Protection and Preservation, Book 03
I have not been diligent in keeping this journal up to date. Judith saw it and ganged up with Jane to make me sit down and bring it up to date. We grew in the three years since the fight with the Memphians. Our married folk had more children.
Jane and Judith both blessed me with two more children and Judith is pregnant now. We already have George, Jr., Edith named after Judith's mother, Bethany, and Mark. Their names will live on and their lives remembered.
Along the way, we have had peace and perhaps that is the best thing. Abe says that we have fought our war and won. The slaves rescued from the Memphians and who survived the first year are well on the way to recovering fully and we have added some couples and small groups from across the Mississippi as well as from the northeast.
Protection now counts over one hundred full members and other associated persons. We are doing without power more and more. Batteries and fuel are becoming scarce and we do without much that we once thought was necessary.
Robby's wife, Pam, was having trouble becoming pregnant. She lost the child from the time of the fight with the Memphians and hadn't become pregnant since. My testing of them was inclusive as to the reason. They had adopted Charles and Melissa. The two were popular because they were good looking and intelligent. They seemed to be content to live with Robby and Pam and made no real effort to respond to the romantic attentions of any others their age. Both were over our age of consent. I thought about it but didn't worry much about it.
When it was the fifth year anniversary since the Day, we marked it but it was not an event for celebration but for quiet remembrance. Our community was a religious community without carrying our faith in any fringe direction. Abe talks about God and Jesus as if they are old and trusted friends. It had rubbed off on me and I think the rest felt that way. Abe had taken on a number of the former Memphian slaves and brought most of them into full emotional stability. Most of the women were married now and happy with their lives. Abe had one young man who he spent special amounts of time teaching him the Bible and praying with his wives and with Alan's wife. The five of them truly worked as a team and Alan occasionally preached on Sundays. Alan's preaching was much like Abe's and talked of love and caring with a healthy dose of God's Spirit. I kidded Abe one day that they should have a "preach off." He smiled and said, "He will be here on his own with God to lead him eventually. He's a good man and Iris is a good wife to him."
I smiled back and said, "Not any time soon. Abe, you're the pillar in this community. We need and value your advice."
"Thanks, Mister George. I won't last forever. The time will come when God calls me home and I will go. My wives know this and are prepared." I grimaced. I never could get him to drop the "Mister" from my name.
"Hopefully, it won't be soon. There is much to do here."
"I've wanted to talk to you about the future. There are people who would be good for us in two areas. One small group is to our northwest and the other is to our east. The ones to the northwest need our help. I can't give you any more direction than that but that trip needs to start soon."
Traveling and trouble in my mind meant Robby. He and Pam were good people and had become spouses prior to Memphis. He was our most military guy and able to handle himself in the field. He had taught Pam, Charles, and Melissa since Memphis and they had learned the lessons well. Robby was one of our best hunters. In the woods, he is a ghost. I went to their farm.
"Hi, George. It looks like you have a chore." Pam greeted me cheerfully.
"Well, yes. Abe came to see me. He told me that people need our help to the northwest."
Robby said, "I thought Pam was teasing but you do have something."
"Yes, I do. Abe says that, to the northwest, there is a group that needs help. He didn't suggest that we would be in another war but I would prefer we help if we can but protect our community in the process."
Robby said, "George, what do you know?"
I replied, "Not much. Abe has said we have fought our war and these people are located to the northwest and that they need our help. He also said that there is another group to the east that we will meet later. You know Abe. His pronouncements are a mixture of general and specific information. The thing that scares me is that they're accurate."
Melissa had been quiet until now. She spoke up saying, "Road trip! I'm ready!"
Pam said, "Down, girl. No one's going anywhere yet and there's no guarantee you'll go anyway." She grinned to take the sting out.
Robby picked up the discussion. "George, what did you have in mind?" Robby didn't fool around.
I responded, "Northwest means Missouri and we haven't had many people come from there ever. I am guessing that the people northwest of us are having a problem and we can help them or they just need to be part of a larger group to help survive. I don't know but that's my guess. I think a small expedition to go up there and find out would be appropriate and, frankly, you're the best man for that."
Pam said, "We have crops in the ground and animals. Can you arrange someone to look after them?"
"Yes, and, if I can't get anyone else, I will cover it for you."
Robby said, 'Okay, you arrange that and we'll plan to leave next Monday. I'll drop by Sunday afternoon to go over what details might come up between now and then."
He stood and I did, too. We shook hands and I knew I had to be ready to cover for him when they left. I went back home and left him to talk over things.
His report is important to our community and I record it here in its entirety.
When George left us, I looked at Pam and said, "Lovie, we need to talk about this and make some decisions." She nodded.
"Melissa said, "Charles and I will want to take part in that, too."
I nodded and said, "We will talk tonight over supper. I need to go help Charles."
Charles and I completed our work for the day, came home, and cleaned up for supper. Over supper, Melissa said, "Well, what about the trip?"
Pam looked at me and said, "Mel, it's more than that. I think we need to talk about our relationship and make a decision."
Charles and Melissa both looked troubled. I said, "I think the four of us need to talk to Abe together. If he is open and accepting, then we can go further, talk to George, and not have to hide any more."
They all nodded at me and I said, "Then, let's do it now. It won't get better or worse by waiting and we need to resolve this."
Charles and I got the wagon out and put the horses in their harness. We left for Abe's farm moments later. We arrived, as they were finishing supper. The four of us were invited in and Abe said, "I was wondering if this trip would finally get you over here."
The four of us looked at each other with apprehensive and scared faces.
Abe smiled and said, "Sit down and quit looking so scared. I have prayed about this and have been waiting for you to come to me. It will be a shock to some but I believe Protection can handle the situation." He looked at Pam and Melissa. "You two ladies are on birth control, aren't you?" They nodded. "You were concerned about becoming pregnant without your full union being known." He said it as a fact and not a one of us denied it. He said slowly, "It looks like there will have to be a marriage Sunday. The four of you will come up. I will let George know. If he had time, he would have noticed. Two wives and four children keep him busy and distracted." He chuckled. "That was easier than you had thought."
Pam said, "How did you know it was all four of us and not just Charles and Melissa?"
Angela came in and said, "We saw some looks over the last year that gave it away if you knew what you were looking for."
I finally took a deep breath and said, "That's the situation. Do you think people will be okay about our relationship?"
"I think there will be a few who are shocked. Multiple partners in a marriage are considered normal enough now. However, Charles and Melissa will be the first to cross a different barrier. I think it's time for that issue to be reconsidered when it's mature, consenting adults. Both of you proved yourselves in our war. Charles, people were impressed with your handling of the radio during the fighting. Melissa, you helped people in many ways though both your arms were incapacitated. All four of you performed well in trying circumstances." He paused, "No, it will go well though there will be a few wide eyes and raised eyebrows. I have prayed about this with Alan and we will marry the four of you and bless your trip, too. I will talk to George before Sunday."
He did. George came up to me and Charles in church and shook our hands. He said, "Congratulations." His wives hugged all four of us. Abe's sermon was about trying times and people who came through them and preached love and tolerance for people just trying to be happy. Before he gave the closing prayer, he said, "We have a wedding to perform immediately after the service and you are all invited." He prayed and then asked the wedding party to approach. We came up and stood from left to right in the order that Abe had suggested. First, I stood there. Beside me were Melissa, then Pam, and then Charles. Behind us and to one side were George with Jane and Judith. The seven of us stood facing Abe, Alan, and the altar.
Abe said, "We are gathered together this day as a community and as a community of believers. Pam and Robby were united at this altar. They have talked with me and desire to open their union to include two more.
"Melissa, do you desire to be the spouse of Robby and Charles?"
"Yes, sir, very much."
"Charles, do desire to be the spouse of Melissa and Pam?"
"Pam, do you desire to open your marriage to include Melissa and Charles as your spouses?"
"Yes, Abe. That is my heart's desire."
"Robby, do you desire to open your marriage to include Melissa and Charles as your spouses?"
"Yes, Abe. That also is my heart's desire."
Abe continued with the vows and married the four of us with Jane, Judith, and George as our formal witnesses. With Abe, Alan, and their wives actively involved in the ceremony and Jane, Judith, and George offering to witness it, asking if anyone objected was a formality. No one did. No one even moved an inch.
Abe then said, "Our newlyweds are going traveling on our behalf to the northwest. God has told me there are people there who need our help. All rise to pray for a good trip, a safe return, and a blessing on the food so bountifully prepared for us."
He prayed and we broke up to go to the Fellowship Hall for dinner. The men shook my hand and the women hugged my neck. I saw that my spouses were receiving the same treatment.
The community would support our union. We ate and fellowshipped and left in the mid afternoon for home. There, we celebrated our union in the master bedroom, which we had all been using together since about a year after the Memphian war was over.
We left the next morning for Missouri.
Unlike our initial foray into Memphis, we rode this time. Protection had gas but we had found power outages and contamination of supplies made obtaining gas elsewhere a questionable idea. Jackson wasn't too far. It and Whitesville were the closest places to us and we scavenged in both towns, particularly Jackson, frequently.
I had learned to like horses and all four of us were good riders. It wasn't as fast but speed wasn't that important. Making the round trip was. We had a trailer that Charles and I had built to use around the farm with the horses. We took five horses. Charles would start off riding his horse pulling the trailer with another horse in harness. Pam rode beside him and Melissa rode with me. I figured to cover about twenty to twenty-five miles a day terrain allowing.
According to my rough calculations on old highway maps, it was just over five hundred miles to Kansas City, Missouri. We used old maps because there were no new ones being printed! At my projected rate of travel, we had a good three weeks of constant movement to reach that city. I knew we would have to rest some. It would probably take four weeks assuming we had to go that far.
Pam had commented on the fact that we didn't know what we were looking for so how would we know when we found it. Melissa picked up that question speaking loudly enough for Pam and Charles to be heard, "Well, older husband, what should we look for?" Everyone chuckled.
I replied, "Abe said that we will find people who need our help. I am guessing that they will be people with a problem that is beyond their ability to resolve. First, we need to find people. We'll take steps after that depending upon what we find."
We were headed to Jackson as our first stop. Power had been off there since the tornados that ravaged the area the summer we arrived.
There was a house in Jackson for the community to use and that was our first stop. We knew it had a place for the horses and would be comfortable for us for the night. We had spent a number of nights there over the last year.
We pulled in and took care of the horses and settled in for supper and the night. As usual, we slept together in one room.
The next morning, we cleaned up and saddled the horses and set off to cross I-40 heading north by northwest. Our next stop would be Alamo, Tennessee. Crossing I-40 represented new territory for us, since we hadn't crossed north of I-40 by more than a mile previously.
Our territory was smaller because our means of traveling was slower.