Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Reading - Doug

I should get back to catching up on replies this evening. I been running as fast as I can trying to get stuff done before the rains start and from the look of the forecast they are just getting going. We even got a bit of hail already. At least the bee hive finally got moved and set in it's new home.

I did get another little bit of story telling banged out though so, enjoy!!!


Doug Jarvis scanned the field out in front of his families small campsite. The morning air was chilly as it was still early April and Spring had not grabbed hold of this part of the Midwest yet. He rubbed his three day old beard and wondered how far he could push his family to walk today. At 37 Doug had worked almost his entire adult life as the sanitation department head for a small Midwest bedroom community in Eastern Kansas. A good job if you could get it and one of the few areas of local government that still managed to stay relatively all Male, for obvious reasons.

Doug had the expanded waistline and over confident bearing that usually came with such a secure position up until he had lost all three anyway. These days Doug's only concern was getting his family, wife and small daughter, back to his parent's place in North Central Missouri.  Neither his wife nor daughter had been happy about it, in fact they hadn't been happy about much of anything for almost a year now.  Amber, his daughter had complained constantly and had one day refused to walk and began screaming and crying. She wouldn't even allow Doug to carry her without a fight and finally Doug had lost his temper and struck the little girl.  Not hard by any stretch of the imagination but it had certainly surprised his daughter and Doug if you wanted to get right down to it.

Later that same evening after they had made camp and Amber was asleep, Ellen, Doug's wife, began arguing with him. He didn't need to have slapped the girl and Ellen started off once again on her long list of things Doug had failed at. Finally Doug simply told her if she didn't like it to pack up her bag and go he was done hearing about it. Doug had never spoken to Ellen in quite that manner before and he didn't think the reality of the situation they were in had actually sunk into Ellen's brain until that very night.

Since then Ellen and Amber had been much more agreeable, if not really happy and much less of an emotional burden on Doug's mind.

This morning Doug was feeling better about things than he had in years if you wanted to get right down to it. Sure they had little food and a long way to go and rumor had it there were even bandits and worse out here now, but Doug was also experiencing something he had never felt before.  He just couldn't quite put it into words yet so he thought back to how things had deteriorated over the last few years.

It was amazing how fast it had all happened, or well it seemed to happen quickly but if Doug really thought about it the signs had been there for months, years even. Doug had just ignored them and hoped whomever was above would get things sorted out.

You could follow the trend if you really thought about it. After 08 each year got progressively leaner. The city Doug had worked for stopped growing. The last few strip malls that had been built were still mostly empty almost eight years later. Banks closed most of their satellite locations with signs that read "For our customers convenience".

Shortly after that Doug had noticed that when a city employee left his or her position, especially those at the bottom strata, they were not replaced. Groundskeepers, park employees, traffic maintenance those types who remained kept getting more work piled on them. Of course the office staff never suffered from such shortages of manpower. The office meetings and senseless travel never seemed to decrease either but whenever the rare new employee was added it was always at a much lower rate of pay and without all the benefits Doug and his generation had been promised.

Town's people then began complaining. Potholes were not being repaired. Broken street lights stayed broken. rain water tunnels filled up with debris and flooded entire streets. Things deteriorated quickly.

Not that Doug cared as long as he got his.

His paycheck was guaranteed, locked in stone. A contract, by God.

As far as Doug knew right now there wasn't any city to hold to that contract any longer. The city limits signs were still up. People still lived there if you could call it that but no one ever showed up for work and the phones stopped ringing some time ago. There was still lots of money floating around, it was just there wasn't much you could buy with it. Once the stores stopped getting their shelves refilled each night there wasn't much coming in by way of taxes either. After that over half the property owners in the city missed their tax payments, then most of the city had their water shut off for lack of payment.

Confiscation notices were put out. Properties were condemned. Yet no one paid a bit of attention and the city had no way to enforce it's will any longer. The common cry among the home owners was "Why pay for something we aren't getting"?

After that people just stopped showing up for work.

The last desperate act by the Mayor and his cronies had been to instruct the police and meter maids to focus on tickets and fines hoping to bring cash in.  Most of those tickets were ignored and when police cars began taking damage from thrown objects all around town the crack down ended up costing more than it brought in. The final act happened one October evening when someone or group of someone's riddled a patrol car with bullets. No one was hurt but half the remaining police force didn't show for work the next day.

Shortly after that the office staff stopped showing up. A week or so later every window at city hall was busted out by bricks and as far as Doug knew no one ever fixed them.

By that time most all of the Federal authority had already been focused entirely on the larger cities around the country. What small amounts of goods could still be purchased and transported into the States was quickly gobbled up and sent to the cities in a vain attempt to curb the riots there due to shortages. The countryside was largely left to it's own except for federal agencies who still attempted to loot food and other raw materials. Doug had heard that several farmers in Iowa had set grain silos on fire after the government tried to confiscate the corn held in them or pay for it with useless dollars at fixed prices.

These days no one really knew what was going on. At first Homeland security had a detachment in Doug's city. It wasn't large but then it didn't need to be. Nothing much ever happened there and most of the residence worked in Kansas City anyway and were gone all day.  As a suburb Covington was never emptied out as the rural areas had been and the Fed guys left them alone for the most part. The problem was when the shortages began the Fed guys left em alone then too. By the time the first shooting occured the DHS detachment was long gone and never to return except once when they came and took all the remaining fuel in the tanks at the local stations promising a shipment later.

When the first refugees began coming out of Kansas City Doug had made up his mind to head for his folk's place but it was then December and there was no way Ellen and Amber could travel that far on foot in Winter.  Gasoline had become almost a thing of the past by then as well, the Fed had even stopped issuing the useless ration vouchers for it. The end of the food vouchers came soon after that and then the travel restrictions started becoming more strictly enforced.

By the first of March they were out of food, had no heat or electricity to speak of and Doug was getting desperate. The last few days before they left Doug had actually killed the family cat along with two others he managed to catch from the neighborhood.  Doug skinned and cleaned the animals as best he could and cooked them in a soup pot in the backyard. He told Ellen and Amber it was squirrel. By that time neither seemed to care what it was.

They set out on foot carrying what little food they had left right after that. Doug brought the only weapon he had, an old Remington bolt action .22 that had belonged to his grandfather. The rifle had originally had a magazine that held about five of the little rounds but Doug had misplaced it years ago and never bothered to get a new one. He now had to load each bullet singly to shoot the thing and it required a certain amount of finger dexterity to get the bullet inside the chamber. Doug had already lost a couple of rounds he had dropped while trying to load the rifle. Still the gun was better than nothing and so far it had managed to keep them fed as there was plenty of wild small game around. Mostly squirrels. It just took half the day to get one although he had been getting better at it.

The hardest part had been trying to stay off the roads. It was almost impossible to do in Kansas and had proven totally impossible now in Missouri. There were simply too many fences to cross, streams to navigate or impassable gullies and thorn thickets. Eventually Doug had settled for using the small single lane highways and railroad tracks but they met far too many other that way.

Eventually their luck was going to run out.


  1. You completely captured my interest. Only you stopped! What happens!


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