Note: The fol­low­ing is the sixth install­ment of a series that rep­re­sents a first-hand chron­i­cle of a fic­tion­al eco­nom­ic col­lapse in the Unit­ed States. This series is to be viewed as only one pos­si­ble sce­nario. Con­tains explic­it lan­guage.


May 2 – 195 days after Black Swan Day

My Dear­est Chil­dren -

April show­ers might bring May flow­ers. But it also brings dark skies.

Things aren’t devel­op­ing well. Unem­ploy­ment is 12.4% offi­cial­ly with the U6 near 30% although the offi­cial word from the White House is the U6 doesn’t real­ly count. Nev­er has. Oh real­ly? Sounds like spin to me. Every­one knows at least a dozen peo­ple laid off or about to be.  Our jobs remain secure as far as we know, though it’s like­ly my employ­er will close our build­ing and re-locate us to the oth­er build­ing near­by. They’ve been try­ing to sell this build­ing for a long time and no-go. But at least closed they don’t have to pay util­i­ties. At least I still keep my job.

Gold is now almost at $7000/ounce and sil­ver is push­ing $80/ounce. Pun­dits on MSNBC ask how high can it go and the gen­er­al con­sen­sus is that as long as Amer­i­can unem­ploy­ment keeps ris­ing the sky is the lim­it. The Fed­er­al Reserve keeps pump­ing mon­ey into the mar­kets and it makes no dif­fer­ence. No one is buy­ing the Trea­sury bonds at the auc­tions. More than 85% of the Trea­sury bonds are being bought at auc­tion by the Fed or by Pri­ma­ry Deal­ers using Fed loaned mon­ey at zero-per­cent.

Almost every day there are demon­stra­tions in Wash­ing­ton or by city and state cap­i­tals demand­ing more unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits (already at near­ly 2 years!), jobs train­ing, food stamps, and so on. Nor­mal­ly I’d say if they put as much effort into look­ing for work as they do protest­ing they’d find jobs. But there just aren’t any to find. Even McDonald’s isn’t hir­ing much these days. For the most part these demon­stra­tions are peace­ful. Just a lot of shout­ing. But there is a lot of police pres­ence. I can see it get­ting ugly quick­ly.

I’m con­cerned about elec­tric­i­ty this sum­mer. Last year we bare­ly were able to afford the elec­tric­i­ty for the cen­tral A/C. And that was keep­ing it at just 75 degrees! We had that ceil­ing fan put in the den over the win­ter so it will help. But still will be hard. May need to go on the pay­ment plan. We pay more in the win­ter but less in the sum­mer to even things out. I wish solar was cheap­er but I can’t afford $50,000 for a solar sys­tem even if we get all the cred­its and I don’t think we qual­i­fy for all any­way.

The food rationing at the super­mar­kets isn’t show­ing any signs of let­ting up. It’s feel­ing more and more sur­re­al-banana repub­lic like where peo­ple spend more and more of their time find­ing their next meal. Is this what 21st cen­tu­ry Amer­i­ca has come down to? And not every­one has the time or the cash to find that food. There have been a few more reports of “shop lift­ing” in the news. But no word of mobs or ban­dit attacks. I can’t believe last month as an iso­lat­ed inci­dent. Either by lack of mon­ey or it’s just eas­i­er, peo­ple don’t starve qui­et­ly.

The pot luck din­ners were work­ing out well even with the occa­sion­al added peo­ple. As long as every­one keeps up their com­mit­ment it should keep going for a while. I say “were” for a spe­cif­ic rea­son. Life only seems to go from bad to worse with­out warn­ing these days. And worse it was.

I’m putting this to paper now while it’s still fresh in my mind as both a his­tor­i­cal account as well as a les­son.

It was decid­ed the lat­est pot luck din­ner was going be held at our house. It was just going to be us and your Aunt Don­na and Uncle Frank and the kids. At the last moment Don­na asked if she can bring her broth­er Jim­my and his fam­i­ly (wife and 2 kids). I real­ly nev­er liked Jim­my. Always found him a blow-hard and not trust­wor­thy at all as far as I could throw his fat beached whale ass. He’s stabbed your Aunt Don­na and Uncle Frank in the back more than once. But I guess blood is thick­er than water so they get over it. Maybe not this time though.

We had them over to the house for din­ner and it went pret­ty well. They ate hardi­ly. Your moth­er always sees any occa­sion when peo­ple come over as a time to go over­board even though I told her to keep it low key this time.

Jim­my lost his job as a teach­ing assis­tant this win­ter as the coun­ty cut back on teach­ers  and his wife isn’t sure if her teach­ing job will be last­ing much longer either. So they get the sym­pa­thy vote and I kept my tongue in close guard all night. As long as he isn’t try­ing to best you he’s tol­er­a­ble com­pa­ny.

So din­ner was done and we were sit­ting the den mak­ing chat. The top­ic of the econ­o­my and world events came up as it inevitable does these days. The group was chat­ting about how hard it is to make ends even come close to meet­ing these days and Jim­my said it’s even hard­er quote “…when peo­ple are hoard­ing food from  those who real­ly need it.” I couldn’t let that one pass.

Try­ing not to tip my hand at our preps I replied that I sup­pose some peo­ple don’t know when they will next find food they want or even at a decent qual­i­ty so they stock up as much as they can when they do. Jim­my said their greed hurts every­one to which I said that it isn’t greedy to watch out for one’s fam­i­ly. And I point­ed out the super­mar­kets are already rationing food with the cus­tomer cards.

Jim­my launched into a tirade about it wasn’t enough since some peo­ple start­ed hoard­ing food years ago and that caused all the prob­lems we have now. I usu­al­ly enjoy it when some­one makes such an ass of them­selves but this was hit­ting too close to home. But I kept my com­po­sure and made a men­tal note to nev­er again have them over for any din­ner or event.

But Jim­my wouldn’t let it go. He began to ques­tion where we got the food for our part of the pot luck din­ner. I just said it was odds and ends your moth­er has around. Every­one knows how cre­ative your moth­er can be with min­i­mal ingre­di­ents. A real “Chopped Cham­pi­on”.

Then Jim­my said “Well let’s see what oth­er odds and ends you have!” He got up and head­ed into our kitchen right for the pantry cab­i­net! For­tu­nate­ly it’s just the kitchen pantry, not my main prep­ping stock. He wouldn’t find it eas­i­ly even if he looked all night. But it was still our food in our kitchen! The stacks of canned veg­eta­bles and fruits, canned soups, tuna fish and salmon, pas­ta and jars of sauce, and so on.

“Look at this! It’s a G‑d damn par­ty in here!”

“Stay out of my cab­i­nets!” I called out and start­ed to get up.

“My fam­i­ly is starv­ing and you have a fuck­ing super­mar­ket in here! Bar­bara,” that’s his wife, “bring the bags!”

Then it hit me: We were set up! Jim­my set us up for a raid! It all made sense. That’s why he, his wife, and the two kids all brought heavy cloth bags – those ‘Go Green’ style store bags – with them even though the food dish­es they brought were cer­tain­ly small enough to car­ry by hand. The dish­es were just a cov­er for car­ry­ing the bags, to be used to loot our kitchen once they got in and saw the qual­i­ty of the meal we had pre­pared!

I don’t blame your Aunt Don­na and Uncle Frank. I’m sure they had no idea what that fat bas­tard was plan­ning. And it was a fam­i­ly plan too. At Jimmy’s call his wife and two kids brought the bags and they all began load­ing my family’s food into them.

I was head­ing to the door­way when your moth­er said “Don’t do…” I cut her off.

“They are tak­ing food from our chil­dren! Say some­thing now or I will stop it myself.”

I heard your moth­er and Aunt Don­na try to say some­thing in appeal to Jim­my and fam­i­ly but I was already head­ing down the hall. No words were going to stop them. This was their plan from the moment they invit­ed them­selves to din­ner.

I opened the bed­room clos­et and keyed in the safe’s open code. Open­ing the door, reached in and took out the pis­tol on the top shelf. A moment lat­er the trig­ger lock was off and I was insert­ing the loaded mag­a­zine I keep at the back of the shelf: Five rounds of Hydras-Shok hol­low points fol­lowed by five rounds of PMC ball.

I charged the bolt and engaged the safe­ty.

I stood there for a moment. Gun in hand. Con­tem­plat­ing.

I knew that once I stepped out of that room a line would be crossed from which there was no going back. But what could I do? Let them take the food? Sure we had more but every lit­tle bit is need­ed. His des­per­a­tion to plan and exe­cute all this is proof of that. And what about the next time? They won’t try the sneaky way again so now they come over demand­ing food?  — Then what? If they are des­per­ate enough to do this now then Heav­en only knows what they might be will­ing do next time!

No. I didn’t want to do this. I had to do this.

I head­ed back down the hall­way with the gun in my hand at my side, towards where food was quite lit­er­al­ly being tak­en from my children’s mouths.

The fat bas­tard and his bitch were like kids in my can­dy store tak­ing cans and box­es and stuff­ing them into their bags like some kind of loot­ing San­ta Claus cou­ple. Real good exam­ple for the chil­dren too.

I stopped a few paces away, braced myself against the wall, and took a tac­ti­cal stance aim­ing at his upper chest.

“Jim­my! Step away from the cab­i­nets NOW!”

He turned towards the sound of my voice now giv­ing me a clear view of his front. I could tell he was stunned for a moment by the appear­ance of me with a gun almost lit­er­al­ly in his face.

Calm­ly but with as much deter­mi­na­tion as I could muster I said “Step away from the cab­i­nets NOW or I’ll put you down right here in front of your wife and kids!”

With­out giv­ing him a moment to respond my thumb flipped off the safe­ty. The ‘click’ seemed to echo through the now silent house.

All were stunned as I had hoped the reac­tion would be. Your moth­er knows I keep guns. She’s not an anti-gun­ner, just isn’t thrilled with it for safe­ty rea­sons around chil­dren. But your Aunt and Uncle didn’t know until that moment and cer­tain Jim­my and fam­i­ly wouldn’t have any rea­son to known.

“You won’t shoot me” Jim­my said.

He had called my bluff. And that’s the prob­lem with employ­ing a firearm for defense. If you take out a gun to defend your­self you have to be pre­pared to shoot. It may not be nec­es­sary but you have to be ready for that if deter­rence doesn’t work (oth­er­wise don’t take it out). And it looks like it didn’t.

I pulled back my arm until the gun was point­ed straight up at the ceil­ing — and fired.

The sound was deaf­en­ing as it echoed off the close walls of a pri­vate house. The ‘clang’ of the eject­ed bul­let case bounc­ing along the hard­wood floor stood out from the ring­ing in my ears as the bit­ter smell of gun pow­der quick­ly enveloped the house.

Bar­bara screamed.

I heard Don­na gasp “Oh my G‑d!”

I took aim again at Jim­my.

“Now get your fam­i­ly out of my house and don’t ever let me see you any­where near my fam­i­ly again!”

He turned to his wife, said some­thing low I didn’t get, and they and their kids head­ed towards the door. My aim fol­lowed him all the way.

“Hey. Take this one” as I nod­ded in the direc­tion of the clos­est loot­ed food bag. They took the bag and slammed the door behind them with­out say­ing a word. Just as well.

I stood there still aim­ing at the door for what seemed like an eter­ni­ty until I heard their car start and saw the head­lights as they pulled away from the house.

The house was silent now.

I relaxed my arms and grip a bit, and found myself crum­bling to me knees. Tears began to fall and in a moment I was sob­bing like a school boy. Not sad­ness, not anger, not even fear. No emo­tion at all. Just tears. I don’t know why I was cry­ing but I was. I let go of the gun to lay it on the floor next to me.

Your moth­er, Don­na and Frank by now had come to the door as well. I couldn’t face them now. This wasn’t going to be good.

Don­na spoke first. She turned to your moth­er and said she’ll call her lat­er. Frank didn’t say any­thing, just put his hand on my shoul­der and gave a firm squeeze. I appre­ci­at­ed the ges­ture of sup­port.

After they left your moth­er knelt down and hugged me. I was still sob­bing.

“I’m sor­ry” I man­aged to get out. She didn’t respond.

She final­ly released me, looked down at the gun and said calm­ly “Put that away.” I nod­ded in agree­ment and took it back to the safe where it was unloaded, re-trig­ger locked and put back into the safe. It would need to be cleaned too but not now.

I went to the bath­room to wash off any gun­pow­der residue and put some water on my face. I could bare­ly look myself in the mir­ror.

When I went back to the kitchen your moth­er had already put back the cans and items Jimmy’s gang had loaded into the bags. I stood there a moment. She didn’t look angry but with your moth­er looks can be deceiv­ing so it’s hard to say. I stood there say­ing noth­ing.

“You put a hole in my roof Mis­ter” she said with a smirk. “Bet­ter hope it doesn’t rain tonight.”

“I’ll call Albert” – our con­trac­tor – “in the morn­ing.” He knows we pay in cash. He won’t ask ques­tions.

“Let’s put the girls to bed and sleep our­selves.”

“Say some­thing nice about me at the tri­al?” I said with a smile.

“Do I have to?” she said with a smile back at me.

“You’re my wife.”

“I am.”

I felt a lit­tle bet­ter. But I still didn’t get any sleep that night. Every car that passed by I thought was the police either called by Jim­my or a neigh­bor that heard the shot. But no one came that night. Or the next day. Or the next. I’m not com­plain­ing.

That was the last time we saw Jim­my and his fam­i­ly. Even your Aunt and Uncle stopped speak­ing to them after that. Don’t know how they explained it to their kids (which I was glad there weren’t there that night).

So that’s that I sup­pose.

It’s a brave new world now. But you girls are the cen­ter of my world. I would do the same again to pro­tect you. I love you so much.


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