Thursday, July 9, 2020

Quest: A man of honor

Dysen's encouragement and the reminder that his own property, which included farmland and a saw-mill, were being capably managed by a steward was enough to convince Quinn to accelerate the lottery for picking lots.

Quinn delegated the administration of the accelerated land lottery to Timmy Scoppazo, the former divorce attorney who was now Quinn’s go-to for administrative issues.

Timmy took a quick look at the issue and quickly came to the conclusion that it would be a massive cluster-festival if he didn’t put some guard-rails around the choices the fighters could make.

The crux of the issue was that if any fighter could pick any lot anywhere in the Buffer-Zone, then the lottery could only proceed one pick at a time. Then, after the fighter made his claim, Timmy would have to strike the claimed property from the list of properties that were available.

The only way Timmy could see to accelerate the process was to run it in parallel. That is, each Squad Leader would administer his own lottery. The only way to make that proceed efficiently was for each Squad to choose from the land they were tasked with defending.

Originally, there had been ten fighters per square mile. After the mass defection led by David Greene, there were only seven fighters per square miles. That doesn’t sound like very many until you start handing out parcels of 40 acres.

A square mile has sixteen, 40-acre parcels. Four of those parcels have no road frontage if it is a square mile that is bounded by a road on the North, East, South and West sides.

Of the twelve remaining sections, eight of them are on East/West arteries which were expected to experience heavy fighting. It was not reasonable to expect buildings to be standing after a series of battles.

Of the remaining four, at least one would be unsuitable for agriculture because of poor drainage.

Several factors mitigated against all of these restrictions.

For one thing, about half of the sections had a secondary road transecting them.

Another factor is that most of the farmers had figured out that the best way to avoid getting hit with road-maintenance assessments was to shave off the property closest to the road and sell the lots to city-slickers to build houses. The city-slickers happily paid the road assessments and the farmers got to farm what remained of the field without the burden of the road-taxes.

The upshot of that land-use pattern is that corner-40 on East/West roads had many houses on the North/South roads that used to be part of the 40 acres. A corner-40 was still a viable option as long as one of the houses on the North/South road was suitable and more than 200 yards from the E/W road.

But as tidily as the numbers worked out on paper, it still became a snarled mess in actual practice.

Pepperoni’s squad had consisted of ten fighters, including him. So instead of 7 fighters and sixteen, 40-acre parcels, it was actually more like ten fighters and twenty-four parcels.

Pep’s squad was the eastern-most squad on Howell road. Consequently, it was likely to take a severe pounding. That is precisely why Quinn placed Pep, and his squad, in that position. Pep was a hardened, battle-proven fighter.

Most of the extra land was not suitable for homesteading.

The West Branch meandered within its flood plain. Flood plains are good for some specialty crops but are mosquito ridden and poor choices for general purpose crops and for houses. That eliminated approximately one-third of Pep’s area-of-operation. Well, that and the fact that vast numbers of “surprises” had been planted to deter invaders.

Of the ten fighters, Pep had property back in Capiche and three of his fighters had no interest in becoming “sod-busters”. There was one fighter, Wyatt, who was a special case.

“Is Wyatt gay?” Tikka asked Keagan, her boyfriend. She wanted to know because Keagan and Wyatt were very close friends. That is the kind of thing you want to know before you became too invested in a man.

“Why would you ask that?” Keagan asked, offended.

“Well, because he didn’t seem interested in any of the girls.” Tikka said.

In fact, all of the other men had homed in on the Capiche girls like heat-seeking missiles. The girls were waiting by the camp, picnic baskets in hand and wearing their most flattering outfits.

Cindy, who admittedly was not the prettiest girl in the constellation of Capiche’s women, had been left standing without a “date” when Wyatt walked past her, mumbling that he was going fishing...or something.

Every ten days after that, Wyatt had gone rabbit hunting or shooting baskets or tapping sugar maples. Cindy stopped coming with Tikka, Ashley and MacKensie.

“Wyatt has a wife and a couple of kids in Livingston County” Keagan informed her. “He is a married man.”

That completely changed the complexion of things, in Tikka’s mind. Instead of being gay, and potential competition, Wyatt found himself catapulted into an elite company. He had proven himself to be a man of great honor.

After learning that Wyatt was married, Tikka brought an extra picnic basket so Wyatt wouldn’t have to rustle up his own food while he was distracting himself over his lack of female companionship.

When Keagan opened up his letter from Tikka, the one he knew contained the contract designating her as his property manager. He was surprised to find that it contained three sheets of paper. The cover letter was written in her flowery script and read:

Dearest Keagan:

We did not have time to talk about this but I talked it over with Ashley and MacKensie and they agree that it is the right thing to do.

Your friend Wyatt will not be able to find a property manager because his wife is in Livingston County, which is enemy territory.

He will lose at least a year in developing his homestead and might not be able to pick a good property.

If it is “OK” with you, I can be both your property manager and Wyatt’s. The only thing I ask is that the two properties be next to each other. To help you out, I have listed three pairs of property that will work.

Ashley and MacKensie agreed to not poach any of the properties but I do not know about the other men’s girlfriends.

If Wyatt does not want me to manage his property, that is OK. Just pick the property that you think is best.

Love, always

Tikka Contreras


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