Chapter I Awakening
James Wharton awoke as he had every day for 30 years at 6:30AM at least for the most part. As he moved to shut off the alarm as quickly as possible to avoid waking Sara, his wife of 37 years, he missed the button and the alarm fell to the floor with its annoying buzz blasting for several seconds.
Sara moved and even seemed as though she; was too up and ready to face a day she too had lived again and again. Hers not so much as repetitive rewinds as was James’, hers were always much more varied; but she quickly fell back to sleep as James quieted the alarm by snatching the cord and ripping it from the socket in frustration, pulling off half the plastic face-plate into which the plug was inserted in the process.
Quietly he slipped from the comfort of the bed he so longed to return to, walked zombie-like to the kitchen; oh how he hated the mornings as he aged, he could not even face putting on the coffee, so he went to his couch, fumbled through the stations on the remote control seeking the financial channel he had become addicted to, (a CNBC addict of the 3rd kind).
After several minutes and a few short periods of instantaneous unconsciousness he forced himself back to the coffee pot. Fumbling for the coffee-containing pod. He found nothing but a single round packet of Sara’s decaf; James shut off the modern coffee maker and grabbed a can of coke from the fridge.
He liked coke better anyway, he drank it with every meal and it had the sugar and caffeine he craved to make him become functional along with a Marlboro Red that he lit and inhaled deeply. He had never been able to free himself of cigarettes and at this point in his life he saw little need at further attempts to do so.
Fuck, the garbage truck was clamoring down the road behind and around the cacophony it blasted in all directions announcing to every creature within earshot that it would soon be upon him; and he had forgotten, he had forgotten to even remove the trash from the compactor, and he thought a compactor?
What the hell do I need this for; we burnt the garbage in the backyard as a kid growing up western Pennsylvania just 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, and that, which did not oxidize completely, was simply tilled into the rich soil from time to time with a garden rake?
But this was the new world. A red plastic container for glass, plastic and cans; and a blue box for newspapers, or something like that, he ignored it all! Well was the method he followed likely to have him ticketed by the garbage police?
Probably but he just didn’t give a shit about such things! 1984 was here but in the 21st century. Then a big black can for the rest; it was used for all the nasty stuff.
Shit he put it all in the black can as he always had and ran to the curb with it, in his robe, missed the man now in charge of the entire operation as everything was automated, like this truck with two opposing thumb-like claws that grasped the can, lifted it, dumped it and replaced it to the point of origin.
As the sanitary engineer returned around the loop on the cul-de-sac, James waved down the garbage-man, and the driver accommodated James with a complimentary unscheduled stop to grasp his black can.
Global warming was horseshit and he was confident that the climatic changes that were noted by the media were nothing more than cyclical and normal as they always had been. It was political crap. Shit, let the next generation deal with it if true; the sons Sara bore would then own ocean-front property in Orlando and the Silicon Valley; not a bad trade off.
Chapter II James
Always accused as being a pessimist, he knew he was a realist, an observer of human nature plain and simple. Expect the worst, but hope for the best. In the 1999, pre- 2K, or the start of the 3rd millennium, (but known as Pre 2K, or pre-2000), becoming the 3rd thousand year segment of our earth according to the computers’ coding. James took little faith in rational thought of his fellow humans and in the potential hysteria that might result, so he bought a pound of gold; 16 one ounce U.S. Gold Liberties; in hopes he could throw a coin here or there to pass the roadblocks he may need to pass; to bribe others or purchase essentials like food and medicine should all the computers of the world freeze at the rise of the new thousand year segment causing the modern world to fall into a state of disorder, or worse, total chaos.
James could envision barricades hastily thrown up by groups of otherwise good men, armed and gone insane with fear from the catastrophe resulting from such an event of man’s own creation; a world run by computers that only a few truly understood. The fear was there, many thought the computer coding unable to deal with the change of programming set for the 20th century, not the 21st century. Companies like HP, IBM, Apple and every major company that used such technology, which was everyone; and they spent billions, so the threat seemed plausible at least.
Manning their outposts to protect what they had from the hands of others. It never happened, and he never really expected it would. He kept the coins all the same. In fact he accumulated even more over the next decade, slowly and meticulously.
James was a hunter, a fisherman and someone that understood the outdoors and how to survive in the wilds. Having grown up in Pennsylvania, where schools were shut down to slaughter deer efficiently and precisely was an expected skill to be learned.
With the crunch of brown leaves and snow flurries bursting with sound; he knew how to use a weapon from an early age and owned more guns than he needed at his present age. He started with a 16 gage choke-able Mossberg shotgun. From that single shotgun passed down to him by his father and still owned by James, he accumulated many more firearms over the passage of some 45 years that overfilled his gun safe.
Sara, always thought James was more likely to shoot her than an intruder, but James knew better, he could put 2/3 of the shots he fired in a half dollar sized bull’s-eye at 10 yards with most any pistol he touched and with speed. With a rifle he was deadly at several hundred yards or more if he was on that day.
He showered, ran out of soap and finished the cleansing with some cheap Suave shampoo. Walking from the shower a wolf spider ran then paused, he grasped some toilet paper and crushed it, he hated spiders, he himself knew not why. But he despised them. He threw the wad into the toilet and flushed it.
James walked to his chest of drawers, and grabbed his favorite choice of available underwear in the drawer that day; cleaned and folded by Sara. Then he walked like a man sleep-walking to the sink for a shave and a drop of Visine into the corner each eyelid opening. After this ritual that he had done so many times he grabbed a shirt; no clients to see today he thought, so he went casual.
He delayed as long as possible, his departure into the crowed constantly under construction streets of Orlando. A city built to attract everyone on earth without so much as a map scratched on a napkin by the politicians of the 60’s and 70’s when Walt and his crew flew helicopters over vast expanses of lakes, swamps and wilderness.
Orlando was but a major inland regional city in those days. It was about to change and evolve into what it had become, a city of more than 2 million people without a core or heart or culture, simply an expanse of never ending suburbs spreading 40 miles in all directions from the center point, if you could determine that point.
So he shut off CNBC after watching what was expected to happen that day in the markets. He watched because he was a trader himself, some days he had predicted well, others horribly. But since the great crash, and then the “Flash Crash”, things seemed gloomier daily with intermittent up spurts of glee and rising stock prices. None of the upward moves seemed sustainable, the facts remained, high unemployment, and houses foreclosed upon, people were generally in fear for their jobs if they still had one.
In the end he had always remained about even in the market, at least over the past decade anyway; it was like Vegas on TV. But since the “Great Recession” as it became to be called, James noticed an underlying fermentation that only seemed to become more and more uncertain as to the quality of the brew breeding in the endless kegs scattered among the lakes and swamps of “The City Beautiful”.
He articulated his ideas to those he considered his friends and family; as to what not only America was headed for but the entire world; should we not all get a grasp.
So many foolish non-thinking people he felt surrounded him, yet they listened with great intent when he spoke of impending economic collapse, oh they listened; and as time passed more and more began to see he just may be onto something. Yet no one could truly face it but for a few. And even fewer did a thing to prepare for the worst; he wrote it off as human nature. Americans had been softened by 2 generations of excessive spending and buying, buying their food at a supermarket he doubted that most people really knew anything about the meats, vegetables and bread they bought in plastic bags, nice and neat and clean.
Then a six-pack and home to be master of the remote control as they lay upon their comfy couches consuming junk food as they watched mindless T.V. shows…life was good and it was easy and nobody ever expected that it could ever change. So they fattened themselves like a hog farmer fattens his pigs to someday be slaughtered so the meat could be sold in ever-so-nice pretty packaging. We could have bacon with our eggs; from chickens we never saw either. To be cont…