Destruction Aftermath, Book 1
Chapter 22

Copyright© 2010 by radio_guy

I made it home in time to help with supper. Janice arrived with Bennie and Ben who left shortly thereafter. The three of us sat down for supper and talked.

Shirley said, "You had a long trip around the area. What did you find out?"

I answered, "Most people are doing okay. There is a real need for a policy on marriage. There are a lot of people who want to tie the knot. We are going to have to do something about power generation. Finally, there are five women who are living on the corner on the way to Ted's that need some guidance. They are drinking heavily and don't have anything to do."

Janice said, "I heard about them and have seen them in town. They don't wear much and leer at all the males they see. One of them even tried to seduce Bennie! They don't eat much, just drink."

"That's what I saw when I was there."

Shirley said, "What's this about marriage?"

"That's a current big issue. There are a number of couples who are living together but who would like to formalize their relationships in some way."

"Yes," Janice said, "Ben wants to marry Jean. They want to find a house of their own. I want it to be close to here."

"You and Bennie can both drive. There are plenty of cars for you." I kidded.

"I know but it's better to keep him handy." She said. Shirley and I both grinned. She blushed.

Shirley said, "Let's talk about marriage and how to define it." Janice and I nodded. She continued, "We don't want to force any particular method or whatever on people. The idea of having an announcement serve as a basis for a marriage sounds good. It makes it public. Beyond that, should there be any requirement?"

"Shirl, while I was out and about, age came up in my thinking. We have a number of teenagers who are naturally attracted to guys like Bennie."

"That's not fair, Jack."

"I know. I'm sorry, Janice."

"Okay."

"Seriously, should there be a minimum age? Georgia had an age of consent before the Day. Should we have something and, if so, what?"

This discussion continued through supper and clean up. We went in for the net without a resolution. The net went off without a hitch. Jimmy and his family would leave in the morning heading our way. After the net, our discussion continued.

We finally came to a decision. Marriage would be by announcement along with whatever other statements, vows or ceremony that the bride and groom wanted. You would also have to be sixteen years old to marry. We didn't reach the age of consent issue as such. We decided that it would be on a person by person basis. Consent wasn't optional. The idea that "no" meant "no" without question carried from the situations with the Eds and with the Blasters.

We didn't address divorce at all. I guess Shirley and I hoped it wouldn't happen. I didn't believe that but decided we would cross that bridge when we came to it. My list for tomorrow would be to go to town and see what was happening and how the generators there were lasting.

I left in the morning and drove into town. Janice came with me to the shop where I dropped her off. I went in and spent a few minutes with Ben and Michael going over their plans. It was looking good for generator building.

I left there and went to one of Dad's warehouses to check gasoline for the generator. Dad was there along with Carol's husband, Bill. Bill was a Lay Speaker in the church before the Day. I asked him if he would take on pastoring the church until and if we found someone else. He said, "You're talking about for life or until someone is called from within the church."

"Probably so." I said. "I'm not sure how many new people will attend but I am guessing a fair number. You know the family will be there. You might be pleasantly surprised by the attendance."

Dad said, "Good. That's settled. Annie will be happy. Now, let's look at our supplies and the generator." We went in and found the generator running well though the tank would need filling. The door was not tightly closed which was not good. "I don't mind that someone is using the food but not closing the door is inexcusable. It means we might lose what's in there. There won't be any more."

"I have an idea, Dad. Give me a few minutes." I went in the store office, found a computer which had no power. I came back out and said, "Let me go find some power and a computer with a printer. I will print signs to post warning people to be sure the doors are closed firmly and completely."

I grabbed some heavy paper from the next door office supply store. A couple of blocks over, I found power. I broke into an office and turned on the computer and a printer. Preparing the signs and printing them only took a few moments. I closed up everything and left with signs for Dad and the extra paper. I would need that for community meeting signs. Passing my truck, I put the extra paper in the cab and went into the store. At the freezer and refrigerators, I posted the sings prominently. Dad returned with gas and nodded. We left there and went to the other two locations where he and his brothers had food stashed. One hadn't been disturbed outside. At the other, the door to the refrigerator had even been left unlatched. The generator had a load but it had managed along with the cooling system. Things were not what they should be and, during the summer, it would have been a disaster. Dad and Bill went for gas while I posted my signs. They returned and I helped pour gas into the tanks. I had some left and told Dad and Bill that I was going to post them at the hardware stores. We needed to be careful. I also told them that Shirley and I had come to a decision about marriage and would call a community meeting very soon.

I got home for lunch and told Shirley about what had happened around the warehouses. Her fear, like mine, was that the former Blasters were at fault. We decided to set our meeting for the middle afternoon on Monday. That would give us four days to get out notice. I printed up notices. The notices read, "Community Meeting. 2:30 pm., Monday afternoon at First Methodist Church. It is important to attend and be heard. Decisions will be made regarding living in this community. Those decisions will be enforced. Your opinion will count but you must be present to be heard. No delegates are allowed. Every person will speak for themselves only. Questions? Contact Jack or Shirley Matthews at their home or by radio. The eight o'clock net is vital to your knowing what is happening in the community!"

"I hope this works, Shirl." I said.

"Me, too." She responded. "Jack, do you think this will work out okay?"

"Yes, Hun. It's a new chapter. The majority will be well satisfied. There will be some who are irresponsible or lazy. They will object because some of our decisions will mean that they don't get something for nothing forever."

"That's true. Are you going to preside?"

"I guess that's the plan."

"You had better set up some rules for proceeding. There is a copy of Roberts' Rules of Order. You might review it. We don't want to stop debate but having a system will help keep it from just going on and on."

"That's a good idea. I'll do that."

I spent the afternoon studying that book. I gleaned some useful items to use in the meeting.

Sunday came and Shirley, Janice, and I went to church. Bill gave a nice sermon on living together as Christians in a new world. We sang the old hymns though didn't have a piano player. After the service, one of the Blaster survivors came to Bill and offered to play piano next week. She said she needed to practice but would be ready. Bill told her where he and Carol lived and she said she would come by Wednesday to get the hymns he wanted to use. I announced the community meeting for tomorrow afternoon when asked.

Shirley and I enjoyed a day of rest. Janice went over to be with Bennie returning for the net. Our out of town members said they wanted a complete report of our meeting which we said would be broadcast at the evening net tomorrow. Jimmy expected to arrive in the morning as they had just entered Georgia that evening as we spoke. They were going to stop for the night rather than drive through. Shirley told him that we would have housing ready for them when they arrived.

The next day dawned bright. Spring in Georgia is beautiful. The pollen had been tough but had washed away. Leaves were coming out and I would have to cut grass in another week or so.

Jimmy, his parents, and brother and sister drove up to the house in two SUV's just after eleven. We had been talking them in on two meters and had lunch prepared for them. It was just the two of us as Janice was with Bennie. From what she said, she and Bennie were really helping at Ben's shop. We enjoyed lunch and our newest members were enjoying the warmer temperatures and mild weather. I told them that they were here at the best time. Summers could be hot and humid.

We went by their new house across from us on the way to the meeting. Shirley and I drove our truck and Jimmy and his folks followed in one of their SUV's. They left the other at their new house.

We pulled up five minutes early to see a number of cars and trucks parked in the lot. People were talking in groups. Shirley and I were greeted warmly as we walked up. We went into the church and set up a table and chairs in the front. We had a few papers for reference.

At 2:30, I called the meeting to order. Everyone sat down. I said, "We have called this meeting, Shirley and I, as between us, we seem to represent most of the interests and people here. We hope that we will be a single community as a result of this meeting. We also wish to propose some rules for our community here. Now, the first order of business is to select a chair. Nominations?"

Ted stood up and I recognized him. He said, "I want to nominate Jack. He and Shirley have shown leadership in this time after the Day and they truly do represent all of our possible interests as well or better than anyone else."

My grandpa stood up and seconded my nomination. That stopped my family from doing anything else. Ted was a local but had become well known with the hams and the former Blasters. There was a silence. Robert stood and moved nominations be closed and was immediately seconded. A quick voice vote finished that.

I said, "Thank you, I think. I will do my best. To guide us, I propose that we use Roberts' Rules of Order as a procedural method. It has two advantages; it has worked in the past and it's set on paper. Any objections? Hearing none, it is adopted.

"I know there are many questions that will need to be resolved. One that Shirley and I have wrestled with is marriage. She will bring our proposition to you for consideration. Shirl."

"Thank you. Jack and I have talked about this to a number of people and suggest this proposition to resolve how to handle marriage in a simple, effective manner. We suggest that marriage is between two people who over sixteen and who consent publicly to be married. Beyond that vows and having Bill or someone else officiate is up to the couple. However, the declaration has to be public. Declarations made between community meetings must be confirmed at the next meeting."

I stood as she sat. "You have it before you. Could I have a second?"

A number of people called, "Second."

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