Friday, May 21, 2021

Remnant: Sojourners

The fourth night Carmen and Louisa visited the Customs Station, the agents in the more northerly station were on pins and needles. This would be the third night for them...if they came.

They waited for the text from their buddies in the south station.

The minutes seemed to stretch for hours. They were sure that their good fortune had run out. Beautiful, friendly girls. Ok, one was friendlier…much friendlier, than the other. The the other was not snappish or a bitch. She just seemed tired, like she wasn’t getting enough sleep and that hanging out with younger, vigorous guys was not her favorite thing.

But the other one! Holy smokes. What a biscuit!

The agents had no way of knowing, but one of the reasons they were selected was because of their anger. They were angry at being made the bad-guy every time something went wrong.

They had acquaintances who were quicker with words and quicker to see which way the wind was blowing and those acquaintances squeaked by.

But if you were impulsive and not quick with words, you were always blamed. Always.

And the girls loathed you. They competed with you and they re-wrote the rules as they played the game. And the teachers applauded the girls and the girly-boys. Because girls and girly-boys were supposed to do everything cis-boys could do, only better.

The two Hispanic girls who showed up every night were different. They liked guys who were, well, guys. Simple men who only wanted to be appreciated for being the way God made them. Big, muscular, goofy, loud, competitive….

And Oh-my-God, that Carmen had their number. Suddenly they were a round peg sliding into a well-greased round hole. Well, not quite. But every young man held out hope.

Suddenly, one of the agent’s phones quietly pinged with a text message. Then another.

The agents launched out of the chairs where they had been making a show of causally lounging. They came out of those chair like Trident missiles launching out of the tubes of an Ohio Class submarine.

The families waiting in the brush several hundred yards from the northern Customs station continued to wait.

Hermes and the leaders of the mule-teams decided that the evacuation of Fabulous Acres and the porters carrying grain in should be two, totally separate missions.

In fact, they should take great pains to stay out of each others way.

The mule-team leaders suggested that parties of ten were better than fifteen. Fifteen people tended to string-out over the miles and form teams of seven or eight. When strung out, the teams lost the ability to support each other in terms of comms and firepower should the need arise.

The two families totaled five adults and five children. The families were chosen on the basis of the children. They were eight-to-eleven, physically fit and mindful. If their mama “shussed” them, they shut-up.

Then Carmen’s laughter trilled across the quiet, frosty night.

The families picked up their bags and eased their way toward the Customs Station. They stayed to cover as much as possible because they had no way of knowing if there had been any stay-behinds.

There were not.

The party of ten passed by the station without being hailed. It was going to be a long night for them. They needed to walk eighteen miles to get to their new homes.


Leslie’s headaches did not improve.

Dar scheduled a visit with old Dr. Foxx.

Dr. Foxx was a curmudgeon and actually took the time to get to know his patients. It was simple math that he knew the women of the families better than the men. Women are more meticulous about taking care of their health and do more maintenance. Women were also the ones who usually brought in the sick kids.

Dr. Foxx had his favorites. He knew and respected Dar but he really like Leslie.

Dr. Foxx asked Leslie if Dar could stay in the room while he explained the problem. Dr. Foxx still made an effort to conform with HIPAA rules.

Leslie nodded her agreement.

This was something Dr. Foxx hated to do. Unfortunately, it was something he was having to do several times a day.

“Leslie, your high-blood pressure is not under control” Dr. Foxx said.

Dar objected. “Everybody has high-blood pressure. Why is that a problem?”

Dr. Foxx shook his head in the negative. “A lot of people have blood pressure that is a little bit high. Leslie’s blood pressure is dangerously high.”

Dar looked confused.

“Leslie has had issues with high blood pressure for as long as she has been an adult. That is one reason why she decided to stop having kids after Melody.”

“We had it under control but it took two classes of drugs...drugs that I am guessing are not available in the drugstore any more” Dr. Foxx said.

“So what can we do?” Dar asked. There were always things that somebody could do. There had to be.

“Not a whole lot. Cut out all salt from the diet. Keep her warm, especially her hands and feet” Dr Foxx said.

“And has she made out a Last Will and Testament?” Dr Foxx asked. “Her headaches suggest that she might have an aneurysm in her head. There is no way to be sure because I don’t have access to labs anymore. And even if we had a solid diagnosis there isn’t anything I can do without access to a good surgeon.”

Yes, Dr. Foxx hated these discussions. Death was inevitable but death before the proverbial three-score-and-ten was hard and until Leslie’s prescriptions had run out, she looked like she could have made four-score-and-ten.
Unfortunately, Dr. Foxx was getting way more practice with these discussions than he cared for. Dialysis patients had been among the first. Oxygen dependent COPD patients and mental health issues had been next.
The mental health issues had been particularly heart-breaking. Telling a mother or father or wife to keep a firearm handy (but not too handy) to put down their off-the-meds son, daughter or husband was something that had never been covered in medical school. Nor had the medical school covered how to deal with the guilt when the off-the-meds patient got their hands on the firearm and either committed suicide (really the better of the alternatives) or went on a rampage.

It took Dar a few minutes to get control of himself. Finally he asked “And Melody? Does she have it?”

Dr Foxx said, “I cannot answer that.”

“All I can tell you that it can be hereditary and it might not show until after Melody becomes pregnant. High blood pressure is a fickle thing. She might not have it. She might have a mild case of it or she might have dangerously high blood pressure like Leslie.”

“And if she has dangerously high blood pressure, what are the odds of...” and Dar’s voice trailed off, not knowing quite how to pose his question.

“If Melody has dangerously high blood pressure, she might not live past forty” Dr. Foxx answered him. “Obviously, the drugs Leslie has been taking went a long way toward keeping her alive.”

“Just remember, these things in are God’s hands. If you are not a praying person, this might be a good time to get in the habit.”


  1. My wife died three weeks ago. She was only 62. She had just gotten out of the hospital the day before. Before releasing her, they lectured her about her high blood pressure, which they characterized as stroke level. She died the next morning, suddenly.

    Take seriously what ERJ is talking about here. HBP can be a killer, literally. If you have HBP, do whatever you need to do to get it under control, whether that be prescription drugs or natural supplements, or lifestyle and diet changes, or whatever. Get it under control.

    It leaves an empty place in your heart and your life when your spouse dies, no matter what age. Don't let you or your spouse die prematurely of something like HBP that can be controlled.

    1. George:

      I am so very sorry to hear about your wife.

      I will include both of you in my nightly prayers.


  2. They call it the 'silent killer', but it can also be a slow killer. High blood pressure does more than cause strokes; it also inflicts damage to the organs, cumulative in nature, causing deterioration of function over time. Get checked, get the meds if you need them, take the regimen seriously. There are a lot of different ways to treat hypertension now, and the drugs have become pretty innocuous. Early hypertension drugs were carefully-administered low-dose poisons, but those days are long gone. It's imminently treatable, with many options - it's easy to take it seriously.

    George, prayers are with you during this difficult time, and I too am sorry for your loss.


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