Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chapter Six

I glanced at the clock in the kitchen – eleven thirty. Deb had drifted off to sleep with Moira lying astraddle her. Swede snored out of sync with Tonka. I must have dozed off too. 

I stretched slowly to keep from waking them. I looked over to Moira’s face. Her mouth was open slightly and she fidgeted a bit as she nestled closer to Deb. I thought of how she had sat quietly and listened to me explain about her Mom.

Her somber expression was probably a reflection of my own. She did not say a word and did not cry. Instead she was very still and very quiet. She hugged her stuffed bear and looked back at me, then to Deb. After I finished explaining what had happened to her Mom, bar the details, she sat for a bit and then slid off the sofa and went and played with Bear and her other animals.

Deb and I talked quietly as we watched her. I was not sure what she was thinking. Often times Bear and her other animals had animated conversations that expressed how Moira felt. Tonight was no different. Every little bit I would hear Bear saying ‘Mommy’ and the other animals talked back in Moira’s falsetto.

Now they all slept and I reflected on it. Susan’s death and the burning of my family’s home affected me more than I would have thought. No matter the animosity and hatred, she had once been my wife. And my family’s home: Liberty Manor. It was no grand estate, but it was historic, and more importantly it was where I had grown up. The British had quartered troops there during the Revolution, a battalion-sized engagement had been fought between Blue and Gray in 1863, and the OSS had used our pastures as drop zones for their agent training in World War II. We found mini-ball and shells in our garden near every year as a child.

My black nursemaid, Dorothy, had walked me all over those 157 acres when I was a tyke. She would make up stories about dragons and castles, knights and ladies, and great battles. She had raised my father too, and would tell me all about him. No one else did. He was one of the first killed in Vietnam and the memories were too painful for the family save Dorothy. To Dorothy I was the patch that filled the hole in her heart left by my father.

Now it was burnt to the ground. I wrestled with going to see it. The past several years had numbed me to the thought of Liberty as home. I was not sure where home was now. I would have to see what the estate was, for Moira, too. God, what an awful thought.

Susan and her husband had probably disbanded all the careful estate planning I had put into place to preserve the farm and ensure Moira was cared for. There was no way of knowing how they had cacked it up besides going to the courthouse and petitioning. I knew my way around these matters from my twenty-odd years as an advisor. Yet I had never done so for family.

Family, was Susan family?

No, definitely not. For Moira, however, I must do it.


I came back to the present and watched the banner on Fox News scroll on the debt ceiling mess. Only politicians would think going into more debt could solve a crisis caused by too much debt. Spin the dial and a European country was begging for another bailout, 30-a-week government workers burned effigies and threw rocks. Japan had been squashed by the massive quake and the banner scroll said the Japanese authorities finally admitted that three reactors had melted down. Melt down … a metaphor what seemed to be happening on many levels around the world.

I used to be an optimist. I always believed my future was brighter than the past. No longer. Maybe it is the ever-present pain. Maybe. Things looked bleak. The world is awash in debt that can never be paid. We seem to be on the downside of oil production. North Africa and much of the Middle East seemed aflame – there goes a scroll about the President of Yemen fleeing. I wonder if people felt the same sense of dread in the summers of 1914 and 1939 that I feel now.

I used to think that people that stocked up before Y2k were nuts, doom-and-gloomers. Lately, I had begun to pay attention to the likes of Glenn Beck. I had begun to read blogs that advocated stocking up on beans, bullets and band-aids. I wasn’t ‘there’ yet, but it would not take much to tip me into taking action and becoming better prepared.

An advertisement for another Gold Coin Company was on. I used to tell clients that Gold was not a serious investment class. Now, I think I was wrong.

If it was only me I would not care, I’d buy more Scotch and watch the world go to hell in High Definition via my satellite-TV. But it isn’t just me. It’s Moira. Moira will never be able to care for herself on her own. She is high functioning, but I see young adults with Down syndrome at the Grocery store … and they don’t seem to me like they can navigate the world on their own. I am not sure I can. I continued watching the scroll on the bottom of Fox. O’Reilly … what a windbag. Fair-and-balanced my ass!

But it was better than the other TV channels – sort of like being the tallest midget. I am not sure when, but I rarely watched TV for news anymore … almost all of it was political posturing, blow-dryed anchors with snarky attitudes. So, slowly, I had drifted more and more to the web, to blogs, to alternative media for a grasp of what was really going on in the world. Mish, Zero Hedge, Of Two Minds, and of all things a site called Survivalblog. I don’t know why I think their information is less tainted than the mainstream media. I do not agree with everything they write … which I like. They challenge my preconceived notions and give me pause … not what some focus group told them would play well.

Yikes, another Gold Coin dealer was pitching now. I grabbed the remote and turned down the volume to near nothing. Tonka and Swede dueled in snoring while Moira continued to snuggle against Deb. I am exhausted and decide to close my eyes for a few minutes. 

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