How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 19

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on March 30, 2017

Discuss this artile at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner

Kenny had barely gotten out of bed in the van on Tuesday morning when his cell phone rang, causing him to jump.  He still wasn't used to getting phone calls so often, especially ones that were not during business hours.  Looking at the screen, it wasn't a number he recognized either, but it was from his local area code so probably not a Bot Call.

"Hello?" Kenny greeted in typical phone fashion.

"Hi Kenny!  It's Karen. I got your phone number from my dad.  I was calling to see if you might want to start working on your horseback riding skills this weekend.  We could also go do some Kayaking on the Clark's Fork River.  I have a two-paddler Kayak along with my single we could use.", Karen invited.

Kenny's mind was racing.  He certainly wanted to take Karen up on this offer, but what would he tell Kirsten if she called?  Well, when she called was more like it.  A quick brainstorm hit his gray matter though, since he had just received an email from his mom.  He would tell Kirsten that he had to go to Spokane to visit with his mom this weekend!  Brilliant!

"Sure! That sounds great Karen!" Kenny replied enthusiastically, as Mr. Johnson woke up from slumbering in his boxer shorts.  He would have to take care of this problem himself before going out to do his day's work on the lawn tractor.  Riding around all day in the hot sun on the Zero-Turn Mower with a stiffy would not be fun, so Ms. Hand would get a workout this morning.

Karen was a little concerned after the slight delay in Kenny's response, but his enthusiasm was evident in his reply, so she figured he must be interested in her.  Probably he's cheating on Kirsten she thought to herself, and had to figure out an excuse to give her for not getting between the sheets with her over the weekend.  However, all's fair in Love and War, so she wasn't going to let this bother her!

"Cool!" Karen replied. "We can meet at dad's Doomstead and do some riding around the pasture for the first day, then head over to Quinn's to do some Kayaking and have a nice dinner.  They have great food!  It's expensive, but I get an Employee Discount.  You can meet some of my friends too, Big John the Bartender and Alexis the Maitre 'd and Julia the Head Chef and the rest of the staff.  It's a great bunch of folks! Then on Sunday we can maybe go riding to the Lean-To if you take to riding OK on Saturday."

"That sounds like a terrific weekend Karen!  Should I pack some formal clothes for the dinner at Quinn's?  It sounds fancy.", Kenny inquired.  He didn't have much experience with high end restaraunts, so he wasn't sure of the protocols in such places.  Fancy restaurants to him were chain restaraunts like Olive Garden, Red Lobster or Outback.

"Well, Quinn's isn't TOO formal, but most of the guests do dress for dinner in more elegant clothing than cargo pants and hunting vests with lots of pockets for their preps.", she laughed, knowing Kenny's basic form of dress.  She figured he didn't have much more than that given his business in landscaping and his weekends spent out preparing for the Collapse of Industrial Civilization, along with the fact his Van and Trailer living arrangement didn't have a ton of room for storing many different sets of clothing.  She wasn't yet aware of his Storage Unit system for keeping a lot more preps than she had already seen, including different types of clothing.  Mostly those other clothes though were winter gear, vests of different weights dependent on weather, rain gear etc.  He didn't have any real "formal" clothing.  He did wear a suit to his High School graduation,but he had given it away to the Salvation Army because it no longer fit.  He wasn't the skinny teenager he had been in High School anymore, he was 20 lbs heavier with solid muscle mostly in his shoulders and chest and had grown another 2 inches as well, mostly in the long bones of his legs and now stood close to 5'9".  Not as tall as Karen who was close to 6' if not maybe a bit more than that and WAY taller than Kirsten who probably did not even hit 5' in height, but still bigger than he was in High School.  So neither the jacket nor the pants fit anymore.

Kenny laughed.  Karen had already noticed what his clothing style was and had him well pegged.  "Yea, OK Karen, I'll stop by Target and pick up some more "appropriate" clothing for dinner at Quinn's.  I don't want their first impression of me to be as a Psycho Rube Prepper!  Some of these folks might be good members of our SUN Community after TSHTF!"

"Yea, I already thought of that Kenny.", Karen replied.  "Glad you are OK with 'dressing for success', at least for a dinner anyhow!"

"So what time should I get to Karl's place on Saturday morning?", Kenny asked.

"Earlier the better!" Karen exclaimed.  "Can you make it by daybreak at 6AM or so? That way we can get the riding lesson done and make the drive over to Quinn's and be on the river by the afternoon."

"Well, that's pretty early for me since I have an hour drive to Karl's place, but yea I think I can make it.", Kenny replied, agonizing over the early wake up call for Saturday.  He would have to get up by 4:30AM to get cleaned up and presentable and then make the drive to Karl's Doomstead by 6AM."

"GREAT!", Karen replied.  "Be sure to bring your A-Game, because the river is running big right now with the spring runoff from the Rockies.  They're not even letting the guests raft the river right now, the flow is too big.  Only the Whitewater Kayakers are out on the river right now."

Hearing this newz, Kenny got a little nervous.  While he had done some canoeing and flat water kayaking over the years, he had no experince with Whitewater Kayaking, and going down the Clark's Fork River at the height of the spring runoff was probably not the best way to start this sort of adventuring.  However, he certainly was not going to appear to be a fraidy cat to Karen!  Sink or Swim!  Take the Bull by the Horns!  He revved up his GUTS and sounded as Macho as he could manage, given his knees were banging together as his legs shook at the prospect.

"Wow! That sounds FABULOUS Karen! I can't WAIT to get on the river!", Kenny lied.  "At least I am a decent swimmer, and Karen was a Nationally Ranked Whitewater Kayaker, so she probably can handle it by herself and I'll just be providing backup." he reassured himself in his head.

"OK, see you Saturday morning!" Karen responded.  ""Gotta go out now for a run with Huckleberry.  She's frisky this morning, and so am I!", Karen remarked with thinly disguised sexual innuendo.

Karen hung up the phone and Kenny did a quick Relief Job on Mr. Johnson with Ms. Hand before getting on the road to get his lawns cut for the day, and a couple of tree surgery jobs as well. This was very good paying work, although the Insurance he had to carry to do this work cut into the profit quite a bit.  Still, worthwhile work as it extended his season on either end, plus whenever there was a major storm he got a LOT of work and sometimes made $1000/day this way, often paid for by Da Goobermint who would hire supplemental contractors.

He was swinging from one of the tree limbs with his Pole Saw in his climbing harness later that afternoon when he felt his Smartphone Vibrate in the lower pocket of his Cargo Shorts, but at least now he was no longer jumping when the thing fired off.  He was getting a bit more used to getting phone calls all the time now.

Looking at the display, it showed that it was Kirsten. Kenny took a deep breath and got his lies ready.

"Hi Kenny, it's Kirsten!" she bubbled up in her usual effusive manner.

"Hi Kirsten!  I'm swinging from a tree branch right now, so can't talk much but what's up?"

"I was wondering if we were going out to get some climbing done and more camping this weekend, maybe this time on our own so we can have more alone time together?", Kirsten cooed into her I-phone.

"Oh, no, I can't this weekend Kirsten.  My mom called me and she wants me to come for a visit with her in Spokane where she is living now.  She's also going to come visit here over the Memorial Day Weekend, so you'll get to meet her then."

Kirsten was disappointed, her first night with Kenny was just great sex, maybe the best she had ever had.  However, it did cheer her up some that Kenny wanted her to meet his mother, that was always a good sign that a guy was serious and not just screwing you for fun.

"Oh, that's a bummer.", Kirsten said a bit dejectedly. "Well, what about getting together Thursday Night?  We can go out for Dinner and then you can come and stay over with me in my dorm room.  I live in a suite with 3 other coeds and have my own room.  Or we could overnight in your Stealth Van.  I never did it in a van.", Kirsten giggled.

Back came the Woody, and swinging from a Western Red Cedar with his Pole Saw in one hand and the smart phone in the other, there was no relief in sight for this one.  He would just have to suffer.  There also was no way he was turning down another night with Kirsten, even though he knew he would probably be cheating on her with Karen over the weekend.

"Sure, that sounds great Kirsten!", Kenny replied with genuine enthusiasm.  "Where do you want to go to dinner?  What kind of food do you like?"

"Well, I like the Red Bird Restaraunt & Wine Bar.  It's pricy, but we can Go Dutch if you want.", Kirsten replied, concerned that Kenny's income might not be enough to drop a C-Note on dinner.

Kenny had expected Kirsten to name Red Lobster or another chain, and was a little surprised by this choice, although then he remembered she was one of the "Cool Kids" in High School who came from rich families.  Now he had TWO fine restaraunts to go to in one week and cough up the FRNs to pay for the food!  That was two more than he had ever dined at in his entire life!  However, he certainly did not want to appear "unsuccessful" to Kirsten, any more than he wanted to appear to be a Fraidy Cat to Karen and demure from kayaking down the Clark's Fork River at the height of the spring runoff.  He was a successful and macho Kollapsnik!  A Big Swinging Dick swinging from a Western Red Cedar with a 4HP Gas powered Huskvarna Pole Saw in his Right Hand and a Samsung Galaxy Mega Smart Phone in his Left Hand!

"Oh no Kirsten, its on me.  Landscaping Biz is doing real well so far this season.  I have a bunch of these tree surgery jobs to do since the winter storms this year messed up so many trees.  I'm sure the tree I am hanging from right now will pay for dinner!", Kenny replied hopefully, not sure what the fucking dinner would end up costing.  Whatever it cost though, it was worth it for another night of bed wrestling with Kirsten!  He also would get at least two evenings out of formal clothing he would purchase at Target that before the weekend.  He would have to go online to Google up some pics of what the upper class actually wore these days to fine restaraunts?  Tuxedos?  Armani suits?

Kirsten was relieved Kenny offered to pick up the tab.  Since her scumbag World Class Geochemist father had been arrested by the FBI and was awaiting trial for his Crimes Against Humanity, his bank accounts had been frozen, her mother was not receiving her Alimony payments and she had to take out a Student Loan to pay for her current semester at Missoula State University, along with the dorm room rent and her books too!  She did not have a huge debt yet, but she could see where it was going to quickly accumulate, and for the first time she realized why Kenny had chosen not to go to college at all.  He was MAKING MONEY!  She was going in DEBT!

Still, in front of her friends she played the part of the Little Rich Girl, she didn't want to be pitied and snubbed because she was poor now.  It was more difficult daily to keep up the facade though, and dropping some of her meager bank account on dinner was not something she really wanted to do, but would have done if necessary to further nail down Kenny.  He was a GOOD CATCH!  A hard working and smart guy, and great in the sack too!  Plus his friend Karl was pretty cool, and appeared to be very well off financially even if he was a little eccentric and an old Boomer. Despite the fact she felt like she was in competition for Kenny's affections with Karen his daughter, she liked her too!  So she was determined to make this work.

"OK, Kenny, I'll let you pay it this time.  But the next dinner is on me!"  Kirsten replied, figuring she would cook dinner for Kenny, as the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

"Sounds good Kirsten!", Kenny replied.  "What time should I pick you up for Dinner?"

"I get out of class at 4PM on Thursday.  I'll make reservations for 6PM for dinner at Red Bird."

"OK, I'll be by the dorm at 5:30 to pick you up.  See you then!"

After hanging up the smart phone, Kenny went back to work whacking off Tree Limbs and stacking them in a pile to come back later with his Dr. Chipper wood chipper powered by a Briggs & Stratton engine and turn th pile into valuable Mulch.

He returned to the Storage Unit to drop the trailer after work, and then went online to Google pics of Fancy People having Fancy Dinners to see what they wore these days.  He was gratified to see they weren't wearing Tuxedos like in the old films from the Great Depression where Nick & Nora Charles were out consuming expensive food while the rest of the population was starving, but still paying a Nickel at the Movie Theater to see how the Upper Class was living and live themselves vicariously through that.  Not too many Armani Suits either, although most of the men seemed to wear a collar shirt and tie with a Blazer.  So he elected to buy those a Target after work, along with some dress pants and leather shoes instead of his usual Sneakers or Hiking Boots.

The total cost for the outfit wasn't too bad, since it was all sewn up by cheap child labor in India and Pakistan, coming in around $100 when all was said and done with all the accesories like a tie pin, matching leather belt and a faux Gold Wristwatch.  Split over the two fancy dinners, this was only $50 for each one, and he might get further use from this clothing later, so it wasn't a completely wasted investment.

Satisfied he had his weekend plans reasonably in order, Kenny spent the next two days working long hours to get as much done as he could and not lose too much income by taking off Friday from work.  After hanging with Kristen on Thursday, he would drive to his own property on Friday to spend the night in the Stealth Van, so that he would not have to wake up so early to meet up with Karen at Karl's Doomstead.  He could get an extra hour of sleep in that way.

The rest of the week was speant pleasantly, as Kenny fantasized about the coming weekend of Doomer Sex Gone Wild.