Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chapter 8

“What is this thing?” Mack asked catching something as it almost fell out of the boxes we were packing into the back of the 4x4 and trailer. 

I told him, “It’s a dough squasher thingamajig.  You make tortillas with it.  If I can’t figure out how to get that monster oven to stop smoking I won’t be able to make regular bread … or biscuits or cookies or cakes or anything else that has to rise.  I swear I nearly hacked up a lung last night.  My hair still stinks too.  I don’t even know if I’ll be able to make crackers for all that soup I canned if I can’t figure what I’m doing wrong.  That means that I’ll have to fry stuff on that propane griddle we grabbed in the camping section … or at least figure out how to make stuff in a skillet.  Tortillas are about the easiest thing I can think of to take the place of loaf bread.” 

“You weren’t fooling about being able to cook,” Mack said.  “Gotta say Sunshine, you’re full of surprises.  But I can do my share.  My ol’ man was a short order cook.  There’s a lot more things you can fix in a skillet or on a griddle than you’d think.  The problem is going to be,” he said hefting another bag of rice to take it deeper into the trailer.  "Having the right ingredients.  I like rice as much as the next guy but if I have to eat a steady diet of it I'd like to at least to get a break every now and then."

Feeling the same way but more willing to accept the possibility of a monotonous diet I told Mack, “We’re getting stuff to do that with and that cellar is cool enough that everything will last for a good while.”  I nearly shrieked when I racked my shin yet again.  “Ouch!  I swear I am going to wrap a pillow around that trailer hitch!” 

“Keep your voice down Sunshine,” Mack said like he’d had to warn me one too many times. 

“Oh.  Yeah.  Sorry.  Uh … anyway,” I said going back to whispering.  “Getting the stuff isn’t going to be the problem, at least not right now.  All that stuff in the Urban Market we got this morning is people grade.  The problem is storing it.” 

Mack nodded, understanding the problem after he’d helped me load the traps and reset them a couple of times.  “Those galvanized trash cans at the hardware store should help.  Gonna take more than I expected though.  We barely have enough room for what we took this morning.  Now you are wanting all this stuff packaged in plastic and cardboard.  I’ve found a couple of places where the rats were trying to gnaw through latches and the little bit of plastic that is down there.”

I nodded.  “I know.  I hope all that poison and stuff you found at that do-it-yourself pest control store really works.” 

“Oh it’ll work.  But we have to be careful that they don’t just crawl off in some place too hard to dig them out of and stink up the place worse than they already try and do.” 

“You ain’t kidding.  As for storage, I think I’ve got enough jars to take care of some bulk junk like spices and seasoning.  Those will also help with making the rice taste different instead of it being the same bland thing every time.  And as we empty those tins of soda crackers we can store stuff in them.  Shame about some of this stuff in here though.  A couple of weeks back I would have killed for these nachos.  I had the munchies so bad.  Oh my gosh … chips and queso dip … mmmmmmmm.” 

“You … uh … toke up?” 

“Huh?  Me?   No.  I don’t do medicinals unless I need ‘em.  No I just … er …”  I stopped suddenly embarrassed with what I had been blathering about.  Mack can be too easy to talk to. 

“Oh.  Shani’s thing is chocolate.  My step dad swears he’s going to kiss Mr. Hershey if they ever meet in Heaven because he’s saved his life more than a few times.” 

I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing.  Paula is the same way and it was the one exception that Aunt Trudy made on the junk food rules.  Usually all we were allowed was just carob powder or homemade, all natural stuff.  Processed sugar items were labeled with a skull and cross bones normally.  But when you are PMSing and jonesing for some chocolate … well there are just some things that there is no substitute for. 

Looking around I said, “I still don’t get what the deal is.  I thought they were going to start turning off the power.  It seems like about half the quarantine zone still has ‘lectric and water.  I was hoping that cutting off the utilities might make it easier to avoid infected people.  As it is I’m wondering if it is infected people that trashed that store we were going to pick over instead of rioters.  It’s gotta mean something.”
Mack looked troubled at that.  “I’m sure it means something, the question is what.  As it is it might mean nothing, or might mean plenty.  One of Rodney’s hand-picked guys worked for the utility company.  He said it wasn’t going to be as easy as they made it out to be to cut power to the quarantine zone because some of the lines running through it are attached to hospitals and schools and things like that.  Then there is the big electrical hub over in the commercial warehouse district.  I was listening to the radio last night after you crashed and there was some chatter that there are helicopters coming in at night and hovering over the power station down at the docks.  We see anyone like that … we do not engage them in any way.  Got it?” 

“You mean like uber military types?  Do I look crazy?  Don’t get smart I can see it behind your eyes.  Seriously though.  Do I look like a member of a Seal Team or any other kind of mercenary?” 

He gave me a look over.  “You actually aren’t too bad.  Flexible, creative, fast on your feet … you’d do all right assuming you learned to control your mouth and attitude.” 

I rolled my eyes.  “Yeah right … bet that whole questioning authority thing would pretty much keep me in hot water wouldn’t it.” 

He snorted, “Oh, you could say that.”  He heaved a sigh as he fit the last bag of rice in and I slid in the last case of sodas.  “Like your pop do you?” 

“If you can have a blissful reaction to all of the coffee we find then I can snag the sodas.” 

“They’ll give you zits.” 

“You must be a fun big brother.” 

“Not so much, at least not according to Shani.” 

“Maybe she just doesn’t appreciate what she has.  I’m walking proof that humans make that error way too often.  You only really get it when it’s too late.” 

I tried to walk away but he stopped me by gently grabbing my arm.  “We all have regrets.  Don’t let it stop you from … from …” 

I sighed.  “I get it Mack.  Move forward.  Make the best of things.  Survive.  Don’t make the same mistakes again.  Still sucks though.  Especially when I know I can’t take back all the stupid stuff and the nasty things that I said.” 

He nodded.  “Yeah it does.  Just remember you aren’t the only one that has done it and don’t let people like Mace think that it is ok if they rub your face in it.” 

After a minute I patted his hand so he’d let go.  I told him, “Shani needs her head examined.  I never had a brother and even I can see you don’t do too bad at this.” 

Mack shook his head.  “You’re not the only one with regrets Sunshine.  I’ve made mistakes I don’t want to make any more of too.  So what say we head over to the Chinese market before all of this special sharing gives us both indigestion and throws us off schedule?”
“Race you,” I told him by way of agreement with both what he said and the sentiment.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for serving up another portion of fun for us Moar ....... folks.