The Day the Dollar Died (Part VIII)
VIII. “CQ, CQ, is Anybody out there?”
Filed under: The Day The Dollar Died Series
by John Galt
December 16, 2009
The following is an ongoing FICTIONAL ACCOUNT…..
February 25, 2010 00:10 A.M. CT
Mike’s annoying alarm went off on schedule and as was habit when he was under dispatch, he threw his winter snow gear on over his long johns, threw his boots and gloves on and went outside to check his tractor and trailer. He walked out into the globally warmed temperatures of twenty-seven below zero and as the snow crunched beneath his boots he started to ponder the phone call he received. His attempts to call his office and reach his dispatcher were for naught as all he got was the voice mail tree at his company but considering the circumstances, he figured this was the way the new world would operate, under total government control. He crawled up into the icy cab after checking the oil heaters and covers and turned the engine on the massive Kenworth over, satisfied to hear his old girl start right up in the cold Minnesota air as she had done for the past seven years.
While the truck idled and the reefer unit cycled as it was supposed to, he realized he only had fuel in the trailer for another twenty hours thus the muttering “thank God I can dump these pigs and come back home” while checking the grease on his fifth wheel and seeing what else may need to be thawed before he rolled out in an hour or so. “12:40 in the damned morning” he whispered through his parka’s face wrap as it evaporated into the icy air. Mike trudged back inside to clean up and get ready for his “escort” which meant looking professional and making sure his .38 caliber was tucked away where she couldn’t say a darned thing much less see it through all of the winter covering.
Precisely at 1:45 a.m. just as F.D.O.T. Tillens advised, there was a knock at the door. By this time his wife was up and had the shotgun leaning against the sofa as she had learned from him not to trust anyone at anytime when the world was in a world of deep stuff that smelled like a pigpen. “Mike Elmendorff with unit 1024?” the voice said on the other side of the door. Mike replied “yes, please identify yourself and show some identification about a foot away from the peephole please as we don’t trust no one” and then he took one step back from the door, his hand on the holster of his pistol. The voice on the other side said “Certainly sir” and put an identification card up that said “BLACKWATER SPECIAL SECURITY SERVICES, OTUMWA, IA BADGE#123779 MICHAEL THOMAS”, to which after holding it for a second he said “Can I come in out of the cold now sir? I am your escort to the cold storage for this morning’s delivery.”
Mike opened the door slowly, with his wife’s hand firmly gripping the shotgun now laid across her lap as a large man entered into the foyer. “Thank you Mr. Elmendorff, I appreciate you letting me in. I am with Blackwater and your special escort for the evening over to St. Cloud and the cold storage.” The icy air was soon shut out of the home as Mike said “Please step in and warm up. Would you like a cup of coffee?” Mike motioned to his wife to take her hand off the trigger guard and waved her away to which she gladly nodded, moving her hand to the butt of the twelve gauge. “Thank you sir, I would love a cup, it is brutal out there tonight” the guard said. After a quick cup of coffee and kiss on his wife’s cheek, Mike told her goodbye and promised to call her after he was empty. The Blackwater guard thanked her and bundled back up as did Mike to depart for St. Cloud. It was now 2:12 a.m. and Mike’s wife started to pray as she never has before. The tension was killing her inside and she just did not feel something was right about making him deliver this order without hearing from the company.
The Kenworth lumbered slowly on to I-94 south as the sheriff’s guard pulled his squad car out of the way, satisfied after he saw Mike’s familiar truck and trailer behind the black Ford LTD with the green and blue light panels flashing in the windshield and rear window like a Federal vehicle pulling out in front of him on to the interstate. Mike was happy to feel the warmth of the heater finally kicking in and since he was finally moving forward with his escort, he felt relaxed a bit, and turned the radio on to see what was coming in on the Citizens Band and on the old A.M. radio clear channel stations.
The C.B. was eerily silent except on Channel 9 where someone sounding either drunk or crazy was screaming about his house being invaded by agents and begging for help with what sounded like gunfire in the background. “Damned kids” Mike thought to himself as he cranked the squelch up and turned the volume down to see if he could pick up WCCO or WOI to find some news or music. As he departed Fergus Falls he noticed some sights he never thought he would see on the interstate as he got up to speed, cars in the emergency lanes, burned out, as if someone was trying to collect the insurance or something. “That’s pretty strange for around here” he thought to himself. He tuned his C.B. up to Channel 36 as per the Blackwater instruction sheet and called for a radio check to his escort, who replied in kind. Everything was normal it seemed and thus he could take breath as soon this last burden for the time being would soon be gone.
As they hit the exit for Highway 75 into St. Cloud he notice the Sheriff’s officer was giving the Blackwater guard a hard time at the checkpoint at the end of the ramp. The deputy walked up to Mike’s cab, tapped the door with his gun and Mike slowly rolled the window down to reply. “Can I help you officer?” he asked calmly. “Son, I need to see your bills and dispatch instructions. This security guard in front of you tells me you have D.O.T. orders to proceed to the cold storage but I have no paperwork telling me such nor any radio orders to allow you through here.” Mike slowly handed the paper work to him and explained the orders he got by phone from the Federal D.O.T. and why he was up this time of the morning. “Son?” Mike said, “Boy, I took kids like you into the paddies forty years ago. I could be your father!” Mike said to lighten things up a tad. “That’s okay sir, I understand what is going on, we are getting conflicting instructions from the Feds, the governor’s office and hell, even the county every ten damned minutes it seems!” the deputy replied. “You can proceed through and have a good day!” were the last words from the twenty-something deputy from Stearns County who was just doing his job.
Mike was glad to keep moving and the radio crackled “Follow me please and keep your doors locked. We have lots of hijacking reports Mr. Elmendorff” the Blackwater agent said. Mike confirmed the instructions, grabbed the pistol out of its holster and put it on the doghouse, close enough for action if need be. As if something weird was happening when the clock flipped on his radio to 3:35 a.m. the Qualcomm unit in his truck came back to life. As Mike was winding down the highway trying to avoid hitting abandoned cars and icy spots, he notice a series of new messages as the unit booted back up. Suddenly it started to seem like life was normal as the Qualcomm emblem emblazoned the screen and a message started to be received. Mike took his eyes off of the unit as the Blackwater guard slowed down to the gates of the cold storage and started to chatter with the guard at the gate. Everything looked normal and Mike slowly crept through the gate noticing the guard with either an AR-15 or M-16 plus lots of friends.
The radio crackled “Mike, please get in line with the trucks to warehouse two and re-tune your C.B. to Channel 19 for further instructions.” Mike acknowledged and turned left to join the other four trucks in the line this early morning. As he waited patiently listening to a little Johnny Cash from WOI on the radio, he noticed his Qualcomm unit flashing, something it had never done before. “WARNING! WARNING! DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE ANY DISPATCH ORDERS FROM F.D.O.T. VIA TELEPHONE! THESE MESSAGES COULD BE AN ATTEMPT TO SEIZE YOUR TRUCK, TRAILER AND/OR LOAD. CONTACT YOUR DISPATCH OFFICE BY 0800 OR REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS.” Mike grabbed his .38 and laid it on his lap. He slowly started to type where he was and what the orders were without attempting to get the attention of the guards on the dock. A reply came back from the unit in very short, terse terminology:
“STANDBY FOR INSTRUCTIONS. WE WILL ATTEMPT TO SEND HELP.”
February 24, 2010 4:50 P.M. ET
“Mama, I don’t understand. You just had me grab every bit of food in your house. Just what are you planning for?” Sandy asked with a puzzled look on her face. “Honey, you and I and that husband of yours are going to spend a lot of time together and my ideal meals are not Spam, Spam and more Spam or whatever crap he bought at Chinamart, much less watching him learn how to cook, hunt, or figure out what surviving is all about. I’ve been through ice storms, the depression and your father’s unemployment in the 1970’s so I think I know a thing or two about gettin’ by” Lillian told her daughter,”Now grab all of my white linens while I grab my bottled water and gas cans out of the garage so we have a shot at making it to your place.”
Sandy was amazed at everything her mother had assembled on such short notice and took a moment to just gaze in amazement that this elderly woman who raised her so well was so prepared for what she thought was the end of the world. “Mama, I just love you, and wish I had your strength” she said.
“Honey, you do have it and this time I will force it to the surface, that I can promise” as she hugged her daughter in a deep embrace. “Now let’s get it loaded in your SUV so we can get out of here and get home before dark. Who knows what the idiots are up to and I want to get there before they figure out that we do have gas and food.”
February 24, 2010 3:40 P.M. ET
The wife looked at me as I was nuts. I explained that I had to know the news and the wind up cheapo shortwave survival radio was useless. I grabbed my pistol and promised her I would be back by the six o’clock curfew as I told her to lock up and headed next door to Fort James if I was not back by six. “James, get your butt out here” I yelled to him from his front door. “Darned if he didn’t need to add sandbags and armor plate” I muttered to myself admiring the aluminum window shutters and plywood covering the openings in the front of his home. “I’m here, but I’m carrying, are we heading over to Old Man Lewis or what?” James asked. I nodded and we started the half mile walk up the street in an attempt to find out what the hell was happening in the world since now we were in the ultimate bubble, created by our own making and ignorance.
I took the lead and knocked on the door yelling loudly “Old Man” as he liked to be called and sure as all get out, a few minutes after banging away Old Man Lewis opened the door slowly only to stick the barrel of a .30-06 rifle through the crack in the door as he yelled “who the hell is this?” I told him it was me and James his neighbors from down the street and he unlocked what sounded like four chains before opening the door. “Dangit son, you could have called first” the old guy yelled at me. “Sir, how the heck was I supposed to do that?” I replied. “I guess it would have been too much to ask for you clowns to get an ARO rig before the fan got pooped up and call me on seventy-five meters. You yuppies are too young to understand, so I’ll forgive ya!” he replied back.
As Mr. Lewis motioned us downstairs, we noticed his windows were boarded up from the inside, so the curtains and blinds looked normal to the outside. I shrugged my shoulders to James as we headed downstairs to where he kept his amateur gear, a place where we had been visiting since we were kids, fascinated with the idea of talking to the world. “Boys, you ain’t about to believe what is going on. They’ve roadblocked the major interstates to stop the looters. The radio and TV stations are all under government orders now. This isn’t like a hurricane, it’s like the end of the world. People are calling me from around the world to ask me what is up and I’m begging them for information. Sit down and here, pass this bottle around, you’re going to need it” and after saying that he handed James a fifth of Canadian Mist and tuned his radio to the forty-one meter band.
“I know you’re not going to believe what I’m telling you, so sit tight while I tune into to one of my friends VE9 RA7 up in Canada. I have to actually contact them for information in other states to see what the hell is going on. I won’t remain on long as they are shutting down hams everywhere” he advised us. Mr. Lewis then asked “Is there any family you’re trying to reach while the hops on the East Coast are decent?” James spoke up “Yes sir, I have folks just outside of Birmingham, Alabama sir.” I had to pipe up also “I have folks just north of Buford, if there are any operators up there.” The old man looked at me like I was a three year old and replied “I don’t know son, the space aliens might have eaten everyone from Buford by now. What kind of stupid danged question was that?”
He mumbled a bit, turned the power button to his speaker on, took a swig of the Mist then tuned int around 7.221 Mhz and started the call:
“CQ, CQ, CQ, this is K9L5AV calling for anyone in the Atlanta, Georgia or Birmingham, Alabama areas, CQ, CQ, CQ” and he let off the mike and reclined back. Again a few minutes later the call went out but nothing came back. “CQ, CQ, CQ, is anybody out there, Georgia, Alabama, is anyone there, CQ, CQ?” he tried again and again. Suddenly a voice came back “This is VE9L5K in Ontario, Tom, is that you? Acknowledge please.” Old man Lewis perked up, grabbed the bottle from in front of James, took a swig as to lubricate his voice and yelled back “Sam you old dog, this is K9L5AV you’re coming in 3 over 3! How are ya doin’?” Mr. Lewis tuned the rig a bit more as the voice replied “FORTY- FOUR HERE OLD FRIEND! I’m glad to hear you’re in one piece. I was worried after the Buffalo stories we heard, over” the voice replied. The old man looked deeply concerned. He keyed the microphone and stared intently into the speaker as looking into someone’s face “What Buffalo stories? We’re blind, deaf and dumb down here, over?”
As he leaned back he turned the volume up “VE9L5K over, I’m not sure if we are authorized to tell you this but there was a bank riot in Buffalo. We heard over two hundred were arrested and five shot trying to break into a bank to get their money. The Peace Bridge is shut down, Niagara is closed and your Coast Guard has shut down the waterways in the area, OVER.”
Mr. Lewis was not pleased as he had friends and family everywhere. He keyed it up again “Any word from W6L 77J in Tonawanda? He’s an old friend, over, this is K9L5AV, over.” The voice was polite but short “No sir, nothing at all, over.” He signed the conversation off and tuned it up a few kilohertz after saying thanks to his buddy and logging the contact into his laptop for the call into Canada. “CQ, CQ, CQ, this is K9L5AV does anyone in Georgia or Alabama acknowledge this transmission, CQ, CQ, CQ” he repeated again. James was now freaking out a bit as I was getting even more nervous also. The whiskey was gone and the temperament of Mr. Lewis had changed, “Boys, get some coffee on. This is going to be a long night.” I told him we could not leave our wives alone and he replied “One of you should stay and get the news so we can spread it as fast as we can. Things ain’t what they seem and I can’t get an answer on any of the networks. Something big is up and I’m scared to guess what it might be.” James nodded to leave but before he did the old man grabbed his arm and said “Come with me.” He lead James to his workbench and handed him an old Zenith Transoceanic radio with a box of batteries. “You need to tune into the news from overseas and get the word out. I’m afraid something really bad has happened” he told him as he handed the rig to him and patted him on the back.
“Now let’s see if we can find the world” he replied to me, motioning back to the radio room. “But my wife…” I started to say and James cut me off saying “Don’t worry, I’ll escort her over here before curfew and watch your house. I want to know that is up and as soon as you know, tell me in the morning.” It was already five fifteen and darkness would arrive soon. “Thank you James, be careful out there, this is getting weird” and he nodded as he walked out the door as to acknowledge that our friendship had grown instantly. “Son! Get in here! You ain’t going to believe this!” the old man’s voice crackled out as I locked the seven locks on his front door. “Now what?” I thought to myself. Darned if I had not learned to quit asking that question, as the more information might scare me a tad bit more than the lack of information. “Sigh, another sleepless night” I said as I walked down the stairs.
When I walked into the radio room Mr. Lewis has the speakers blaring with military march music. “Why are you tuned into Cuba?” I yelled at him over the din.
“It ain’t Cuba!” he yelled back.