Wednesday, April 23, 2014

po nellie




Empires rising and falling are as old as agriculture. For whatever reason, whether drastic climate change wiping out the large herd animals or if it was something as simple as the tripping point where generations of splitting off from the tribe to form a new ones led to a widespread over-saturation of hunter-gatherers, agriculture was viewed after hundreds of thousands of years to be for once a viable and desirable new paradigm. And once farming took hold, whatever its other disadvantages, militarily it was hard to counter in its own areas ( fertile and watered land as opposed to wasteland of inedible grass ). Growing and living largely on grain allowed a surplus to be gathered and stored, not just to supply military expeditions but to support a larger population which led to more soldiers and more farmers to grow the surplus for the soldiers and for the craftsmen to generate more weapons. In short, it was the first way to centralize warfare. And after that genie was let out of the bottle, there was no going back. The cycle of empires was born.


The side in an agricultural war that fields the most men, adequately fed, best equipped, all other things being equal, is going to usually triumph. Yet to field the most men you need the most land, and you either stole more land through war or you overworked the land you had to produce more- hoping that this would enable you to steal more land to replace that which you just ruined. The history of war through the Agriculture Age is that of degraded land, land changing hands and in general land being the currency of the realm. For those poor pitiful idiots who wear Birkenstock sandals and braid their armpit hair, decrying why we can’t all just get along in rainbow harmony, it must seem like quite the shock that folks normally kill each other for the chance to eat. But that is the reason for wars. And for any society that wants to just be left alone to hoe their turnips in tranquility, to be at one with Mother Gaia and to practiced enlightenment by living peacefully, well, soon the legions will be at their door glad for easy conquest at the unique prospect of unprotected cropland. Morons.


In the last five hundred years, give or take, the dynamics of empire have changed. First by the one time “gift” of colonization, mainly due to germ warfare but certainly not unaffected by the race to deep sea sailing dominance, and then second by the much more generous but much more quickly used ( but of course in our own defense we did have a much larger population by then, thanks to surplus food from the freshly enslaved New World ) one off endowment of carbon fuels. The use of coal and surface ores was enough to get the whole Industrial Revolution ( and make no mistake, this was a revolution in all ways of doing things just as much as the Agricultural Revolution disrupted everything ) started and when petroleum was ushered in to widespread use it was like adding gasoline to the fire. Activity exploded, not least war and the fight for empire. But make no mistake, coal and oil and plutonium are not renewable resources. We used up our own, controlled most everybody else’s, have started to run out of theirs and are now scraping the bottom of the oil barrel by utilizing fuels known by generations of oil geologists but never seriously considered because the amount of energy they returned was either extremely low or even a net energy loss ( tar sands essentially convert natural gas to an oil-like substance to use in cars or more likely military vehicles-it is debatable how much energy gain there is from the whole process if any ).


Our five hundred years of surplus energy are over. We still have the dregs left, but fundamentally for all intents and purposes the surplus that drove our economies and our extreme population surge are over. We still have the need for that energy, however, because we have a lot of people we are still feeding ( not to mention there are a lot of folks that got wealthy off the current system and have absolutely zero interest in seeing that disappear ). And despite what a bunch of idiots making money hand over fist in the sustainability movement would lead you to believe, surplus population doesn’t just go gently into the good night when an energy contraction occurs. People tend to take starvation rather personally and try to do something about it, usually including utilizing violent force. Any historical perusal of recent African conflict will give you plenty of examples, not to mention The Arab Spring which has absolutely nothing to do with the fight for democracy and everything to do with the lack of affordable food ( brought on, at least to start with, by the American ethanol program which took globally distributed surplus corn and put it into domestic gas tanks. By now the global drought is contributing ). Yet somehow we think our own nation, which is overpopulated despite what we are told by the advocates of Forever Growth, will peacefully transition to a lower population and go from a centralized food production system back to a decentralized one despite the fact that all that once greenbelt land surrounding cities is no longer fertile farmland but built over suburbia ( the horror of suburbia is not the waste of resources but the destruction of farming ). Nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing you get in a paradigm change is conflict. And our empire, because its energy flow is broken and there is absolutely no replacement, has started its disintegration. Which you can bet on being violent rather than peaceful. We can all agree that the fall of empires happens regularly. None of us agree on the details of their fall. Generally because they leave few if any records ( the last 500 years were relatively peaceful transfers of power because the whole was still in an energy surplus. This is NOT a historical norm ). Why? Total destruction and almost total die-off. Why is this time any different?


Commence Drama

Steve took a good long breath in, exhaled violently, prayed to Sweet Baby Jesus for a Zen like state of calmness ( knowing full well the contradiction ) and for good measure a Seinfeld moment of Serenity Now. While he wasn’t the worlds most patient fellow, nor was he prone to fits of wild anger. And yet, trying to manage a retail store full of stupid pimply faced fat assed dumb ass bimbos ( of both genders ), one was always faced with a compelling need to strangle yet another Moron Of The Year award winner. Nicole, supposedly less idiotic due to her advanced years of twenty-three and winner of a community college degree of moderate accomplishment for some arcane study-probably having to do with the lesbian artist of the newest sad sack Third World country, was busy with office politics of Machiavellian levels of intrigue against all and sundry on her shift. Susan was threatening to go sleep with the regional manager to get her way with the schedule and while Steve didn’t think she was all that hot, she wasn’t exactly disgusting enough to turn away if the guy was having typical levels of marriage blue balls. Plus, she could suck a golf ball through a garden hose for all he knew, which would obviously queer the equation. Michele was probably doing crack, her energy levels being through the roof. Not that he could get corporate to authorize him a piss test ( although they had no problem giving one to a sixty year old former FBI agent-to give one example of folks obviously NOT doing drugs-

Prior to hiring him ). In fact, corporate had even told him to accept less application just to save on the urinalysis costs. So he was left with fewer choices of idiots and got stuck with crew members like he had now.


Good friggin Christ on a pogo stick, welcome to entry level corporate management. Steve honestly couldn’t believe he was here in this tiny office desperately trying to calm himself before he killed someone. Like Tyrone, despite the name as pasty white and middle class as they came. Stupid son of a bitch, gets Mary pregnant a week after she passed her probationary period. Luckily for him, his performance revue heavily leaning towards his ability to perform miracles with gaggles of malcontents, she was part time and didn’t qualify for medical ( which would have looked bad on him if the company actually lost money on the deal ). Of course, he still had to keep her slot open for her pretty close to forever. He wasn’t going to read up on the ObamaCare section that covered that, not on his own time. Let the corporate weasel lawyers do that. He was working sixty hours a week on a slow period, so fuck ’em. Still, if he could have just shit canned her without official cause before she passed probation. Not that he would if he had a choice. Not that he gave a shit. Stupid bitch could be either Tyrone’s or Nevada’s problem. Just that if she lawyer-ed up there would be yet another problem with corporate. Shit, between the in-fighting with staff ( Maria used to go out with Tyrone, so there was that conflict in a trio of hate and discontent ) and with having to second guess his big bosses in HQ, it was a wonder he got shit-all done actually running the damn store.


Stationary World was just another typical big box business that ordered by the container from China and marked up everything to stratospheric levels except for a few Sunday Ad specials. And even then, while technically his store lost money which came out of his bonus, he was sure the company still made money on even those deep discounted items. For fucks sake, they were asking fifty bucks for a stack of CD blanks, and Steve could go online and buy the upgrade DVD blanks for half that! With shipping included, and that was with oil at $125 a barrel. Steve wasn’t sure what the real estate cost to house those CD’s was, his pay level accounting was restricted to a generic group labeled Store Expenses which included labor and utilities. Woe behold if they exceeded his allotted 33% however! No, we can’t break it down for you, but you had better control it anyway! Just like he had better control Jerry from pumping Joe in the ass in the back room during a break. He tried that, the rainbow coalition would be suing his ass, getting on corporate’s ass, getting them on his ass, being a pain in the ass and in general making asses of themselves ( the fags were obviously heavy with the ass symbolism ). And would they even flush the fucking toilet after getting down? A shit smeared condom floater did nothing to help his apatite at lunch time ( which was pretty much whatever time the fucktard brigade left him alone for three seconds so he could walk across the parking lot to pick up either his choice of genetically modified corn or soy greasy spoon or go to the high end Yuppie Scum coffeery and buy an overpriced bran muffin to try to jam last weeks poorly chosen food item out of his colon ).


Steve really didn’t think he had made enough poor karmic decisions to deserve the life he was leading today. Here he was after a marriage from Hell, no visitation rights to his two kids yet forced to pay elevated levels of support to a bitch who made three times his salary. He was forced to keep this job, or a similar one, or face a good stiff prison term ( during which, his support obligations didn’t cease ). After the bitch had cheated on him. But then, hadn’t she cleared the bank account and been able to afford a good lawyer while his financial position went from precarious to as shit stained as Jerry’s prophylactic. Fucking bitches lib. If it has the misfortune of being birthed with balls, second class citizenry became mandatory. Just like any Black could shout racism and get what they wanted, gals just kept shouting Historical Oppression to get more and more power and money. But was he bitter? Nope. Steve was a fat loser with a receding hairline, his life was a pathetic mess, but he was double dogged fucked if he was going to give up. He was only thirty and the kids were half way to emancipation. Sure, forty years old before he could re-start his life, and most likely in poor health then. Well, worse than now- but come on! He had started biking to work, both to save money after his cancer riddled Nip shit bucket blew fluids from random parts of the engine in an orgy of self destruction as if being seen with its owner was too embarrassing, and to get some lard off his ass.


Steve wasn’t going to win any Mr. America contests, but he was starting to shed pounds and tone up somewhat. He still had a ways to go, but the wheezing had subsided and the hair wasn’t coming out in clumps. He was still going to kill his body in ten years just from the stress, but at least he was slowing the process. Then, he could do what he wanted with his life. Not that he had any clue what that was going to be, but at least the option was nice. Thirty, and already looking forward to a mid-life crisis as he pondered what the hell to do with himself. He sure as shit wasn’t going to keep working at this pace. But hobbies weren’t important enough to devote his life to. Steve was just another pathetic fool wasting oxygen and resources, treading along on the gerbil wheel until the sweet release of death. Yet, as cynical as that sounded, he just loved the whole process of jaded observational humor that kept him happy, or at least happy enough to keep from performing suicide by bottle. Happy was relative, wasn’t it? Happier than Joe who had to suffer a stretched rectum and near future incontinence for a few fleeting moments of what he had to convince himself was love. Happier than Michele who would soon lose her teeth and last brain cell simultaneously. Even happier than his ex-wife who was so obsessed with money she might as well just sell her soul to the Devil and be done with it. Bitch never had enough, so could never be happy. At least Steve was surrounded by such losers that he felt superior half the time. Or at least mildly happy he wasn’t as unhappy as they were. Not that he wasn’t suspended in his own corporate hell. But at least there was an expiration date. Unlike if he had stayed with the evil harpy. Her insatiable appetite for wealth would have surely killed him, with no end in sight outside of a coffin.


Steve’s pleasant pseudo-insane mental diarrhea was irritably interrupted by yet another friggin commotion out in the adjoining break room.

“I’m telling you, some shit is going down. I went to the store this morning before I started” yeh, fifteen minutes late and then you worked five minutes before you went on your three weeks monthly Female Troubles time extended bathroom break, you skeevy whore, grumpily mused Steve, “and they didn’t have my usual. Not the bread, OR the cream cheese. I looked for some crackers which were almost out and not even any hard cheese. The clerk said a couple of trucks were late. I went up to Wally and I got my food there, but their shelves were just as sad sack as here. Just now I went down to Joe’s and they are even worse off. Okay, it’s still technically winter, but there hasn’t been a drop of water on the roads for weeks. No way the trucks can’t get over the passes.”

“I think the news said that there was a truckers strike, just like the Seventies during the inflation.”

“The news is full of shit, you moron. My cousin is a trucker. Most of them are corporate drones or independents. What Union? Just like everyone else, they are desperate to keep their jobs NO MATTER HOW LOW PAYING!” geez, thought Steve, like I set their pay scale. And like I didn’t know that was directed at me. “Ain’t no truckers going to go on strike.”

“What about the oil price? Didn’t they talk about the Strategic Reserves getting used to bring the price of oil back down under a hundred bucks?”

“What the crap are you talking about?”
“They have oil stored underground in old salt mines, or something. It is supposed to be used if the oil exporters ever cut off our overseas oil. But I think there is only a few weeks worth of oil there.”

“A few weeks of total oil, or a few weeks of replacement overseas oil?”
“Fuck all if I know. I would imagine it just replaces the foreign oil. You know, because the government hates to put any money into anything except their salaries.”
“Hey, I just got a big bump in my Food Stamp card. It’s something like $300 now.“
“That buy you much of anything, anymore?”
“Well, not much. But at least the fuckers are giving us something extra to make up the prices going up.”
“Joe, you are sooo cute when you try to stick up for your favorite House Negro. Of course he is going to give you all more money on your cards. Who do you think that money benefits? Big Ag. Corporates. Suits. Hell, when they went to all electronic payments, CitiBank got the contract to process all those payments. They get more money every time we get more money. All this shit you think is done for you is actually just welfare to the rich. Which you pay every time you get a paycheck. Ain’t nobody gives two shits about us poor fuckers. You should know that.”


Steve was thinking about going out on the floor to see if anybody was actually helping out the few customers who meandered on in from the streets, confused about the whole Internet and therefore clutching desperately to the few retail outlets left. That, or they hated Wally’s because of the lowlife inbreeds who shopped there and they didn’t realize they could save 60% by not coming in here. Which meant the dregs of the affluent shopped here, the old fuckers on Social Security or the Yuppie Scum. Both miserable specimens, but you were kissing corporate ass, so you might as well kiss customer ass while you were at it. You can’t degrade yourself past a certain point. And speaking of corporate asses, there was the phone ringing. Cheap cunts actually had a separate phone line from the number listed in the phone book.

“Greetings from Stationary World, Steve here. How may I help you?” Who else was going to call here except headquarters? Yet he still had to vomit up the standard public greeting. God fucking help me, would you like some fries with your Big Hack today? He gripped the phone harder, held it away from his ear and violently shook his other hand at it, flipping the piece of equipment the bird. He placed the phone back to his ear in time to hear some drone explaining who he was as if this placed greater importance on the upcoming message. They pushed smart phones and computers and these stupid fucks couldn’t just send him an e-mail? Technology over twenty years old as it was? Double all prices and put their food items outside on tables. All of them? He had cases of shit in the back, beef jerky and protein bars. Yes, all of them. Double all prices, was he sure? Yes, and do it immediately. Okay, whatever, hail corporate!


Steve was sure these guys were out of their friggin minds. Didn’t anyone remember the Congressional investigations on price gouging when the oil shortages hit years ago? If the supermarkets were experiencing shortages, and they started selling already overpriced office pogey bait at double prices, wouldn’t some lawyer somewhere love to sue the company because of the angst of an overweight disadvantaged ghetto dweller in the inner city who had to starve for one day as his television viewing snacks were cut in half, brutally forcing him to cut his caloric intact from six thousand calories to a mere four thousand? The Horror! Well, fuck a sharp stick! Why should he care all that much? Orders from high up. I was only following orders! Shades of Nuremburg.

“Someone, get in here! I know you are all loitering about avoiding work and customers. Two someone’s, actually. I need help with the stockroom. We are putting up a sidewalk sale.”

So who does he get but Maria, round and wheezy. Of course, as soon as Nicole sees Maria volunteer she’s got to act all helpful. Probably just wants to make sure nobody was talking about her. Although if she was helping in the back room, how the heck was she going to monitor the other group? Probably had an inside mole to report back to her. So he’s got one out of shape and one master at Make Work, so obviously this is going to be another Steve Does Most Of The Work event. Shit in a Dixie cup. At least they didn’t have to mark over too many prices since nearly everything was still in cases. They never sold much food to begin with- if you thought the CD’s were marked up too much you should try mortgaging your house to buy some of the food. So all they had to do was put one sign on each stack of food and just mark over the few items from the sale floor. He had the two girls get shopping carts and do the display items and he started carting the heavy crap on a dolly from the back room.

“Jerry! Get Joe and you two get a couple of chairs and go sit out on the sidewalk to keep an eye on all this shit. If any of it gets swiped, it is my bonus for the next eighty years. I know you don’t care about that, so just keep in mind you two can be scheduled for night shift. Each of you on alternate nights, just in case you get the idea it is a paid grab-ass shift. You can’t guard it with your lives, but try at least. The only ones wanting to steal this will be the crack heads, and I know you boys can handle a hundred pound toothless walking zombie. Or, if he gives you too much shit, go get Michele to talk him down. She probably parties with all of them.”
“Will do boss, sit on our asses and look menacing to those appearing to be permanently unemployed and ill nourished.”

“Maybe one of you can clean windows or sweep around the tables. You know-look busy so I don’t have the girls crawling up my ass about how easy you two have it, as they stand around ignoring customers.”

“And don’t be using the crap window cleaner we sell to the rubes. Shit streaks like your underwear. Use the janitorial supply stuff.”

“Okay, but it is almost our lunch time.”
“I’ll spell you guys one at a time. And let you two go home a bit early-I’ll clock you out. Just do this without the usual fuck-ups, okay?”
“Now you’re talking! No worries, boss.”

Jerry was a decent enough fellow. Oh, the whole crew was close enough to a rabid pack of worthless curs to be a constant pain in the ass and a source of never ending stress for Steve, but Jerry, while cut from the same cloth as most of their generation, at least had a smidge more gumption and drive. He wondered if that was from being the dominant partner? Had to be the bacon bringer and protector? God knows Joe was fruity enough to sit under the Christmas tree in a basket, carrying on about girly shit with the gaggle of clucking gals in the store, for all he knew trading recipes for the best vaginal douche. Joe was pretty much tits on a bull. He would follow Jerry around like a puppy dog if you let him, and he didn’t have his nose up Jerry’s ass he would be getting all catty with the other girls. But Jerry helped around the place, lifted the heavy crap alongside Steve. And he actually usually listened to instruction, which alone kind of made him Managers Pet. Actually, thinking about it, Steve had pretty good experiences with fags in other jobs. Good work ethic and exceedingly polite. Joe must be the exception to the rule, the cunt. Steve wondered if the attitude stemmed from generations of persecution, and the camouflage of a amicable corporate lackey helped fly under the radar.


Steve surely didn’t want any damn AIDS cooties sprayed around the place ( okay, he’d admit it- the condom in the toilet was only one time, and the more he thought about it the more likely it was Joe was the culprit, with his womanly wiles probably talked Jerry into pumping him and then planted the evidence unbeknownst to his partner ), but if the price of a decent worker was for him to be a flaming queer, Steve would put up with a whole ward of the fairy’s. If Tyrone was this generations answer to manhood, he’d prefer Jerry any day of the week. Tyrone was a large strapping lad, and dumber than a box of rocks. Well, he came off that way. But Steve suspected there was an animal cunning underneath it ( why else was he attracting and going through all the gals here like a flu patient through a box of tissues? ). The problem was, he wouldn’t use any muscle other than his mouth to complain and bitch. Hey, we all bitch and moan, stress release from work and life, but Tyrone was just about the biggest waste of a body Steve had ever encountered. Anything that avoided any kind of physical effort was greedily embraced, even to the point of doing more work avoiding work than if he had just expanded the smallest amount of effort to begin with.


Steve decided that he might as well get the worst over with first. He sent Jerry to lunch and decided to put up with Joe the first hour. Not that he had to come up with any kind of conversation- luckily Joe was of the firm belief that if he wasn’t gossiping face to face he had to be gossiping on Facebook or Twitter or wherever it was one celebrated the mundane and trivial online. So Joe kept thumbing his way throughout the first fifteen minutes or so, variously tittering to himself, laughing out loud or tisking, “oh no he DIDN’T!”. Steve was content to leave him be, having little customer interaction other than sending one case of jerky inside with a buyer after he inked a price on it for the cashier. Then Mary waddled outside and called to Steve that corporate was once again on the phone, which Steve needed like he needed another orifice on his ass.

“Okay, Joe, I got to take this. Do NOT leave here. You are supposed to make sure this stuff doesn’t walk off.” Joe made a halfhearted wave to, perhaps, signify his understanding even as he madly dashed off another universe saving text. What a fucking lost cause. He probably got fucked up the ass so much his brains had leaked out of his rectum. Steve rushed to the back not so much as to swiftly answer his masters summons but more to get back to Joe before the moron got fired for doing something really asinine. He went through the magical incantation as greeting and was informed to once again double the price. Great. Just this morning overpriced candy bars for a dollar weren’t selling, and now the corporate wizards wanted to get four bucks each on them. You could buy four of five pounds of sugar for that amount of money. Well, whatever, this wasn’t his circus, he was just the ringmaster.


Steve hurried to the storeroom for more blank price signs and another roll of pricing gun tape and went back outside. And found Joe still texting, his back to the tables which know stood empty. “Joe, did someone buy everything all at once, just the few minutes I was gone?”

“Sure, some guy said he was taking it all inside, I gave him the price list to give to Mary.”
Which was a bit odd, since Steve could usually hear the register from his office. Sure, he had been listening to Master Accounting blather on, but he could usually hear the register on a background noise level. He went inside to ask Mary, who of course hadn’t had a customer in ten minutes. Fuck! Steve just got ripped off, which came right out of his bonus. Even if it wasn’t a matter of losing his job, he still would have to fight to get only the first price increase subtracted from the profits rather than the second rise. The jerky alone had to be a few grand at the new, new price. Headquarters was never going to buy the stuff disappeared immediately upon initial placement. Unless he said nobody was out there, and that WAS probable unemployment. Why, Steve shouted silently, WHY? Sweet Baby Jesus in high above heaven, he was getting just a mite tired of getting bent over and fucked up the ass on a daily basis. He had almost two decades of his ex-twat taking half his gross income, Uncle Fucking Kenyan Kunt taking another twenty percent and he was just barely getting by with enough left for groceries because rent for his tiny tin trailer took nearly everything he had. And that was five fucking miles from work because it was out of town and ten percent cheaper than anyplace else. Not that it was inexpensive per se, this being a mining town so every swinging dingus here from the ghetto to Snob Hill paid extra for everything from tampons to motor vehicles-and two hundred miles from civilization didn’t make anything any cheaper.


Steve lit up a cigarette, against every regulation corporate included in their ever swelling binders of rules, and at this point didn’t give a shit. One of the bitches was probably going to narc on him, call HQ like a toad licking whore just to get a few extra brownie points if they ever wanted to get promoted. Why, he had no idea. Anyone here more than five months could see his steady progressive hair loss from the stress. He guessed that once he was fired, either for smoking in his office or being responsible for the food theft, fuck it, take your pick, he could work in front of a deep fryer or a dishwasher. He’d only take a half of a pay cut. If he only ate gruel rather than take out, and worked a second job and only needed four hours of sleep, he’d be just fine. If he got a second, let alone first job.

“Hey, Steve, come on out and take a look at this shit next door. We might have trouble.”
Are you double dog dicking kidding me? Steve couldn’t believe this shit. MORE??? “What the fuck, Tyrone? I’m at a very low threshold for bullshit right now. Your bestest buddy of all time just let a shitpot of money go walking away, I can’t fire the imbecilic fuck stick because all HR shit goes through corporate, I’m probably getting fired because of it, I can almost feel more hair falling out and if I have to put up with one more act of fucking shit from any one of you ass clowns I swear I will go Postal and stomp your tiny testicles or ovaries into a goddamned pile of stinking goo!”
“No, seriously, boss, I think you had better come up front because some weird shit is going down next door.”
Fuck me with a knobby sharp stick, these people and their drama. Steve lit up another cigarette because by now he felt like a blindfolded prisoner in front of a wall and slowly and wearily shuffled to the front, using every remaining molecule of whatever self restrain the had left not to pick up a heavy ceramic coffee mug proclaiming its possessor to be the World’s Best Boss, because some rare genius in corporate purchasing actually realized that we all needed every possible brownie point in narrowly avoiding termination every day so one simply had no choice but to kiss the ass of the next one up the pay grade, take it with outside and bring it down with all his might on top of the empty vacant sharp pointy head of that stupid vile fuck Joe.


And looked out to a scene of general mayhem in front of the shopping centers giant grocery store. Now, normal every day behavior at Kroeger’s was aggressive driving to the front-most spot, blatant disregard for the safety of pedestrians while backing out of a parking stall or shooting around near the front entrance, in general acting like your very fucking existence was reliant on acting like an asshole inflamed with hemorrhoids. But this was White Boy country. A quarter Latino, a handful of Indians ( feather, not dot ) from the half dozen reservations nearby, but pretty much Wonder Bread City with seventy percent plus white folks. In general, your average Casper has had passivity pounded into his /her head viciously and repeatedly over two generations, admonished for showing any aggression whatsoever. The schools punished any male behavior, the media painted all Whites as psychos if they didn’t desperately clutch to their feminine side, even the military was going to the Air Force model of clean uniforms while remotely killing the enemy. In short, Honky’s were pussies. Yet here was a scene out of Detroit 1960’s or LA in The Hood after the Rodney King trial. White folk were getting their hate on out there.


If those crazy motherfuckers didn’t look so scary, it would have been pretty hilarious. One group was wrenching every cart lined up in a carry scrap that the clerk had been gathering from the lot and corrals and running with them, jowls jiggling and guts lurching and saggy tits bouncing to the front door where there was a huge logjam of incoming and outgoing both trying to use both the doorways. Another group was actually trying to grab bags from the ass end of cars people had already bought and packed, a whole lot of bellowing and stomping and slapping but little actual damage as folks were only used to loud voices and posturing rather than hands on violence- those that had a bit of practice such as bullies and their beaten wives had just enough self preservation to realize that while this poor bastard of a community had been taken over and trashed by California asswhores and turned into a Yuppie enclave, there were still quite enough rednecks and ranchers who went around with rifles in their trucks and sometimes even pistols on their hips ( Nevada was still an open carry state outside the big cities such as the Socialist Peoples City-State Of Las Vegas, as such places preferred their citizens disarmed even as their governments stole by votes ) that one had better tread lightly even in anger least they end up sucking on the high velocity end of a bullet.


So, it was quite funny looking from a distance, like two of Joe getting into a girl fight over a piece of jewelry, until one group pointed towards Steve and his group at the front of the store and hollered something about them having plenty of food in stock and they started lumbering forward in full mob form. Steve didn’t think any of them were armed, but three or four on one you could still get the shit kicked out of you with nothing more than ringed fingers and sharp toed boots.

“Ah, guys…FUCKING RUN!”

That also would have been just a little bit funny to an outsider looking in, as the group started flying elbows and assholes wildly about, and then promptly went inside into harms way rather than scatter to the outside of the building where they would have been away from the treasure the crowd sought. Steve picked up Mary in a fireman’s carry as her wide wheezing frame was too stout to run around, and even more amazingly Tyrone, who Steve would have normally thought as one who would have shoved her to one side if she became a roadblock, at about the same moment seemed to have the identical idea and scooped up his pregnant Mary and ran with her. Joe squealed like the pussy he was and jumped into Jerry’s arm at the site of the other two lumbering couples, much to the shock and displeasure of his mate, and they both promptly veered into a cardboard display of boxed tax return software and went down in a sprawl. Steve of course started laughing uproariously and tossed over his shoulder to “get up and run faster, dumb-fucks”. He then veered off, “keep going for the back loading exit, me and Maria will meet you there”, ran into his office, dumped his charge ungently into his chair and ripped a necklace with key out from under his shirt and unlocked a bottom desk drawer containing a revolver and box of ammo. He tossed the box to Maria, quickly unthreaded his belt from two loops, threaded the holstered weapon on and hurriedly buckled up again. “I’ll be damned if I was going to a bank deposit unarmed, fucking corporate bastards”. He didn’t have the strength to scoop up Maria once again so he grabbed the back of the office chair she was on and started pushing it easily down the cement floor, hustling out the back away from the sounds of merchandise being tossed about in the front of the store.


Steve arrived to the rest of the group with a grinning Maria who was clearly enjoying the ride. Uncertain where to go from there after they stood around looking vacantly at each other for some time, he suggested they ease on around the front and see what had changed if anything. As they walked up the north side of the building facing the freeway he could see the Mexican restaurant set off to one side was being guarded by a few gentlemen of Hispanic persuasion who carried hunting rifles and shotguns. Its next door neighbor the Colonel’s Chicken hadn’t had any of the owners family members to supervise the orderly transfer of food stocks into waiting vehicles and had already been looted, as evidenced by the gaggle of bewildered uniformed teenagers outside amid debris of honey ( honey SAUCE, Steve reprimanded himself, since the bees had all started dying off the chicken chokers had substituted an atrocious blend of corn sweeteners with flavorings for the once plain unadulterated topping which had made the prospects of eating a biscuit as close to bliss as was possible on this mortal coil ) packages and a wind swept blizzard of white napkins. Kroeger’s had become even worse off with many a car fender bender as those trying to flee met those in a hurry to get some groceries before the shelves became bare. There was even a T-Bone wreck close to the main road that had to have involved speeds far above a safer twenty-five. They could hear sirens in the distance, but they didn’t seem like they were those of approaching emergency vehicles, rather ones arrived close by. Steve guessed that Raley’s and Wally and any number of convenience stores or eateries on the other side of the highway were the initial targets of first responders. He wasn’t sure how many city cops or county deputies were on duty at any given time, but it surely couldn’t be enough to cover all the grocery stores. There were only five in town, but once you add in the ethnic small mom and pop stores and wholesale suppliers and restaurants full of #10 cans, there were a hell of a lot of targets for the towns twenty thousand residents. Even if only ten percent went nuts and joined the panic shopping ( and Steve suspected that more than that number had no meaningful employment and could easily engage in such an activity at any given time ) that was way more than the cops could handle.


They finally saw a lone State Police vehicle barrel in at full speed with sirens and lights. Great. Steve would have preferred a local deputy or officer, who were generally pretty laid back. Professional, without a doubt, but never with the wild eye fear and panic the big city boys always had and were always ready to lash out because of. The Highway Patrol boys, on the other hand, were glorified meter maids handing out tickets for revenue enhancement and like their ilk in about every other state were vicious combative pricks with giant chips on their shoulders and attitudes worse than midgets in a tall persons world because of it. If any Barney Fife motherfucker was going to throw gasoline onto a fire, it was going to be these idiots. Steve was sure he wasn’t the only one with a low opinion of the Governor’s Bully Boys, and as soon as someone figured out they had numerical superiority in a mob and could lash out anonymously ( which obviously had already happened almost everywhere as the fighting for rapidly shrinking supplies intensified ) the patrolman was going to be in trouble.

“Watch what the asshole in the squad car does. Ten bucks says he pulls down on someone as soon as he gets out.”
“Shit, ten bucks says he opens fire within twenty seconds of bailing out.”
“Ten bucks says we are stupid for standing here if bullets start flying. Let’s stand at the corner of the store so we can duck back around if they do start shooting.”
“Who has a pick-up truck?”
“So we can all get the fuck out of here really damn fast if we need to.”
No one volunteered.

“I have my grandpa’s old Cadillac. That sucker is big enough for all of us if we double up on laps. It will be crowded but at least there is plenty of leg room and nice upholstery.”
“You got any gas in in, Susie?”

“Well, not much. The tank is big and I only drive a few miles a day so I only fill it up on paydays.”

Steve tossed her his wallet and told her to use the credit card. Well, probably two-his limits were usually always in site. “Jerry and Joe can go with. The rest of you wait here. Susan, fill up across the lot. It doesn’t look busy or dangerous. Don’t come back the south backside. I saw a bunch of idiots carrying out all the cases of soda from the back room. They might try to stop you so avoid them. Loop the long way back here past Dos Amego’s. Stay away from the food riot.”

“Why are we all bailing out together? Most of us have our own cars. Why cramp ourselves together and go out of the way if we are all wanting to go back home?”
“What’s your hurry? Most of you were working to closing, right? We all just get out of town until this craziness dies down. We stay together for protection, drive a bit out of town, hang around and drive back. You got cells, nobody is going to be out of touch. Look, the store is being torn apart for food, but you can all bet some fuckers are going to be stealing all the electronics. The store is toast. I’ll come back alone to assess the damage, but for now nobody needs to go down with the ship. We stay in town, we get in the middle of a huge traffic jam as everybody tries to go home and…”

Steve’s eloquent argument was interrupted by gunshots. Small pops, so most likely the State boy. Well, small compared to the following booms which might have been 12 gauge. They all mostly ducked out of the line of fire behind the corner, but no one could contain their curiosity so everyone was poking their heads around the side of the building. The nearby Mexican place saw a bustle of activity and a flurry of thrown cans, a jabber of Spanish and they are took off. Smarter than his group.

“Anybody know the number for Susan or the boys? Find out what is taking so long. How many damn people are exchanging shots over there? Sounds like a SWAT team mowing down an elementary school that got in the way of a fugitive.”

“……fuck, fuck, FUCK!” boomed from someone’s tinny speaker on their cell phone, “fucking ricochet just hit a car next to me. I hope we have enough gas, ’cause we are getting out right goddamned now! Joe, you fuck stick, you let go of the trigger before you take the nozzle out. Fucking retard. Joe, take your girlfriend and get in the car. We’re on the way. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Be ready!”

“Does anyone see her?”
“I see smoke from the station. I think someone just caught the spilled gas on fire.”
“How are you going to see smoke that fast from a puddle? Something needs to be burning from the gas.”
“What, am I Fire Marshall Bill?”

“Who the shit is that?”
“Character from a Nineties comedy show. Jim Carey and his first acting role. Played the token white boy with the Damon Brothers.”
“Let’s just say, you’re walking along, trip and fall into a tub of hydrochloric acid. What would you do?”
“That’s the one!”
“Fires getting bigger.”
“Here they come, boys and girls. Are we all ready to go on a road trip?”
They all piled in and sped off, relatively speaking of course because of the traffic. Up the hill and over the highway, right into stalled traffic. “Fuck the state road, at least through town. Hit the shopping center. Go around the back way then loop around to the theatre. The residential area roads will get us through the Wal-Mart area clusterfuck.”

They twisted and turned and screeched around partial roadblocks, one time the big cast iron Caddy ramming a small rice burner violently out of the way with barely a registered dent. Susan flipped on the radio and scanned for news.

“….once again, the President has declared a national emergency and called for a suspension of lawlessness. He pledges strong responses from each state governor using the National Guard if necessary. All citizens are urged to immediately stop desperate food hoarding and to stay home to avoid blocking the roads for emergency responders. There will be further announcements on possible imposed curfews.”
“What did they just say?”
“That Obammy disapproves of desperate people.”
“He STRONGLY disapproves. I feel chastised already.”
“The fucktard is going to send in the Guard AFTER all the food is looted and gone.”
“Then he’ll shoot us on site if we go out after dark.”
“I feel safer already.”

“I guess ours aren’t the only stores not getting resupplied.”

“I think we are just figuring out this thing is a lot bigger than we understand.”

No one spoke after that.


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  1. Still laughing my arse off
    Your army is showing
    Keep it up bro; Navy myself and helped keep oil avenues opened

    1. Glad you like. How is your Navy, these days? Still shrinking?

  2. Very good.

    Do we really have to wait a week for the next chapter? That's cruel.

    Idaho Homesteader

    1. I know :) Actually, I don't even out my writing all week. A surge on the weekend, almost none on Wednesday, etc. I don't know if daily would work.

  3. I was in Staples today and I think I saw two guys workig there that could have been Joe and Jerry!

    - Central IL

    1. And life imitates art once again ( I know, calling it art... )

  4. maybe you could still do some guest articles during the week? Take a poll and see what people want an article on? Maybe because you work at the foodbank, you could do an article on what's available or how to get it, or tricks of the trade like what days are best to go to the foodbank and what the best things to find there might be? Why not make a few posts using "best of the comment section"? You know you'll most likely loose ol' remus as a reader-he was even quoting you fairly regular on his blog.

    We are rootin' for ya, Champ! ( He may be down, but he's not out!)

  5. A good read! I'm looking forward to more including, I hope, a thinly disguised Mohave Rat character...

  6. This was freaking hilarious.Hey, if some guy can put a tomato soup can on a column and call it art this might as well be too. Can't wait to see where this crew of misfits goes. How many horrible entry level jobs have you worked? You've got the poor management and shitty co-workers down pat.

  7. summary NOT summery


  8. Jim,
    I have a good idea to help you with your Amazon revenues.

    When I first started reading your blog, I didn't realize that you had the agreement with Amazon. The once I figured it out, I kept forgetting to go to your blog first, then hit the Amazon icon.

    So, what I finally did was paste your blog icon to my favorites menu, then change the "name" to "Amazon". This way, I automatically went to your site when I hit the "Amazon" icon and then hit the actual Amazon icon. After a few times it became second nature and I didn't think twice.

    Maybe you could encourage folks to do this. A lot of people probably want to support you, but often forget to go thru your site and go directly to Amazon, then it's too late.

    Just an idea!

    "Robert de Beaumont"

    1. I'm not sure if I could do it, and I think I represent the average users computer skills-ie, basic. Not a bad idea, of course, and I appreciate it greatly. Thanks