How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 22

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on April 27, 2017

Discuss this story at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner

Kenny pulled the van into the parking lot of the Red Bird Restaurant & Wine Bar, finding to his delight that it had electrical outlets for block heaters in the parking spaces.  Even though his two Deep Cycle Marine Batteries were usually fully charged just from driving around to do his landscaping, if he found an available outlet with free juice he would always plug in to top off the big batts as well as charge up all his smaller electronic devices with Li-I batts.  A full charge to the whole setup gave him a week at full normal usage for everything, and with reduced usage he could go 2 weeks to a month without any recharge at all, although he did have his solar PV panels and RV Wind Generators that could keep the system charged up most of the time if he was frugal in usage.

Kenny and Kirsten held hands as they walked across the parking lot to the entrance, past numerous Mercedes, Jaguars, Hummers and even a couple of Teslas.  At least half had a sticker price in the 6 figures, while he had only paid $5000 for his 2003 model Chevy Van in pristine condition from a Florist who only used it periodically for local deliveries.  The van was definitely the low rent car in a parking lot!

Walking into the restaurant slightly before the peak hours, it was only about 1/2 full of filthy rich Pigmen and Pigwomen dressed to the nines.  The Maitre d' greeted them warmly and seated them at a prime location table since they were dressed properly and were an attractive young couple.  Kirsten was also well known at the Red Bird since it was a favorite of her mother's while the big alimony checks were still coming in from her pigman dad, the Petroleum Engineer prior to his arrest.  Kirsten and her brother Kirk ate there about once a month with her on a weekend, when they weren't down in Houston for the bi monthly court ordered visits with dad.

Once seated, the Wine Steward came over and didn't even bother asking them for IDs, although as was typical for young college age who had not yet passed the magical 21 age for buying alcohol, they both carried fake IDs.  However, the wine steward had seen Kirsten in with her mother for many years, and he knew even when she was younger her mother would pour her some wine to go with dinner.

Kenny opened the Wine List, but never having frequented establishments like the Red Bird and not being a wine drinker, he was quite clueless, so he decided to let Kirsten make the choice.

"Kirsten, do you have a favorite?" he asked, holding his breath and saying a quick prayer that she wouldn't order the Loyola Howell Mountain 07 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley, priced out at a whopping $448 for a half bottle carafe.

"mmm, I think the L'Ecole Number #41 '11 Merlot from the Columbia Valley is pretty good.  Is that OK with you Kenny?" Kirsten asked.

Looking down the Wine list and finding it listed for the bargain price of $52 for a carafe, Kenny breathed a sigh of relief.  At least he wouldn't have to do 2 days worth of lawns just to pay for the wine!  "Sure, that sounds great Kirsten."

"OK Francois," Kirsten said addressing the wine steward, "we'll have the L'Ecole Number 41."

"Very good choice, Miss Kirsten.  I will bring it while you are looking over the dinner menu." he replied in  a fake french accent.  His real name was Frank and he came from Boise, ID, but he had put on the accent when he first applied for the job 10 years earlier and never dropped using it at work.

"Damn, this place is sure ritzy, Kirsten.  It's no Red Lobster, that's for sure!"

"Yea, this is how the "other half" eats, or actually the other 1%.  I'm not going to be eating in these places much more though,since my dad had his bank accounts frozen.", Kirsten replied, admitting to Kenny that her status as a little rich girl had changed.

"No kidding?" Kenny asked.  "What happened?"

"After the big Hurricane down in Houston his company went bankrupt.  Then during the Chapter 11 filing the government regulators found a lot of anomalies on the books, and he got charged with several securities frauds and violations of environmental regulations.  They locked him up for 20 years and all his assets were confiscated.", Kirsten replied.

"Wow!  I'm sorry to hear that Kirsten!  That must have been rough."

Kirsten shrugged her shoulders. "No not really.  My dad was an asshole.  The roughest part is for my mom, she's not getting the alimony anymore so shes going to have to sell our house here and move into a smaller place.  Fortunately the house is in her name, and so is the stock portfolio she got in the divorce settlement.  So she should be OK, just not living the high life anymore."

Kenny nodded.  "Yea, we went through kind of the same thing when my dad died, my mom also had to sell our house.  Of course it wasn't quite at the same level though.  But the money she gave me was enough to get my landscaping business going, and she's doing OK now in Spokane working for my Uncle the Dentist."

Francois came back to the table with the wine, smoothly pouring it into the fine crystal wine glasses.  "Shall I send your Waiter over to take your order for dinner?"

Kirsten laughed.  "Oh no, Francois!  We haven't even looked at the menu yet.  Give us about 5 minutes, OK?

"Certainly, no problem Miss Kirsten." he replied, walking back off to the Wine bar.

"Well, we better look in the menu and see what to order." Kirsten said opening up the booklet. "If you want to keep it cheaper, we can just order some appetizers off the Wine Bar menu." Kirsten offered in consideration of Kenny's wallet.

Kenny looked at the prices on the main dinner menu and they weren't too bad with entrees in the $30-40 range.  About double what he might pay at a Red Lobster, but at least from reading the menu and smelling the odors wafting in from the kitchen and other tables the food was going to be way more interesting.

"Nah, let's live it up! Like you said, we're probably not going to have too many more opportuities to eat food like this, especially after TSHTF!"

Kirsten giggled.  "Yea, who knows, tomorrow could be Doomsday!"

"So what's good?" Kenny asked.

"Oh, it's all good, just depends what kind of meat or fish you like.  The meal is served complete with the sides so all you need to decide is what kind of main dish you are in the mood for.  Do you want to order some appetizers too?" she asked.

"Definitely!" Kenny replied.  "Let's go the whole 9 yards!"

Taking a couple of minutes more each to make their decisions, they came up with 2 different appetizers and 2 main meals, so they could both share and have a taste of the other dishes.  Almost as if by magic as soon as they had made their decision, their waiter Nathan showed up at the table.  Like most professional wait staff at high end restaraunts, he kept his eye on all the tables in his section, and could quickly recognize the body language of the Diners when they were ready to order.

"Are you ready to order now, Miss Kirsten?" Nathan inquired, even though he knew the answer.  Asking the female at the table first what she would like also was standard protocol.

"Yes.  For an appetizer, I'll have the Charcuterie & Cheese Plate with the Beef Bresaola, Duck~Pear Pate, Manchego Cheese Puff, Aged Asiago, Grilled Bread and Mustardo.  For salad I will have the Mediterranean Grilled Octopus & Shrimp Salad with Chickpeas, Cucumber, Fennel, Baby Kale, fresh Herbs, Kalamata Olives, roasted Red Peppers with the Red Wine Vinaigrette dressing.  For dinner I will have the Montana Raised Grilled Lamb with the Pistachio, Mint, roasted Garlic and Honey crumble.  Also on the side the Roasted Okinawa Sweet Potatoes, Lamb Jus, grilled Vegetables." Kirsten replied, which Nathan punched in quickly to his Samsung 3.0S Tablet, which now substituted for the pad and paper he had used in earlier years.

"And you sir, what will you be for dinner?" Nathan asked, not yet knowing Kenny's name to file in his memory bank of customers, of which there were hundreds of regulars.

"My name's Kenny." Kenny replied before pitching out his order.  More friend and acquaintance making was important for building the SUN☼ Community after TSHTF.

"Pleased to meet you Mr. Kenny", Nathan replied in the formal fashion used by staff to address customers.

"I'll have the Pan Seared Scallops with the Butter seared Brussel Sprouts, Bacon, pickled Mushrooms, Butternut Squash coulis and Almond crumble for an appetizer.  For salad, I'd like the Farro Beef Salad with the Arugula, Orange, Candied Olive, Fennel, Grilled Beef, Walnut, Cucumber, Lemon, Olive Oil & Shaved Parmesan.  I'd like the Pork Three Ways with the Vanilla Bean brined Tenderloin, seared Belly and crisp roast Pork Croquette.  The Rhubarb Glacé, seared Greens, Tomato~Mustard Seed Relish on the side." Kenny replied, reading the list of food goodies off the menu.

"Oh excellent choice on the main dish Mr. Kenny." Nathan replied as he punched this order into the tablet.  We have a new pork supplier from Texas who is supplying us with organically raised Mangalitsa Pig meat, which is the sweetest and juiciest available.  I am sure you will enjoy it."

"That sounds terrific Nathan! Can't wait to have a taste!" Kenny replied, and he was genuinely salivating now at the prospect of the meal.  The only problem would be packing all that food into his stomach at one sitting.He wondered if high end restaurants made doggie bags if you couldn't finish the meal?

"So, what's the latest in the world of Collapse Kenny?", Kirsten asked to get some dinner conversation going while waiting for the appetizers to be brought out by the wait staff.

"Well, first off we have a plan for bringing more people out to our SUN☼ Community once TSHTF." Kenny responded, reaching into his wallet and handing Kirsten the Level 1 Biz Card with all the contact information on it.  "This is the top level of contact information only for very trusted friends.  Keep it safe and don't pass on this information without talking to us first." he added, handing her the card.

"So does this mean I'll actually get to see your place and Karl's next time we go out?" Kirsten asked.

"Yea, probably the weekend after this one if you're not busy. Would have been this weekend except for getting the email from my mom." Kenny replied, keeping his white lie going for his excuse for begging off from the weekend with Kirsten to spend alone time with Karen.

"Oh sure!  That would be terrific Kenny!" Kirsten replied in her typically effusive manner.  "I can't wait to see how real Kollapsniks live!  I really liked Karen too, and Karl is very cool for an old guy!  He sure was amazing with that sling demonstration.  I never saw anything like that."

"Yea, me either actually.  I've watched a lot of YouTube vids on this and practiced a fair amount, but I could never pull off a stunt like that.  Must have taken him years to develop that skill." Kenny agreed.  "Also, I may be hooking up with Kareem and his organization.  Do you remember Kareem from High School?"

Kirsten laughed.  "Remember him?  Who could forget somebody 7' tall?  And 'organization'?" she giggled.  "I think you mean 'Gang'.  Everybody in Missoula knows Kareem and his buddies run Ganja and Prostitutes.  Kind of a tough bunch of folks to hook up with, don't you think?"

Kenny nodded, with a grin.  " 'Organization is the polite word'.  'Gang' has very negative word baggage associated with it.  But yes, it's a gang, but as gangs go I know several of the people besides Kareem who are in it, Hawk is in it and I dated his sister Sparrow in High School.  I think Kim is in it too, and he was in my Computer Programming class.  Fucking genius.  So I don't think they are bad guys, just guys from the wrong side of the tracks who are trying to get by in a world of collapse."