Chapter 12: Peter prepper
While Lorraine is frantically searching her in-box for winks from prospective suitors and proffering treats to Suki to keep her quiet, her neighbor across the hall is keeping a low profile. Peter Preston, age 37, is getting ready for the collapse of civilization as we know it.
Peter, like Lorraine, keeps his eye on the computer. He, however, is not trolling for dates, but keeping alert to any new world-wide conspiracies he might not have heard about. He watches Fox News quite a bit, but he believes that all the news we get in the US media is unreliable and strongly censored. Certain internet sites are, to Peter, far more reliable. He simply Googles: “conspiracy theories that have proven to be true”, and pages of information are available at his fingertips. For example, con trails are evidence that our government is poisoning the air to better control our thoughts. And there is a secret tunnel from Oak Ridge Tennessee to The Cove to help scientists escape if they are attacked. And the Pope is the force behind ISIS. Yes. All this has been proven.
He watches the wild fluctuations of the stock markets and economies around the world, and is just waiting for the world economy to collapse. He takes note of the droughts and floods in the food-producing regions of the world. He notes the wars that bring the Middle East to the brink of extermination, and the in-fighting that lights up Russia. The increase in cases of Ebola. Lyme Disease. Small Pox. Global warming with extremes of weather. The rise in the water level threatening to submerge anyone near the shore.
He is sure we are doomed, and the end will come quickly. And he will be ready.
His apartment is the reverse layout of Lorraine’s, but it does not share its cozy decor. Where Lorraine decorates with antiques, handmade housewares, and soft upholstered furniture, Peter has a more practical approach to decorating. His apartment resembles the storeroom at Sam’s Club. The walls are lined with industrial shelving, stocked with survival supplies. He has amassed huge bags of dried beans, rice, oatmeal, sugar, flour, dried fruits, and nuts. There are gallons of bottled water, juice, and vacuum-packed milk. Big jars of peanut butter. Jelly. Chocolate.
Another contrast between Peter and Lorraine is in their attire. Lorraine dresses carefully every morning in fashionable, well-made clothing. Peter rarely bothers to get dressed. He pretty much lives in a pair of plaid pajamas and scuffed bedroom shoes. While Lorraine puts on make-up and grooms her hair, Peter splashes cold water on his face and puts on an aluminum foil cap to block transmissions from sinister forces.
Peter has convinced the landlord to allow him to use the backyard of 44 Cherry Street to house a community pizza oven which Peter plans to build. He is going to ask the landlord if he can also build a yurt out back for a community gathering place. Peter has added the word “community” to his letter of request to the landlord, but he hopes those losers who live in the building don’t really think they can use his structures. Peter has already planted several fruit trees on the property, planted a vegetable garden, and is making plans for a chicken coop. Mostly, the other tenants leave him alone and don’t mess with his property. It’s a good thing, because he is not afraid to use brute force to protect what is his.
Hidden in deep holes around the yard and under the floorboards of his apartment is his arsenal of weapons. Anyone with any brains would understand that when civilization collapses, those idiots who have not prepared will be caught by surprise and will not be ready. Peter has put a lot of time, effort, and money into his survival gear, and he will defend it to the death. He spends time each week at the gun range making sure his skills are sharp, and he prowls gun shops and pawn shops to add guns and ammo to his stash.
This extensive preparation does not come cheap. Peter uses every nickel he can scrape up to add to his supplies of survival gear. There is no time left over for socializing, so he pretty much keeps to himself. He certainly doesn’t spend time with his neighbors at 44 Cherry St, because someday he might have to shoot them, if they try to get survival help from him. It’s every man for himself.
Peter is working part-time at the Survival Computer Shop across the street from the post office. The owners are really savvy in ways to prepare your computer for hook-up to a special generator, so that when the power grid collapses, he can still get on-line. It will be essential for the few who survive to keep in touch with each other. Also, the job does not require a particular dress code, and they never say anything about his aluminum foil cap.