January 19

Posted on: January 20, 2013

Jan. 19

I can’t avoid the office completely, as much as I would like to these days, so after our morning of toast and coffee, (I’m back to tea so they can have the coffee, but I’m not going to tell them that), John and I left around 10am for town.  (I’m still thankful I switched over to almost all battery clocks years ago!)


I was delighted to find Darlene in her office.  She was still tired, but gave me a weak smile.

“Deborah, I don’t know how to thank you for all you’ve done this past week,” she started. Then she coughed.  I backed up and pulled a mask up; it was already hanging around my neck. “It was just a tickle; don’t freak.”

“I’m not freaking,” I said thru the mask, “just being cautious.” I watched as she took a sip of bottled water.  “So what’s the story with Petey? Is he ‘back’?  I can understand how upset he was about Agnes’ death, but we do need him.”

“He’s back, with a mega-hang over!” she chuckled. “The school is now empty of….” That just trailed off.

“ok, that’s good,” I still had visions of that mattress piled with bodies. “Any messages for me?” I was looking for something from Don.

“Nope; were you expecting something?” She raised her eyebrows in question.

“I had asked Don about getting us some food out here.  I was hoping for a note that said when it would arrive.  Though, like with the diesel, it might just show up.  By the way, if that happens, it will go to the EMS building next door.  Someone is always still there, aren’t they?”

“Yes, Gary and Kim are taking alternate shifts.  I sure hope something arrives soon,” she pushed herself away from the desk.  I backed up again.  “ok, I’ll stay here until you leave.”  I laughed.

“Gary’s back then?” last I’d heard he went to town with the twenty flu victims.

“Oh, yeah, he didn’t stay at the hospital; he came back with the drivers.  But I understand he had a couple packs ramen soup and then slept for 24 hours, and is doing better, now that he gets regular rest.” She paused. “That was the right call, you know: sending everyone to the hospital.  They would have all died here.”


I climbed in the car, reached across the seats, gave John a kiss.  “How about a road trip?” I smiled.

“Ok,” and he pushed his knit cap back while rubbing his hands over his bald scalp, a movement that is so John, and tells me he’s pausing to think. “To where?” He had that questioning tone to his voice; in that wonderful North Carolina accent that just melts my insides.

“Marquette.” I grinned, and pulled into Fram’s for gas. “I think it’s time we see what’s going on.”


I wasn’t prepared for what was waiting for us.

Just before the railroad tracks that take coal from the docks, there was a road block, manned by National Guard.

“Ma’am,” oh, she looked so young! “Your business in Marquette?”

I pulled my Emergency Management ID from the visor and handed it to her.  I’ve always been good at bluffing, so I added, “I’m on my way to see Don White, at the Post.”  Not really I lie, as I did expect to stop there, but I made it sound like he was expecting me.  She nodded, wrote something down on her clipboard and handed back my ID.  Then she looked into the car at John.  Before she could ask, I said simply, “my bodyguard”; funny how that wasn’t even questioned.  “Is Washington open, or should I stick to Wright?”

“Washington is open, Ma’am, but Wright Street is safer,” and she stepped back from the car to let us pass.

My curiosity was peaked.  I followed CR 695 to the end and turned onto Lakeshore away from the power plant.  Always a pleasant drive, it was eerily void of traffic.  I turned right onto Washington Street, the main drag of Marquette.

The movie theater was boarded up; the bank on the corner had an armed guard stationed at the door, which was actually a good sign, it meant the bank was open.  Further down, there was an entire block of stores now blackened rubble.  I had seen enough.  Across from the park, a bookstore was open and seemed to be doing a thriving business, but also had a guard stationed at the door, holding what appeared to be an M-16.  The guard watched us as we drove by.

I drove us past more burned out buildings, more armed guards, more empty faces.

“I know you still have to see Don, otherwise I’d insist we get out of here,” John was getting twitchy beside me, he kept watching the roadside, eyes darting, looking for that wrong movement.

We pulled into the Post parking lot, it too was mostly empty.  I was familiar with the procedure, having been there to see Teresa several times.  I hit the call button located inside the solid glass vestibule; solid bullet proof glass.  I introduced myself, asked to see Don.  A few minutes later I was buzzed in, given a clip on badge, and directed to Don’s office upstairs.

“You took quite a chance coming here without an appointment,” he leaned back in his chair and eyed me.  There was a time, years ago, that we had entertained the idea of dating; his marriage ended that abruptly.  “You’re looking well,” he smiled.

“You look like you could use 24 hours of sleep and a week-long cruise to the Bahamas’,” I was hoping our personal repartee from years ago when he was an over-worked detective, would work in my favor.  I think it just might:  he laughed. “Besides, I’m finding that just showing up gets better results.” He laughed again.

“Gosh, it’s good to see you, Deb,” he leaned forward on his elbows.  “What can I do for you?” Back to business.  Good.

“Food, Don; Moose Creek is starving!  You know no one can’t get past the check points without a good reason, and I doubt there’s anything in the grocery’s anyway.” I paused, hoping he’d say something.  When he didn’t, I went on. “Anything at all, a couple cases of soup, or Spam; Anything!” I pleaded.

He pulled a note pad out, wrote something at the top, and signed the bottom.  He stood and handed it to me: a request form for GFS!  “I still wish you would consider being my assistant, Deb.” He stepped from behind the desk and wrapped his arms around me; I could feel how thin he’d gotten.

4 thoughts on “January 19

  1. Ok, the fact she lost a bit of weight must have slipped my mind in the excitement of reading the daily updates :o) Thanks for letting me know what GFS is.. I have never heard of it…LOL!!!

  2. GFS is Gordon Food Service; a national chain that sells bulk foods.

    And Deborah HAS lost weight, that was mentioned early. She just hasn’t lost as much as others. Plus, as hard as this may seem, it’s only been two months. And it’s winter, wearing layers to keep warm hides the lack of weight loss.

  3. What is GFS?? Love how story Deborah just says John is her body guard like its true, and its believed! And yeah, just showing up does seem to be better than calling ahead… Also, since most people are losing weight from lack of food, I wonder, does story Deborah keep some bigger, loose fitting clothes around to make it seem like she is going hungry too??? If people see her remaining the same size, they will (rightly) assume she has food, and may try to rob her.. just thinking out loud ;o)

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