Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Wheel Turns

Roger died this morning.

He developed an infection that there was simply no way to stop. The fever was intense, and caused him to become delusional. He tore apart his stitches and bled, it was all so quick that there was nothing anyone could do.

Roger was a good friend to me and many others around here. Though I only got to know him after our misadventure at the hotel, I felt blessed for the opportunity. He was a smart and loyal man, a dedicated father, and a hard worker. He was also intensely for this place. Roger stood very strong in support of what the compound is meant to be--a place where people who want to live in peace but are willing to fight can gather. Somewhere that doesn't try to stop you from whatever your pursuit of happiness might be so long as it doesn't endanger others or the overall safety of the place.

I can only imagine what his family is going through today, and we will do everything we can to support them as he did.

Roger was all for a new election in his lucid moments, knowing that even if he managed to survive he would be in no shape to lead anyone for a long time.

With that in mind, we must move on. We will mourn him and pay tribute as he deserves, but life continues.

The results of the election caught me by surprise. Darlene has been elected leader, and Will is her second in command. I have to admit that I thought most people around here would have some problem with electing a female as our leader given how brutal some of our decisions have to be. Will as second doesn't surprise me so much, since anyone who might have had doubts about his loyalties lost them when he mowed down some of his old chums with a machine gun.

Right now the leadership is working on defenses and weapons. Thankfully, the headache of managing the logistics for all of that mess has been passed off from me and my brother, though we've had the number of workers at our disposal reduced. That's ok, actually, since a lot of the big projects are going to have to wait until spring. We have plenty of small problems to deal with, like sending people to houses whose homemade heat stoves aren't fully sealed or failed at some point and fixing them.

We're working on rigging up a big generator as well, using one of the turbines Pat and his team brought us with their last trip in. They are already back out once more, third trip to the factory. The demand for power around here is high enough that we've decided to risk the runs to the factory as fast as we can make them.

The generator we're working on was actually Roger's idea. He pointed out that we do have extra hands around, and that if we rigged together a rough transmission system, we could essentially have a human-powered generator running around the clock. It's a good idea, of course. Roger was full of them. Now we have to try and build the damn thing and make it work without him.

I'm trying to go on about business as usual, tell you what's going on without pining for my lost friend. It's just that now that he's gone, I realize how much a part of my life he was. I mean, he helped care for me while I was sick. He tended Jess after her shooting. His and Patrick's forge and offices are right next door to my house, so he was forever here at his lunch time, finding out what our resources were for whatever project he had in mind, often spending too much time shooting the breeze with me and snacking endlessly.

It's hard to imagine that I won't see him at my door with a brown bag dangling from a hand dusted with black from working at the forge and eyebrows singed from the heat. Hard to wrap my head around the fact that he won't be teaching Jess how to weld like a pro, or the finer details of metallurgy. Roger was nuts for metal and how to work it, and spent his life learning everything about it he could, every skill for working and manipulating it.

I'll leave it with a paraphrase from him. I think it says a lot about why I liked him; namely that he saw life as I do, an exercise in viewing things philosophically.

Roger told me that the reason he began to work with metal is because it always fascinated him--how the stuff could be so strong yet brittle, be everything you wanted it to be if you knew how to ask it. He said that the idea of taking this raw material from the earth, understanding its properties and shaping it into a useful thing, was the very definition of being human. Making something complex and thoughtful from the hard rocks of the ground.

He helped us do that. Roger's knowledge, skill, and dedication have been a big part of helping us move forward as a community, to help us stay safe from the zombie hordes. For that, I will always be thankful. May his spirit find peace wherever it now rests.


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