BY RICHARD WEST
Copyright is held by the author.
“HOLD IT tight Mike. I’ll try to cut it as square as I can.”
Ted grimaced and braced his back as he commenced to saw the two by four. The sound of the saw rasped across the town like a menace. Some birds took fright but soon settled back to their feeding. Compared to five years earlier, the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake was as silent as a grave.
The excess wood fell away and they both straightened their backs in relief. Mike looked at Ted and pulled a face. “Suppose we’ll have to go back into that musty house and rip out some more walls?”
“Yes. I know it’s a devil of a job but it’s a quick way to get material to build pig sties. They need to be strong to keep out coyotes and bears.”
“Whose house was this anyway?”
“Some old girl who moved here before 2020. Retiring here was popular while we still had normal weather. She was being given medical procedures to help her live. When everything went South, so did her medications. Lots of us old’uns have gone like that.”
“You’re still doing fine.”
“I’m 40 pounds thinner and very tired. But soldiering on.”
“Why has all this happened?” Mike lamented for the hundredth time that week.
Ted shook his head and started into the house.
Mike was still in his early thirties and was definitely skinny. Even before the changes he had never grasped what was going on in the world around him. As long as he had been able to find enough money for a joint, a coffee and a meal, he hadn’t bothered to learn to think any further. Apart from playing video games.
“I’m confused Ted. Why can’t things be put back the way they were?”
“Let’s not try to put the world straight again. We need to earn a crust nowadays. Especially you, seeing as you have a child to support. Come on.”
After stripping a dozen two by fours and cutting them to the lengths needed, they loaded their haul onto the trailer hitched to Ted’s Subaru. Gas was getting so expensive Ted could see a day when he would have to use a hand cart for this work.
Unloading took about half an hour. By then they were both soaked in sweat. Each of them slouched forward and found a spot to sit down. The heat of the midday was approaching and it would be wise to rest in the shade.
“Taking a Siesta is something we never thought about a few years ago. Now even in early spring it’s a wise thing to do. So much for the Great White North. What Florida must be like, I can’t imagine.”
“But why did it change so fast?” Mike again pleaded as he wiped away perspiration from his face with a dirty cloth. ‘I know the glacier in Greenland suddenly slipped into the sea. Then the one at the South Pole did the same. But why did it change everything?’
“I don’t know the mechanics of it all. But I think of it like a teeter-totter. All is fine while it’s balanced but when one side gets too heavy, things stop working in the same way. Those glaciers were like canaries in a coal mine. They told us the climate had taken a sudden turn. Now the summers are scorching and the winters wet and mild.”
“I just wish the economy hadn’t been ruined. There are lots of things I miss. Each day is a struggle.”
Ted thought, “I dread to think how Mike will manage once I’ve gone. It’s his daughter’s life that bothers me most. It will be hard.”
“Let’s not worry about it now. A snooze for a couple of hours will help.”
“If you say so.”