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GALACTIC TSUNAMI

By: David L. Souers

Chapter 8

Moving On

Finishing her morning hygiene duties, Ellen headed for the door and what she knew was going to be a very busy day. At the same time that she approached the foyer, the doorbell rang. With a bit of a start, she reached out and opened it to find her best friend, and next door neighbor, “Hi Ann. You gave me a bit of a start. I was just about to reach for the door handle when you rang the bell.”

“I just came over ‘cause I thought you might be sick or something. Weren’t you supposed to work today?”

“Yes, but I called in and got a week of personal leave time.”

“Are you sick or something?”

“No, I’m not sick. It’s just that Jimmy and I are thinking of moving to Danielle’s this week.”

“Moving, as in forever? Whatever for?”

“Do you remember me telling you about the weird dream that Jimmy has been having?”

“Sure, but what does that have to do with moving all the way across the country?”

“Well, it ties in with some things that Danielle has learned. It’s really too complicated to stand here and try to explain right now, but if you and Don want to come over for some barbecued burgers and potato salad this evening, Jimmy and I will try to explain it all to you.”

“Ellen, we’ve been good neighbors and best of friends for over eighteen years. I just can’t believe you’re going to leave your home!”

“Ann, please just wait ‘til tonight, and we’ll talk about it. Maybe you two will decide to come with us.”

“You know that’s not likely. What time do you want us to come over?”

“When you can smell those burgers, you should be on your way through the gate.”

“What do you want us to bring?”

“Just your bodies, and if Don doesn’t want to drink Jimmy’s, “Old Milyucky”, have him bring what he likes best. I’ll make a big pitcher of iced tea for us.”

“OK. I can see you’re anxious to get on the road, so I guess I’ll go home and finish the laundry that I’ve got a good start on already today. I’ll see you tonight.”

“Sure Ann. Don’t worry, we’ll talk later.”

With a sigh of relief, Ellen swung the old Buick wagon out of the cul-de-sac, and headed for the neighborhood donut shop. She was on a mission, and it was a relief to get the show on the road.

She managed to garner a dozen raised glazed, and an equal number of the large plastic pails with their matching lids at the first stop. She knew that she would need many more pails than that, and went to another donut shop that was a couple of miles further from her home. Forty-five minutes later, she was back in her own driveway, with eight raised glazed, and a total of thirty of the pails in her possession.

They were all washed, but she hauled them behind the house to the back patio, and sprayed any possible dust, or whatever else might be lurking in them, out with the hose. Setting them so they would drain and dry in the warm dry Arizona air, she soon finished, and headed the Buick towards the card member store.

It was nearly five p.m. when she finally took a break. Sitting with her back against the garage wall munching the burger and fries from the local fast food drive through, she proudly viewed the large pile of items she had managed to stack there over the whole day. Five trips had just about done her and the old car in. Every time that she headed the car down the mile and a half road to the house, she held her breath, as it teetered down the road, overloaded to the max. The first three trips had been needed to get Danielle’s list of recommended items, and the fourth and fifth had been used to get the things that she thought they might need or just plain desire over the long haul. Nuts, raisins, and chips for Jimmy’s favorite cookies. Canned fruit and berry fillings for cobblers and pies, and one-gallon cans of baking soda and powder, so she could make homemade bread and pie crusts for a long time. She would make sure her sourdough starter stayed viable, so when she got there it could be used for years, barring any mishaps to it. Naturally, she had stacked everything on Jimmy’s side of the garage. When she got the first load home, she had pulled into her side, consequently Jimmy’s half had been totally covered with the small mountain of goods.

Jimmy pulled into the driveway, as she was about to finish her soda. “I hope I don’t look as beat as he does”, were her thoughts as he walked up to the garage.

Sitting down beside her, he leaned over and gave her a quick kiss. “Any of that soda left?”

“Not a lot, but go ahead and finish it, I’ve had enough.”

“Looks like you’ve been doing some heavy duty grocery shopping.”

“That’s for sure. I’ll start filling those plastic pails later, or maybe in the morning.”

“Pails?”

“You know, the ones that Danielle said to put the staples into, so the bugs and moisture won’t ruin them. They’re on the back patio.”

“Let’s take a break first. I’m as beat as you look.”

“What’s all that stuff in your truck?”

Getting slowly back onto his feet, he reached for her hand and drew her to her feet as she groaned, “Oooh, am I ever sore! I’m too old for this stevedore work.”

“C’mon, you’ll loosen up in a minute. I’ve got some goodies to show you.”

Jimmy wasn’t kidding. A three horse, side-shafted engine sat on the top of the load. It was connected to a small water pump, and it was all tied advantageously to the pile so it would prevent other items from decorating the roadways on the way home. The top of the pile was actually taller than the top of the cab of the pickup. Ellen peeked into the cab and saw bag after bag with outdoor store labels, and didn’t even bother to inquire as to their contents. A person didn’t need a friend named Dr. Watson to figure that one out!

“Where’d you find that trailer?” She asked him, as she walked towards the rear doors.

“A guy over on 52nd had it in today’s paper.” Reaching around her, he released the latch on the double doors, and swung them open.

She just stared in amazement when the powerful smell of the lemons that were stacked in eight good sized boxes took shape in the gloom of the trailer, as her eyes adjusted from the bright outside light.

“Where did you get all of those huge lemons?”

After a brief explanation as to how they were acquired, he walked around the trailer to show off the new tires, and how the brakes and bearings were new too. As he was showing her the wiring harness and hitch, he commented, “These are going to plug right into the receptacle and ball on the new truck too.”

Ellen looked at him with a quick double take to see if his face gave any hint that he might be pulling her leg, and when she didn’t see the slightest indication that he might be having fun with her, blurted out. “What new truck?”

Jimmy gave her his favorite enigmatic smile, and reached through the open window of the truck and grabbed the truck seller’s magazine. “I’m getting to that.”

With a flourish, he thumbed through the pages, until he came to the one he wanted, and proudly showed his wife what he considered the biggest find of the day. “How does that look to you?”

“To tell you the truth Jimmy it looks just like the one we used to own, way back when.....”

“It is Hon, but we wore ours to a frazzle, while this one is in the condition ours was, or very close anyway, when we bought it new.”

Taking the magazine from him, she began to read. “1970 F-250 351 cubic inch V-8, automatic transmission, towing package, heavy duty suspension, new paint, much more. Call 555-0998. Ask for Jack.”

Honey, the ad doesn’t begin to describe all the extras on this truck. It’s perfect for us.”

“How much does he want for this perfect truck?”

“Well, that’s the rub. I’m going to trade him straight across for mine.”

“Oh Jimmy, how could you?”

“Ellen, you know that I’d never make a deal like that under normal circumstances, but mine isn’t going very far in the near future, and this one will save our lives. You do what you have to do to survive.

Jack thinks that he’s really putting it to me, and his greed allows my conscience to make this deal. We will definitely come out on top of this transaction in the end.”

“Jimmy, I’m just about completely tuckered out. Why don’t we park the trailer next to the garage, put your truck into my side, and I’ll go to the market for some potato salad, chips, buns, and a six pack for you, in my wagon? You can fire up the grill later, so we’ll be ready when Don and Ann come over.”

“Whoa! I didn’t know they were coming over tonight.”

After explaining Ann’s concerns from that morning’s conversation with her, Jimmy acquiesced, “I guess they have a right to know what’s coming down around them, but you know as well as I do that they will never accept it, until it’s to late. I can just hear them ragging on us for believing in our daughter, and my dream.”

Walking through the house on his way to the shower, Jimmy looked at everything with a different gaze than he had used in the past. What would be left behind, and what would be worth using up the limited critical space in the back of the truck and the trailer. He made a mental tally as he went from one room to the next. “TV and VCR...no. Furniture, lamps, and even his comfy old recliner...no.

Photographs...yes.” The sudden realization of the upcoming winnowing did not fill his heart with gladness, by any means! It would be one heart wrenching decision after another, as he and Ellen made the tough choices as they moved from one room to the next.

An hour later, the burgers were on the grill, filling the air with their mouth-watering aroma. Ellen sat sipping a big glass of iced tea, and he stood by the grill with a cold one in one hand, and his favorite long handled spatula in the other. Turning at the sound of the wooden gate that separated his patio from Don and Ann’s back yard. He yelled, “Come on in, the burgers are almost ready.”

“Boy that smells good!”

“Pull up a seat Don, and grab a cold one, these patties will be done in just a few minutes.”

Ann set the bag containing Don’s favorite brew on the table, and pulled one from the plastic retainer. “Here Hon, I’m going to sit over here and chat with Ellen while you guys watch supper.”

Don’s nervousness was more than a little apparent as he pulled a web chair over to the grill area, and opened his beer. “What’s this talk of moving that Ann was telling me about?”

Jimmy had been thinking of how he could present the facts that his family had discovered about the soon to be unfolding events, and knew that Don’s very skeptical nature would make it a tough sell.

“Don, some things that I studied years ago, and some things that Danielle and I have figured out recently point to some very big problems coming for all of us. Coming very soon, as a matter of fact.”

“Jimmy, Ellen told Ann that you’re moving because you’ve been having a bad dream!”

“That’s just a part of what we’re worried about. Just one more piece of evidence that fit into the puzzle. If it were only my dream, we wouldn’t be doing this move, because we wouldn’t have a clue that something bad was nearly on us. I trust my daughter’s abilities to sort this out, even if I don’t have the faintest idea of how she does it. If we’re right, we survive. If we’re wrong, we’ve screwed up our retirement, and will be paying on our credit cards forever, or nearly so. The wave of energy that we’re worried about will wipe out every-thing that we use for survival in this day and age.”

“Well, I sure wouldn’t take the chance of losing everything I worked for, for so many years!”

“I guess there really isn’t much sense in trying to fill you in as to why we’re leaving, you won’t be able to accept the things that we do, and it would just mess up this nice barbecue.”

“Jimmy, you’ve known me for nearly twenty years or so, and you know that if I can’t feel, or at least see something for myself, I have a hard time buying it.”

“That’s life, but if you can’t move to somewhere where your survival isn’t dependent on electricity to pump your water, and food can be obtained without someone bringing it to you, at the very least, please stockpile some extra water and food at your house. You don’t have to admit anything bad is breathing down your neck. Its just good common sense when you live in the desert.”

Ellen had poured a big glass of iced tea for Ann, and as they sat sipping the refreshing drinks, they had their own conversation going.

“I couldn’t believe all the things you brought home today, El. How many trips did you make anyway? I thought you’re old wagon was going to die on the road some-where.”

“Five long hard trips, and everyone of them nearly did that old car in.”

“What do you need with that much food, and all that stuff that Jimmy brought home?”

With a sigh Ellen told her friend of the evidence, and how it had unfolded. When she finished, she could see the skeptical look on Ann’s face, and knew she wouldn’t ever listen, until it affected her personally, and by then it would be much to late. It was definitely a classic case of, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”, and it just broke her heart to know what was in store for them.

Unknowingly following Jimmy’s lead, she advised her friend, “If nothing else, please stockpile some water and food, ‘cause if we’re right, this is going to be a death trap for lots of folks that can’t escape it. That will give you two a few days grace just in case we’re right. You can call it cheap insurance, or something like that, OK?”

“Who wants a slice of cheese on their burger? I’ve got some jalapeno jack, alpine lace, and cheddar. Name your poison folks.”

All three picked the spicy jack. No surprises around here. They all loved Mexican food, and usually ended up picking most of their foods in the spicy end of the spectrum, as did a large percentage of the people in their part of the world. It didn’t have to be hot enough to hurt, but medium was just fine with all of them.

The mood around the table was far from jovial. The unspoken knowledge that this would most likely be the last, or one of the last, backyard barbecues they would ever have to-gether was not something that any of them relished, and not one of them could get past it.

Don finally broke the silence. “I was counting on some very good fishing trips in the future, when we both retired. Who’s going to go with me now?”

Jimmy searched his mind for the right words to tell his friend. “If I’m right Don, there won’t be a way to get to the high country where the fish are. Even if I were here, there’d be no way that we could possibly get up there.”

Lifting his beer, Don made a mock toast. “To the Wave, may it never hit, and to the fish, let them do the opposite.”

Shaking his head slowly back and forth, Jimmy said a nearly inaudible, “Amen.”

Jimmy’s portable phone chirped from its perch next to the barbecue. “’Scuse me for a minute folks.”

Ellen heard his soft, “Hi Danielle.”

“Hi dad, you ready to compare notes?”

“Sure Hon, we just finished the burgers.”

Talking nonstop, they had been on the line for over fifteen minutes, when Don and Ann got up to leave.

“We’d better be getting home so you two can finish the stuff you’ve still got to take care of.”

Waving a silent goodnight to Jimmy, they headed out the, “barbecue gate”, as they had laughingly referred to it over the years. The devastated faces they wore would haunt Jimmy for the rest of his life, and he knew it. When they were out of earshot, he told his daughter of their reaction.

“Try not to think about it dad. You and mom tried to warn them, what else can you do?”

“I know you’re right Hon, it’s just that the thought of what they’re facing makes me sick inside.”

“Maybe you convinced them to put up some food and water anyway.”

“I hope so.

We’ll both stress it again before we leave. Hopefully, it’ll give them enough time to find a way out of here when it hits.

“OK dad, I’m so tired my bones hurt. Let’s call it a day, and talk again tomorrow.”

“We’re wiped out too, and it’s gonna be another rough one that’s going to start up at first light for us too. G’nite.”

Clean up only took a few minutes. Perishables to the fridge, trash to the dumpster, silver to the sink. They had it down to a science. Decades of practice at late night barbecues, was all it took to become proficient. Each did their thing, and it wasn’t to long before they were spooned together, and dead to the world.

Jimmy’s dream never came that night for the first time in a week. In the morning he would tell Ellen over their morning coffee. “I guess that old man figures that I got the message! I feel so refreshed that I can’t believe it. That dream was necessary, but it was starting to wear me down.”

“Jimmy, while you’re out and about today, I’m going to get those staples stored into the pails. After that, I’ll start to sort what stays, and what will have to come with us. No doubt, we’ll have to go through it more than once to pare it down far enough to fit.”

“That’s going to hurt for sure. Leaving some of this stuff is going to be like pulling teeth, but we really don’t have a choice, huh?”

“What’s your schedule for the day?”

“Well, the first order of the day will be to meet Jack at the bank and swap titles. Then I’ll take care of the insurance transfer, and the license plates too. My next stop after that will be to take the truck to Dave’s auto shop to get the truck checked over. I’ve already talked to him, and told him what I was buying, and what I wanted done to it.

I told him that I wanted new bearings and oil seals put on all four wheels to begin with, and new brakes all the way around too. Dave’s a good mechanic, and fair too, so he’ll go over it from one end to the other for me, without my having to worry about getting ripped off. I’m not worried about the money at this point. I just want the work done, and done properly too. He’ll wonder why I want all of that new stuff, when the older items might be serviceable. I don’t know if it would be worth the effort to try to explain to him that we’re about to get clobbered with that wave. In the long run, it will be simpler to just say I’m going on a trip, and don’t want any problems if I can avoid them.”

“You’re probably right on that score Hon, no one wants to hear bad news. Especially something that can be dismissed out of hand as outlandish.”