Once In a Blue Agave Moon: ch 2

chapter Two

The only cars that worked dependably were carbureted and used no computers that communicated with anything else that was computer controlled.
They were also the easiest to convert to ethanol for fuel, as the gas supply disappeared in record time. The local gas stations had been robbed within a few days, often with massive bloodshed.
Riots broke out everywhere. People still looted stored filled with useless trappings of a civilization that was crumbling faster than they could anticipate. Like seizures in a patient whose body is so riddled with cancer that it looses the last vestiges of control, the riots were unfocused and senseless acts of the terminally desperate.
Millions of gallons of gasoline and diesel were now stored in places too isolated to do anybody any good, and several attempts at stealing large quantities of it by semi-organized gangs had resulted in horrible casualties and numerous fires and explosions, some of which had resulted in partial destruction of the refineries.
It’s tough to give up electricity, but eventually you learn how to separate what is necessary from what is luxury, with the occasional indulgence notwithstanding.
Everybody living in the areas occupied by Elliott and his associates that was not related by blood or sex had to have their own space, and housing or at least shelter, as well as the means of production for their personal pursuit of happiness. If you didn’t have your own generators, you would have to either barter something you had that someone else wanted or do without.
Fuel to run the generators was a real premium item before Elliott’s son had converted them all to burn ethanol due to one of Elliott’s special skill sets, which was making ethanol.
Granted, as a craft distiller, before the collapse of Western Culture as we knew it, the distillation of alcohol for any purpose other than fuel (and then, only with an expensive license and prohibitive regulations) was a class-three felony. Marijuana growers and dealers were more likely to get leniency in the courts if they got convicted.
Elliott had never sold or bartered any of his home-made ethanol, but his closest friends were quite familiar with his potent potables. He had a recipe for an all-grain brown liquor that generally resembled Bourbon, another that tasted quite remarkably like single-malt Scotch, a light amber colored multi-fruit brew made from bananas, oranges and mangoes flavored with key limes, and a clear corn whiskey typical of moonshine, but his favorite was his agave-based mescal made from the Maguay plants that grew all over Florida. His top the the line being Weber Blue Mexican Agave from which true Tequila was made.
The Mexicans have a term for locally produced agave liquor; it was “Raicilla” the equivalent a “Mexican Moonshine” which can be made from any one of fifty varieties of agave plant. It is made more in the tradition of Mezcal, which has a much smokier, bolder taste than the myriad varieties of commercial tequila available before the Doomsday virus had forced most of the world to make, make do, or do without.
All varieties were at least one hundred proof, which had become the industry standard for moonshine many years ago.
Elliott had arrived with about twenty gallons of various varieties of his “Hootch”, as well as his small six-gallon production still, a condensing coil and two six-point-five gallon carboys he had bought at Walmart.
Glass or food-grade plastic was essential for the fermentation process for reasons we will discuss later.
As soon as he had arrived, he began working on a larger higher production setup. They had all agreed that they had a mutual interest in a renewable source of barter income for the group as well as a non-petroleum-based fuel source.
At the time of the American Revolution, George Washington owned one of the largest stills in all the colonies.
Whiskey was at that time referred to as the “Currency of the Realm” long before American Money was minted or printed.
Another father-son team among the group were welders, and after some wrangling, bartering and scavenging, enough heavy-gauge sheet copper to make a one-hundred gallon still was finished in less than two months after Elliott’s arrival.
Elliot had quickly established his value among his peers. He had worked as a paramedic for quite a few years and was an amateur radio operator and electronics enthusiast who was also knowledgeable in firearms, gunsmithing, and the reloading of ammunition.
He brought almost one hundred rifles, carbines, shotguns, and pistols with him. They ranged from black powder muzzle-loaders to semi-automatic assault weapons and everything in between, as well as a crossbow and a compound-reflex bow that could take down a moose (although they was no possibility of encountering one in the Everglades).
The everglades are full of large-mouth bass, crappy, perch and brim, as well as some very large “mudfish” or “dogfish” often called bowfin, a prehistoric fish usually considered to be a “trash” fish by most sportsmen, but if properly prepared could be fashioned into a fishcake that could be made to taste like crab.
Alligator gar were everywhere and generally useless except as fertilizer or gator bait. They often ate and overran many of the other more desirable fish, so they was a continual state of open season on them.
But alligator, wild hog and deer were plentiful enough to ensure that there was no shortage of protein sources to suit everybody’s tastes.
There were no more game wardens on anybody’s payroll, and in fact one former officer was a long-term resident at The Colony, which was the name they had given their residence.
There was little need for fish and game laws in an area that is not overrun or too close to high concentrations of people. In this case, the residents practiced a mindful set of guidelines by not killing or harvesting more that they could eat immediately or preserve for times like the rainy season, when it was best to just be prepared for and simply hunker down and stay dry.
Long time residents of Florida are well versed in the practice using hurricane parties as a sort of mini-vacation, and with no jobs to go to, they treated the monsoon rains as a good excuse to do no more than absolutely necessary until the weather improved.
Several of the members of the group were marijuana growers; more as a craft than as a primary business, but one of their responsibilities was to be sure than there was an ample crop and stores for the personal use of the others, as well as a highly prized barter item for when they needed something they couldn’t make for themselves or grow.
Once again, whiskey (along with weed) became the currency of their realm.
They never did business on the grounds of The Colony because they kept their location relatively unknown to everyone but their most immediate neighbors, all of whom were mutually interested in each others’ safety and autonomy.
No outsiders were ever brought there unless they possessed goods, equipment, or knowledge and special skills to a point where they were being considered for approval for residency.
Women enjoyed a unique place within the Colony. Precisely the same values and ethics that motivated their significant others were reflected in the women of the community. Most of them were mentally and physically strong, independent and sensible, but some had made better choices for life-mates than others.
Although it went without saying that some of them were more ornamental than functional and kept more for their companionship, between caring for and educating the children as well as general domestic chores, most of them were also nurses, and teachers, or possessed other knowledge or skills that allowed them to contribute to the general welfare of their families as well as to the Colony.
Elliott’s wife Chiana for instance was a nurse, and “once a nurse, always a nurse” held more true now than ever. Although she loved the excitement and challenge of emergency medicine, her last employment had been as an OB/GYN nurse.
It stood to reason that eventually, if all went well, even those skills would be useful here.
In the meantime, between Elliott and his wife, they were about the only medical help available when needed.
They also supervised the barter of medical goods and supplies for the Colony.
She was also a practitioner of the cunning ways of knowledge of power and majik, a secret she kept under her invisible black hat until two other women in the Colony cautiously revealed their own knowledge to her.
It was very cat and mouse the way one or the other would drop a word or a phrase like a lady’s handkerchief, coyly waiting for the other to pick it up; a knowing look, a wink perhaps, or any other number of clues that passed like electricity between them so well that neither would ever feel the need to actually acknowledge or speak of that which made them sisters under the light of the moon.
They had one son, and his wife living with them. The other son, the perpetual man of mystery was still with the Army. Although they had no idea how to contact him, he had already visited them once, with several of his battle buddies for an overnight stay.
He said he wanted them to know he was doing well and was well-protected. Although they could not contact him, he simply stated “That’s classified” as far as his ability to check on them and perhaps even ensure some degree of assistance, if things got too fucked up.
They left under cover of night, the same way they had arrived.
Chazz Vincent
March 20th, 2016

2 Responses to “Once In a Blue Agave Moon: ch 2”

  1. I must get certified in welding.

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