"Gosh, do you really think so?"
"You bet. Lenin said 'Truth is a luxury of the bourgeois classes. Deception is often justified by the ends.' Those guys are cunning as hell."
"But he's dead."
"Lenin. And I thought they stopped being communists."
"You believe that? Look, it's all part of the deception. Check out www.doomsday.com."
"Well, there you are then."
My wife was clearly upset when she found me digging up the lawn with a mechanical thingamabob. I pointed out that a lawn would be pretty useless in the midst of a nuclear winter, and anyway we could reseed once the shelter was finished. She did that biting of the bottom lip thing she always does, went inside and reappeared ten minutes later with two suitcases. It took me thirty-five minutes to talk her out of the car. I had not seen her in such an unreasonable mood since the llama farm incident of the previous spring. I think that, had it not been for Ralph's encouragement, I might have abandoned the whole thing right then.
"A firm hand's what you're going to need there, bud. You can't have insubordination when the chips are down." He had strolled over to where I was struggling to restart the mechanical thingamabob. As usual, he was carrying his rifle and wearing camouflage pants. Ralph had once told me that no damn commie was ever going to get his family, and so far none had. For him the red peril had arrived in the shape of a Corvette, in which his wife had left two years previously in the company of a mortgage broker from Winston-Salem. Ralph said he was glad to be rid of the distraction. He inspected my hole, stroked his chin with the hand that wasn't holding the rifle and nodded approvingly. "Nice hole."
North Carolina enjoys a pleasant climate for most of the year, and September is by no means as hot as the mid-summer months. It seemed to me totally unreasonable, therefore, to make a huge fuss about a broken air conditioner, especially when it was an accident that could easily have happened to anyone. I explained to Margaret that those mechanical thingamabobs are extremely tricky to control, particularly in reverse. I even brought Ralph over to back me up, but there was no stopping her and she almost ran us over in the driveway. I called her later at her mother's and was able to ascertain that her return was conditional on the repair of the air conditioner. I was leafing through the yellow pages when Ralph called.