In East Orosi Chad Izzo wandered into Kenny Lane’s pole barn. He had followed the sound of cussing and hammering as he walked across the yard. There was no mystery about where Kenny was.
Entering the pole barn he saw Ken tugging on a four-way wrench, trying to loosen the lugnuts holding the dualies on the back of his truck.
“Whachya doing?” Chad asked.
“What’s it look like I am doing. I am changing my tires.” Ken responded. “Be pal and gimme a hand.”
Ken had lashed an eight foot cheater bar to the cross piece of the four way and had still be unable to break loose the rusted-on nuts. With Chad lifting up on one end and Kenny standing on the other, they made quick work of the remaining nuts.
“Whaddya putting on the rims?” Chad asked as he looked around the shop. He did not see any new tires. In fact, the ones Ken was skinning off the wheels did not look half bad.
Kenny pointed at a pile of bald tires, half of them showing wear down into the reinforcing belts.
“Dude, you are making absolutely no sense at all. I think you must have gotten hit in the head too many times.” Chad said.
Kenny talked around Chad’s observation. “Sure is quiet with most of the young people gone.” he said.
Chad nodded in agreement. Nearly all of the young folks, the ones between twenty-six and the early thirties had seemingly evaporated overnight. It really was quiet without them around.
“A little bird might have told me that rubber was going to get expensive. He also might have said that the Cali people were likely to come out here and confiscate every tire with any miles left in it.” Kenny said. “Business is slow right now. I figured I would throw these garbage tires on my truck. That way I am not out much if somebody tries to steal them…and if they try to steal my truck they are not going to get very far before they have a blow-out.”
“What are you going to do with these?” Chad asked, pointing at the pile of good tires Ken was taking off the wheels.
“I was going to ask you if you could stash them on your property, maybe in one of those steep ravines with all the thorny bushes.” Ken said.
“Do you really think that is going to happen?” Chad asked.
Ken stretched out his back. He was not getting any younger and changing tires was hard on the back. He walked out to the barn’s entrance and pointed at the plumes of smoke rising at various points of the compass.
“Black smoke. I don’t think they are roasting weenies and marshmallows out there.” Kenny said. “I think this is a good time to hide the family silver and lock down for a bumpy ride. Oh yes I do.”