WRITING: “Joan d’Arc — Third Vermont Republic”

Sunday, October 9, 2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_d_arc_3rd_VT-republic

Joan of Arc — Third Vermont Republic
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For other uses, see Joan of Arc (disambiguation).

“Maid of Pownel” redirects here. For other uses, see Jeanne d’Arc (disambiguation).

Joan d’Arc

<<joan_d_arc_sketch1.jpg>>

Self portrait. As an artist, her interpretation of herself.

<<joan_d_arc_sketch2.jpg>>

The only other images of her were the United Nations / United States Federal Bureau of Investigation Most Wanted artist renditions from descriptions. (Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Brussels, reference La Cour Pénale Internationale — docket number 20XX-0002 – USA / VT)

Born ~2001
New Jersey, USA
Disappeared 01 July 2025 (aged 24)
Pownel, Third Vermont Republic

Joan d’Arc, nicknamed “The Maid of Pownel” (also sometimes referred to as Dolly, or Madison, “No Last Name”, ~2001? – ????), is considered a national heroine of the Third Vermont Republic. A middle class girl born in New Jersey USA. Arrived as a refugee in Vermont during the economic collapse of the dollar sometime between 2014 and 2018. It is believed that she fought in her Uncle’s resistance unit. Assuming command after his death, she developed strategies and tactics which defeated the attempts to return Vermont to the USA after several States seceded. Despite UN involvement, and later total UN control, Vermont successfully resisted as did eventually all of the old USA. She “disappeared” into obscurity and all attempts to discover her real true identity are met with non-cooperation, hostility, and in some cases tar ‘n’ feathers. Some historians doubt the existence of a single individual and call her a composite of folk heros. Survivors of the various Expeditionary Forces into Vermont insist that she is a real single individual who late in the era took particular delight in “taking souvenirs” (i.e., chopping off fingers) and “dispatching returnees” (i.e., slitting throats). She was designated a “war criminal” in 2022 for these and other actions. She is still carried on various War Crimes lists and is actively being hunted. She disappeared from public view in 2025 at the end of hostilities. Since Vermont is not a member of the UN and has limited diplomatic relations, it’s unlikely for her ever to be brought to justice. Billing itself as the “Switzerland of North America”, Vermont has full diplomatic relations with only the Vatican, Switzerland, Israel, and the Free French Republic of Quebec. It is openly hostile to the United Nations and there is currently an active “Act of Marque and Reprisal for War Crimes” against all former, current, and future UN officials. In addition, that War Crimes act also names specifically certain past USA citizens as well as pseudonyms for certain “John Doe’s”.

Contents   

1 Background

2 Life

2.1 Rise

2.2 Leadership

2.3 Strategy

2.4 Tactics

2.5 Disappearance

3 Post-disappearance events

4 Lionization

5 Legacy

6 See also

7 Footnotes

8 References

9 Further reading

10 External links

1. Background

In 2014, the US Dollar aka the Greenback aka the Federal Reserve Banknote became worthless after President Obama was reelected with all sorts of claims of fraud. The result was a collapse of the global economy. The chaos in the world was bad; the affect in the USA was catastrophic. With the collapse, imports to the USA as well as foreign lending ended. The internal economy returned to a subsistence farming level mimicking the 1880s or the 1930s. While politically the USA was run from Washington DC, there was uncontrolled rioting and crime. Since ½ the country was on the dole and ¼ of the country was in “public service”, the remaining productive ¼ was supporting them. When the economy collapsed as a result of the dollar collapse, the productive class could no longer pay the taxes. Anyone with any wealth simply either was robbed or “disappeared”. It’s estimated that ⅓ of the population died in the rioting or the aftermath of the chaos. In 2015, Vermont seceded from the USA. Those in control of the government of the USA had accepted UN conservatorship as a result of that government’s debts to the world. Several States of the USA repudiated this action: Texas, Georgia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii. In addition several States fractured, Washington, Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida. Several also merged: New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Maryland. As well as many of the boundaries changed as a result of the fighting over the next decade.

2. Life

Her birthplace is unknown. Her parentage or relatives are unknown. It’s believed that she escaped the riots in the Boston to DC corridor with her two younger brothers at age 14.

There is a colorful legend that has her parents dying in a home invasion where she killed the two intruders with a hidden shotgun that had been secretly given to her by her uncle. She then gathered up her brothers and, with her steering and the older brother operating the pedals, she drove from New Jersey to Vermont. Clearly impossible.

Supposedly they thrived at her uncle’s retreat. Riding out the chaos, until the attempted invasions of Vermont by armies of the USA, later the USA armies supplemented by the UN, and eventually just the UN. With a terrain akin to Afghanistan, the resistance movement was spawned by the attempt to “roll tanks into Vermont”. In retrospect, easier said that done.

2.1. Rise

In a 2016 Reuters report, an unnamed man, presumed to be Joan d’Arc’s uncle, was profiled as the leader of the Southeastern Vermont militia. Characterized as “a loon with delusions”, he was in command of irregular forces of “old men, crazy women, young girls, and children”. He’d fought the invaders to a stand still while never fighting an open pitched battle. His primary weapon was sabotage. It is believed that Joan d’Arc was one of these young girls. The report describes one young girl, believed to be her, pedaling her bicycle through the town of Pownel “trolling” for off duty troopers. When they would chase her, just to talk of course, she would lure them into ambushes where they were brutally murdered. This is all unconfirmed. What is confirmed was that casualty rates, in 2015 thru 2017, were a modest ½%. Combatants frequent gave surrendering troops quarter and parole. After 2018 thru 2020, casualty rates were a ⅓. From 2020 to 2023, they were ½. From 2023 until cessation in 2025, it was not uncommon that entire UN units were wiped out to the last man.

2.2 Leadership

In 2018, there was a massacre at Bennington Bridge. While many of the facts and interpretations are in dispute, there certain facts not in dispute. On 04 July 2018, the Government of the USA turned over all peace keeping operations to the United Nations. On 17 July 2018, a battle between UN peace keepers and Vermont irregulars occurred at Bennington Bridge. Unlike past battles, when the Vermont irregulars were defeated and surrendered, the UN general Muammar Gaddafi ordered the execution of all “arrestees”. Joan d’Arc’s uncle was believed to have been shot killing him along with her younger brother. It’s believed that she assumed command Southeastern Vermont militia. At around that time, they began to use the name Wolverines. The level of violence escalated dramatically after that. As a footnote, on 01 July 2019, General Gaddafi was abducted, killed, and his head was put on a pike at Bennington Bridge. That stayed there until it was taken down 01 July 2025 reportedly by Joan d’Arc personally.

2.3. Strategy

Early in the War for Vermont Independence, the strategy was to merely repel intruding armies. After Bennington Bridge, the strategy shifted to annihilating any armed intruder. Before, there was almost an intra-American civility with surrender and parole routinely granted, like a family fight; After, while there still was some surrender with parole for “Americans”, usually there was no quarter for the hated “blue hats” absent some notable UN courtesy to civilians, the wounded, or the dead (i.e., safe conduct to civilians; cease fire for retrieval of the wounded; honorable treatment of remains). After Bennington Bridge, parole was given only after non-surgical removal of the right pinky finger. Joan d’Arc was reported to have used an old native American tomahawk that her uncle had carried. If a parolee was captured again missing a right pinky finger, they immediately had their throat slit.

2.4 Tactics

Early in the conflict, some of the tactics had almost a humorous note to them. Joan d’Arc was reputed to have organized a “Gala Welcoming Ball by the Vermont Tory Woman’s Society” for the First Airborne Brigade deploying into Vermont. She captured all the officers and ½ the non-coms. Accepting parole, they were delivered naked to the US embassy in the Free State of Quebec. Every person, male and female, had a rude word tatted on their forehead and butt.

Later in the conflict, the tactics turned gruesome and even petty. Common decency precludes detailing them. Needless to say torture for information was routine. Torture, as a reprisal was de rigueur when the rules of war were violated.

In addition to the “right pinky finger” tactic, it was not uncommon for genitalia to be combined with dog tags and a blue hat to be staked on the border.

The western Vermont border was not the historical static dividing line. Vermont fought major pitched battles in New York east of the Hudson River. Skirmishes occurred as far west as the Thruway and the Northway. Eventually Vermont’s western border became the Hudson River and was codified in the Saratoga Springs Treaty. It was common knowledge that Seventh Vermont Regulars had to be recalled as a result of that treaty from the outskirts of Albany. There is no confirmation that Joan d’Arc was leading the Seventh and had “Buffalo or bust” chalked on all the equipment.

Similarly, the south Vermont border, with support of the sister republic of New Hampshire, by right of conflict, became the Atlantic Ocean. With the Treaty of Greenwich, Connecticut ceased to exist. Vermont followed the Hudson including the western part of Massachusetts to the Atlantic with New York City becoming part of Vermont; similarly New Hampshire followed the Rhode Island / Connecticut line though Massachusetts to the Atlantic. The old Interstate 91 became the VT / NH border and was renamed “Cooperation Road”. The western southbound side is in Vermont; the eastern northbound side is in New Hampshire. There are no border controls on this road. Massachusetts is essentially Boston and its suburbs. Rhode Island remains as it always was.

2.5 Disappearance

With Sarasota Springs treaty, Joan D’Arc simply “disappeared”. Many foreign news reporters, who were able to get visas, would find themselves “PNGed” (i.e., declared Persona Non Grata, deported, and if lucky not tarred ‘n’ feathered) for merely asking about her. Local news reporters carefully ignored identifying any Vermont Independence coflict leaders because of the outstanding International Criminal Court arrest warrants.

There was one report of Joan d’Arc responding to a question as to “where did she get her ideas on tactics and strategy”? She’s reported as saying: “As a young girl, I read my uncle’s writings extensively. Mostly Post Apocalyptical Fiction. While he was a very peaceful man, he had a vivid imagination and strong opinions about the future. While some of the ideas were grotesque, they had a certain logic about them. Some I stole directly like: maiming parolees to identify returnees, booby trapping common items, and employing fifth generation warfare against Vermont’s enemies. Others I developed from his themes: disguising one’s true intentions in conflicts, extending Vermont’s borders to the water’s edge, freezing the enemy in people’s minds like focusing on the hated blue hats, and never forgetting nor forgiving. He created a monster and his death, and that of my little brother, unleashed my full vengence. Hell hath no fury like a woman who is <past tense synonym for urine output> off!”

In Vermont politics, no one ever speaks of the conflict other than to mourn the dead and decry the suffering. No one speaks of anyone’s role in the “War for Independence”. The only distinction is that those who were in Vermont during the war are addressed a “comrade”; those who have come after are addressed as “citizen”.

Those individuals, who opposed Vermont Independence called Tories, typically didn’t survive the conflict. Those that did generally would not speak on the record for fear of “an act of marque and reprisal” by the Vermont Legislature. Anyone so “marqued” usually doesn’t survive very long. It’s an easy list to get on and one usually quickly falls off.

3. Post-disappearance events

It is believed that Joan D’Arc resumed her life as a simple young woman on her uncle’s retreat / farm. Her older brother is believed to have survived as well. There are some reports of her marrying and having at least six children. They are strong rumors that the children are named Mark, Maci, Mike, Madelyn, Mitch, and Evlynn. But this is unconfirmed by any records searched. No family with such names is believed to exist.

4 Lionization

Depending upon which side of the conflict that you’re on, her role is hotly disputed. From the Vermont side, she’s a patriot. From the USA / UN / World side, she’s gennocidal killer.

In the days after the peace was declared on 04 July 2025, a rock on private property was reported and photographed. In addition to lists of names and dates, it had the following dedication that can be read in the attached picture

<<<vermont_rock_joan_d_arc_farm.jpg>>>

*** begin quote ***

Comrades forever!

We may never see this place again. We may never survive our fight for Vermont. We may never get home, where ever that is to eventually be.

In time, this war, like every other war, will end. But we will never forget, and, in our dreams, we will come back to this place where it all began. Of safe good shelter. Of rest and refit. Of a base to strike out at the vipers who claim our souls. We’ll return often to it. If even only in our mind’s eye. To the safety of our comrades; to honor them in the common cause. Even when, or if, no one else ever does. Sad as that is, we’ll: Never forget. Never surrender. Never forgive.

In the early days of the war for Vermont’s independence, survivors, mostly children, placed their names, and the names of their lost upon this wall. They fought here alone; some gave up their lives. Some for us; some against us. No matter! They are ‘ours’. So that others could go on. They recorded their prayers so they’d not be lost.

We have made our mark. Each in our own way. Some had very short lives. Some suffered greatly; others passed quickly. No matter! Comrades in arms. Comrades in suffering. Comrades in the long cold sleep. If the writing fades, the deeds will speak for themselves! We have promised to each other: our fidelity, our lives, whatever meager fortune we gather, on our honor, to our comrades. Past, present, and in the future.

So say we all.

And, have inscribed our names as follows to this, our promise to each other, originally made on American Independence Day The First Day of July, Two Thousand Fifteen.

And, renewed today, on Vermont’s Independence Day The First Day of July, Two Thousand Twenty Five. The First day of our New Lives.

*** end quote ***

Since this rock is on private property, which is sacrosanct from trespass in Vermont, no further information, even its exact location, is available. All we have is the picture.

5. Legacy

At the four major entry points to the State, an intake building was built with a replica of the Statue of Liberty atop it. Suitable groups of refugees without sponsorship are organized into new clans to meet the sponsorship requirements. An Initiative named for Joan d’Arc will loan them the necessary funds to satisfy the entry requirements and provide sponsorship secured by liens on each individual.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Their statue is now called “Joan d’Arc”.

<<<This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (March 2028)>>>

6 See also

7 Footnotes

8 References

9 Further reading

10 External links

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WRITING: Boiling Frogs (An Index Card Novel)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Boiling Frogs (An Index Card Novel)

The boiling frog story is generally told in a metaphorical context, with the upshot being that people should make themselves aware of gradual change lest they suffer eventual undesirable consequences. This may be in support of a slippery slope argument. It is also used in business to illustrate the idea that change needs to be gradual to be accepted. The expression “boiling frog syndrome” is sometimes used as shorthand for the metaphor.

+++++

The fat old white man wasn’t that fat, that old, but definitely that white. A decade away from social security, medicare, and a pension. But up close and personal, another pink slip. Last one was four years ago; took a year to find a job at 20% less salary, less benefits, less time off, and a lot less dignity. Each time, he’d take another bad hit. Savings went. Retirement accounts went. Market losses and withdrawals left him with nothing.

He wasn’t stupid. He prepared. He was ready with a basement ‘bomb shelter’; not like in the stories, not like in the press, not like it cost fortunes. He could hold a dozen very good friends. No showers. Water tightly rationed, Food severely limited. Cost was next to nothing. No fancy expensive radiation stuff. A wind up clock and they’d stay “sheltered” for 7 weeks. More than that and they were “cooked” anyway. A wind up alarm clock, a calendar, and a pencil. That was his radiation detector.

If the asteroid hit, if the pandemic hit, or the seas rose / fell, he was screwed.

If he needed a gun when he got out, he had two rifles, two shotguns, and two 1911s. He had about a 1,000 rounds for each. Couldn’t afford the time to practice or the cost. He figured to bluff his way around.

If the grid collapsed, he did have the wind up radio / flashlight that he got with a magazine subscription.

If the infrastructure failed, did have some foods stocked. Maybe two weeks. Maybe four. He wasn’t big on planning; he’d forage from the empty stores like in the stories.

If the banks collapsed, he had two ounces of silver and ten tenths of gold. That would have to do.

+++++

The Shumer never did hit the fan.

At least not the way the stories predicted it. No dramatic event. No heroic speeches. No groups pulling together. No ravaging gangs of JBTs (Jack Booted Thugs) or MZBs (Mutant Zombie Bikers). Just a more boring life, but still deadly. To life and the spirit. Death of a thousand cuts. More than that. The sure and steady drip drip drip of financial water torture.

The bubble, after the bubble, after the bubble, just keep appearing and popping. Each time, the pop left a residue of poop to be cleaned up. The political powers that were in charge promised that the next law, regulation, or diktat would prevent it from ever ever happening again.

+++++

Interest rates hovered around 17%. The combined federal, state, and city tax rates varied from 80 to 90%. And there were a ton of sin, excise, import, export, and nuisance taxes. Corporate taxes were 65%; any business that could move did.

The world left the dollar for the IMF Special Drawing Rights. The local fiat currency was left to float to its proper worth. The global bankers had nothing intrinsic to hang value on. They mapped an SDR to basket of commodities that traded on the world’s markets. Commodity prices skyrocketed. No surprise there. Oil was priced in SDRs. That completed the dollar’s downfall. With the USA’s dollar collapsing, international trade went elsewhere. The USA borrow and spend was history.

+++++

The fat old white man, as well as all the not so old, never worked professionally again. He did get some work at Target, WalMart, and McDonalds. Each week, the minimum wage would go up and all the employees would be laid off or made part-time.

His best success was as a smuggler. Cigarettes, booze, prescription drugs, silver. You name it he’d smuggle it. He even found a little niche.

He’d read the Stainless Steel Rat as a kid. He tried to think like a roach.

It was a sad life. Shortened by stress, poor food, and gooferment healthcare.

+++++

TSHTF doesn’t have to be a “big event”. You can be “boiled” like that proverbial frog.

No one plans for a non-event.

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WRITING: A lawyer’s holiday (An index card novel)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

His Outlook calendar chirped at him. Odd for a Thursday. He had a full day today and tomorrow. The Firm was reorganizing. They were besieged with work, but he and his fellow partners didn’t want to add to staff or expense. Everyone was being urged to do more with less. His niche was intra-government financing and non-governmental agreements. A boom area. They had several of the new nations admitted to the UN as clients as well as several new sub-departmets of the US Government — among which were Intrastate Medical Control Agency, Ethnic Rights Referent Agency, and his personal favorite Rubber Tyres Regulation / Bycycle Division which was required by the latest UN mandate. And spelled just that way! Any way, several meetings today and tomorrow with the Senior Partners were being automagically canceled. Strange!

He called his amigo in the IT section. “Hola, Don Juan.” (His friend was a fat old white guy nerd who fancied himself God’s gift to women. They joked about it.) “Hey, Lord of the RTR slash B, gotten your bicycle yet?” “No, but I’ll have time to shop tomorrow. Is Microsloth Lookout on the blink again? It’s canceling all my appointments.” “No way, I run a quality operation. Last month’s meltdown with the Adios Virus was a fluke. Let me look.” “OK, you look. BTW, I just hired a new admin in ERRA; she’s just your type.” “Hey, I saw her already. She’s gotta tip 300 without the proverbial bag.” “Well, you’re no Hollywood stud any more.” “I resent that. No, Outlook is fine. It appears that ALL the senior partners are on vacation for the rest of the day today and tomorrow.” “Are they meeting somewhere?” “No, not that I can tell. They all have different reasons and OOO messages posted. But, it all started at about 10AM and was all done by 1030. That’s odd. The last time these guys were all were off at the same time was during FDR’s bank holiday. Maybe I’ll do my DR backups tomorrow; No one that counts will be around tomorrow.” “Me either, if they can take off, I can too. Thanks.” He tapped out a quick message to his leads and and set his OOO. He smelled a rat.

The newspaper had mentioned a Presidential prime time address at 8PM tonight on the economy. Which was in the dumpster and going deeper. The unemployment rate was 22%. The commercial real estate market was swirling the drain. And, there was even some rioting in the inner cities about it. Something that Don Juan said stuck in his head. FDR! Maybe it was time to panic.

Was it better to be wrong again and have his family safe? Or was it better to be really wrong for the first time about the ball dropping and have everyone at risk. He formulated it this way. His family, he suspected, already thought he had a tin foil hat! Last year, he activated their plan when the Congress passed the new Port Security bill that was really a tariff in disguise. Nothing came of that, but they did spend a week unscheduled at the beach house. Everyone loved and hated it. He worked from home, but the kids had to make up their school work, and Frau had to find another job. Did he dare pull the pin again? Based on nothing but his senior partners surprise vacation. OODA. That’s what he’d learned in the military. OODA. It was too convenient. Like Don Juan said, FDR. He took out his personal Blackberry. Text message to List 9999: “Earth Abides. This is NOT a drill. Activate Plan 9. CUsoon. God help us all. Auth code Blueberry Orange” Send. He went to his office door and locked it. To the closet, striped out of his business suit, hung it back neatly, and donned some comfortable jeans ‘n’ tshirt. Old, non-descript, and a little worn. He unlocked the box on the floor and there was his BOB. Bug Out Bag. All the tin foil hats always had one in their hidey holes where ever they were. In the bag, a testament to the “victim*disarmament” laws was another locked box. In it was a 1911 hogleg. Loaded and ready. Dangerous? Yes. Loaded guns are dangerous. But, if you needed it. The box looked locked, but it too was deceiving. A squeeze like an accordion, and it would open like a banana. Allowing quick access to a “life saver”. But to a cop it would look padlocked. He put on sneakers and slung the pack. That looked like a golf bag. Unlock and out. His admin seated outside, he said: “Time for a quick nine. Everyone’s goofing off today and tomorrow. Why don’t you do the same!” “But we have all this work!”, she protested. “It’ll keep. This is the boss’ orders. GO home and stay home. See you on Monday.” And, he power walked out. He said to himself: “Maybe!”

His car was in the garage and he stowed the golf clubs. The plan recognized that the tunnels out of the city and public transport were choke points. He wasn’t going to risk it. He drove the 30 minutes to the sea side club and golf course very carefully. Observing all the speed limits. When he wanted to do 100. It felt longer than it was. It was a mid day Thursday so the place was relatively vacant. Not like, “Medicine Man Wednesday” when there was no hope of getting in a round or a doctor’s appointment. He parked at the end of the lot and muscled a heavy square bundle from the trunk. And a small gas tank, religious rotated every week, when he filled up after Church. It had a frame with wheels and looked like a coffin as he wheeled it towards the beach. Right to the waters edge. No one was in sight, so he pulled the rip cord. With a loud pop, it began to inflate. So some unknown WW2 factory worker had done their job. The rescue craft, or crew’s survival boat, inflated. Unlike the commercial ones, this was green. Designed to be hidden. Not orange or red. He paddled out a short distance then deployed the motor. It fired up, (he tested that every month), and away he went at a sprightly pace.

Two hours later, he took on passengers. Two kids at a riverfront park near school. Frau met them at a fishing dock close to her work. There was no conversation. He knew they all thought his was out of his mind. But they humored him. One of the kids had a radio. At the half way point in their journey, as he swung out to the island. (As a safety measure, he always kept land in sight.) His son said: “There are riots starting. Something about a rumor. Welfare benefits are being cut. The governor has declared martial law.” He just looked at them: “It’s starting. We’ll be home shortly.” He resisted the temptation to crank up the motor. Their lives were held by the strand of a lame little motor that was struggling under the added load. About an hour later, they could see “their beach”. The closed amusement park (It went broke.) They heard an explosion. Huge. And could see the smoke rising from the other side of the island. Then, another from the North side. “Some one” had blown the two bridges to the mainland. Some patriots. They were now the, often joked about at meetings, island nation of Oceania Island. Cut off from the world. No golden harde would come their way. Some one else was reading the tea leaves and had taken a very big step. Those were a multi-million bridges being “incapacitated”. Hope there was a repair plan.

He angled thru the surf. It was a gentle chop. And, onto the beach. He lit a flare a signaled “54 40″. Somewhere there was a watcher with a rifle. He did it five times then extinguished the flare, the kids had deflated the boat, and Mom was folding it back up. She was good at that. She was always able to get it back in shape. They’d need a new gas cylinder and get the used one refilled. He’d been wrong once before. But the family knew how serious he was about this, so there was no griping. They were not so stupid as to not be scared by the events of the day. Today, it seemed, as evidenced by the bridges, that others were scared too. Trudge over the fifty foot beach, up to the boardwalk, and down to the house. All seemed in order. A sleepy summer village that had not had Prince Charming’s kiss of sunny warm weather to burst into wakeful activity. Dormant. The key code door admitted them. Handy for going swimming or admitting winter workmen. He “found” a hidden real key inside the porch, inserted it in the security terminal, and turned. The key in the security system notified the security response team that they were active. The local government would be aware of them as a resource. Main power breaker was thrown to on. The lights worked. The TV went on. The news was grim. Riots everywhere. Panic at the banks. Sob stories galore. All by word of mouth.

If the bridges were blown, this was the time. With everyone helping they moved the beds out of the First Bedroom. The carpet was peeled back. A suction floor tile lifter opened up the end. Swung by big hinges. Two sticks propped it open. Trunks and luggage were pulled up. A clothes bag for each person. Supplies. Totes. And, a footlocker. He was most anxious to get to that. Open and distribute arms. Each person now got a side arm, utility belt with a bowie knife, a rifle, and sawed off shotgun. There was also four hunting bows with nasty arrows. Each of the family was qualified to use their tools.

The cistern was full of rain water. The hidden pantry below held the “Mormon diet plan”. The underground LP tanks were full. The regular pantry had the winter stocks; accessible from above or below. It wasn’t gourmet, but they’d survive. Mom was closing the inner metal slide shutters that were hidden in the walls by each window. (Bullet proof.) He armed the various intrusion devices.

They all gathered around the computer as Drudge chronicled the end of America.

Later on the TV, the President spoke: “My fellow Americans: Be calm. All is well. Tomorrow and over the weekend, we will have a bank holiday as we reorganize our finances. Peace will again … …” the TV went out. A mushroom cloud rose over his Wall Street office. The lights blinked out.

Quickly items were moved back down. The family buttoned up into their shelter. Things had just gotten much worse. Did the Chinese not want their Five Trillion Dollars “reorganized”? Wonder what the end of that Presidential statement said to them: “Screw You?” They’d have several weeks to figure that out.

Wonder if the DVR would survive, he mused in the faint glow of a six volt light.

Time for some shut eye. Tomorrow was another day.

Maybe?

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WRITING: City gal goes Farm (An index card novel)

Monday, April 27, 2009

It was your typical Thursday at the Law Firm. She’d shown up at 0730 ready for action. They needed her. And, she wanted to keep it that way. She hated paperwork, but it paid the bills handsomely and allowed her to save while helping her aunt keep the farm. Besides on Friday, she was going “home” to the farm. It was her weekend. One weekend out of three, she go to the Farm. It was much harder work than the city but it kept her head clear. She arose each day as if she was at the farm: 0500. She did her morning PT in her tiny apartment in the Bronx. A light breakfast. Some personal paperwork. Chomping at the bit for dawn. Then it was safe to go out. Yesterday, she had brought her rucksack to work for Friday’s Peter Pan Trailways to “Bennington 05201″. If she was lucky, she’d make the 5PM that would put her into Bennington at 9. Her aunt would pick her up at the station and they’d talk all the way home. But back to reality, here and now.

Today’s challenge was this latest UN boondoggle that the Firm had landed: Rubber Tyres Regulation / Bycycle Division. The gals called it “condoms for bike wheels”, “rubbers for spokes”, or just foolishness. But it paid the bills. Handsomely. She had to collect all the attorney input, fill out a slew of formulaic nonsense, and attach all the copied citations. She had two women to help her. By the time they were done, it would be 800 plus pages of “barbara streisand”. To do it properly she was going to tie it up in red ribbon with a big store bought bow. Her boss would think that was funny. He treated her well; not like some of the other chauvinists. Even going so far to pretend that he had romantic interests. That kept all the junior attorney lotharios of both sexes from making passes at her. He was sensitive like that. She had explained to his wife about Chuck, how the Firm was a mini Sodom and Gomorrah, and what her husband was doing for her. She didn’t want the woman to get the wrong idea. And, name her as a respondent. That would spell the end of her paycheck. And, her protection.

She was well on her way to completing the “condom” paperwork when at about 11, his nibs waltzes out with his golf clubs and in his old clothes. Announces a holiday for a long weekend. And orders her to go home. Breezes out of the office. She was torn. She really wanted to finish the paperwork. It was her objective to secure another “outstanding” on her appraisal. Last year, that had gotten her a 50% bonus that bought a new high efficiency tractor for the farm. And she also bought a bunch of gold bullion coins with the rest. Those were were now safely ensconced in a jar, resting in a bucket, nailed in the corner of a very disgusting pig pen, guarded 24/7 by five easily irritated nasty hogs. But, she could have a long weekend. Sigh! Even if she had to work late next week, the Firm would send her home by limo and buy them all dinner. That would mean some extra bucks as well. Her assistants were waiting for her to decide. Meekly. They wouldn’t gripe what ever she decided. They needed their jobs as well. Poop or poop. Which poop would she tend to. After all, it was an “order”.

“OK, gals, you heard the man, it’s the weekend! Bye.” They were so outta there. Vamos. Amscray. Via con Dios! The younger gal was gone in a heartbeat. Took her purse, locked her desk, and left her coffee right where it sat. An archeologist would think it was Pompeii. She pulled her rucksack from under her desk, called her aunt, got the machine, and left a message. “Got off the rest of the week, no idea why, job secure, catching the next bus out of town, bennington at 5 or 7 depending upon the subway, luv ya, bye!”. She and her other helper walked quickly out together. Down to the subway and caught the E train just coming into the station. At Canal she swapped to the express. And, finally had time to catch her breath. Could she catch the noon stage? Four stops! She hustled up the stairs. She was an in shape farm girl. 1140 by the master clock. Ticket window: $29.25. Why not just make it an even 30? Zaro’s for a prepack sandwich, three bottles of water, (the bus had a passable bathroom if needed; she could run the gauntlet!), and six of the “honey buns” her aunt liked. And, a small dual box for the driver. Down the steps to the number six gate in the basement. 1152 by that clock. Did Einstein discover relativity by the clocks with different times in the bus station? Ticket to driver. And, the coffin corner seat was available. Everyone hated it because it was hard to sleep. She liked to be safe by the driver. She’d heard of rapes and assaults in the back of the bus.

Rufus James Simpson had the noon stage. She knew him. He was a regular driver. Retired military. Drove to supplement his pension. He drive the morning commutation route that left Bennington at 4AM and pulled in at 9AM. Who would come that far for work? To get home at 9PM. And, pay 40 dollars a day. They got a discount. They should get a free psych exam. And Rufus would take the noon run home. Got him home at 6PM for dinner. “Rufus, here’s a present for dessert tonight.” “Why thank you Missie. The wife and I appreciate your kindness.” He adjusted the mirrors, started the beast, and tooted for the starter to back him out. He wouldn’t speak again until they docked at Bennington. He was a pro. Out of the port authority, across to second avenue, north to the 155th street bridge, onto 95 north, Fordham Road, to Route 7. City streets were faster than the tied up expressways. She often wished they stopped at Pownell. That would save an hour, but beggars can’t be.

She was exhilarated. A whole extra day on the farm. Tonight she had to see which of the projects she could move from the Three Day Weekend board. Maybe Chuck would be free Friday. Maybe she could wangle him to ask her out on a date. The boy was a little obtuse. She sat very close to him in Church. Put the near occasion of sin in her mind; can’t imagine what it did to him. The bus was half full. Some hospital workers had five on five off and it paid good money. They’d come down and never leave the hospital. Sleep in the ready room or such. She didn’t know how they did it, but they did.

As the crossed the Vermont border, she unzipped her rucksack bottom and a little ditty bag came free. She inserted her hands in it and felt the cool metal. Quickly, inside the bag, she assembled her 1911 hogleg. A girl’s best friend. Any of the boys in the far back, that had romance on their minds, lost the urge when she emerged from the bus wearing the ultimate fashion statement. A USMC surplus holster with side arm. And she knew how to use it. And, her judo too. I am woman! Hear me roar!

The bus pulled into the dock and she was the first one off. Her aunt and Chuck were there. Grim faced. Her aunt hugged her. Chuck kissed her. Full on the lips. She was ready to haul off an slap him. ‘Til she saw tears in both their eyes. “What’s wrong? Who died? And, Chuck what would the Reverend say?” Chuck said: “Glad you’re safe. That’s what he’d say. Now stay close.” That was when she noticed her aunt had a shotgun and Chuck drew a 380 girlie gun. Where’d he get that? She never saw him carry. Her aunt led off and Chuck was on her rear. Literally on it. Not that she minded, but he was almost in present arms position. If she turned around quick, the marriage could have been consummated. That’s how close. Up the stairs, two at a time, out on the street, she could see the disarray. Looked like a riot had been through. Their neighbors, the Herows, were there with their big old car. Louie had his over and under out. The one with no serial number. Marion had her famously rubber banded hog leg. She couldn’t work the “safety” with her arthritis. So it was rubber banded down to make it easier for her to shoot. Some safety. Chuck shoved her in the back seat and ran to the other side. Her aunt shoved in next to her and her rucksack was her best buddy from knees to nose. It was all she could do to keep the Zaro’s buns from getting crushed; her physical goodies were mashed. Louis got in and the door wasn’t closed when Marion had the car moving at speed. She shifted like Mario Andretti. And at the corner she was at 60. Thru the red light and out to Route 7 south. The No Left Turn sign there was ignored as if it was invisible. On Route 7, Marion had the old tub at 90. The wheels were shaking. “Marion! Easy. Killing us ain’t saving us!”, said Louie in a quiet almost loving voice. That was unusual. She’d never heard them speak in anything but a grouch.

She still didn’t have a clue. So she just said: “Thanks. I appreciate you all coming to pick me up. Can I buy coffee for everyone? There’s buns here somewhere.” Chuck looked at her. Stunned. “You don’t know; do you?” “Know what? Other than that was very forward of you to kiss me like that. We really haven’t had that kind of introduction yet.” “There’s riots going on. Civilization is ending. The welfare is being cut. The money is worthless. The world has gone nuts.” She looked at him as if he had two heads. “I just left the city. Everything is fine. I’ll be going back to my job on Monday.” Her aunt grabbed her hand: “New York doesn’t exist. It was nuked this evening. You were on the last stage. We weren’t sure you made it. Now we have to get to the farm and get under cover before the fallout blows our way.”

She too began to weep. Chuck put his arm around her. And, Marion continued to drive like a maniac! They were all silent. As if holding a wake for a dying civilization!

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WRITING: Go West Old Man? (Index Card Novel)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

He sat is his very comfortable McMansion. He and his wife had tuned it to their needs. He was enjoying coffee and his post-Church Sunday paper. Soon the children and grandchildren would arrive for his wife’s special monthly Sunday dinner; just like in her farm girl days. Poor farm girl, but farm girl never the less.

The feature story in the Culture section was about a return to the land by 21st Century yuppies returning to the land. The turn to socialism by Obama along with the multiple risks of unemployment, inflation, higher taxes, higher expenses, and exploding debt loads had given rise to some Depression Era thinking. A smaller, cheaper, less-expnsive, less-stuff lifestyle was being sought by young people. Like the Titanic before collecting ice cubes, one didn’t have to be overly psychic to know that egotistically speeding in the dark across an iceberg laden sea in an “unsinkable” ship was a prescription for disaster. Some people were always in the know. Vast tracks of undeveloped land in Western North Carolina were being quietly, silently, and cheaply acquired. Not by big builders for massive development. Not by governments for big construction projects. Not by real estate moguls seeking something the government was not “printing more of”. But by ordinary people. Doctors, lawyers, technology people, PhDs, writers, business people. Basically a whole lot of people were getting out of dodge full time. And, interestingly, they weren’t building big houses. They weren’t getting on the grid. They weren’t putting in cable or satellite TV. They were building small and green with solar. “Farmettes”, the article called them.

He had a raving loon of a friend. Y2K was an awakening for his nutty buddy. After that, he was a “real tin foil hat”. But the gold purchase he made in prep paid off. 200 to a 1000 was a nice killing. His friend had learned the lessons of Wall Street from his time there. It was a rigged casino. Survivalist, anti-establishment, anti-state, “gold bug’, anti-FED, Ron Paul, light conspiracy theory, and other loony stuff appeared in his email box from his firend regularly for more than a decade. Some times there was five or more in a day. His friend really needed to find a job; he was a ‘severance package farmer’. That too was evidence of the lunacy of large corporations. Pay employees to leave quietly. When they all got together, everyone — including the wives — were careful not to get him started about politicians, taxes, or the “gooferment”! He was a real wack a loon. But he had taught him one thing, these were NOT “farmettes”; these were “suvival retreats”!

He’d lived through Hugo. More than a week without power and water. Taking charity from the National Guard. Flushing toilets with a neighbor’s swimming pool water. At least they had gas for the car to get to the nearby church for showers and hot chow. What would a longer or worse condition be like. His nutty friend had given him the vocabulary; he had it down pat. He knew the words “Golden Horde”, Zimbabwe, and TEOTWAWKI. What’s worse is that his friend had taught him what they meant! His friend was a certifiable member of the “lights are on, but no one is home” club. But, these people in the article were smart folks. Not skitzo. Not panicked. Not emotional.

His crazy “tin foil hat” bud had told him that it was the Grandparents that had to lead the “evacuation”. They were the only ones who had the time, wisdom, money, and vision to see what was on the horizon. The children were too young and the parents were blinded by the day to day needs of modern life. The Jewish intelligentsia, when seeing Hitler for what he was, shipped children and some young families out of country wholesale. Often sacrificing their own lives for the future generations. Was he now having this glimpse of the future. Act on it or be doomed?

This was turning morose. He moved on to the sports. He had to break out of the rut. Get away from disaster thinking. Yankees opened their new stadium with a loss. The city government put a fortune of tax money into a new smaller stadium. His wacky friend’s lectures invaded this page too. “Millionaires Playing For Billionaires”, he’d rail. “Why does the tax payer have to pay for bread and circuses?” Argh. That nut was ruining his Sunday. Was he on every page yelling “escape!”; what next the classified. As a joke on himself, he turned to that slender section. The reason the papers were going broke was that advertising and the classifieds were moving to the internet. He tuned to the middle. There was a modest eighth of a page ad: “Robert F. Hoke Estate Company announces undeveloped land for sale in Lakewood NC. Due to a family bankruptcy, several hundred thousand undeveloped acres are being offered for sale located between Chattahoochee and Sumter National Forrest. Land is being sold as is. Prices range from as low as 100$/acre when purchased in 1000 acre lots.”

Argh!

Did you ever get a song stuck in your mind? He knew turning to the front page, his friend’s echo would be easily satisfied. “Obama apologizes again at South American Leadership conference. Helicopter Ben assures everyone that inflation is not on the horizon. Cigarette tax raised two dollars.” He need to put the paper down. Sip his coffee. And, take a deep breath. Was the Lord putting this in his mind? Like Noah. Was he supposed to build his family an ark? He did have the assets. He had just the girl who could homestead. Was he developing Alzhiemers. He had to get new friends.

All he could think about was Hugo. Bigger, badder, worse, and all-encompassing.

Maybe it was time to “Go West, Old Man. Go West”!

He yelled out “Hey, Hon, gotta minute. You have to see this.”

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