Destruction Aftermath, Book 1
Chapter 8

Copyright© 2010 by radio_guy

As we went out my parents' drive to the road, Shirley explained to me why we were looking for a house. "We need to start a family eventually and, for that, will need a house of our own. Also, as a matter of policy, our community needs to spread out and grow. Finally, we should have a house on or close to a hill for better antennas."

"Okay, what are we looking for in a house?"

"We need a place big enough for us to have a family, it needs to be off the road a bit."

I thought for a moment. "I have an idea though it's a bit of a stretch. I'm going to take your to the Jefferson place. I don't think they made it. No one has heard from them. It's a big place, well back from the road and is on a knoll."

I drove us over there. You couldn't see the house from the road. You had to drive in a bit and then it opened up and you could see the house. It was the typical southern mansion that people who live somewhere other than the south dream really exits in the south. Actually, the Jefferson's were nice people with money. They built the house thinking of grandchildren. Shirley was speechless. I knew I would pay for this later.

Finally, she said, "You don't think small, Jack. This place is huge and fabulous. But, it's really not what I had in mind."

"Well, it meets your three criteria. It's big enough. It's off the road. It's on a small knoll. What more could you want?"

There was silence while she thought. "Let's look inside and make sure we aren't disturbing any current occupants." I honked the horn a number of times as I drove to the front door. There weren't any vehicles there that I couldn't identify. All were the Jefferson's cars. We got out and went to the front door. It was closed but not locked. We went inside. There was a bad smell. The Jefferson's were still here though didn't survive. We found them in the master bedroom. Their pets were not inside. We didn't stay in the master long. If we took the house, we would have to do something about a new bed and cleansing the room of smell.

We went around checking the other rooms and found no problems. From the kitchen, we went to the back porch. We found the outer door to the porch cracked open. There were two food dishes out there empty. The pets were out.

"Jack, is this place real?"

"Oh, yes. The Jefferson's were nice folks. Their youngest son was two or three years older than I. Mom, Dad, and I have been to parties here a number of times. The property covers around one hundred acres, some wooded and some in pasture. You can't see it well from the porch, but there is a swimming pool over to the right. Also, up the hill, there is a small waterfall with a power generator hooked up to it." I could tell that Shirley was getting interested.

She said, "Where else should we look? This is nice but it's huge! Taking care of it will be tough."

"I agree but it's worth considering."

"Yes, that's true."

"There are at least three other places that we should check out. None are as grand as this but all three have promise."

"Let's go."

We left and went a few miles down the road to another drive. This one wasn't paved. I turned off and followed it up and away from the road. We went between two hills and came to a valley with a house tucked up against one hill. It was a nice sized house though nowhere near the size of the Jefferson mansion. We went through the honking procedure with no response. We got out and went to the door and found it locked. I lead Shirley around to the back and tried that door. It also was locked but I looked around and found a hidden key. We went inside.

Inside, I could tell that this house was more to Shirley's liking. We walked through the rooms and she was smiling. There were four bedrooms and three and a half baths. It was a bigger house than I had thought. There was a spacious kitchen, living room, and den.

"Jack, I like this one. Where are the owners?"

"I don't know, Shirl. I guess we need to look around some more. There is a separate garage and it may hold the answer or some more information." I went into the garage by a side door and immediately backed out. The smell and the fumes told me where the owners were located. "Shirl, stand back. The air in here is very bad. I'm going to open the garage door." I covered my face and went inside, found the door opener, and opened the garage door. I opened it and went outside to clear my head of the fumes and smell. The owners, an old man and woman, were in one car. Towels had been laid on the floor to block the air and it appeared that they died of carbon monoxide poisoning. After the air cleared some, I looked in the car and saw that both of them had been deathly ill and had ended their lives there rather than try to make the hospital and its unlikely assistance.

"Jack, it is the right place. Let's claim it for ourselves."

"Okay, Shirl, we will find out who owned it and then tell Mom and Dad where we will be."

"Let's bury the old owners soon. They deserve that for leaving such a nice place for our future."

"We will. I want to get some kind of mask to protect me from the smell before I try that."

"We will get two masks."

"Let's go back inside and start going through things unless you want to look at more houses."

"No, this one is right."

"Okay, it's the new Jack and Shirley Mathews family home."

"Not yet, Jack, but it will be. Inside." We went inside. "Jack, find me paper and pen, please." I did and she wrote "kitchen" at the top. "Now, what do we need to do to make this room ours?"

"I would like to paint it a brighter, cheery color."

"Okay, what else?" We went over the floor, cabinets, and countertops. We looked over the appliances. The list got longer, but not greatly so. When we finished, we went into the living room. In there, paint, new carpet and furniture were the order of the day. This continued in each room. In the master bedroom, Shirley asked me, "Do you think your parents would let you bring your bedroom furniture and bed here if we swapped?"

"They would have no problem. I had always been told that my bedroom furniture was to go with me when I married or established a separate home if I wanted it."

"That's what we will do then. I like that bed."

"I like you in it with me." That got me a quick kiss on the lips. We continued on until we had gone through every room in the house. The outside was an off white color with darker tan shutters and we decided not to paint it. It was quite a list. We decided that we wouldn't move in until we had finished painting and had cleared the garage and buried Mr. and Mrs. Davidson. We found their name on various items inside. We went outside and left locking the doors and taking the key with us.

We arrived back at the house in time to meet my parents, Mary, and Janice returning from their shopping. We all decided on a late lunch. Dad and I lazed around in the kitchen as the four ladies prepared the meal. My parents' kitchen was big and I was suddenly glad that our new kitchen was also a big room.

We sat down to eat. Shirley said, "Jack and I have an announcement. We found a house. It's the old Davidson place. We want to paint and clean it before we move but I think we can get in within a few days."

Dad said, "That's great. What about Sal and Marge?"

"I found them in the garage. They were both sick and cranked the car with the door down and died there." I said.

"Oh." Mom said. "Marge was a sweet lady. There are so many people who are no longer with us though."

Mary said, "What can we help with on this project?"

Janice chimed, "Yeah, I know how to paint and I know where to find some good furniture and linens, now."

"We will call on you to help." Shirley assured her.

Janice said, "What does it look like?"

"It's a nice four bedroom house, ranch style. We'll take you over there and then you can come with us shopping." Shirley said.

"That would be great." Janice said.

"Dad, we need to get some gas masks. The garage is bad. I don't think leaving it open today and tonight will be enough. That carbon monoxide is bad stuff."

"We picked up a few at the National Guard depot today. There will be other houses that will need cleaning in the future."

"Great! In that case, I'm going to get Shirl to help me install a radio and antenna in my truck, yours as well."

"All right. It can't hurt and might help at some point. As long as there is power, we should be able to get gas. I want to think about a tanker at some point. They run gas out by gravity which may be a needed solution at some point."

"We also need to get on the radio tonight." Shirley said. "I'm sure Charlie and Robert are worried since we didn't check in last night."

"Oh, yes. That's right. Mom, if Janice and Mary stay for supper, we can take them to the radio house and get them on the air."

"They are very welcome to join us for dinner any time including this evening." Mom said nodding to Mary and Janice smiling.

When Shirley and I went outside to install a radio, Janice joined us. "How is being married, Shirley?"

"Oh," she replied, "it's pretty good." She grinned at me and I grinned back.

"Yeah, Jack. Your mom told Mary and me that you had to move the bed." Janice laughed and then laughed even louder when she saw my face. Shirley grinned at me widely.

"Let's get this radio out of its box." I said trying to change the subject.

It took longer than I thought. We had to pick a good place in the cab of the truck for the radio and anchor it in place. Then we had to run the power cable and finally the coax cable to the location Shirley had chosen for the antenna. Then we had to install the antenna. Then we had to go over everything and be sure the grounding was good. Finally, I started the engine and we tested the radio.

"This is N4SAA mobile testing, testing."

"N4SAA, this is WA4UCB. Please respond."

"WA4UCB, this is N4SAA mobile. The name here is Shirley. What's yours?"

"This is Tom in Montgomery, Alabama. What is your QTH, Shirley?"

"We are in west Georgia, Tom. I am here with my husband and his family. How are you doing?"

"I guess I'm okay. My ex-wife did not survive and only one of my children, Matthew, did. He is with me but we are alone. We have food from the stores. We haven't seen anyone almost since the Day."

"Tom, we have a fledgling net on this frequency at eight eastern time. Would you join us then?"

"I would be glad to do that. Matt and I were just scanning the bands hoping to find someone. Thanks."

"Okay, thanks for coming back on my test. This is the first mobile we've installed but we will have more soon. I will talk to you later this evening. Shirley out." Shirley looked up and said, "We know it works."

"Let's go check on supper before we go to the radio house." I said. Shirley and Janice agreed. I cut off the truck's motor and we went inside.

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