The Men of Honor of Unity House – Chapters 19 and 20

A novel. 

Day Four, Noon

Help arrives, but first the Brownies and apple pie

 

I was in the middle of eating an instant chocolate pudding when I heard the dining room go silent.  Slowly I looked up, not sure what kind of shock wave had just rocked us into silence.

 At the entrance to our dining room stood the only thing that can render young men mute, girls. 

Posed at our threshold were two cute, shy, awkward, teenage girls dressed as duplicate of Men of Honor:  green plastic garbage bag garb, duct-taped together with plastic booties inside sneakers, latex gloves, and yellow-ish scarves across their faces for breathing protection.  Uncharacteristically, though, they were wearing brown berets.

 “Would any of you like some of our apple pies?” the older one asked. 

 No one spoke. 

 The smaller girl, with the slight, thin voice of a ten-year old, broke the silence.

 “We made two apple pies before the electricity went off for the Men of Honor who put flyers on our door this morning.  My sister thought you might like them.” 

 The girls walked to the tables and put them down triggering an avalanche of male teenage pandemonium.  As the guys scrambled, the girls scurried back to the foyer to shed their protection.

 “Oh, yeah Sisters.  I love apple pie,” screamed Kevin P, knocking over his chair to get at them.

 “Right here, Sister,” summoned Trey, elegantly brushing table crumbs and split bug juice off the table and onto the floor to make room for the pies.

 “Oh, these smell good,” exclaimed Kevin A, offering his expert opinion as he nose-dived toward the cross-hatched crusts of the soon-to-be devoured delectables.  On and on the chorus of young male voices erupted.

 “Dave, can you make a pot of fresh coffee to go with these girls’ apple pie?” Terry asked, adding her big smirky grin to the magic of the moment. 

 I looked back at Terry with a big grin of my own, but she turned toward Adam. 

 He was smiling too, and then the two of them turned toward me and said in unison, “Well, are you going to make coffee, or not?”

 After pie, we learned our two teen angels, Tracy and Monica, lived on Salford Street, just one block below us.  The younger sister Tracey explained their arrival and the berets.

 “We saw you boys wearing your red berets and stuff and we wanted to do the same, but all we had were our Brownie berets.  I know they look a little dorky.”

 “And too small,” piped in the older but quieter Monica.

 “But we wanted to be part of the Men of Honor as best we could.”

 “Can we make them Men of Honor?” Trey asked.

 “Yeah,” shouted Willy.

 “Yes!” exclaimed Kevin P, fist pumping.

 Even Naleef smiled, surrounded by a chorus of male acclamation confirming their unanimous consent. 

 I looked at TT, who shrugged, saying, “We can make them honorary members of the Men of Honor.”

 “Why only honorary members?” challenged Willy.

 “Well, they don’t live here, so it’s not the same thing,” I interjected.  I looked back at TT for help. 

 TT could see how this thing was going.  I turned it over to him mentally.  He got it, and changed his mind.

 “Men of Honor of Unity House,” he said in a commanding voice.  “Please come to attention in the Commons Room.” 

 We tumbled out of the dining room.  TT sent Trey to get the box of berets and scarves.

 “Men of Honor of Unity House…and Women of Honor,” he added, with a head nod to Terry and Karen.”   After a pause he launched his schpiel.

 “Brothers andSisters of Honor of Unity House, we have been blessed by these two angels, Monica and Tracey.  They have been inspired by what we have done.  They have been inspired by your courage, boys, and now they want to be part of our Honor Society.  Isn’t that right girls?”

 Tracey shook her head vigorously, saying “Yes.”  Monica smiled and nodded a little, but looked mostly at her shoes. 

 TT continued.  “Since these young women have come to us with honorable intentions, I say they are able to be inducted into our honor society as full-fledged members.  For actions speak louder than words and these girls have certainly proven themselves today by braving the radiation to give us a present, and asking to join the Men of Honor.”

 “Yes!” Willy shouted, then looked sheepishly away because he was the only one who had voiced a shout-out.

 TT went on.  “Monica and Tracey, Trey will read our Code of Honor out loud, one item at a time.  When he is finished with his line, I want you to repeat it.  Okay?”

 Tracey again nodded vigorously and Monica followed.  Trey began the induction of the Salford Street Division of the Men of Honor.

 After they had received their scarves, Tracey the younger, spoke.  “Thank you for making me a part of the Men of Honor, but now that I’m a member I think we should formally change the name of the group to always be the Men and Women of Honor since I’m not a boy.”

 Out of the mouths of babes come such truths.  Oh, Tracey, you are a winner. 

 

Day Four, 1:45 pm         Choppers!

We decided to celebrate our new inductees by raiding the petty cash box and giving everyone a dollar’s worth of change to get the last of the Pepsi’s out of the soda machine, even if it was now warm.  In his excitement Naleef dropped his can and foaming Pepsi spurted all over the dining room. 

 Above all the resulting commotion, though, we heard the throp, throp, throp of a helicopter.  It got louder.  Then really loud, and we all rushed over to the bay window in the Commons room to see a Chinook hover over our soccer field.  Even I, who had marched in every anti-Vietnam protest march in the 60s, was glad to see a chopper sixty-feet above us with USAF written on its side.  Hell, my eyes filled with tears.

 Slowly, four figures appeared in the belly doorway.  They had “Michelin Man” padded suits on, and moved quite laboriously as if in slow-motion. 

 Each one dropped a rope out of the side of the chopper and then attached a fall arrest device.  Secured, they slid down their ropes to the ground.

 Two other airmen in the chopper unloaded four large tubes with a spike sticking out of one end.  The men on the ground pointed the spike down, which I later learned had a hydraulic braking system built into it, and fired this strange bazooka-looking gizmo into the asphalt of our parking lot.  The spike secured, they then pulled their respective ropes through the device, pulling long, thick bungee cords down from the hatchway all the way to the spikes.  The chopper was now secured to the ground by four shock cords pulled out equally distant from the chopper.

 Then the airmen in the chopper loaded out four large rolls of Visqueen plastic, which the four on the ground rolled out fifty feet in each direction underneath the chopper.

Intuitively I understood:  dust protection.  The chopper was hovering just above the dust cloud kicked up by its rotors.  The Visqueen was spread over the dust and debris to minimize the dust swirl as the chopper landed.

 Then, four large pylons extended out from the sides of the chopper.  With a groan they turned ninety degrees.  From the bottom of the tubes a large piston appeared.  When they fully deployed the chopper closed its hatchways, cut its engine, and with the rotors throping passively, the aircraft fell to earth.

 The pistons broke the sixty-foot fall of the giant Chinook, which then bounced back in the air like a well-nourished frat boy jumping at the end of a bungee line.

 At apogee, the hydraulic brakes grabbed the bungee cords, leveling the chopper.

 The Chinook bounced three more times until it finally settled on the ground. 

 Of course, I thought, how else could it land?  If it came in with its rotors swirling it would kick dust into every nook and cranny of the aircraft.  It would be an airborne radiation collector and not a very safe or effective rescue vehicle.

 Secured, the airmen lowered a step ladder and a ramp out of the hatchway and began unloading boxes and a little golf-cart looking vehicle, which I soon learned was called a “Gator,” a rugged all-terrain, all-wheel drive, dune buggy.  While the rest of the gear was being off-loaded, one of the airmen headed toward the side door of the south hallway. 

From the Commons room entryway Willy ran out shouting, “Hey mister, we’re over here.” 

 The airman waved and changed direction, joining our merry little band.

 But before he entered the building he unfolded a suitcase-looking box which sprung to life as a sort of outdoor clothes rack.  Around it he unrolled a Mylar portal, duck taped that to the door frame, and then extended it out about twenty feet to make a dust-free tunnel.  Inside his roomy, radiation-free lean-to he unzipped his suit and then walked into our lives.

 “Hi, everybody, I’m Specialist Eric Mulhearn, but please call me Eric.  How are ya?”

 “Oh, we’re good,” I called out.

 “Can you fix the TV so the video games work?” Deon asked.

 “Some other guys are working on that buddy, but I hope it’ll be up and running soon,” our airborne angel said without missing a beat.

 “Specialist Mulhearn, welcome to our party,” Terry said.  “Can I buy you a Pepsi?”

 “Sure,” replied Eric Mulhearn, smiling broadly.  We all introduced ourselves and told him what our situation was, and a little about what we had seen down at the high school.  Adam surprised the guys when he spoke about Bill.

 “Eric, we have a very sick man here who needs immediate medical attention.  Are you equipped to give it to him, or can you medivac him out of here?”

 “We’re not a medical unit, Sir, unfortunately.  We’re here to first establish a communication system, which we’re doing out in your field.  We only have potassium iodate tablets and immunity boosters with us on this first run.”

 “He needs more than iodine,” Terry countered.  The guys looked squeamish.  Radiation was invisible and they didn’t like anything they couldn’t see.

 “I think he needs immediate hospitalization,” said Terry.  “He’ll probably need transfusions and things like that.”

 “Gotcha,” said Eric.  “But, I think I better establish radio contact, first.”  He pulled out two small pouches.  “These are short range, high-pulse radios.  They’ll cut through the radiation to our booster that we’re putting up in the field.  Then we can call in a medivac chopper.

 “But why not fly Bill out now?” Adam asked.

 “Hmmm.  That’s possible, too.  Our chopper is going to leave as soon as we unload,” said Eric, “but that’ll take some time.”

 Two other soldiers in radiation suits came to the portal that Eric had made, unzipped themselves and entered Unity House.  The booster was ready to try out.  Nothing but static greeted their efforts.  One airman re-suited and left, moving the boosted device closer to the house.

 “Anderson,” Eric asked his other colleague still inside, “when will the Chinook be off-loaded?  We have an evac here that needs to lifted-out A-sap.  Will it be faster to wait for our fly-out or should we call in a medivac?

 “We’ll be ready to go in less than five,”Anderson replied.

 “Good.  But that’s still a tough ride for a sick man,” Eric said, turning toward Adam, “and we don’t have a litter for him.”

 “We can make one,” I volunteered.  “Terry, tell Bill he’s going home.  Me and Ryan, and hey, anyone else want to help make a stretcher for Bill?”  Everyone raised their hands.  “C’mon KA, you, me and Ryan will make one out of 2×4’s downstairs.  Give us those five minutes, Eric, okay?” 

 We got a thumbs-up.

 We went downstairs and scrounged four more 2×4’s, eight feet long.  We wrapped an old packing blanket around two of the sticks to make the frame for the stretcher.  Then, we sandwiched the blanket between the extra 2×4’s and made a sturdy litter.  We were now ready to get Bill to a hospital.

 Bill looked bad.  His face was red and sweaty, and his breathing was very fast and shallow.  

 “Good luck, Bill,” Ryan said, as TT and KP carried the SYSCO Kid to the radiation portal.  Bill couldn’t even acknowledge the greeting.

 Eric’s two outdoor crew members took Bill from us and carried him out to the Chinook.  Watching Bill lift off, TT spoke to the moment.

 “Dear God, please be with our friend Bill as he flies to receive help.  Please be with him in this hour of trouble.  In the sweet name of Jesus we ask you this.  Amen.”

 “Amen,” said a few of the guys softly.

 Eric stayed behind with us, and I was pleased to hear that his intentions were to bunk down here with us for the long term, along with his two other crew members who were then giving us a thumbs-up on the radio booster and getting their Gator ready to travel. 

Since the Men and Women of Honor had already scouted the environs, the three soldiers would now be able to focus on the bigger problem of restoring power down at the Worcester Power and Light substation at the bottom of the hill on Plantation Ave.  They were also heading over to the police station on Grafton Street to give those men their own radio boosters and radiation suits.  They hadn’t known about the dire situation at St. Vincent’s, so that became a priority as well.

 With a wave, Eric went outside and suited-up.  We were alone again, but, finally, we were in touch with the outside world and Bill was on his way to a hospital.  The rescue had begun.

 Eric told us that food and water convoys were preparing to enter the primary radiation zone, which stretched from Route 20 on the south to Worcester Airport in the west, Burncoat on the north and Shrewsbury to the east.  We were essentially in the middle of that circular area.  All told, nearly three-hundred square miles and over a quarter-million people.

 Before Eric and his team left they gave us plenty of potassium iodate to take.  It protects the thyroid, which is the most vulnerable part of the body to radiation.  I put the pills in cups of chocolate pudding because the apple sauce was too weak to cover the taste.  Eric also gave us boxes of a new food item, MREs: Meals Ready to Eat.  Even if it was food in a pouch, I was glad it wasn’t more Sloppy Joes. 

 Best of all we received two radiation suits, which allowed us to enter the rooms with busted windows and lots of dust and clean them up and secure them.  Looking spiffy and official in the rad suits, TT and Trey eagerly took care of that project.

 By this time, we learned that Tracy and Monica had been alone since the beginning.  Their mother, a single mom, had not been able to get home from her job on the night shift at the Raytheon Lab in Waltham because she had been working late when the bomb went off.  Nor was she able to get any word to her daughters, whom she usually home-schooled during the day. 

 So, TT promised to take Monica and Tracey home in the Nuke Mobile to get sleeping bags, clothes, and any food and bottled water that looked like it would supplement our supplies. 

 That evening when TT took them, they also brought back their two golden retrievers, “Tippy” and “Noble,” and their two cats, “Mo” and “Wynonnajudd.”

 Girls in the House, I thought, It’s getting interesting.

 Early afternoon saw our first smoke break and it was a big hit.  We used my room at first and everybody either wanted a smoke or just wanted to hang where the action was, so in the interest of space we decided to make the Commons room the new smoking lounge.  That meant we had to get a lot of ventilation in the central part of the house.  To do that we made a large vent that was four-feet long and covered with a double-thick blanket on the outside.  I blessed the old-time construction of Unity House that had the wisdom to install windows that actually opened, unlike modern construction that prefers sealed windows and central air and heat. 

 On the inside of the vent box, using hinges off the closet doors downstairs, we built a bellows to push air.  Of course we only got air when some one was pushing the flap in and out, but we decided that the “flap guy” would get an extra cigarette for every ten minutes of flapping, so we had all the labor we needed.

 Everyone smoked, including me, and I hate cigarettes.  Somehow it’s easier to breathe other people’s exhaust when my own smoke is part of it.  Besides it calmed me down, too, and gave us all a few minutes of relaxed camaraderie.

 With the electricity off we had to make some changes to the meal times.  We moved dinner up to 5:00 pm so we could eat and clean up while it was still daylight.  Our refrigerators and freezers were beginning to get warm so we re-prioritized our menus.  We had to eat all the fresh food that would spoil.  One of our four freezers, filled with chicken, was never too robust and now was thawing fast.  So, we decided to have a huge fried chicken meal.

Karen and TT announced that “Southern Pride” would take care of the fried chicken dinner, so, ex-New Yorkers like me were expected to stay out of the kitchen.  Anyway, they had Trey, Deon, Willy and the two girls to help.   

 Plenty of help, maybe too much.  But in the end they cooked over a hundred pieces of chicken and had a blast doing it.

 In the interim, the rest of us arranged new accommodations.  The girls got my old room, and I moved into my little 6×8 office.  We had to clean up Bill’s room, which was badly soiled.  His mattress was stained beyond redemption with vomit and diarrhea.  Ryan just tossed it out the side door, saying, “We’ll deal with it later,” and I agreed with his assessment.  We let Bill’s room air out as best as the window filter allowed.  Using the door as a little air pump, we swung it back and forth, pushing air in and out of the room.  Ten minutes on vomit door duty earned another extra cigarette.

 Karen decided to move into the Commons room where Eric and his two team mates were going to camp.  She said that it was a “military thing,” and “all the soldiers should be together,” but I wondered if the real reason was a “woman thing” and Karen was giving some space to a sister who might want some privacy in case she wanted to be alone with a certain member of the Executive Board whose initials were Adam Peronski. 

 Personally, I thought what was happening between Adam and Terry – or should I say Teresa – was a cool thing.  I just wondered how it might boomerang with the guys if they got any ideas along similar lines. 

 I’ll defer to the clinical judgment of my superiors on this one, I reassured myself.  And thank God, for once I’m not the one on the hook.

 In terms of room assignments the guys still had their own individual rooms; but with the new arrivals we were running out of beds and mattresses.  TT still stayed downstairs, which was quiet and appealing, but damp and filled with spiders.  I think he slept on a couch, because whenever I was downstairs I never saw a bed.

 Ryan proposed the idea of making cardboard carton mattresses for all our new guests, which I thought was a great idea.  We had the kitchen crew remove the cans from our cases of food, collapse the cardboard boxes into a layered mattress, and then place them back on top of the cans out in the Commons room, using the cans as a kind of metal sleeping platform.

 Whoever diagnosed Ryan as developmentally disabled had never seen him on any of my work crews.  He had a great mind for putting things together, and his idea of building mattresses out of cans and cardboard was a brilliant marriage of need and resource.  I would see this kind of thing over and over with Ryan, like when we built the smoking vent.  He was the one that proposed a flap on hinges.  No DD guy does that.  I had been telling everyone that I thought Ryan’s very real learning and social problems were not sourced in the DNA of retardation, but elsewhere.   

 Maybe he has an anxiety disorder that blocks him at every turn.  Then, when he sees that he can’t make his life happen the way he wants his anger overwhelms him?

 Naleef, for his part proved to be adept at tying knots.  I had to show him a couple of times to get him started, but once he got the hang of it he was a whiz at tying the cardboard mattresses together.

 During clean-up the kitchen crew announced that the taps were out of water, which gave us two new problems.  One, what could we use to cook and clean up with, but the bigger issue was the bathrooms.  It seemed we would have to dig pit latrines tomorrow and decrease our outdoor time to accommodate the squattin’ and peein’, and haul water from the Abbey for showers.  The Nuke Mobile was already scheduled for morning, afternoon and evening water runs to St. Vinnie’s with Brother Mike at the wheel.  The details of survival began to make my head spin.

 When the power had gone off we had filled eight, five-gallon buckets immediately so we had about forty gallons on hand plus everyone’s personal container.  We would have to save that strictly for drinking and cooking.  The average person consumes two quarts of water a day, and we had eighteen folks in the house now, counting the three soldiers and the two girls.  Realistically, we had a day of water, maybe two before we had to join the line at the well pump and keep our fingers crossed that an eighty year old pump would hang tough. 

 And that’s just survival, I thought, What about laundry?  Dust protection?  Going outdoors?  Does this mean no more outdoors unless we have a rad suit on?  Take turns wearing them? Ug, the guys stink.   Sponge Baths instead of showers?  Oh vey.  Logistics were getting tricky.

 The fried chicken was a success, as was the candle light we ate by.  It was totally dark by 7:00 pm when we retired to the Commons room for our evening smoke and whatever entertainment we conjured up.  TT stepped in with a reading from the Bible. 

 Hmm, we’re really having an evening of southern culture aren’t we, I thought a little cynically, but I added my own contribution from The Prophet, by Kahil Gibran. 

 The guys loved the whole thing, and at one point every one was jumping up and running to their room to get a poem they had written but had never read out loud to anyone.  Surprisingly, Willy really enjoyed reading from the Bible.  In fact, he finished up the evening sitting next to Deon and they read the Holy Book together.

 At 8:30 pm Eric and his team came roaring back on two Gators.  They announced through the window that an additional communication team had landed at the high school, and one of their Gators had come back with Eric.  It took the soldiers a few minutes to unzip from their suits, but we all waited quietly, wondering what they would tell us of the big world outside.

 “Hi, everybody,” Eric said as he came into the Commons room.  “How are you?”

 “Oh, we’re great.  Want some chicken?” Trey offered.

 “We don’t have water,” Kevin A shouted.  “How am I supposed to wash the dishes, hunh?”

 “Where are we gonna take a dump tonight?” demanded Kevin P.

 “How come the TV’s not on?” asked Deon.

 “Can you fix the videos?” chimed in Ryan.  The chorus was mighty.

 “How are things outside, Eric?” asked Karen.

 “Not so good.  There’s lots of problems.  We went to the police station on Grafton Street.  There’s a dozen cops down there, some sick, but they didn’t have rad suits so they couldn’t do much.  We gave them two, so you should be hearing a police car with a bull horn making announcements up and down the streets by tomorrow morning.  They’ll be getting more rad suits tomorrow and then they’ll be really up and running.

 “We went to the power plant and there’s some real trouble there.  Seven men were walking into the building for lunch just when the bomb hit, so they caught some gamma radiation from being outside.  They were lucky, too, though, ‘cause the building is in a ravine and they missed a lot of the shock waves.  But they’re all sick; a couple critically.  They don’t know what happened to the electricity, but they agreed it’s probably something in the switches that got fried by the gamma rays.  But they’ve been too sick to really do anything about it. 

 Everybody out there is hungry and dehydrated, except you guys,” he said laughing as his two team mates emerged from the kitchen with a platter of fried chicken piled a foot-high.  “We’ll be sending an engineering team there tomorrow.  Plus, we got convoys coming in at first light with water, generators, medical, and food.”

 “Thank God,” I said, “’cause Eric we’re out of water here.  We got about forty gallons, tops, in buckets.”

 “You’re doing better than most, but I know what you mean.  The hospital is just barely hanging in there, what’s left of it.  There are about two-hundred folks up there all told, we think, because we can hear people behind the rubble that we can’t get to.  There’s a monk up there in a brown robe like St. Francis, digging like a madman, and about a dozen healthy survivors working with him to get to those trapped people. 

 “We’ll be sending in a full search and rescue company there tomorrow with hydraulic jacks, tools, and dogs.  We’ve got a dozen 16-wheeled tankers with 2,000 gallons of water each, coming tomorrow on the first cargo run, but the roads are still pretty well blocked with rubble.  The high school is the priority at his point ‘cause we got real problems there.”

 With that everyone huddled close; this was getting personal.

 “There are over five-hundred kids still up at the school, with about twenty-five teachers.  Most of them are sick, many critically.  Apparently, the building was just high enough to catch a good amount of gamma, particularly anyone on the western side of the building facing ground zero, and there was a lot of dust – more than here, even. 

 “We’re sending in a med-rad team by chopper there tonight, which is tricky and against regs, but those kids are between a rock and a hard place.  We’re gonna set up a hospital there and see if we can save some of those people.  Some we can’t, but some we can.”

 “Can we help?” asked Karen.

 “Yes, and here’s what I propose.”  Eric’s voice rose as he stood.  “I’d like to count on you people to help us.  First, we want to turn this building into a triage center for people in the neighborhood.  We’re hoping we can do that at the high school, too, and St. Vincent’s, but we know we have a better shot here. 

 “We’ll get you all your own rad suits tomorrow, so teams can go out into the neighborhood and help bring people here for treatment and evacuation.  Police and Fire are gearing up too, and y’all can work together.  Lt. Ambretti will be here to coordinate things, first thing tomorrow. 

 “Use your Nuke Mobile for transport, and we’ll have a medical team and ambulances here by mid-day.  We’ll have an engineering team in by dark at the very latest to get you power, even if it’s only a supplemental generator and fuel.

 “But, we’re gonna need a lot of help up at the school, so I’m asking you to divide your forces.  A lot of people there are gonna need around-the-clock care.  We’re gonna need orderlies, cooks, aides – all kinds of people.”

 “The Men and Women of Honor are ready to help in any way we can, Specialist Mulhearn,” TT replied.

 “I knew you would be.  That’s why I’m here.  I mean it.  I’m not just saying that.  When we were briefed on the flight up from Homestead we knew there was a light shining in the zone and that was you.  At lot of people know about you.  The Men and Women of Honor of Unity House are known nationwide, at least in the military response.  General Mayfield’s HQ knows all about you guys, and a lot of people are heading here knowing that here there’s a base to work from.  You folks are relatively healthy and organized, and not too many people around here can say that.  So, if you’re willing, we’ll put you to work first thing tomorrow.”

 “What time do you want to get started?” Terry asked.

 “I’d like everybody going to the school to be ready to go at 8:00 am”

 “That means we get up at 6:00 to eat and get ready,” said Terry.  “Lights out in thirty minutes.”

 “There aren’t any lights, Terry,” quipped Willy.

 “You know what I mean.  Go to bed.  Speaking of which, Eric, Ryan and Naleef made beds and mattresses for you.  I hope you like them.”

 “They look fine to me.  Thanks, Ma’am.  And thank you Ryan, Naleef,” he said, nodding to each as he spoke their name.

 The guys and Monica and Tracy made their way to their rooms; the adults retired to the dining room table and made plans for the next day.

 “Who should go to the school?” Adam asked.

 “I would say your most stable people,” said Eric.

 “I guess that would be Trey and Willy for sure, and Kevin A and Kevin P, and the two girls, I guess,” TT suggested.

 “How about Ryan?” asked Karen.

 “I don’t think so,” said Terry.  “If he gets in with the wrong crowd he could be trouble.  He doesn’t think, sometimes.”

 “Yeah, he needs constant supervision,” I offered.  “I think he should stay here.  He works well with me, so why doesn’t he stay here with me, and Deon and Naleef.  Everyone else could go to the school.”

 “You can handle them by yourself?” asked Adam.

 “Oh, no, my friend, I was just thinking of one thing at a time.  I know they should stay, and I was just volunteering myself.  Actually, I think we need a few staff at both places.”

“I agree,” said Adam.  “I’ll stay here with you.  Why don’t the three of you, Terry, TT and Karen go to the school tomorrow?”

 “In the Nuke Mobile?” asked TT.

 “The gators are going to go out with my people.  Your Nuke Mobile is the best thing I’ve ever seen.  You guys are great to have it.”

 “What about toilets?” I asked.  “Poop in buckets, or dig pits outside?”

 “I don’t think so,” Terry replied.  “We have problems in the hygiene department even with working toilets.  There must be a better way.”

 “We can use the toilets,” said Adam.  ”We just need supplemental water to flush them.  We can get that water by draining the radiators and the boiler.  We won’t need heat around here for another month.  Pour a little extra into the toilet to flush it, and make sure there’s enough in the bucket for the next guy to use.  We’ll have to play it by ear and see how it goes.  Tomorrow, we can always make a run to Brother Mike’s with our eight white buckets and bring back a forty-gallon supply. 

 “And no more going out in plastic wraps since you can’t take showers,” added Eric.  “Only go out in a rad suit, except maybe those going to the high school in the Nuke Mobile.”

 “Where can we find containers for the water to flush the toilets?”  I asked, thinking out loud as the meeting broke up and we headed to our rooms.  “I know there’s a utility pail in the boiler room.”

 “We can probably rustle up a few more somewhere,” Adam suggested, “maybe a couple old paint cans – anything’ll do.” 

 We found a couple plus an empty two-liter Pepsi bottles and filled them with rusty water from the heating system. 

 Finished, we all went to bed.

 Lying down in bed I felt drained, like I had just come from a dentist.  I didn’t remember falling asleep or dreaming.

 ©  2011 Bruce A. Smith

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2 Responses to The Men of Honor of Unity House – Chapters 19 and 20

  1. Paula Morris says:

    Yay! Rescue.

    Bruce….Kahlil Gibran? The Prophet was one of my all time favorite books in the 70’s. It was like my bible!

    A lot of this story reminds me of things we need to do during severe weather around here!

    • brucesmith49 says:

      Yes. Power outages, no matter their cause, certainly call out the campfire culture, don’t they. Sitting in a circle, candles, sacredness, inner thoughts, singing.

      Rumi is a good read if Kahil is not available. Something about those Islamic mystics….

      Bruce

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