These twice a month trips to the food bank were both necessary and an unnecessary pain in the ass. They were unnecessary because before the ban on home gardens under "the Safe Food and Farm act" of 2010, his family had worked hard over the years, planting, harvesting drying and canning enough extra food to supply them for 2 1/2 to 3 years with sensible use.
Mike, Kyle, Morgan and Annette had all worked very hard for 3 months in 2009 and dug a pit on the neighboring abandon property. The pit was about 12 feet wide, 20 feet long, and 14 feet deep. On the bottom they leveled 2 feet of river gravel and sunk a well to the under ground creek 40 feet below, the water wasn't the clearest but it was safe, the walls were constructed from railroad ties to discourage termites that permeated the area, the floor and roof were made from old treated beams salvaged from the old county horse barn they salvaged back in 08. The entire bunker was put together by drilling holes and using wooden pegs to join the ties and beams to avoid metal detectors. A trap door was installed in the sealing to provide an emergency escape hatch and a fresh air vent with a small fan was installed and emerged in one of the hollow trees 30 feet away,with an exhaust fan in another. The hardest part of the construction and the most ingenious was the entrance tunnel. Under their home was an old abandon heat pump unit that hadn't been used for years, they gutted it leaving only the top and the metal box, above it they pulled up a full section of the plywood floor, and clipped the nails protruding through the underside leaving the nail heads exposed on the surface. On the under side they installed 6 bar type latches so it would appear to anyone trying to pull the panel up that it was still securely nailed. A trench was dug from the heat pump to the bunker, a roof installed and covered over with several feet of dirt, the normal layers of leaves and other woods debris was then replaced, the whole thing was virtually undetectable.
The bunker was the home of their food stash, several guns garnered from private sales and not registered, ammunition, a small 1200 watt Honda generator, lighting, 20 gallons of gas, and several 3 gallon buckets with lids for necessary body functions, medical supplies and any other items that would keep the family secure for several months or until cabin fever over took them.
The trips to the food banks were necessary to keep up the appearance of normalcy. Mike had spent 5 months in the local Social orientation program back in 2010 because of his survival blogs on the old net and because the authorities were sure he had survival food and guns stashed some where on or near the property. The Social orientation program was set up in an old refurbished youth corrections facility near Mariana. It was a typical medium security unit with dormitories a chow hall and various class room buildings, work shops and surrounded by a 12 foot chain link fence topped with razor wire. It was a residency program, 24 hour attendance was required and no visitation or out side contact, even though this was an educational program those who attempted to escape were charged as felons and sent off to who knows where, after 5 months he was able to convince the board of social congeniality that he wasn't really a survivalist but just played one on the net.
Another public safety check point had been set up in Youngstown , a small town between Panama City and Fountain so there were now four check points between home and the food bank so the round trip now took ten hours in stead of the usual four.
some times these arduous trips were lightened by the sight of old acquaintances or old enemies going through the bureaucratic nightmare of obtaining that weeks ration of food. Today happened to be one of those days. Off to the side of one of the application desks were two NSC volunteers jostling a man mike recognised as Bill Johanson. Johanson had been the General Manager of, a new car lot a few years back where Mike had been hired as a consultant for one of the government bail out plans for a short period, and had been screwed by Johanson by only paying him about a quarter of the money they had agreed on, once the program was over even though under his guidance the program had been a huge, if temporary, success. Mike took an un christian like delight in noting Johanson didn't much resemble the, well dressed, arrogant jerk of a couple of short years ago, he was no longer so well dressed, but still an arrogant jerk. His once shinny shoes were scuffed an worn down badly at the heels, and his suit obviously hadn't been cleaned or pressed in a long time. Johanson had lost some noticeable weight along with some hair, and his face was sort of a grey pasty complexion, He was arguing that he needed extra rations , and that he was a personal friend of Gill Hodges. Hodges had been the owner of ten dealerships before the government nationalised them and had been a Bay county commissioner for several terms, with political ambitions, he was now the director of the National Transportation and safety board. The two NSC guards roughly jostled Johanson towards the exit spilling the contents of the two boxes of food mixing flour, powdered milk, and a small bag of sugar in a jumbled white pile on the well trodden floor near Mikes feet. Johanson looked up with a plea for help written across his face ,it was then that Mike heard the words, "ya know Bill it's times like this that I sometimes still believe there is a God" coming out of his own mouth. Johanson looked up with a questioning stare, in his befuddled mind he didn't recognise the man he had cheated those few years ago, but no matter, Mike knew and it made this trip worth the hastle.
In line six three places behind him was another Bill, Bill Sikes, Sikes lived with his son, daughter and wife on the next street north of Mike. Sikes had been in the system for several years, he had been a heavy drinker smoker and was into pills, and crack on occasion when he could scrounge some up but really was an ok guy, just one of many social cases in the neighborhood. His son, chad, was the same age as kyle and a friend of Kyles sense they were very small spending many summers and sleep overs at the Wier residence. Kyle was tall for sixteen, over six feet, but Chad was a gentle giant, at six four and near 300 pounds. It seemed all Kyle's friends were tall, all of them were at least six foot or better. All were "gamers" and just didn't seem to be motivated as the children of past generations. But who could blame them with the curfew in effect and restricted movement there just wasn't much else to do, unless you wanted to watch government social education lectures, or big brother, re runs of survivor on TV. Mike had his own theories about the seeming lack of motivation, they included the breakfast and lunch food served each day at school, (school was now 12 months per year with a 7 day break each quarter) the many shots required by law and the liquid Prozac (fluoride) required in the water system, but Kyle and his friends were not slackers, many were very aware of the path America was on and many were out right anarchists in their thinking, that plus their natural teen age rebelliousness gave Mike hope that this new generation would be the one to bring America back to its roots. Yes there would be blood, and a huge loss of virulent young men and women but when had there not been, the difference would only be, that this loss would be for true freedom and not some government devised war in a far off land most couldn't find on a map. Yes a successful revolt would mean that America would be thrown back a hundred years or so, but was that a bad thing, in his mind and the mind of many others, he didn't think so.
Mike believed it would take America back to the days when neighbor helped neighbor, community barn or house raising's, large gardens would once again appear, and barter would once be the order of the day. Man and woman would once more be the masters of their own fate. The original Constitution would be reborn, and friends and neighbors would serve in the new all volunteer government as originally intended, not Professional politicians, regulators, and code enforcers. Only nonessential imports and luxury items would be taxed, not the sweat and blood of ones own labor. Yes it would be tough on many but what is freedom and liberty worth?Factories would be reopened, and our unequaled Manufacturing capabilities of the 40s and 50s would be the best on the planet. Is it only a pipe dream in Mikes mind? It could well be but he believed in the American people, and there would be a time when enough would be enough.