11-25-2012, 08:28 PM
Boone slammed down the receiver. The nerve of that guy! Here he was, trying to expose the greatest hoax in American history, and the son of a (bleep) cuts him off, just like that! And he had been so close, just a hair's breadth away from victory. That (bleeper) Angel, who was no angel in his opinion, didn't even give him a chance to present the evidence he had painstakingly gathered for the occasion. Now, it was over. There was no convincing the American public that their big hero was a charlatan.
He slumped down on the chocolate brown overstuffed sofa in the tiny living room of his friend Charley's house, dejected and angry at the world. After he had been thrown out of the family home, Boone had called up Charley Haines, the only friend he knew he could count on, to help him out. Charley, bless him, came over in his camoflaged Jeep, piled Boone's few possessions into the back, and drove him to his house, allowing him to stay as long as he liked. He gave him use of his PC to continue his website, and even provided Boone with a part-time job at the gun range he owned, stretching his unemployment benefit check a little further.
Charley was a survivalist, a doomsday prepper ever alert to any sign of Armageddon. He was gaunt fellow in his mid thirties, with wispy black hair that grew thinner every day, looking more like an accountant than a military man. He was also a fellow conspiracy theorist, a believer in government coverups and the like. Ever since the Mayan prophecy of the world's end on December 21, 2012, he had been stockpiling canned food, storing water in a converted boiler--no plastic, he warned Boone, because of the near fatal chemical reaction in the PVC if let to sit too long--and upgrading his basement bunker to withstand anything from a fifty-megaton bomb to an extinction-triggering asteroid strike. Boone helped as best he could: filling sandbags, digging a trench for waste storage in the backyard, filling the air vents with charcoal to filter out harmful dust, debris, bacteria and radiation, and maintaining the generator. Charley was grateful for the help, and for the company. He didn't want to spend the last days on Earth alone, of course. Boone was simply grateful just to have a roof over his head, and to have Internet access for his website, with no nagging mother on his ass telling him he was wasting his life with conspiracy theories she didn't believe in. Like the moon shot hoax he would have exposed if not for that (bleep-bleep) Criss (bleeping) Angel.
Charley entered the living room carrying a large, flat pizza box, and noticed his new housemate sitting glumly on the brown sofa. "Hey, dude," he said, "why the long face?"
Boone looked up at Charley and sighed. "I had the biggest opportunity of my life to prove to the country that its biggest so-called accomplishment, quote unquote, is a hoax, and I get shot down before I even get a chance to tell them!"
Charley set the pizza box down on the flimsy wood coffee table. "It's about the moon shot, huh?"
Boone nodded. "Yeah, it's about the moon shot. I had Buzz Aldrin right there on the line, demanding he come clean about it, and that son of a (bleep) Criss Angel cuts me off right in the middle! I could kill that mother(bleeper) for doing that!"
Charley patted Boone on the back. "Look, it's ancient history, okay?" he said assuringly. "Why dwell on the past when we got the end of world coming right around the corner? We got more important things to think about right now, like surviving and restoring the human race." He grabbed Boone by the shoulder in a comradely fashion. "After the world ends, no one's gonna give a diddley-damn about who went to the moon or not. They'll be too busy rebuiling civilization. And we, my friend, are gonna be the new leaders of the world, because we will have the edge over everyone else."
Boone looked at him. "Why?"
"Why? Because of how well we prepped for Doomsday today, that's why! We'll be the new millionaires because we'll have more food and more supplies than anyone around. If anyone wants anything, they gotta come to us. And they'll do anything, anything at all, to get them. Not that we're gonna be despots or anything, mind you," he addded hastily, "but you and me, dude, we're gonna reshape the world after it's over. And I promise you, we're gonna do it right. We're talking a new Heaven and a new Earth, Boone! No more fat cat politicians! No more tax breaks for the rich! No more limp-wristed liberals crying and wetting their pants over every little violation of, quote unquote, civil liberites. Gun control will just mean having a steady hand, and crime will be dealt with by a bullet to the head--or a rope around the neck. I'm telling you, Boone, Twelve-Twenty-One won't be the end, but a new beginning--the beginning of a better world for both of us. For all of us. Just you wait and see." Charley playfully stroked his fist under Boone's chin. "Now buck up and some pizza," he encouraged him. "you can't change the world on an empty stomach!"
Charley opened the pizza box, releasing a tempting aroma of garlic and oregano, sausage and melted cheese. Boone put aside his outrage and picked up a slice. For all of Charley's pontificating about the benefits of Armageddon, he knew he was right about one thing: it was time to let go of the past and focus on the future, however brief that future would be in the coming months. If people want to be idiots and believe Buzz and Neil walked on the moon, fine! Everyone had a right to their own stupid opinions. Perhaps in time--maybe not in his lifetime, but someday--they would discover he had been right all along. He had more pressing matters to attend to, matters of life and death after the end of the world.
For Danny "Springs" Springer, sitting in the lounge of the Luxor Hotel with a Manhattan for company, the matter of life and death had become even more pressing. His latest trip to the doctor had revealed an irregular heartbeat, and he would need to have a pacemaker installed to keep it going. Didn't that beat all, he thought. First a stomach transplant, now some mechanical doohickey to regulate his ticker. The things he did to keep his run-down old carcass functioning!
He began to wonder if it was really worth all the time, effort and expense to do so. He was a year shy of ninety, for God's sake; he had outlived just about everyone he had known from the old days, even those who didn't get bumped off. After his book had been published, he had nothing to do, nowhere to go except here at the Luxor for the Manhattans and home to TV and the New York Times crossword puzzles. He had no family, except for Casey's twin babies, Chris and Nicky, and they didn't come over that often, and almost no surviving friends except Didi, and she didn't come over all that often either. Even golf had become an ordeal for him even with a golf cart. Back in his day as a gang enforcer, he had been thrilled to be alive even with the prospect of death right around the corner, whether it was a drive-by shooting or a carefully orchestrated "accident". Now, the thrill was gone. He was just a tired old man with one foot on a banana peel and the other in the grave. Why worry about the future when your days were numbered and there was nothing left to live for, anyway?