Martialla and I debated at length (as is our wont) if we should go into Bosstown. And once we decided that we should, we debated some more (as is tradition) if we should go together or if one of us should stay outside with the car. The safest thing would have been to just drive on, but how are we ever going to get more stuff and survive if we avoid everyone? The problem with waking up after the apocalypse is that you don’t know how to operate in the world you find yourself in. There are other problems too but you know what I mean.
Martialla is obsessed with two things – guns and fuel. She wants more of both of them and she wants to know where they come from. I would settle for some clean clothes. The Martialla that I knew and loved (well not loved-loved, but like how a dog loves a ratty old blanket) was a perfect sidekick. She had the initiative to do things that I didn’t care about but otherwise she was just hanging around waiting for me to tell her what to do. Nowadays she’s displaying a lot of drive and determination. Independent thought is what it is. If this was a novel or a script, the line producer would have a real issue with the writing, “who’s the protagonist here?” they’d say. And the writer would stare at their shoes because they’re mostly poltroons in bad clothing who want to go home and play Xbox. Eye contact startles them.
One of her lusts was satiated because was got to learn all about “fuel” firsthand.
When we rolled into Bosstown there weren’t too many people about, there certainly weren’t guards of any kind, but the people (and I use that term grudgingly) that were around seemed impressed by our wheels. I didn’t see another vehicle in the place. We inquired of a woman lounging in the door-hole of one of the large mud-brick buildings if there was a marketplace. Not I, nor anyone else, knows for sure what the skin of a pterodactyl looked like, but nonetheless I would say that her skin was pterodactyl-ish. Other than that she wasn’t too ugly. She told us that there was a market square but it was only used when a caravan comes into town.
I’ve been wondering how the economy works here in the future, giving someone a cow for two chickens on the spot? No problem. But when someone has the idea “if you give me those two chickens right now, I’ll give you twelve seashells and then another six of them next week, and you can give them to my cousin for a cow plus a sack of monkey heads” how are you going to keep track of everything? Once trade becomes a thing, doesn’t currency have to be close behind? Since the market is closed I guess I’ll still have to wonder.
Martialla and I gave each other the “now what” look when the leathery lounger told us that if we needed fuel she could show us where to get it. Before we said yes, she came and sat on J-Lo’s hood and a slightly smaller pterodactyl woman came out to take up her post in the door-hole. With a shrug we followed her directions (it’s pretty easy in a town with four roads and four intersections) to a plot of land that looked something like the big vats you see at Granite City. Martialla listened raptly while a skinny man (who smelled like a brewery himself) told her all about how he turns biodegradable garbage (including corpses) into fuel.
While they were rambling on, I asked Lady Rodan what there was to do around here for fun. The answer apparently is nothing. Or in the case of this lady, what you do is make bricks out of mud, unless you don’t have any mud, then you stand around and wait until you die or get more mud to make bricks out of, and then some gorgeous strangers drive into town and you show them where the fuel depot is unasked-for fun.
I’m starting to better understand old literature. You read a book about colonial times and the characters see a cloud shaped like a candle and they lose their minds and that’s like a whole day’s “adventure”. I’m starting to get that now. We’re in times where entertainment is staring into a fire or counting the number of flies on someone’s face. It doesn’t take much to entertain people.
Martialla and Amarillo Slim talked for what seemed like half a day. Eventually leathery Sue wandered off. I wished I could do the same. I don’t think it’s literally possible to die of boredom but I did my level best at just that sitting in the driver’s seat as Martialla hung out the window talking about fractionating and copper pipes. After a while, I realized that she was done with that conversation and was talking to me. I looked over and she was shaking her head like a cat that sees a bird on TV, they want it bad but something just isn’t right.
“ . . . . ethanol but if that’s true then why . . .”
“Well, whatever the case at least it was really boring.”
She looked down her nose at me like a vexed schoolmarm “I’m sorry that learning how to survive this apocalypse isn’t more entertaining to you.”
“Trust me, so am I. Did you at least get us some more fuel?
Martialla pursed her lips for a moment and then looked out the window towards her new best friend who was stirring a vat of sludge and seemed like he was trying to hide as well “No, when I said that I would trade him the plastic rifle for fuel he got all squirrelly.”
“Maybe they don’t allow guns here like at the scum-lake.”
“That could be. Maybe the Roadrunners . . .”
“. . . have all the guns. That’s how it worked in olden times right? The peasants toiled and the nobles had all the weapons? If you want to maintain control you can’t let the people on the bottom of the pyramid get their hands on guns.”
I snorted “You’re asking me? Maybe he just . . .”
I was interrupted at this point by the approach of the eponymous Boss of Bosstown and his cadre of scabby goons. Is eponymous the word I mean, or do I mean titular? Do those mean the same thing? If so why do we have them both?