Once in a Blue Agave Moon: The Novel

(Now this will read in order from the beginning)

(Please think of this as a prelude to present the mindset of the central character, Elliott Monroe, although that which separates sedition from the ability to recognize the inevitable are as thin as your likelihood of exercising those rights (as determined by a jury of your peers), without the threat of arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for attempting to do so.)

Even just as research. Although our government is not allowed to track url’s of its citizens in domestic internet traffic, because a tweet to your neighbor across the street from you may go by way of a server outside our territorial limits, PRISM will allow them the legal right to monitor it.

Whenever we fail to be able to separate the artist from his(her) art, the artist will inevitably suffer, as well as the art.

Introduction

Taxation is much more than just a revenue-generating income source for government. It can be used to stimulate the economy, or stifle run-away inflation for instance, but perhaps most importantly, it establishes a precedence which predisposes the general public to accepting an unnatural and intrusive level of control of many activities of daily life, especially of those who are predisposed to exercise their rights of self-determination…

…that do not need or want a parental, intrusive and condescending government determined to undermine even the very concept of possessing a Right to Privacy (remember Supreme Court  Nominee Robert  Bork?)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is a near-perfect example. In one strategically well-placed blow, three of the most elemental and seductive preoccupations of many Americans is placed under the control and scrutiny of one single government agency.

(I just went to the ATF website and discovered that they have expanded their turf, and are now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives….)

Everybody wants to get on the Anti-Terrorism bandwagon. It is a great platform for  obtaining power and money.

And it was only natural for ATF to assume control of this venue, and very smart in terms of being eligible for more revenues, powers, jurisdiction, and funding, and in fact they are most likely to be the best source of knowledge and experience in all of those fields.

You can’t blame anyone for trying; after all, the only thing that is required for evil to prevail is for (anyone) of good conscience to stand aside and do nothing.

And as in any government agency, its all about turf, funding, and as broad and expansive a range of legislated powers as you can get away with by convincing the public you need to protect them…even from themselves.

Why? Taxation is the obvious answer, but in reality, it strikes at the core of a concept that needs to be challenged, namely that what people do in the privacy of their own homes without causing harm to others is NOT somehow the government’s business.

If the lead taken by the state of California, as well as several other states continues, then Marijuana will face a fate similar to courtship in terms of the government’s control of it.

After an appropriately long (or short) period of time, once the expressions of intention are pronounced, it is only a matter of time before somebody gets fucked, which means the DEA will undoubtedly take control of yet another tax windfall and even more unreasonable control of the population because once they do legalize it, you can be sure that they will insist on controlling it.

Law-abiding citizens are allowed to produce a limited amount of wine or beer each year in the privacy of their own homes, as long as they do not sell it to anyone else, but legally, not even one drop of distilled ethanol can be produced, even to make tinctures for health, beauty or culinary purposes for one’s own private use.

Not for sale or barter; you cannot even give it away, or possess any distilled spirits that are not made by a licensed tax-paying commercial distillery in your home in any quantity, and more than one gallon is a third-degree felony.

Now, if one wants to produce ethanol for the purpose of fuel for their own transportation, one can get a license to do so. Several states also provide for licensing of “small-batch” operations for personal consumption, but they invite self-incrimination and subsequent federal prosecution if they do.

The problem here is the same as that faced by any of us who were so naïve as to believe that if we wanted to go through the necessary bureaucratic paperwork and intrusions, that we could be legally licensed to either sell or purchase firearms, up to and including full-automatic weapons.

Those who did apply quickly learned that the government by way of the ATF(&E?), has the right to without warning or warrant invade the homes and places of business of the license-holder for the purpose of inspection and search of said facilities to check the security and storage of said items and ammunition.

In the case of discovery of any other types of contraband, the principle of the Fruit of the Poison Tree does not apply, thereby granting governmental agencies Carte Blanche circumvention of the Bill of Rights concerning “unreasonable search and seizure” and “habeas corpus”.

Applications for legal licensing of ethanol production invite similar harassment from the Feds, involving incredible scrutiny and audit. For those interested in “craft distillery,” this starts to take all the fun out of it.

If you are not selling it either wholesale or retail, why the taxation, even if only of your spirits and patience?

There are currently over two hundred branches of the government afforded the powers of arrest as well as the ability to carry and use lethal force.

Too many are just tax collectors with guns.

The various state and federal Departments of Wildlife, Fish and Wildlife, Forestry Services, Fish and Game,  have similar powers, under very specific instances, as does the Department of Children and Family Services, except for the fact that the DCF simply uses law enforcement officers to accomplish their circumvention of the Bill of Rights, who are directed to act under their orders.

We are as free a society as the government allows us to be.

With the general relaxation of prosecution for possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal consumption in many states and certain municipalities, one is more likely to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment for any quantity of unlicensed, untaxed alcohol, and if said individual is unfortunate enough to be linked to its production, you might as well be a smack dealer.

Up to $250,000, and/or up to five years imprisonment.

This is more than a trifle ironic, since alcohol is a legal drug, while marijuana is often not…at least not yet . And once it is legalized within any given state, the Federal government starts its process of routine harassment of citizens trying to exercise their legal rights, despite previous precedents of state law superseding federal law.  At whatever point when and how it is legalized, it will undoubtedly become a federal as well as state tax issue, subject to the control and scrutiny of the government.

It now takes an act of Congress to allow its citizens to exercise their rights.

I will say it again…We are as free a people as the Government allows us to be.

And once we are “given” a right, it will be regulated and taxed by the government. If you want to put our rights up to question, just refer to them as a privilege.

Sometimes I think that the government is trying to take over the country.

Perhaps you can see where this is headed….

Namasté

नमस्ते

Chazz Vincent

05/23/2016

Chapter One

Elliott Monroe awoke to the sounds of the generators starting.

As he briefly lay there in bed, he thought about how much the world had changed in the last eighteen months.

Over two years ago, he had read about how cyber-terrorists were launching over thirty thousand attacks against the United States and their allies every month…without success…but…

Much like the theories of quantum mechanics and the origin of the earth, eventually anything can happen, and like the monkeys and the typewriters, eventually terrorists discovered the codes that were capable of deciphering the encryption associated with the operating systems of every computer on the planet; banking, defense, security, even the internet itself.

The consequences were catastrophic and swift.

They had not only managed to withdraw all the virtual monies out of all the North and South American, European, African, Swiss, and Japanese banks in the world, they had also placed a “doomsday” virus into the operating systems that caused them to destroy themselves, and their hardware, as well as all the records of all the accounts.

And when back-up systems and replacement programs were installed, the rest of the internet was so polluted with the Doomsday Virus that they were quickly rendered useless as well.

It took several days for even the best run operations to re-start, only to discover there were no funds in the accounts shortly before they too self-destructed.

Even if you had a printed statement from your bank, they were not being honored because there were no available funds to pay anybody anything. Aside from the five Federal Reserve Banks, no bank has ever held any substantial amount of precious metals within their vaults since the days of the gold rushes, and even paper money does not represent the listed value of any bank, since the vast majority of all wealth in this country was “virtual” insofar as any transaction from one bank to another did not specifically represent a transfer of physical money so much as computer transfers of funds.

And when you stop to think about it, in terms of real value or wealth, even that was fugazi….

All paper money in the United States is referred to as “Federal Reserve Notes” because there is no promise of payment in either gold or silver “upon demand” as was the case long ago, when printed currency was marked as representing either gold or silver certificates.

Aside from good faith and the mutual recognition of value, technically all printed currency is worthless. In 1933, Executive Order 6102 made possession of private stores of gold a federal crime in order to allow the United States Federal Reserve to print more money than was previously allowed, which even then was only forty cents on the dollar, compared to existing gold reserves.

In 1977, President Ford singed Pub.L. 93-373 into effect, once again allowing private ownership of gold again, but since 1971 United States currency was no longer backed by any promise of payment in gold at any value.

It was believed that Doomsday was not even a single virus, but rather a series of interlocking programs that spread rapidly through any device that used the internet at all…even if only to use the National Observatory’s atomic clock for time reference standards.

Cars that used Onstar or satellite radio would not even start, or stopped within minutes; some crashed. Planes fell out of the skies all over the world. Several nuclear power plants melted down. Nuclear missiles went haywire.

Some of the malware programs had been perfected and in place for over a decade before the comprehensive attack was orchestrated.

It affected the news services so badly that the parties involved had to resort to circulating printed material to even take credit for the attack.

More than ten years earlier, the terrorists had begun a plan that was only waiting for the success of the computer viruses for their initiation. They were in no hurry.

The terrain of the area surrounding the Fort Knox Army base, for instance, is riddled with underground caverns and streams that permitted tunneling through an area over five miles long from nearby Bardstown to the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox with a minimum of true excavation.

By a similarly ingenious plot, the mazes of sewers, communications tunnels and underground passageways in Manhattan (some dating prior to the revolutionary war) allowed near enough access to the Federal Reserve Bank, the only bullion depository larger than the one at Fort Knox.

Both tunnels ran the last five hundred feet deep below the vaults, working slowly and sporadically to better avoid detection.

The morning of the discovery of the cyber-attacks, at least twenty “dirty” or “salted” nuclear bombs detonated by two stolen B-61 Mod 11 nuclear “bunker busters” and a pair of ten-megaton hydrogen bombs of the Teller-Ulam design from former Soviet sources and several other devices of either Korean, Iranian, Chinese, Pakistani or Indian design under the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve Bank of Manhattan.

Both locations enabled the surrounding bedrock to amplify the effects of the shock waves from the blast and the combined pressure and heat from the thermonuclear blast not only compromised both vaults, but also severely contaminated them with radioactivity.

The heat and pressure was so intense that the other “dirty” or “salted” devices were combined in a chain-reaction not normally anticipated in any previous counter-terrorism models, that assumed conventional detonation of plutonium and uranium, with no concomitant fission or fusion.

The terrorists had no desire to survive the attacks, so no shielding or protective casings were used to contain the radioactivity of the “dirty” or “salted” bombs. It was a suicide mission, which made it that much easier to accomplish.

“All the gold in Fort Knox” (and the Federal Reserve Bank of Manhattan) was now radioactive. The fact that they had been entirely symbolic ever since they had been stored they really had little bearing on the perception of the people of the world.

(Apparently, the terrorists had seen the Movie “Goldfinger,” although they were not interested in any financial gain; after all, within two days they possessed all the net worth of the all major powers of the world.)

They already had plenty of money, but the real point was to take it away from their enemies.

It is estimated that the gold at the United States Bullion Depository (aka “Ft. Knox’) is worth about 175 billion dollars. This is believed to represent 2.5 percent of all the gold ever refined in all human history. The US GDP is estimated at approximately eighteen trillion dollars, and the United States federal budget is set at approximately 103% of the GDP.

The attack was predominately a way of doing severe damage to the confidence of the American people in the liquidity of their government.

After all, most of the net worth of anyone or any entity is based on a combination of faith in what amounts to “virtual money,” rather than cash and the mutual recognition of what constitutes value.

Between credit margins, and speculation, in a cashless society most people rarely ever touch any “real” money. Paper money is based on faith and a promise, but keep in mind that when the economy went from gold, to silver certificates, to federal reserve notes they no longer bore the promise “payable on demand”.

And let’s face it, you can’t eat gold or silver if you are hungry. The value of gold or precious metals or gems are based on their scarcity, and almost since the beginning of time we have been hypnotized by our desire for them, rather than in any true intrinsic value per se.

And to the radical Muslims, the result of the end of Western civilization was their precise goal. No more Hollywood (or Bollywood), no more televangelism, no more beer or whiskey commercials, no more live lingerie models, no more TV, no more Western aggression; Zionism as a world power would be crushed; no more internet porn and no more Christmas specials on television. No publicly available electricity in the West.

In just two explosions they had bombed the Western Hemisphere into the stone age.

At least, that was the mythology that had become the accepted explanation. Most of the stories that were passed from one person to another verbally were based on speculation, rumors and whatever prejudice, preoccupation, or agenda of the teller.

A few amateur radio operators kept up their own news nets, but no one knew what to believe and if you were smart, you took it all with a grain of salt; after all, no matter what gossip you heard, most of it had no real bearing on your own current state of affairs.

They were all too often just the idle talk of the frightened and the doomed, who would have nothing else to say once the lives they had known evaporated.

North Korea had very little to lose; their governmental leaders lived lavishly, but the mass of people lived in squalor, in silence, and in the dark. Previous satellite photographs of the island of Korea showed a brightly lit south at night, but above the thirty-eighth parallel only a few scattered lights showed anywhere in North Korea.

India and China were similarly affected, but to a lesser degree. For the desperately impoverished masses who had so little to loose, it was a zero sum game.

And perhaps most importantly, No country seemed to have much need to muck about with the rest of the world, which for the most part had lapsed into complete isolationism.

Or so it seemed, until each of the countries participating in the attack on America and its allies tried to double-cross the other. They quickly rendered each other helpless and crippled with a combination of nuclear and conventional weapons.

First it was Russia and China, then India vs Pakistan, and everybody versus Korea.

The Muslims were not bound by national boundary lines, but religion and culture, and initially they stood together. In fact, it was later estimated that the Muslims had actually instigated the conflicts between the other countries with feigned mutual acts of sabotage.

But eventually even the Islamic-ruled countries turned on each other. The same mind-set that had sabotaged Thomas E. Lawrence (of Arabia)’s effort to unify the mid-east was still in effect.

Malaysia was the first to fall; they were the weakest, and the least unified as far as Islam. Once that chain-reaction started, it would have been very difficult to tell who “won”.

Gandhi had stated that “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” but obviously, he was wrong…because…“…In the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king”...and that last guy with only one eye could easily escape the last blind guy…(but if you are surrounded by radioactive glass everywhere you look with that one good eye, it’s not much consolation).

Perhaps even more fortunately each had sufficient intel about each other as to quickly and almost surgically attack each other so as to limit any counter-attacks by anyone, so that other than some very localized fall-out, it had almost no effect on North America.

Perhaps ignorance is bliss…border disputes in Eastern or Western Europe or Asia had no real affect on someone living in Idaho…or the Florida Everglades.

Elliott had heard stories of people who still chose to live in the cities, bloodthirsty cannibals, burglars, rapists and bandits feeding like vultures on a rotting carcass that was already nearly stripped to the bones.

The trick was to find a place where only certain individuals could survive, and even thrive in the midst of world chaos. The desert, the mountains, the deepest woods, the most isolated coastal regions and their islands as well as the few swamps in North America…and the Florida Everglades, which were really more like a flooded savanna, hence the Seminole expression “River of Grass”.

Virtually all of what constituted an economy was now based upon barter, trade…and theft.

One thing that had not changed was that all too often, keeping what you already have can be more difficult than getting it in the first place… “the same as it ever was….”

Those who had something of useful purpose as well as those who could do or make because of what they knew fared much better than those highly trained aristocrats whose careers and knowledge or training were so specialized that they had no survival skills at all.

It was a very bad time for lawyers, public officers, (like judges or government officials), CEO’s, any level of vice-president of much of anything, travel agents, airline stewardesses, motivational speakers, fitness trainers, life coaches, investment bankers, stock brokers, event planners, and pretty much anyone dependent upon performing non-essential services for someone else.

State governments were fucked, but the rich and privileged swine who had manipulated them all along just by virtue of what they still possessed; as long as they could continue to barter their influence over goods and commodities, at least had a chance.

The police almost immediately took over most of organized crime, and split what they couldn’t steal outright with those whose mutual interests might similarly prosper in deference to outright gang warfare, which nonetheless still flourished on a regular basis.

Our military forces faced mass desertions, but those who remained managed to maintain a small elite group of forces who operated much like Mosby’s Rangers during the Civil War, ‘’requisitioning” food and supplies as they deemed necessary. All the armed services bases that remained open had to become self-sufficient by hunting, plowing, planting and farming almost every inch of their surrounding land near their bases, including the livestock they now tended.

Elliot was fortunate enough to have worked out a deal with a group of similarly minded individuals who owned a large tract of land that bordered on the Florida Everglades; mostly dry and wet savannas with patches of scrubby timber and wooded areas.

They all had hunted wild hog and deer on those lands together at various times throughout the years. They all possessed and represented a wide range of useful skills. Most of them were what had been called “trades people”.

Most people would have derisively referred to them as survivalists.

Although they themselves had no idea what exactly would precipitate that which some would come to call The End of Days, they knew that eventually, something would happen.

They were essentially autonomous, and lived relatively well in an otherwise dystopian and dangerous world.

It was as if the tables had been turned.

Most city-dwellers as well as most suburban commuters not only could not survive outside their protected communities, but they would have little desire to live without the conveniences and trappings that had already enslaved them.

If you can’t seem to get what you think you want, learn to love what you have.

Chazz Vincent

March 19th. 2016

 

added chapter:  chapter ONE pt II

Once in a Blue Agave Moon: One Nation Verboten (A Nation of Pricks)

 

“As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

(H. L. Mencken, writing for the Baltimore Evening Sun on 26 July 1920)

Although this quote was written many years before, it was not until the election of George W. Bush to the presidency that it seemed that indeed, the “chickens had finally come home to roost”  and Mencken’s prophesy had in fact been fulfilled,

This was followed shortly thereafter by a change in the economy from the first (inherited) budget surplus in almost one hundred years into a seventeen trillion dollar deficit, and the near-collapse of the American, and eventually, World Economies whose bailout was carried on the backs of the working Middle-Class to protect the privileges of those whose short-sighted greed and excess had caused it.

(It would have been far cheaper and more logical after all, to put the bankers and the legislators who abetted them in jail, buy the houses from the banks at cost, rather than at their added ballon-payment interest rates, and let the people pay back the same government that would have saved the bankers, rather than their homes, for instance.)

But of course, the nationalization of that much real estate to do something effective to aid our own people and save the economy without regard to the protection of a corrupt group of privileged insiders would undoubtedly end up being labeled as “Socialist” and we have already been conditioned to hate even a little potential Communism far more than an endless amount of Corruption.

But it wasn’t until the election of 2016 that perhaps the most sinister aspect of that predication, which had somehow gone unnoticed became glaringly apparent, although it is in the first, not the last sentence that our doom was prophesied.

“…As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people…”

It took the mind of an only marginally intelligent or sane home-grown political strategist who had built his fortunes upon treachery, lies, smoke and mirrors, emotional drama, blackmail, dis-information, denial and fraud, being totally without any scruples, and little substance to mange to become a culture-hero able to align and rally paranoid, anti-intellectual religious simpletons, racists, jingoistic xenophobes, misogynists and most businessmen into one unified voting body politic in order to get himself elected to the presidency of a country so full of angry, fearful, superstitious and mean-spirited pricks that his victory was guaranteed long before the first ballot was cast.

And “the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last….”

(Even if only by being at best considered by too many who saw him as “the lesser of two evils.”)

Given the choice between even a nominally intellectual or educated usurper of the will of the people, with her own history of fraud, lies and deceptions who at least preached tolerance and understanding, and a clearly unbalanced and emotionally retarded snake-oil salesman:

…Always bet on large groups of stupid people to do the bidding of the sort of cynical crook who will convince them of things he himself does not believe, but thinks they are ignorant enough to accept.

…Always bet on those charlatans to channel the hatred, fear, and resentments of those so enslaved by their own beliefs that they profess to even love their collars and chains; who will do no end of evil at his bidding and surrender the very rights they profess to love, to protect what they are allowed to call their freedom.

…To never underestimate the potential for the tyranny of evil men to prevail.

(After all, many, if not most of the entire animal kingdom will go so far as to kill or even eat each other under the right circumstances allowed by their respective tribe or pack, much like what humans call Justifiable Homicide.)

Animals however, rarely kill anything they don’t eat, (except for the males, whenever mating rights or territory are involved) and they don’t have to hate their dinner in order to kill or eat it.

It should not have surprised the Liberal/Intellectual Left-Behinds that no matter how blatantly false or illogical the pronouncements or actions of this Mussolini-esque harlequin, no matter how loud their protests or indignations (as well as those of the rest of the world), nothing changed amongst his supporters, who managed to keep him in power and seemed as ubiquitous as Christ on the Cross, Mickey Mouse, and Coca-Cola.

…And their anger, hatred and fear was as vast and unlimited as the Pacific.

Then, suddenly, several months before his re-election, in the middle of what promised to be the mother of all last stands of liberal opposition determined to prevent his re-election (which was undoubtedly doomed to yet another crushing failure), within three days time, first the Federal Reserve Banks were destroyed and rendered radioactive by terrorists for almost purely psychological purposes, and then The Armageddon Virus drained the world banking systems of all of their collective assets, and finally rendered the entire Internet, as well as any and all computers using it useless.

Much like Stuxnet, it contained many interlocking Zero-Day vulnerabilities and Doomsday self-destruct sequences targeting not only the computers themselves, but also any equipment connected to or controlled by it.

In a world devoid of either computers, Faith, or Money, the infrastructure of the Western world collapsed in less than a week, with no police or troops to control the riots or looting, and no firemen to put out the flames or paramedics to take anyone to the failed hospital systems.

No public safety, public or private schools, electricity, clean running water, solid waste treatment plants, mass transit, mass media, or grocery stores, but plenty of mass hysteria.

No Social Security. No unemployment compensation or disability checks. No public dole of any kind.

By the time that he became the first president to commit suicide, there was no news media in any form to report it, few interested in reading it, and no one ready to step up to the plate to assume the chain of command of a wrecked nation in flames.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the natural ascendancy of self-determination, ruthless pragmatism, life-sustaining skill-sets, and as always, blind luck and questionable circumstances would produce the leaders, movers and shakers, producers and reapers of the boundless opportunities created by way of mass economic re-distribution, but it would be an agonizingly long time at best.

And maybe…just maybe for the first time since the beginnings of recorded history, it would not be determined by wealth, position, social status or privilege, inherited aristocracies or fortunes, sex, race, religious, or ethnic affiliation…at least not at first.

(Keep in mind, it’s not so much that human nature was changed all that much, but it would of course, take time to establish who’s gang was the most powerful; even if only for the fleetest blink of a second, that field was leveled long enough to provide a window of opportunity for the truly smartest and the fittest to not only survive, but flourish and thrive….)

This is the type of self-determinism that would have given Heinlein an erection (were he still alive) while he tried to use “the present state of affairs” to explain to the ghost of Ayn Rand the paucities of Objectivism, now that Reverse Evolution had been stopped dead in its tracks.

In the blink of an eye, the perspectives of nearly every living human on the planet changed, although generally in proportion to just how much privilege they had lost.

Americans, the most pampered and spoiled of all, went from whining about pay raises, real or imagined sarcasms, their feelings of low self-esteem, their endless blame-shifting and refusal to accept responsibility for their own present circumstances,  feeling unappreciated or undervalued, or the insensitive remarks of anyone in general, to being genuinely thankful for not being killed, raped, and/or eaten, let alone worrying from where their next meal was to come.

They had taken so much for granted for so long that they forgot:

> how good it is just to not be a part of the food chain, or what it takes to be a real top predator.

> what it’s like to be totally dependent upon and responsible for their own thoughts and actions to determine the length and quality of their lives.

> that nothing is either forgiven or forgotten, much less guaranteed.

> that you do not require forgiveness for Sins invented and created in someone else’s image.

> that only your family, clan, or tribe will be there to pick you up and help you get back on your feet when you fall…if you are lucky.

> …the rest will only be there to pick your pockets and bones.

> that every day is Judgement Day.

> that no amount of money will replace the memory of your everyday lives as your family grew up and you grew old, or the fact that you learned to value it too late.

> what they gave up when they traded their lives for money, and their Instincts for Reason.

> that they don’t have to ask permission, apologize, or face denial of their rights of freedom and movement to pursue their desires.

Yes, undoubtedly, most people in very poor health would not suffer for very long, with no money to be made by keeping them alive like vegetables on a farm, or by planting them elsewhere for longer periods in smaller, far more expensive patches of real estate with only lawn maintenance to be factored.

Yes, it was also found to be true that many of the diseases and maladies of their artificially increased lifespans were induced by a lack of exercise, bloodless violence, stress, and thankless pursuits of objectives completely removed from their own activities of daily living, perhaps even giving credence to long-debunked myths about how your conscience somehow punished you for your own wrongdoing and its associated, accumulated guilt.

They learned that by eating or drinking too much to try to subvert appetites for other more natural, and life-affirming pursuits, one induces or at least encourages Type II diabetes, congestive heart failure, and hypertension.

…that “Only in America” could a “Couch Potato,”  let alone a six-hundred pound human incapable of feeding itself exist at all.

…or that no medication can cure the depression caused by the paralyzing realization of the falseness, emptiness, and futility of anyone’s life unless they take arms against a sea of tormentors and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes bred by false desires, ignorance, addictions, and suffering.

And finally, most, if not almost all of the money they became convinced they needed to buy possessions to fill holes in their spirits as big as Existentialism itself was as unnecessary as the imaginary false Hierarchy of the (New) Needs by which they had been hypnotized or the long-gone understanding or memory of Maslow’s originals.

They soon realized that lofty ideals alone would not protect anyone, because Enlightenment and Compassion can only stay the executioner’s hand when it is under the control of the victor.

First, one has to survive in order to live long enough to savor one’s existence. Sentience, Enlightenment and Compassion are acquired tastes.

A more accurate modern translation of René Descartes’ original hypothesis might have instead been “I think, therefore I desire that which I do not need, thereby I suffer in pain, and fear, and therefore I am.”

“God (sic) protect me from all the Good People…especially your followers.” (unk. origin). The depth of their self-righteous hatred, fear and evil knows no bounds.

So much for “…the inner soul of the people…”

Be careful what you wish for.

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 stores 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 of 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 Moonshine industry’s standard for  many years.

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 seven-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, brim , and eel, 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 there was a continual state of open season on them.

But alligator, wild hog, deer, rabbit, quail, and duck 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 Fourteenth 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 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”) he wanted them to know about 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

Chapter Three: Diversity

Diversity is a critical component in the evolution of anything.

So is adversity.

Without adversity from within or without the species or subset, there would be no provocation for evolutionary processes to be instigated.

External threats or hardships winnow and cull the weak from the herd.

The strong survive and thrive. The weak become one with the food chain.

Natural selection promotes incremental improvements in the species in order to better adapt to its microcosm.

The strength of diversity is much like an alloy of a metal added for improved tensile strength, shear strength, hardness, density or weight.

In a society, common purpose and mutual support provides flexibility, adaptive ability, and resilience to external threats when there is cooperation among those diverse members.

On the other hand, from a purely Machiavellian standpoint, when one group oppresses another group, there is potential for strengthening the oppressed group, although it produces a degree of factionalism and tension or stressors to the group as a whole.

There is nothing inherently Humanitarian about evolution.

As the civilization of a society develops, It is more capable of sustaining and caring for the mentally and physically infirm.

As long as a society is wealthy enough and affluent enough it can easily support and nurture a portion of its population that is not capable of caring for themselves for any variety of reasons.

As long as someone is willing to pay someone else to care for these unfortunates, others who provide the care will make a living out of it, and the prosperity of the entire group is enhanced.

It takes a very enlightened, tolerant affluent and altruistic society to develop a culture that is inclined to care for all of its citizens humanely.

It would be easy to make the incorrect assumption that the members at the colony were a homogeneous group.

The stereotypical generalization of the ultra right-wing, violent, Christian, alcoholic, heavily-armed, home-schooled, racist Florida redneck comes to mind when most people think about hunting in the Everglades. Fifty years ago, that notion might have had a little more validity, but Florida is more of a melting pot than most other areas of the United States, (unless of course, you are a Seminole or Miccosukee Indian).

Most of Florida is a mixture of a space-age frontier town, Disney World, a smuggler’s paradise and tourist trap where every imaginable ethnicity and social strata rub elbows on a daily basis.

In less than an hour you can drive from the center of almost any city to West Bum-Fuck Egypt or Timbukthree. Similarly, in the same amount of time you can go from Miami Beach (aka little Tel Aviv) to Little Havana, or Little Haiti, although the distinct boundaries of one ethnicity or another is rapidly blurring.

Similarly, Kosher, Hispanic, Asian, Continental, or Caribbean cuisines are everywhere you look from South Florida to the Keys, Orlando, Tampa, Daytona or Jacksonville.

This has a tendency to produce a more eclectic atmosphere than one might suspect in Florida, and it is reflected in the residents’ tastes and comfort zones.

Religion (or the lack of it) remains the singularly most divisive influence no matter where you go, and of course, most sexual mores and customs are dictated by religion.

Elliott’s older son was introduced to what became known as The Colony several years before by one of his high-school classmates. His father was a welder from upstate New York who had lived in Florida for more than twenty years. His son had a blue mohawk and listened to Heavy Metal.

Although the expression “safety in numbers” has a distinct ring of validity to it, because no one lifestyle or religion was of any preponderance within the group, most of the residents minded their own business as long as no one was forced to confront any specific behaviors, beliefs,or customs and as long as they did not impinge on the privacy or comfort of any of the others.

The cowardice of numbers lies at the heart of bullying; there was no real preponderance of any lifestyle or belief system at the colony. Because of this, there developed an enforced tolerance of all opinions and beliefs that was not seen in previous societies.

Drug store cowboys and self-proclaimed rednecks are no more prone to prejudice or narrow-mindedness than northeastern members of the “Intelligentsia” or passive-aggressive Southern Californians.

Group-think mentalities need to have their prejudices reinforced by other fearful sheep of the same mind-set before they can be too much of a pain in the ass to anyone else.

The term “rugged individualist” best described most of the members of the Colony. There was plenty of insular space for all of them, and as long as everybody minded their own business, they neither took nor gave any grief to anyone else.

Peaceful co-existence had been the prevailing mood within the group long before they had decided to eschew urban un-civilization.

Their most common interest was in each other’s safety and well-being. The collapse of western civilization had leveled the field for everyone.

It was no longer a zero-sum game.

 

 

Chapter Three, Part II

 

Jed Drummond awoke to the smell of coffee and bacon. It had been a long day’s journey to reach their camp; a temporary outpost so far off the beaten path as not to be discovered, it afforded safety in its isolation and a hidden underground larder of fuel and other supplies that would be needed for the last leg of his journey.

It was one of many FBO’s (fixed base of operations) that he used to conduct his business ventures.

By the time he had pitched his tent and set up camp, he was exhausted. Thankfully he slept undisturbed for longer than he could remember. It was so quiet that the dog had not even barked once.

He had slept most of the night in the “dreamless sleep of the dead,” as he called it, and it wasn’t until early morning that he began to dream of earlier, simpler times so easy as to be taken for granted; so much so that they were more conspicuous in their absence than when their luxury was everywhere amidst a sea of humanity drowning in its discontent.

As he slowly awoke, like a fish coming to the surface from the bottom of the sea, he heard soft feminine voices in hushed tones and the occasional clink or clatter one would associate with breakfast’s preparations.

This alone was such a luxury as he had not known for a very long time. He was usually the first to awake, and until recently, more often than not, alone. Although rarely wanting for company, he had chosen to live alone ever since his divorce, more years ago than he cared to remember.

Phrases like “familiarity breeds contempt” or “absence makes the heart grow fonder” had been his guiding principles in times when the ambience of loneliness wafted like a heavy musk amongst the desperate souls trying fill a void that could not be displaced by money, security, or objects.

In the process, he had lost contact with all of his closest friends, mostly women, who grew weary of waiting for him to “seal the deal” despite the fact that he believed that somehow, circumstances even he could not foresee would bring them back together again.

He believed they all needed time and space to mature and learn life lessons they would never experience willingly at each other’s hands within the smothering, stifling influences of either marriage or even monogamy.

More than once, he had begun to doubt those beliefs, but there was no way to turn back the clock, and he already knew that the only thing worse than the pangs of solitude was the suffocating tandem loneliness bereft of privacy or independence that two resentful souls, each a prisoner of the other’s misguided and fearful intentions could inflict upon each other in the name of Love.

He was right that there was no way for him to turn back the hands of time, but the Armageddon Virus had effectively stopped the clock of Western civilization dead in its tracks.

A misguided, digital, binary Jihad launched by opportunists who invoked the name of Allah to distort the teachings of Islam, fed by the endless provocations of those who would use the names of their gods to fuel an endless spiral of hatred and violence on both sides, it had seemed the End of Days was upon them all.

Yet beyond that, it was pure chance that had brought them back together.

As he awoke this morning, finally realizing how much he now cherished this Here and Now moment amongst newly reunited old friends brought together by circumstance and common cause, this gratitude he felt was so overwhelming that he sighed deeply, eyes still unopened as he felt a lump grow in his  throat.

For years, he had not allowed himself the luxury of tears, whether of joy or sorrow. “Men don’t cry.” He had been raised to believe their was something wrong with him, even as a child, when circumstances too sorrowful for words had prompted him to allow his weakness to show, until early in his twenties, when his mother had died and his father, the toughest, yet kindest man he had ever known suddenly wept like a baby in front of him.

It so unnerved him that they never spoke of it again, until his father passed away, leaving him overcome with self-contempt over the most basic of human emotions.

Now, years later, in a world of chaos, loss, death, and despair, it had become the Tears of Joy that had been the hardest to suppress. Ironically, it had taken the collapse of Western civilization to put him in touch with an abiding sense of gratitude that permeated every blossom, or cool breeze, sip of clean water, or kind face he saw wherever he looked.

But old habits are hard to break, and as The Three Winds (as he called them) parted the flaps of his tent, bringing with them coffee, breakfast, and cannabis, he laughed and shook his head, coughing lightly to mask how glad he was just to be alive, right here, right now.

 

Chapter Four: Location, Location, Location….

During the eighteenth century, the Lowlands Scots seemed to naturally gravitate to the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys and the Smokey Mountains region of the United States .

Australia was originally a penal colony for the United Kingdom.

Similarly, Florida was the lint trap for everything that got shook loose from the rest of the landmass of the contiguous forty-eight states of the continent.

It hangs like a huge semi-flaccid uncircumcised penis, far too laid back to protrude upward very far into the Atlantic Ocean, more of a “Show-her” than a “Grower” and complacent enough to just engorge itself into the warmer tropical waters, also attributing to the belief that “the lower the latitude, the stronger the sex drive.”

Everyone who comes to Florida has a cover story for why they moved here, but secretly, right before they left wherever they came from, something happened somewhere else, and it just seemed like everything was so much easier here.

They share a heritage of escapism which tends to create a mindset that remains a prevailing theme of those recently immigrated.

There is such a thing as the mentality, or state of mind of the founding culture of the location that is shared by a majority of the residents who were descendants of smugglers or wreckers; real full-time professional criminals who are trying to just lay low for awhile, vs. the full-time amateur criminals of convenience and circumstance, such as junkies and addicts, as well as every level of drug dealer, the “musicians” and “artists” who patronized them, whores, gigolos, long-and-short con men (and women), real-estate speculators, rain-makers, lightning-rod salesmen, snake-oil purveyors and of course, telemarketers, all of whom constitute a group best described as “casual criminals” and have as much regard for the “Law of Man” as an alligator.

And of course, first the Cubans, and the Haitians, seeking political asylum, the Colombians (for a whole host of varied reasons) and then the Mexicans, Guatemalans, and the Dominicans.

Almost nothing is manufactured in Florida…no factory jobs here to speak of, except the few sugar processors around Lake Okeechobee that haven’t already been phased out, and of course Motorola, boat and marine accessories and a few furniture manufacturers.

Most business in Florida jumps more or less directly from agribusiness (especially oranges and grapefruits) to the service industry/hospitality services, food service, entertainment, technical support for local businesses as well as the ubiquitous health service professionals; paramedics, nurses, doctors and patient care technicians and nursing homes, senior communities, and intensive care wards hence the moniker “Florida is God’s Waiting Room”….

Eventually, the glut of cheap relatively desperate labor for displaced ex-pats of every stripe resulted in the establishment of telemarketing centers in Florida.

It also meant that many who immigrated there were fleeing to avoid prosecution, or alimony or just a bad marriage in general. Even the cities were not as crowded or overwhelming as up north; people trying to get away from something seeking asylum or escape, where they believed the opportunities were like ripe, low-hanging fruit, like some latter-day version of The Grapes of Wrath.

No unions, fewer licensing restrictions and regulations, less ethical restraints, and no state taxes.

So Florida, much like Australia, the Smokey Mountains, and California became a haven for outcasts, criminals, and ne’er do wells of every stripe looking for escape to a better life…”your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Send these the tempest-tossed to me…”

(we’ll leave the light on…).

Chapter Five: The Tyranny of Numbers

You sacrifice freedom for security.

If there are too many of you in one place, you will learn to oppress them.

You will do it with impunity and a sense of self-righteousness as you do it because you will identify with the sameness of all of those in whom you see yourself reflected.

The more diverse the culture, the less the potential for such a preponderance of any one style or belief to exist so as to try to limit or control the way in which anyone else lives their life.

The smaller the society and the greater the diversity of its members, the less the potential for the prejudice or oppression of civilization to control the behaviors of others.

Many primitive cultures embrace actions and behaviors that are far outside western norms, whether or not they are homogeneous as a group.

But an artificially created society that is both spiritually and sexually splintered as The Fourteenth Colony was unique among most world cultures.

Of course, even with only two, there still remains the potential for a tyranny of one….

 

Inside/Outside: Is there a Difference? (Once in a Blue Agave Moon, ch. 6)

(Random observations of the narrator.)

A trusted confidante who knows me well enough to make such a statement once asked “Do you realize you have spent most of your adult life trying to get yourself out of your head?”

I thought about it for a minute…she knows me well enough to realize that the parameters involving my personal vision quest have not been adverse to the use of somewhat radical methods and materials in the pursuit of insight and enlightenment.

I might add that her question was not asked in derogation; she respects my sincerity and dedication to the pursuit of the occult, the unusual, and the cunning ways of Knowledge and Majick, the moon, Shamanism and sexual ecstasy.

At first I was tempted to take exception with the term “out of my head” because I could have countered with the remark that all the universe is inside my head, or rather, that it is created within the mind….

All I had to do was discover it.

I was merely an explorer.

Of course, in philosophy, the term ecstasy means “outside one’s self”….

Then I thought about the words of Zen master Seung Sahn Soen-sa Nim*: “…Inside, outside, put it all down!”

Labels can be dangerous because in naming something we claim to have prejudicial knowledge of what it really is, and that creates another layer of illusion between us and our world.

Nonetheless, my favorite muse also reminded me of my remark that I had never met a recreational drug that I didn’t like….now she had me there, but then again, although I used the term recreational in terms of common parlance, rather than as an exact term, nevertheless, if it is indeed recreational, then it is at least not professional…

Addicts are professional drug users; they devote their entire lives to the pursuit of their addictions, although there are many more addictions to things other than drugs that are at least just as dangerous, but ah! I do digress….

Both Seung Sahn and his Tibetan counterpart, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche were not adverse to the use of “special medicine” to be able to gain enough detachment (to see ourselves objectively from outside ourselves) to gain insight….

There we go again with the labels and the directions….

Put it all down.

We talk of higher consciousness yet we believe that only the most nominal version of reality is all that is real, finite, and measurable. voices, phantom images, and revelations are commonly regarded as symptoms of psychosis.

A shaman, an explorer or an warrior knows the risks and experiences the fear just like everybody else, but because they aspire to be their own heroes, they embrace the challenge of the unknown.

Courage is the ability to overcome fear long enough to act, to continue, and to face the challenges.

It is indeed the journey, not the destination that inspires them.

Once that is experienced, there is such a thing as “Everyday Zen”.

It becomes everyday until something new arrives.

There is always more, and there will always be more until there is nothing…until there is something again.

For eons Man has sensed that we were not seeing everything there was to be seen or heard, felt or experienced and that there were other dimensions than time/space/distance.

Quantum physics confirms it by postulating that there not only is but that eventually it will.

Who will be ready, and who will make the cut?

And in the meantime, what will you do to pass the time?

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but with eight lives left, he’ll come back laughing and wiser.

If you want to imagine the difference between inside and outside, try to imagine the cat’s answer.

Namasté

नमस्ते

Chazz Vincent

04/20/2016

*Seung Sahn Soen-sa Nim: Koren Zen Buddhist Patriarch,

founder of the Kwan Um School of Zen

(….he’s worth the research…)

Sayonara Y’all!

…Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei….

 

Once in a Blue Agave Moon: Chapter Seven: Dystopia

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

“All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counterbalance the evil…But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer.”                              (Thoreau)

We all knew the system was broken; that eventually it would collapse by way of its own corruption.

Man’s first misstep was when he traded his instincts for Reason, and became blind to what is obvious to any animal by believing that facts are the sole determinant of what is real, true, or beautiful.

Because we had sublimated and substituted virtually every aspect of real happiness and peace with possessions and conformity, we eventually sensed that there was something wrong…that something was missing, but we didn’t know what it was because few of us had the slightest clue what it was, despite the plethora of clergy, elected officials, police, and various other gurus who would purport to tell us what it was we need.

Our society was supported by an interlocking series of lies that first justified their own existence, and then so obfuscated the truth as to eclipse it, and discourage anyone from looking elsewhere for it.

The idea of questioning those lies and false values was considered esoteric and pointless. Most citizen-consumers were fearful of the consequences of independent thinking, and far too over-stimulated by passive entertainment to even consider solitary contemplation.

A man or woman can study any subject, and if when tested gives the answers deemed as correct by his mentors who are just as blind, he or she is considered educated, which means he or she is just as blind, misguided and just plain wrong as those who would judge them.

To be enlightened, if one chooses to do it by way didactic information, one must first learn it, examine it scrupulously, see the flaws and folly of it, and then decide for themselves what is true and what is truly valuable.

Even this is still only a first step.

Even our entertainment showed the effects, reflecting a cynical view of our government as being so corrupt and sinister as to defraud and mislead its citizens on a daily basis for the benefit of a privileged oligopoly or under the cloak of “national security”; that it was casually accepted and tacitly condoned, and considered entertaining rather than alarming.

The reason for the failure to act upon these injustices lay in the fact that virtually everyone was bribed by the hypnosis of consumerism, in one way or another.

The most popular theme in movies and games of that era involved some form of an apocalyptic collapse of our society.

By way of the hypnosis of television and other mass media, passive entertainment lulled them into tranquility, and promised salvation by purchasing some product to fill the empty space we dreaded to acknowledge.

In order to live genuinely and without deceit, one would have to separate themselves from the source of the deception.

The rash of Alaskan frontier television shows presented as Reality TV was the beginning of the faintest glimmer of recognition by the public that fulfillment was not likely to be found in the lap of civilization despite the Sirens of the Big Lie of proclaiming “Truth, Beauty, and Enlightenment are all well and good, but if you can just get enough power, money and influence, you can buy anything you want…”

The public was routinely bamboozled into voting for either rich and notoriously corrupt leaders or else anyone who claimed to be the champion of the downtrodden and protector of the weak; those who would vote for them a second time, even after betraying their broken promises during their fist term.

As the ranks of the mislead, misguided and ill-connected and marginally educated or literate seemed to grow exponentially they became more and more dependent upon a system that was in fact feeding on them in exchange for the most meager of existences, which worked for only so long as they all spent more than they made and willingly competed to buy ill-designed, poorly manufactured goods that they really didn’t need.

But as most of their lives amounted to equally meaningless existences, none of them knew how to do anything else, especially the work of their lives, preferring to trade their lives for money to do a job for someone else.

As an increasingly more incompetent public school system failed to provide useful learning tools and larger portions of the population grew into dysfunctional adults spawning even more useless, increasingly co-dependent citizen-consumers while the privileged classes enjoyed private schools and paid less and less taxes back to the system they were manipulating for their sole gain, it soon became clear that the system was not capable of supporting itself.

If the rich didn’t pay taxes and the poor couldn’t, the middle class was forced to carry the burden until it became clear that the national debt was becoming unmanageable.

The legislators allowed themselves to be manipulated so as to remove most of the banking and mortgage regulations that were designed to prevent the over-extension of credit that contributed to the first near-collapse of the economy.

Initially the real-estate bubble burst and then the entire market tanked and the government bailed out the banks despite the fact that it would have been cheaper to buy the houses from the banks and let the owners buy them back, rather than face foreclosure.

All those empty homes could have made it a renter’s market, but the banks chose to sit on many of them empty until they were nearly worthless due to dangerous mildew and mold damage.

And we let them do it. It was our money that the government spent to prop up the banks rather than prosecute the lenders and legislators and attorneys who were responsible for allowing the greedy regulations that created the crash.

The middle class was shouldering the bulk of these outrages, and as their ranks were culled, a second even more disastrous collapse was inevitable.

Small wonder that video and computer games devoted to the theme of a zombie apocalypse became America’s favorite genre.

Those games were a substitute for doing it yourself. Virtual visceral fantasy.

It, like pornography, allowed some individuals to escape their otherwise dystopian existence. Harmless distraction to keep you so overstimulated that you don’t start asking questions and stirring up trouble.

Once the world Banking System collapsed due to cyber-terrorism and the nearly simultaneous attacks on Fort Knox, The Chase Manhattan Bank, and the remaining members of the Federal Reserve system turning them into nuclear hazard sites, all world wealth was in the hands of those who had launched the attacks, and public confidence in our monetary system evaporated.

The Muslim coalition although united in their religion, as well as their hatred for America suffered from allegiances that were as weak as they had been since the days of Lawrence of Arabia; each tribal king expected to be autonomous and mistrusted the other tribes. That, plus their bellicose propensity for violence and long-standing feuds was as volatile as the petroleum that had made them rich.

It wasn’t long before their own nuclear weapons had turned most of the Mid-East into radioactive glass. America did not have the capacity to launch an attack until after they had turned upon each other.Similarly, as near as can be told, the Chinese, the Koreans, Pakistani, and of course Russians turned on each other and brought the world back to the stone age. Radical Islam eventually achieved their goal of anti-art anti-intellectual, anti-democratic, anti-media, religious fanaticism. The exact details are sketchy, even now, due to the initial chaos created by the Armageddon Virus that had caused the collapse of virtually the entire internet and all of its operating systems.

Fortunately, by this point all world order and infrastructure were disabled, which put at least a temporary hiatus on global warfare.

The resulting riots, robbery, and in some cases cannibalism worldwide that took all of any country’s national net worth, tended to limit warfare to only their next door neighbors, but not much farther.

Ironically, unlimited worldwide cyber warfare had led to more peaceful times than has been recorded in all history.

Of course, it would be temporary. It would only be a matter of time before somebody figured out how to restore some semblance of wealth, power and privilege to an even smaller select few, but the chaos created in the meantime was estimated to have reduced the world population by more than sixty percent, thereby reducing the technological, logistical and nutritional demands of the world to a bare minimum.

Other than the remaining ruling class of owners, those who survived were grateful for even the barest and most meager existences. Now virtually everyone left would be willing to “work for food” and the middle class virtually disappeared, at least for those still addicted to what remained of civilization as they had known it.

The fact was that small but significant portions of America had begun to establish colonies in the most remote locations that were bound together by their mutual strengths, their knowledge, and their talents as well as their worth within their tribe.

This is where the story of Elliot, and the other members of the Fourteenth Colony begins.

Once in a Blue Agave Moon: Chapter Eight: Cyber Warfare and the Armageddon Virus

Stuxnet was not the first shot fired, but it was the most widely publicized and successful viral attack that had geopolitical implications of its day.

It also set the stage for what was to follow.

Stuxnet was a malicious computer worm that was allegedly generated in the early days of the new millennium by the joint efforts of the United States and Israel designed to disrupt and sabotage the weapons-grade Uranium enrichment facilities in Iran, especially the Natanz nuclear facility and the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

What was most especially interesting was that it was the first of its kind to specifically target programmable logic controllers, (PLC’s) which control electromechanical processes such as those related to automation and control of machinery and assembly lines.

It was designed to target Microsoft Windows operating systems that utilized Siemens Step7 software. It was not domain-specific and could be used as a platform for attacking both SACADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and PLC systems.

Stuxnet was composed of three modules: a worm that executed all routines related to the main payload of the attack; a link file that automatically executed the propagated copies of the worm; and a rootkit component responsible for hiding all malicious files and processes, preventing detection of the presence of Stuxnet.

Once described as “…having attorney’s fingerprints all over it…” , to create the impression of not violating any International Laws as much as possible, it had an alleged end date, and only effected a very small percentage of systems or networks outside of Iran; specifically the gas centrifuges of the Natanz and Bushehr facilities, causing them to either over-run or slow down so as to self-destruct from a variety of possible factors, while sending false (normal) monitoring information to the users.

Because Iran’s targeted PLC’s were not connected to the internet, the virus had to be introduced via an infected USB drive by a mole within Iran’s development facilities. Once installed, it began to propagate within all other computers within the network, scanning for Siemens Step7 on computers that controlled a PLC. If it found nothing it remained dormant and undetected within the computer, at least until such time as the opportunity presented itself.

It exploited four zero-day vulnerabilities and utilized almost half a gigabyte of data, which was previously unprecedented in any other malware virus, and effectively upped the ante as far as both defensive or offensive future strategies for cyber warfare.

Long before the September 11th attacks on the United States, there had been numerous malware developed that attempted to utilize the internet that were financially motivated and did not involve multi-national cooperation to execute.

Stuxnet was a game-changer that dictated the future paradigms of international espionage that also included data-mining of their targets.

In effect, we taught our enemies how to bring down the house of cards that had sheltered our pampered way of life.

Most Americans of that time were complacent and took their privilege and power within the world economy and military for granted, assuming the dream would never end.

Historically, partly due to the vast separation from the continents of Europe and Asia especially, American politics and foreign policy were isolationist until our alliances within Europe prior to World War One contributed to our involvement there…on on their continent. World War Two followed the same paradigm: “Not in my back yard.”

As we became the self-proclaimed World Police, we tasked ourselves as the champions of Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism and protectors of the weak and downtrodden… especially if there was a buck to be made in the process and it did not take place on our soil.

We created the impression that it motivated our actions in Korea, Viet Nam, and the Mideast.

Unlike the United Kingdom, which used its Army and Navy under government sanction to first conquer, then colonize the rest of the world as they saw fit, America simply encouraged its industries to outsource themselves in foreign lands, frequently wreaking social, economic, and political havoc wherever we went.

Essentially different guises and similar methods to achieve the same results….

Depending upon the era, the French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch did their share of Imperialist expansion as well. (The Dutch, who now self-righteously consider themselves to be the model of egalitarian neutrality seemed to suffer from conveniently short memories about their participation in the Slave Trade, once regarding themselves as too good to keep slaves, but not above buying and selling them.)

The seeds of hatred and lust for revenge had been sown in the Mid-East a thousand years before. Any nation associated with the sign of the cross stood to reap the whirlwind of the Karma of the Crusades, especially England, France and the United States, who chose to either colonize the area for themselves, or as proxy for Israel.

Whether it was in China, Japan, Central and South America, the Mideast or Africa, the deeper the boot of our collective military forces were planted in foreign soil, the more the land bled and filled those footsteps with hatred for those whom we had victimized.

It was all just a matter of time.

Compared to Geological Time, the Time of Man is like a bug hitting the windshield of our Cosmos, but given enough time, as in quantum theory, anything that can happen eventually will happen.

In less than one hundred years, America went from an Agrarian, to an Industrial, to a Service-based economy as our opulence and complacency bred envy world-wide.

We were raised to believe that our ever-lasting Ice Cream Cone of eternal happiness and prosperity would never melt.

Meanwhile, our enemies were launching as many as thirty thousand viral cyber attacks every month against the United States, its allies and the World Banking System, as well as any and all computer-controlled infrastructure.

As far as Communist Asia, Islam, and Eastern Europe were concerned “The enemy of my enemy” became not “my friend” as much as a co-conspirator against their common enemy.

Our united enemies were infinitely patient in developing what became known as the Armageddon Virus, which was so complex and far-reaching as to make Stuxnet look like Atari’s Pong compared to Battlefield Four.

Patient enough to take decades to surreptitiously tunnel beneath the Federal Gold Reserve at Fort Knox as well as the other facilities that represented the Federal Reserve Banking System in order to explode thermonuclear devices that would not only render them worthless, but also made the public fearful of any gold or silver in any form as being potentially radioactive.

Patient enough to even develop programs to decode our most secure encryption codes used by the military and intelligence communities, thereby ensuring that not a single missile was launched against the perpetrators, the identities of whom were indistinct and geographically obscure.

But due to the inherently treacherous, suspicious, deceitful, and generally bellicose nature of our enemies, it wasn’t long before they reduced each other’s countries to smoking ruins and glass.

Every culture or semblance of civilization that was left did not possess either the means or sophistication to wage any warfare, except on a very local basis.

It seems ironic now that it took what almost amounted to The End of Days to bring what could have been World Peace were it not for the fact that the violence, riots, looting, and even cannibalism that ensued were local in nature even if they existed world-wide.

It seemed that mankind’s inherent propensity for fear, xenophobia, greed, and violence against each other did not need either a flag or a religion to bring out the worst as well as the best in itself.

Our highly specialized dependence on technology had led us back to the stone age for those who did not possess the knowledge and nature to become self-sufficient, and the good sense to eschew anyone who didn’t.

“That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves.”  Thoreau

Once in a Blue Agave Moon: What is missing right now?

Chapter 9:

No matter how good they may be at making what they needed by improvising and adapting, there were a few items that, as raw materials, could not be recycled or rebuilt into what was needed.

Most of the metals that were needed could be reformed into whatever configuration desired from existing items except for copper sheets, tubing and wire.

Although blacksmithing and casting could be accomplished by burning wood, cutting, brazing, and welding required oxygen, acetylene, and helium. There was no way to avoid their dependence upon these gases, and they could not be easily produced or extracted from their environment.

Silver and brass used for brazing and soldering were plentiful enough to be easily obtained by barter, especially since silver was no longer of much worth as a monetary commodity.

Welding rods and wire for MIG welding are very specialized and not easily produced; as such, they were essential commodities that relied upon whatever existing stock was available through barter.

Similarly, fiberglass cloth, polymer resin and its catalyst allowed them to fabricate anything from boats to tubs, vats, and basins as well as to repair or weatherproof whatever was needed.

It was not long before the members of The Colony began to realize that jointly, they were capable of enjoying a certain rustic opulence in their daily lives; all of their necessities and many of their indulgences were easily produced and maintained by the members who were already skilled tradesmen, or at least competent home craftsmen.

Once hot and cold running water, electricity, air conditioning and refrigeration could no longer be taken for granted, it became much more easy to get in touch with a sense of gratitude and satisfaction for the way they carried out their activities of daily living.

Anyone who desired it could bring clean running water into their home. It would be their responsibility to tap its main line and install the connection to their domicile. And in the spirit of an old-fashioned barn raising, there was almost no end to the assistance offered by their neighbors when needed.

Solar heating is so easy to harness that no one did without it. Long periods of overcast skies are not the rule in Florida, but electric backup was also easily accomplished.

A common area, much like a clubhouse in an apartment complex was built for town hall meetings, in which everyone participated, as well as for celebrations and informal meetings. Once you were inside, the carpentry and decorative woodworking as well as the general decor were impeccable and quite luxurious enough that it was easy to forget that the rest of the world was still trying to survive what had nearly become the End of Days.

They even built a pool that utilized the plentiful water from a farm pond they had dug to recycle grey water which was filtered and kept flowing and utilized natural means to stay clean and not dependent upon chlorine for disinfection.

It was not much different from swimming in the pond, but it was much safer because it was easier to control the environment, especially at night, when it was lit by solar-powered lights that charged in the daytime.

Several years before, Elliot and a few of his colleagues began transporting commercial freight containers to their camp for the purpose of modular housing units that were easily linked and sturdy enough to withstand hurricane-force winds (or even bullets).

Several of them were used as work areas for machining, hand loading  ammunition, or laboratory areas, including fermentation and distilling.

Once they were finished inside, including windows with steel shutters, they were remarkably beautiful; there was a certain kind of calm that was evident within because they could shut out almost all external noise, much like a bank vault.

Whenever they could locate additional containerized freight modules, they either appropriated or bartered for them. One of the members was a heavy equipment operator who used a low-boy trailer to move his bulldozer, a back-hoe and a front-end loader to the camp, and when needed, it could be pressed into service to move anything bulky and heavy.

Locating non-renewable supplies or items like the freight containers, the welding gases or the fiberglass supplies involved a certain degree of risk that could not be avoided. They chose not to disclose their location to almost everyone, preferring to do all barter transactions off-premises.

No one could be completely trusted, and all business involved heavily armed back-up that lent a decidedly sinister atmosphere to the transactions, considering the fact that without civil courts and endless lawsuits, and no court of appeals, if you could not protect what you owned you would probably loose it; however the adage “you can steal way more money with a briefcase than you ever can with a gun” no longer applied, and in the absence of attorneys,  all business was considerably more straightforward, honest and direct.

In a surprisingly short period of time, those who were self-reliant enough to survive the initial collapse of the world’s infrastructure adapted to a barter economy. It was decidedly not the most efficient way to do business because it often involved trading something you had or a service you could perform for something you might not necessarily need, but which you could trade to someone else who had what you needed.

In that respect, money was essentially a shorthand way to measure one’s wealth, or to convert it into something you needed, but in the absence of a common form of currency it required a great deal more ingenuity and old-fashioned horse-trading.

In colonial times, whiskey was known as the “currency of the realm.” George Washington owned one of the largest stills in North America at the time.

Elliott and the other members of the Fourteenth Colony were now producing large amounts of ethanol and methanol to not only trade as a fuel source, but his whiskey, rum, vodka and tequila were rapidly gaining a reputation and demand that kept them constantly busy building larger production facilities.

They were smart enough to realize that as long as the demand outstripped their ability to produce, their buying power was maximized to a point where there was no need to do without much of anything that they wanted or needed.

They were rapidly approaching a point where they were considering using a third party to distribute and trade their product for whatever they needed, allowing someone else to take on the risk involved and still make a living for themselves based on the value of their services.

The problem was that unless one of them was up to the task of distributing and bartering their product, they would have to find someone else to do it for them.

Someone who already had developed established trade relations with others who traded items thy did not have.

Someone who could be trusted, or at least controlled and supervised, and no one they knew fit that category at present.

Once in a Blue Agave Moon: The Winds of Change

(Chapter Ten)

It was Samhain, a blood moon, and a blue moon, a predictably rare planetary  coincidence of potentially extraordinary consequence.

They rode into the Colony like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

One man, and three women on motorcycles.

The women called him Jed, and he referred to them collectively as “The Three Winds” or sometimes “The Winds”, or simply “The Three.”

His name was Jedidiah, although no one called him that except his mother, a devout Southern Baptist who had given him the name because according to the Bible, the prophet Nathanial had given it to Solomon at birth, meaning “beloved of Jehovah”, but he was as much a friend of the Devil as of God.

There was something about him that made you want to like him almost instantly. He was completely devoid of pretense or bravado and didn’t seem to need to care what anyone else thought of him, although most people regarded him as kind and considerate of others, which he was, whenever possible.

He was tanned and handsome with a beautiful full head of thick wavy brown hair, which he pulled straight back when they rode.

He was lean and muscular; surprisingly so for a man of nearly fifty years of age. Most people guessed him to be in his late thirties.

He was ruggedly handsome in a way people described as “twisted steel and sex appeal.” He had an animal quality to him, like a Florida Panther. Ruthless.

He could be intimidating at times; his demeanor could turn on a dime and spit nine copper pennies back in your face, or just as likely break into a broad grin so wide they showed most of his nearly perfect white teeth.

His steel-blue/sky-blue eyes sparkled with mischief or could turn into cold piercing ice and if he got that “thousand yard stare” that warned that the reflex arc of survival was about to emerge, even God couldn’t help you if he turned that look onto you.

Years ago, he and Elliott had been best friends, but Jed’s fiancée considered Elliot a bad influence and made both of the men so uncomfortable whenever Elliott was around and incessantly nagged Jed if she even found out that Elliot and Jed had gotten together “behind her back” that eventually, it was Elliott that walked away from the friendship shortly after Jed got married.

One day Elliott just didn’t show up for work. Just like that. He moved to another town, found another job, and changed his telephone number.

Back in those days, Elliott had a reputation for not looking back on anything once it was out of his immediate sphere of influence. Not necessarily with any malice, but this time he did it out of his friendship for Jed.

Once, in a moment of candor he had referred to it as a “mercy killing”.

Neither of the two men had known that kind of bond with another man before or since. They were both well enough adjusted heterosexuals that neither felt threatened by how close they were. In a time when almost all men casually called each other “brother” they were truly cut from the same cloth.

By the time that Jed and Patty got divorced, Elliot was long gone and both men were both so consumed with their respective activities of daily living that it just happened that neither of them made any conscious effort to look for the other, although both of them missed each other and fondly remembered their adventures and good-natured mischief in days before responsibilities or consequences had much bearing on either of their lives.

The was no malice or resentments between them, just circumstance.

As overjoyed as both men were to be reunited, Elliott was more than a little unnerved by Jed’s sudden arrival. Five minutes before, he had gotten word  on the radio from one of the perimeter guards that an old friend wanted to see him.

Given the circumstances of the last year, he was understandably suspicious; by his relatively recent memory, all the people he considered to be friends now resided within the Colony.

When Elliott inquired who it was, Jed asked the perimeter guard to let him speak; all he said was: “Hey good buddy…I been drivin’ a load of post holes and sailboat fuel all the way from Magic City on my way to Shakeytown, and I got me a powerful thirst,…and there’s a little lady with me here that wants to know what a horny sailor needs to do around here to get laid…..”

Before Elliott could react, Jed handed the microphone over to one of the women, who simply said: “Hey Boss…it’s been a long time…”

Imagine getting punched in the gut so hard that you could swear you felt the fist bounce off your backbone and doubled you over followed by a swift uppercut that drove you straight up until you were on your tip-toes.

“Jesus!” was all Jed could say before he sat down and shook his head.

Then he laughed until there were tears in his eyes.

“Well let ‘em in!” was all he could say.

Once in a Blue Agave Moon: A Small World Gets a Whole Lot Bigger

Chapter Eleven

Elliott was overjoyed about the prospect of seeing Jed again.

Whether it was just a visit, or even possibly a longer stay, Jed was always welcome in Elliott’s world.

Jed’s arrival was a welcome surprise in a world where there was rarely any good news from the outside world.

It was the other voice that had completely unnerved him. Soft and feminine, Amy’s voice sounded slightly timid, perhaps even a little shy. She knew how to be coy; she knew men liked that…sometimes; and even when she was being completely genuine, she knew how to make the most out of what could pass for the most subtle nuances of voice, facial expression, and body language.

Elliott had told her once that she should have been an actress.

“Who says I’m not?” she replied. “The whole world’s a stage…that we’re all going through….”

“There are some people who are addicted to sensationalism and overacting just to be the center of attention…they’re just the kind of idiots that can give Drama a bad name.”

The Theater was in Amy’s Roger’s blood. It was a part of her nature, and as she was trained in Method Acting; there was Method even in her madness.

What might have passed for pretense to the untrained eye was an instinct for angle, lighting, mood, setting and presentation, and she always hit her mark.

Even when she was startled, or genuinely terrified there was  a cinematic quality to it that guaranteed that you could not take your eyes off of her.

None of this was lost on Elliott, who was at that time a college professor who taught filmmaking, videography and photography to a group of students he affectionately referred to as the Gonzo Media Freaks.

Yes, she was beautiful. She was more than just pretty, but she was never able to see it in herself, and that gave her the unassuming vulnerability and genuine humility that made her so adorable…especially to Elliott.

She had always believed that it was Elliott who had “discovered” the beauty queen that had been shyly lurking beneath the Ugly Duckling she had been led to believe she was.

Her domineering father largely ignored her except to criticize and belittle her. She was the oldest and her younger sister suffered a similar fate. It wasn’t until Adam was born that he finally showed any genuine interest in any of his children, and even then, it was to the detriment of the girls, even as women.

When her mother died suddenly when she was only a teenager, she became even more withdrawn.

She stumbled into Elliott’s office one afternoon, looking for one of his students, whom she had promised a ride back to the stockade where he was being incarcerated while he was allowed educational leave until he finished his sentence for drug possession with intent to sell.

They had both gone to North Miami Beach Senior High School together a few years before, and she had dated him for a very short while a long time ago.

She was married now, and completely “over” Kenny, but he was also desperately trying to get “over” Ray, her husband, who had proven to be an utter disappointment, further reinforcing her feelings of inferiority and insecurity.

That morning, as he left the house, with his wife Jeannie following him out to the street, screaming like a fish-wife, Elliott realized what a terrible mistake he had made and resigned himself to the fact that it was only a matter of time….

Only  few hours later, this total stranger, who had wandered into his office looking for one of his students seemed as captivated by every word he spoke as he was by hers.

They chatted briefly about filmmakers from Brecht to Hitchcock to Kubrick, Tarantino, and Oliver Stone as well as a shared a mutual fascination for the screenwriting of Charlie Kaufman.

They were soon marveling in how similar each other’s frame of reference was.

They shared interests in writers like Hunter Thompson, and Tom Robbins as well as Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Heinlein and Dave Barry.

Indeed, they did not seem to need to try to impress each other, but the growing fascination over their shared interests and points of view was nothing short of exhilarating to the point of being breath-taking as Infatuation was overcome by the Crush they seemed destined to develop.

Both had been wallowing in Sarcasm, Facetiousness, Irony and Bitterness for so long that many of their best friends had begun to regard them as jaded and cynical.

Yet suddenly it was as if it was raining Enthusiasm, Optimism and mutual Admiration right there inside Elliott’s office until they were both mud luscious and puddle wonderful right up to their knees.

Elliott turned both ways as if to look over his shoulders as he leaned forward as if he was about to share something he did not want anyone else to hear.

“Are you married?” Amy suddenly blurted, seemingly out of nowhere.

The remark so completely startled Elliott that he sat back, having completely forgotten what it was he had intended to say; after several very long seconds, he took a deep breath and said “Just barely….”

Two seconds later, Kenny burst into Elliott’s office, late and panting.

Spouting explanations and apologies, he suddenly stopped short and remarked “…so I guess you two have already met….” followed by a gratuitously flattering introduction on the genius of Elliott Monroe, abruptly veering off onto an almost tersely marginalized hand-off to Amy which included an inappropriately familiar reference to their previous romantic relationship followed with “…by the way, how’s Jeannie?”

“As compared to what, Kenny?…the Lake of Fire?…she could make even make that seem like a bed and breakfast in rural Vermont…you saw how she acted two nights ago right before the Aerosmith concert….”

Amy winced, and then winked at Elliott. “We have to go…I’ll see ya in the funny papers, kiddo.”

They got not even a glimpse of each other for over two days after that.

In the several weeks that followed, Elliott separated from his wife, and he and Amy moved in together along with Joe, one of Elliott’s fellow faculty members.

They were madly in love with each other, and more than just a little bit mad in general.

As crazy as they were for each other, their general craziness was a breeding ground for quarrels, although in all fairness, it was usually over  Elliott’s behaviors, which had taken on an even more extreme quality that provoked Amy’s outbursts of anger, bordering on rage.

Truth was, they might have had a better chance of making it work if they hadn’t jumped right out of one marriage bed to another.

It seems to be an unwritten law that there needs to be an intermediate romantic fling that allows you to get over the previous relationship, and since both had gone “from one frying pan to another” they  both engaged in provocative and bizarre behaviors that would have terminated a lesser degree of commitment between two people.

Their fights often involved horrible emotional violence that seemed to be spawned as a test to see if each of them could forgive the unforgivable in each other.

Eventually Amy moved into a place of her own, and they dated for another three and a half years. It seemed as if the separation had revived their passion for each other.

God was alive and Majic was afoot.

But suddenly Elliott went on the road with a band that hired him as a guitarist shortly after he had decided to terminate his association with Jed, and Amy took off to go to the Pacific Northwest, which was about as far as she could get away from Elliott. She sent a few letters, which he never answered, and they didn’t see each other for over a year.

They got back into Miami within a week of each other, and spent an entire weekend in bed together, only to mutually decide it was over, but for no real reason. It was Elliott who broached the subject, and Amy agreed, albeit somewhat half-heartedly. Elliott lived to regret that moment many times over the years and suspected it might have turned out differently if he hadn’t turned away from her the way he did.

In the years that followed, he sometimes referred to her as “the only ex-wife that I never married.”

That was years ago…several lifetimes and two more marriages ago.

Long before he ever met and married Chiana. Before his children were born and grown.

It was hard to imagine Jed and Amy together. They knew each other of course, but they remained aloof and somewhat distant in each other’s company, but there was a pretty good explanation for that.

Jed considered himself too much of a gentleman to fuck his best friend’s girlfriend, despite the fact that neither Elliott or Amy would have thought that to be a real deal-breaker with either of them.

Jed also made himself perfectly clear that he thought Amy was much too “high-maintainance” (which she was).

Because Amy felt rejected, she treated Jed dismissively and said she found him shallow, conceited, and selfish (which he was not) but Elliott did not bother to try to convince Amy otherwise because although he would be reluctant to admit it, he felt a slight twinge of jealousy at the thought of Amy and Jed having sex together.

Elliott knew that what would pass for jealousy in this case would be more due to insecurity; something he so despised in himself that he would embrace it with the same state of mind as a man who has decided to “stare down the train” knowing it will mean certain death.

In those days, he never backed down, and he could lay down a pretty good bluff, not to mention that he already knew he possessed both the greatest luck and the shittiest judgement of any man alive.

It turned out to be something of a self-fulfilling prophesy that tended to lead Elliot to believe that it made little difference what decision he made because it was usually wrong, which prompted him to act on reckless impulse, knowing that somehow despite all the odds, he would prevail…or at least live through it.

The longer he considered it, the more sense it made. Probably some sort of cosmic coincidence threw the two of them together, and inevitably pure curiosity would overwhelm their better judgement…just the same sort of circumstances that occurred when Elliott and Amy found themselves thrown together into an emotional maelstrom from which neither could escape;  both beautiful and tragic, that they undoubtedly would rememberer for the rest of their lives both fondly and sadly.

The few minutes that it took to remember and ponder this before Jed, Amy, Rebecca, and Leigh-Anne arrived seemed like the longest ten minutes of his life, and yet it seemed all too short to prepare himself for what was to come.

But whatever it was, he could hardly wait.

Chazz Vincent

03/12/2017

Once in a Blue Agave Moon: Daisy-Chain Ouroboros

Chapter Twelve

Each of the riders had different reasons for both craving and dreading this meeting.

Each had their own histories, much of which was muddled up in the midst of each other’s early stories…and make no mistake, there had been a certain degree of competitiveness between them as well, and yet they had remained friends.

Not “best friends forever”, at least not yet, although there was a time when they thought they would be; they just came and went as they  pleased, but they always came back…for awhile….

No real hard feelings…wild desires, lots of regrets, and some equally heart-warming and heart-breaking memories, but overall it seemed that destiny was busy proving that they belonged together again.

But the question remained as to why?….

One of the things that they all had shared was an appreciation for the beauty of tragedy in its most poignant aspects. They knew all too well that everything comes and goes according to its nature and season, and had witnessed it in each other’s lives as well as their own.

If ever there were three self-proclaimed “Alpha-Bitches” capable of maintaining their own integrity who could also co-operate and work as a team, it was Amy, Leigh-Ann, and Rebecca.

Jed and Elliott already knew that neither of them could imagine the other one betraying their friendship, despite the fact that Jed was now (at least probably) sleeping with one (or more) of Elliott’s former lovers.

Elliott was genuinely relieved that it was Jed who had brought them there, because without some sort of male escort, Elliott’s wife Chiana would have been unlikely to welcome them into their home…their world…the only world they knew of that was worth defending and maintaining.

It was also Jed who was the mastermind of this unlikely liaison and Elliott was at a loss to anticipate its explanation.

Elliott and Chiana  were openly polyamorous, and amazingly well-adjusted in terms of their sexuality, but it would be hard for Chiana to not feel at least a little insecure, considering she already knew how significant these people had been in a life he had lived long before they had ever met.

Jed could be intimidating just by his sheer charisma, and like Willie Loman, it seemed like all women wanted to fuck him and men just wanted to shake his hand and be his friend.

Leigh-Anne was the only woman who had slept with both of them “back in the day…”, but she had a way of seeming almost nonchalant about her relationship with either of them; that air of independence that she projected despite the fact that she loved them both made it all seem perfectly natural.

They had managed to keep any competitiveness  out of their friendship… had scrupulously avoided it, but Elliott didn’t even know why they had suddenly decided to arrive en masse at The Colony.

Of course, it wasn’t like they could call ahead for reservations….

Chiana realized that any opportunity for networking with people Elliott felt could be trusted was worth examining and reserved the option to express her displeasure if she got uncomfortable at any point in their meeting.

As they rode, and as he and Chiana waited at The Colony the tension grew higher and higher as each of them could feel the excitement coursing through their veins…it seemed like an eternity for such a short ride, and they were all becoming impatient, if not more than a little bit anxious.

Each of them wondered “…for how long this time?” 

“Maybe our time has come for all of us.”

They had each learned to embrace a certain degree of fatalism, and yet, these women had  liked Jed’s plan, (still unknown to Elliot) despite the fact that it had been so long ago when they had been a real part of each other’s lives.

Because of the most recent turn of events over the last two years, when Jed recruited them, they openly discussed the fact that this was not about romantic love; it is an extremely rare occurrence to abandon romantic love and still have something left after you go your separate ways, but they all had that in common.

When romantic love dies, one experiences the same sort of grieving that is experienced when someone close to you physically dies, but whenever Love comes into the picture, most people seem to have to engage in character assassination until they finally are able to let go, like the fox in the fabled “sour grapes.”

(And in some cases, they would probably prefer that their former Eternal Beloved  had in fact physically died….)

Through experience and acceptance of their present circumstances, they had been able to see Elliott and each other more objectively.

They had watched him suffer as one by one, his other love interests came and went, usually with vindictive and acrimonious results. They also were no strangers to disappointment and disillusionment themselves.

They were relieved to hear that Elliott had finally managed to maintain a stable relationship with anyone, let alone a twenty-year marriage and grown children.

It seemed that Elliott had become a bit more notorious than he realized, and undoubtedly more famous than he would have desired, but when Jed had heard stories about Elliott and the Fourteenth Colony he saw a way to bring them all back together that he hoped would work to everyone’s benefit.

They alone were able to love him as he was and accept who or what he wasn’t, and in so doing they had each allowed a very small crack to open in the door that protected their hearts, and like a bright ray of sunshine bursting into a room kept closed and dark for too long, it just seemed right.

Hope and Faith are what we believe in the absence of empirical evidence.

Chazz Vincent

03/29/2017

All Things Return to the One

Chapter Thirteen, part one

Our perception of Time, as invented by the Mind, completely distorts how we regard our world, and these inventions of our minds have enslaved us to both Regret and its corollary, Fear, but without  getting lost in the explanation, consider how pliant and variable it would have seemed in this situation.

While waiting in anticipation for the arrival of Jedidiah and his companions, Time seemed to be almost at a standstill, and yet if he had the luxury of a week to prepare himself he could not have possibly anticipated what he would see or the results of their arrival.

Einstein had correctly postulated that both Time and Space are curved, and the effects of Gravity and Velocity further distort what the Mind has led us to believe is fixed and constant, but that is a matter for another time and place if you will pardon the expression; it is mentioned here only as a prelude.

Twenty years is in most cases, is more or less one quarter of a human lifetime, barring the effects of stress, trauma, toxins, proper nutrition and maintenance, (or the lack thereof), yet it seems to pass in the twinkling of an eye.

Yet in terms of the evolution of Life on this planet, Man’s entire sentient existence of approximately fifty thousand years is minuscule, compared to the one hundred and seventy-five million years that dinosaurs ruled the earth, which is further dwarfed by the geological age of the Earth, which is much shorter than the age of Mars, or Jupiter, etc…by Ahhh! how I do digress!….

They rode up on four very large, fully customized motorcycles and one sidecar with a dog in it.

The sound was deafening; with scavenger exhausts and no mufflers, by the time they finally shut down their engines the silence seemed to scream in protest.

As they got off their bikes, they all just stood there for more than a minute, as they surveyed each other. It really had been a long time, but as they stood there assessing each other, looking for the glimmers of recognition of each other, they all began to grin, shake their heads, and began to laugh before they rushed in on each other in an impromptu group hug.

They took turns hugging and kissing each other, laughing until they thought they would cry.

There was something about the way each of them looked to each other, having carried around a mental snapshot of each other that was twenty years old, what they now saw seemed to tell a story about each of them, crow’s feet, character lines, a few grey hairs and all.

Amy was the first to speak.

“Well, boss, you always said we would meet up again someday, and frankly, I thought you were full of shit, but by God, here we are again, and I’m damn glad you were right….”

Leigh-Anne broke in. “All it took was a complete melt-down of the entire world’s culture and infrastructure to do it…tell the truth, did you have anything to do with it, just to get us back in touch?”

Jed suddenly blurted out “Well, if I had known that was all it took, I probably would have done it myself.”

Rebel finally got off her bike and unleashed her dog in time to say “So what’s up, Doc?” She had accidentally given him the nickname “Doc” one day when they were getting very high together after he had finished a night shift in the ER.

She just blurted it out before she thought about Buggs Bunny’s signature phrase, and they had suddenly broken into hysterical laughter at the incongruity of it, which probably was not as funny as it seemed at the time, but the intravenous Demerol made it seem funny as fuck, and she decided right then and there that “Doc” would be her nickname for him because she hated the name Elliott and told him that the first time she met him.

Not to be outdone, whenever she called him Doc, he called her Lola, after Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend. Everybody else thought it was a reference to the Kink’s song by the same title, except him and her.

And yes, you really did have to be there to appreciate it…but that was the beauty of it…they both were there at the time, and it was  moment that transcended attempts to explain or re-create it later, but like a secret handshake or a password spoken between covert agents, that moment was their’s and their’s alone.

Amy was a little bit gaunt, and very tan. She had quite large, pendulous breasts that looked that much more impressive on her slender frame, despite her rather wide and squared shoulders. She looked like she had become something of an exercise queen because her skin was quite taught and her muscles rippled as she moved.

Then Elliot noticed the tattoos that covered most of Amy’s arms, and a few that hinted at the fact that there were probably more elsewhere, in places he hadn’t seen on her in years…and then it hit him like a slap to the face as Rebel walked up and put her arms around Amy’s waist…

That’s the connection! The tattoos! It was obvious that Amy was the link between Rebel and the rest of the group. He also sensed that they were very close friends, which, as he thought about it, made sense.

“Nice ink! Where did you get it done?”

“My shop.” Rebel said as she pulled Amy a little bit closer, and Amy winked at Elliott.

“We got to talking about crazy motherfuckers we had known…”  Rebel continued “…and loved…” interjected Amy “…  “…and guess who’s name came up?” They finished the sentence together, and broke into laughter.

Rebel went on in her slow, seductive drawl that seemed sometimes as if she would never finish her sentences. “We began to realize that we had a lot more in common than just tattoos…and your cock…” “…and Jed…” Amy added.

They were beginning to finish each other’s sentences, like Popeye’s nephews. Elliott realized that it was incredibly erotic just to imagine…they had shared more than a few women together over the years, and Amy sometimes used Elliott as bait to  “turn” a woman that hadn’t realized her bisexual urges…yet.

Amy was the prototype of the “genius waitress”. She spoke at least three languages fluently, held degrees in art history and anthropology, and while she was working on her degree in psychology, she either worked as a bartender or a waitress. She could, and often did just about anything that came her way as long as it paid well enough to let her follow her own star and dance to her own tune.

She originally came from a very affluent upper-middle-class family in North Miami Beach but became the black sheep about the time that she and Elliott fell in love and ran off together.

“My parents are probably turning over in their graves right now.” Amy confided. “…and not just about the tattoos, but then again, I never really wanted to be buried in a Jewish cemetery anyway.”

“Oh yeah…and that quote that I always thought was yours…” Rebel added.

“If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it all over you!” (This time, in unison, as they put their foreheads together and rubbed noses.)

Amy had not lost her gift for theatrics. She knew that Elliott would be unable to resist the two of them. It had been a characteristic defining feature of their relationship most of the time that the were dating or living together.

But Elliott had learned a thing or three over the years….

He was intensely aware of Chiana’s presence as she stood apart from the group, analyzing and assimilating the Gestalt of it. He knew that she would be determined not to be jealous or judgmental if she could help it, but he also knew that ignoring her the minute another woman…let alone two women wiggled their “charms” under his nose like a frog swimming in front of a bass would be monumentally insensitive and stupid, even by his standards.

“Look, Honey…remember Leigh-Anne? She came to visit us shortly after we moved to North Lauderdale…Where are my manners? How are you?…I mean, considering the whole world nearly went down the drain two years ago…You look well…how long has it been since the last time the three of us were together?…”

Elliott was not immune to babbling like a fool when he felt awkward or stressed, and Chiana actually felt a little sorry for him, because she knew what he was trying to do because he cared deeply for her; because he was determined not to give her any excuses for feeling jealous or threatened, even though she already knew how hard it would be to not get overwhelmed by Amy and Rebel’s seductively strong tractor beam.

Leigh-Anne was less inclined to engage in theatrics of any kind, and infinitely more subtle in the process. Her strength was in her lack of pretense, and discretion. She had managed to enjoy a deeply passionate relationship with Elliott at times when both of them were (more or less) exclusively involved with other people.

She also recognized the fact that Elliott had matured more than even he realized, and appreciated that he didn’t just let Amy and Rebel steal the show before the curtain even opened, and she was genuinely glad to see that Elliott and Chiana were still together, and still in love.

She liked Chiana and had a feeling that they would probably bond in a way that would not create tension or discord between them. She was a very savvy businesswoman, and recognized that if this business venture was to succeed, they could not afford to let their first five minutes together turn into the “Hey Look at Me Show.”

Leigh-Anne had a mannerism that Elliott had found charming the first time he saw her do it. She would shift her weight from one foot to the other whether she was walking or standing still, and she would lead with her head as she did it, usually grinning and rolling her eyes.

Elliott was convinced she was not aware of it, because it at least appeared to be totally un-self-consciously self-conscious.

As she sauntered up to Chiana she winked at her in a way that conveyed her understanding and empathy, almost ignoring Elliott in the process.

“Good to see you again, Chiana. Looks like you managed to figure out how to keep him happy and out of trouble. That’s certainly no easy task, and I’m glad to see that he finally realized that he needed somebody much better than himself to do it. You look well…is he behaving himself?”

“Most of the time…he wouldn’t be Elliott if he didn’t push the envelope, and then I would probably get bored if he got too predictable, although we both know that there is not much danger in that happening. I can’t tell you how glad I am to see that you are a part of this…whatever it is….”

“We’ll  talk later, after the children have gone to bed…I will tell you what my take on this is, and you can judge for yourself, but between Jed and Elliott’s talents and resources, I think that we can make this work.”

“I’ve never met Jed….”

“Well we need to correct that immediately! Jedidiah! Come over here and meet the only woman that could put up with the likes of Elliott for all these years.”

Chazz Vincent

03/30/2017

Chapter Thirteen, Part Two

Leigh-Anne was a nursing student when she and Elliott met. They were incredibly close for several years and were really crazy for each other, but oddly, neither one ever referred to the other as a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”.

Recently divorced, she was still struggling with balancing her new-found independence and single parenthood vs. companionship and affection. Although they were well-matched in intellect, disposition, and sexual appetites, they always seemed to pair off with someone else from their circle of friends and lovers, only to eventually find themselves back in each other’s arms…or bed.

They both seemed afraid to become a “couple” because they never wanted to have to break up. Years later, Elliott admitted he was slightly intimidated by her.

He knew he had a tendency to engage in outrageous behaviors that usually would drive women out of his life, and it was clear that Leigh-Anne was not willing to be a victim again. More than once she had used Elliott as a “booty-call” if she suddenly found herself alone too late to call anyone else, and he was only too happy to oblige her.

She was bolder and more fearless than most at a time when Elliott had considered the adjective “shameless” to be a genuine compliment, but she seemed immune to infatuation and its concomitant crush, so they developed a deep a abiding friendship (with benefits) long before the term became en vogue, and neither of their significant others acknowledged or understood it.

Elliott knew she would not put up with the kind of bullshit to which he regularly subjected a number of the women in his life, (including Amy) and because he was afraid of loosing her, he could never “seal the deal” and commit, so one day she just walked back into and out of his life like a cool breeze.

Amy had already left Miami for parts unknown, and Leigh-Anne had just come back from an extended vacation. She dropped by, but suddenly apologized that she had only come by to see if she could in fact remain faithful to one man; since Elliott was her “litmus test”, she announced that she was going back out west to get married.

On a certain level, he was flattered, but he was far from pleased.

A few weeks later, he decided to go on the road with a reggae band and didn’t come back for almost eighteen months.

This was about six months after Jed had gotten married; Leigh-Anne was not invited to either the wedding or the reception, even though Elliott was, despite Patty’s objections.

Apparently, Jed put his foot down about inviting Elliott, his best friend, but at the expense of not inviting Leigh-Anne because Jed had made the mistake of admitting to his fiancée that he had “once” slept with her (which was a gross understatement, unless he meant “once upon a time”).

Elliott always believed she would be back someday. Now, years after he had given up on such a hopelessly romantic fantasy, it looked like they might at least have the chance to get some kind of closure…or….?

They lost touch with each other for several years, but he always thought…(perhaps hoped was a better word), that somehow they would get the chance to resolve this unfinished business between them.

Over the years, when they did meet, he learned that she had not only gotten her MSN, but had become quite successful, married well, and had raised her children.

Elliott sensed that the honeymoon was definitely over, but beyond that, he had no clue. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her husband; it was more a matter of being able to see beyond  being someone else’s ideal of the perfect wife, and NO ONE was going to tell her what she could or could not do, including visit “old boyfriends”.

Once her children were gone, she began to travel farther and farther from home for longer times more and more frequently…until the money disappeared.

She could have chosen to sequester herself in their desert home, which was paid for and very well appointed and supplied. She was already prepared for that.

She had experienced a few apocalyptic visions years before, when she and Elliott were close. They often dropped acid or ate mushrooms together and they had discussed “what if” almost as if they already knew that something would eventually happen, one way or another.

It was uncanny now, as he thought about it; although neither had been even remotely close to predicting the real precipitating conditions, it was a given that Elliott would be her security consultant, sergeant-at-arms and resident gun-bum.

Although he tried to keep it under wraps because of the prevalent mind-set of the times, despite the fact that he referred  to himself as a (gun-carrying) “pacifist” he was the most genuinely dangerous person she knew, and she knew plenty of dangerous men.

Bikers mostly, and a few construction workers that couldn’t pass up a bar fight, or a chance to show off; who wore their bad-boy swagger on their chests like a Harley logo, but underneath it all, although he was boisterous about inappropriate sexual behaviors, or music that was just too damn loud, he was quietly, almost secretively dangerous, but when it was called for, he had a direct connection to his reptilian brain; a reflex-arc without remorse or hesitation.

Although she had eventually prepared for “the end of days” without Elliott, her desert villa was much lie what they had discussed so many years before. Perimeter alarms, guard dogs, a secure water and renewable electric supply were all there, with her husband to keep the home fires burning.

But now that safety and security no longer occupied her top priorities, she saw this as an opportunity to experience something dangerous firsthand, as if the world was new again, and it was all happening for the first time.

She had witnessed some of the most dark nights of the soul that Elliott had ever experienced, but wasn’t that surprised hearing that Elliott seemed to have wrangled his way back into the catbird’s seat but had no idea what to expect when she got there.

Elliott had welcomed the leveling effect that the Armageddon Virus had on the world in many ways, and he believed that Leigh-Ann somehow had found a way to leave her comfort zone in style, with sense of class, and with power.

For the first time in over a decade however, he knew he would not feel like a bum when he was around her. They would be on level ground, eye-to-eye, but most importantly, neither one of them would be encumbered by any prohibitions by their significant others as to how far they would choose to take their familiarity and curiosity.

For the first time…ever.

Elliott figured it was probably best to assume that she would not be interested in a physical/sexual entanglement, act accordingly and let her take it to the next step, if that was what she wanted.

After all, that was essentially how it had worked between them from the start. And it would be a win/win no matter what the outcome.

Now that self-sufficiency was more valuable than money, she was self-empowered. But most importantly of all, he trusted her…he always had.

They were never a couple, never broke up per se and yet he knew he still felt more than a little sentimental about whatever it was that they had shared.

Elliott had always tried to be close with at least one nurse or doctor who for whatever reason, chose to take the less-traveled road thereby making themselves accessible to him when he might need them.

From injections to bullet wounds, the ones who weren’t afraid to break, or at least bend the rules seemed to gravitate to Elliott, who was regarded as a something of a fixer who could make things either appear, or disappear when needed, whose only regard for the laws of men was to not get caught.

Some people might be inclined to regard Elliott as opportunistic, but with his reckless judgement, he needed all the help he could get.

He used to consider the company of attorneys in much the same light, but ever since this New-Age Apocalypse had effectively rendered all laws null and void, attorneys were of little use, except as part of the food chain, or blood sport, unless they had somehow managed to leverage some sort of power, or something of perceived value, since few of them were especially adept at the sort of survival skills that determined REAL POWER in a world where wealth and privilege had evaporated overnight.

Chazz Vincent

03/30/2017

Chapter Thirteen, Part Three

Jed was playing with Rebecca’s dog when Leigh-Anne called to him to come over to meet Chiana.

Mordecai was a mixture of Staffordshire Terrier, Blue Tick Hound, Mastiff, and American Pit Bull. He was at a stable weight of seventy six  pounds, and looked like he had been sculpted from sandstone.

Hanging by his jaws to a very thick piece of hawser, Jed hoisted Mordecai while he performed a series of perfect bicep curls, one after another as the dog growled ferociously and shook his  entire body like a fish being hoisted from the water.

Jed then began to slowly spin on a fixed axis as he steadily increased the speed of his spin as Mordecai, still orbiting around Jed held on even more stubbornly until the dog’s legs left the ground, thrown by centrifugal force upwards until his body was parallel to the ground.

Hearing his name, he quickly slowed down to hear what  Leigh-Anne had to say, as both of them were already taking bold strides forward in Leigh-Anne’s direction as soon as the dog’s feet touched the ground.

Not waiting to have Leigh-Anne introduce them, Jed make a distinct point of being the first one to extend his hand to Chiana as his said: ‘Hello Chiana, my name is Jed. It is indeed a pleasure to finally meet you. Leigh-Anne says that you two knew each other, from years ago years after…well, let’s just say when people used to say…”back in the day”… and well, just  let it go at that….?”

His voice trailed off as he found himself staring into Chiana’s dark eyes while the faintest hint of a glint, or near a glimmer of a gleem began between them as it flashed on both of their faces, and it progressed from smile to grin that just ever so slightly relaxed as they both recognized what was passing between them, acknowledged its existence, and then lovingly pulled back, just to acknowledge their honorable intentions, and let it go.

They both pulled back as they shifted their weight sightly behind themselves until almost all of their entire weight rested on their right foot, resting on the ball, as if to feign some degree of suspicion, each turning their heads to an almost unnoticeable shift of the angle of their faces, like a dog watching television, puzzled.

And speaking  of dogs, it was about at that point when Mordecai jumped between them, but if they hadn’t known better, Jed and Chiana would have both sworn that it was in defense of Chiana, not Jed.

He even turned his back on Jed, as he very politely sat down and offered his paw to Chiana, tail wagging enthusiastically.

Chazz Vincent

03/30/2017

Chapter Thirteen, Part Four

Rebecca was the real wild card of the trio. She was unknown to Jed, Elliott, or either Amy or Leigh-Anne back when they all knew each other, and at first, Elliott was unnerved by her sudden reappearance. He could think of no obvious explanation as to her connection to them and her presence within the group initially seemed contrived, until he finally put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Most everyone who knew her well called her “Rebel”, but her real name (or at least one of them) was Jeanette Rogers.

Although she and Amy shared the same surname, they could not have possibly been less likely to be related. She had used almost a dozen different aliases over the years, (including her screen name) but she had confided to Elliott that Rogers was her genuine birth name.

She grew up dirt-poor in rural Virginia and had almost no formal education, but loved to read just about anything that caught her surprisingly wide range of interests, although she refused to lose her trademark Southern drawl or her country pride and roots.

Elliott had befriended her at a time when no one else would; when he had no idea that she was in fact slightly rich and formerly famous. She was even more mystified that he made no effort to try to fuck her.

Unfortunately everyone else in her life at that time wanted something from her and drugs, sex and money seemed to be the only way she knew to get people to take her seriously or pay attention to her.

Not that he didn’t want to; he just was in no hurry and at least initially didn’t think he should take advantage of her misfortune and vulnerability.

Besides, he could sense her cynicism and suspicion and knew well enough that that if he didn’t live down to her lowest expectations, she would undoubtedly consider it a challenge.

He was right, of course.

Elliott really had no idea about how famous Rebel really had been, until weeks later, while he was at a video rental store that also maintained an “adult” section in the back when he asked the owner if he had ever heard of her.

It turned out that she had developed such a following (including the store owner) that after she left the business, another actress started using her screen name, despite the fact that they bore absolutely no resemblance to each other.

It turned that she had not only been featured in over two dozen major films in which she had starred, but she had also done many appearances with most of the biggest names (and cocks) in the business.

If you cross-referenced her screen name during the time that she was using it, she came up in over one hundred titles.

She later told Elliott that she considered him one of the few real friends she had and the only one whom she trusted.

She had made and lost quite a fortune and reputation in the Adult Film Industry before she walked out on all of it. Ironically, it was Rebel who was the most modest about anyone seeing her nude body, although she was rightly proud of the beautiful single-needle Cholo-style monochrome Tree of Life tattoo that covered her entire back.

Unfortunately, she had undergone one too many breast augmentation procedures, and the surgeries had resulted in irregularities of the surface of her skin that were not as unattractive as she thought they were, but considering she was used to being adored…more accurately, she got paid just to pretend that she so desperately needed to be adored, when in fact, what she did need was recognition, validation, support and encouragement.

Now she airbrushed original artwork on custom motorcycles, had her own tattoo parlor in Fort Lauderdale and raised champion pit bull dogs that provided her more than enough money to be able to live off of after she had wisely invested in a home that was paid for while working as a Porn Star.

All of this, was of course before the Armageddon Virus destroyed the World Banking System.

Chapter Fourteen Part One

Don’t forget that Elliott was there to witness Jed introduce himself to Chiana. He was also there to watch Jed, just by virtue of being his natural self, not only become completely distracted, but to also find himself speechless in the presence of his wife, who appeared to be equally spellbound by Jed.

There was nothing contrived within it, no way to rehearse for the performance. It was  true, and real, and honest. It would be safe to say that the four people who were there were equally unprepared and surprised.

There was nothing Jed did to provoke what happened, at least consciously, and nothing that could be said in derision of Chiana’s reactions, which were equally honest and without fault.

Most people would be angry, or feel threatened, but Elliott and Chiana were most definitely not most people, and that connection between Jed and Chiana was something that could neither be denied nor ignored.

It just was.

It would take some time to adjust to this most recent development, but in the meantime, jealousy and insecurity would only confuse and confound their abilities to reconcile it.

In the awkward silence that followed, suddenly Leigh-Anne snapped them all out of it In a way that only she seemed to be able to do.

“Soooooo…Jed, was there a question in there, somewhere, or were you about to make a point of some kind about something?”

“…uh…I’m sure there was, but for the life of me, I can’t remember….” Jed grinned sheepishly, but gave no evidence of any feelings of guilt. Neither he nor Chiana had any reason to feel guilty, and they knew Elliott well enough to know that full disclosure was the only acceptable mode of operation.

“Pleased to meet you, Jed.” Chiana said as she held out her hand to Jed.

“Likewise, Chiana” He said as he politely took her hand as one might do at a formal dinner, and then very ceremoniously bowed at the waist, and lightly kissed her hand. Chiana hoped no one could see the shiver that ran up her arm, across to her spine and down to her most tender parts.

There was no way that any of them could un-remember what they had just  watched take place.

“Well!, What a relief! And to think that I was worried that you two wouldn’t get along…”  Elliott managed to find a way to give them all an opportunity to laugh, albeit somewhat uncomfortably, which effectively de-fused the bomb.

It was also his way of letting everyone know that, in addition to not being blind or stupid, that he possessed the wherewithal to remember that Jed was his best friend, as was his wife Chiana.

When we try to fight or resist the reality of our present circumstances, we not only create, but we also guarantee our own misery.

When we embrace anything less than the plain, unvarnished truth, we invite falsehood, delusion, and self-deception.

The actions we choose, as well as the emotions that give birth to those actions will compel the  outcome of what will follow more than any other single factor.

Sometimes we succeed in the face of what had looked like inevitable failure by way of extraordinary effort, or of sheer dumb luck, and no effort, but whatever happens, the only way we can ever hope to find any peace, as well as the love we deserve is to accept the Here and Now, and then govern our actions accordingly in the present moment.

We have no control over the Past, but even if you believe you can prepare for your future, you have to accept what is, as it is now.

The Heart seeks what the heart wants, despite the rules or conventions our minds try to create so as to deny what is out of Fear of what might be.

“Elliott, where ever are our manners? I’m sure our friends must be hungry and thirsty after their ride here…” Chiana was quick to follow Elliott’s lead.

“I don’t want to sound pushy, but I also think we could use a nice hot bath, but if you can tolerate eight hours worth of accumulated sweat and road grime long enough to let us eat and drink first, we would love a meal.” Rebel said as she and Amy walked up together. “As I remember, Doc is one hell of a good cook.”

“Absolutely! There’s plenty to drink, and I barbecued last night, so you can have your pick of ribs, brisket, chicken, roast pork or gator tail.” Elliott said.

“And we also have sweet tea, ice water, and plenty of fresh fruit  juices, or I can make coffee for anyone who wants it” Chiana added. “but no more soft drinks…unfortunately, sometimes I get a craving for a Coke, or a ginger ale, but…I guess they was just more corollary damage from the Armageddon Virus…..”

“Plus we have home-brewed beer, a few varieties of wine, and what can pass for any kind of whiskey you like.” Elliott said as he waved his hand toward the buildings that occupied their compound.

“So I hear. Did you know that you have a very elite cult following of admirers of your distilled spirits?” Jed asked.

“Really? I have bartered and traded a few gallons here and there for materials and supplies or parts when we needed something we couldn’t make or do without, but I always do our business off-premises and I don’t even want anybody to know where we are, or what we do here.”

“Trust me, Elliott; it was not easy find you. I have spent the last six months trying to track you down, before I even realized it was you, but let’s talk about all that later after we get out of this hot sun…oh and by the way Chiana, If you want any kind of soft drink…even Yoo Hoo or Squirt, I can probably get it for you  ” 

“Really? Weren’t all those bottling plants shut down?” she queried.

“They were, but they’re still some large caches of all sorts of things in warehouses that can be bartered; I have developed a network of suppliers and buyers for almost anything you can think of, or desire. It is at least part of the reason we came here, but not the most important one, by any means.”

“Perhaps we can discuss it at length when we get inside while we eat.” Chiana gently placed her left hand behind Jed’s right bicep to gently grasp the inside of his arm as she began to walk with him.

“Well then, just follow us and we’ll get y’all fed before we give you the grand tour.” Elliott was smiling faintly at Chiana and Jed as he turned to Amy, Rebel, and Leigh-Anne. As he walked a few steps backward, he gave them the sign to follow him, palm up hand extended making an arc up toward his face. 

“What about my dog?” Rebel asked. “He’s well-trained, and gets along with  people and other animals as long as they behave themselves.”

“No problem” said Elliot. “He’ll fit in fine with our critters, and we have plenty for him to eat too. Did I hear you call him Mordecai?”

“Yeah, that’s right, it’s supposed to mean ‘Warrior’  but once I introduce you to him we’ll all be fine.”

Rebel called Mordecai over and they all did “touch” to introduce themselves before they went into the kitchen/dining area.

Chazz Vincent

03/02/2017

Chapter Fourteen,  part two

The kitchen, pantry, and dining facility was both unique and ingenious. Initially, it was simply the trailer in which Elliott and Chiana had lived. Before that, Elliott had brought it to the Colony as a hunting lodge.

Now most of it was a very spacious dining room, and the bedrooms were used as a pantry and contained the refrigerators and freezers.

The stoves were in a separate room built of concrete block that adjoined the trailer. Much like homes built in the nineteenth century, the kitchen was built to insulate the heat of the kitchen from the dining room, as well as to protect the rest of the house, should a fire occur.

The back wall was adjacent to the trailer. One side was solid, with the exception of a window. The other three sides were enclosed by garage doors which could be open for ventilation or closed according to the weather. The long side had two very wide double doors that would each have been used in a two-car garage, and each end had one double door. The roof was pitched and covered with corrugated steel.

Inside, a commercial Vulcan stove with eight burners, a griddle, and two ovens had been converted to use locally-produced methane gas instead of propane or natural gas. Next to it was an old-fashioned iron wood-burning stove, which was the original method of cooking used before electricity had been made available to the colony. Finally, a brick and mortar barbecue  complete with a chimney had been built so that it was sheltered from the sun or rain and could also function as a smoker.

The back wall was lined with stainless steel and the floor was poured cement which was slightly sloped towards a drain in the center which ran into a pea rock drain field that also carried water from the gutters away from the house.

A long counter ran along the open side and the pots and pans hung above it. Below the counter, the cabinets were open with no doors. Commercial kitchens also do not use cabinet doors because they obscure the view of what is inside and take up too much room when open. They are also a hazard. Anyone who has ever bent over and stood up into one, walked into one while carrying something or worked in a restaurant can appreciate why.

Sliding glass doors allowed for more than adequate ventilation of the dining room, and ceiling fans hung above the kitchen and dining room, run by solar power and/or batteries.

Whenever possible, every effort was made to minimize the use of alternating current without subjecting anyone to discomfort or hardship.

The dining room table was long enough to accommodate ten people, four on each side, and one on each end. Elliott had made it soon after they moved to the Colony. It was made from local cypress, very sturdy, and beautifully finished.

He was such a good cook that other members frequently would supply venison, wild hog, alligator, fish, or even beef that they had raised or brought in to have Elliott butcher and prepare it for them with the understanding that he also got a share of what they provided for himself. They also frequently ate in Elliott’s home, which they referred to as “Chez Monroe”.

He and Chiana liked the company and enjoyed entertaining. Most of the citizens of the Fourteenth Colony were gracious and sociable in a way not frequently encountered in most conventional neighborhoods, but which is common in campgrounds and trailer parks.

Paradoxically, as much as they valued their privacy and isolation, they also were outgoing and generous. Their community was essentially all they had; united by self-determinism, and rugged individualism; their interdependence encouraged a symbiosis of talents and skills.

Bereft of mass media, passive entertainment and social media, these residents not only became much more personally involved in the essential activities of daily living, but they also generally went to bed and got up earlier, which tended to encourage creativity, arts, crafts and hobbies.

It seemed clear that they wanted for little and enjoyed a far superior quality of life through mutualism than had ever been realized via capitalist consumerism, conspicuous consumption, communism, socialism, or utopian societies that had preceded them.

The longer that they resided there, the less Spartan or primitive their lives became once they were no longer hypnotized by money or the illusion of wealth.

It was not even immediately apparent that this building had once been a trailer. Substantial wooden siding now covered the aluminum skin. A durable hip roof coved the original, and the interior was similarly enhanced with hardwood paneling and floors.

Jed, Amy, Rebecca, and Leigh-Anne were visibly impressed by what they saw as they sat down to a table more sumptuous than any of them had seen since the last Thanksgiving before Armageddon.

They ate, drank and smoked the locally produced Cannabis as they caught up on old news and brought Chiana up to speed as to how this strange band of gypsies were now recruiting them to share in the adventure they aspired to experience.

Chiana was the first to finally address the giant elephant in the room.

“As much as I am glad to meet you all and want you to know you are always welcome here, I think we all know there is an agenda that has prompted your arrival; so what’s on your collective minds and how do Elliott and I fit into your plan?”

Jed was the first to speak.

Chazz Vincent

04/06/2017

Chapter Fifteen, Part I

After everyone laughed and shook their heads in amusement at Chiana’s bold and direct remarks Jed began:

“You know, it’s not going to stay like this forever…this new economy/no economy…the find, make, barter or steal paradigm has turned out to be the most ruthless form of economic redistribution that has occurred in over a hundred years.”

“And lately it appears that there is a new natural ascendancy has occurred in small pockets all around the country.”

“Elliott, you and your fellow members of the Fourteenth Colony are one of those examples, but you in particular are a member of an even more elite group…”

Jed suddenly realized that he was speaking directly to Chiana, staring  deeply into her eyes…just about the same time that everyone else, including Chiana and Elliott did.

“And what group would that be, Jed?”  Chiana chuckled slightly and blushed as she shook her head.

“Well, that would be…(Jed dramatically exaggerated each word as he spoke directly to Chiana until he suddenly whirled to face Elliott to say…) “…one of those extremely rare individuals who possess something that either many people want, or a select few want who have the means to make it worth your while to give them what they want.”

“Like what?”

“Well, one of your distilled spirits in particular.”

“Which one?”

“Your tequila.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really…and by the way…what do you call it?”

“Tequila.”

“No, really; what do you call it?”

“You mean like a brand-name?”

“Yeah…I mean, it sounds like you have nick-names for all your other hootch…like ‘Old Brown Stuff’, ‘Tropic Thunder,’ ‘Tangerine Dream,’  ‘John Barleycorn’…”

“Well, I never sold any of it before…back when I was just craft distilling, and now all I do is barter it if anybody asks for it or I can’t find anything else to trade for something I want.”

“Well you traded some it to someone who gave it a name.”

“Are you serious? What name?”

“Blue Agave Moon…great fuckin’ name!”

“No shit…”

“You know…even though I never liked to speak about it directly to anyone, that is what I have called it, but only maybe once or twice in passing to a guy who got me enough sheet copper to make two fifty-gallon alembic still pots. I just made the name up out of nowhere, based on the word-play  between Once in a Blue Moon, Blue Agave, and ‘Moon’ for Moonshine.”

“I had to give him thirty gallons of barrel-proof, which is one hundred and sixty proof…the equivalent of sixty gallons of eighty-proof tequila. Biggest trade I ever did…took months to make that much from three seven-gallon carboys of fermented wash at a time, but I really needed the copper, and everyone said he was my ‘go-to’ guy.  (Elliott)

“Well guess what?…that guy used to be my mentor. I helped him out of a couple of nasty…uh…situations, and when I saw what he was doing and how he was doing it, I decided to convince him that he needed me around all the time, and in the process we became friends and he not only decided to take me under his wing and teach me the business, but he also still believes to this day that it was his idea in the first place.”

“You were pretty cagey about covering up your tracks after he got you the copper. He had hoped to put you on his payroll to make lots of Blue Agave Moon for him.”

“It wasn’t until about a week ago that I realized who it was he had sent me out to find…not all at once, like some kind of mission, but any time I went  anywhere to get anything, he would remind me to keep an eye out for ‘that guy who made that Blue Agave Moon’.”  (Jed)

 “Hey, you know that it’s a blue moon tomorrow night?” (Elliott)

“Really?”

“And it’s also a blood moon…and Samhain…”

“So what does that mean?”

“…Don’t have a clue, but Chiana does…she says it’s big Mojo.”

Chazz Vincent

04/22/2017

Chapter Fifteen, Part II

“Blue Agave Moon…I already have an idea for a label for it.” (Jed)

“But why?” (Elliott)

“Because you want people to identify with your product on sight.” (Jed)

“No…that’s not what I meant; I meant why make a market for it in the first place? I have almost everything I have ever wanted in my life right here, right now. I don’t want to be famous…I would prefer people did not even know I existed. I know this may surprise you, but I am really happier than I have ever been in my entire life. My life is simple and uncomplicated.” (Elliott)

”We haven’t even had to shoot any intruders for several months.” (Chiana)

“Remember what I said…the world is changing again…just like it always has been, except for the fact that people like you and I are in a position to maintain, er even increase our control over the parts of it that give you pleasure, satisfaction or security.”

“People are starting to get hypnotized by gold and silver again. Don’t ask me why…I could never figure out why emeralds were supposed to be worth less than a quarter of what diamonds the same size would bring, despite the fact that emeralds are nine times more scarce than diamonds, and I think, much prettier.”

“There are even some individuals who have managed to acquire enough material possessions and influence to be able to function as freestanding banks; they print their own money, and anybody who does business with them uses their money out of convenience.”

“Some are even providing support and logistics to people they know and trust in order to build, re-build or even supply payrolls for any kind of industry that can make something they consider valuable, including repair parts for other industries. It’s primitive and very limited, but there are people out there who intend to restore the parts of our infrastructure that will enable them to prosper and acquire wealth. (Jed)

“Most of these people have been financially involved with these new banks in the past, which makes it convenient to use their money as long as all the people involved agree to use it as a standard, because they trust the printer…they believe in his “wealth” so he doesn’t have to barter for what he wants.”

“In early post-colonial America, ‘Bank Notes’ printed by the institution that issued them were common, but counterfeiting was relatively easy back then, and they were almost useless in long-distance exchanges.”

“Before the internet collapsed along with the world banking system, remember that whole thing with bit-coins? As long as all parties concerned mutually recognize the value of anything, it can be used as money.”

 “Bartering is, as you already know, a time-consuming enterprise that is not without certain risks, of which we are all aware.”

“I have found a way of tapping into that stream of wealth in a way that affords me EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED as well as a very real connection with others who benefit from having me act as an intermediary between parties of like interest and values.” (Jed)

“Perhaps you neglected to notice that Elliott already said we have almost everything now, and we rarely ever need to leave our home…at least not without exposing ourselves to an outside world that is treacherous and fraught with many dangers.”  (Chiana)

“And what about those times when you did need to venture forth to find something you needed or wanted in a world of chaos and murder? (Jed)

“Well, it inevitably became a quest, an expedition of unknown length or magnitude that did not always yield the desired product, although sometimes we found something of value that we could convert into something that we could trade for what we really wanted, once we found the right source.” (Chiana)

“Exactly; and that is where I come in. Why leave home at all if you can use someone else to run your errands, assume the risk, and get you exactly what you need in less time with no danger to you while you stay at home and make more?” (Jed)

“Well, to tell the truth, sometimes I do get a bit restless…they used to call it ‘cabin fever’…I know it’s dangerous, but I actually looked forward to traveling and bartering, at least until we ended up someplace we didn’t want to be, or if things got ugly…and after two attempted ambushes and one unsuccessful robbery that turned into a real bloodbath…well, I do see your point.” (Chiana)

“I’m surprised she hasn’t shown you her scar already…I think she’s actually proud of it, considering the fact that the guy that shot her ended up taking a round through the left eye, which blew the back of his head off…single shot, fast draw. I was really impressed; I also tried to convince her that it wasn’t necessary to empty the rest of the magazine into his groin, but she was understandably angry and after all, it was her first kill…” (Elliott)

“It was all reflex. Elliott made me practice ’til I almost got to hating it. Now I understand why. It was all over before I had realized what happened…” (Chiana)

“Yeah, as I recall, that’s part of the gauntlet that Elliott has put us all through…it’s like a rite of passage…even back before Armageddon…I remember many an afternoon at Hialeah Gun Range or Tamiami…” (Amy looks wistfully and winks at Elliott as Chiana finds herself slightly surprised when she is forced to stifle a sudden jealous twinge.)

“It was like he has been warming up for the Apocalypse his whole life…back then it seemed more than a little edgy and slightly weird, even to me, but I guess he got the last laugh after all.” (Rebel/Jeanette)

“So you’ve got scars?” (Leigh-Ann)

“No…sorry, I don’t smoke…”  (Chiana)

(Everybody groans)

“It was just a grazing wound, thankfully…but it burned like hell almost instantly…before I had realized I already shot the guy…it passed right between my thighs, but grazed me here.” (Chiana pulls up the left leg of her cargo shorts right up to her crotch, revealing a three inch long keloid scar very high on the inside of her thigh)

“Hey, don’t stop on account of me…” (Jed)

“Don’t you think it’s a little early for the grand tour?” (Chiana)

“I think we’re getting a little bit off subject, even though this is a fascinating story …(Leigh-Ann) 

“I have to reluctantly agree, but the point is that you have created Paradise right here. To the best of my knowledge, no one else knows exactly who you are or where you live. That is good for many reasons, but one of the additional advantages of your anonymity is it lends an air of mystery and curiosity to your product.”

“If you tripled your output of Blue Agave Moon, there would still be enough demand to continue to raise the perceived value of the product.”

“In the process, after a mutually agreed percentage is set, I would propose to trade part of it back to you in return for lodging, hopefully with an option to become a citizen of your colony.” (Jed)

“Excuse me, but just to be clear, He means all four of us.” (Rebel)

“I stand corrected…yes, and we recognize the fact that you will want to discuss this with the fellow residents, and I am also sure that we can provide them with access to our services in a way that will be mutually beneficial to them as well.” (Jed)

“What percentage of what?” (Chiana)

“It depends on with whom I am trading. I’ll give you an example; say I trade a gallon of Blue Agave Moon to a weapons and munitions dealer that I know for a thousand rounds of 7.62 x 39mm…you still have your AK, right?” (Jed)

“Of course.” (Elliott)

“In fact, we have two now…Elliott gave me his Chinese Norinko semi-auto after he got a Bulgarian full-auto about a year ago.” (Chiana)

“Great! Now if we agreed to, say twenty percent commission, I would get two hundred rounds, which I could either keep or trade for something else I needed. Now, regardless of what I do with my share, in exchange for being allowed to live here, if I reduced my rate to ten percent commission, you would either get nine hundred rounds, or half of what I got if I traded my two hundred rounds for something else you also wanted.” 

“I also know several other people who trade in gold or silver, or their own printed money which is sort of a promissory note that is really only good in their own locale by people who deal with them. I know you have no interest in any of that, but I can use it to get you other things you want.” (Jed)

“Gold? I thought that got the kiss of death after the nuclear meltdowns under the Federal Reserve banks…why would anybody trust any gold…or silver?”

“Because I managed to acquire a sixties-era Geiger counter that had been made for Civil Defense issue during the cold war back when people were building bomb shelters in their basements and back yards. You’d be surprised at how much “hot” metal got into circulation before the public learned about it.” (Jed)

“That’s the problem with wealth and power…the more you get, the more you want. I am not sure I want to risk my autonomy and privacy for material things I don’t really need.” (Elliott)

“And I don’t want you to either; that’s why we want to live here too, but you need to remember that the world does not stand still. No matter how it evolves, those who have acquired the means of power will end up controlling those who have not…you need to prepare…even if it’s just to keep what they already have.”

“This is your chance to secure your position in the future.” (Jed)

Chazz Vincent

04/22/2017

Chapter Sixteen, Part One

Elliott continued to ponder what Jed had just proposed.

(Chiana):

“That’s a lot to consider, but what you say makes good sense. Based on our own experiences outside the Colony, I have to agree with you as far as what it’s like out there, and you seem to be pretty well connected with the development of the current state of events, which begins to answer the question I raised about why we may need to become involved….”

“But if you will indulge me in no small amount of curiosity…I couldn’t be more pleased to see these new female faces around here…Jed, we understand what you do in your operation, but….”

(Amy):

“I bet you were wondering what we do…right?” Amy’s expression was open and compassionate as she touched Chiana’s forearm and nodded, smiling, as magick sparkled in her eyes..

(Jeanette/Rebel/Rebecca):

“I bet she would…hey Chiana!…wanna watch us perform? We’re not what you would call shy….” Rebecca’s sly grin, followed by a wink might have intimidated some women, but not Chiana.

(Amy):

“Becca!… Come on now…that’s not what she meant, and you know it…don’t be so anxious…I’m sure we’ll get around to that later…(as Amy snickers, which accidentally turns into a tiny snort, a trait of hers that she finds extremely embarrassing, although she manages to transform into a giggle) You’re such a kidder!….”

(Leigh-Ann):

“Lady’s, if I may take over from here, maybe we’ll answer Chiana’s question before sundown; any objections to that?” Leigh-Ann was the most reserved and businesslike of the trio. She had a great sense of humor, but when it came to taking care of business, the nurse/supervisor/mother took over. She was gracious and self-assured, which was a characteristic that had immediately appealed to Chiana, a former nurse herself.

(Chiana):

“Please do.”

(Leigh-Ann):

“You know, I keep telling Jed that he has the easiest part in our whole operation, and every time I think about it, I become more convinced that I’m right, but let’s face it…women have carried the weight of the world since the beginning of time, and that is why we have evolved into the superior version of the human species. I already know that you know that, so I won’t belabor the point…”

“Our trade routes and contacts are a part of the operation that were a product of Jed’s considerable talents, and he gets credit for being the mastermind, and there is no denying his charisma, but he quickly realized that an operation of this magnitude required assistance. Organizational skills are not one of Jed’s strongest assets, and as I recall, neither was Elliott’s, unless he has changed his stripes, right?”

Chiana nodded in agreement as she flashed a knowing look at Elliott.

“Most of the logistics are under my supervision. Inventory, balances and credits, deadlines and schedules get my attention. Even going from a cashless society to a money-less economy still requires records and bookkeeping.” 

“I also take requests if a team member wants a particular piece of gear or some new weapon and make sure it gets translated into a specific  shopping list and assigned to a specific budget.”

“Depending on the merchandise and terrain, Jed usually either drives a military two and a half ton transport truck called a ‘deuce and a half’ or an eighteen-wheeled semi-tractor/trailer combo. Sometimes we take both, in which case Rebel drives one of the vehicles.”

“In either case, we always travel with four motorcycles, and carry the ones not being driven with us, just in case.”

“At least two of the bikes escort the caravan, one in front and one behind. If we have the luxury, a third rider goes on point at least a mile ahead of everybody else. Everyone is wired for radio and video as well.”

“Mordecai either rides shotgun in one of the trucks, in the sidecar, or in the back with the cargo.”

“Usually the lead bike carries a light machine gun like the M4, or a full auto pistol, as well as either a grenade launcher, bazooka, rocket launcher or mortar, plus a chosen sidearm and edged weapon.”

 “The bike following the caravan carries  some form of assault  rifle, a Barrett 50 cal, and a shotgun, plus the usual sidearms and edged weapons.”

“The deuce and a half, the airboats and 4X4 trucks are all mounted with a twin-mount, semi-synchronized pair of bull- barreled M249’s with box-fed belt ammo that uses either a game-boy joy stick or a heads-up display from a helicopter helmet to control aim and fire.”

“On the roof of the semi, we mounted an M2A1 50 cal. heavy machine gun called the ‘Ma Deuce’ , that utilizes similar electronic control as well as a variable nine-power video scope. It has a lethal range of four miles, which if necessary, could keep hostiles completely out of the range of their weapons.”

“We also use night vision helmets and remote cameras whenever the occasion arrises.”

(Jed):

“You won’t believe what you can barter out there, as long as you have what they want. The weapons, the vehicles, the gear, not to mention the food, drinks, and miscellaneous entertainment expenses are all acquired through this business of trading that I do.”

“When it comes to work, most people would say something like ‘I’m not here to have a good time, or make fiends’…but as a matter of fact, well…that’s the only reason I can think of to go to work in the first place, so I make sure that every one of us wants for nothing…until the shit hits the fan, and then we don’t stop’ ’til its over and the fat lady has already done an encore.”

“Plus, there are many places where we bring together all sorts of suppliers, purveyors and merchants to one place at the same time for a trade show that accomplishes two things: first, we get all the vendors and brokers of the Apocalypse together in one place, so that we can trade, and share information.”

“It also gives the locals a glimpse of the closest thing they will ever get to one mother of a monster truck show. To them, it is fantasy entertainment, so we have become celebrities. We also deal in commodities they may want to trade for something we need.”

“Every once in a while, some douche-bag tough guy thinks he can rob us, rip us off, or kill us and just walk away from it with impunity who ends up forcing us to show our real muscle, including a tightly organized  plan with contingencies for every imaginable scenario that might threaten us.”

(Amy):

“We rehearse the routines just like kata in karate. I named it the ‘Ballet of Death’ . It’s really a thing of great beauty…except for whoever sets it in motion, in which case, it’s pretty much their ass. Even then, we try to give them a good show, because it will be the last thing they ever see.”

(Jed):

“Everyone covers everybody else’s back. It’s been an extreme form of overkill most of the time…in fact, all of the time so far, but we have a reputation to maintain, and a clearly overwhelming superiority of force helps keep things peaceful.”

Chazz Vincent

05/13/2017

Chapter Sixteen, Part Two

(Jed):

“I have to admit that I’ve lost track of how many languages Amy speaks, but she usually manages to communicate or at least listen to make sure they’re not talking shit about us right under our noses.”

(Leigh-Ann):

”More often than not, somebody involved on the other end tries to ‘re-negotiate’ the deal at the last minute, but you won’t find a better haggler than her; in fact I’ve even seen her raise the price just to teach them a lesson for trying, with all of us ready to walk on her cue. But here’s the really beautiful part…she can argue any angle from either direction, and make it sound like the only option to take.”

“It works like this: she knows how to play the egos of any man she deals with because she always gives them a way to feel good about themselves when they do business with her because she never lets her real intelligence show unless she absolutely has to; but even if she has to put them in their place, she gives them some kind of out so they can pretend to have won by doing what she wanted in the first place.”

“She says that all those psychology courses gave her insights into channelling talents she already possessed.”

“All I can say is that it’s a gift she has; twenty years ago we weren’t exactly the best of friends, but we’ve both learned a great deal since then, and have developed a mutual admiration and I can tell you right here and now that to observe her working a deal is a thing of beauty.” 

“Rebel also brings her tattoo gear along. I don’t think we have ever made a trip out that somebody hasn’t wanted to trade something extremely valuable or desirable for one of her works of art. It’s getting so that people look out for us just to meet her. She has  a growing cult of fans that keep driving up the value of her work.”

“She is more or less considered the visionary artist of the Apocalypse. People are again starting to believe that certain talismans and symbols impart invulnerability to their wearers; hell, she won’t ever consider doing a tat unless she looks into their soul first; she calls it scrying…learned it from her grandmother.”

“But she picked up Wicca after she left Virginia; after her grandma died she started studying Shamanism from the local Cherokee, Algonquin and Chickahominy tribes.”

“There are places we go where we get safe passage just because she is with us. I’m not saying she doesn’t have some kind of miraculous talent, but  the worse that times get, the more that people turn to the Meta realm for protection.”

“Taken on balance, we are something between Santa Claus, a carnival, a traveling medicine, monster truck and gun show, and a flea market, except we are very scrupulous about making sure that everyone feels they got a fair trade for whatever they want, which is usually something nobody else has, or better quality than what is available elsewhere.”

(Rebel):

“We also give a lot of shit away to the locals. If we shoot a wild hog or a deer, we cook for everyone who shows up until it’s all gone. Our barbecues are famous. We also fix fish, ‘gator or frogs when they are available, as well as cabbage palm, which is called ‘swamp cabbage’ here in the Southeast.”

“We like to bring the party with us wherever we go, but the goodwill it generates is something we kind of stumbled onto while we were out on the road.”

 (Jed):

“Nobody with even a little bit of good sense wants to rob or harm us…and if anybody tried, the locals everywhere would come to our rescue (if we actually needed it) because we are loved, needed AND feared.”

(Rebel):

“In fact, about six months ago, this drunk asshole tried to put his hands all over Amy; it was almost sundown…called her a slut and ripped her shirt off…really big guy, a truly intimidating bully…with a very bad rep in that area…got used to getting his way with the locals.”

“He jumped her from behind, but before she could even get up, people came out of nowhere and beat the living shit out of him. They hog-tied him and said they were going to lynch him right then and there.”

“I sure didn’t have any problem wth that; if they hadn’t grabbed him first I would have taken him out right then and there, but Jed stepped up and told them all to stop…the guy was already beat so bad that I doubted that he could have survived anyway, but Jed not only talked them out of it, but then he had Leigh-Ann treat his injuries, set his broken bones and even gave him antibiotics.”

“I thought Jed was nuts at first; called him a pussy for not standing up for Amy…(not in front of anyone else of course) but I didn’t see the logic in doing that. I thought it would hurt our rep, but the guy also had a family; wife and kids, parents, brothers and sisters.”

“So Jed starts talking to what was for all intents and purposes a very self-righteous lynch-mob. The guy was still unconscious and bleeding very badly. Jed thanked them all for standing up to this guy that had intimidated them all for years…turns out he used to be the sheriff in fact…he praised them for their courage, but then he said ‘look…you proved that you don’t have to fear him anymore, but if you kill him, you better kill his whole family right then and there, ‘cause they will want revenge.’ Then he said mercy is a luxury of the powerful and the wise, and how justice is not compromised by kindness, so give him just one more chance to see the error of his ways.”

“But then Jed added that if he steps out of line just one more time, take out his whole family…even the kids, and if they think they can’t handle it, get on the radio and let him know because we will personally come back and do it ourselves…no mercy, no prisoners, no survivors, and zero possibility for revenge.”

“We stayed on until he was well enough to understand we meant business, and made sure his whole family knew the consequences if they didn’t all behave. His parents were elderly, and embarrassed by him because they already knew he was a cruel piece of shit. They were old-fashioned Southern Baptists, so Jed knew just how to  appeal to their Christian values, and the rest of the family was just glad to still be alive.”

“Now every time we go back there, the locals all come to Jed for advice, like he was fuckin’ Solomon or something, but that story has made the rounds all  over Florida, so most people know not to fuck with us,”

“A few have tried…but….(Jed’s voice trails off as he stares at Chiana.)

(Leigh-Ann smiles slightly, looks down and shakes her head, sighs, and resumes control):

“Rebel even does a full-body armor tattoo that involves having the subjects allow themselves to be bitten by a rattlesnake before she soul-gazes into their eyes in a sweat lodge.

“Apparently, it’s part of an Apache warrior’s ritual with just a touch of Yakuza and a dash of VooDoo.”

“She’s become the closest equivalent  to a rock star that these times have produced…so far…except for the ArchAngels, who were already famous.”

Elliott and Chiana exchanged glances at the mention of the ArchAngels; they had become fans of the band before the Armageddon Virus hit the reset button on all Western Civilization up to that point.

(Elliott):

“The ArchAngels!…are they still around?”…I mean, after the shit hit the fan, that was pretty much the end of mass media, I thought.”

(Leigh-Ann just laughed as she shook her head, smiling and wetting her lips with her tongue as she rolled her eyes.):

“Well, yes, as far as national sales of just about anything like that, I’d say you were right, but…but just stop to consider that where they live, they are the local talent…well, there’s a lot more to that story to be covered later. I didn’t mean to take us so far off topic just yet.”  There was a glimmer of a sly smile as she re-directed the conversation back to her original destination.

Chazz Vincent

05/13/2017

Chapter Sixteen, Part Three

(Leigh-Ann continued):

“You already know that this is a dangerous undertaking…between the rough terrain and harsh conditions on the road, So I try to keep everybody healthy and intact…I was the one who treated Amy’s road rash after the first time she dropped her bike on a fast turn, and I am so glad it wasn’t worse, but it was a wake-up call for all of us, so in addition I maintain a sort of MASH unit just in case. It’s all packed in shipping crates and can be set up in less than two hours for a full surgical suite, and less than five minutes for immediate interventions that can’t wait until then.”

“I have also managed to acquire a grand inventory of vitamins and nutritional supplements, health supplies and root medicine; I use organic natural sources whenever possible, or trade for more sophisticated medications I can’t make. I also trade antibiotics and surgical skills if necessary, and that more than pays for anything we want or need medically.”

“Jed already knew he could trust us. I don’t blame him for not trusting other men, but we both know that he would be naive to trust most women either. It’s gotten to be a very lonely and suspicious world. When Jed started to realize that he was looking for you, of all people…the one person that I know for a fact he still considers to be his best friend, well, we all realized that this was a chance to close the circle back on itself…to take on new blood among old friends.”

(Jed coughs slightly as if embarrassed by Leigh-Ann’s direct sincerity):

“What Leigh-Ann is not mentioning is that these three women also have both singular as well as group talents for distraction bordering on hypnotism.”

“I’m glad there aren’t more women in this business right now because ‘The Three Winds’ have pretty much cornered the market for feminine charm, and for that reason when anyone ever underestimated or mistreated any of us, those men who crossed us never expected to be shot by a woman.” 

(Leigh-Ann):

“…At least not until our reputation became common knowledge…it would be easy for people to become envious or jealous of Jed’s perceived wealth and good fortune, and he got tired of constantly having to looking over his own shoulder all the time, which was just about the same time that our own individual stars were beginning to rise.”

“I don’t know what I believe about destiny or fate, but whatever has brought us back together is the kind of thing most people would call an omen.”

(Jed):

“There’s one more thing…one of the reasons I wanted to propose this alliance…do you remember a place they called ‘The Home for Wayward Souls’?”

(Elliott):

“Down in southwest Florida?…used to be an African animal sanctuary?…No, wait… If I remember correctly, the government took it over and was using it for Chimpanzee research…no what  minute…they were the ones who paid for all the attorneys…some kind of religious cult? …where they had that trial about animal cruelty and some shit about government experiments, and a chimp that was able to testify on his own behalf by using sign language? Wow! What was that, like fifteen yeas ago? Whatever happened to that bunch?”

(Chiana):

“Wait a minute!…wasn’t that also the home of the ArchAngels?”

(Jed):

Yes, as a matter of fact is is. They often referred to the actual church building as The Sanctuary, and that was where they made all that music and visual effects. Even back then, it was the best theater, sound system and multi-media show I had ever seen.”

“Ash and Kali eventually even got their own television network on cable…outdid the Christians at their own game, and became reluctant millionaires in the process, so they set up their church as a non-profit corporation.”

“Despite the popularity of their recordings, including videos, you really did have to experience it all live to really appreciate it, which is why they never took their show on the road. They really didn’t have to, and with all the lock-down and security measures set up during the trial, they really couldn’t.”

 “Nobody wanted to be the next Dimebag Darrell…the really right-wing Christians thought they all were Satan’s minions. Eventually, if you remember, it was one of the FBI chiefs that murdered Frederick, the chimp that testified at the trial right on the courthouse steps right after the last day of the trial.”

(Elliott):

“Oh yeah. I do remember that. We saw them a few years before all the controversy, when it was still more of an underground kind of thing…and they were just a local band that played for the church services. You know what I think about religions in general, so we had to be more or less dragged along by a couple friends of ours, but we used to go out there every couple of months. It was a long drive, so we used to stay there overnight and drive home the next day.

 “But honestly, I was really only there for the show…great place…a jungle paradise. I remember thinking that this must be what the Garden of Eden was like.”

(Chiana):

“It was really beautiful and inspiring. We never even thought about going back there after…well, you know…we just pulled up stakes and came out here and waited for the rest of the world to come back to its senses. Whatever happened to them?”

(Jed):

“Well, for starters, they survived the Armageddon Virus and the general collapse of Western Civilization better than just about everybody else, but that’s another whole story unto itself. The point is that they have also maintained an almost completely self-sufficient society of their own, and they are one of my best clients.”

“One of the lead FBI agents who was put there as a mole to report on them turned rogue, and he also turned a bunch of other three-letter agents that were friends of his into a legitimate private security force shortly after the trial. He was also the one who killed Sebastian Lodge, his boss, who shot Frederick, the Bonobo-Chimpanzee hybrid that the newspapers named ‘The Talking Monkey’ during the trial.”

“And if that wasn’t enough, every night something like fifty Chimpanzee/Bonobo hybrids now patrol the entire perimeter of the premises. It’s uncanny…I think they are naturally smarter than many of the humans I’ve known.”

“Given the opportunity to evolve in such an accelerated atmosphere devoid of involuntary captivity, their inability to speak seems to be a very minor limitation, since everybody who lives there knows how to use sign language.” 

“At present, they do not have all of the cognitive abilities of humans, but the fact that they possess true sentience and some degree of sapience is unmistakable. They are outgoing, friendly  and quite charming.”

“They’ve turned it into the Garden of Eden, where even the Serpent is welcome, as long as he behaves himself.”

(Elliott):

“…And…?”

(Jed):

“And I want you to meet them…they changed my life…that hardly even scratches the surface of what I am trying to say…you need to meet them…you and Chiana. This isn’t something that can be explained with words. The only way to really understand is with this…” Jed holds out his hand, palm up. Six bright blue capsules lay there.

“They call this the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

What lay in Jed’s hand were six capsules. Cobalt Blue, Egyptian Blue, Electric Neon Blue…if there is a name to describe a color even brighter, more intense and more saturated than all those colors, that is what you would be looking at.

(Jed):

“I’ve never seen a color quite like that. Even the capsules are made on-premises…by a genius chemist who had been a consultant to every major Big Pharma manufacturer on the planet. He invented this compound from bi-products of a drug he was designing for Merrick.”

“His name is Merle.”

Chazz Vincent

05/13/2017

 

 

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