My pantry is vast, contains a shitload of multitudes. Jams, preserves, you name it.
No black olives, though. Never understood the appeal.
The Internet is amazing. Or so my neighbor Samurai tells me. He’s eleven and has a penchant for hyperbole, his speech seasoned with heaps of amazing and Best. Thing. Ever. and the like. Regardless, he is my eyes and ears and I have to go easy on his repulsive modern diction, lest I lose the Christian to my Cyrano.
“The End Times are still a few months away,” Samurai tells me through a mealy mouthful of apple. “I’d keep your shirt on for now.”
I get my updates on Monday mornings, before Samurai’s weekly vibraphone lesson. It is then that we exchange information for snack-size Ziploc bags of gold flakes. I had my bars shaved when it looked like The Disintegration might actually materialize.
“You said that last week, and the week before.”
I watched as Samurai spit a seed at the Lamborghini poster I tacked up for morale maintenance. It ties the room together, matches the red cloth of my office chair.
“Huh. Hadn’t noticed.”
It was all in a pamphlet. I was outside of the public library on Raspberry, the one the garbage truck smashed into that one Christmas, when a man in a neon-orange nylon baseball cap begged for my ear. After calling me a liver-lipped fuckweasel, he asked about my soul; specifically, whether or not it had the pelotas to weather The Storm (which, unbeknownst to me at the time, was Phase I of The Disintegration). Intrigued, I held off on dialing the second 1 of 911 and tucked his literature into my knapsack, figuring it would, at the very least, make for good Weber grill kindling.
I was on the commode with said brochure when it all clicked. The cleansing rains, the bridge collapses. Birds of prey unaccounted for. It was mankind’s destiny, The Disintegration. We had gallivanted and goldbricked for centuries and the chickens would soon come home to roost, toting blackjacks.
I needed rental property.
It wasn’t much, Mr. Bumpkin told me. Just a reinforced hole in the ground, his stepfather’s impulse buy during the Korean War.
“Get yourself a good pair of sneakers to get you up and down that ladder. Some Spauldings, Sketchers if you got the wampum. Just about killed myself in penny loafers.”
The bunker came with shelving units, of that I was assured. Nothing bush-league. Mr. Bumpkin would spring for The Container Store, high-gauge stainless steel.
“Take ‘em with you once it all blows over. See if I care.”
It was then that a remote-controlled Stealth Bomber struck my left temple, knocking me into a birdbath. My bearings gathered, a youngster in a too-tall tee extended his hand.
“Samurai. Sorry I almost killed you.”
My Costco membership turned out to be a real lifesaver. I rented a pickup with a respectable payload and Tetris’d all the essentials I could fit before my sequestration; vitamin-infused skateboarder drinks, corn tortillas, the minor works of Maeve Binchy.
The balance was difficult to strike, that between preparation and comfort. When I reached a place where I could swivel in the center of what would be my recessed refuge for the foreseeable future and see nothing but survival, pure endurance, I closed the iron lid and I waited.
Then I remembered the batteries and had to resurface.
“Any day now. Wouldn’t be surprised if the explosions start up around noon, maybe brunch.”
Samurai is texting with one hand, Bomb Pop in the other. Our eyes have not met once in our five-minutes-and-counting exchange. I open the plastic Folgers tub; the supply is dwindling.
“I need more than that, my friend. I’m relying upon you for intel, Samurai.”
I can sense the squeeze coming on. A shrewd businessman even in times of crisis, Samurai insists this isn’t about money. His brand simply cannot withstand another grace period.
“Look, I like you. I just need a pinch as a sign of good faith.”
I wet the tip of my index finger, scrape what remains of my precious buttery dust out of the grooves of the coffee container.
“Make it count.”
By my estimation, it has been seventy-some-odd hours without contact. I am surrounded by cardboard and plastic wrap, the husk of my need laid before me. I am surprisingly-randy and would not shy from touch.
My guess is that Samurai has contracted with another Remnant, one with fungible reserves and a prospector’s spirit. Maybe it is better this way, that the mighty congregate and erect the beams of a new republic.
I remain supine on my sleeping bag. On the ceiling there is an insect of unknown genus.
There are cars in the distance, all blaring reggaeton.