Think of the 1800s, the wagontrains, and the people who crossed the prairie looking for a better life. Now fast-forward to the new millennium and the worldwide economy totally crashing, causing unbelievable chaos and violence. During the last days of his Montana cattle ranch job, Aaron Hodges learns through Native American prophecy, of the bad days coming and envisions building a hidden colony to ride out the likely decades-long crisis.
But first he must grow up a bit. After a long, long, absence, he finally goes home and gets back in touch with Caroline, the love-of-his-life, but nothing goes right so he takes a break in Las Vegas, wins a ton of money, comes back to Minnesota, buys a farm, begins a battle with Agribusiness vs. the environment, loses, continues seeing chaos growing, so seriously begins planning the colony.
He has a list of old friends he wants to come along and help in the development, but nobody really sees the need, especially Caroline, who absolutely refuses to go, and Aaron won’t go without her, and he’s running out of time. They need to get where he wants to go early enough in the season to plant crops, but he has to convince his friends to want to go.
The declaration of martial law changes things; they no longer have the option of taking a caravan of trucks down the highway.
This 2nd post of 6 introduces senior citizen, George, and the love of Aaron’s life, Caroline.
Excerpt from Chapter 9 “George”
(This man, in his sixties, a hobo, has no last name and a peculiar body odor. The two men bond quickly; eventually George will become a living conscience for Aaron.)
The hitchhiker flung open the door and crawled in, “Where we headed, Cowboy?” then tossed his meager belongings into the back.
Aaron gave an exasperated groan, “North.” Then he saw both forearms were covered with tattoos, and one color: moldy purple. The clothes were gray and worn but clean, and an odor came from him. A peculiar odor.
“North sounds just fine, young feller. North where.”
“Fine. I’ll ride along if ya don’t mind.” He closed the door.
“Doesn’t look like I have a choice.”
“Oh, you have a choice all right, Cowboy. Just say the word and I’m out, but you don’t strike me as the kind’a person who’d do that.”
Don’t bet on it. “You tricked me, didn’t you? I gave no indication of stopping and at just the right moment you reached for your gear.”
The old man’s smile faded a bit, although he appeared to not feel too much remorse, “All right, I tricked you. That little ploy works sometimes.” He held out his hand, smiled again but less smugly, “Sorry, Cowboy, but a man has to do what he can. My name’s George.”
Think of the girls/boys you have met in your past, your deep past. Myself, I can think of two young girls I really liked. One I met at a barn dance 60 years ago; another I went trick-or-treating with, also about 60 years ago. Both girls I have never seen again.
Another, a sales clerk in a drug store where I bought…something. I don’t remember what, but I remember her. That was only about 40 years ago. In those few moments she charmed me and I never saw her again.
What I’m getting to…our brain has a huge receptacle for memory. I can’t remember a person’s name, can’t find my keys, or a certain tool, but I remember all three of those girls, and often wonder about them.
Aaron met Caroline 19 years ago; he was eleven, she was nine. He picked her a bouquet of white daisies and when they had to part he kissed her on the lips. Good things happened, so he remembers and she remembers. In this next excerpt they finally meet again.
From Chapter 13 “The Reunion” (George has the viewpoint)
Looking sheepish, still a bit provoked, Aaron came around the side of the van and stopped short, his eyes gawking. Caroline stopped short too, but her eyes were only slightly gawking, but, gawking nonetheless, but then they evened out as that gentle smile of hers returned. Oh, that smile! But still about six feet between them. And both appeared to be thinking something bad was about to happen.
Just stand there a minute, young’uns. Get to know each other a bit through your eyes first, then I’ll tell you who you are.
Caroline’s smile reflected off the parking lot’s lights. Her eyes appeared wet, as if she were about to cry. Enough light enhanced the dark reddish luster of her hair, and bounced off a few blonde guardhairs, and exposed faint freckles around the bridge of her nose. Her blue jeans fit as if she had been poured into them, yet did not flaunt her figure, just seductively made known the curves—something a girl-watcher would skim over lightly, but a girl-connoisseur would study and notice where the jeans fit loosely here and snugly there—and swept down to the frayed bottoms where the toes of white canvas shoes peeked out. And the beige top—gathered by the rope-like belt, a frilly focal point—rose and fell as her breasts rose and fell with her breathing, as if a fine-tuned motor were inside warming up, generating life and energy for the most beautiful female creature George had ever laid eyes on.
And the hippie-cowboy, straightening a little with each obvious breath and appearing taller and stronger, his eyes still gawking wildly but calmly too, and maybe even also were a bit wet. George felt with a little help and guidance from the curly-haired woman, that Aaron Hodges would grow stronger and straighten more each day for—who knew? Probably forever.
But the two just stood there, six feet apart, staring at each other, contemplating, surveying, scrutinizing. George reckoned a little push were about due, “Hey, Aaron, do I have to tell you that this woman here is Caroline?”
This excerpt opens the door to the romance and love that will eventually come to these two people. But–like true love in the real world–don’t expect it to come easily, or quickly, but do look for the appearance of Caroline’s daughter, seven-year-old Jenny, to help the situation immensely. (Aaron will finally meet Jenny in Chapter 40 “The Great Novice Assembly”)
One of my most favorite romantic songs is Superstar from the late Karen Carpenter of The Carpenters.