How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 21
Published on The Doomstead Diner on April 21, 2017
Discuss this story at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner
After work on Wednesday, Kenny dropped his trailer at the Storage Unit, then headed over in the Stealth Van to Target, which also actually was in a strip mall on his parking list because there was also a 24/7 Mickey D's in a separate building on the corner for drive-thrus, but utilising the same parking lot. It was always better to have a real toilet facility available for middle of the night emergencies, rather than using his shit bucket while in town. That left you with the waste disposal problem and the cleanup of the bucket, so the Van didn't end up stinking like shit after a while. He did use a liner in the bucket, usually the Oil Polymer Shopping bags that the stores provided when you bought mechandise, they fit pretty perfectly into a 5 gallon bucket. Still, there was always some cleanup to be done and it was time consuming. It made life much more convenient and easier if you could just go into a public bathroom and flush the toilet and send your shit to the Great Beyond of the local Sewage Treatment plant. No muss, no fuss, and FREE toilet paper! Besides, on each of these trips he would fill up a quart size container with the city water, then pour it into his 5 gallon water container in the van to keep it topped off with potable water that didn't need purification, filtering or boiling. There was always a slight Chlorine odor to this purified city water, but it was tolerable.
On his way to the Men's Clothing area in the gargantuan Superstore, Kenny cruised through the Camping Department to see if there was some prep he didn't already have worth buying but couldn't find anything really cool, so just settled for buying a couple of packages of Firestarters from Coughlan's. He couldn't walk through the prep cornucopia currently on the shelves and not buy ANYTHING. His addiction to prepping was too strong, and as far as the one time use items like firestarters, you could never stockpile enough of those! Same with Mountain House Freeze Dried foods and quart size cannisters of propane. If any of these items were ON SALE, he couldn't resist purchasing them, even though his 10'X20' Storage Unit was already bursting at the seams with this stuff.
After exiting the Camping Department, he mozied over to the Automotive department to see if there was some 12V Electric hardware he might be able to use after TSHTF, and saw ON SALE a modified sine wave 140W Inverter for only $12! That was a MUST BUY, especially since it was the only one left on the shelf. 140W was plenty to run his laptop as well as a few diode lights in the van simultaneously, and most of the time he did not need more electricity than this. Only if he was using or charging up some of his power tools did he need a bigger inverter than that. However, he did have in his preps some larger inverters, in case he needed to power a refrigerator or power tools that a 140W inverter could not handle. He tried to keep in his preps inverters of various load capacities to maximize the efficiency of the system, based on the load he was drawing. It was very inefficient to use a really powerful 1000W inverter if all the power you were drawing was 100W! The small modified sine wave inverters were CHEAP, and he could have many of them. Pure Sine Wave Inverters were EXPENSIVE, and for the most part except for a few specialized functions really not necessary. Working with a relativey limited amount of cash for his total prepping, Kenny was always careful to get the most bang for the buck he could.
Heading over to the Konsumer Electronics department, Kenny wanted to look for any cool new electronics that might help in his prepping, but got way laid on this when he ran into his old flame from HS, Sparrow, the Lakota who was Eagle's little sister. He was looking at new High Speed micro-SD cards that would work with his new Sony Cybershot Mark V pocket camera, which he bought to start making Pics and Vids to send to RE on the Doomstead Diner documenting their ongoing SUN☼ Community building project. Just as he was looking at a 128 Gig Lexar card, Sparrow tapped him on the shoulder, causing him to jump a bit. Getting physically tapped was even more disconcerting than the phone calls he was now getting, disturbing his Wa. Turning around and seeing it was Sparrow who tapped his shoulder and not store Gestapo Security or worse the FBI relaxed his nerves.
"Hey Sparrow! Nice to see you!" Kenny said with a big smile. Sparrow was just as pretty as ever, and wearing her own home sewn clothing as she always did. It even featured some native beadwork that her grandmother had taught her, although it was very small and did not overwhelm the dress to make an in your face statement, just enough to pay homage to her heritage. "What are you up to these days?"
"I'm in the Nursing program at Missoula State University. I just matriculated into the major and should graduate with a bachelor's degree in Nursing in 2 more years. That is, if TS DOES NOT HTF before then, of course." she said with a wink. After almost a year of dating Kenny during High School, Sparrow was fully aware of his Kollapsnik take on the future.
"Wow, that's GREAT Sparrow!" Kenny replied. "Nursing skills are going to be very important after TSHTF. You would be a very valuable member of any community.". Kenny was comfortable talking this way with Sparrow, since they had discussed such things many times during the time they were dating. Sparrow never said too much, she mostly just listened, but she was a wonderful girl to talk to because she did listen. "How are you paying for school though? Are you taking out student loans? Going into deep dept to get a degree these days is pretty risky."
"Oh no, no debt. I have a Full Ride Scholarship from the Terminators that covers everything beyond the scholarships I got from the Lakota Council and my National Merit Scholarship based on my PSAT test scores. I can't tell you how greatful I am to you for all the help you gave me in preparing for that exam, I never could have done so well without your help. Everybody thinks you got a perfect score on the SATs, is that really true?" she asked.
Kenny laughed. "People keep asking me about that stupid test. The secret will go with me to my grave, unless the ETS database is hacked or my mom spills the beans." he replied.
Sparrow giggled. "Mr. Secretive as always. Just be honest for a change and cough it up!" she replied, in a more assertive manner than Kenny had ever heard from her before. It was a bit disconcerting, because Kenny did not like to be thought of as dishonest, especially by friends. Sparrow had clearly changed psychologically since High School, if not all that much physically since they dated.
"I also heard from Eagle that you might be joining up with the Terminators. He said you met with Kareem to talk about it. Is that true? That would really be GREAT!", Sparrow said flashing a big smile.
"Not sure yet on that one Sparrow. I have to talk with my people first, and then meet with the Terminators. But I do think it could be a very beneficial partnership, so I hope it works out.", Kenny replied sincerely.
"Well, I sure hope it does.", Sparrow replied. "Well, I gotta go. I got finals coming up here and a lot of studying to do tonight. If you do meet up with the Terminators, I'll show up to give my support. I'm not an official Terminator because the gang is all Male, but because I am Eagle's sister I get a lot of respect. Not that they always listen because they are a bunch of stupid macho males, but I do my best to keep them from being too big of assholes.", Sparrow remarked sarcastically.
"OK Sparrow, I hope the meeting does go through and I will be glad to have your backing in developing a partnership. We'll just have to see how it goes."
Sparrow gave Kenny a kiss on the cheek and walked off toward the checkout counters, and Kenny got the pangs of nostalgia you always get when you run into an old flame. But now there were two new flames in his life, and he needed to pickup the right outfit for fancy dinners, so he pushed his shopping cart on down the aisle to the Men's Wear Department.
Looking at the photos he had Googled up of people eating in fancy restaurants, he had decided to go with a Blue Blazer and Gray Dress Pants, with Black Dress Shoes. He picked up a black leather belt for the pants, looking for a sturdy one that could be useful as a prep. There were ties in a variety of designs, and he picked a pre-knotted Tie since he wasn't entirely sure if he could still tie a good Windsor knot, which he was never very good at anyhow since he so rarely got dressed up in this kind of get up during his life. A few Weddings, Funerals and his High School Graduation were the only times he had ever garbed himself this way, and it was always uncomfortable. It was tough for him to imagine how the Suits on Wall Street dressed themselves this way every day. He also picked up a Fake Gold Wristwatch and Fake Silver Tie Pin in the Jewelry department to fill out the "look", and ended up spending more than he planned coming in at $271.82 after he scanned it all in at the self-checkout register. He chalked it up as a necessary expense though for further development of the SUN☼ Community. Even more important though, it would help in getting laid! 🙂
With all his purchases encased in a few polymer plastic shopping bags which would eventually serve as liners for his shit bucket, Kenny headed out to the van to get a good night's sleep before tackling his work for the next day, which included 3 small suburban lawns to mow, as well as a few more tree limbs to perform surgery on Dave The Doctor's property and chop up into mulch. A solid day's work that would net around $300, which would pay off what he had spent on fancy clothes.
Kenny rose early to get going on the day, hitting the Missoula Fitness Club for his morning workout and shower, and then back to the storage facility to hook up his trailer with his landscaping equipment. It was a rather annoying day with light rainfall, making the grass cutting quite difficult, with his zero turn mower getting regularly clogged up. By the end of the day he was pretty well soaked to the bone. However, after dropping off the trailer again at the storage facility and getting a nice hot shower at the fitness club and dressing up in the new Dress for Success clothing, he felt refreshed and ready for his date with Kirsten, and got on the road to the campus of Missoula State University to pick her up around 5:30PM for their 6PM Reservation for dinner. Since he still had ample time, he decided to bring the Stealth Van over to a Car Wash facility to get it cleaned and spruced up also, forking over an extra $20 for a wax & tire job so it would really SPARKLE! Of course it did not sport the nice Mercedes or Tesla Model X look of a successful bizman, but at least it didn't look like the dipshit muddied up work vehicle which it was most of the time. Besides, he wasn't going to pay for Valet Parking, so the Maitre d' would not see the vehicle anyhow. It was mainly to impress Kirsten that he was a clean and well organized man who she could depend on.
When the slaves at the car wash got finished Waxing the sheet metal and scrubbing the tires and pasting tire shine oil polymers over them, Kenny sent a text over the SMS network to Kirsten, telling her he would be at the front door to her dorm in about 15 minutes. She responded quickly that she would be ready and down in the lobby, and give a honk on the horn when he arrived.
Upon arrival, Kenny gave a honk on the horn, and Kirsten came out covered by an automatic folding Totes Umbrella manufactured in China, and then scooted herself into the passenger seat.
"Wow Kirsten, you look GREAT!" Kenny effused, complimenting her getup. The tiny ex-gymnast and rock climber was fit out in a white silk blouse with billowy gauze sleeves, with a green vest that disguised her flat chest, although she had stuffed her padded bra with some toilet paper to make it look like she had at least A size tits, a common fix among flat chested gymnasts. Complimenting this was a short skirt and 3" spike heels to at least get her past the 5' mark in total height, which she hated wearing because afterward stretching her calf muscles back out was somewhat painful, but it was more elegant and also better to look somewhat taller.
"You look GREAT too Kenny! You should suit up more often, you could be a male model!", Kirsten joked.
"Yea, maybe they will photograph me in an Armani suit with a chainsaw in one hand and an AR-15 in the other for the cover of Survivalist Magazine" Kenny joked back, lightening up the conversation.
Not to be outdone, Kirsten came back with her own quickie joke.
"Nah, you should pose NUDE with a Chainsaw in one hand and an AR-15 in the other, that would really get some attention!" she said with a giggle.
Bested on this reparte, Kenny bowed out gracefully.
"Uhhh, no, I think I'll pass on that one." he replied.