Authors: W.B. Martin
Sweetness in the Dark
A Puhaka Books Selection
The Jack Wesley Series
Trouble Leaves Too Slow
Shoving Back the Shadows
Only Pretty Lies
Chasing the Blackbird
Shaking Off Futility
German Golfers Who Changed the World
The Sophia Allen Series
Vincent van Gogh Likes Cats
An Apocalyptic Love Story
This is a work of fiction and as such all people, businesses and events depicted in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarities to real people or places are strictly coincidental.
Published by permission of Puhaka Publishing
Copyright © 2013 by W. B. Martin
All rights reserved
Edited by J. Crownover and T. Johns
Cover Layout by Morwenna Rakestraw
First Edition December 2013
To my brother Bob
A ‘prepper’ long before they existed
“A financial system that couldn’t absorb the collapse of the Moscow stock market - a backwater den where thieves gathered to fence their stolen property - or liquidation of a modest-sized betting pool like LTCM (Long Term Capital Management), in fact, was implicitly to dangerous to exist.”
The Great Deformation - Corruption of Capitalism in America
David A. Stockman
Boise, Idaho (December)
The Boise River flowed down out of the Front Range that overlooked the valley.
had been the name the French fur trappers had given to the area due to all the green trees. After traversing the desert of southern Idaho along the Snake River, the Boise Valley appeared as an oasis to the early settlers.
Dr. Paul Kendall stood at his corner office window and watched the river flow by. From his third-story vantage point, he could observe the river make its way through the center of the city. In summer, it would be covered with boaters and inner-tubers relaxing in the hot summer sun.
But now the snow-covered mountains to the east announced the end of fall term at Boise State University. Students were busy completing their work so they could leave for the Christmas holiday.
As Director of the Idaho School of Economics, he had the choice corner office in the building that held the ISE, as it was called. Modeled after the London School of Economics, Paul had overseen the development of the ISE from the beginning. The new six story building had been completed in the summer and now the first semester occupying the building was complete.
As an adjunct to Boise State University, the ISE was affiliated with the main campus. Students could take classes from the four professors on the ISE staff while pursuing a degree program with BSU. The ISE was a private entity but the two institutions were complementary, like other universities around the country.
Most major universities had private ‘think tanks’ associated with them. Stanford University had the Hoover Institution while Auburn University had the von Mises Institute. Like those, the ISE focused on economics, political science and history.
The ISE had been founded by an anonymous philanthropist six years ago. Its mission was to study the causes of America’s decline and propose corrections that the United States could make to sustain the American Experiment into the 21st Century.
Paul had been the first and only director of the ISE. His vision and leadership over the past six years had put the ISE on the nation’s map of centers of creative thought on political and economic issues.
He was thirty-six when named Director of the new ISE. His selection had been controversial at that time, but the whole idea of the ISE had been unreal. A Mega-Million Jackpot winner turned the winning ticket over to a non-profit company, which led to the establishment of the ISE. The anonymous benefactor had only a single request:
Develop a center of learning that discussed America’s failings in order to design a future government worthy of America’s greatness
Paul watched the water flow by as he reflected on the school’s accomplishments to date. The original temporary facility had been replaced by the new building. Four top-notch professors had been hired and students were seeking enrollment at the ISE.
Yes, things were right on schedule
, Paul thought. He was interrupted in his thoughts by his intercom.
His secretary announced, “Dr. Kendall, your ten o’clock appointment is here.”
Paul turned from his view of the campus and hit the intercom button. “Please show them in.”
The door opened and the first student on the schedule walked in and sat where Paul indicated. This had become his tradition since the start of ISE. He would provide an exit interview to each student after each semester’s class that he taught. As a small institution of only five professors, everyone carried a teaching schedule. Even if the ISE had been substantially bigger, he would have continued to teach. He lived for the chance to educate young minds.
Paul was even more thrilled when a special student came along that pushed his abilities. Seeing someone from the next generation who grasped the importance of the topics that were being discussed and then challenged his views was especially rewarding. It gave him hope for the future of the country.
The way the Federal Government was headed, he needed all the hope he could get. As a trained economist in the Austrian school, he was amazed when the liberal economists provided rationalizations for an out-of-control Washington, DC.
Sitting before him now was one of those rare students. Amanda Savage was completing her graduate degree in Political Science at Boise State. She had taken classes at ISE in both undergraduate and graduate school.
“Ms. Savage, a pleasure to see you again. Where are you on finishing up your degree?”
“This is my last semester, Dr. Kendall. I’ve already defended my thesis with the committee and am awaiting their decision,” Amanda answered.
At twenty-seven, she was a little older than most of her fellow graduate students. Paul knew from her file in front of him that she had gone to work for the mayor of the city of Meridian after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree.
“Still working for the Meridian mayor?” Paul asked.
“Yes, he let me adjust my schedule to take classes. I suppose he’ll be happy to have me on a fixed schedule now that I’m finished.”
Suddenly Paul heard a commotion in the outer office. His office door was thrown open. He heard his protesting secretary say, “Dr. Kendall is in a meeting. You can’t go in.”
“Just move out of my way,” the woman demanded. She shoved past the secretary and entered Paul’s office. Paul stood up immediately at the intrusion. “I need to see you now,” the woman said.
Amanda sat wide-eyed as the woman walked up to the side of the desk and placed her hands on her hips.
“Who are you?” she said as she looked at Amanda. Then turning to Paul she added, “Can you please tell this delightful young thing that you need a moment?”
“Susan, are you crazy? You can’t just barge in here like this.” The anger showed as Paul addressed his ex-wife. The divorce had been settled two years ago after he and Susan had been married sixteen difficult years. Her constant wish for a more lavish lifestyle had finally led her to find a better meal ticket.
“Honey, please excuse the professor and me. We have unfinished family business,” Susan said to Amanda. The sneer was evident.
“Ms. Savage, my apologies for the rudeness being shown. If you could wait in the outer office while I talk to my ex-wife. It shouldn’t be long.”
Amanda stood up and Paul noticed the foul look she gave his ex-wife. She left the office and the secretary closed the door behind them.
“Now, what is so important that you disrupt me at my workplace?” Paul asked.
“She’s cute. Brunettes with brown eyes were always your favorite.” His ex-wife said. “A little taller than me and definitely bustier. I always knew you liked them bigger but were too cheap to pay for me to improve myself.”
“Like Mr. Wonderful provided?” Paul threw back.
“Well, I always knew that being around all these young coeds would lead to our marriage’s demise. If that one is any indication, you have nice choices.”
led to our marriage imploding. And second, you know my policy. No professors at ISE may date students, period.”
“Sure, sure. Always the white knight being gallant.”
“Is there a particular reason you’re here today? Or is it just to remind me what I’ve been missing?”
Susan turned from sarcasm to venom in an instant. “Why I’m here is your missing alimony checks. I haven’t been paid for three months now.”
Paul let out an exasperated breath. They had been over this in court three months back. Susan had moved in with her new significant other and had given up her own apartment. Paul’s lawyer had gone to court to make the case that alimony was no longer appropriate since Susan lived in a relationship.
While marriage typically ended alimony between divorced couples, a person living with another had raised the whole reverse ‘palimony’ subject. The Idaho court had ruled that Paul was not obligated to pay his ex-wife while the court investigated Susan’s living arrangements.
“If you recall, the court will determine your living situation and whether it has taken on aspects of a marriage,” Paul said.
“We’re not married and if I have to I’ll move back into my apartment.”
“And miss those wonderful sunsets over the little people from your perch above the city?” Paul referred to her boyfriend’s mansion on the hills to the east of Boise. Paul had been there to pick up his two children and Susan had made a point of giving him the royal tour.
“You’re not going to get out of paying me. It’ll be over my dead body before I let you skate on this one,” she hissed. “Just keep my money safe. You’ll be paying it all back to me soon.
With that, she whirled and left the room. Paul collapsed in his chair. He knew there would never be peace between them. With his two children living with him, she now had all she had ever wanted.
But she had to continue to stick it to me
, he thought.
Paul closed his eyes and tried to make the bad thoughts go away. He had students that needed him today and they deserved his full attention. He hit the intercom button and announced that he was ready.
The door opened and a tall skinny male student in wire-rimmed glasses walked in. Paul stood up perplexed, offered his hand and instructed the student to sit down.
Over the next two hours, Dr. Kendall administered to his students. Every thirty minutes a new face would sit down in front of him for their class exit interview. Finally the noon hour arrived. He knew his appointments were done for the day.
He thanked the last student and walked her out to the outer office. He started to tell his secretary that he was heading to lunch when he realized that one student remained.
“Ms. Savage. I’m so sorry. I got so wrapped up with all the other students I forgot about you.” He looked at his secretary sternly. It had been her job to remind him of the interrupted interview. He made a mental note to have a word with her in private.
“That’s OK, Dr. Kendall. I’ve been rereading William McNeil’s book,
Plagues and People
“One of the most important books around. Great choice. You used it in your final paper well.”
“Since we missed your exit interview this morning and it’s the noon hour, perhaps you’ll let me buy you lunch. It’s the least I can do to make up for my ex-wife’s rudeness toward you,” Paul said. “We can discuss your final class paper then. That is if you have no previous plans.”
“I accept. Lunch would be wonderful, but then I need to get back to work in Meridian.”
“Then a quick lunch it is.” Paul opened the outer door for his student and followed her to the elevator.
The ISE building had a first floor of commercial shops. One of them was a popular student hangout that daily served inexpensive soups and salads for lunch. Along with stews and chili, the low-cost menu kept the place busy with students looking for healthy, inexpensive meals.
Paul felt lucky to get a small table for two. Owning the building certainly helped, as the restaurant owner spotted his landlord waiting for a spot.
“Dr. Kendall, so good to have you here today,” the proprietor said. “And with a guest, too.”
Paul was a frequent customer, but typically ate alone. He was always busy grabbing a quick meal in between classes and meetings.
With an apartment on the top floor of the ISE building, he often ordered meals for himself and his children when duties prevented him from cooking. Paul was quite familiar with the menu options.
The building had been designed to be almost self-contained. The first floor had retail shops. The second through fourth floor held the classrooms and offices for the ISE.
The fifth floor held quad housing with common kitchen facilities for scholarship students who were focusing on ISE class work. The sixth, or top floor, consisted of four apartments for staff of the school. Paul and his children lived in one of the four. Three of his professors lived in the others.