“Where the fuck does Jenkins get off, John?”
John looked up from enjoying his second and last stout of the evening. Frank was the last one at the pub with John, the rest of the men had gone home to their wives and children.
“Well, Frank, this is Jay’s property and land we are talking about, here. His home, his land, his rules…”
“It’s just fucked up, man! Where does he get off saying who can stay and who can’t, it’s not like he is saying some of the men aren’t allowed, he is writing off the women and children, too!”
John put his glass down and looked at Frank, letting the awkward silence of his pause do the work for him, making Frank uncomfortable.
“Look, first off, you need to calm the hell down.”
Frank rolled his eyes, sitting back in his chair as John continued.
“Second, you need to use that gray-matter between your ears and think this through, like a man.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“First, Jay didn’t say that you and the other guys were ‘officially’ out. He said that if you wanted to be ‘in’ when the time came, when it matters, that you will need to step up, do the work and get your shit together, now. Do an objective analysis of what you have been doing with preparing for possible bad times ahead.”
“Seriously, Frank! What, you’ve got a case of MRE’s in your basement and a case of water bottles from the local box store. You bought those last year and you used some already for some of the overnight trips we made in BLM land. You have three other people under your roof to think about! Remember the plan for food and water? You start small and add to it. A one-week supply for every member of your home, then a two-week, then one month, then two months.”
“Oh come on, man! If we hole up at Jay’s property like he said, there is a well tapped right into an aquifer and game to hunt and that’ll be enough so we can start farming!”
“Will you just listen to me, or are you just going to bitch all night?” John wasn’t usually this blunt, but Frank was getting out of hand. Frank nodded and took a sip of his beer, John being this direct at a group function was a rare thing, so Frank decided to pay attention a little more.
“How long do you think the wild game up there will last us, exactly? Hmm? If we start shooting everything that crawls, with no thoughts for the future, we’ll run out quick and fast, not to mention all the people who I’m sure come near the ranch every year to hunt in the surrounding areas. So we need to be smart. You know that the minimum acceptable amount of food and water stores for each member of our household is…” John paused, leading Frank to the answer.
“That’s right, six months. For your own household, not for one person. Look at me, I’ve got a small nation-state of children running around my house, plus my wife, plus me. That means I have to have six months for each of them. It’s not fair, it’s not honorable and it isn’t right to pass that burden on to the rest of the group!”
Frank was silent as he looked at his emptied beer glass.
“What Jay is saying is that from what he has seen, from us gathering, going to each other’s houses to help get preparations in order, training, etc., that a few of us haven’t been pulling our weight and if that continues, he’ll make the hard call and not allow you the location so you can have access to his property.”
“Yeah… I guess.”
“Look, you have a shot at this. If this is something that you don’t want, then you are always free to do things on your own.”
“Yeah, but I don’t want to be on my own in this.”
“Then you need to step it up! Look, I know it’s hard. You got a fairly sized tax return back a month ago, did you spend it all?”
“Nah, man. I’ve got most of it saved up, trying to figure out what to do with it, we have a lot of debts to pay off.”
“I hear ya. Well this is a hard call, but I suggest that you use some of that money to help get your larder and supplies in order, hm? That’s how I did it. I plopped down some of that tax return for a 30 day supply for my family last year. It went a long way to building momentum and it made it easier in the long run. While you are at it, use some of that tax return to get some ammo and maybe even a gym membership and starting working out.”
“Come on, Frank! You have, what, 100 rounds of ammunition?”
“You need to get more in reserve for each weapon. You know this! You barely have enough in there for two quality sessions in the field or at the range going over basic marksmanship stuff, much less defensive drills.” John reached into his wallet and paid for both of their drinks.
“Thanks, John! You don’t have to do that, I’ve got the money!”
“I know, go buy a box of ammo with it!”
The two men put their jackets on and went outside, hopping in John’s truck. John turned the ignition to his rig and pulled out onto the street.
“So what, I should go buy five thousand rounds of ammo?” Frank said in a snarky tone.
“Well, if you want to, I wouldn’t mind a gift of a thousand! Seriously though, you should try to have at least one thousand rounds in reserves. I know it’s hard, with the ammo shortage and prices being gouged, but that is supply and demand for you…”
“Tell me about it.”
“But with your rifle, there really isn’t any, I see your ammo all the time at the local sporting goods store. It would only take a few paychecks to get you up to par for reserves. Then you always keep about five hundred for training. That should be the minimum to shoot for. I know it’s hard, I’ve dipped below my one thousand and am building back up right now as we speak.”
“So what’s this whole gym thing, you sayin’ I’m a fat ass.”
“No, what I’m saying is that I don’t give a damn whether you like exercise or not. Like it or not, hard times are coming and you are going to need to put your ass through some hard training now so you will have more mental resolve later when you need it. Something my old man says a lot, he quotes “Stonewall” Jackson, what was it? Oh yeah, ‘I sweat my men now, so they may bleed less on the field of battle tomorrow.’ or something like that. You get the point. Whether economic collapse or natural disasters, or whatever. You really think that being in good shape and healthy isn’t going to do anything for you? You want to be sick when there is no doctor to go see? Look, you aren’t a fat-ass, but I know you haven’t really bought in to the whole “do more PT” mantra like most of us have. It shows every time you try to run with us, or hike a trail with us, or run firing drills or when we work self-defense training…”
“Yeah I don’t get to those very often. I don’t do workouts.”
“Yeah, I know. We all know. It’s getting old Frank. We want you to succeed but we can’t pull your weight. Do you want to be a keyboard prepper, like some of those fat asses at the local gun range, talking about how they are going to “show up” when the shit hits the fan? No they won’t, they are going to vapor-lock and have a stroke and their families will suffer for it. Time to stand and deliver, bud.”
John went silent for a moment.
“Those are the things Jay is talking about, bud. It sounds specific to your situation, but the other guys have work to do in those areas as well. It’s not like we are all sitting pretty and prepared and you are the lone satellite. Most of the guys who were called out tonight all have that in common they are lacking in their food stores, ammo, and PT. Every one of them is important. You need to start somewhere. You need to start now.”
“I’m not a kid, you know.”
“I know and right now I am treating you like a man. So start acting like one and do something about the situation.”
“Yeah… I suppose your right.”
“Suppose? What do you suppose you are going to tell your children when you are out of food, or ammo and can’t get either? Or when you couldn’t hold your ground when someone tried to take what is yours, if you survive the encounter?”
“So what do I do?”
“Do something! Like I’ve said before, like we’ve all said before. Start small in each category you need to work on. Don’t focus on everything you need to do, that will be overwhelming. This week, focus on either finding a gym to workout at, or buy a home gym and me and the guys can show you what to do. Next week focus on how you can get some ammo. The week after, focus on food and water. Check back with me and the group, we’ll help guide you.”
John pulled up in front of Frank’s house.
“Look, Frank. We’ve been friends for a while now. Everyone in the group knows you and likes you, we want you to succeed. We need each other, especially if all of us are going to endure and live if our current way of life gets worse.”
Frank nodded. “Thanks, John. I appreciate you being honest with me.”
“Anytime, bud. Anytime. Say hello to the wife and kids for me.”
Frank got out of the truck and John drove away. John hoped that Frank would take what he had said to heart. It was a hard task they all had as men and leaders of their homes. Even for John, it wasn’t a cake-walk getting prepared. Awhile back, Jay had given John the same time of talking to. John was thankful for the older man being straight with him too. It’s a gut check, a real kick in the balls to have men who care about you and respect you to tell you exactly how they feel and how they view what you are doing. But it’s a good kind of gut check. Especially when these same men aren’t hanging you out to dry, but giving you guidance and helping you stay on track.
John dreaded having to turn people away from the group, if the time ever came. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that, or they would leave on their own terms with no hard feelings. One could never tell.