Authors: William Cooper
The Death Of The Dollar
by William Cooper
Grumpy Hermit Media
Crashed: The Death Of The Dollar
Copyright © 2013 William Cooper
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher,
Table of Contents
Mike was very slow to warm up to the ladies and boy living on his mountain. He had that mountain to himself for five years, and right in the middle of it, they managed to buy the only 40 acre parcel he didn't own. He had 2,940 acres, and just half a mile from his home, they put up a home of their own.
Eleven years ago, he decided to vanish from society and live isolated and self-sufficient. Under the false name of Mike Williams, he participated in a tax auction for land in Utah, starting with 120 acres picked up for only two thousand dollars. It was remote mountain land, forty miles from the nearest power line and ten miles from the nearest neighbor, which was only a seasonal hunting cabin. He withdrew his entire bank account, in cash, and took off for his new home. Leaving his cell phone in a trash can, he didn’t even call his work to say he was quitting. He just left.
Mike had watched through his binoculars in shock as three women and a little kid started showing up daily. He couldn't see well, but it looked like two were about his age, a younger one, maybe in her early twenties, and a little boy, he'd guessed around three or four years old. Their second week of visits to their property, they brought construction crews. He was pissed. Most people who bought land up in these mountains did so thinking they'd one day make the leap, only to give up on the land. That's when he would buy it up, often for next to nothing at tax auctions.
Before the ladies and boy moved in, only one person somewhat knew him. Phillip Brown, an old rancher who Mike had an arrangement with to sell his livestock twice a year. And all Phillip really knew about him was that some reclusive man with a nice gun range had sheep, cattle, and goats ready for market every spring and fall.
While he watched them, they also looked frequently up at his place, wondering about the “mountain man” the county recorder had warned them would be less than welcoming of his new neighbors. Jessica was the first to notice him through her own binoculars, telling Stacy they'd just moved in next to Paul Bunyan. Stacy spent the most time watching him, when she wasn't flirting with the construction workers.
They spent the summer having their house built, and the fall trying to get ready for winter. He watched from a distance, mocking their ill-prepared efforts to harvest the wood they'd need to keep warm using just an ax and hatchet. He wondered why they weren't buying a chainsaw. After the first snowfall, he started to worry about them. He told himself that he was just concerned the boy would freeze because of these ignorant city women, and that he didn't want them trying to come stay warm at his place when they realized they were failures. Either was a sufficient excuse for him to load up three cords of logs in his trailer one day. He waited to deliver the wood until he saw them leave, as they frequently did, hoping to avoid having to talk to the women he saw as intruders. That night he watched as they returned home.
"Damn, they are trying, at least,"
he said to himself, seeing them with a snowmobile in the truck.
His attempt to avoid them didn't go quite as well as planned. The next morning Jessica made the long walk up the hill to Mike's house. He saw her coming, but kept busy doing maintenance on his truck. She was the shortest of the women. With a slightly stocky build, she had light red hair, green eyes, and fair skin.
Mike was a little bit nervous. His only interaction with women since he moved there was never more than a cashier during his trips in to town, once or twice a year. And even that was nothing more than silently handing her whatever money he owed. He hadn't actually spoken to a woman in years, and now one he thought was quite pretty was walking up in his yard.
Jessica was startled, seeing him outside as she approached. She too was hoping to avoid meeting him, carrying a note she planned on sticking to his door. “Um, hello,” she said.
Mike was under his truck and gave no indication he heard her.
“Excuse me,” she tried again.
He came out from under his truck. Not to respond to her, but because he was done draining the oil. He stood and looked briefly at her standing there, and then got back to work without saying a word.
“I was really surprised to see all that wood there when we got home last night. Thank you.”
He continued about his business, ignoring her. She was starting to wonder if he was deaf, so she held the note out for him. He glanced at it, then at her, and nodded as he went to start his truck.
"Okay, well, I guess I better get back home," she said awkwardly. "I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of each other now that we're neighbors." That was the last thing he wanted.
That night, Stacy wanted to try breaking through to the neighbor Jessica had described as “cold and quiet.” She and Taylor drove up with some homemade soup, bread, and pie they'd made that day. He tried to be a little courteous, but his discontentment towards them for becoming his neighbors was very apparent. He opened his door before they had a chance to knock, very unhappy to have uninvited guests twice in the same day. He just stared at them standing on his porch.
The older of the pair was Stacy. He had watched her more during the summer than all of the others combined, wondering why someone so beautiful was building a house in the mountains instead of posing for some magazine. She was almost six feet tall with dark brown eyes and strawberry blond hair. All summer long he'd watched her strutting around in small and revealing outfits to flaunt herself in front of the construction workers.
Now that he could see her up close, Mike could tell the younger lady, Taylor, was quite a bit younger than he had originally guessed from a distance. She was a pretty girl, with long platinum hair and ice-blue eyes. She had a young and innocent glow about her face that contrasted sharply with a more mature looking figure, similar to that of Stacy's.
“Hi, I'm Stacy, and this is Taylor,” she nervously introduced herself.
Hello,” Taylor added politely.
His only response was a blank stare.
“I know you met Jessica earlier, and we just wanted to introduce ourselves and bring you some food we made,” Stacy said, sounding somewhat disappointed. She could smell the dinner he had already cooked for himself.
He didn't know what to say. He was curious, angry, and thankful, all at the same time. Not able to bring himself to say anything, he nodded politely as he accepted the food, then shut the door on them.
Even after getting to know each other over the past six years, the ladies all still teased Mike about how scary they had first found him to be. He stood at six foot, four inches tall with a very large frame, and a thick stature built by the years of hard labor on his ranch. The last time he had shaved or had his hair cut he still lived in Florida. The long dirty blond hair and beard that was at first scary to them now made him even more of a big teddy bear in their eyes.
Taylor had a unique relationship with Mike. Though twelve years younger than him, she had been the first to break through to their quiet new neighbor early in their first winter on the mountain. They were making their first attempt at slaughtering a lamb they’d purchased, and had no idea what to do. Jessica wanted to figure it out herself. Stacy was trying to decide if she was more scared of killing the lamb, or asking for help from the rugged man who had made clear his displeasure with their presence.
While Jessica and Stacy struggled to decide how or what to do with their lamb, Taylor decided to sneak up the hill and ask for the help they needed. She debated whether to call out for him or just try to find him, unsure which would probably anger him the most. But finding him proved easy as she heard noises coming from his greenhouse. What she didn’t realize was that it was one of his several garden showers, designed to put the drain water to good use on his crops. Every gallon he recycled was a gallon he didn't have to pump. As she opened the door to the partially underground greenhouse, there he was bathing himself. She froze and stared, too determined to get help to run away, and too scared of him to make even a slight noise.
As he turned the water off and faced her direction, Taylor figured she’d been seen, so she say what she needed to.
“Just get it over with,”
she told herself. He saw the young lady walking quickly toward him, her head faced straight down at the dirt pathway, trying not to look up at his undressed body. He was completely caught off guard, and had nothing to cover himself with but his hands, as he normally dried off by laying in a hammock and reading a book.
“Sir,” Taylor softly mumbled as she glanced part way up, then went right back to staring at the ground.
Mike was angry, as she had rightly assumed. To her, his voice felt like thunder echoing off the walls around them. “If you’re going to trespass on my land to tell me something, you damn well better look me in the eyes and speak up, or get the hell off my land!” he yelled.
Taylor closed her eyes, took a deep breath, then raised her head, trying to make and hold eye contact. “Sir, I’m very sorry for bothering you. But we need help, and if we didn’t need it badly, I wouldn't -”
Is someone hurt?” he interrupted her.
No sir,” she said. “But we’re hungry for something more than vegetables and bread, and none of us know how to kill the lamb we bought. Will you please teach us, just once, how to-?”
Mike cut her off again. “You mean to tell me that those two sent you up here to come on my land without permission, invade my privacy, just to ask for my help? Damn grown women sending a girl up here.”
Taylor was starting to feel like he was going to make her beg him for help. “Look sir, I said I’m sorry for coming up here! And I’m sorry if it bothers you that I’m standing here looking at you naked. Stacy and Jess don’t even know I’m here, and they’re going to be pissed as hell at me when I get back. So every adult within a hundred miles can be mad all you want. Are you going to help us or not?”
Seeing the young lady speak so boldly after starting off with such a humble demeanor surprised Mike. He couldn’t help but to respect her forward attitude in the awkward situation. “Get your ass in my truck. I’ll be over there in a minute to take you home.”
Taylor modestly glanced down, then went back to her stare at the ground as she hurried over to his truck.
For Taylor, the silent one mile drive seemed like an all day journey. She had no idea what he would say, if he said anything, or whether or not he was going to help them out.
As they reached the driveway, they saw Stacy outside looking for Taylor. Clearly very angry, she raced to meet the truck as Mike parked by the front of their house. “What the hell were you thinking!” she yelled. “You already know this man hates us for moving here.” Turning quickly to Mike, she continued without taking a breath, “I’m so, so sorry she bothered you. I promise it won't -”
Mike’s complete loss of social skills over the years took over again as he interrupted her. “Shut the hell up, lady!”
Stacy was terrified and quiet.
This girl had the courage to do what you wouldn’t so that the four of you could have some meat on the table. Thank her!”
She was too scared to not do exactly as he said.
Before Stacy could say anything, they all noticed him walking off to where their lamb was penned up. Jessica followed him. She too was scared of him, but still bold enough to speak up and carry on a conversation. She wanted to tell Mike that they’d figure it out, but could only bring herself to answer his questions.
“This thing only looks about four months old,” he said. “What tools do you have for processing it? Do you have a smoke house? Or root cellar?”
It’s four and a half months old. For cutting it up, all we’ve got is a good sharp knife set,” she replied. “And no, we don’t have a smoke house or root cellar yet.”
It’s not ready, and neither are you,” he told her bluntly. “You’re going to need a saw. And you’re going to need some way to keep the meat from going bad. This thing is too young. The meat would be tender, but it’s a lot of work for a lot less food on the table. And from what I can see, you need quantity.”
They all stood around him, listening to how unprepared they were. “Come on. I’ve got some meat I can spare,” he said begrudgingly as he started walking to his truck. Quiet little Brad just smiled while the other three got very excited. Taylor, feeling very empowered by him making Stacy thank her, immediately asked if she could ride with him again. He just quietly kept walking. To her, that meant yes. Stacy still hadn’t said a word since thanking Taylor, and wasn’t going to speak up at the perceived approval for the ride.
The truck wasn’t even started before he regretted not giving Taylor a loud “NO,” in the harshest tone of voice he could muster up. And from her end, stereotypical, teenage-girl rambling kicked in to high gear.