All you get is a moment’s rest from what haunts you deep inside, is that good enough tonight?

Is it a coincidence that bizarre and bazaar are homophones?  Or did one beget the other?  I could see that happening.  I certainly saw some bizarre things at the bazaar.  What I hadn’t considered is that the tanker itself would be worth more than the fuel inside of it.  There must be more fuel around than I think.  We probably got ripped off on a lot of our trades, but what can you do?  It’s like when you first get to prison and pay two soups for a candy bar, you don’t know how the economy works.  But you learn over time and then you trap the candy bar guy in the laundry room with your shiv.

Martialla got herself a Smith & Wesson Model 29 to add to our very small arsenal, if she starts wearing a hockey mask she’s on her own.  I don’t care if that means I have to wander the apocalypse alone.  She didn’t end up buying it but she checked out some pieces of body armor that she said were Russian.  Her new theory is that Russia invaded the US at some point.  Like it matters now who invaded what when.  Wolverines!

She spent some of our not very hard earned barter units on one of those weird looking assault rifles we saw people sporting.  She confirmed that it is plastic but as per usual could get no details on where it came from.  Based on her analysis, as long as you give it a lot of daily TLC, she estimates that it might jam as little as forty percent of the time.  Which isn’t great but I can’t build any assault rifles so who I am to judge?

Since I’ve been snake-bit and wrist-jammed and death marched in the last forty-eight hours, I felt like I needed a little something.  You know what I mean.   I asked several vendors what they could give me for pain.  One of them pointed at a circle of cheering people wherein two dudes were beating the shit out of each other.  Even at the end of the world, everyone’s a comedian.  They had opium in olden times right?  How do I gets some of that?  It probably didn’t grow in California though.  What did the native Californians use to get nice and loose? 

Most of their booze was pukatronic.  No fooling, a lot of it was made from fermented animal fat.  But I didn’t give up and eventually I did find some brown jugs of liquor that I was able to choke down.  Tasted like cheap wine (really cheap wine) with club soda and fruit juice to cover the grossness.  Half a jug of that that I wasn’t feeling as much pain. 

One other thing I need to mention about the trading spot.  I’ve been pretty rough on the future (or present I guess) people we’ve seen so far when it comes to looks.  And it’s all been fully justified because they’re punk rock lead singer grade uggos.  But I saw a couple guys walking around the swap meet that really took the cake.  One of them was a bugman and I don’t mean in a Steve Buscemi way, I mean he had patches of carapace instead of skin and antennae on his head.  He wasn’t fully bugged out, he was maybe only eleven percent bug but that’s a high bug percentage where I come from.  Even Hayden Christensen was only a one percenter. 

I asked Redlight about the bugman and he said that he was a splice.  As in spliced DNA maybe?  How the heck could that happen?  These people don’t even have water treatment technology under their belts, how could they be putting bug DNA in people?  And even if they could, why would you?  Martialla said that even though it seemed like things were falling apart when we went into the tubes, maybe technology kept marching on for decades after that before everything finally went kaput.  Like she knows.  She’s got a lot of opinions about what may or may not have happened while we were on ice.

Besides insector, I saw another guy who was wearing a dress like a nomad in a desert nomad movie (and maybe real life?) who had a lizard head.  Like full-on lizard head.  When I asked about him, Redlight sneered and said “they let anyone come trade”.  You’re no prize yourself, champ.

Once night fell, trading was done.  A couple people sat around a fire to mumble to each other and drink revolting booze but most of them returned to their ramshackle mobiles to sleep.  Martialla and I sat back on the hood of our new car/home and watched the “northern” lights dancing in the sky, contemplating the bright vista of our future. 

“How’s your stomach doing?”

I pointed into the darkness “Go check, I think it’s over behind that rock.”

Martialla peered into the gloom “I think that’s a bush.”

I grunted “Whatever.  I tell you this much, I would burn down an entire village for a shower and some grapefruit rosé.  Assuming they still even have villages.”

“We saw several around the lake.”

“I wouldn’t call those villages, I’d label them closer to being dog kennels.”

“It’s too fine a night for you to be this salty.”

I grunted again “What can I say?  The end of the world puts me in a sour mood.”

“Also, grapefruit rosé?  What are you, twelve?”

“Oh, I’m sorry I’m not as sophisticated as you with your refrigerator full of Pabst Blue Ribbon, that’s a heck of a palate you have there.”

“Well we’re a simple folk in Los Angeles, we can’t all be from teaming metropolises like Shelbyville.”

“You got that right, I’ve been out west for a long time and I have yet to see a single motel where they also sell bait like we had back home.”