It's raining again. Christ, it's enough to make a man want to chew the end off a pistol. As if the damned dogs aren't enough to bring a person down.
Since I decided to start this journal for something to do, I may as well start at the beginning, eh?
It all started with Roundup. It's a herbicide which means it kills plants. May God damn Monsanto and their 'perfect herbicide'. Farmers applied it around the world in hundreds of tons per year since 1970. Then the Frankenfood disasters swept entire countries in Africa leaving stalks with no seeds, no pulses.
The bees started disappearing. Then the earthworms. The funguses and bacteria that promoted soil nitrogen fixation died back severely. If the company had owned up to the problem and withdrawn it from the market things probably wouldn't have escalated out of control like they did. But NO! Goddamned Monsanto threw money hand over fist at congress and the senate. They bought the goddamned country, right along side the banks and insurance brokers. The newspapers thought up a cute name and called it the bean war. It wasn't so goddamned funny when supposedly demilitarized nukes started going off in American cities. Drive a semi up to a loading dock, take a bus out of town. Pull out a cell phone. Riiiing. Riiiing. Riii <"That number is no longer in service".> Every city with half a million or over got gutted, unless they were too close together.
In a petty response the president fired off everything we had, taking out China, the Middle East, western Russia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and all of the Arabian boot. Ya remember all that Mutually Assured Destruction shit that promised a nuclear winter if they dropped the big one? Well, they were right.
To top it off, a team of nut-jobs jacked around with the diphtheria bacillus so that it was incredibly tough, deadly as hell and would host in canines. That's right, dogs. They thrived after being infected. It just drove 'em crazy as a shit-house rat. It was like they all developed the brain of a Chihuahua and would bite anything that moved. They track noise, too. You shoot one and fifty will come callin'. It got spread by dusting the stuff inside shipping containers and through sixty tranquilized dogs that were shipped over from India.
All of the big cities were gone. People died like wheat in the field, laid flat by a hailstorm. Then the dog packs started tearing apart anybody caught out on the street. Nobody could even go out to collect the dead for disposal.
How did I fit into all this? I'm still trying to figure out if I was real lucky or damned. I'm Sandy. I was born in New London, CT and have lived there all my life except for those eight years that the army owned my ass. I'm a heavy welder when I can get the business but I keep a roof over my head by breaking up the clinkers in the electric company's coal-fired boilers with a water blaster. Never heard of one? It's an eye opener. A water blaster is the big grand daddy of a pressure washer. Instead of pushing out water at maybe 1200 PSI, a blaster delivers 36,000 PSI when cranked up. That'll peel concrete right down to the reinforcing rods and peel the side of a ship down to bare metal. You have to wear a full face shield and armor to keep blow backs from hitting you like bullets from a .38 pistol.
New York and Boston had taken 'small' nuclear hits. Even though they were fairly close to New London, it was life as usual. I was still being paid to work. I was chewing barely cooled slag from a combustion pit the size of half a rail car into chunks that would fit through the shaker grate at the bottom. I had stopped for a little while to refill the water tank, take a drink of cold water myself and wipe off the sweat. The blaster was on wheels but at right around two tons I used a little donkey engine to drag it around. The big loading doors were open to spread the heat around a little. What must have been thirty, forty dogs ran through the doors and started chewing on anybody that was standing. I wasn't about to stand there and be dog food. I hit the throttle on the big diesel, dropped my face shield and jammed the but of the wand into my armpit. I hit those dogs with 30,000 PSI of cold water from ten to twenty feet away. The couple that led the pack just disappeared. The rest had huge gaping wounds and missing limbs. They were all down and dying if not dead. I dropped the throttle back down to idle and refilled the water tank. When I raised my face shield I heard screams and calls for help. Nobody was armed so we were like shooting fish in a barrel. From the doorway I heard the sound of more dogs. I yelled out, "Get back! Get up on something or behind a door! I hear more dogs!"
I lugged that thing closer to the door and got ready. I waited until they were coming through the door, all jammed together before I triggered the sprayer valve. This time I made sure to get down on one knee so that I didn't miss any. They gave out short 'yelp's as I shortened their legs or blew open their rib cages. My working pal, Thomas had brought up a heavy water hose and was filling the tank faster than I could empty it. Tom always was smarter than me. He thought ahead when I charged forward. Together we pretty well covered the bases.
I took down over a hundred and twenty dogs during the second wave. I dialed back the throttle then inspected the blaster and its hoses. The nozzle was getting worn even though it was made of ceramic, so I swapped out the module. Somebody had sent a few guys with good eyes upstairs to watch for another wave. Tom and I talked as we waited. "Ya know, living around here is going to be like being in a war zone until the packs die off."
I nodded. "Compounds would work but people would have to cooperate." I had a brain flash. "Unless we lived aboard ships." I bumped his hip with mine. "Hi, sailor. Lookin' for a good time?"
Tom laughed and punched my shoulder. "I ain't never scraped a barrel low enough to find somethin' like you attractive."
Tom was my buddy in the reserves. When we were together it was gay jokes, 24x7. We talked over getting out of our apartments and finding something floating to live on. Tom had to worry about his family as well--he had a wife, a son and two daughters. I was the bachelor in the group.
We took out another pack of over sixty before dark. That's when a manager gave the OK to close the big rail-car doors. Nobody went home. It was too dangerous. We tore apart the vending machines for dinner and went upstairs to the business offices to find someplace padded to rack out for the night. Later, towards dawn, I opened a window and listened. I could hear the dog packs all over. Later that morning we sat together and talked over coffee. I let everyone know what I'd heard early that morning. We were surrounded in depth. Someone turned on a radio and found a news station. Martial law had been declared. Tom and I exchanged glances. We had to report in to the nearest police facility. I did the whistle thing. "Listen up! Any reservists here?" Four other guys responded. "We gotta report in." Since I was a sergeant I drew the command slot. "Anybody armed?" Nope. Aw, crap. "Anybody got a big 4x4 or heavy duty truck?" Nope. Okay, we had to steal one. (Choke, cough. 'requisition' one.) I looked around the parking lot for a likely candidate. Nothing caught my eye. I did see a heavy delivery van built on a dually chassis. "Who owns that van?" Nobody answered. It must have been someone that got massacred by the dogs. We matched up the patch on a corpse with the advertising on the van and found our keys. Now I needed to call in. There was no sense in registering at a cop shop when they would just send us on to a mustering facility someplace else. We were told to report to the nearest National Guard facility.
New London had its own NG Armory on Bayonet Street. It was a long, low one-story building that looked more like a high school than a military facility. It was deceptively deep, though. We were one of the first 'wild cards' to register so we got a lot of the bullshit housekeeping jobs to prepare for the expected rush. We did get choice digs, though, and first shot at issued gear. Their armory had rack after rack of MP5s. I was told that they all had the Naval trigger group--automatic fire was limited to three round bursts. Me? I was happy just to get a pair of good-fitting boots and some down time to break 'em in.
The yard had the standard mix of refueling trucks, water buffalos, tractors and 5th wheel trailers. I was surprised to see fourteen of the old gun trucks built on m939 6x6 5 ton truck bodies. They'd seen action in the Iraqui war and showed it. With the .50 cal machine guns and ammo carrying capacity I wanted one! They all had half inch steel plate welded over everything except the slot windows. I wondered if they'd ever fixed the differential lock-up problem? Probably not. It would be too expensive to rework them all.
Within a week we were up to a company in strength and still growing. The captain started assigning areas and sending out squads to patrol for looters and dogs. As a sergeant I got a squad. I volunteered to take the docks. I requisitioned MP5s, an armored troop transport, a hundred locks with keys and an explosives man equipped with det cord, caps and a field-expedient dynamo. We'd have a lot of gates to blow.
When I sat down with my squad mates in the mess I caught a ration of shit. They all wanted a nice, easy sit-on-your-ass berth in an APC while they patrolled. I reminded them that it would break down to boots on the dirt before very long because of crashed vehicles making the streets impassable. Port duty meant fences, gates and controlled access. It would be almost impossible for us to be overrun.
Since we were on regular patrols and I was a pretty decent emergency medic I put together and carried a couple M3 medical kits and carried them around wherever we patrolled. I could extract a bullet, stitch a wound, reduce a break, even wire a jaw. If it meant going into a belly or a chest though, I was out of my league. We had the entire port as our patrol area so I expected a few medical emergencies.
Any mature port is confusing as hell to anyone driving around. There's fences and gates everywhere, warehouses and offices. There's almost no retail front-ends. It only makes sense when approaching from the water. It's designed to make sense from the water. I'd been working as a welder down there for a few years so I knew my way around pretty well. I knew where to run a couple fences to restrict access with the least effort. No cargo was being moved so I could screw up the traffic patterns all I wanted. After a week's worth of work we were done. From then on it was blow padlocks, check out the area and lock it back up. After we'd done a thorough patrol it was down to checking the locks and doing a random probe occasionally. Oh, we stayed busy because we had to check each and every ship for inhabitants. We had to check the warehouses as well.
We killed our share of dogs too. The packs seemed to be thinning out. We baited them by yelping, calling them in. Then we enfiladed the packs through wire fences and blew them to hell.
I still had that idea of living on a boat burning a hole in the back of my mind. I needed to learn about boat management. We were lucky enough to have the national Merchant Marine college in the city. I visited their book store and swiped over a grand in textbooks. I stayed busy in my down time. Tom and I studied head to head in the mess hall while other guys played cards or board games.
The dust and ash slowly filled the skies. Then the rains came.
The ash and grit immediately made flying impossible. This meant that we didn't get any more resupply runs. One of the last things we did get, though, was a batch of new inoculation media that was supposed to take care of the pertussis that was dropping people in the streets.
Instead of going out on patrol we were all called in for an assembly. The captain read off a message that came in during the last resupply run. After determining that the bio warfare agents came out India, not Pakistan, the government dispatched several stealth 'boomers'--our submarine nuclear deployment fleet--to surround the Indian subcontinent and blow the living crap out of everyone living on it. We no longer had a fuel or food resupply strategy. The captain released us from our formal duties after swearing us all in as federal deputy marshals. We all got the badges and paperwork to prove it. We were allowed to keep our uniforms and MP-5s. I asked that all the sergeants be supplied with a half-dozen satchel charges to reduce any enemy using a vehicle. Cap thought that it was a good idea. I sort of expanded on his permission and took fifty meters of det cord, sixty caps, a spool of twisted pair and a hand-crank dynamo too. The demo guys I'd watched had all used clay to make their bangs go where they wanted. I took twenty kilos of sticky gray clay with me.
Out in the vehicle repair bay I found and took a rotary fuel pump and a four meter hose to suck the fuel from earth-bunkered tanks such as gas stations used. I'd need to gas up the truck even if there was no electricity. I then loaded up my pick-up truck and headed back to my digs at the north end of town. I packed up everything there that I thought was worth a damn and headed back down to the docks with my little notebook in hand.
I'd made notes as to what sites held stuff I might want in the future. Since I didn't turn in my key rings I was able to waltz right in to wherever I wanted.
I'd found something strange--a 56-foot steel hulled trawler with a mast for a sail. The graving plate said it was a 'Diesel Duck'. It had three cabins and two heads. I'd learned quite a bit about mast roller heads, stay sails, biminis and one man sail management but I'd never heard of anything like this. The boat was built in the early '60s and had been brought in to be modernized and upgraded. Most of the job was done except for installing a generator and rebuilding the engine. I didn't know squat about rebuilding a diesel, but I could swap out an engine with the best of 'em.
The repair dock was under a tall corrugated steel roof. I was real happy to see that overhead. I didn't want to work in the rain. It was more like mud than rain. It was gritty and stained everything it touched.
Even with the boat 'almost ready' I knew that I had a lot of work left ahead of me. This thing was going to be my home for the foreseeable future.
I moved in that afternoon. First things first, I got one of the shop's generators moved out to the dock, filled it with fuel and got it started. Then I hooked the boat's land line to the generator. That got me lights, shipboard power and fans. Did I mention, the power was out? Nobody in the city had electricity unless they had a generator. I hunted down a couple propane tanks that felt full and installed 'em in the fume locker on the rear deck. That gave me heat and something to cook on.
I unpacked my truck under the cover of the repair dock so the filthy rain didn't stain everything. I stowed away what I had and made a few notes as to what was missing. Then it was off to the warehouse I'd spotted that was run by a big ship's chandler. (a resupply house for food, cleaning supplies, linens, china, emergency goods--one stop shopping for a ship's resupply)
I needed water. They had a semi in back filled with five gallon clear water jugs--filled and capped. I worked until dark moving five gallon jugs. Nine would fit in the truck's bed and one in the passenger's seat gave me fifty gallons per trip. I hand-filled the tank about three quarters full and capped it off. With the coming dark I locked up the yard and stayed in for the night. I took the plastic cover off the mattress, made the bunk and, after a quick wash-up, went to bed.
In the morning I couldn't tell if was day or night through the filthy black rain. I wanted first dibs at the contents of that warehouse. I barely took time to heat up and eat a little instant oatmeal before I was back on the road. Looking down at my fuel gauge I realized that if I didn't gas up quickly I'd be stranded. That could be deadly with the dog packs hunting. I found a gas station and tediously pumped eighteen gallons by hand with that rotary pump. I'd have to switch off hands while pumping or pretty soon I'd look like I'd been masturbating too much.
I figured that I should finish off filling the water tank, just to do the job right. That was only four more bottles to fill the seventy gallon tank. I took an extra couple of bottles along for the hell of it. The army taught us a gallon a day under conservation conditions. Next I looked at bulky consumables. Two giant cases of toilet paper finished the truck load. I put a big tarp over the bed to keep everything dry and clean. Then I looked around for something to fill the front seat with. I picked up some power tools, industrial extension cords, drop lights, drill bits, case-hardened sockets, a CD/DVD player, a flat-screen TV, a half dozen high-priced speakers and a nice stereo/amp made for use with home movie theaters. Whoever did the remodeling on that boat did a nice job, replacing all the wall board with good insulation covered by top grade plywood paneling and varnished the hell out of it, but they skimped on the entertainment.
When I got back to the boat I filled the water tank. The boat only had a dinky little six gallon water heater so I put that on my list to be replaced. I wanted a thirteen to eighteen gallon unit, depending on the available space. The boat had three cabins. I repurposed the master cabin in the bow as a larder and supply bay. That way it would be harder to force the boat out of trim with too many canned goods or other heavy stuff. I measured the space, cut apart the bunk then hauled the mattress and wood out to the dock. The mate's digs would do fine for me. I had to go back to the warehouse for shelving. I wanted injection-molded plastic shelves because they were light, sturdy and easily cleaned. I stripped out the carpeting and put down a heavy coat of white epoxy paint, like you'd use on a garage floor. It took a while to dry even with a fan blowing the air around. After I got the shelves screwed to the wall panels I started loading 'em up.
First, I went for food. This probably would have to last me for months, if not a year. I picked up cases of canned beans, vegetables, tomatoes, fruit and juices. The chandler kept supplies designed for sailboats with no refrigeration. I found canned meats, butter, milk, salt, sugar, flour, baking powder and meat stock. They even had dried eggs. I loaded up on bleach, soap for the laundry, soap for the dishes, soap for the shower and spray cleanser. When I found they had packets of instant oatmeal I took two big cases. They had fresh 12-volt batteries for the power farm. I took eight big ones. After dark I spent some time wiring in the speakers and the stereo. Luckily the guy that did the remodeling used screws to fasten down the wall panels. I was able to run the cables behind the paneling. I'd forgotten to pick up any movies or music CDs so I couldn't test the entertainment set-up. I tried to bring in a radio station but had no luck. I took a quick hot shower and went to bed.
The next day I made progress getting the boat mobile again. I checked out the contractor's on-site warehouse. I found a couple models of generators. I went back and forth to the boat with a measuring tape a few times to find one that would fit the space set aside for it. The fuel line, exhaust line and circuit hookups to the 120 volt and the 12-volt systems were already in place. Next came the engine. I had to wedge an engine hoist into the mechanical bay and get that thing out of there. Once I had room to swing a cat I picked up an engine that matched the pre-existing mounts and the transmission housing. It only had 176 horses compared to the 250 horse monster that it replaced but I figured the fuel would last longer. It had the mounts for a hefty alternator so I added one to keep the battery farms (one for starting the generator, one for starting the engine and one for powering the ship's systems) charged up without simultaneously running the generator. I found a rotary fuel pump and an electric drill to drive it, then filled the tanks from the on-site bunker. Figure twenty two hundred gallons of fuel moving through a three-quarters inch hose. It took almost three days to fill the tanks. I tied down the drill trigger and went on to do other things. Standing there holding it down would have been stupid.
The navigation electronics that someone had installed were pretty primitive. I pulled the system out and found better units that would fit in the holes cut into the console. Some I had to make bigger. I searched for the biggest displays that I could find. It took me a couple days to run the data and power lines then double check everything to make sure I did it right when I installed a good 4KW radar, GPS and chart plotter combination. I sure liked the idea of digitally stored charts that would automatically show my position from GPS data. The thing had an optional digital compass that ran off of the same cable. The warehouse had one, so what the hell--I added it. After all, it was free, wasn't it?
I got the new twenty gallon water heater installed without much of a fuss. I made sure that the installation left enough room to work on the engine and even replace it. I looked around at all that space in the engine room and said, "Why not?" A twenty gallon per day water maker didn't take up much space seeing as how it was mounted to the wall. After reading all the instructions I did figure out that it needed a replacement cartridge occasionally. I stowed six water maker cartridges, six fuel filters, six oil filters, a case of oil, spare pumps for the engine and a handful of belts in the old master's berth, next to my tools. I wanted a welder but I couldn't justify the space. I wanted a water blaster too, but the same argument won. I stowed a hot-water electric pressure washer instead. I could justify its space for cleaning the hull, deck and superstructure.
I mounted a shelf above a desk in the lounge. That's where I stashed all the manuals for the equipment I'd installed or found already in place, as well as the books I'd been studying. I installed a 12-volt DC outlet there and ran a line to the breaker panel. I'd seen some laptops with management software already installed at the chandler's warehouse. I took one and found a 12-volt charger for it. I was about to leave so I spent one more slow trip looking through that warehouse. The last thing I found were a big roll of garbage bags and a double handful of eight-inch-long LED light fixtures that ran on 12 volts. I was going to take out those damned hot can lights and put in the strips everywhere, including under the shelves in the kitchen and under the bookcase over the desk. I found some red lensed units too for the pilot house. I mounted a white light bar next to a red bar everywhere that made sense.
I was sitting at the breakfast bar sipping on a rum & coke, looking down my pick list. I wondered what I'd forgotten. I was such a newbie that it was scary. Money. I'd forgotten money. How was I going to refuel this pig when I ran into people with guns guarding their fuel pumps? Well, it looked like I was going on a fishing expedition. I didn't even like fishing.
I picked up a phone book from the shop and started leafing through the yellow pages for ideas. Aha! Pawn shops! I wrote down their addresses and marked them on the phone book's map. That reminded me--coin and gem shops! The cash-for-gold places didn't keep any inventory so they were dead out. I looked for any other coin shops. I found one in a mall. Hmm. That might be dicey. First, though, the pawn shops. I had three to choose from. I geared up in my uniform, boots, MP-5 and explosives. Then I covered everything with a poncho. I used a power saw to cut the top off of one of those 5 gallon water jugs and sawed hand-holds in the sides. The cuts were raw enough to really chew up my hands so I dug up a pair of leather gloves. The whole thing sat in my passenger seat. I threw a hand truck in the back and a stretch cord so I wouldn't have to lug the thing around once (if) I found anything to put into it.
The first pawn shop was a bomb. Everything that I wanted was in the safe and I didn't have the skills to open it. I looked around in the usual places for a combination, like under the desk blotter and under the telephone, but no joy. That monster wasn't going anywhere.
The second shop made up for the first one. The owner had died at his desk, no doubt from the plague. I had to blow my way in past the security cage but that wasn't a big deal. I just ran det cord around the hinges and packed 'em in clay. Bang, no door. The guy didn't have a safe, he had a safe ROOM. Thank God he left the door unlocked when he was on site. Once I looked around I realized that I'd massively under-prepared for this mission. I went out for the jug and the hand truck, then started loading up the nicely marked sleeves containing silver dollars, silver halves, gold coins and little gold bars. I wondered where he got all the diamond rings? When I had loaded the jug full I dumped his waste basket and almost filled that. There was a back door to his safe room with a good lock on it. I searched his body for a key ring then spent a while playing find the key. When I got it open I just stood there with the flashlight dangling from my fingers. It looked like John Wayne's gun safe in there. This guy was a real gun nut. What in three hells was he doing with an 80 mm mortar and cases of shells? He had three MA2 machine guns set up on tripods and sixteen cases of rounds. I opened up a couple and yep, they were link-belts, ready to roll. I stole all his .50 cal ammo and two machine guns. He had a rack of AK-47s and enough 7.62 ammo for them to start a war. Mine, I tell you! All mine! Everything that I could fit into cases, I did. The rest got wrapped in tarps.
I finally got to the rear wall. Back in the shadows I found a tall stack of O. D. plastic shipping containers. Oh, Christ. Where the fuck did he get his hands on stingers? These things were worth a fortune on the black market, about a hundred thou each in good times, and he had fourteen of 'em. I got 'em all in the truck and got a tarp over 'em, fast. After finding the stingers I almost turned up my nose at the cases of hand grenades but they went with me, too. They were like gold bars that exploded. I almost missed the bricks of C4 on a shelf. I'd seen a demo guy needle C4 into a lock and blow it with zero fuss. I figured that I could do it, too. I took five kilos with me. My poor truck springs were maxed out. I locked up everything in that shop behind me and took the keys. I gently made my way back to the boat, babying my truck's suspension all the way. Then I turned the master bath into an armory. I had to go find dowel rods and 2x4s to make a rack for the AK-47s.
What the hell. Let's go for number three. I made sure I had four spare mags for my MP5 and clipped four HE grenades to my vest. I got the emptied cut-down water jug and hand truck back into the pickup and headed for the last pawn shop. It was a small place. I was lucky enough to find some gold and jewelry but that was about it. My next location was a coin and gem dealer down in the commercial district. The place was locked up tighter than a spinster's asshole. A little det cord solved that. Once I was inside I found nothing. It was an empty office! I checked the perimeter and found a big, solid steel door. Well, things were looking up. It didn't have a combination lock--it had two key ways. I smiled and went out to the truck for my explosives kit.
I used a little wood palette knife to fill the key ways with C4. Then I glued a short piece of det cord across both key ways with some clay and crimped a blasting cap to one end. I wired it up, got around the corner and let 'er rip. It wasn't even very noisy! The force of the explosion had been contained within the door, which shredded like a tin can. I had to use a cat's paw to pry open the door as it was warped from the blast. I shone my flashlight into the room and saw a little slice of heaven. Trays and trays of gems, gold bars and loads of coins in pretty little sleeves. Most of them I had no use for. What the hell did I care for mis-stamped buffalo nickels? The guy had diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls and some lesser-valued stones like tiger-eyes and opals. The gold coins and bars went into my bucket first, then the gems. Silver-bearing coins filled in the spaces.
I was tempted to go back to the first pawn shop and drill that safe door then blast it, but I didn't know where to drill it, so I passed it by once again. Next, the mall. I was feeling militant until I hit that parking lot. There were a lot of cars there. A lot of motor homes and 4x4s too. I figured I'd better go in soft because there were too many directions I could be hit from. The place was a sniper's paradise.
I parked close and pushed through the front doors, dragging that hand truck behind me. I figured that I could find a box somewhere. If all else failed, I'd look for a couple small hard-side suitcases.
There were more people in there than I'd seen anywhere else since the bombs! A few guys were acting as security gave me the evil eye. "This is the town's common ground. Nobody pulls a gun, nobody gets hurt. Okay?" I grinned. "No problem. I'm here to find specie--gold and such from the coin dealer. Anybody got a lock they want to get through, I can probably help out. Safes, maybe not so much without destroying what's inside." A shorter guy came up to shake my hand. "You're welcome here. Got time for a few locks before you tackle the coin shop?" "No problem." I patted my side pack. "I've got the answer to your problems right here."
I went through eight steel security doors like grain through a goose. Then they led me to the coin shop. It was buttoned up tight. I had to blow the store-front security fence then got that pushed back into the ceiling. There were a few nice things on display but nothing like what I expected. The back featured an armored, fire-proof filing cabinet with steel bands around it and padlocks securing the bands. I snorted. Amateurs. I blew the padlocks, then blew the master locking bar on the filing cabinet. This was more like it. I went looking around for something sturdy enough to hold the loot. I ended up just taking the bottom drawer out of the cabinet and loading it up. When I'd finished up I started to go out front. The regular crowd of people was gone. There were a bunch of ratty looking guys standing around looking like bad news. "Say, man, whatcha got?"
"Bad news, mother fucker. Bad news for you." I unclipped two grenades from my vest, underneath the poncho I was wearing. The guy smirked and looked at his buddies. Whatcha gonna do, army man? shoot us?"
I was careful to not change my face. I pulled the pins with opposite thumbs and let the spoons fly. I counted off three and let them fly, then ducked behind the counter, keeping my head low. There was too damned much glass in those cabinets to make me happy. BOOM/BOOM. I stood up and smiled to see a shit storm of stuff sprinkle down from the ceiling. The guys were all on the ground, some were moving. I solved that with a few rounds from my MP-5. "No, mother fucker, I'm gonna blow your asses to hell! As a sworn deputy marshal of the United States Government I am hereby arresting all of you assholes for rioting, which is defined as causing distress to three or more citizens. Any questions?" They just lay there. "Good. Consider your asses prosecuted." A small crowd came forward from behind damned near every structure around. "Everybody feel a little safer?" I got a lot of grins and "Yeah!"'s "Good. Before our captain released us we were all sworn in. Some might abuse it, some might do right by it. Me, I feel like I should be one of the good guys. Life is fucking tough enough now." I shook a few hands, including those guys on the security team.
I spent some quality time picking through a national chain CD and movie shop. I had yet to test my stereo installation. While I was finalizing my choices a girl approached me. She was dressed in jeans and a top like most high school or college girls you used to see. "Can I come with you?" This could be a blessing or a land mine. "What's your name?" "Jan." How old are you, Jan?" "I'll be twenty in a few months." Okay. She wasn't jail bait. "How come you want to put yourself in my hands?" She looked around like a little dog in the land of big dogs. "'Cause I don't want to end up as a bitch, whored out for some pimp."
"I can definitely appreciate that. What makes you think things would be any better with me?"
"You just put yourself on the side of the law, back there. I have to trust that you're the best thing going right now."
I smiled at her and relaxed. I'd been on the edge, ready to respond to any further attacks. "Let's go find something to eat and we'll talk, eh?"
The food court was in business but it was mostly trade. Since I was leaving soon, I had no compunction about releasing the source of my supplies. I went up to one vendor and go their attention. "You know what a ship's chandler is?" The woman behind the counter slowly nodded. "I've taken what I want. I'll trade you the address of a nearly virgin food warehouse for a couple good meals. Whatcha got?"
We pigged out on pasta and the last of her bourbon chicken. We sat back savoring our meals over a couple glasses of water. No ice, folks. The power was out. The whole place was lit by ambient light only.
"Okay, here's what you're getting into. I've prepped a decent sized boat and now have what I hope to be enough gold and silver to buy fuel. I'm hoping that across the equator the rains will let up and they'll have some active agriculture in South America. I need someone to spell me at the helm because I don't know enough to install an auto pilot and I know enough to be afraid of trying it. I'm new to living aboard ships, but I've hit up the merchant marine college for all the captaincy text books I could find and I've pretty well memorized 'em. Still, I'm worried about what I'm missing."
"Jeez, at least you're honest. The first thing I can think of is Spanish. Do you know Spanish?"
"Nope. Not a lick. I can order tacos and that's about it."
"Neither do I. That means we need books and a teacher. Is there room for one more?"
I really didn't want to, but necessity is a bitch. "Only if they're female, and I 'm not puttin' up with any dominance games on my boat. I'll shoot the fucker and push him or her over the side first. If I can't get loyalty aboard my home it's gonna be open war. Got it?"
She shivered a bit. He just laid it on the line like he was buying a newspaper or something. "Lisa was born in Mexico City. I've known her since she emigrated two years ago. She's a sweet-heart, I swear."
I realized that I'd shaken her, so I backed off. "Okay, let's go meet Lisa and, if she agrees, pick up supplies for the two of you. We'll need sanitary stuff as well as your clothes, deodorant, tooth paste, shampoo and all that. There's two full bunks, a table that converts to a bunk and a pilot's billet in the wheel house for whoever's on duty."
We headed over to the east side, near the university. Lisa was working as a cook in a fairly popular little dive, from the number of people in the dining room. Lisa was 24, about 5 foot 5, plump and had a permanent suntan, if you know what I mean. She had a ready smile that brought out her good looks. Hell, if she was willing to cook for us, more better! She agreed to sign on as our cook and Spanish teacher. Jan agreed to work cleanup and power through the books to be my first mate. Nobody talked about sex but they gave me the eye a few times when they thought I wasn't looking. They both had mighty fine figures and smelled nice.
We stopped by the college book store for all we needed to learn the language, then headed back to the chandler's warehouse to pick up what they wanted. I made sure they knew enough to pick up warehouse-sized lots. Once they were happy I made a pass through the white goods to make sure we had enough towels, sheets, pillow cases and pillows.
I got the new towels and bedding washed while Lisa inventoried our galley supplies. She wrote down several specialty items she wanted such as a tortilla press and a shit load of masa (ground corn flour made from corn that had been soaked in lye--hominy). We picked up all that along with the biggest counter-top mixer I could find and some specialty Mexican canned goods, such as canned green peppers, mole sauce, ancho chiles in adobo and queso blanco (white cheese) that hadn't gone bad yet.
I showed both of them the armory, basically to let them know that this was the real shit. Both of them seemed fascinated so I handed them a couple of AK-47s and a couple half-filled magazines. "Go forth and blow the shit out of something." I tossed one of the empty water jugs over the side and watched them perforate the thing. Hell, I had a couple of converts! "From now on, those are your weapons. You keep them clean, you keep them loaded, you keep them close. If shit gets hard-core, I'll show you what a .50 cal machine gun can do." I couldn't be certain, but I thought that they orgasmed right there in front of me.
I topped up the fuel and water, found a half-dozen filled propane tanks to chain to the rear deck and filled a fifty gallon drum with gasoline for the runabout that was stored on the lounge roof. I said good bye to my faithful pickup truck, cast off from the dock and slowly headed out to sea in the filthy murk of a steady downpour.