At seven-thirty a.m., Gary and
Danielle usually were a couple of hours into their day,
but after finishing their chores and putting all their
new acquisitions away, they had taken a communal shower,
and caught up on their, snuggle time, as they
liked to call it. Later they spooned their way into
oblivion, and for a change, woke totally refreshed.
Sipping at cups of hot, boiled, cowboy
coffee, they heard the dogs barking at a vehicle
coming down the driveway. Gary stuck his head out the
door, and Danielle heard him yell at the dogs, Lay
down, and be quiet. Then she heard,
Cmon in sheriff Brownlee, those dogs
wont bother you now.
Im coming Gary, but I sure wouldnt if
you werent right here. Those Rotties of yours are
sure tough, to say the least!
Well sheriff, we sure never have to lock the doors,
They were still chuckling over Garys little joke
when they got to the kitchen.
Danielle was already pouring him a cup of coffee.
Morning sheriff Brownlee, pull up a chair,
Ive got a nice hot cup of, Joe, for
you. Youre out and about awful early today.
Mornin to you Miss Danielle. That coffee sure
smells good. Aint had but one small cup this
morning, and it was that watery stuff at the Magnolia
Inn. I swear they dip three coffee beans in a gallon of
hot water, and call it coffee. Mmmm, now thats real
good! I was telling Jake that we should get after Miss
Emma to put a little more muscle into her coffee. Poor
Jake! He was so out of it, I dont think he heard a
word I was telling him. He kept saying he owed you one
for sure, Miss Danielle. Hes on his way to buy an
old truck right this minute, and here he just bought that
pretty new one. Then he said hes gonna fill it to
the top with flour and sugar and lots of canned goods
sos he will be ready for a long winter. Feature
that! When he told me to get over here and stock up on my
sinus tea, just like I might not be able to do it later,
I figured Id just come over and see if you folks
could tell me what the heck was going on. Now, what do
you make of all of that, Miss Danielle?
Glancing over at Gary, she knew that enough of the story
was out that she would have to fill the sheriff in on the
First, I want you to understand that this
aint none of my doing. Its just something
that I stumbled on, and knew how to understand what I
saw. I think a very big change is coming to the whole
planet. We cant do a damn thing to stop it, and all
we can do is get ready, and make the best of it.
Putting a big slice of homemade cherry pie on his saucer,
she began to put the whole story together for him. He
never said a word, and as he was finishing his second cup
of coffee, she finished her soliloquy.
Whew, that was the best pie Ive had in a good
spell, but Ill tell you the truth. That story
scares the hell out of me!
Just so folks know its something I saw
coming, and that I didnt have a thing to do with
bringing it here. Down through the ages my kind have
taken some very bad hits for events that we had nothing
to do with, and weve had enough of the,
Burning Times, which is what it was, and what
we call them.
Dont worry yourselves, folks around here know
you never done anyone no harm to them. Anyway, you are
gonna be more than handy to have with us, if what
youre saying comes to be true. Red and his cronies
are headed to the state capitol to buy supplies.
Dont know how they found out, but they got a
regular convoy headed north. Quite a few of the townsfolk
are headed that direction too.
Cant say as I blame them sheriff, you might
want to consider it for you and yours too. Being without
wont be fun for anyone.
Staring at the wood stove on the porch that Gary was
going to install that very morning, sheriff Brownlee
reached into his inner coat pocket and produced a
six-inch damper. The shiny bluish disc of thick steel had
a heavy pin that went through the center. With a grin, he
commented, Mac, from over at the hardware store,
asked me to bring this to you, while we were all drinking
coffee this morning, if I was coming this way anyway. He
forgot to give you one with your order yesterday. Claims
youll burn a ton of wood a week without it. Trust
me, hes right on that one.
Reaching across the table, Gary took the damper.
What do we owe you sheriff?
Well, Ill tell you what. I gave Mac five
dollars for it, but instead of the cash, how about making
up a bag of that sinus tea of yours, OK?
It only took Danielle a few minutes to put over ten
dollars worth into an airtight plastic bag and carry it
back to the kitchen from the shop. True to her nature,
shed given twice what the damper was worth. She
didnt like to be beholding to anyone, not even the
Hearing their voices out on the front porch, she walked
out and gave the baggie to the sheriff. As he accepted
it, she couldnt help but smile and quip.
Its a darned good thing youre the
sheriff, or some of these folks that are peeking out
their windows right now, would think Im selling the
wrong kind of herb out the front door.
He replied, If things get as bad as you say they
are going to get, we might just need some of that stuff
for medicine or something. My grandson told me that
before the big oil companies had it outlawed in the
thirties, they used it for clothes, paper, medicines, and
lots of things. Seems the big oil companies didnt
want any competition for their nylon and that stuff. Well
theyre not going to be running our lives much
longer, so well see what happens, huh?
He was still grinning from ear to ear, as his pickup made
the left turn, back towards town.
Standing on the porch, holding Garys hand, with a
totally bemused expression on her face, Danielle
remarked, Well Ill be double damned!
Three hours later, they had the big stove placed in
exactly the right position, just to the left of the
double sink. Gary had already cut the hole in the wall,
and was busily assembling the chimney. Danielle had a
large framing hammer in her hand and several slightly
bent finishing nails in her mouth.
When they had taken the trim down, she had started to
throw the bent nails into the trash, when Gary had said,
We cant keep living in our throwaway world
anymore. Give those to me, and Ill show you how to
straighten them without whacking your fingers. My grandpa
showed me how to do this years ago.
Three minutes later he handed her the semi-straightened
nails, and sat nursing an injured finger. Looking up with
a sheepish grin, he quipped, Well, its been
quite a while since Ive tried that, ya know.
Shed been elected to replace all of the door trim,
as well as the door itself. They would never have gotten
the big old stove into the house without some creative
carpentry, a liberal dose of good luck, and Bills
muscles. It was a good thing that the claw foot legs were
put on with bolts, and the back portion was also
removable where the chimney was going to be attached, or
they would never made it through the doorway, even after
enlarging it several inches. They had removed everything
from the top burner plates, to the fire grates, and the
big water heater tank on the back to make it as light as
possible, but had to get Bills assistance to stand
it on its side, and slide it through the door. He
had seen that the stove was going to be a real hassle for
them, and had arrived just about the same time that they
realized their predicament, and were just about to call
for some help, when he came through the door. Danielle
exclaimed, How did you know I was just about to
Ha! I didnt need your abilities to know that
stove was going to be a real terror to get in here. So
when I figured youd be about to this point in the
installation, I decided to come over and see how you two
were doing. Did the sheriff get his sinus medicine? I see
you got the damper for the chimney.
Gary looked at his wife, and quite literally broke up.
They recalled the statement about everyone in the area
peeking out their windows, and the confirmation had just
Hey you two, whats so funny?
It took them a minute to settle down enough to tell the
tale of the baggie, and the sheriffs comment about
his grandsons enlightening information that had
seemed to impress sheriff Brownlee so much.
Youre right about everyone watching you
though. Emeril John was watching you give the sheriff
that baggie through his binoculars from his side window.
He called to tell me all about it before the sheriff was
even out of sight.
Danielle said, I can understand that everyone saw
me give him the baggie, but how in the heck did you ever
know about the damper for the chimney?
Bill chuckled, Thats easy. Mac from the
hardware called me to tell me that he had found a nice
Atlanta style wood burner for me, and mentioned that the
sheriff was going to bring you a damper for your wood
stove that he forgot to add to your order yesterday. He
sure feels bad that he forgot to give you one on your
order. Does it all fit better now?
Gary quipped, Heck, Ill bet that half the
population in this area knows about his sinus medicine,
and that damper by now. Speaking of information Bill. You
did get the word to lay in some supplies? Lots of them, I
You bet. Thats what I was doing yesterday,
and thats why Im headed for the hardware to
get my new stove as soon as this is done. Do you think I
can use the horse trailer to haul it home?
Sure thing. We wont need it until later this
When the big stove was in the door, and close to
its final resting place, Bill bade them good-bye
and headed for town with the old trailer in tow, and
ready to go back to work.
Call after call came in. They left a message that said
they were indisposed, and would get back to the caller as
soon as possible. They did answer a few that they felt
they absolutely must, and all were the same. What
do we do about this wave thing were hearing about?
The answer became standardized. Stock up on food
and fuel for a long hard winter. They kept it brief, citing the need for
time to prepare their own house. You didnt have to
be a rocket scientist to figure out that the word was
moving at the speed of light amongst the locals, and on
outward to their friends and families in an ever
expanding circle, much like the expanding bubble of
energy that was soon to envelope them all. They left the,
closed, sign in the window of the shop, and
gave the dogs the run of the fenced front yard. Needless
to say, this went a long way, towards discouraging
Finishing both jobs at nearly the same time, they
declared lunch, and took a well earned break.
Gazing lovingly at her new stove, Danielle commented,
Honey, where are we going to find enough wood to
keep a fire going in that beauty for the long haul?
Weve got lots of trees around here, but if the
weather is going to be so bad, we wont want to have
to haul or cut it in the snow. We need something
thats not green too.
Ive been thinking about that. Do you know
where that hardwood sawmill is, up on the river road,
north of town?
As a matter of fact, I do. I drove by there a few
weeks ago on my way to a horse show.
Did you notice anything at the turn off?
Now that you mention it, there was a sign that
said, free slabwood. I remember it
cause I was going to have you get load so we could
build a new hog pen.
I was thinking more in the line of firewood, but we
can get enough for your, honey-do, projects
Finishing their lunch with a little more haste than it
was begun, they hooked up the horse trailer, that Bill
had brought back while they were having lunch, and headed
Danielles look of contemplation ended when she
said, We should stop in town and pick up some extra
chains for the saw, maybe a box of sparkplugs too.
Sounds good to me. But why stop there? Lets
get ten gallons of chain lubricating oil, and some
two-cycle oil too. Five cases or so should be enough.
Ive got a half a dozen chain files, so were
OK in that department.
Pulling up in front of the hardware store, they ignored a
few stares, and greeted those who waved, or said hello.
Afternoon Mac. Thanks for sending that damper over
with the sheriff.
Afternoon to you folks. It was my fault for not
adding it into your order yesterday, or at least asking
if you were going to need one. Im just glad sheriff
Brownlee was headed out your way, and was willing to take
it along to you. Now, what can I get for you today?
They read the items off, and while Mac was putting it
together, he inquired, You folks fixing to cut a
lot of wood or what? There are enough supplies to cut a
hundred cords, written down here!
Mac, now would be a good time to have a hundred
cords stacked up nice and pretty in the backyard, and a
good wood stove to prop your feet next to.
Ive heard about it. Weve had a wood
burner for years at our house, and you know that as LDS
members were required to keep enough food on hand
for a minimum of two years, just like the pagan community
advises. Admittedly, some dont do it, but Ill
bet that the locals that didnt, are scrambling to
fix that part of their religion right about now.
Theyre the luck ones that are getting a second
chance, those that havent heard, are dead ducks for
sure. Actually, we have enough for a lot longer than two
years. We always figured that If two years is good, four
years has got to better, if you get my drift.
While the men had been putting the order together,
Danielle had wandered into the back reaches of the old
store, and had spotted an old-fashioned pitcher pump. It
was still in its original box! Pulling it down from the
third shelf, she nearly choked on the accumulated dust
from the top of the carton that spilled down her front,
as the heavy box tipped towards her. It weighed over
twenty-five pounds, and she was glad to set it down on
the counter after lugging all the way to the front of the
Staring at Danielles dirt besmirched face. Gary
tried bravely, but unsuccessfully, to stifle a laugh.
Find a new brand of make-up Hon?
Dont be cute. I found a treasure, even if it
was buried in dust. What do you know about this pump
Well, its been here since I bought the store
from old man McKnight, and that was twenty years ago. I
found it up in the attic a couple of years ago, and
brought it down to see if I could sell it. The company
that made it is still in business, so I sent off and got
a new set of leathers for it, but never installed
What do you want for it, and the repair kit?
Gary, if youll give me ten bucks cash money,
its yours. Its not on any of my inventories,
so we can just make it disappear, if you get my
Proving that the hand can be quicker than the eye, Gary
had a ten in Macs hand so fast, the man wondered
how it happened.
Were going to need some three quarter inch
pipe, three ninety degree elbows, and a foot valve for
the well end. Four each of, seven-sixteenths by two inch
bolts with nuts, lock washers, and eight flat washers so
we can attach it by the sink.
No problem. What are you two going to do, give up
on your city water?
Lets just call it our emergency water
Nodding in the affirmative, Mac said,
Ive been hearing some stuff about power
failures, and cold weather coming, I guess you know what
Youve heard that old saying, believe
none of what you hear, and half of what you see?
Well, Mac, this aint the time to wait til you
see it, cause if you do, itll much too late
Paying their bill, the couple put it all into the
trailer, and headed for the river road. They saw a couple
of townsfolk head into the store. Rumor mongers no doubt.
Looking for the latest grist for the mill.
Gary honked the horn at Jake as they went by the feed
store. He looked up from under the hood of his new, old
truck and gave them a big wave and a smile.
Fifteen minutes later, they saw the free slabwood sign at
the intersection of the river road and a small dirt track
that let off into the woods. Less than a quarter of a
mile down the rutted track, they spotted the mill, and
several piles of slabs that were absolutely huge.
No wonder they are giving the slabs away for free
Gary. Theyre going to have to move the mill if they
dont get rid of them pretty soon.
A young man was sitting on a large front-end loader, so
Gary drove over next to him. Is this the slabwood
youre getting rid of?
Sure is. Ill load the truck and trailer for
ten bucks, or you can do it yourselves for free.
It only took one quick glance at the jumbled pile, and an
equally fast one at each other, to decide to hand the man
a ten spot from Garys dwindling supply.
The loader didnt have the usual bucket. It had been
replaced by four large arms that dug into the pile, and
came up with its maw full of wood in no time at
all. In just a few minutes, they were on the way back
home with many cords of good hardwood. A few days, and
many trips later, their woodpile would look like the ones
at the mill! Unfortunately, as others started to arrive
at the mill with the same idea, the young operator took
the hint, and their last four loads were twenty-five dollars apiece. At this point, they knew that
they had less time than money, so they paid the man, and
were glad to have the wood. Gary commented, This
wood will bring us more joy than his cash, Ill
Both of them knew that the value of paper money could
drop to the equivalent value of scrap paper, which was
about twenty dollars a ton, and it wasnt worth a
damn in keeping the home fires burning either.
Danielle commented, I remember reading that you
couldnt carry enough paper money in post war
Germany to buy a loaf of bread, and in the era following
the American Revolution, people used continental dollars
to paper their walls. Thats where the term,
not worth a continental, came from.
Ill bet your dad was thinking of things like
that when he said he was going to put his assets into
gold. If we had anything besides our maxed
out plastic, Id be converting mine about now
Dont worry Gary, weve got plenty of
other things going for us. Were well prepared with
all of the essentials, and weve got the knowledge
of how to use it. That will see us through it, Im
On the way back to their place, they noticed several good
sized piles of slabs in several of the yards in town, and
a few on the farms they passed as well, when they got
closer to home. None of the woodpiles were even a
fraction of the size of the small mountain of wood in
their backyard, but anything those people could their
hands on, would help them to survive, and that was definitely a good thing.