Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dead Land Journal October 13th 2027

On the road again. My arm is still in a sling, but doing better and Jewels is driving the Uni. I gave up trying to type while actually on the road. At first I thought 'hey great I can make my journal entries while Jewels is driving.'

Yeah, right.

Have you ever tried to type in a moving vehicle. I can see doing it on a train and in fact I remember seeing a few old movies where people did type on board a train. But in moving truck on highways that have not been seen any maintenance or traffic in six months? Debris accumulates and potholes form and no one is taking care of them. While the Unimog may be comfortable when stationary, it was built on a heavy duty truck platform and at times it feels like the axles are welded directly to the frame. So I take the opportunity to type some on my journal during rest stops and at night. Been having problems with insomnia lately so I often find myself typing at night. It doesn't seem to bother anybody. I have a heavy felt typing pad under the Smith Corona and that helps with the noise.

Micheal is up front driving a big four wheel drive tow truck. He is roaming about half a mile ahead and reporting driving conditions back to us. I had originally thought that the smaller roads would be better, but our experience has shown that the interstates are usually easier to navigate till you get into a major city.

All the vehicles have CB radios now and we all have handheld units tuned in to the same frequency. I have a scanner in the Uni, programmed to avoid the frequency we are using. So far it has picked up nothing. The scanner was actually Billy's idea.

After much debate we finally have a destination. Stockton, Missouri. Beverly had family there, says her brother told her of some good hunting around the lake and fishing always seemed to be good. She says the winter can be cold but there should be plenty of propane or LP available. With the current travelling conditions we really don't have a lot of time to find another place and lay in the fuel and supplies needed to last out the winter. A trip that would normally take a couple of days, now takes weeks. We never know when we are going to run into a seventeen car pileup and have to either spend the day clearing it or find an alternate route. Plus it can take a few hours to fill the tanks on these thirsty beasts we're driving.

And speaking of beasts, it is also hoped that the wraiths will head south for the winter. Other than that bristly mane they don't have a lot of hair to keep them warm. I am wondering if our little encounter with those two a few days ago was the first trickle of a southern migration.

It seems wasteful to be backtracking like this, but I would rather endure a cold winter if it means we won't have to deal with the wraiths.

We had to change a tire on the hospital bus yesterday. I happened to look out the rear window on the Uni and saw something flapping off the back wheel. I rushed forward to call Katherine on the radio and tell her to stop. Half the tread was peeling off the right rear outer tire. It's a good thing it had the dual wheels, a lot of newer trucks and buses don't. The bus was property of the Missouri Medical Services, otherwise known as MOMS. Some PR guy probably thought that would be cute. It was part of the government mandated Universal Coverage program that evolved from Obama's health care bills. The bus was already 12 years old when MOMS found the confiscated tour bus in the police impound yard and decided to convert it to a mobile hospital. Had MOMS been given a bigger budget the bus would have been newer and would have only had a single pair of tires on the rear. When the tire shed its tread it would have slewed to the right, Katherine being an inexperienced driver, would have most likely overcompensated and the tire would have blown. A blowout in one of these big buses can be messy. Twisted metal wreckage and dismembered corpse kind of messy. Of course I did not point this out to Katherine, she would have jabbed a finger in my bullet wound.

The bus did not have a spare so we had to find one. A truck had overturned down the highway a bit and it's wheels matched.

None of us menfolk are really operating at our peak performance right now. Jewels is the only man in the group without injuries, he's 77 with arthritis and a missing leg. Micheal is doing good to drive with his hands burned as they are, Billy can drive, but that is the most strenuous activity he can handle at the moment. My arm is in a sling and will be for some time.

Katherine and Beverly had to do most of the grunt work of getting the one good tire off the overturned truck. The air hose for the impact wrench on Micheal's tow truck barely reached. As a matter of fact the last lug nut had to be loosened manually because there just was not enough hose for it to stretch those last few millimeters. Both the girls are rather petite. I don't think they weigh 200 lbs combined. It took both of them on that breaker bar to get that last one. It finally just sheared off. Age and weather had cracked the wheel stud already. Katherine almost fell to the pavement below, but Beverly just barely caught her hand in time. I'd like to say that incident helped to cement a bond between the two, but I think that would be a bit optimistic. They did cooperate pretty well though. They had to lever the tire off with the breaker bar. Of course when it did come off the hub, we were not really ready for it. It hit the ground, bounced right over Billy's head and tried to make its escape. The tire rolled across the pavement, hit a rock, bounced over the decapitator cable along the side of the highway. Of course Emily had to give chase. And where Emily goes, Dee wants to follow. That being the only good tire that would fit Katherine's bus we could not let it get away. So down the hill went one tire followed by a barking Rottweiler, a laughing little girl and four adults trying not to end up rolling down the hill or skidding on their butts in the mud. Of course none of us made it down without falling at least once. The tire was heavy and very resistant to our efforts to retrieve it. By the time we got the tire and ourselves back up on the blacktop we were all quite thoroughly encrusted in mud and laughing like fools. Billy and Jewels were the only ones that remained on the road and both of them were laughing their asses off and clapping one another on the backs like old friends.

We lost a day to that and me and Mike had to have our bandages changed afterwards. But I think all of us needed that. I don't think any of us has laughed like that in a long time.

Playing in the mud is good for the soul.

© 2009 R. Keith McBride

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff Keith, good stuff. I like how you are balancing the good and the bad. Keeps me thinking and guessing.