The Day the Dollar Died (Part X)
X. The Dented Crown and Worthless Pound
Filed under: The Day The Dollar Died Series
by John Galt
December 30, 2009
The following story is another chapter in the ongoing FICTIONAL saga…..
February 24, 2010 11:05 P.M. Eastern Time
Tom was somewhat sobered up by now, exhausted from nailing boards across the rear and side windows as per his mother-in-law’s instructions. Tom had the oldest scrap wood collection it seemed with various sized boards hammered together over the windows looking like an old cartoon home. When he went into the house, soaked in sweat under his winter coat he bent over, huffing and puffing with his teeth chattering away “Wha,wha,wwwwha,why not the front windows too?” he asked Lillian puzzled and freezing. “Son, we’ll take care of that in the morning, but we’ll have to find some decent wood first. You done good and I knew a good sweat in that cold weather would sober you up. Come on over here to the space heater now that the electricity is back on. It’s weird though son, the natural gas is still off” Lillian paused after grabbing a blanket to wrap over him, “You know there’s a lot more to do to get ready.” Tom looked puzzled but before he could say a word Sandy spoke up “Get ready for what Momma?”
Lillian was exhausted and really did not want to deal with this tonight. She took her petite octagon glasses off and set them on the cocktail table and looked her daughter and son-in-law deeply into their eyes, putting her hand on Sandy’s knees as she started to speak. “Sweetheart, the nation we knew and you grew up in vanished a few days ago. I don’t know if it is ever coming back. What Tom saw at WalMart the other night might just have been the last normal shopping day we will ever now. It is now every man, woman, child, dog, cat, or other critter for themselves. Unless you know and trust your neighbors, we have got to get ready for anything. Tom, I’ll take a nap until 3 a.m. and then you can wake me up” Lillian said softly in her deep South Georgia drawl. “What am I doing Mom? That does not make one bit of sense?” Tom asked bewildered a bit from the alcohol buzz wearing off and now innocently curious as to what Lillian was talking about. “You’ve got first watch. Don’t shoot unless you’re threatened and don’t you dare fall asleep. Sandy you make him two large pots of coffee and stay up with him if need be” Lillian spoke a little bit louder and firmer this time staring at her daughter with deep piercing brown eyes. “Momma, what are we on watch for?” Sandy asked just as curious. With that question, Lillian sighed, grabbed her purse and pulled a .38 caliber revolver in its holster and handed it to Tom. Sandy spoke up “I don’t think that’s a good idea considering he still might be a little drunk Momma.” Tom glanced over at Sandy with a dirty look.
“I’ll have you know that three and a half hours in 29 degree temps smashing my thumb with a hammer sobered me up quite nicely HONEY!” he said emphatically. Lillian interrupted the little spat to play peacemaker and spoke firmly once again, “Both of you hush and save your energy. Tom, you go clean up and take a cold shower to wake up. Sandy you get that coffee going. I am going to bed. Just keep an eye on the streets and out the back door window for anything unusual. Yell if you see something. Here’s a box of ammo for the pistol and don’t load it until you get out of the shower.” The two of them blushed as if spanked like four year old children, looked sheepishly at Lillian and replied “Yes Ma’am” and got busy with their chores. Lillian sat the box of ammunition down on the table, grabbed her glasses, hugged them both and wished them a good night. “3 a.m. Tom, don’t you dare forget. And leave me some coffee please” were the last things she said this evening as she sauntered back into the spare bedroom. Tom gave her another hug, and headed for the shower while Sandy shook her head then headed into the kitchen. “I wonder why she’s worried” Sandy thought to herself, “half the homes in our neighborhood are abandoned or foreclosed.”
Tom jumped out of the cold water and dried off quickly. The icy cold water due to a lack of natural gas to keep his hot water hot really ticked him off. “What the hell does natural gas have to do with the danged dollar barfing?” he wondered aloud. As he threw some jeans and a t-shirt on, Sandy walked into the bedroom motioning him to be quiet. “Momma’s asleep already honey” she whispered to him. Tom grabbed a pair of tennis shoes and walked out to the kitchen with Sandy, glancing at his watch and noting that it was already twenty until midnight. As they walked into the kitchen, he sat down, slipped on the tennis shoes and looked up at his wife as she poured him a mug of steaming hot coffee. “Honey, you don’t think we’re going to have problems here tonight from our neighbors do you?” he asked Sandy with a concerned look. She grabbed the sugar and handed it to him and said “I don’t baby. I’m scared. I’m really scared. Remember those strange people we saw up the street two weeks ago? This is all too much for me, but I need you to stay awake no matter what” Sandy said, her eyes welling up as if she were about to cry. Tom stirred the sugar into his cup and then stood up and hugged her to reassure her. “It’s time to pay attention” he said as he slid the rounds into the cylinder of the revolver, “I’m going to try to find something on that radio she brought over to listen to and start checking the windows. Let’s kill all the lights except the two night lights in the kitchen.”
The radio took a second for Tom to get used to but after turning the siren feature on and off by accident he found the band switch to turn it to the A.M. band. He tuned the radio to 750 where WSB came booming in and instead of a repeat of his favorite show, it was the new national program “America Overnight” which was about as dry as it got. “Ugh” he muttered to Sandy, “Our choices are slim to none as this is on almost every station I tune into. I guess we’re going to get stuck with this garbage until the emergency subsides.”
With some bland almost elevator like soft pop music from the 1980’s on low volume in the background, Tom walked up to the front window and glanced through the slats in the blinds to all corners of his front yard and the street. As if it were almost habit now, he looked down at his watch to see 12:21 on the face as he paused to take a sip of coffee then head back to the back door and his wife. BOOM! CRASH! BOOM! Tom heard it, sat the coffee down hurriedly, sloshing coffee all over the cocktail table and ran back to the kitchen to look out the window to see what was going on. “Honey did you see anything?” he asked. Sandy nodded to the negative and he peeked out the back window. There, in the motion activated lights was the one thing he didn’t think he would have to worry about during this crisis then realized with a sigh of relief that he should have brought the garbage cans into the garage. There was a raccoon, hungry, paralyzed momentarily by the lights trying to grab something and run away with it from the garbage can. Sandy smiled but her Mom who was tying her robe yelled out “What the hell was that?” Tom said “Go back to bed Mom, it was just a raccoon. I’m going to go pull the cans into the garage. I’ll wake you up at four o’clock instead as I’m wide awake now.” She nodded and headed back into the bedroom to go back to sleep.
As Tom finished unlocking the makeshift locks and removing the barricade he took the clip on holster and made sure it was securely on his belt. He took a deep breath, put on his parka and opened the back door, curious to see the mess that the animal made but also to see if he could see or hear anything over the rise of the hill at back of his property. The flashlight he held showed a mess of garbage strewn around the house, for which he began the task of cleaning up, realizing he should of thought of that while he was boarding the windows up. As he finished up and dragged the cans into the garage through the front, he noticed that there were a lot more fireplaces burning now than usual as the smell of oak and pine burning filled the air. “Dangit, I wish my home had a fireplace” he thought to himself. As he shut the garage door, he looked off to the Northwest towards Atlanta, only to notice a very weird red glow over the horizon, like a forest fire had begun somewhere. After trudging back into the house, he cleaned himself up, looked over at Sandy who had that look of an impatient wife and before she could speak said to her “Raccoons, it’s all cleaned up now. But there’s a weird fire or something to the Northwest of us. I’m going to play with that radio to see what I can find out if anyone is broadcasting any local news.”
February 25, 2010 0658 UTC
The fourth pot of coffee smelled better than the first three. The radio room was warmed up a bit more now as the old man had fired up an old Hallicrafters SR-160 transceiver with all of those tubes glowing reassuringly in the room, as if almost to invite you to sit down and listen or talk to people around the world. I looked over at Mr. Lewis and before I could say a word he said “Hush, Radio Australia is about to come on with the news. Maybe we can get some serious information about what is going on over here.” I nodded and hearing a brief melody of Waltzing Matilda just before the top of the hour, sat down handing him another cup of straight black coffee to see what was being broadcast. Mr. Lewis thanked me, then turned the volume control up on the radio with the Drake nameplate where the speaker blared out the news that would leave me shaking for a week:
This is Radio Australia and it is now 0700 UTC. This is Mike Flanagan and now the world and Australian news headlines. The United States embassy in Sydney remains closed after the attempted suicide bombing attack earlier this morning. Casualties from a train derailment in Eastern Siberia are now at 128 as Russia blames Islamic extremists for the sabotage and attack. The United Kingdom has sealed all of its borders for a second day and closed the Eurotunnel to prevent hooligans from entering the country to foment more riots. British authorities report that approximately 137 buildings were destroyed or damaged by fire due to the bank riots in Liverpool. China sets an exchange value for the British Pound Sterling of fifteen Sterling to one Chinese Yuan. The U.K. also reports that the national rail system will remain shut down as martial law was imposed in parts of London, Manchester, Ipswich, and Oxford who experienced riots killing over three hundred citizens and twenty-seven soldiers. Reports are filtering out of the United States that California intends to default on all of its debt obligations and cede control of government operations to the United States Federal authorities until the emergency declaration is terminated. And now the news in detail with Collin Fendwich.
“Uh, Mr. Lewis, this might be a good time to find out what is going on in California. Can you reach anyone out there?” I just had to ask ignorantly. He turned around after sipping from the coffee almost pale from the news and spoke in a soft, almost tearful voice, “Son, I do not think for one minute I had best go back on the air tonight. Let’s just listen and see what we can find out. I did not even know there was or what is this emergency declaration thing is and unless the ARRL or FCC clarifies it, I might be in violation.” That caused me to pause for a second, then sit down beside him as he turned the volume down on the Drake then switch the speaker over to his Icom transceiver, spinning into some frequencies that had me wondering what he was looking for. Before I could say a word, he said “I’m going to tune into the marine channels to see what is going on with the ship to shore transmissions and what news they have. They usually talk on satellite but in times like these I think they’ll want to get out as loud and proud as they can.”
The garbled noise coming from the speaker as the digital display glowed with “8047″ which meant nothing to me. He then bumbled with it first clicking it on to “LSB” then “USB” and fine tuning the signal so it was clear and audible. “That’s strange, it’s not encoded” Mr. Lewis uttered, and then the fun began. “Michigan EOC Lansing calling Grand Rapids Guard Command. Location Foxtrot Zebra niner niner now operational. Please move subjects to that location. Over.” He looked at me and I looked at him wondering just what the heck was going on. “Subjects?” I wondered aloud. Mr. Lewis looked somewhat more excited than I did and he hushed me to see if they came back on with more. “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, Rapids Command here, standby for Social Security Number’s of subjects. Will transmit on secure channel 27. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.” That sort of spooked us even a bit more and I said “Old man, we’re not getting anything to follow up on Britain’s collapse, can you find the BBC?”
He turned the volume down, slid his glasses off and looked at me like a scared child at a horror movie to say “Son, I’ve been checking every BBC frequency for over three hours now. It’s almost as if the entire nation has disappeared. The crown is on fire and their money is worthless if even the commies don’t want it. Something bad is happening in the British Isles and we can’t find out what the heck it is. I’m even more afraid because we can’t get any information here. If they’ve got problems like that I don’t even want to know what the hell it is like in Southern California or Detroit.”
I stared into that glowing Hallicrafters now worrying about my wife, and what the heck was going on in the dark. Daybreak was coming soon and I could go home in a few hours and thank goodness for that.
February 25, 2010 6:40 A.M. Central Time
Mike crept up the exit ramp by his home slowly fully expecting a roadblock there to stop him. This time though, no one was there. The sheriff’s office had been pulled out to cover other roads in the county while trying to protect the county center at the same time. Knowing that there just might be a worried wife waiting for a call, he started to grab his cell phone only to see the “NO SERVICE” in the display. “Ah well, thank God I’m old fashioned” he muttered out loud and grabbed the hand mike for his Cobra CB. He tuned it up to channel 35 on the USB side and keyed the mike down speaking clearly and slowly “Break 37, break, break 37, break, is my honey on tonight?” He shifted the truck back into gear, slowly swinging the empty trailer out so as not to slide on the icy roads relieved to hear the radio erupt with “Baby, I’m home, I’m fine and the coffee is on. What time will you be home?” Mike smiled knowing his wife was a good trooper and followed their plan to the letter. “I’ll be home in twenty minutes if I don’t go ice skating with my rig off the road on the way home. I love you sweetie!” Mike said and put the mike down. “I love you too and see you shortly” was the reassuring voice on the other end. The adventure of the Blackwater gang was now over and Mike could use the respite.
As he backed the truck into his yard to secure his truck and trailer, Mike noticed a series of little flags, almost like utility line markers in the snow. These little flags were green and purple and spaced about fifteen feet apart. “Now what, I paid my power bill” he muttered. As the truck came to a stop, he dumped his airbags to lower the trailer and locked the air brakes up. Then as if to make him feel even more secure, he grabbed the boot out of his side box and locked the driver’s side tire down with it to insure that this sucker was not moving easily. “Good luck cutting that off without getting shot you dirt bags” Mike thought to himself. He walked to the end of the driveway, slammed the gate shut, wrapped the chain around it twice and put the heavy padlock on to make it tough to get into his property without a blow torch or ramming the fence. With all of the security measures in place, locking the truck and trailer up, the gate and fuel tanks, he figured its time to go inside and see the wife to make her feel better. As he walked towards the house it started to snow again, as if someone above wanted to help keep his little piece of farmland covered in a secure blanket to deter intruders. The smile on his face got bigger when the door opened as he approached and his wife greeted him with a huge hug.
“I was so worried” she said, holding him tightly. “Let me get inside woman and get all these clothes off then you can hug me all day” Mike said lovingly. Mike took all of the winter gear off and hung it neatly just the way she liked it as she secured the front door then put the makeshift barricade of the firewood rack in front of it and locked all the locks. As she hugged him again she whispered into his ear “Jack’s in the hospital. He’s pretty bad off.” Mike was hit like a ton of bricks and started firing off questions “What happened? How did you find out? Which hospital?” Sally looked at him deep into his tired eyes and replied “He’s at the Fargo Military District Hospital honey. His wife wants to know if you’ll take her there tomorrow when he can have visitors as the Liaison Officer told her it would be okay . The entire roadblock was ambushed and that entire area is on a lock down. It just happened a few hours ago. She’s asleep in the guest room now. I think she’s a bit freaked out.”
February 25, 2010 05:40 A.M. Central Time
Pastor Lewis was stunned. There were three families huddled inside of his church now, some had plastic grocery bags full of clothes, others had little canvas sacks with bottled water in them. Two were local migrant farm families who had applied for legal status years ago with his help and had come back to help on the rice farms. The other family was the one that shocked him, it was the owners of that farm. “Chuck, are you okay? What happened to your family and your farm?” the Pastor asked. Charles Lewellyn was a resident of these parts as was his family for over one hundred years. His hard nosed Southern attitude and work ethic was never shaken but this early morning, his life had changed forever.
“Father” as he always called him, “Kelly was on watch when we heard two shots around 3 a.m. I grabbed my shotgun and ran to the front door and these thugs greeted me there and offered me a choice. They said they knew we had over two hundred one hundred pound bags of rice ready to ship and they were there to take it. They had a semi and Oh God, dear God, they shot my son.” Mr. Lewellyn dropped to one knee grabbing the Pastor’s hand sobbing, “I told them to go to hell and one of them threw a bottle with something on fire into my living room and another into the dining room and the house just went up in in flames. I grabbed my wife and the grand kids and we ran out to Jorge’s trailer to wake them up. Before we could get off the property they torched another trailer and we don’t know if that family got out or not. We all just woke as many folks up as we could, grabbed what we could and drove off in Jorge’s pickup as fast as hell. They were stealing everything. My God, my family, my daughter, we couldn’t find her, please help us Father, if you can.”
The Pastor was stunned. He brought everyone into the church then grabbed his cell phone out of his pocket only to see the display showing “NO SERVICE” so he ran to his office and grabbed the phone there only to hear no dial tone, just silence. The Pastor yelled out across the church “Chuck, you know where the pantry is, please, hold it together for about twenty minutes while I run over to town to get the Sheriff. Lock the doors until I return and please, get some warm food and drinks for everyone here. I’ll hurry, I promise!”
The door slammed loudly to the main entrance of the church and Pastor Lewis grabbed his keys out of his pocket and locked the front door, running to his car. As he started up the beat up old Ford Taurus he started to pray to himself and seek guidance as the panic of the moment had overtaken him. The short drive seemed to take hours but as he approached the town square in De Witt, he noticed the Arkansas National Guard soldier yelling at him to stop. The young black soldier was very professional and as the good Pastor rolled the window down he said in a firm commanding voice “I need to see your identification sir, and please turn your car off.” Pastor Lewis nervously fumbled with the keys in the ignition and turned the car off, and reached for his wallet while saying “Something horrible has happened my son, I’m Pastor Lewis and all of these people just outside of town have been killed.” The good Pastor then paused and said “Oh my, my wallet is not there and as he hurriedly reached for his glove box he noticed the MP had drawn his pistol and taken a bead on him while yelling “SLOWLY SIR, NO SUDDEN MOVES.” The Pastor put his other hand up and slowly opened the glove box, grabbing his registration and shaking while saying “Sir, please don’t shoot me, I left my wallet back at the church, this is my car and registration, I swear it, please don’t shoot me. We have to hurry, there are people dead or dying just outside of town.”
The MP took two steps back with the registration being handed over to another soldier to his left then said “Sir, please step out of the car slowly. No sudden moves and keep your hands where I can see them.” The Pastor stepped out of the vehicle sobbing, “But sir, there are dead people not far from here. His family is in horrid shape. They are hiding at my church waiting on my return. I’ve come here to find the Sheriff, sir, sir…” The MP cut him off and said, “Sir, please stop talking. We’re calling this in. Right now you are under arrest for a curfew violation. It is not 8 o’clock yet. Put your hands on the trunk of the car and spread your legs sir. We have to verify who you are before proceeding with any course of action or taking a report from you.”