a nice job.”

 

Evelyn, Barbara, and Tonya went into the house. Barbara headed straight to the kitchen. Opening a door in the Corner of the kitchen, she saw a walk-in pantry.

 

“Evelyn you didn’t tell me the kitchen had a pantry,” Barbara questioned.

 

Tonya looked in the pantry and mumbled. “That’s not a pantry! It’s a big cupboard. Evelyn’s idea of a pantry is about ten times the size of that. You should have seen the one she had down in Portland.”

 

Barbara filled with anger. Not because of what Tonya had said, but buy the way she said it. She wanted to reach out and slap her, but took a deep breath instead. Then thought for a few and asked, “Have you heard about Ready dot Gov, and seen the commercials on TV from Home Land Security?”

 

“Yes I’ve seen them,” Tonya replied. “But they only tell you to prepare for three days.”

 

“That is what I thought,” Barbara commented. “Didn’t you hear the part about making an escape plan incase you can’t stay, and setting up a meeting place for family members. In all of your life, have you ever known the government to tell you to prepare? I would think if they were telling us this. Then what aren’t they telling us? I would think you should be happy that John and Evelyn have prepared for you too. You know this reminds me of a story I heard once. A little boy asked his dad, what are we doing to prepare? His dad looked up and asked why he wanted to know. Because Joe’s dad is buying extra food and putting it in their garage, and Albert’s mom got some water barrel’s and candles. His dad said we’re making a list of what everyone is stocking up on, and where they live.” Then she stormed out the door.

 

“I’m sorry Tonya,” Evelyn said, “But she doesn’t understand. I have to go out and talk to her.” Then Evelyn went outside.

 

Barbara looked at Evelyn and said. “I’m sorry Evelyn. I should have kept my mouth shut.”

 

“It’s ok,” Evelyn said as she took Barbara’s hand. “Let’s walk down to the pond.”

 

They walked as Evelyn told Barbara about John and Tonya. Evelyn told her that Tonya had prepared the best she could, but John thought it was a waste of time and money. She told her when she was down in Portland, her and Tonya did a lot of things together. I think she is just a little jealous. I have friends up here, and that house is like new inside.

 

My dream is coming true and she can see that now. John and I don’t have much money, but we are getting everything we ever wanted. I just think she is jealous. Jim makes good money, but they spend it as fast as they make it.

 

Barbara pleaded, “Oh Evelyn I never thought about her being jealous. I’m so sorry I acted that way. Now lets go back so I can tell her I’m sorry”

 

Walking up the hill they could see Tonya watching them out the window. When they got to the door, Tonya was standing there waiting for them.

 

“I’m so sorry Barbara I didn’t mean to upset you,” Tonya admitted.

 

Barbara replied, “No it is me that should say I’m sorry, and I mean that from my heart. I should have thought of how you were feeling. The city and country are as different as night and day.”

 

Evelyn asked, “Tonya did you look through the house?”

 

“Oh yes,” she replied. “It is a lot bigger than the house you had in Portland. You must like all the extra room. Come on Barbara lets look at the house.”

 

Barbara and Evelyn went into the house. “Come check out this walk-in closet Barbara,” Tonya insisted. “I wish I had something like this in my bedroom.”

 

Barbara looked at Tonya and saw her eyes were watering up. Barbara said, “Oh sweetie is it what I said, I’m sorry, and I mean that. I wish I could take it all back.”

 

“No, that is not it,” Tonya advised as a tear ran down her cheek. “Its Evelyn. I thought her and John were loosing everything. She told me she was living in a camper, and they bought a trailer house. Then I came up here and their doing better than ever. This house is nicer than the one they had in Portland. She has you as a true friend, and it is like you took my place. Then John he is like the dream hunk. Evelyn you have things that money can’t buy, and I’m not a part of it.”

 

Evelyn put her arm around Tonya, and walked her into the kitchen. Pulled open a drawer and took out a key. Then took her down the hall and stopped at the two bedrooms at the end. Then handed Tonya the key and said, “This is the key to our house.” Then pointing to one of the rooms she said, “That is the room I’m putting my pantry in, and this room is yours. You can come here anytime day or night, and yes I love Barbara. She is my best friend. I have another friend up here Suzy and I love her too, but you are my sister and I share everything I have with you. Well except for John I’m not sharing him with anyone.”

 

Barbara asked, “Are we ready to head back to the house? The guys are probably already cooking the steaks.”

 

Evelyn acknowledged, “I think so. Come on Tonya lets go.”

 

Barbara took a hanky from her pocket, and wiped the tears from Tonya’s face. Then she said, “You have not lost a sister. You have just made a new friend.”

 

They drove down to Barbara’s house. Then Barbara took Tonya in the front door, so no one would know she had been crying.

 

Jim came in the back door to get a beer, and saw Evelyn putting a teapot on the stove. “What are you doing?” Jim asked.

 

“I’m making some hot chocolate,” Evelyn replied.

 

Jim got a puzzled look on his face and asked, “What are you making hot chocolate for it is hot as hell, and where is Tonya?” Jim asked.

 

“Tonya is in the other room with Barbara. Do you need another beer?” Evelyn asked as she stepped in front of Jim and opened the refrigerator door. Evelyn took a beer out of the refrigerator and handed it to Jim. Then insisted, “You should go back out side Tonya will be out in a few.”

 

“I just want her to see what this hillbilly calls a steak. It is like a roast, Jim replied.

 

Bill and John could hear them through the open window. Bill knew that if Evelyn was making hot chocolate something was up, so in a loud voice Bill said. “I think you should come back out here Jim, unless you like putting a stick in a beehive.”

 

Jim went back out side and stood by John and Bill. Bill turned one of the three-pound steaks on the barbecue and said, “Wise move Jim. No need to have all the women pissed off at us.”

 

Jim agreed, “You got that right I can’t handle one let alone three.”

 

They were all laughing, and having a good time, but Just inside the house things were a lot different. The girls were trying to merge their friendships, and not let the guys know how hard that was.

 

Evelyn got some ice from the freezer and put it in the blender. Then mixed up a thick batch of hot chocolate and added what was left of the morning coffee. Then she got some glasses out of the cupboard, filled them with ice, and added the mocha mix. She was putting the glasses on the table when Barbara and Tonya came into the kitchen.

 

In an up lifting voice Evelyn confessed, “I made us some iced mochas.”

 

Evelyn looked at Tonya and smiled, so she could check out her eyes. They looked good and the redness was gone, so she went on. “Jim came in he wanted to show you the steaks.”

 

Barbara laughed, “We could all go out and sit on the porch swing. Then we could watch Bill show off as he cooks the steaks.”

 

The three of them went out and sat on the porch swing. It was a tight fit, but Barbara and Evelyn wanted Tonya to feel a part of them. Barbara kept bugging Bill about how long it was taking to cook the steaks, and he would tell her it takes time to cook a good steak. Then she would say something like, if you weren’t trying to cook half a cow it wouldn’t take so long. Then Bill, Jim and John were defending their steaks, and Tonya and Evelyn laughing at the whole thing.

 

They ate dinner and none of them could eat half of the steak on their plate. Then they sat around complaining about eating too much. Out of the blue Tonya asked Jim in front of everyone, “What are we going to do if something happens and we need to get out of town?”

 

They were all stunned by the question and looking at Jim. The air got thick as they waited for an answer. Jim had been drinking beer all day and John knew he was filling a little something. He insisted, “You think I’m stupid or what. I’m coming up here. John has everything we would need, and the best people in the world are here.”

 

Bill took advantage of Jim’s answer and informed, “That is a good plan, but you need to think it threw. Then list all the things that can go wrong, and what you will do when it happens.”

 

“Yeah we will have to do that, but not tonight,” Jim said. Then he asked Tonya if she was ready to go to the Motel.

 

Tonya drove them back to the Motel, because Jim had been drinking. Evelyn and John went back to Pete’s camper. She asked if they could go in the house and just sit for a little while. John told her that would be nice. He lit the lantern and They walked into the house. John sat the lantern on the counter between the kitchen and dining room. Then sat on the floor and leaned against the wall. Evelyn sat beside him. He put his arm around her and ran his fingers through her long hair. He turned to see her face in the light of the lantern, and saw a tear running down her cheek and ask, “Why are you crying?”

 

Evelyn said as John wiped a tear from her cheek, “Tonya told me you were a stud today. I looked at you and she was right. You were not the man you were. How could I not know you were changing? I see you everyday, and sleep with you every night. Then Tonya points out what is right in front of me. This place makes me so happy, and is full of love. This is all like a dream. Everything I ever wanted is here, but I never asked you if this is what you wanted.”

 

John buried his face in her hair and softly whispered. “Oh Evelyn how could you think that. You are the love of my life. You are a part of me, and with out you I’m nothing. My brother told me I was a survivalist one time. Well if that is true then you are too, so I guess we were made for each other. That would mean Pete and Suzy were survivalists along with Bill and Barbara. We are all the same, but I don’t think we are survivalists. I think we are survivors. Survivalists are people that wear military clothes and carry guns. They work out plans on how to over throw the government. We are not like that at all we just want to survive. We are doing what we love, and I love doing that with you.”

 

The next morning John awoke to the sound of Evelyn making breakfast. He looked down from the bed and asked, “What is the first thing you want to move in the house?”

 

She looked up at him as she put a frying pan on the stove. Then she demanded, “The washing-machine. I’m sick of packing all of our clothes to Barbara’s to wash them.”

 

John smiled and informed, “It won’t do much good, the water and sewer aren’t hooked up.”

 

“Then you need to do that right away,” she insisted.

 

John laughed and continued, “I was thinking about the bed. It would be nice to sleep in our bed again.”

 

“Ok you can move the bed in first, but I’m not sleeping in it until the washing-machine is working.” She replied as she looked at John and smiled. He could tell she knew she was getting her way.

 

They ate breakfast, and Bill showed up. Just like clockwork everyday at 5:30 in the morning. They would have a cup of coffee and then they would go check the cows. This time of year there was not much to do. The cows were feeding off the field they had them in, so all they had to do was check their water.

 

John and Evelyn spent the next week moving in. They used Bill’s hay truck to move their stuff from Bill’s barn to the house. Bill and John hooked up the water, sewer, and power. Witch made Evelyn happy that she could wash clothes without taking them to Barbara’s.

 

The next week Bill showed up with a load of block on his truck. When John asked what it was for he told him it was for a root cellar. They spent the next week and a half putting in a root cellar. Pete came and helped everyday, and Barbara and Suzy helped Evelyn with the house.

 

After the root cellar was finished it was time to cut hay again. John spent the next six weeks cutting, baling, and stacking hay. After the hay was in all the barns, they started on firewood. Pete, Bill, and John took the hay truck up in the woods, and cut firewood. Pete and Bill cut the wood. Then Evelyn and John carried it to the truck, where Barbara and Suzy stacked it in the truck. By noon, the truck was full, and they hauled it to Bill’s house. Then they stacked it in Bill’s woodshed. Barbara and Suzy handed the wood to Evelyn and John. Then they gave it to Bill and Pete to stack. After a couple of hours, it was all stacked. The next day they took a load to Pete’s and Suzy’s. Then one for Evelyn and John’s. They took a few days off then did it all again. A little over a week and they all had enough wood for the winter.

 

It was early in the morning. Evelyn and John were eating breakfast. When John heard a knock at the door, he opened the door and it was Pete. “Good morning Pete,” John announced. “The wife has the coffee on. Come in and have a cup”. He took off his coat and put it over the back of the chair as he sat at the table. Evelyn set a cup of coffee in front of him and said, “Good morning.”

 

Pete started to tell her about going up to Bigen yesterday. “I got a load of potatoes,” he said. “It was just like last year. Pulled the truck up under the digger shoot and buy the time I got him to stop I had 1,500 lbs. of potatoes. My truck was down to the axial, and I had to drive 20 MPH all the way home. I took some to Bill earlier and now I thought I would drop some off for your sweet wife.”

 

“How much do you have,” John asked.

 

“About 4 or 5 hundred pounds,” Pete said.

 

Just about choking on his coffee John asked, “How much do you want for them.”

 

Pete argued, “Nock it off John I only paid $20 for the load. You know things don’t work that way up here. Oh, buy the way I need some help tomorrow to put the camper on my truck. I’m leaving Friday to go hunting.”

 

“I can do that,” John affirmed.

 

Pete questioned, “Did you know we got a little freeze last night? How much do you have left in your garden?”

 

“Just a few squash.” John divulged, “Evelyn did the last of the corn a few days ago. I was going to put the squash in the root cellar today.”

 

“Well don’t just set their, get a coat, and lets do it,” Pete insisted.

 

John got his coat and they went out the back door to the garden. Pete was telling John that he did pretty good for his first time to grow an acre of garden. John thought to himself. If it was not for Pete and Bill it would have been a disaster. John looked right at Pete and informed, “Yeah you did do a good job.”

 

 Pete just laughed and inquired, “Are you going to pickup some of these squash or make me do all your work.”

 

 They put all the squash in the wheelbarrow and took it over to the root cellar. They unloaded the squash on to wood slats on the floor, as Pete looked around.

 

“You know,” he informed, “We are going to have to build some shelves to put all those potatoes on. Do you have some 2x4s Pete asked?”

 

“Yes,” John replied. “About 6 or 7 I think.”

 

“Why don’t you get them; a hammer, and some nails. I’ll get the roll of chicken wire out of the truck,” Pete instructed.

 

“What is the chicken wire for?” John asked.

 

Pete informed. “You can’t pile the potatoes on top of each other or they will go bad. You have to have air all around them to stay good.”

 

Then Pete took the wheelbarrow and went to the truck. John was setting down the 2x4s when Pete came in with a load of potatoes. The chicken wire and a handsaw were sitting on top of the load.

 

Seeing the saw, John informed. “I have a skill saw Pete.”

 

“What!” Pete bellowed as he laughed, “Are you afraid of a little hard work.”

 

John insisted, “Pete you must have been hanging around my wife to much. She tells me that all the time.”

 

 They both laughed and started to lay out how They were going to build the shelves. After most of the morning had gone by they had the shelves built, and the chicken wire nailed down. As they put the last of the potatoes on the shelves Evelyn came out and informed, “I have lunch ready for you guys.”

 

Pete looked up at a shelf where rows of little paper bags were sitting and said. “I see you are trying the tomato in a bag thing.”

 

Evelyn replied with enthusiasm, “Yes. Suzy told me about it. She said that if I took green tomato’s, and put one in each bag they would keep a long time in the root cellar. All I have to do is take out what I want, and put them in the kitchen window a few days ahead of time. She said yours lasted tell Christmas last year.”

 

Pete answered, “Yeah it was nice to have fresh tomato’s on Christmas last year. Without paying $2 for one at the store.”

 

As John walked into the kitchen he saw Suzy sitting at the dining room table. He said “Hi” and went to the sink to wash his hands.

 

Looking at Suzy Pete asked, “When did you get here?”

 

“About an hour ago,” Suzy replied. “I thought you were going to drop off the potatoes and come home.”

 

“Well that was what I was doing,” Pete insisted.

 

Suzy laughed and continued, “Well I called Evelyn about two hours ago. She said that you and John were building something in the root cellar. Now when we get done eating you can go get the pressure cooker out of the trunk. Evelyn and I are going to can some pumpkin. It should go fast with two pressure cookers going at once. Bill called and said that he was bringing Barbara down in a little while, so I though he might help you and John put the camper on the truck.”

 

“I was going to do that tomorrow, but if Bill wants to help today is fine,” Pete agreed.

After lunch, Pete and John went out on to the porch with a cup of coffee, while Evelyn and Suzy did the dishes and got things ready to can. Pete was telling John about what he had read in the morning paper. “The Pentagon has informed Congress what it has outlined for the President. It was about the possible use of nuclear weapons against hostile countries. It named Iran or North Korea that are developing weapons of mass destruction. The Los Angeles Times reported the targets could also include China, Russia, Iran, Libya and Syria.”

 

 John told him that this stuff just gets scarier every day, and that he had a fear they might be getting over aggressive. There have been a lot of threats going back and forth between China and the U.S. now to add Russia to the list. John didn’t know what to think, he told Pete it’s just getting plain scary.

 

There is more Pete told him, China has promised to nuke LA if we interfere between them and Taiwan. We should never have changed our recognition of Taiwan.

 

John told Pete that he knew what he meant, and the only reason they were protecting them was for the cheap goods. You know they seem to be costing more than anyone would have thought.

 

“I have to agree,” Pete replied as they watched Bill pull in.

 

Pete and John walked over to Bills truck.

 

John said “Hi” to Barbara, and told her that Evelyn and Suzy were in the kitchen.

 

She said, “I thought that is where they would be with a smile.”

 

“Hey are you guys going to give me a hand?” Bill barked.

 

John walked to the back of the truck, and Bill handed him some boxes of canning jars to take in. He picked up a big pumpkin and headed for the house. As they walked in John informed, “I have a lot of pumpkins I grew this year, and you didn’t have to bring any.”

 

Bill laughed and declared, “If you grew to many pumpkins that’s your problem not mine.”

 

With a little laugh John said, “Ok Bill what ever you say.”

 

As they set the stuff in the kitchen Suzy questioned, “Hey Pete where is the pressure cooker.”

 

“I’m getting it,” Pete insisted. “What do I look like, a work horse?”

 

“Sure do,” Suzy informed.

 

Everyone laughed, and Pete acknowledged, “Yeah an old one.”

 

Pete brought in the pressure cooker, and set it on the table.

 

Then Bill requested, “Let’s go put on Pete’s camper, before these women find something else for us to do.”

 

“Good idea” John said, and opened the door. Bill followed him out on to the porch. He was telling him about some solar panels he picked up in Portland. He said they were only $5 each, and that he got ten of them. He was asking John if he wanted a couple of them when Pete came out. They talked with Pete for a few about the solar panels, and he said that he wanted some to. Bill and John decided to go to his place and pick them up, and told Pete they would meet him at his place in a few. John climbed up into Bill’s truck, and they headed down the road. Bill’s truck was an older 1-ton Dodge with a lot of squeaks, and rattles. It bounced, and rocked as they went down the gravel road. You had to talk loud to hear each other over the noise.

 

Bill asked John about what he thought about what was going on in the world, and what he thought it would do to their style of life. John told him all his thoughts about how bad the economy was, and not a day would go by without hearing about some company lying off a few thousand people. How he had been reading about major corporations going bankrupt everyday, and there was a lot of talk about war. He went on giving him his thoughts about how all the kind of things he worried about before Y2K were starting to happen now.

 

Bill agreed with him, as they pulled into his driveway. John looked at the porch swing hanging by the door. Every time he saw it he thought about how much Evelyn wanted one, but they didn’t even have a roof over their porch to hang one from. That was another thing on his list of things to do. Sometimes John thought Evelyn would go to visit Barbara just to sit in their swing.

 

Bill pulled back to the barn and went inside. A few moments later, he came out carrying some boxes. When he got back in the truck, he tossed two of the boxes to John, and said. “There you go,” then laid the other boxes on the seat, and turned the truck around. Going back down the road, he honked the horn as they went past John’s house. They turned into Pete’s driveway, went around some old oak trees, and came out behind his house. They could see Pete bent over in the bed of his truck. They got out and walked up to the truck. As John got to the truck he gave Pete a dumb founded look, and questioned “What is that tank for?”

 

“Gas, what do you think,” Pete said.

 

John shook his head and said. “I know that, but why do you need another tank? Heck you got a forty-gallon tank on each side, and a twenty behind the seat.”

 

Pete stopped and looked right at John and requested. “Would you go out to the barn and get the other tank for me?”

 

“What! You’re going to put another tank on that thing. Dam! You’ll be driving a bomb around with that much gas,” John declared.

 

“Hey good idea,” Pete informed. “I will have to add that to my list of things that I can use my truck for. Now would you go get that tank?”

 

“Ok” John said, and went to the barn.

When John got back with the tank Pete, and Bill had the tank bolted down. Pete had John put the tank on the other side of the truck in front of the wheel-well. Pete and Bill bolted it down, and hooked up the gas line. Then Pete backed the truck around to the camper. He had it sitting up on some 55-gallon drums. It just took a few minutes to put on the camper. They jacked it up pulled out the drums, and Pete backed in the truck. About 10 minutes later they were done.

 

John said, “Wow that went fast”

 

“Yeah Pete don’t waste time when it comes to going hunting,” Bill informed.

 

Pete asked, “How about a beer?”

 

They all thought that was a good idea, and followed Pete into the house. They sat at the kitchen table, and drank their beer well they talked about the survivalist that lived up the hill. Pete was saying that the ham radio guy that lived up on the hill behind him was prepared for world war III. He’s got a fully stocked fallout shelter. I bet he could lock himself in there for a couple of years and never come out with out a problem. Pete went on to tell us that he finally went up there to see him just the other day. He has been living up there for about five years, and I never got the never to go see him tell now. I have been talking to him on the ham radio for the last couple of years. He is right on the edge of losing it, but he’s ok. He has been watching everything that goes on around here. He has a big telescope up there. He told me that he watched John put in his house and fallout shelter.

 

“Hey! That’s a root cellar,” John argued.

 

“One man’s root cellar is another man’s fallout shelter.” Bill informed. “Besides you should be happy he thinks that. It might not hurt to get along with your neighbor. You might need something from him someday. Besides we all know you are a wacko. Right?”

 

“I should never have told you that all my family called me wacko,” John said.

 

“That’s ok we like wacko, it is a good name,” said Pete. “You all call me old hunter, and I only spend about a mouth hunting each year.”

 

“Then you spend the next 11 mouths telling stories about it,” Bill said.

 

Just then, Suzy came in the door. “I see you got the camper on the truck,” she said.

 

“How was the canning?” Pete asked.

 

“We put up thirty quarts. They’re siting on Evelyn’s dining room table. I’ll pick up ours tomorrow. Evelyn and Barbara where making some pumpkin bread when I left,” Suzy added.

 

Bill advised, “I better take John home, before they call wondering where we are.”

 

The next morning John got up, and ate breakfast. After breakfast he got out the binoculars, and went out back. He looked up and down the side of the hill off in the distance, but could see nothing. There was no sign of anyone living up on the hill. His place must be tucked back in the trees, John thought. After looking for about twenty minutes, Evelyn came out.

 

“What are you looking at?” she asked.

 

“Oh, just trying to see the guy up on the hill, but I can’t find his place.” He replied.

 

“I’m going to feed the chickens, and get the eggs. Why don’t you just drive up there? All he can do is chase you off.”

 

John agreed, “You are probably right,” and headed off to the Jimmy. On the way up the hill he drove slow, because he was not sure where he lived. The road went around some tall pine trees, and wound up the hill. As John approached the top of the hill, he saw an Indian standing along side the road. Slowing down, and stopping next to him. John informed, “My name is John, and I’m looking.” Before he could get it all out he asked “Don’t you mean Wacko?”

 

With a surprised look on his face, John said, “Yes. How did you know who I was?”

 

“Pete told me you were coming, so I watched you looking for me from your house. Could you see anything?”

 

“No,” John replied.

 

“My name is Hidden-Wolf, but you can call me hidden one. I know you well I have seen you in my dreams of sorrow”

 

John was in a shock and could not speak. The reality that he was the one in his dreams was overwhelming him. His head was spinning, and he just stared at him like a deer in the headlights.

 

He implied, “You look like you just saw a ghost.”

 

John snapped out of it, but the thoughts of the dream were still running through his head. “I thought you were a ghost. I have been seeing you in my dreams for years. I feared you in my dreams, and thought you where a great spirit.”

 

Hidden-Wolf informed, “You did see a great spirit in your dream. It took my form, so you would know when the time came. The time is now. Now park your rig over there and come with me.”

 

John drove his rig off the road, parked it by an oak tree, and got out. Walking back to meet Hidden-Wolf, he said, “Come we have a lot to talk about, time is short, and we have a lot to do.”

 

As they walked down a path, John was looking for a house. All he could see was trees, grass, and bushes. Hidden-Wolf pointed to a tree, and then asked, “Do you see my antenna?” John stopped and looked hard after looking real close he saw the wire going up the tree. It was painted the same color as the tree trunk. He followed the wire up the tree to the antenna. The up right pole was tight to the trunk of the tree. The poles coming out to the side laid right over the branches. You would not even know it was there if someone didn’t point it out to you. “Come over here,” he said, as he pointed to a stump. John was looking around for a house, but there was nothing there.

 

“Where do you live,” John asked.

 

“Here under that stump,” he said. Grabbing it and flipping it up. There was a culvert on end under the stump with a ladder going down. He stepped on to the ladder and headed down “Come on,” he insisted. John followed him down the ladder. At the bottom of the ladder was a steel door. He opened it and they walked into a small room about 6 feet by 6 feet. He shut and locked the door, and opened another door on the other side. They stepped into what looked like a house. It was huge like nothing John had ever seen. There was a couch on one wall with a TV on the other and rocking chair next to the couch. Through a big arched doorway, he could see the kitchen. He closed the door and locked it.

 

“Do you like coffee or tea,” he asked.

 

“Coffee is fine with me,” John replied.

 

He walked into the kitchen, and John followed. “Have a seat,” he said, pointing to the table across the room. John went over and sat at the table. Hidden-Wolf lit the stove to heat the coffee, as John looked around through another big arched doorway, he could see a room filled with radios, a computer, and all kinds of electronic stuff. Most of the stuff he had never seen before.

 

“Why don’t you tell me about your dream?” He insisted, as he walked over to the table.

 

“The dream is always the same it has different parts, in the first part it is early in the morning when I walked out into a meadow. There is a little rabbit eating the grass, and a small deer drinking from the river. I stop and listen. I hear the wind carrying the songs of the morning bird’s, and the water flowing over the rocks, the sound of the grass swishing in the wind. All is at peace in my soul. My mind is in a far off place. Then I’m snapped out of the peace by a fish jumping in the river with a big splash. Yes, I think to myself, that is why I came here to get fish to feed my family.”

 

“That is now,” he said. “You are doing what you have to do to feed and care for your family. What is the next part of the dream?”

 

 John told him, “In the second part, I’m on top of a mountain, and I’m looking down at the valley, and wandering how I got there. When something makes me look to my side, and I see there is an Indian on a horse with a spear. He looks just like you. The horse was brown with a tan patch on the front and back. The spear had what looked like two large feathers hanging from a strap tied to the spear. He was strong and muscular with long hair. Then his eyes looked into mine. It made me fill with fear, and I could feel a burning going through me. Like my blood was pumping it through my body. Then you took the spear and pointed it at the valley. I turned and looked into the valley, and it looked different somehow. Then I noticed that all the trees were dead. Looking into the valley, I did not see any animals. Slowly looking across the meadow to the river the water looked different. Looking real hard I could see, that the top of the water was covered with dead fish. It looked like a river of dead fish not water.

 

“This is yet to come,” he said, “There is a lot more in this part, but the time is not yet. Tell me the last part.

 

“How did you know there is only three parts?” John asked.

 

“Let me tell you the last part” he said. “Then like a flash you are standing in a big grocery store, in the cleaning isle with all the soap and cleaning supplies. You start walking around the store. You could see your the only one there. As you looked around the store all the isles were empty, nothing on the shelves. The only stuff in the store was what was in the cleaning isle. Is this what you see in your dream?”

 

John’s stunned, and can’t speak. Thinking how did he know the dream right down to the last detail. He had only told this to a few people, and his wife. There was no way he could know this. He looked at me as though nothing had happened, and said, “The coffee is ready.” He went over, got the cups from a cupboard, and filled them with coffee. He handed one to John and said, “Come let me show you the rest of my house.”

 

We walked through the radio room to a big steel door. He opened the door, and it was dark inside. John couldn’t see a thing. Then he turned on the lights. To his surprise they where standing in a big warehouse. It was about 40 feet wide and 80 feet long. They were next to the food storage. It had isles like a grocery store. All the shelves where stocked right to the edge. This area was about 30 by 30 feet. Just past the shelves were pallets of goods all stacked and banded. As they walked down the isle John saw a large cage with all kind of guns, and ammo inside of it. Down at the other end of the warehouse he could see a generator and a well pump. Walking over to the cage, he opened the door. John was having mixed emotions of fear, and excitement. He saw John looking at what looked like a Thompson Machinegun hanging on the wall and said, “Pick it up and check it out.” John picked it up, and looked it over.

 

“Wow this is huge. What size shell does it take?” John asked.

 

“It takes 12 gage shot gun shells, and will hold 30 at a time,” he replied.

 

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”  John said. “You must have enough stuff here for a small army.”

 

He looked at John, and said. “Let’s hope we never need it, but I think this might not be enough. If what I have been seeing in my dreams are true we will need all of this and more. There are some real hard times ahead.”

 

“What do you mean by that?” John asked.

 

“Think of your dream. The answer is there.” He replied.

 

John was getting more questions than answers. He would not tell him what the dream meant, and he could tell he knew. Why he would not tell him was beyond John’s understanding.

 

Then to change the subject, he said, “Lets go look at your house.”

 

They walked down to the far end of the warehouse. There in the corner was a large telescope. Up on the side of the concrete wall was a large steel plate. He reached up and poled the plate through a slot off to one side. A beam of light shined through the hole. Stepping to one side, and looking through the hole. John could see down into the valley below. There was his house, and down a little further was Bills place. He slid the telescope over, and said. “Here check out the view.” Looking through the telescope, John could see Evelyn hanging clothes out on the clothesline. Then panning around to the road he said, “You could see someone coming for miles with this.”   

 

“Yes,” Hidden-One replied. “I was hoping this would work for an early warning system, and a spotting location.”

 

“What do you mean by that?” John asked.

 

“Think about it. The answer will come to you,” he said.

 

With a puzzled look on his face, John looked right at him, and said. “You know what my dream means, but you won’t tell me. You know that something might happen, but you won’t tell me what it is. All I get from you is think about it. While I have been thinking about it for years now and it has done no good. I have thought it was many things over the years. Now when I think I have found someone that knows what it is. You say think about it.”

 

Hidden-Wolf looked right into his eyes. John felt a cold chill run through him. Then he said. “You mean after all I have shown you. You still don’t have a clue. Do you think I would let just anyone come down here and see all this? All you have to do is put the pieces of the puzzle together, and you can figure it out.

 

John had thought about what he was telling him, but could not accept it. The answer was too much for John to handle. He did not want to deal with something like that. There was a moment of silence then John said, “I don’t like the picture that I am putting together.”

 

“It is ok,” he informed. “No one want’s to think of such things. Come I have something for you.”

 

John followed him back to the radio room. He reached up on a shelf, pulled down a CB radio, and handed it to him. “Here,” he said. “I have wired this one up special. You can set it up at home, and talk to me. No one else will be able to listen in on this one. Just set the squelch at about 5, and then when I call you will hear me. That way you won’t be getting any static, or bleed over. I’m glad you came to see me. I thought I might have to go looking for you. Time is short and you need to tie up all your lose ends. If you know what I mean?”

 

The reality of all John had seen, and what thay had talked about was starting to hit him. Fear started to fill his thoughts. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He was finding it hard to think. His head was spinning, and he knew he needed to get out of there. John looked over at Hidden-Wolf, and he was staring right at him.

 

“I think maybe you better sit down. You don’t look so good,” he said.

They went into the kitchen, and sat at the table. John took a couple of deep breaths, and tried to relax. It was not working. He filled with fear and it was scaring him to be in this place.

 

“What are you thinking about?” Hidden-Wolf asked.

 

“You, and this place it all scares me. To much is going through my head all at one time for me to deal with,” John replied.

 

Hidden-Wolf looked straight into his eyes and said. “I know it is a lot to take in at one time, but I don’t have time to give it a little at a time. We don’t have much time before something big is going to happen. I think we might have only a week or two before it happens.”

 

“Before what happens,” John asked. “That is what is scaring me not knowing what you know. I need to know what is going to happen.”

 

“I don’t know,” Hidden-one said. “All I know is what is in my dreams. It would be like if you had a dream that you had a flat tire on the way to town. Would you check the spare tire before you left? You know just to make share that if it did happen you could fix it. I know that what ever is going to happen is soon. That it will be bad, and we will need a lot of food and supplies to get through it. Maybe you should go home, and setup that radio. That will give you time to think about all of this. Then you can call me on the radio to make sure it works.”

 

John jumped at the opportunity to get out of there. He was thinking he should never have come there. “Yes maybe that would be a good idea,” John said.

 

He walked John out to his Jimmy, and said, “Call me when you get the radio working.”

 

The drive home seamed to take forever even thou it was only a couple of miles. As John pulled up to the house, he could see Bill pulling in behind him. John got out, and walked over to meet Bill.

 

“Well did you go up and see the guy on the hill?” Bill asked.

 

“Yes, and Pete was wrong. He is not right on the edge of losing it. He has gone off the deep end, and totally lost it. The guy is the most whacked-out guy I have ever met. It was scaring me just being there. I’m glad to be back home where I feel safe.”

 

“Wow it sounds like you are about to go off the deep end.” Bill said with a chuckle.

 

“Knock it off Bill,” John insisted. “That guy is really scary. You have no idea what this guy is like.”

 

“Why is he so scary” asked Bill.

 

Not wanting to tell him about the dream, he’d been having. Thinking that he might think John was crazy. Put him into deep thoughts of what to say. John just stood there speechless.

 

Bill said, “Well are you going to tell me about it, or just sand there in a daze?”

 

John looked at Bill, and said, “I don’t know where to start. He gave me a radio, and told me that it was wired up special. I could set it up at home, and talk to him. That no one else will be able to listen in on us.”

 

Bill laughed and said, “What is so scary about that. He gave one of them to Pete. That is what Pete talk’s to him on. Let’s go setup it up. We can hook it up to a battery, and see if the solar panels will keep it charged up.”

 

Not wanting to let Bill know about all the weird stuff, and to hide his fear, John agreed. About an hour had gone by, and they had it all wired up. They mounted the solar panels to a board, and screwed it to the gutter. Then they ran the wires down the wall, and into the battery. They set the radio up next to John’s computer.

 

“Well it is lit up. Why don’t you see if it works,” Bill insisted.

 

John picked up the mike, and pushed the button. “Hidden one are you there?” John said into the mike.

 

There was nothing-just silence. Just as John was about to say maybe it’s not working a voice came out of the radio. “Wacko you got it working.” With a surprised look on his face he replied, “I think so. You are coming in real good down here. How is it on your end?”

 

“You’re coming in loud and clear,” the voice replied.

 

“Ok I’ll just leave it on, and see if the battery will stay up,” John said into the mike.

 

October

 

It was a cool fall morning. John was setting down to drink his coffee at the table. His wife was cooking in the kitchen, and the smell of bacon filled the air. He was listening to the weather on the TV in the background, and could hear it was going to be nice for a few days. Everything seemed just the same as any other day, just the same old thing. Then he heard the reporter say we have reports that we just invaded Iran. The report went on to say that the US started an air campaign just minutes ago. John thought to himself, it is night over there. There was no surprise to this, I knew it was coming, it had been in the news for months. I hope this is over in a couple months like last time. John heard his wife in the kitchen ask, “Did they say the war started?”

 

“Yes” John replied, “They are bombing right now.”

 

She hinted, “Why don’t you turn on the computer so we can see what is being reported.”

 

So John slid His chair back walked over and flipped the switch on the power bar. Then went back and sat down. He was drinking his coffee as his wife set a plate of bacon and eggs in front of him. He watch her walk over and put in the password, so the computer would finish booting. Then walk back into the kitchen. He started eating when he heard her say I’m going to log on and check out what people are posting on the board. John said, “Ok,” and kept eating His breakfast.

 

Just as he was taking his plate to the kitchen he heard her yell, “Oh shit!”

 

“What’s the problem?” John asked.

 

“Hummer just posted that a nuke went off in New York. He saw a flash off in the distance, and now a mushroom cloud. He says he is out of here. Now people are posting asking if this is for real, or a sick joke because the war started.”

 

 Standing over her shoulder John questioned, “You are not flipping me some shit are you? Oh my God!” He could not believe what he saw people posting. “Look Endtimer just posted he got an e-mail saying that a nuke went off in Chicago. What the heck is going on here?” John asked. “Damn is no one posting now. Oh shoot we just got kicked off the board. Damn! Open a new window” John shouted, as he grabbed another chair and sat down beside her. “Home page should come up to the active forum. Damn, page can not be found. Ok go to favorites and click on backup board. Come on come on, ok it’s loading damn the web is getting real slow, and my heart feels like it is going to pound its way out of my chest. What do you think, is this real or a sick joke? The TV is still on and there not reporting anything about this. Damn, wish we had a dish. Look it is coming up. There the first one says, we are under attack, click on it.”

 

“But the page isn’t done loading yet,” Evelyn insisted.

 

“Damn it Evelyn just click on it! The web is getting so slow it will probably take five minutes to load.”

 

Just then, the lights flickered and the UPS started beeping. The TV went off the lights went dim about three times for about five to ten seconds each time.

 

“Should I turn off the computer,” Evelyn asked.

 

“No it’s ok that is what the UPS is for. Power seems stable for the moment, I’m going to turn the TV back on and grab the radio.”

 

 John could feel the stress in the air, and was starting to get light headed. Get a hold of yourself, he was thinking. Its ok, you are prepared for this kind of thing. As he pushed the button on the remote he heard Evelyn say, “Damn what the heck. Everyone is posting that New York and Chicago are toast.”

 

Just then, he heard it on the TV. Chills ran threw his body. No mistaking that sound he must have heard it a hundred times. Every since he was a kid. It was the EAS (Emergency Alert System) tone. Just then, the power went out. The UPS started beeping again.

 

John said, “Quick refresh the page. We only have about fifteen or twenty minutes on the UPS if the phone stays up.”

 

As the page refreshed, he saw that squirrel had posted that LA and San Francisco were just nuked. His head was spinning now and everything was moving in slow motion. He needed to get some air. “I am going out and start the generator,” John said. Using it as an excuse to get out side for a minute and re-group his thoughts.

 

Once he got outside, he checked the gas and oil in the generator. Then started it up, and just stood there thinking. So much was going through his mind it was hard to sort out. He wondered, who did it. Where they ICBM’s? Were they smuggled in? How bad is it? Glad I’m up here in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I can go into town and get some last minute things. If we go right now, we might be able to do that before people get all freaked out.

 

He went back in side. “Evelyn lets go!” he shouted! Then he heard that she had the radio on.

 

“Phone is dead. No need for the generator” she informed.

 

John was just looking at Evelyn not saying a word, and listening to what was on the radio. “Damn it!” John yelled. “I was hoping we could go to town before people got all freaked out, but if it is on the radio there is no time for that now. I’ll go out and turn off the generator. We need to save the gas, because there’s no way of knowing when the power will come back on. Maybe you can listen to the radio, and see if you can find out what is going on.”

 

Evelyn said, “I love you.”

 

“I know, I love you too,” John responded.

 

He went out, shut off the generator, and came back in, just in time to hear that all the borders are being closed. They are putting up checkpoints at state lines. All state police and National Guard are being sent to the borders. Only trucks carrying goods and residents can cross borders. Everyone is to go home and wait for further instructions. The president has activated FEMA. It was quiet and they where not saying a word. They were just looking at each other.

 

Then Evelyn broke the silence, “What do you think your brother and Tonya are doing.”

 

“I don’t know, but it must be bad in the big cities. All we can do is hope for the best, if he has any sense he will try to make it up here.”