Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Out on the East Coast, you’ve probably had more rain an’ snow than you know what to do with, but lemme tell ya, out here in California it’s been as dry as a popcorn fart for the last three years. Yeah, the year-round ridin’ is great, but our wells are goin’ dry. We’ve had about a half-inch of rain all year, so when we got the news that a big storm was comin’ in, it was great news for us water-starved country folk.

The other day I was in my shop weldin’ on a frame when my “prepper” neighbor wandered over. “So,” he said, with a smug smirk on his face, “what have you done to prepare for this big storm?”

I shut the welder off an’ lifted my helmet. “Well, lessee…” I scratched my beard thoughtfully, dislodgin’ a few donut crumbs left from breakfast. “I threw a trash bag over the ridin’ mower, rolled up the window in the truck an’ poured some shampoo on the dog’s back. If it rains a while, it should suds him up pretty good.”

The smirk returned, as he looked at me over the top of his glasses. “This is going to be a really bad storm,” he said, talkin’ very slowly to make sure I understood the gravity an’ importance of his warnin’. “I hope you’re prepared. Remember the Donner Party,” he added, referrin’ to the cannibalism of more than a century ago.

“Yeah,” I answered. “I’ve been scopin’ out the tastiest chubbies on the block, just in case.”

A look of frustrated astonishment crossed his face momentarily. “OK, make light of the situation,” he said, “but don’t come crying to me when you’re starving.”

“So… What have you done to prepare for this inevitable apocalypse of precipitation,” I asked, regrettin’ it as the words rolled off my tongue, unbidden.

“I’ve stocked up on bottled water, freeze-dried survival meals, toilet paper, two cases of flashlight batteries, gas for my generator, a shortwave radio, burlap bags to fill with sand, and extra medical supplies.” He licked his lips, kinda like the cat when it hears the can opener.

“Guess I’d better go buy an extra box of shells for my old .45 Colt,” I told him.

He gave me a puzzled expression, an’ asked the inevitable question: “Uh… Why would you need those?”

I gave him my most sinister grin an’ growled, “So I can get all the bottled water, freeze-dried meals an’ flashlight batteries I need!”

He barked out a nervous laugh, then said “Uh, yeah… That was funny.”

“So,” I said, takin’ my weldin’ helmet off an’ tossin’ it on the bench. “What are you gonna do with two cases of dead flashlight batteries after a couple of years of not needin’ ’em?”

“Better to be safe than sorry, my friend,” he said, pointin’ toward his not-so-well-hidden underground survival bunker. “An ounce of prevention, and all of that, you know! When all of the store shelves are picked clean, you’ll wish you had taken appropriate steps to ensure your survival!”

I looked over at his place with the tennis court, pool an’ the horse munchin’ contentedly on the spring grass behind his house. “Is there room enough in your bunker for the horse?” I asked innocently.

“Of course not,” he replied. “Don’t be ridiculous. Why would you even think I’d take my horse into… uh… wait a…”

I gave him my best predatory scowl an’ said, “Don’t you worry, I won’t starve. There’s only one of him, so there’s no reason you should take him when you build your ark.”

He threw his hands up in exasperation. “You just never take anything seriously, do you?”

“Yeah, I sure do!” I told him. “I’m makin’ a run to the liquor store this afternoon. Proper preparation is the key to survivin’ any situation!”

Without another word, he turned an’ started walkin’ away, shakin’ his head. I picked up my helmet an’ started weldin’ in another frame gusset.

The followin’ mornin’, the rain started to fall. It rained for most of the day an’ into the next evenin’ before it quit an’ the sky cleared up. The sun was shinin’ when my neighbor came out of his house to survey the damage. His horse was still munchin’ away contentedly, but all the bark chips had floated out of his oh-so-beautifully manicured flowerbeds an’ drifted down the driveway, leavin’ a trail of steamin’ red nuggets dryin’ in the spring sunshine. Several gophers had crawled out of their soggy tunnels an’ were frolickin’ about, baskin’ in the sun. I stuck my head out the shop door an’ yelled, “Howdy! I see you survived the perfect storm!”

He meandered across the wet grass, lookin’ rather disappointed that the storm was over an’ no major damage had occurred. He had a sheepish look on his face an’, as he got closer, he looked over his shoulder at his wife, who was standin’ in the driveway with both hands on her hips. “Can I… uh… borrow your submersible pump? It seems I left the hatch on my bunker open all night.”

Well, I hope everybody back in the East an’ Midwest has survived the long, cold winter an’ you’re all out ridin’ by now. So ride safe, an’ we’ll see ya on the road!


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