Christmas Morning. Lorraine woke with a warm feeling of goodwill toward men. She had met with some of her girlfriends earlier in the week and they had exchanged small but heart-felt gifts. Colleen had given her a necklace that she had made, Sheela Repoley gave her a copy of the latest book by Anne Lamott, and Chelsea gave her a cool vintage hat. Life was good! But she still felt devoid of male companionship.
Suki was pulling at the covers and yipping to get her out of bed, so she rolled out and slid into her silk robe and caribou slippers. She fed Suki and decided to make a special breakfast. She looked in the frig and found a pound of bacon and pulled it out. It was silly to dirty a pan for just a few strips, so she arranged the whole pound, strip by strip in a roasting pan. She prepared her bacon in the oven. It was quick and it didn’t mess up the stove top. She pre-heated the oven to 350 and placed the bacon inside. Then she made batter for waffles: 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 4 tablespoons sugar. She found her waffle iron and some Vermont maple syrup, and got ready to make waffles. But all this food for just her and Suki? No. This was too much
She needed to invite someone to join her. But who? And at the very last minute.
She heard some clattering in the backyard, and ran to the bedroom window to peer outside through her lace curtains. There was Peter splitting wood for a little fire he had built in the middle of the yard. Obviously Peter was available. Did she really want to invite him? He was different, for sure. But maybe she was being too judgmental.
She threw a coat over her robe, called Suki to come with her, and went clip-clopping down the stairs and out the back door into the yard. “Peter!” she called. “Merry Christmas!”
Peter jumped. He hadn’t expected to have any contact with others this morning, and he was left alone just about every other morning. Luckily, he had taken a rest from wood-splitting, because if he had been in mid-strike, he might have missed and cut off his foot. “OH! Hi. Merry Christmas. What’s your name again? I’m so bad at names,” he stammered.
“Lorraine. So listen, Peter, I have made a butt-load of food for breakfast, and I wonder if you would care to join me?”
“You mean join you to eat breakfast? Inside? I guess that would be nice. Thanks!” Peter blurted.
“Come up as soon as you can,” Lorraine said. “The bacon is almost done.” She could smell the bacon once she came back into the hallway, and wondered if inviting Peter had been wise. She might have been able to eat the whole pound of bacon herself after all.
After Lorraine returned to her apartment and had set the table festively with her Spode dishes and her grandmother’s silver, she made the finishing touches on breakfast. She put the bacon strips on paper towels to drain, made a stack of waffles which she placed in the oven to keep warm, and brewed a pot of coffee. She had forgotten how much she loved to entertain.
There was a shy knock on the door, and Lorraine opened it to find Peter, his hair wet and slicked back, holding a dirty Ingles bag in hand. He looked around at her tidy apartment and at the enticing table. “You have a nice place here,” he said.
“Come in, come in!” Lorraine trilled. “Make yourself at home.”
Peter deposited the bag on her French tilt-top table and sat at the table. “Smells great in here!” he enthused.
Lorraine busied herself around the stove, handed Peter a china cup filled with Dynamite coffee, and rushed back and forth bringing food to the table. Finally she sat down herself and encouraged Peter to begin eating.
Peter surprised her by grabbing her hands. “Let’s pray!” he commanded. “Dear Lord, I thank you for the kindness of this dear lady and for the bounty of food we are about to receive. Please keep us safe as the forces of evil work in our government and threaten to bring doom and destruction down on our heads. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen”
“That was kind,” Lorraine began, but she didn’t know what else to say. Instead she picked up her fork and took a small bite of her first waffle.
Peter dug in with both hands and slammed the food into his mouth. “This is delicious!” he said with mouth full, and coffee dripping down his hairy chin.
Lorraine was pleased that she had done a good turn by inviting this strange man into her home, and she patted herself on the back. What a nice woman she was. In that vein, she played Lady Bountiful and encouraged Peter to talk about himself. “So,” she said. “Tell me about what you are doing out there in the yard and what led you to go in that extreme direction.”
“Lady,” Peter said in a loud voice,”I guess you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on in the world.”
“Well,” Lorraine began, “I don’t know what you mean. I read the newspaper, listen to NPR, and feel that I am up-to-date on what’s happening in the world.”
“Don’t you know that those are all lies? The only way you can find out the truth is by going on-line and reading the websites of those people who really know the score. For example, go to “theendisnear.com” or “doomsdaypreppersnation.org” There you will learn about the conspiracies that are going on right under our noses. All the currency is being syphoned to Russia with the help of the Pope. He is also the power behind ISIS.’
“The Pope?” Lorraine questioned. “But he seems like such a good man.”
“You see! It’s just what THEY WANT YOU TO THINK!” And don’t you know about the tunnel they have dug between Washington, DC and The Cove? When the shit hits the fan, those politicians who know the score will be able to flee the Capitol and be safe with Franklin Graham. They will set up a new government based in Swannanoa and Franklin will be the new President.”
“Really?” Lorraine questioned. People built a tunnel and no one knew about it? I mean, wouldn’t there have been an awful racket and a big mess. What did they do with all the dirt they unearthed?”
“They worked at night, so no one knew. Then they pulled a Shawshank and dispersed the soil all around them. You really are blind, aren’t you?” said Peter. “I bet you are one of those Liberals, right?”
“Liberal? I guess so,” mused Lorraine.
“Yeah. Do gooder! When everything falls apart, when the power grid goes kapooee, when we have no gas or oil, and when we have a world-wide food shortage, you will be wondering how to survive. I’ll bet you don’t even have any weapons.”
“Weapons? What are you talking about?
“I knew it!” Peter crowed. “Ok, look. Here’s what’s going on. It’s not a question of “If” but a question of “when” the world as we know it will cease to exist. We are teetering on the brink of disaster and only those of us who know how to live off the grid and know how to use our hands to grow food and make what we need will survive. The rest of you losers will be coming to us and wanting us to feed you, but I have guns and ammo and will kill if I have to to protect what is mine. Then I will mount the heads of those I have killed on stakes to keep other losers away from my stash.”
“Oh,” said Lorraine in a small voice. “That sounds a bit extreme to me. I mean, Really?”
Peter looked around again at Lorraine’s elegant apartment. “You will have no use for any of this fluff when the end comes. But you know what? You are a nice lady and I like you. You can come and live with me in the yurt. We will have to eat your dog, of course.”
“Eat Suki? No!! She’s my baby!”
“We’ll be eating babies, too, if we need to.”
“Oh, NO! That’s twisted! cried Lorraine.
“Lady, you won’t be so squeamish when you are starving,” said Peter, as he popped the last of the bacon into his jaws.