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Author Topic: Excerpts from my post-oil dystopian novel  (Read 37059 times)
Innocent Byproduct
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« Reply #195 on: August 17, 2009, 11:38:52 PM »

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

Later that night I stood outside Mr. Frazetti’s pawn shop, banging on the door with an impatient urgency. It was now quarter past eight and well after sundown. He’d been closed for over two hours now and the lights of the store were all out. But he lived upstairs so I was certain he could hear me. It was a very cold night and I stood there in my leather jacket, trying to ignore the growing chill in the air.   

After banging some more I saw one small light flicker on in the extreme rear of the shop. I stopped banging and peered through the glass to watch him stride forth from the back with a huge grin. He unlocked the door and greeted me with a false warmth.

“Pete!” he smiled. “I’m closed now! But for you, I will open the door! How ‘bout those coins? You bring them for me tonight?”

“I have something better,” I whispered. “But we need to go into the back first.” He paused a moment, perhaps mildly shocked that I was being clandestine for the first time in my dealings with him. Then he shrugged and nodded, ushering me inside. He locked the front door behind us and led me toward the rear of the shop. As we walked though the cluttered, over-packed store we passed by a rack of electric guitars, a glass display case full of jewelry, another display case full of microphones, and shelves stocked with old DVD’s.

Once we reached the back wall of the sales floor we climbed a short set of three steps into a glassed-in security room overseeing the entire store. It had a few odd desks in it and a series of small black and white security monitors. He locked us in and looked at me in silence, waiting for my next move. I reached into my pocket and produced the sole gold bar for him. His lids peeled back so far I could see dozens of squiggling red veins rimming the yellowish whites of his eyes. 

“Over here,” he whispered with a prudent nod, gesturing to the far side of the security room.

He walked only a few paces away and sat down at a small roll top desk. He unlocked it and rolled up the gate. On the now-exposed desktop I saw a very small yet precise set of shiny, stainless steel balancing scales, a dual set of stainless steel weights, and a scratch-test pad. I also saw what looked like a .38 revolver. He took the gold bar and performed various tests: scratch testing, color testing, pH testing, and weighing. When he finished, he set the gold bar down on top of a black velvet cloth on his desktop and left it there. Then he twisted in his chair only partway toward me, pointing to my gold bar with respect.

“This one bar is exactly one pure ounce of 24-karat yellow gold,” he whispered. “Today’s closing price of yellow gold at 24-karats was…” He paused a moment and twisted back around to face the desk fully again. From a top drawer he pulled a spiral notebook. I peered over his shoulder at the book and saw a neatly arranged tabulation of handwritten dates and the prices of different precious metals scribbled down in their respective columns. He pointed to the colm marked YELLOW GOLD and said: “Three-thousand, eight-hundred, seventeen dollars and twenty cents per ounce.”

I knew he was correct because I had already checked the online price of gold myself back at the office before running over to his shop that evening. The only reason I even came to him at all was I knew he had the proper gold-testing kit to verify the bar’s purity.

He looked back up at me from the book, a suspicious glint in his eye. “Before I make an offer, tell me where you got it.”

“A friend,” I said flatly.

“You gonna sell it to me?”

“How much?” I asked.

He sighed and spun around in his chair to face me fully, then he beckoned for me to lean down closely to him. I did exactly that, and he whispered to my ear: “We can do this one on the books, or off the books. If you wanna do it on the books, I give you a fair price, you let me photocopy your drivers license, I hand you a check, and then you gotta fill out a tax form at the end of the year. But if you wanna keep this one off the books, I give you cash and nobody knows nothin’ ‘bout nothin’ but you, me and the angels.” 

“How much will you give me if we keep it off the books?”

“Deep discount,” he shook his head with sad downcast eyes and sat back in the chair while folding his hands in front of himself. “Very deep discount.”

“How much?” I repeated, a noticeable edge to my voice.

“If it were anybody else,” he shrugged, momentarily parting his folded hands, “fifteen hundred. But for you: two thousand,” he nodded while locking his eyes with mine. Then he joined his hands back together again with another smile. The son of a bitch was actually pretending like he was doing me a favor.

“Thirty-five-hundred,” I said with more of the same flat tone and a solid poker face.

He paused with a feigned expression of boredom, stroking one side of his face with his palm. Then he sighed and countered my offer with a downward lilt to his voice: “Twenty-five hundred.”

“Three-thousand even,” I countered. “And if my ‘friend’ ever gives me any more of these, I will come to you first. And that’s a promise.”

Again he paused. He rolled his eyes as if trying to think about it. Finally he sighed, again in feigned boredom, and shrugged as if this was all some bothersome inconvenience.

“For you? Okay,” he nodded with a grin and folded his hands together again.

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"This is an emergency far worse than World War I and World War II put together." --Sir Richard Branson

"The airlines in this sector are really the canaries in the coal mine." --J Kunstler

"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." --R Rainwater
Innocent Byproduct
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« Reply #196 on: August 17, 2009, 11:40:01 PM »

Last chapter for tonight.


CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

I walked back to my shop office by nine PM, a bulging envelope of cash --mostly hundred dollar bills-- stuffed into the front breast pocket of my leather jacket. I entered the shop and went straight for the office safe behind my desk. I spun the dial right, then left, then right again, cranked open the safe door, and shoved the envelope up into the rear of the top shelf.

After closing up the safe I stood and walked over to the fax desk where the brown military foot locker still sat open. But now it was completely empty.

I sighed in a surreal daze and closed the foot locker. Then I picked up its now-light shell and placed it on the floor against the wall beside a stack of copy paper boxes. I turned my attentions to the rear room where Catherine and I said good-bye, stripped the sheets off the mattress, stuffed them into a trash bag, and shoved the mattress away into its formerly upright position behind the same storage shelf. Satisfied, I exited the office trailer with the bag of sheets under my arm and locked the door behind me.

After I got home I tossed the sheets into the laundry pile and sat down at my kitchen table with a sandwich and a glass of milk. It was nearly ten PM. As I ate I pulled from my jacket’s side pocket the already-opened envelope of very fine looking cotton stationery. I popped open the slightly-ripped flap of paisley, and pulled out the matching page of note paper with its own flourish of brown and gold paisley along the top border. I read it to myself with a sad numbness, reviewing its delicately handwritten message for the fifth time that evening.

“Dear Mr. Walczak,

If you are reading this, then it means I have presented you with a gift of not only the wool jacket, but also the contents of my late husband’s regulation foot locker. And it also means you and I have parted company and likely will not see each other again. So more than merely a contingency bonus, this is actually a farewell gift.

I thought very long upon whether or not to give this to you. I hope the obvious expense of it doesn’t offend you. While you are free either to use it or dispose of it as you see fit, all I ask is that you never try to give it back.

Be forewarned of this: I give you this gift not out of extravagance or condescension but out of dire concern. You will need this in the very near-future, possibly to save your life. So guard it well and spend it wisely.

Had things worked out differently, and had you come aboard as an employee of my estate (or most especially if you had become more than a mere employee), I would not have given this farewell gift to you. Instead I would have “only” extended to you the full measure of protection currently afforded by the Warren household, something my late husband had been trying to forge for me for the past 18 years, and worth far more than gold.

But now that the gift has been given, you are on your own. So I hope it can be of some assistance to you and your loved ones during the dark times ahead. Please take care of yourself. And good luck.

Very Truly Yours,

Catherine Anne Warren”



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"This is an emergency far worse than World War I and World War II put together." --Sir Richard Branson

"The airlines in this sector are really the canaries in the coal mine." --J Kunstler

"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." --R Rainwater
carwood
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« Reply #197 on: August 18, 2009, 09:32:49 PM »

Kevinn, does this mean you can go all night?  Back in my youth, I could go all night when my hips were good, but alas, never found the man for the job!

I am just saying to you younger-than-mes!  Enjoy it while you can as every day your body grows older.  Libido does not age, but joints do!

IB, I think you have the price of gold right as it bounces around $1,000/oz now. I think I missed how the locker got empty.  Did I not pay attention reading somewhere or did he put it all in his safe?  Since you are busy entering more frequently I am hoping that your mother is much better.

Oh, and John H., I was required to wear good shoes my whole lifetime because of my club foot.  A while ago I had to visit a podiatrist to sand down a callus.  While waiting a normal footed woman came in with both feet in surgery boots.  Her problem, huge bunions had to be removed because of a lifetime of wearing pointy-toed high heels.  Her husband in good shoes was walking.  She was barely able to.  What felt really good (after being different my whole life because of my shoes) was I was walking with only one callus on the right great toe built by my body to compensate muscular weaknesson the left foot.  Chinese women's feet get bound as do ours if we buy the brainwashing.
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« Reply #198 on: August 20, 2009, 12:10:44 AM »

IB, I think you have the price of gold right as it bounces around $1,000/oz now.

Yeah, just trying to estimate it going by the price of iol. If my story assumes that oil has more than tripled in price, then gold has more than tripled also.


I think I missed how the locker got empty.  Did I not pay attention reading somewhere or did he put it all in his safe? 


No, you didn't miss anything. It's just that I never showed the reader what he did with the rest of the gold. Wink


Since you are busy entering more frequently I am hoping that your mother is much better.

Somewhat yes. Long story short: Last week I absolutely DEMANDED that the doctors do SOMETHING and not just hope she gets better on her own. So they tried soemthing kinda radical on Friday. It worked. She's on the road to recovery at last. Smiley



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"This is an emergency far worse than World War I and World War II put together." --Sir Richard Branson

"The airlines in this sector are really the canaries in the coal mine." --J Kunstler

"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." --R Rainwater
carwood
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« Reply #199 on: August 20, 2009, 05:30:38 AM »

That is great about your mother--I so hope she recovers and that you can spend a lot of years yet with her.

I was the last of the lot with a father much older than my mother.  My mother had me late in life as well so I missed a lot of adult time getting to know my parents.  Daily, I think of the things I would have liked to know if I had been more mature and thought to ask my mother and father.   My son is wasting his time that he could have with me and I wish I could get through to him that time runs on and parents don't last forever.  If he wants to know more about himself, he needs more time finding out as an adult what type of characters (for better or worse) his parents were.  But he has not taken the time for that and so he is missing out on a never-to-be recovered opportunity. 

I guess this is my plea to any Kunstlercastians from talking to whatever age if they have a living parent or parents (or grandparents or greatgrandparents), don't miss out the opportunity to get to know who they were and are.  If you pass the time up, you may well spend what I do--spend time wishing I knew the answer to this or that question concerning my environment, my family history, or their wealth of experiential knowledge.  The old saying, those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it is even more true with generational history. 
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« Reply #200 on: August 21, 2009, 02:03:03 PM »

Carwood, I totally get what you're saying about the dire long-term need to get to know your parents, in spite of the short-term discomfort it might bring to your ego. Failing to gain that knowledge of who your parents were and who they became will be irretrievably detrimental to your own journey of learning who you yourself ultimately are.

I am finally getting to know my father now that my mom is in the hospital. He visits her every day, even though he has been absent from our family for over 25 years now. Even though I LOOK exactly like my mom, my personality predominantly has a lot of strong elements that come straight from my dad. So in getting to know him I can see many small bits of myself everywhere. He just turned 80 years old last month. He's seen a lot. He also has a lot of good years ahead of him since he's in very good shape and cotinues to keep his mind and his body active.  I see some of his flaws, and I keep slent about them, but I also try to make mental notes to myself on how to avoid those flaws in my ow future.
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"This is an emergency far worse than World War I and World War II put together." --Sir Richard Branson

"The airlines in this sector are really the canaries in the coal mine." --J Kunstler

"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." --R Rainwater
carwood
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« Reply #201 on: August 21, 2009, 07:14:15 PM »

Thank you, IB, for your kind words and understanding the importance of getting to know your parents even though it is indeed often painful.  And I am especially excited that you are getting to know your dad.  I remember my first visit to a psychologist for my "problems" at the age of 21.  I made the appointment, sat in the chair, and could only say one sentence, "I hate my father!" and could do nothing for the next hour but cry.  Actualy, I loved/hated my father and that was the problem.  It took me a lifetime to understand why I loved and hated him and the psychologist gave me no insight.  It took years of reflection and dreams to finally come to an understanding.  And the understanding was eminently crucial to my understanding myself and how I related to the world.  It is only when we are adults are we able to begin the process of allowing our parents to be adults, with flaws and strengths, and our model for our own reactions to events and people.  Another major thing about parents, when they become mortal, we realize we are next in line!
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« Reply #202 on: August 22, 2009, 08:07:32 PM »

Research shows we need our dads. You guys out there hear that?? A really good way to screw up your kids is to just plain leave them.
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"This is an emergency far worse than World War I and World War II put together." --Sir Richard Branson

"The airlines in this sector are really the canaries in the coal mine." --J Kunstler

"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." --R Rainwater
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« Reply #203 on: August 23, 2009, 12:13:45 AM »

There's a funny Albert Brooks movie that deals with this subject ... getting to know yourself better by getting to know your parent(s). In this case he's getting to know his mother. The film is called Mother. Debbie Reynolds plays the mother. My sister and were on the floor laughing so hard at parts of it .... Reynolds' character being so like our mother.
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« Reply #204 on: August 24, 2009, 09:09:39 PM »

Latest news, guys: the doctor told us today that my mom has cancer. They won't say how long she has, but they did say it's only "treatable" and not "curable" at this point. And any treatment would be chemo and radiation, and yet since she's so sick and frail she mose likely can't stand up under such treatments. So they said my family has to start making decisions.




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"This is an emergency far worse than World War I and World War II put together." --Sir Richard Branson

"The airlines in this sector are really the canaries in the coal mine." --J Kunstler

"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." --R Rainwater
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« Reply #205 on: August 24, 2009, 09:19:31 PM »

Oh my...Really sorry to hear about this IB Sad
My thoughts are with you at this sad time.

Kev
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« Reply #206 on: August 25, 2009, 02:08:24 AM »

IB,
I'm sorry to hear such bad news, especially since last week's news seemed so promising.

My prayers are with you and may your family offer the strength to cope with whatever lies ahead.
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« Reply #207 on: August 25, 2009, 07:54:29 PM »

In retrospect, my father made a wrong decision when he elected for an operation rather than chemotherapy.  Putting elderly people under anesthetic is dicey and will affect cognitive function.  I do not know if that is the choice you are facing but anesthetics remain a problem for the elderly until the medical fraternity has this problem worked out.  It astounds me that having operated, the surgeons then release patients with obviously reduced cognitive abilities back to their homes without cognitive assessment.

I hope your mom remains of sound mind so you can be most rewarded with what time you have left with both your parents.
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carwood
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« Reply #208 on: August 26, 2009, 11:13:13 AM »

John H, said it the best, about the time left. 

My father died of prostate cancer.  What I remember is that he wanted us to understand he was leaving us and he needed us to accept that and not pretend there was anything different about his future.  I failed in that regard, not acknowledging his impending death, but wanting it not to be so.
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« Reply #209 on: August 27, 2009, 04:49:17 PM »

Hi guys,

Thanks for all your kind thougths and support. Meanwhile, I am moving to a new apartment this weekend, and starting a new job on Monday. That and I have to have a conference with my family about how to handle my mother's diagnosis. So life is busy. I will be back next week with more chapters. 

--IB




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"This is an emergency far worse than World War I and World War II put together." --Sir Richard Branson

"The airlines in this sector are really the canaries in the coal mine." --J Kunstler

"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." --R Rainwater
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