This blog is dedicated to the stories I've written over the years. Sometimes I get some time and add a story. Grab a hot cup of something and enjoy!

Please note that for some reason, blogger is NOT allowing me to post on any comments. So thank you for reading and know I do read all the comments but cannot reply.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Small Town Survival -Twenty Four


Gracie and Sammie had a quiet breakfast that morning. They had quickly done the chores and fed all the animals. Sammie couldn’t even manage a smile for Spice when the silly fox snuck a bit of biscuit from her.

“Honey, you know that your dad will do his very best to find your mom. Why don’t we do something different today?” said Gracie. “Before we go into town.”

“Ok” replied Sammie in an indifferent tone.

Thinking that some drastic measure was needed to cheer Sammie up; Gracie said “Ok, I know what we can do. Let’s get some really old clothes on and go make sure that those berry bushes are going to give us some berries this year. And maybe we can find some clay to make your mom a pretty vase that she can enjoy when she gets home. Does that sound good to you?”

Finally Sammie lifted up her head and got a sparkle back in her eye, “Oh yes, mommy will love a new vase. And can we pick some wildflowers? And can we go wading in the creek when we get clay? And can we take a picnic? And….” Gracie had to cut her off with a “you betcha! Today will be a girl’s day!”

“Yahoo!” cried Sammie and she ran off to find some oldest clothes. There was a tote full of older clothing that Gracie kept in the mud room for occasions just like this and Sammie had a favorite shirt she would wear. It was kind of long, but a deep pink with huge white flowers on it. She could tie up the ends after she buttoned it half way down and she would wear it over an old tee shirt. Gracie loved the shirt because she could always see exactly where Sammie was.

The girls changed clothes, packed up a small soft cooler with plenty of food and water. Just as they were about to go out the door, Gracie asked Sammie what were they forgetting.

“We need our hiking BOB’s, Miss Gracie. We almost forgot!” declared Sammie.

“We sure did, it was great that you remembered, what if something would have happened to us?”

“We would be in some big trouble….BIG!”

They quickly opened up a cupboard in the mud room that was behind the door. From there they removed two backpacks. One pack was smaller and fit nicely on Sammie without being too heavy. Sammie felt very important wearing this pack since she knew exactly what was in it:
6x8 tarp
Three black heavy duty garbage bags
Small mess kit
Water proof matches
First aid kit
Fishing kit
Rain poncho
A couple packages ramen
Dried jerky
Bottle of extra water
Small folding knife, just for her
And most importantly: the chocolate bars

Gracie’s pack carried similar things plus a couple of flares, two knives, a bigger first aid kit and more food. She then remembered that there were radios in there so in case they were separated; they could still talk to each other.

“Sammie, let’s see if the flashlights and radios work” said Gracie.

Quickly they took the pack off of Sammie and they went outside to the porch to see if they could get the radios to work and whether the flashlights were any good.

“Testing one, two, three” said Sammie confidently in her radio. Gracie had to giggle and say “You’re too fast for me, let me turn mine on.”

“Testing, testing, one, two, three” Gracie could clearly hear Sammie’s voice over the radio. Wow, she wondered how in the world they managed to work. All she knew was that her husband always told her to keep the BOB’s in that cupboard. Unknown to her, the cupboard was lined heavily with steel, under the wood that shown, by her husband when they built the house. There were also a few other cupboards and closets that had been done the same way. So when the EMP hit, the packs were safe.

“This is going to be great!” exclaimed Sammie. The flashlights worked also. They repacked their packs, hooked the soft cooler under Gracie’s pack, and set off with their walking sticks in hand. Of course all the Kids had to come too.

Small Town Survival -Twenty Three


Brooke and Sparky had to go north out of their way since there were many fires burning in a direct route to the zoo. They ended up going closer to the college were Big Mac and Bobby Joe were suppose to be then they had originally planned.

They saw the crowd a couple of blocks before they reached it. They both figured that their friends would be right in the middle of it, so they slowly headed into the crowd.

The crowd parted like the Red Sea for the two on the bikes. When Brooke and Sparky got to the truck and saw that Big Mac and Bobby Joe they weren’t quite sure what was going on.

“So, seems like you’ve managed to make some new friends here, right Big Mac?” asked Sparky.

Brooke had already gotten off her bike and was ready to fight with her friends and by her stance, the boys knew they had better pipe up and explain things before she took anyone out.

“Hold on Brooke, these here are our friends and we all are going to storm the college and free the prisoners there. We were just fixin’ to go over the plan that our newest friend here, Tiny Tony has and then the assholes holed up at the college are through.” Explained Big Mac quickly.

“Do you think that Sandra is in there?” asked Sparky.

“We’re not sure, but there are a lot of women in there being held against their will and we have to help free them whether she is in there or not.” Said Big Mac.

“We know that there are some kids in there also. “ said Tiny Tony.

And that statement riled Brooke up even more and she said “so what’s the plan?”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Small Town Survival -Twenty Two


Big Mac, Bobby Joe and their new found friends were heading to Rhodes College and just as they were about one block from there, they ran into the first line of defense. They were stopped by a pair of young punks with mean looking guns pointing right at them. Nobody got out of the truck since they knew they were at the advantage inside it. Immediately, five men stood up in the back of the truck and covered the two punks with their own weapons. Big Mac was in the back since Bobby Joe was driving with one of the new friends in the cab with him giving directions. While Big Mac and two others kept the punks covered, the other two carefully looked around to see if there were any surprises lurking anywhere.

“Let us by, we don’t want any trouble. We are just looking for some female relatives of ours.” Said Big Mac loudly.

The two punks laughed and said “These are our bitches and we ain’t done with them yet. So we ain’t gonna let ya by.”

There were two quick shots heard and suddenly the way was clear. Big Mac looked over at the big man; whose name he had learned earlier was Scott, with new found respect.

"No sense dragging it out and one of us getting hurt. I think we need a plan and we need to know the layout before we go busting in there.” Scott continued. “I want to get Debby out of there alive or Elizabeth will kill me.”

One of the other men, whose name was Ken, nudged Scott and said “Look. We’ve got an audience.” Sure enough, a crowd was quickly gathering and the biggest, blackest, meanest looking man Big Mac had ever seen was right in the front. Out numbered, Big Mac did what any smart man would do; he quickly jumped out of the truck and offered his hand.

“Listen, we are just here to find a young girl and a woman who were kidnapped. We really don’t want any trouble; but, we could use some help.” Offered Big Mac. “My name is Mac and these are our friends.”

The big black man stared at Big Mac and then looked the small group over carefully. Meanwhile, the crowd grew to be what felt to be about one hundred strong. Bobby Joe could see that every one of them was a man and each man was armed to the teeth. He said a silent prayer asking that if he can live through this day, he would hug Momma Sue everyday and never get into trouble again.

“Do you realize that the two boys you killed were only 16?” flatly stated the man.

“No Sir, I didn’t realize that. I only knew that they were fixin’ to shoot at us and I couldn’t let them do that.” Replied Big Mac.

Again the man stared deeply into Big Mac’s eyes. Big Mac didn’t look away, nor did he flinch- no matter how much he wanted to.

Finally, the man seemed to find some answer he was looking for and he must have made some kind of move or gesture, although neither Big Mac nor anyone in the truck saw it, because the tension in the crowd suddenly disappeared. The black man reached out and firmly grasped Big Mac’s hand and said “I’m Tiny Tony and we were just fixing’ to teach that gang a lesson and rescue the women. You’re welcome to join us.”

Small Town Survival -Twenty One


Sam was crying like a baby as he cradled Sandra in his arms. She wasn’t being too quiet either. They were both so glad to see each other. Sandra had been through hell and lived to tell about it.

“When I was walking that lady over to St. Jude’s, she pulled a knife on me. It was so sudden that I screamed. Thankfully, Brooke’s teachings took over and I managed to get away. I ran all the way to St. Jude’s and waited for you. Then I realized that you might be in trouble, so I tried to get someone to help me look for you, and then the generators started failing all over the hospital. So, no one could go with me to look for you. Well, you know me; I decided to go by myself.” She paused, took a small drink from the cup beside her bed and then continued “Sam, it was stupid I know. I was very careful and looked everywhere for you. It wasn’t until I got back to St. Jude’s that I messed up.”

Sam told her that he was in the river, out cold from the blow to his head. He also told her that he may have even been in the truck headed back into Arkansas when she went looking for him and he filled her in on all that had happened to him since he could clearly see that she needed some more time to gather her thoughts and compose herself before she would be able to continue with her story. He also gave her a huge hug from their daughter and told her of the strict orders he had from Sammie to bring “my mommy home safe and sound!”

“I knew she would be safe and that Gracie would take care of her. I miss her like crazy, but wasn’t worried for one minute. She is in safe hands” said Sandra. Then she took a deep breath and continued with what had happened to her.

“When I finally got back to St. Jude’s,” Sandra began, “All hell had broken loose.“

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Small Town Survival -Twenty


With a couple of quick flicks of her wrist, Brooke had the man disarmed and flat on his back wondering just what had happened.

“I don’t like it when people point guns in my face” said Brooke in her soft throaty voice.

“Well you sure are handy to have around. I didn’t mean any harm. This is my dad’s shop and I came here to check it for him. My name’s Patrick. If you look in the office, my picture is there with my wife and kids” half pleaded the man trying to NOT sound scared.

Sparky went to get the picture and came back with a photo frame and piece of paper in his hand. He placed the picture next to the side of the man’s head and had to agree that they were the same person.

“So glad you stopped by, we had left you a little note” he said as he helped Patrick to his feet and handed him the paper. Brooke reluctantly handed the rifle back to him.

“Do you really mean what this says?” asked Patrick.

“Yes, we do. We will bring back two cows and fresh produce within one month to pay for the bikes and supplies we are taking” said Sparky. No one commented on how he stressed the fact that the bikes were going with them.

“Listen, I’ll make a real deal with you,” stated Patrick. “None of my family wants to stay here. None of us are slackers either. We just don’t want the hassle of trying to survive in this city when anyone with any sense can see it is total chaos here. So, let us come with you back to where you came from and we will donate any of the bikes here that you can get working and any other supplies you need. We will not be a burden to you, I promise.” Said Patrick.

Both Sparky and Brooke looked at each then at Patrick who could see the gears working in their heads.

“How long will it take you to get ready?” asked Sparky.

“How many are there that are going?” asked Brooke.

Patrick grinned ear to ear and said “We are almost ready right now. We were going to head out of town tomorrow morning. I can have all 13 of us ready in just a couple of hours. And we have two trucks that are running and one jeep that despite seeing better days; runs like a dream.”

They all stepped outside by the bikes, and Brooke noticed an old jeep half hidden behind a dumpster towards the back of the lot.

“Do what you need to do, we have to find our friends and we are all meeting at St. Jude’s at 4pm. If you want to go with us, and we do have a friend that could use your help, be there with whoever and whatever is going. If you’re smart, you’ll bring whatever bikes you can get running and all the spare parts you can fit on your trucks. If I was you, I’d pack like you’re never coming back” said Sparky.

“We’ll be at St. Jude’s by 4pm. I promise and I thank you very much” said Patrick. They shook hands and parted ways. Brooke and Sparky started up the bikes and headed once again towards zoo.

Small Town Survival -Nineteen


Sam and Doc were almost to the hospital when they encountered a small boy just wandering around.

“Are you ok?” asked Doc.

The small boy just stopped and looked at him and didn’t say a word.

Sam asked him “Are your parents around?” The boy just stared at him.

Doc looked the boy over and declared that he looked physically ok, but mentally something was wrong. The child seemed to be in shock.

“Can you tell us your name?” asked Doc. Again all he got was a stare. Doc told Sam that they should take the boy with them to the hospital and see if they could help him.

Doc told the boy where they were going and asked him if he would go with them so they could find some help for him. The boy just stared, but when they started to walk again, he followed them very closely. After about 20 yards, the boy gently grabbed a hold of Doc’s shirt tail and wouldn’t let go. The three of them managed to avoid a lot of trouble and made good time to the hospital. But they were challenged when they arrived and had to convince those guarding the entrance that they did not mean any harm.

“We are just looking for a friend of ours, her name is Sandra. She is a pretty green eyed, blonde and went missing on the Day. This here is her husband, Sam.” Spoke up Doc.

“Are you talking about Sandra Cooper?” asked the guard.

“Yes, that’s her. Have you seen her?” replied Sam.

“Oh yeah, she’s here. One of the doctors recognized her when she was brought in. She’s hurt pretty bad, but the doctors think she’ll be ok. Come on in, she’s been asking for you Sam. That lady means the world to the kids here from St. Jude.”

And with those words the guards let Sam and Doc and the small boy in.

“Who’s this little one?” asked the guard.

“We don’t know, he just kind of attached himself to us. I think he needs a good going over and hopefully we can find some of his family” said Doc.

So Sam went with one guard to find his wife and since the little boy wouldn’t let go of Doc, he went with him to get a good looking over.

As Doc walked with the little boy and the guard, the guard filled him in on what’s been happening in Memphis for the last 24 hours.

“My name is Stan, by the way, and we are finally organized here at the hospital. We lost a lot of patients when the power went down; and the back up generators went out at St. Jude’s which is why they are all over here. All of the systems over there overloaded the back up generators. And for some reason, they didn’t have the fuel to keep them going for long. So here we all are and as far as we know, the only hospital that is able to take any one that gets hurt. Even the VA hospital is not open. We had some trouble at first, but once the gangs realized that if they shut us down, no one will get any kind of treatment, they backed off. They also had some help making that decision when they realized that we out armed them.” Stan finished as they approached the nurse’s station and he asked the nurse of anyone had a moment to look over the young boy.

Doc noticed the heavily armed men that were at all the doors; feeling glad that he was one of the good guys.

Stan noticed his attention and said “We unarm anyone who wants treatment of any kind, if they prove to be honest, and really need our help; they get their weapons back when they leave. If they are just trying to score or pull one over on us…well, we don’t have time or the energy for any kind of crap. We get four or five people a day that are going through withdrawal, just a couple of seriously injured ones. We had a guy come in this morning who was mauled by a lion. Can you believe some do-gooder let all the animals out at the zoo?” he exclaimed. Doc was just thinking that he was glad no one had thought to ask them if they were armed and glad that their weapons were out of sight.

With those words, Stan left Doc and the boy in the capable hands of a very pretty nurse whose name tag said Sue. “Come with me fella’s, Dr. Vern has a couple of minutes to look the young man over” and she led them to a curtained off area next to the nurses station.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I interrupt this story....

to bring you GREAT NEWS!!

Due to the Tree being chopped, someone started a new forum for PAW fiction writers!!!

I don't even know if the place has a name but here is the URL maybe the name is PAWFICTION

I am already signed up but am not sure about putting my old stories on there (just due to time constraints)


Now back to our regular programing.....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Small Town Survival -Eighteen


Bobby Joe and Big Mac slipped quickly over the freeway and jogged down the incline to Riverside Drive. They had a short walk, much shorter than the others would. On the way they saw a dozen or so people just walking around in a daze, filthy and hungry looking. They kept a tight grip on their weapons and the few that approached them, saw the look in their eyes and walked away.

"Hey, look! What do you think?" asked Big Mac as he looked at a flat bed Dodge truck that looked like it hadn't run since the 70's. They were in the park that came just before the welcome center that one had to go through to get to Mud Island.

"Maybe" replied Bobby Joe.

They both walked over to the truck and gave it a good looking over. Bobby Joe broke a long thin branch off of one of the willows nearby and stuck down in the gas tank. "Looks like more than a half of tank here" he said.

They both started tinkering under the hood and dash and within 20 minutes had the thing running. It wasn't purring like a kitten; but, it stayed running. They drove it up to the welcome center and decided that one of them would stay with the truck and one would go in the center and if necessary, go over to Mud Island looking for Sandra. Bobby Joe stayed and Big Mac went.

Big Mac wasn't gone for 2 minutes before Bobby Joe had him some trouble.

Five big burly men who had an air of authority started up to him. Bobby Joe just cocked his shotgun and made sure they saw his other guns and ammo at his waist.

"Just stop right there and say your piece" he said as he raised his gun.

"We don't want any trouble" said the biggest man "We just want to know what exactly you are doing."

"Ain't really none of your business; but, since you ASKED so nicely, I'll tell you. We are looking for a good friend of ours. Maybe you've seen or heard something about her" said Bobby Joe.

"She's just a tad over five feet with green eyes and blonde hair. Last she was seen was walking with another woman over by Saint Judes on the Day. We believe the woman was no good 'cause her husband beat up our friend's husband pretty bad and dumped him in the river. Hear anything about that?"

The big man took his time answering. Him and his buddies exchanged looks. "Yeah, we know that couple that your friends were with. They were robbing people and kidnapping the pretty females to trade for food and such. They were fast movers; after all they started on that Day. They're dead now. Tried to kidnap the wrong person this morning." He continued "they tried to take my Elizabeth, she's my daughter. I didn't let them get far. I had to get some information from them about Elizabeth's friend who they took last night. You'll find their bodies in there." he said as he nodded over to the welcome center. "But, none of those they took are in there. The last words they said were that they took all the girls and women over to the college. That's were we are headed now." He began to eye the truck even harder.

"Well now, I'll tell you what. Have one of your buddies go in there and get my buddy and we'll all go over there together" said Bobby Joe. "We'll drive".

Meanwhile, Brooke and Sparky headed east on the I 40 towards the center of town and the zoo. They decided to take a short cut and veer over towards the row of used car lots that lined Overton Park Avenue. Their idea was to check and see if any of the older motorcycles there could be fixed to work. It took just about a half hour to get there. Not many people were walking on the I 40, but when they dropped down onto Overton they saw many people wandering around.

“It looks like no one knows what to do around here,” commented Brooke.

Sparky replied “everyone is so spoiled today; I doubt that many will make it through this latest ordeal.”

Just then Brooke noticed the first car lot. There were only a few motorcycles and none of those were the older type. They had electronic ignitions. After going through four different lots, they finally found one lot that was all motorcycles and in the back were a half a dozen trade in bikes. No one was around; so quickly they checked the bikes over and decided that they would take one of the Maaco dirt bikes and one of the Suzeki 90 trail bikes, since they were the easiest ones to fix. It took them only about ten minutes and they had the two bikes going. Before they left the shop, they managed to scrounge up a couple saddle packs and filled them with extra tubes, a couple tube repair kits, and some other odds and ends they thought might come in handy.

They were just fixing to head out the door when they were met with the business end of a Winchester .30/30.

Small Town Survival -Seventeen


Early morning found a truck headed to Memphis. Sam, Brooke, Bobby Joe and three Vietnam vets: Doc, Sparky and Big Mac along with their new friends; Ron and Jim were in it. Doc had been a field Medic, Sparky loved his dynamite and Big Mac was a huge mountain of a man who liked flowers and the ballet; and no one would kid him about it.

They made a stop in Payneway where Ron and Jim said their goodbyes and let the group know that they could use some help with the farms if anyone honest was willing to help out. ‘Thank you’s’ and ‘we’ll stop by on our way home to check on things’ were passed between the new friends.

It wasn't even 6am when they parked the truck in the grove of trees and disabled it. They all had backpacks with plenty of jerky and water and they each had a first aid kit. Doc carried a bit more first aid with him. Of course they carried their weapons and plenty of ammo too. Brooke had on her an extra assortment of weapons and no one could see where any of them were; but, they had some fun betting on how many she had on her. Big Mac won with a guess of 32.

The group crossed the bridge with no bother and headed to St. Jude first. This was their meeting point. St. Jude was deserted and totally trashed. They found many dead. Interestingly, it looked like the kids and all the personal had been taken out before whatever kind of fighting went on.

"Hey, look at this!" said Sparky; pointing at a board behind one of the nurses stations that somehow didn't get destroyed, "this says that everyone was relocated to the Med."

"Isn't that in the Middle of Town?" asked Big Mac.

"No, it's less than a mile away" said Doc.

"Well, I guess we should figure out exactly who is going where and what time we should all meet back here" suggested Sam. "And I really want to tell each of you how much I appreciate your help."

Brooke said "its 7am, let's all be back here at 4pm. If anyone has any trouble, use these." And she pulled three flare guns out of her pack and gave one to Sam and Doc, one to Bobby Joe and Big Mac and kept one for herself and Sparky. She also gave each group four flares.

"Wow! Brooke, these will be almost as good as walkie talkie's." said Sparky. "As long as we shoot them straight up in the air, they should clear most of the buildings."

"And they make a nice loud noise” replied Sam. “Let’s use one for emergencies and two if we find Sandra, agreed?” Everyone agreed.

"Sam, where are some places that you think Sandra might go for you to find her?" asked Doc.

"She would have most likely went to the Med; but, she could have gone to the zoo or down to the welcome center on Mud Island." said Sam, "those are the only places she would be if she was free to do so."

With that, they went out their separate ways; Sam and Doc headed southeast towards the Med; Brooke and Sparky headed to the zoo and Bobby Joe and Big Mac headed to Mud Island.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Small Town Survival -Sixteen


No matter how much you think you know about herbs and all they can and cannot do for you; every good herbalist knows that you can always learn something new. And that it's always best to check yourself when it comes to making up potions, lotions and other recipes.

Gracie and Momma Sue made sure that they checked with the reference books and made up batches of remedies for coughing, headaches, hay fever, wounds, cuts, and other pains. They even made up some heart medicine for the few in town who needed to watch their hearts.

All the books were well cared for; but, worn. There was "The How To Herb Book" by Velma Keith and Monteen Gordon; Rodales Complete Encyclopedia on Herbs; "The Household Herbal" by Christopher Robbins; Jean Carper's "The Food Pharmacy"; "The Complete Guide to Natural Healing" by Tom Monte; "Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs" by Penelope Ody. There were more, these were just the ones they used that day.

Cough syrup was easy to make. They just added some mashed up chunks of ginger to Momma Sue's ‘home-grown’ honey. They knew it would be ready by the time they got it to the clinic and it would last a long time. And when it did crystallize, they could give it as “candy” to the kids. They also made up an infusion of marshmallow (not the kind you toast) flowers and leaves mixed with white horehound, for the more serious coughs.

"You know Momma; we are going to have to teach people how to take care of these kinds of little things so the clinic can be used for emergencies only. We are going to set up classes at the library, do you think you would like to teach some of the things you know?" asked Gracie.

"I don't know Gracie. Some of these here people don't take to listenin' very well and I'd have ta put them in their place ifin' they got outta hand."

"You can teach whatever you feel most people need to know and we will type up some sheets people could take home with them. You know I'll do whatever you need me to do. If anyone gets out of hand, they will be asked to leave. We don't need anyone who won't help themselves. But, I think we will have a big crowd and they'll be on their best behavior." said Gracie.

"Well, Ok Gracie; but, ya better be there!" replied Momma Sue.

They finished up with a lotion for those who had arthritis made up of cayenne pepper.

"I have a recipe for pepper cookies somewhere. I'm going to see if I can find it and make some. They sure are good and they make you forget your worries for awhile" said Gracie.

"I love those cookies girl...you better bring me some" said Momma Sue.

"I'll make them for the day you come teach at the library"

They finished up and packed up packages of herbs to mix later when they were needed. There was willow for pain, fever few for headaches; tea tree oil for small cuts and abrasions.

"Momma? What are we going to do about birth control?" asked Gracie.

Well, ya know that the only fur sure way to get no babies if fer ya to keep those legs closed!" exclaimed Momma Sue in her no-nonsense fashion.

"Yes and the guys need to keep their pants fastened also; but, we will need something since you know legs open and pants unfasten almost by themselves. Didn't you once tell me that the Indians use to use black and blue cohash?" asked Gracie.

"Yep, they sure did....both the mens and womens drank a tea made out of it. Let me think here...my granny told me that the blue cohash was fer the birth control and the black was fer the womens who was goin' through the change mostly...we need to look that up girl." said Momma Sue.

Momma Sue and Gracie ended up looking through all of the books that Momma Sue had.

"There isn't much here on birth control. Mostly things that never were proven effective or old wives tales. What we found on the blue cohash isn't anything we didn't already know...only that it's used to stimulate labor. The Indians may have taken it each month to clean out the womb, whether there was a baby or not. And the black cohash is for mostly older women whose hormones are not balanced. I'm beginning to think that we are going to have to come up with some diaphragms and a whole lot of education for the all the people in town." said Gracie. "Here's an interesting tidbit; the Chinese used to use salted plums." She couldn't help the small giggle that escaped from her throat.

"We're ta give the peoples the options and let them'all make up their own minds and deal with what comes of 'em." replied Momma Sue. "Salted plums and all."

They both had a good laugh.

"Ok, Momma. Let's get these packages ready to go. If we are gonna have a party tonight, I've got a lot to do at home yet. Besides, it's looking like we are going to just have to open a school on herbs and health and make everyone attend. We really won't be able to help too many people with the everyday kind of bumps and bruises. That's all we would be doing. People are just gonna have to learn how to take care of themselves."

They went out with the packages and joined the men where they learned that Sam and Bobby Joe would head back to Memphis first thing in the morning. They would take the truck with as little as possible. They knew they would be a target and so would take plenty of firepower. Also, they were hoping that at the party tonight, they would be able to convince a couple more of the guys to go with them. They were even going to ask Brooke to go if she was there. Chances were, she'd be there since she always seemed to know what was going on no matter if anyone told her or not.

Brooke was another one of the town’s eccentric's. She lived in an old building, on the south side of town that use to be a feed store that went out of business a decade ago. She taught some of the kids in town martial arts. She worked at nights as a bouncer at one of the rougher bars up in the big town of Jonesboro.

Even though she was only five foot three and about 100 pounds soaking wet, not many messed with Brooke.

Sam was hoping to slip into Memphis and slip right back out. Ron and Jim decided to hitch a ride back to Payneway in the morning with the group going to Memphis because there was still a lot of work to be done there on their farms and it was on the way.

"Maybe ya'all should hide and disable the truck on this side of the river and walk over the bridge. There is that small bit of land that is on the flood plain, you know where they sold all those fireworks last year?" said Gracie.

"Yea, I know where you mean. I believe that small stand of trees has plenty of cover. We would just have to make sure no one saw us. That's a good idea; I doubt we could drive over the bridge anyways. There would probably be too many cars on it." said Sam.

So with most of their plans set, Sam, Ron, Jim, and Gracie were taken back to Gracie’s by Billy Ray.

Tucker and Maggie were already there with Sammie.

"Daddy!!!" cried Sammie.

Tears came to everyone's eyes as Sam hugged his little daughter. Gracie walked over to Tucker and Maggie to catch them up on all that had happened. She also told them about Sam going back to Memphis to look for Sandra. They watched as Sam took Sammie off to the barn area to tell her what had happened to her mom and reassure her that he was going to do his best to find her.

As afternoon slowly turned to evening more and more people began to show up. They brought food, lanterns and their instruments. It didn't take long for the eating and the music to start. Many were dancing on the old barn floor and right out of the big barn doors that had been flung open and held there with a couple of bales of hay. They all were having a grand ole time. Momma Sue was even seen tapping her foot a time or two.

There were also small groups here or there and of course the discussion was about what they were "going to do" about "the situation". There were handshake deals and many a good suggestion made that night. Many would say later that if it weren't for that grand ole hoe down, there would have been a whole lot more trouble than there was.

Sam danced every dance with his daughter and Tucker danced with Maggie when he could pry her away from this group or that. Gracie danced with just about every male there so no one would think she was sweet on anyone.

Eventually, the group was able to convince Gracie and Maggie to do a duet with the banjo and fiddle. They first played a slow song that Gracie had written when her husband died. Gracie’s clear voice seemed to weave around the yard and bind the people there together with the air, trees, and moonlight. The song was very encouraging and had everyone shedding a tear or two but filled with hope for the future.

Then Maggie got her banjo going and launched into a raunchy ballad that had its birth in some tavern long ago. Gracie joined in with the fiddle on the second chorus. In no time, the whole crowd was hootin’ and hollerin’ and feeling renewed and refreshed with a firm purpose in their minds and hearts.

Even the "kids" were having a blast. With people sneaking them bits and pieces of wonderful food, they soon had very full bellies and they went off to stretch out where they wouldn't be in anyone's way. Except Spice, of course. She was sticking very close to Sammie who was eating a cup of homemade peach cobbler. Spice just LOVED homemade peach cobbler.

Sometime during the evening the final plans for Sam to go were finalized and yes, Brooke did want to go. They were going to leave before dawn and they all were going to sleep at Momma Sue's so they knew they would be well prepared and ready when it was time to hit the road. There was going to be six of them going so that they could split up into pairs and watch each others backs.

Long into the night, the music stopped. The food was all gone, dishes washed and put away or taken away. The people all headed home refreshed and pleasantly tired and more importantly: full of hope.

Sam tenderly kissed his sleeping daughter goodbye, ruffled Spice's fur as she snuggled closer to Sammie, and slowly walked to Bobby Joe's truck to begin his quest to find his beloved wife.

Gracie said a silent prayer as the truck drove out of sight.

Small Town Survival -Fifteen


The men were put to work cleaning the kitchen and they didn't murmur one bit, since it was Momma Sue who told them to do it. Didn't take too long, then they went outside to decide the best way for Sam to get ready to go back to Memphis.

Gracie and Momma Sue went into what she liked to call her "Herb Box". This was a room built off her kitchen. There was a door that leads into an outside shed. The "Herb Box" was about 15 feet square, full of shelves and lots of plants hanging upside down from the ceiling. Along two of the walls, the ones with no doors were counters with shelves under and above. Every shelf was filled with lots of interesting jars, boxes, bowls, and many shelves were overloaded with well worn, much loved books. In the middle of the room was a island with half a dozen knives, spoons, mortars and pistils, bowls filled with interesting looking things inside, cutting boards, vases with plants and flowers inside and all kinds of other things one might use while making up lotions and potions. The place smelled heavenly!

Next to the outside door, was a small wood stove and it had above it, a funny looking rack made out of wood with shelves made of wooden screens. The shelves were about three inches apart. It was a homemade drying rack for the herbs and plants that couldn't be hung upside down.

"Ok, Momma Sue....where do ya want to start? 'Cause we will need everything!"

"Let's go to the books, dearie."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Small Town Survival -Fourteen


"Sam!" shouted Gracie, "it's so good to see you! I almost didn't recognize you. Where is Sandra?"

Gracie was talking and hugging the bedraggled man who looked like he not only went a couple rounds with Muhammad Ali; but, did it in a lake.

"Hello Gracie" replied Sam. "I don't know where Sandra is. I've been hoping she made it home. She's not here?"

"No, she's not. Sammie has been staying with me. What happened?"

"These men have helped me get home. Ron, Jim; this is Gracie Madison. Gracie; Ron and Jim" said Sam as he introduced the men.

"And if I'm not mistaken, that one scowling inside the truck is Billy Ray Baxter."

How ya do's passed around and then it was decided that they would all go to Momma Sue's so Sam, Ron and Jim could get their scrapes and other injuries looked at especially the nasty gash on the back of Sam's head.

Once at Momma's Sue, the men washed and had all their injuries were cleaned and bandaged. With several stitches in the back of Sam's head.

Then Momma Sue put huge servings of meat, potatoes with gravy made from drippings and green beans in front of them. There were a couple of crusty loaves of bread freshly made that morning that they managed to smother in rich creamy butter. In between bites the men filled them in.

"Memphis is a mess! Most of it is on fire and I'd say about two thirds of the people are dead. You know how they were having so much trouble with the Mayor?"

Yes's murmured all around.

"Well, he decided he would take to the streets. Rally the People. Didn't take long for those who really had an axe to grind to find him and tear him from limb from limb.

"Just about the only place NOT on fire is St. Jude's. Seems most people still have a soft spot for those kids. I can’t believe how fast it all went to hell!

“When the Pulse Bomb went off, we were just about to go over the I-40 bridge out of Memphis. Sandra and I walked to St. Judes to see if there was anything we could do to help. With all the power out, we figured we may as well do something until things got going.

"We didn't realize what had happened until about three or four hours later. Word started spreading that things were out for good and by evening all hell had broke loose. At the hospital we heard all kinds of theories about what happened. But, the most likely one is that Korea was experimenting with a new kind of bomb. Supposedly, they were testing it and the test went wrong. Very wrong. They should have checked for Solar Flares that day. It seems that solar flares and this new bomb don't mix well." reported Sam.

"It's world wide. Nothing electronic works, most vehicles don't work. Madness now rules." softly said Jim.

"We fished Sam here out of the river, just this morning. Then before he woke up, we got an opportunity to catch a ride with a family who had an old truck who were headed into Arkansas and they were going by our hometown, Payneway. We didn't even realize he lived this way. We just knew we couldn't leave him. Then we walked the rest of the way." added Ron.

"How did you and Sandra get separated, Sam?" asked Momma Sue.

"Last thing I remember is we were helping a couple by the Pyramid. It looked like they were being beat up pretty bad by a group of young men or should I say thugs! We managed to chase them off. Sandra started to take the woman over to St Judes and the man and I were following them. I heard Sandra scream and as I started to run, that bastard hit me over the head! Next thing I knew was bumping along in the truck with Ron and Jim, who trying to keep me from bouncing out. I don't know what happened to Sandra and it's killing me. I really need to try to find her."

"Are you going back to Memphis?" asked Gracie.

"Yes, I have to. But, I want to go back prepared. Do you think anyone would want to go with me?" replied Sam.

Momma Sue thought for a moment, "Bobby Joe will take ya, Sam and yer gonna be ready for bear!"

"You can't go today, give yourself at least a day to rest up and get ready. Besides, you have a little girl who is going to want to see you. You'll have to explain to her about her mommy." said Gracie.

She continued, "which brings me to the hoe down. Momma Sue; you and the boys are most welcome to come over my place tonight. We are having a much needed break. An old fashion hoe down. We want as many people who can come....the more people-the more music and food!"

"Wouldn't miss it for the world, sweetie. Now ifin there's gonna be some dancin', we best get our work done." answered Momma Sue.

Small Town Survival -Thirteen


Back in the house Maggie and Gracie were talking over their afternoon plans. Gracie asked Maggie to go over to Sammie's house and see if everything was ok. It was just too far for them to go on the bike. She also asked her to pick up some things for Sammie, like clothes, toys, books. Maybe even any meat that had thawed out. Maggie promised that her and Tucker would do that this afternoon and then come back over here tonight.

"Hey, will ya'all bring the fiddle and banjo? We could use some music. And if you come across anyone...invite them over. I think we all need some distraction. And a good ole fashion hoe down sounds good right now. We can make room for quite a few people. Shoot, we can even open the barn doors and set up a feast of food. Sound good?" asked Gracie.

"You are so right Gracie. We all are running on fumes right now. Let's do it. I'm sure I can get Tucker to run around town while I go through Sammie's house. Let's do it! Let's shoot for six tonight, OK?" replied Maggie.

"Sounds super! You go tell Sammie and Tucker cause one of the boys will be here soon to get Sammie and me."

"Hey, how about if Sammie goes with us? It will give you a break and she can help pick out what she wants from home."

"Ok, if you don't mind. I know Sammie would love to go with you."

Soon after Maggie, Tucker and Sammie left with lots of promises to be back on time and bring lots of people and food. And most especially Music.

And right on time Billy Ray Baxter roared up the drive. It didn't take long to load up the truck and be on their way. Gracie had went ahead and left some chicken and homemade bratwurst at home for the hoe down. She knew there would be plenty to eat. Everybody always brought more than enough when it came to hoe downs and cookouts. She also made sure the jerky was doing well.

They were only about one mile from Momma Sue's when they noticed three men walking toward town. They were not in good shape.

"Pull over, Billy Ray; let's see if these men need some help." said Gracie.

The men turned and looked at them as they got out of the truck.

One of them was Sammie's dad, Samuel.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Small Town Survival -Twelve


"Looks like it's time to put the meat in" said Gracie to herself. "Then it's a six hour nap for me"

And that's just what she did.

When Gracie's wind up alarm clock went off six hours later, she was refreshed and ready to get on with the day.

Deciding that some coffee was needed for this morning, Gracie went outside to the spring house and filled her kettle with clear cool water. She had a "rock" table that set beside the dryer/smoker and that's where she put the full kettle. Using the wooden handles on the sides, she carefully lifted the dryer off the bed of coals. Gently, she stirred up the coals, added a couple nice chunks of wood then put the dryer back on. Then she opened the door and carefully rotated the wire racks; being careful to check the meat for even drying. Things looked perfect so far. Off to the side of the cooker, was another small pit that she got a fire going in, here is where she could heat up the water for coffee. She then tucked the cast iron kettle right into the fire.

Looking around her small courtyard, as she called it; she noticed that two of the pickets were loose by the sage. Figuring that Spice was the culprit, she hammered them back in place with a rock.

The courtyard was separate from the rest of the yard by a short picket fence with its own gate close to the back door. Inside was the dryer/smoker/pit and also a great rock BBQ grill. Around the fencing on the inside were a lot of herbs and miniature roses of every color. Around the grill and dryer was flagstone and the beds around the fencing were slightly raised with river rock sides. Try as she might, she could never get the Coata flowers to grow here in Arkansas.

Knowing that Sammie would want to gather the eggs and feed the chickens and the rest of the animals, Gracie went in to wake her.

They were just finishing up when they heard a noise coming from the driveway. It was Maggie and Tucker in an old jeep and Maggie was standing up and shouting: "Good news! Gracie, Good news!!"

Maggie and Tucker stopped the jeep and got out. They both looked ready to burst.

"Your sisters are doing good!" blurted out Maggie. "Tucker got a hold of Veronica last night and she told us that Emma is doing good too. Veronica said that Emma wouldn’t have known that anything was wrong, but only found out because she went into town to mail some things."

"That sounds like Emma alright. She is even more of a loner than I am. And her place is totally off grid. So come on in, we are getting ready to make some breakfast; got hot water for coffee on next to the dryer. Want to grab it Tucker? I'm sure the jerky needs to be tested anyways." laughed Gracie.

So over hot coffee and breakfast of homemade biscuits and gravy, Maggie told Gracie all they had learned from 'Rony. 'Rony lived in a small town on the coast of California that was mostly there only because tourists came through on their way to San Francisco. Although it was full of starving artists, and 'Rony was an artist; but, she was one of the good ones. She had her own gallery and displayed other local talents with her things.

'Rony had told Tucker that she was going to stay put for now; but, wasn't sure about the long run. Her place was small and out of the way; but, there were always a lot of people 'coming through' that were tearing things up. Stealing was also a major problem and this was when things were normal. So she figured things would get even worse since there was no law there now. She would try to get word to them if she moved on. If she decided to leave, she would head to Emma's. Chances were, she would have to move on. Tucker gave her some advice on what to bring and what not to bring. He also told her to find a good map or two. Thankfully she never got rid of her motorcycle. And a friend of hers at the local garage had the parts to get it running again.

Gracie also told Maggie and Tucker about Mike Tanner being around.

"No way, he really had the guts to show his face here?" asked Maggie.

"He really did. Will ya'all be sure to pass the word for me? Sammie and I will be going over to Momma Sue's this afternoon for awhile, so we won't be going into town today." replied Gracie.

"Sure we'll let people know. He better hope Tucker doesn’t see him. That maybe the last face he ever sees." Maggie quipped.

Tucker said "that's right. I really hate that man".

The girls cleaned up the kitchen and Tucker went out to check the jerky. Sammie followed Tucker out the door.

"Mr. T, do you think you can find my mommy and daddy with your radio?" asked Sammie.

"Sweetie, I have been trying to find your mom and dad. I just haven't been able to talk to anyone who has seen them yet. I'm sure they will turn up soon. I know you've got to be missing them terribly." Soothed Tucker.

"I do miss them. I like being here with Miss Gracie; but, I hope mommy and daddy come home soon."

Small Town Survival -Eleven


Well, Mike knew she would set those dogs on him so he took off for the fastest way out of there. As he got to the edge of the property, he was burning up with anger and shame; so of course, he decided to blame it all on Gracie. 'I'll get back at her one day, if it's the last thing I do', he vowed. Then he could hear the dogs barking and so he took off even faster.

"Who was that man, Miss Gracie?" asked Sammie

"That was a no-good, low-down, not even a man! If you ever see him, do NOT go anywhere near him. Find an adult and tell them that Mike Tanner is in Town, OK?" replied Gracie.

"Ok. I knew he had to be bad because the kids didn't like him and they like everyone that is good and kind." said Sammie.

"That's right and you can always trust the kids! Now how about we go fetch that milk and finish up the chores and see about some supper?"


Later that night as Sammie was tucked in bed; Gracie knew she wasn't going to get much sleep. The kids would warn her if Mike decided to be stupid and come back, so she wasn't too worried about that. It was just that she was so angry. So she decided to put that anger to some good use.

First off, she sliced up three good roasts that had thawed, for jerky. She knew that Momma Sue would send one of the boys over with the truck, so she was going to take all the meat over there the next day. But, she wanted some jerky.

After she got the meat sliced and put in her special marinade made out of teriyaki sauce, garlic, mustard, onion powder, a dash of salt and pepper, a bit of ginger, red pepper and just a tad of "medicine". (Moonshine kept only for medicinal purposes); she went out and got the fire going in the rock pit.

She had made the dryer/smoker by herself a couple of years ago. The rock pit was about two feet square and about one foot deep. All lined with proven rocks that would not bust from the heat. When the fire died down to coals, there was a square metal smoker that fit over it. The smoker/dryer had a few air holes in it and had wooden handles that made lifting it up and down very easy. It wasn't too heavy and Gracie had no problem with lifting it. Inside were grooves that wire racks slid into. Gracie had regular racks and her special jerky racks that had every other wire cut out so she could drape the meat more easily over them and it also let the air circulate better. Once the coals got going, you only had to check them about every six hours. Perfect timing for rotating the jerky.

Next she decided to check her herb supply while the fire died down.

Many of Gracie's herbs were dried, so she took a quick inventory. Many would go to town for the clinic. Like a good supply of cayenne for shock and bleeding, peppermint for teas, enemas, and fever, some garlic that helps fight infections, slippery elm for diarrhea, Echinacea for infection (when combined with Goldenseal, Yarrow and Cayenne it makes a powerhouse infection fighting formula). Many more herbs went into the bags.

She noticed her blue and black cohash was low, so made a mental note to ask Momma Sue if she had any extra. The clinic's pharmacy wouldn't last forever and she knew there were a few women in town that would be needing them.

She also wanted to go over some herbal combinations with Momma Sue to use for birth control. She didn't think many would want a crop of kids come nine months or so from now. The town needed to get settled and secure before too many kids came along.

As she was going through the rest of the herbs, she came across the Coata Flowers that her sister had sent her just before the "Event". She kept some for herself and put the rest in the "pile" for the clinic. Coata tea was good for the kidneys. She looked at the two burlap bags for Momma Sue and the clinic. They both were full. She knew that tomorrow Momma Sue and she would be mixing a lot of them up into different formulas for different aliments.

She had already planted her herb gardens; but, now she didn't know if she had planted enough. They would have to try to plant some more. They would need them.