The stories here are original and works in progress. Please leave a comment if you like them, hate them, or want more. Thanks


America 2.0: Chapter 13

Before we went home, Dad turned into a parking lot for CashExpress. The big yellow and red sign place. Dad grabbed his money bag, stowed his Glock and told me to come along.

Dad pulled a plastic credit card from his wallet and slid it along the card reader next to the front door to CashExpress. The door was heavy glass threaded with thin wires and covered in heavy metal bars. A buzzer sounded and the door opened.

Inside, there was a counter along the far wall with two windows. A teller sat inside each window which was also covered with heavy bars. A single window on the right wall only had one man sitting inside. He was pointing a large black shotgun at us as we crossed the room to the tellers.

Dad slid his credit card in a reader next to the window and an electronically amplified yet friendly voice spoke out.

"Welcome to CashExpress? How can I help you today?"

"I need to convert some NuBucks to my card and settle one account, please".

A slot opened below the window and a drawer appeared. There was a tiny camera mounted inside the drawer along with another card reader and a number pad. Dad opened the money bag, counted off a number of bills and set them in the drawer, He then slid his card and punched in the amount he put in the drawer on the number pad.

The drawer slid shut and about 30 seconds later the attendant asked for the account in question.

"Which account did you want to settle, sir?"

"There is a home equity account under the name USR Holdings. It should be account reference 2110000024".

"I have it here, sir. You have an old US currency balance of thirty two thousand, four hundred and twelve dollars. At five PM east coast time, the transfer rate will be.. um... two hundred and four NuBucks. Did you want to settle for the full amount?"

"Yes, please."

"Hang on. OK, here's your receipt with confirmation number. The transaction goes through at midnight. Do you still have a snail mail box they can UPS the paper copy too?"

"Nope. They are supposed to send it electronically to my email."

"Alright then, is there anything else I can help you with today, sir?"

"No thank you, that's it."

We got in the truck and I asked Dad what had just happened in CashExpress.

"I paid off the mortgage on our old house. The bank went under during the Crash and the paper was purchased by some holding company. They offered a settlement in old US currency, but the new rules say I can convert it to NuBux and pay the current transaction rate."

"What does that mean?"

"The rest of the world is trying to get off the dollar standard and move over to some new currency. They tried the Euro, that's the "dollar" in Europe, but it tanked. Then they went to the yen and the quan, but they both took a dive. Right now there are a couple of other currencies most of the world is working with like the Swiss franc and the New Shilling in the Middle East, but none of them are strong enough yet.

Long of the short is, anyone can still make an offer to settle old US dollar debts with NuBux based upon the current trade rate overseas. It's complicated, but your mom and I have been watching the rates and figured this would be a good time to get out from under that old debt."

"But why bother, Dad? I mean we don't have that house anymore, the bank foreclosed on it and took it. Didn't we just walk away from the debt we had?"

"Yes and no, kiddo. The debt is still there and a wrangler could purchase it and come after us for existing assets. Like our Class A or our home lot at Norman's. Better safe than sorry and if things ever get somewhat normal again, I want a clean slate."

Wranglers were free lance collection goons. Sometimes they work alone while others are organized. Very organized. The largest wrangler firm is made of ex-Treasury and ATF agents from the old Federal government. My friend Kayla's family woke up one night to wranglers dressed in black with machine guns repo'ing their house and SUV. It still freaks her out.

We stopped at a QuickJuice spot and put five gallons of diesel in. Dad checked it off on a clipboard chained to the dashboard. He and the other truck partners don't trust each other completely.

When we arrived at Norman's, we were allowed through the gates and drove up the golf cart track to our lot. Mom had the front door open and William was standing on the steps waving us in.

"You'll never believe what just happened! They're fighting and killing everyone! C'mon!"


America 2.0: Chapter Twelve

One Saturday, mom let dad take me with him to run his route. He had to drop off a bunch of trackers with some of his car lots in Garland.

Dad made me wear some baggy old jeans, a big hooded sweatshirt, a jacket and a cap.

"I look like a boy"

"That's the idea."

"Why do I have to look like a dorky boy?"

"Get in the truck and let's go."

Dad and another guy who lived at Norman's had thrown in together on a diesel pickup. Diesel fuel was easier to get (and dad knew some truck companies who were willing to pay with fuel when they could) and the truck could be used for deliveries.

Dad did not need the extra space. There were three cardboard boxes carrying the tracker units and they easily fit behind the bench seat.

Dad pulled his pistol out, a Glock, and stuffed it in the seat. He also brought along a short barreled shotgun which he put behind the bench seat.

"What's all that for?"

"Better safe than sorry, puddin"

We left Normans and worked our way east through town. Many of the smaller strip shopping centers were making a comeback, most with mom and pop shops selling this or that. Gone were the tanning salons, nail salons, and real estate offices.

Instead, the retail extreme went from technology - portable satellite television systems, wireless internet ports, pay as you go cell phones, power generators to old school - homemade and refurbished clothing, shoe repair, produce, hardware, repair shops and so on.

Every location was run by someone or a family or a partnership. There were no large chain stores. There were no familiar names. There was no limit on signs and advertising. Teen agers stood on sidewalks holding up signs advertising "Fresh fruit!" and "Cellular Phones 2 Go!" to passing cars. At another intersection, a group of people dressed in clown suits ran into the street and stuck coupons for a car wash under windshield wipers.

At major intersections, a hodge podge of army soldiers and police officers stood guard next to military vehicles. They looked at nothing and everything and looked extremely bored.

"Hey, hon. Grab that map I printed out and let me see it for a 'sec".

"Why aren't you using the GPS thingee, Dad?"

"It doesn't work anymore. The military turned off access to it. Wanted to confuse the bad guys I guess."

"What bad guys?"

No answer. Mom and Dad had a habit these days of ignoring certain questions from William and I.

Ten minutes later, we pulled into a small parking lot of used cars. Balloons were tied to the antennas and multi colored streamers were strung overhead.

"Como 'stas, Mo! How's business?"

"Good, good my friend. Who is this?"

"My daughter. She's helping me out today with deliveries".

"Hello little girl. My name is Mo. Do you want a cold pop?"

"What's a pop?"

"He means coke or soda."

"Oh, um no thanks. Mom says they are bad for my teeth and we can't see the dentist..."

"She'd love one Mo. Say, I have those new trackers. No GPS, they use the cell towers now. Won't lose a car now!"

Dad and Mo went inside the tiny office. I thought about hanging outside, but dad grabbed my arm and pushed me inside. The office was small, smelled of cigarettes and had a calendar written in some foreign language. There was a picture of a woman in a black bed sheet over her head holding a cup of tea out. Weird.

Fifteen minutes later, Dad and I left the "Mo's" and got back in the truck. Dad pulled a blue zippered bank bag from under the back of his seat and stuffed a wad of blue and yellow NuBux into it.

"Mo is from Pakistan."

"Why did you say como estas in Spanish to him?"

"He speaks Spanish most of the day. Doesn't want people to know he is from the Middle East. It's a thing he does.."

We visited four more lots like Mo's that afternoon and dad dropped off more than 50 of his little car trackers.