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Thread: Lucky

  1. #21
    Just WOW! Great story and characters. You have a great talent and it is like being there! Thanks and keep the chapters coming please!

  2. #22
    Very good so far.

  3. #23
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    CHAPTER 8


    Monday 5:55 PM, Carmel Highlands, California


    “I think the laundry is dry enough to pull off the line now,” said Linda as she felt at some of the clothing on the makeshift clothesline.

    “I can’t thank you enough for putting it out while we were gone,” said Beth as she also felt the other items and came to the same conclusion.

    “No problems. I figured with you all out doing your thing, I might as well make myself useful,” said Linda. “Besides, you can go back to Colorado now with the smell of the sea.”

    “Even with the earthquake and what happened to Jim, we’ve still had a nice trip. Not really relaxing, but certainly different from the typical day to day grindstone Jim’s involved in,” said Beth as she pulled the clothing down to be folded.

    Jim and Hal were busy putting the route into the GPS is the vehicle and preparing the stocks they had bought that day. It was slightly odd going to a fabric store to buy bottled water, but the locals had a stash in the back they parted with. Slightly elevated prices were the rule of the day, but not as much as Jim and Beth would have imagined with the profiteering they had seen recently. Water, simple foods that needed little preparation, a flashlight with spare batteries, jumper cables, a new atlas, a blanket and several more items were located on their shopping trip that day. Each and every person Jim and Beth had met were standoffish at first, but warmed up after being introduced by Hal. He apparently carried some weight in the local community and had a wide range of friends.

    “Lot of stuff for a simple two day trip,” said Jim.

    “Better to have and not need than need and not have,” said Hal.

    “Another little lesson?” asked Jim.

    “Just common sense. We have a bunch of stuff around here that many would see as useless in normal times, but has far better uses during an emergency,” said Hal.

    “So how did you get into it? The preparedness lifestyle I mean,” asked Jim.

    “Some years ago I was doing a trip through Africa during one of the projects my company was hired on for. It was in an area that had been in a civil war until recently. Anyway, I saw how people were trying to survive down there and had little to no infrastructure. It kind of got the bug in my head but it really didn’t take until I went into the Balkans in the 90s. I saw how life could turn on a dime and how it took its toll on the unprepared. After that trip, I started prepping big time.”

    “Plus with us retiring out here in California, there is the earthquake threat along with the whole civil unrest thing. So in the mid to late 90s, I started prepping hard. Linda objected to begin with, but after seeing how easy we could have it when the tables are turned, she softened up,” said Hal.

    “I still keep coming back to how I’m supposed to explain it to Beth,” said Jim.

    “She seems like a smart gal. You’ve lived through this and you have blizzards out in Colorado. They ever knock the power out?” asked Hal.

    “Not for the most part, but from time to time,” said Jim.

    “Denver hasn’t really seen any civil unrest either, so that card is out of play. Probably the blizzard aspect, but you also have to look at long term situations as well,” said Hal.

    “Long term?” asked Jim.

    “Like what would happen if the grid was to suddenly collapse? We prep for the long shot stuff as well. Ever take a look at the decline of the world’s great societies?” asked Hal.

    “Honestly, not really,” said Jim.

    “Take a look at the fall of the Roman Empire and it will give you some indication. But think in terms of modern times. Look at what happened after Hurricane Katrina or the Rodney King verdict or even up in San Fran after this latest mess. Now imagine that on a nation or even worldwide scale,” said Hal.

    Jim thought quietly about what Hal had just said and had his own fears confirmed as he had originally thought the night the great revelation had occurred to him. He knew his whole life had been, well, not wasted, but he certainly had blinders on the entire time. But hopefully he had caught it in time and could rectify that little problem. Plus with what happened lately, he knew he had the opportunity to break Beth in to the idea of preparedness. And with what happened the previous night, he certainly had the desire to make sure she was safe for certain. He knew in the back of his mind there was nothing that could have stopped the death of the woman as it seemed to be fate, but he still wanted to make sure none of the normal things happened to Beth.

    “It’s going to take some time to get up to speed, but I’m determined to get my life on track,” said Jim.

    “Well, if you start your prepping like you play your game of golf, you will be okay,” said Hal.

    “But I have a question. I can understand the need to prepare for the short term stuff, but the long term things, does it always end in what we are seeing now?” asked Jim.

    “Mostly. I mean, one thing leads to another and the whole house of cards comes down. Just imagine if the U.S. Government suddenly announced it was broke and said no more welfare. What would happen?” asked Hal.

    “Probably rioting and major unrest in the cities,” said Jim.

    “Now how’s it typically dealt with?” asked Hal.

    “Call in the National Guard I suppose,” said Jim.

    “Now a bunch of those Guardsmen can’t make it in for some reason or another. Some don’t come in by choice, but others can’t because of other commitments,” said Hal.

    “And they bring in the Army I suppose,” said Jim.

    “But by then, the rioting turns out of the cities and into the local communities. I can bet you the cities with a population of over one hundred thousand would be at risk of rioting, looting and general mayhem. They run out of things to loot, plunder, rape, rob and steal so they move into the suburbs and out even further. The Army has a hard time tracking down the bands since their own numbers are tied up in rescue efforts and in trying to restore order to the cities. But by then, their numbers are starting to diminish. They go home to momma with their rifle and a carload of goodies and head for the hills. Once that starts, it spreads. They could even join in the looting and whatnot before bugging out themselves,” said Hal.

    “And without anyone to restore order, the remainder of the nation goes under,” said Jim, thinking the process through to the logical conclusion.

    “And when we go, the rest of the world goes. Don’t listen to those fools who have decided we aren’t the major power anymore. The rest of the world depends on us for markets and for money. If we go, we bring China’s economy right down the tube, Europe’s to a lesser extent and the rest of the Asian markets right behind. I can flat guarantee you the economic downfall of the world’s markets can and will be started right here in the United States,” said Hal.

    “True, our markets are pretty much what the rest of the world uses,” said Jim.

    “But how long would it take to drag everyone else with us?” asked Hal.

    “Some places operate way closer to the edge than we do. China might be okay for the short term, but anything more than a fiscal quarter and they are finished,” said Jim.

    “But how long does it take for markets to recover from a crash?” asked Hal.

    “Years,” said Jim.

    “How long does it take to fall?” asked Hal.

    “Sometimes hours,” said Jim. “What exactly are you getting at?”

    “Best to be prepared for a long term survival mode that happens quickly rather than a gradual decline. The aftermath of the initial fall is fairly easy to deal with if you have good preparations. But the aftermath? Again, think of the Roman Empire. They fell and every other power in Europe and even some out of Asia started taking a piece out of them. Insurgencies, folks with axes to grind and even outright invasions happened. Oh sure, it took several hundred years to completely decline, but during that time, they were unable to keep order restored except in a few parts of their Empire. Now think of the United States,” said Hal.

    “You think someone would invade us?” asked Jim.

    “I think the possibility of that is remote, but insurgency and civil war along political, racial and religious lines? Absolutely,” said Hal. “Hence, why I own so many guns.”

    “For helping out?” asked Jim.

    “Only if they become a threat. Otherwise, it’s purely defensive in nature,” said Hal.

    “I’ve got a lot to think about,” said Jim.

    “It is overwhelming at first, but you will get into it,” said Hal.

    “You have any more lessons to teach me along the way?” asked Jim.

    “Oh, I could talk for hours, just ask Linda,” chuckled Hal. “But for the moment, I think dinner is on the agenda.”

    “Yeah, I can go for that,” said Jim.

    “But I did forget one thing,” said Hal.

    They turned and went into the house and back into the basement. He got into one of the other gun safes and spun the dial once again, opening the safe.

    “I can’t give you a gun. Sorry, but that would be illegal and something you need to have as your own choice. But here are some defensive items for you,” said Hal as he handed over a can of pepper spray and a stun device. “They are both perfectly legal and can be carried in a vehicle with no problems.”

    “Hal, it’s okay, we should be fine,” said Jim.

    “Trust me, the refugees are starting to spread out and not all of them are friendly types. Most are, but there are a few that won’t have a problem cutting your throat to get at your shoes,” said Hal.

    “Beth will probably freak out if she knew I was carrying these,” said Jim.

    “Best she learn how to use them as well. I mean, she needs some protection as well, right?” asked Hal.

    “Yes, of course,” said Jim, seeing the idea wasn’t a bad one.

    “And here is the remainder of the skins I owe you,” said Hal as he handed over a wad of cash.

    “No, absolutely not! You’ve done far more than you needed to this time,” said Jim.

    “Jim, trust me on this. Lots of places are not going to be taking your platinum card. Cash is still king,” said Hal.

    “It’s more than I won. Plus room and board here,” said Jim.

    “Consider it a loan then,” said Hal, pushing the notes at Jim.

    “I can’t object can I?” he asked with a laugh.

    “You can, but I’ll sneak it into your car,” said Hal with a smile.

    “Okay, when we get to Colorado, I’ll wire the remainder back,” said Jim.

    “If you do, you do. If you don’t? Well, I’ll take it as a lesson in humility for you teaching me to watch my mouth on the golf course,” said Hal with a laugh.

    “What’s for dinner anyway?” asked Jim as they came up the steps after closing the safe.

    “If it’s all the same to you two, I’m thinking barbeque again,” said Hal.

    “Sounds okay for me as well,” said Jim. “Charcoal or gas?”

    “Charcoal! What? You think we are uncivilized out here?” asked Hal with a laugh. “Although I do own a gas grill as well for the convenience.”

    “It does make a difference in taste,” said Jim.

    “I’ll leave my e-mail address and you can contact me at any time with your prep questions. I’ll do my best to be objective, but we all have our personal preferences,” said Hal.

    “Most of us do,” said Jim with a laugh.

    “It’s good to see you bouncing back from last night,” said Hal.

    “It’s in the back of my mind, but I want to make sure Beth gets home safe before letting that beast out of the cage,” said Jim.

    “Better to let it out than keep it bottled up. I know a few docs that can help if you need it,” said Hal.

    “I know a few out in Colorado as well. I’ll be okay,” said Jim.

    Dinner was going to be a simple affair of chicken and potatoes done over their grill on the back patio. Linda was in currently rehydrating some of the freeze dried vegetables from another pack and getting some bread ready for the meal. It all seemed like nothing was happening an hour north of them. Beth wondered how many of them were faring and was happy Jim had been paired up with the course manager that day on the course and events had turned out the way they wanted. She still had a lingering thought in the back of her mind that Hal wanted something, but she still couldn’t figure out what it was. But no matter what, she was very grateful for what had happened.

    Even with what happened to Jim the previous evening, the trip had been really nice and even relaxing. The extra day off had done them both good and Jim even looked somewhat relaxed. Beth gravitated over to his side while dinner was being prepared and took his hand in hers. He turned and smiled at her and was rewarded with a kiss with her grabbing his neck. Normally he carried his stress in his neck, but today was different. He seemed far more relaxed than usual, but still had that look in his eyes. She had seen it once before right after they got married. The look of contentment, of knowing what he was getting into, a look of satisfaction the world was going the way he wanted. Beth had no idea why he was relaxed especially in light of everything that had happened, but she was happy her husband was back in form once again.

    Eventually, everything was ready and the foursome grabbed seating at the patio table. Everything was done just right and Beth commented as much.

    “This is the only place Hal is allowed to cook,” said Linda with a laugh.

    “Jim’s not bad on the grill either but I won’t even let him near the kitchen,” said Beth.

    “Honey, I don’t think Hal even knows what else is in the kitchen. I believe he thinks it’s the room where the refrigerator is stored,” said Linda with a laugh.

    “If you all ever get out to Colorado, you are more than welcome to stop in,” said Beth.

    “And you two are welcome out here anytime,” said Linda.

    “Even for Jim to play Hal in skins again?” said Beth with a twinkle in her eye.

    “Yes, even though my husband probably won’t keep his yap shut,” smiled Linda.

    “I know better than to play the boy wonder again for money,” said Hal with a laugh.

    “I guess old dogs can learn new tricks,” said Linda with a laugh.

    “Just who are you calling old?” asked Hal.

    “You think we should make an exit and go see the babies while these two discuss civil affairs?” asked Beth.

    “Any excuse to go feed the sea lions right?” asked Jim with a laugh.

    “Don’t look in the suitcase,” she laughed.

    “My wife loves animals you see. We would have a complete zoo at our house if she had her way,” said Jim.

    “You have any pets?” asked Linda.

    “We had a dog, but he had to be put down. Old age,” said Beth.

    “I’m sorry to hear that. Kind of like losing a family member,” said Hal.

    “Yeah, it was hard,” said Beth sadly.

    “Where’s Bart?” asked Jim, wanting to change the subject and keep the new puppy idea hidden.

    “He’s running the course today. He and Michelle went in first thing this morning,” said Hal.

    “Figured he would have been by,” said Jim.

    “I think they are planning on staying the night down there and making sure the rest of the folks get out,” said Hal. The rest of dinner passed in small talk about different things, nothing of which was pertinent to the current situation. Eventually, everything was finished up and Beth stood with an announcement.

    “We’ll get the dishes,” she said and touched Jim on the shoulder as a sign to assist her.

    “Nonsense dear, let me get that,” said Linda.

    “Absolutely not! You two have helped us more than you needed to,” said Beth.

    “You need to pack up your things and get ready to leave,” said Linda.

    “Which we can do after the dishes are done,” said Beth.

    “Best to let us just get them done. My wife is a pushy old broad,” said Jim with a laugh.

    “Just watch who you are calling old there bud,” said Beth with a slap to the back of his head.

    “Okay, it’ll give me time to get the patio ready. Last night is the bonfire night,” said Hal.

    “Bonfire?” asked Beth.

    “Okay, not a bonfire, but a small fire in the fireplace over there,” said Hal. “Nothing more relaxing than sitting around a fire sipping at a beer.”

    “I’ll give you that,” said Jim. “We’ll get the dishes started.”

    “Shouldn’t be that many to do which is the good thing about cooking on the grill,” said Hal.

    Jim collected the dishes from the patio while Beth went in and started the dishwater. Again, it all seemed so normal to her with everything that had happened, but she would wait until they were back in Colorado to discuss it with Jim. As predicted, the dishes didn’t take that long to get complete and she left Jim to finish drying them while she started packing. The items were all dry as Linda had indicated and had the scent of the sea as she had told them. It would be good memories of the trip if there were any to have. Jim joined her after several minutes and took to folding some of the items.

    “We really got lucky this trip,” he said.

    “You always do somehow,” said Beth with a smile.

    “Is that why you married me? Because I’m a lucky guy?” he asked with a grin.

    “Nope, because you were loaded,” she said with a straight face.

    “Then why not that good looking actor dude that was chasing after you?” he asked.

    “Cause I only pick the dumb rich ones,” she said while folding a pair of shorts. He tossed a shirt at her head and managed to wrap her head up in it. Darting around the room, he pushed her onto the bed playfully and started tickling her sides. She yelped and started trying to beg him to stop, laughing and snorting at the same time. He continued his relentless assault on her while she continued laughing and squirming around trying to make him stop. Several giggling “no’s!” were heard in there somewhere until a polite knock was heard on the bedroom door.

    “Everything okay in here?” asked Hal as he peeked in.

    “Yes, my wife was being fairly naughty and needed to be taught a lesson. Sorry,” said Jim as he accepted the intervention and her surrender. But little did he know she wasn’t giving up quite so easy as she jabbed at him in the ribs with her knuckles and caused him to flinch.

    “Owww!” he exclaimed, but otherwise ignored her.

    “Ummm, Linda and I can give you the house for a bit if you like,” said Hal.

    “No, this will go one for at least three days. Poking and prodding and trying to one up each other,” said Jim with a laugh as Beth continued her sneak attack from the side with a grin on her face. He tried to ignore her, but she was persistent as a fly continuing to poke at him.

    “Like a couple of teenage monkeys,” said Hal with a shake of his head. “Give us about fifteen minutes and we will be ready to go.”

    “Okay, we’ll be out there,” said Jim and grunted at another poke. “Will you knock it off?”

    “Awww, sore loser,” she said playfully.

    “I wasn’t the one on the bed getting owned,” he said with a laugh.

    “I was waiting for the opportune time to strike,” she said and attempted to poke once again. He managed to catch her hand and pulled her up, tickling as he did so. She yelped one again and started laughing. But he relented and pulled her in closer.

    “Yeah, I got a little lucky as well,” she said with a smile as they were face to face.

    “Any other time, this might have turned interesting,” he said with a mischievous grin.

    “I know,” she said and gave him a kiss for his troubles. “Can you finish packing?”

    “Of course,” he said and started tossing items into the suitcase. She went to the bathroom and finished up before meeting Hal in the hallway.

    “Sorry about that little display,” she said.

    “Oh, don’t worry. Good therapy for him,” said Hal.

    “Yeah, but we aren’t used to doing that in someone else’s house,” she said.

    “We can relate, right honey?” asked Hal as Linda walked by.

    “Probably not. But it depends on what we’re talking about,” she said.

    “Getting silly in someone else’s house,” said Hal.

    “Leave those two be,” said Linda as she walked away, smiling at the thought of the younger couple and the times she and Hal had shared together in much the same situations.

    Jim finished packing and found Beth putting the dishes away in the kitchen. He helped her out and went out to the back deck where a nice fire was going in the outdoor fireplace and chairs were already placed around the pit.

    “I don’t recall seeing an outdoor fireplace in a warm place like this before,” said Jim.

    “Found it at a yard sale believe it or not. I have to import the wood most of the time, but it gets downright cozy in the evenings with a beer,” said Hal.

    “I’ll have to check into that when we get back to Colorado. It does make a nice ambiance item,” said Jim.

    “You want a beer?” asked Hal.

    “Sure, just one or two though,” said Jim.

    “Depends on the brand,” said Beth.

    “Hoegaarden, it’s Belgian,” said Hal.

    “I’ll give it a try,” said Beth as Hal poured out the two into the specific cups. They both tried it and commented favorably.

    “Kind of pricey, but not all bad,” said Hal as he returned to his seat and the conversation continued and drifted from this to that. From politics to gold, to religion and economics, and over to places they had been and stories to tell. Just everything under the sun as the conversation drifted to this and that. But one thing that happened that neither Beth or Jim noticed was they were being interviewed by Hal. He had a careful list of questions to be answered and most of them were being answered to his satisfaction. He could continue to probe in the directions he wanted, but the two were providing the right answers so far and he didn’t really need to go much further. They both seemed like the kinds of people that would fit into his MAG.

    At close to 10:00, Jim and Beth decided to call it a night and get some sleep for their long journey the next day.

    “It has been a wonderful evening,” said Beth as they stood to leave.

    “Peaceful out here. I’m about ready to fall asleep in the chair here,” said Jim as he yawned.

    “Wouldn’t be the first time someone fell asleep on my patio,” laughed Hal. “What time in the morning are you two heading out?”

    “As early as possible. It would be nice to be on the road by 6:30 or so,” said Jim.

    “We’ll get up at 5:00 then and make some breakfast before you leave,” said Linda.

    “You don’t have to do that, we can find something along the way,” said Beth.

    “Remember there aren’t that many places open right now,” said Linda.

    “Yeah, forgot that,” said Beth.

    “It’s not much trouble for us. It’s nice to have met such nice younger people during this emergency,” said Linda.

    “As it was really awesome to meet you folks as well,” said Jim.

    “Bah, we would have been sitting around here staring at each other if you two hadn’t been here. You kept us company and we appreciate that,” said Hal.

    “More like you kept the two of us from going out of our minds and getting charged with grand theft auto,” said Jim.

    “What?” asked Beth.

    “Oh, you didn’t know? You and I were about to be reported as stealing the car from the rental agency since we didn’t turn it back in to where we rented it from,” said Jim.

    “And I hope they understood where we happen to be at and the fact the vehicle can’t exactly be turned back in,” said Beth.

    “Yeah, Hal’s friend helped us out,” said Jim. “We’re no longer outlaws.”

    “Too bad, I used to like the bad boy type,” laughed Beth.

    “Until the morning,” said Jim and took Beth by the hand. They got into the bedroom and got dressed for bed, the cool evening breeze coming through the window making the bedroom very pleasant. It required only a sheet on top to be entirely comfortable as Beth cuddled up to Jim.

    “Even with what happened, this has been a great trip,” she said.

    “Yeah, it’s been an eye opener for certain,” said Jim.

    “I’m sorry you had something bad happen to you,” said Beth.

    “Not your fault baby. I got put in a situation where I wasn’t prepared. It won’t happen again,” said Jim.

    “Just remember I’m here to talk about it if you want,” said Beth as she pulled herself in closer to him as if being this close would protect him from his thoughts somehow.

    “I’ll be okay for now. I know I can always talk to you,” said Jim as he kissed her forehead.

    “And tell me your deep dark secrets,” she whispered.

    “Everything except those involving the sneak tickle attack I plan on when I get the opportunity,” he chuckled.

    “I’ll fight back,” she warned.

    “I just might like that,” he chuckled. “You’ve always been a feisty one.”

    “Yeah, just like my Daddy. Mom always told me I was just like him,” she said.

    “Did you call him?” asked Jim.

    “Yes, yesterday. He was worried sick and was preparing a search party for me,” she said.

    “He probably still wanted to send one anyway,” said Jim.

    “Yes, I managed to head him off though. He was curious about our hosts though and he’s probably checking them out,” said Beth.

    “Why?” asked Jim.

    “Later,” she said, holding back her feelings right then as she wasn’t comfortable talking in the very house the people she was curious about happened to be.

    “Night baby,” he said with another kiss.

    Beth let out a sigh and got as comfortable as she could, watching as Jim faded out. He was out like a light within two minutes as she watched him breathing deeply. She didn’t last too much longer and was out herself, going to sleep still worried about his mental state.

  4. #24
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    Sorry I haven't been keeping up with this like I should. But I've been busy with another story adn it has eaten my time up. Might be the last chapter for a while

  5. #25
    Excellent story can't wait for more (well i guess i have too), but hopefully not to long.

  6. #26
    Gold Site Supporter 2014 thank you! 610Alpha's Avatar
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    Very well written and excellent imagery. It is a shame that we have to wait, unless the other story is better than this one and you are planning on sharing it with us also.....
    "If you will live like no one else, later on you can live like no one else." -- Dave Ramsey

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by elittle View Post
    Very well written and excellent imagery. It is a shame that we have to wait, unless the other story is better than this one and you are planning on sharing it with us also.....
    I can't say it's better or worse, just different. And of course I plan on sharing it. No sense in writing it and keeping it to myself.

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    CHAPTER 9


    Tuesday 6:42 AM, Carmel Highlands, California



  9. #29
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    CHAPTER 10


    Thursday 7:02 AM, Denver, Colorado


    Jim woke up late, feeling more than comfortable in his bed, and relative safety, once again. But his mind was still a freight train of thoughts as his situation had not really improved. He quietly slipped out of the bed and tried not to wake Beth as he grabbed a pair of running shorts and slipped them on. The remainder of their trip had been uneventful and they had gotten in the last night and headed straight for bed. The trip had somewhat drained them and they unpacked, showered and headed straight for bed. But this morning began his new life as he had been planning his entire trip home. He wandered into the kitchen and got a pot of coffee going, one of the few vices he had in life.

    He logged on the computer and found Jackson had been doing extremely well in his absence. While it was not unusual for people to make money off disasters, this one was certainly larger than most and the larger the disaster, the larger the profits with recovery and reconstruction. But his profits were secondary that morning as he checked on several of the web sites he had bookmarked before going on vacation. As expected, there was an abnormal amount of chatter along with more than a few new members. The most asked question was “what can I do to prevent this from happening?”

    As if that isn’t the big question on my mind as well. I have to figure this out quick. I know some of these folks are behind the power curve while others have been doing it their entire lives. Can I make up for lost ground quick enough, he thought as he browsed the different threads about this and that. One of the first things he would do was make a list. He pulled the yellow legal notepad from the drawer and decided to transcribe the data over to a composition book where he could keep the ideas without having to worry about them falling off the yellow pad. Along the way he found several ideas which seemed like a good idea at the time, but as his experience went, found they weren’t so good. But he also found several more items he missed the first time and found added them onto his listing. He continued until he heard the coffee pot finish up and went in to grab a quick cup.

    Once in the kitchen, he looked into the backyard and saw the pool calm in the early morning. While some would have seen it as a creature comfort, he saw it as a potential source of water storage. But since he wasn’t sure how pool water could be purified, he would add that to his list of things to find out. So many things to do, so little time it felt like.

    “Morning you,” said Beth from behind him.

    “Hey lady,” he said and turned to see her. “I didn’t want to wake you this morning.”

    “You didn’t,” she smiled and got her morning kiss. “Breakfast?”

    “Absolutely,” said Jim as he opened the fridge. “Looks like Judith was out shopping for us.”

    “She said she was going to pick some things up since we were on our way home,” said Beth. “She obviously got what we asked for.”

    The refrigerator was somewhat filled with things the maid had gotten from the grocery store. And the grounds were very well kept up as well as Mike had been bust keeping it up the whole time. There was no evidence of the weekend birthday party they had thrown and the entire lawn looked to be freshly mowed.

    “Aren’t you glad we found some folks who care?” asked Jim as he sipped on the coffee.

    “Yeah, Mike and Judith are awesome. What are your plans for the day?” asked Beth.

    “I thought we were planning on taking the rest of the week off. Sort of a mini vacation?” he asked.

    “Yes, we did agree to that,” she said as she cracked the eggs and put them in a bowl.

    “Isn’t today your normal day to go to the home?” he asked.

    “Yes, you still want to come along?” she asked.

    “Yeah, I think I will. At least to save you from those dirty old men,” he laughed.

    “Who’s going to save me from you?” she asked with a grin.

    A knock at the door was heard right then and afterwards the door was heard opening.

    “Hello?” asked Judith from the doorway.

    “We’re in the kitchen,” called Beth as she continued to work on breakfast.

    “Guess you get saved by Mike and Judith,” laughed Jim.

    “Nice to see you folks once again,” said Judith as she entered and got a hug from Beth. “We were worried sick about you two being out in California.”

    “We got through it okay,” said Beth. “We met some really nice folks who took care of us.”

    “Well, who wouldn’t want to? You two are good people,” said Judith with a smile. “All the same though, we’re glad you’re back.”

    “Nice to be back home,” said Jim.

    “When did you all get in?” asked Mike.

    “Last night…which reminds me. I’ve got to take the rental back to the airport today,” said Jim.

    “I was wondering who had that big old thing in the driveway,” said Mike.

    “Yeah, I left mine over at the airport in long term when I flew out,” said Jim. “You two eat breakfast yet?”

    “Sure did before we came over,” said Mike.

    “Want a cup of coffee then?” asked Jim.

    “Don’t mind if I do,” said Mike as he grabbed a cup from the cupboard. They both felt comfortable enough around the Williams’ to act like they were at home.

    “You two have much to do today?” asked Beth as she threw some low fat bacon into the pan.

    “Not a whole lot. We’ve been working double trying to get everything ready for you two to get home,” said Judith.

    “You didn’t have to do that,” objected Beth.

    “Well, sure we did,” said Judith. “Just a few things to finish up though.”

    “Well, why don’t you two take tomorrow off then? Looks like you deserve it,” said Jim.

    “We couldn’t do that. We’ve got too much stuff to get done around here,” objected Mike.

    “With pay of course. Call it a free day,” said Beth.

    “Well, there isn’t that much to be done I suppose,” laughed Judith.

    “Seriously, we owe it to you,” said Jim.

    “You pay us well enough for what little we do, but if you are insisting,” said Judith.

    “You two are wonderful and work too hard,” said Beth.

    “And besides, what you talked to me about the other day? The two year thing? I might be able to shave some time off that for you,” said Jim.

    “How’s that?” asked Mike.

    “Well, we’ve been doing better than we thought in the markets lately. My prot

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    CHAPTER 10 CONTINUED


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