Leonard Dobbs - Peak Oil Entrepreneur Chapter 2


Leonard Dobbs - Peak Oil Entrepreneur – Chapter 2

Gary, Petey, and Duncan had been working on the second prime mover for almost a week when Leonard got there. He noticed the mobile homes that had been moved in next to Gary’s. He could see where water and power lines had been run to the trailers from the shop, and fresh digging where the sewers were run to the shop septic tank.

Leonard pitched in for two weeks, marveling at the skill and determination of the men helping. All were several years older than he was, but worked just as hard. Even without Leonard, the work was going several times faster than on the first unit. Partly the manpower, but Gary knew exactly what he wanted done and didn’t have to engineer a solution for every element this time.

There were fewer people waiting at the ranch gate when Leonard went back to help with the harvest. They were a bit more insistent and Alex had hired a couple more people just to stand watch and prevent anything from getting started very far before the others could come to help.

“How did the ad go over?” Leonard asked Alex the first chance he got.

“You won’t like it,” Alex said. He handed Leonard a handful of hand written notes. Response communications from the ad.

Leonard thumbed through them and saw immediately what Alex meant. Disappointed, Leonard set them aside and went to work driving a combine for the day. Later that night, before he went to bed, he sorted through the messages and weeded out the obvious cranks, and the obviously real interest messages, plus another stack for the not sures.

Each night he tried to contact one or two of the people, having some success. A good three-quarters of them were dead ends of one type or another, but three were contacts he wanted to follow up on after the harvest.

It was another good harvest, and Leonard received a share for his help. He loaded most of it up as part of the year’s supply of food for the second prime mover and trailer, conserving the food from the warehouse as much as possible.

Gary and the others had made remarkable progress. The second prime mover was finished mid-winter and the second custom trailer by spring. Leonard paid off Gary the agreed upon amount and then had to insist he take a little more to share with Petey and Duncan. They started in on the third chassis immediately.

All during the time things were getting worse. Alex’s ranch and farm was one of the few operating in the area and couldn’t keep up with the demand for food. Companies were going out of business right and left and people were literally starving, many of them headed for a hopefully easier life south.

Alex, like the other producers, had quit taking cash. He was taking only precious metals, objects of value, or labor on the ranch in payment for his products. Among the objects of value he took in trade was additional land and production equipment to work it. He had a group of people on the payroll strictly for security of the properties. Their pay was room and board.

When Leonard went to help with spring planting, and then returned to Gary’s shop afterwards, the third prime mover was finished and work was almost done on the third custom trailer.

Leonard paid off in full, with another generous bonus. All three men refused the cash, and insisted the gold and food were payment enough for the work. And all three, though they didn’t say it, were worried about how they were going to continue their existence without Leonard’s work to do.

Leonard wondered much the same about them and talked to Alex. He got permission to move all three men and their families to property adjacent to the ranch, and a promise to give them enough work to keep the families in food.

By July 4th everyone was moved onto the ranch. Leonard had use a bit more of the gold from the cash conversions of the money in the attaché cases to get a well drilled and septic system installed for the three mobile homes. A generator would provide electrical power to pump water twice a day. Gary built an outside wood burning furnace that would heat all three of the units, using solar panels with batteries and inverter to power the fans to move the heated air.

The question that Leonard had been waiting for finally came up. “Now that you have them, Leonard, what are you going to do with them?”

“Good point,” Leonard admitted. “Time to get back on the radio.”

Leonard contacted all three of the people that had expressed interest in having their good transported. Only one responded. It was a ranch in Oklahoma that wanted to move a herd of cattle from just outside of Tulsa to Kansas City and Oklahoma City. Both cities were still holding things together, but were desperate for additional food, especially meat.

When Leonard asked about the ranches right around the cities, he was informed that they had all been hit hard early on and the herds and owners wiped out. “I have to tell you. I’ve got an armed camp here,” the rancher, Tom Ingles, told Leonard over the radio. “It could be dangerous. But I pay in gold. Twenty percent up front and the rest when the loads get to the destination.”

“Let me talk to a couple of people. I’ll get back to you in a day or so.”

Leonard went to look for Gary, Petey, and Duncan. “Guys,” he said after he’d found all three at Gary’s mobile home, discussing the future. “I have a proposition.”

The three looked at one another and then Gary said, “Lay it out.”

Leonard explained the situation with the rancher outside Tulsa. The first question was, “How we going to haul cattle?” Petey was shaking his head.

“Pick up six cattle trailers,” Leonard replied. Should be easy enough. Arley has at least that many.”

“In addition to the lead trailer?” Duncan asked.

Leonard nodded, and Gary said, “The rigs will handle it.”

“What about protection?” Petey asked. “Just the four of us, with that much equipment? Even without the cattle, we’d be a target.”

“I plan to take on some people to ride shotgun,” Leonard answered.

“How many?” Duncan asked.

“Two per rig and four out riders.”

“You know,” Duncan said, his enthusiasm beginning to show, “If we get all drivers, we could just keep going in those rigs. Wouldn’t have to stop at all. I know a couple of guys desperate for work. Ex GI’s. They can handle a rig. Even these, with a chance to practice.”

“That would make it better,” Petey said.

The four men sat and discussed the possibilities for over three hours, hammering out details acceptable to all of them.

Using Leonard’s truck, since it was diesel and they had some fuel for it, Each man went to talk to a few people that might be interested in such an endeavor. The results were mixed. Two of the men that Petey, Duncan, and Gary were sure of either weren’t around anymore, or refused. But a total of two drivers only, four drivers that could handle security, and three security only people were located and agreed to the terms.

Leonard was a bit worried that three of the nine people were women. But when he met each one his doubts faded. All were experienced truck drivers, and two of them were combat veterans from the Gulf Wars.

The hold up now was getting the trailers. Two were easy. Alex had them. Leonard and Gary went to see Arley.

“You’re out of your mind! I’m not about to consign four trailers and three dollies on the off chance you might make a buck with them!” Again, the reaction was about what Leonard expected. But Leonard played his usual trump card. Food. Arley, despite rationing what he’d already received from Leonard, was running low again. He’d traded some of it away for other things his family needed and he wanted.

“A month of food for three, guaranteed, and a full beef afterward, if we’re successful. And I keep the trailers.”

“You really think I’m going to agree to that?” Arley asked.

Leonard shrugged and he and Gary headed back to the pickup.

“Wait!” Arley called, taking a step toward the two men and the pickup. “Okay. But I want more. Double.”

“Through in the H1 and you have a deal,” Leonard said, thinking on his feet. They were going to need another vehicle besides his pickup. The H1 Hummer would be ideal.

“Are you out of your mind?” Arley as much as yelled.

“When’s the last time you drove it?” Gary asked.

“Well, with fuel the way it is…” Arley’s words trailed away and he thought about how much weight he’d lost and how hungry he was all the time. “Triple,” he said.

“Two months of food for three. Up front,” Leonard said, “And two beeves when we get back,” Leonard countered.

“That’s only double!” Arley protested.

Leonard looked at Arley for a long time. “I’ll throw in two ounces of gold. Again, when we get back.”

Arley perked up. Food was great. Everyone needed it. But a man of his tastes needed some other things. Gold would buy them. “Half the gold now.”

Leonard nodded. “Done. We’ll be back for the trailers tomorrow, with the food and an ounce of gold.” The deal done, Leonard and Gary went by each of the group that would be going to give them notice that they would be leaving in two days. Then they went back to the ranch and told Petey and Duncan.

They began to load the three prime movers with personal gear and supplies, including fueling them up from the ranch stock of biodiesel. Leonard insisted on transferring a couple pallets of the food to Alex in payment of the fuel, over Alex’ objections.

Alex’ two stock trailers were attached to what had become Gary’s unit. Two of the new people would be his crew, both of which had been working on the ranch. Petey and Duncan would be the prime drivers on the second unit with one of the security men that could drive as third member of the team. The third rig would be the unit the three women would use.

Then next day, the four men took the other two units in and picked up the four stock trailers at Arley’s trucking yard, and the H1. It was the first time Arley had seen the units. He was flabbergasted and couldn’t quit staring.

Leonard let him take a look in one of them. Arley was shaking when he came out and looked over the lead trailers. He said not a word there after, even during the trip in the H1 back home, with Leonard driving.

The food was unloaded and Leonard handed Arley two quarter-ounce Gold Eagles and five one-tenth ounce Gold eagles and said, “We’ll be back with the beeves as soon as we can. Be sure you have a way to process them.” Arley simply nodded and turned away.

Leonard shook his head and then started the H1 again, to lead the two rigs to each of the new team members’ residences to pick up them and their gear. Leonard had made it clear that they might be gone for weeks, even a month or so and each had packed accordingly. Leonard would be providing the food for the trip. The weapons and ammunition from the warehouse shoot out were distributed to those that didn’t have their own.

They headed back to Alex’ ranch and unloaded everything and reloaded, each of the new people getting acquainted with the units and their operation. Early the next morning, with Leonard and Patrick, one of the security men, in Leonard’s pickup in the lead, the convoy left the ranch, headed for Tulsa. Petey and Duncan with Jose were behind Leonard in #2 rig, the three women in #3 rig behind them. Gary with Mark, and Eugene followed in #1 rig. The H1 with the other two security people brought up the rear.

Leonard took it very easy initially, to allow all the drivers to get a chance handling the two-hundred foot plus rigs on good roads, under no pressure. They traveled that way the entire day. Leonard led the convoy into a rest area on I-44, which they were following on the way to Tulsa. They had not seen a single operating vehicle the entire day.

After a shake down debriefing, meals were prepared, with Leonard and Patrick using Gary’s unit as their base, and the other two security men using Petey’s and Duncan’s. A sentry was posted and then everyone went to bed.

Up early the next morning, after a quick breakfast and coffee, the convoy hit the road again, this time at a rather more lively speed, though Leonard kept the speed just slow enough to allow the big Cat diesels in the prime movers to operate on only four cylinders for economy on the flats and down-grades.

The Interstate was blocked at the Miami, Oklahoma interchange. Leonard radioed to the others and they all came to a stop. After a short discussion, Leonard and Patrick climbed back into the pickup and advanced on the roadblock, both with weapons loaded and ready.

A rather fat man stood in front of the barricade, made with vehicles. He cradled a shotgun in one arm and held up his other. “What’s up?” Leonard asked when he stopped and the shotgun toting man walked up to the driver’s side of the vehicle.

“Road’s closed to anyone not paying the tax,” said the big guy.

“What tax?” Leonard asked.

“Local tax. Payable in food, goods, gold, silver, or fuel.”

“And if I don’t want to pay?” Leonard asked.

The big guy smiled. “Got six guys backing me up here, and six more on the East bound lane roadblock. We’ll blow you to kingdom come if you try to run the roadblock.”

“Fair enough,” Leonard said. “I’ll talk it over with the rest of my group.”

“You do that. But don’t take too long. We’ll come take what we want if you delay too long.”

“Sure thing,” Leonard said. He started the pickup and backed it around to head back to the convoy. It took only a couple of minutes of discussion for all to agree to Leonard’s plan. It was a simple one. They crossed the median, and the east bound lane.

Patrick cut the fencing with a pair of nippers carried in the pickup for just that purpose. After Patrick got back into the pickup, Leonard put it into low four wheel drive and nosed off the pavement into the roadside drainage ditch. He went through the gap in the fence and then pulled to one side to watch the other rigs do the same. Petey was driving #2 rig and hesitated slightly, but nosed down the grade and through the fence. He passed through without a hitch.

Eleanor, at the controls of #3, didn’t hesitate. She drove through, again without a hitch, falling into line behind the waiting #2. Gary was right behind, and the H1 followed. Leonard took up the lead again, heading cross country to get around the roadblock.

Apparently the big guy at the road block didn’t like the idea. Several men jumped into vehicles and tried the same thing.

Mike Horton, in basic charge of security, radioed Leonard. “I say we give them a taste of what they’ll get if they can actually catch up to us.”

“Do it,” Leonard replied. Anyone threatening him with firearms was fair game for reciprocal action. He upped the pace a bit when he saw that the long rigs were handling the slightly rough field without any problems.

Mike had Elmer stop the H1, got out and went to the back of the vehicle. He took his time taking out a case and putting it on top of the H1. Climbing up himself, he opened the case, took out the heavy rifle it contained, and slipped a magazine in place after opening the bipod up.

Taking into account the slight breeze, Mike took aim through the riflescope and gently squeezed the trigger. The pickup truck just struggling through the fence at the interstate came to a sudden halt, the big .50 BMG bullet going deep into the engine block, locking the motor up near instantaneously.

Recovering easily from the recoil, Mike emptied the other nine rounds in the magazine into more of the group’s vehicles and people. He was sure he hit at least four of those manning the road blocks and disabled three vehicles.

Again he took his time and re-cased the Barrett M82A1 semiauto rifle and put it back into the back of the H1. “Let’s go,” he told Elmer, picking up the radio mike when he got back into the passenger seat of the vehicle.

“I don’t think they’ll be following us,” he announced.

“Good,” Leonard replied. He picked up the pace slightly, keeping an eye on how the rigs were doing on the open ground. Well past the blockades, the group reversed the procedure and got back up onto the interstate, again without a hitch.

It was smooth sailing the rest of the way. Before they got to Tulsa, Leonard cut off on side roads, to get to the ranch with the cattle. They were met at the gate by three armed men mounted on horses. The three riders did double-takes at the sight of the convoy, but let them onto the property, swinging wide the steel gate that blocked the entrance.

Tom Ingles, upon seeing the rigs was just as curious as his men. Leonard let him look the rigs over for a few minutes before getting down to business. While the rest of the crew kibitzed with the ranch hands, Leonard, Gary, and Mike talked things over with Tom.

The price discussed by radio was confirmed, and the delivery details explained. It was late to be loading so Leonard and crew over-nighted in the rigs again. But the next morning, the six stock trailers were loaded with cattle using a portable stock ramp. The only real problem was reconnecting the trailers after breaking them down so they could be loaded.

Leonard’s plan using heavy-duty chain come alongs to winch the tongues of the dollies over to the pintle hitch worked, but the process was slow and awkward, and just a little dangerous. Some other method would need to be developed.

But the cattle were loaded and trucks and trailers reconnected by noon and the convoy left, headed for Kansas City. Leonard picked up US 75 and they traveled most of the way on it, picking up I-35 west of Kansas City. It was where Tom had told Leonard to beware. Much like the roadblocks at Miami, the entrances to KC were blocked and guarded, twice, at each entry.

One blockade was manned by basically bandits, looking to take anything they could coerce out of travelers going into or coming out of the city. The inner blockade was manned by citizens of the city to keep out anyone and everyone they didn’t want to enter the city. Only those with acceptable business were allowed inside the inner ring of defense.

The initial meeting of the bandits’ blockade went about the same as the one near Miami. Except Leonard couldn’t go around the way they had at the Miami interchange. When Leonard talked to the man in charge of the bandits at the blockade, he took a hard line.

Before the man could speak, Leonard did. “We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. The easy way gets you a bit of food, a little silver, and no danger to your lives. The hard way means people die. Take a long look at the rigs behind me and decide if you want to take us on.”

The man lifted binoculars to his eyes and studied the three rigs, which Leonard had ordered parked so they could be seen easily.

“Not your regular semi trucks, I take it,” the man said, lowering his binoculars. “How many men do you have?”

“Enough,” Leonard said. “And firepower for each one of them. Take a look at that car over there.” Leonard pointed. “If anyone is behind it, have them move.”

The bandit leader made a motion and two men shifted positions from behind the designated vehicle. Leonard tipped the microphone of the handy-talky on his chest and said, “The demonstration, if you please.”

A fraction of a second, a hole appeared in the fender of the car, shaking it slightly, and then another round went through the doors to who knows where, and a third bullet went through the closed widows of the back doors of the car, shattering both of them.

“How much food, and how much silver?” asked the bandit.

“Mixed case of meat, vegetables, and fruit. A roll of silver dimes.”

“Let them through!” called out the bandit leader. Cars were pushed apart and Leonard radioed the convoy to come ahead. Patrick got the case of food from the back of the pickup and handed it to one of the bandits. Leonard took the roll of dimes out of his jacket pocket and handed it to the bandit leader. “I expect that this will get me out, as well as in.”

The guy didn’t like it, but defending the blockade from the city side was problematical. He nodded.

Leonard and Patrick waited until all three units and the H1 passed through the roadblock before getting back in the pickup. When they stopped at the city blockade, there was some hasty radio traffic from the blockade to the city fathers, and then Leonard and his convoy was ushered into the city proper, with directions on where to take the cattle.

They probably wouldn’t have become lost. They were accompanied by two motorcycle mounted police. They both hung around until after the man in charge of the herd showed up with the payment, also accompanied by two motorcycle police officers.

After a quick inspection and tally, the man handed Leonard a small cloth bag. It jingled. “Your pay,” he said.


Leonard hadn’t asked how Tom would get paid, and the man didn’t offer up anything for Leonard to take back with him to Tom, so Leonard shrugged it off. The convoy headed back to Tulsa to pick up the load to Oklahoma City. They left by the same route they came in and there was no trouble when they went through the bandit’s roadblock. The individuals of the two groups just stared at one another as the convoy passed through.

They made it back to Tom’s ranch and picked up six more trailer loads of the beef cattle and headed southwest this time, bound for Oklahoma City, for the same deal as the run to Kansas City, except they had six beef carcasses hanging in Rig #1 reefer, paid for with a little of the gold.

They earned their money this big time, this time. The area had turned into what most people incorrectly thought the ‘Wild West’ had been like. Three times they were attacked on the road, simple roadblocks put on the roads to slow, more than stop, travelers.

The first one caught the convoy totally by surprise. Patrick was driving the pickup while Leonard dozed in the passenger seat. They were on the roadblock just around a turn in the road before they knew it.

A shot rang out and Leonard came awake. It took only a moment to take in the scene and Leonard yelled to Patrick to drive around the block and keep going. “Roadblock and attack!” he spoke into the radio’s mike and then dropped it to pick up the rifle clipped in a vertical rack in front of the dash.

It was one of the rifles he’d salvaged from the grocery warehouse fight. An original HK-91 with aftermarket 100-round dual drum magazine. Leonard braced himself and began to return fire the best he could. Which wasn’t very good. The truck was just bouncing too much.

The team responded well, however, and the prime movers were very stable rigs. With two people firing through gun slits in the sides of each of the rigs, protected by some of the armor plate taken from the salvage yard, the attackers ceased their attack after only a couple of minutes. Not only was the suppressive fire effective, the rigs, even going off the road, were fast. Not so fast to cause one of the less stable stock trailers to overturn, but close.

The travel tactics changed after the first attack. The pickup was loaded onto the #1 rig flat bed portion of the custom trailer and Leonard and Patrick joined the team inside. The H1 on #3 rig, Mike and Elmer joined that team inside the rig. The three women, occupying the middle position, stayed with the same crew.

The next attempted ambush went much the same as the first in the first few seconds. But with two men in small roof turrets, each with one of the HK-91’s with drum magazine, and two men at side firing port in the lead and trailing rigs, the attack came to a halt quickly. The convoy had overwhelming return fire coming from the lightly armored firing ports and turrets.

And Duncan hadn’t hesitated. He blew right through the roadblock, a simple row of automobiles across the road. The heavy front bumper of the prime mover barely had the paint scratched in doing so.

The third attack went much the same as the second. There were a few holes here and there in the rigs, and one steer was hit and killed, but the Leonard and his crews delivered the rest of the cattle to Oklahoma without further problems. There was no organized bandit guards trying to accost travelers. There was a roadblock, but it was manned by city citizens.

Leaving, on the other hand, turned out to be a bit of a problem. Possibly one of the same groups that had ambushed them, or some locals in the know, or, Leonard wondered, the powers that be in the city, had an ambush a mile outside the city’s roadblock.

Whoever it was, wasn’t a good ambush planner, fortunately. The stable platforms the high flotation suspensions of the prime movers made, allowed those firing from them to cut down the attackers one after the other as the rigs accelerated through the ambush site. This time Petey was driving, and the blockade was much bigger, being a Fargo armored car. Petey chose to take the ditch well ahead of the blockade rather than try to knock the armored car out of the way, or stop.

The charging prime mover ran over probably a third of attackers, whom had arranged themselves in the roadside ditch.

When they were well clear of the ambush Leonard stopped the convoy and they all took stock of the situation. There were a few more holes in the aluminum sheet metal, but the important parts of the rigs were all protected with armor and came through without a problem again. They did repair a couple of the run-flat tires, but they were built to take abuse and after the holes were filled with foam and an external patch, they were ready to go again.

Leonard called a quick meeting and told the crews what he wanted to do next. “I want to see if I can set up a regular run with a small refinery south of here a little ways.”

There a few shrugged shoulders, but no objections, and the convoy was on its way a few minutes later.

Two days of easy travel and they were at the refinery. There were several burned out vehicles around, including three semis with tank trailers. If anything, there were more guards around the place than had been there on Leonard’s first visit.

Andrew, sporting an arm in a sling, met Leonard at the gate when he had Duncan pull up where he could turn around if he needed to.

“I know you,” Andrew said, standing at the inner gate. You wanted to haul fuel.” He laughed. At least you have trucks… Sort of… But stock trailers? Come on!”

Leonard just smiled. “I’ll take nine thousand gallons if you’ve got it and a destination, if the price is right.”

Even at the distance they were from each other, Leonard saw Andrew’s eyes widen in surprise.

“I’ll get the boss.” Andrew turned and went toward the office structure. Leonard noticed that there wasn’t much activity going on in the refinery.

A couple of minutes later Andrew came back and let Leonard into the compound. When he took the same seat he’d taken on the earlier visit, the same man that had been across from him was there, too.

“Okay. What do you have to offer me?” the man asked.

This time Leonard noticed a name plate on the desk. George Reubens. “Well, Mr. Reubens, I have the capability of hauling from three thousand gallons to nine thousand right now, and if you want, I can haul fifty-one thousand at once, pretty much anywhere you want.

“Is that right?” George asked.

Leonard nodded. “From the looks of it, you’re having trouble getting fuel out of here.”

“How do you plan to manage that much fuel?”

I’ve got three three-thousand gallon tank and utility trailers, and I can get six seven-thousand gallon trailers.”

“Full length triples?”


“Load like that would be a prime target,” George said.

“My people go armed. We can hold our own as long as it isn’t an armored military unit trying to take us down,” Leonard replied.

“You should see the rigs, sir,” Andrew said. “I think they might be able to pull it off.”

“Okay. I’ll give it a look.” George got up and Leonard followed him and Andrew back outside. There was only a small flicker of surprise on George’s face, but Leonard saw it. George was intrigued. He was silent as he looked over the rigs, taking in the heavily armed group of people guarding them.

“How much you want for the rigs?” George suddenly asked.

“Not for sale,” Leonard immediately replied.

“Tell you what,” George said, turning his back on the rigs. “You get six-thousand gallons of diesel, and three thousand gallons of gasoline to Denver before winter and I’ll have a deal for you for the full fifty-one-thousand gallons. Pay a premium for that load to go through. Have to be done this winter, or the deal is off.”

“Where is this big load going?” Leonard asked.

“New York City,” George said.

Leonard pursed his lips in surprise. “New York. In the winter. And you’re right. There would have to be a premium. Okay.”

A bit more discussion took place over actual pay rates and pay arrangements. It included full fuel loads for the three prime movers onboard tanks in exchange for some of the food they’d brought with them for trading, for just such possibilities.

So, with the stock trailers parked outside the compound, the three multipurpose trailers took on two-thousand gallons of diesel and a thousand gallons of gasoline, each. Leonard didn’t like leaving the stock trailers behind, but there was no real use dragging them behind. The next load would be more fuel, not cattle.

They had barely left the refinery compound when they were set upon by five pickups, traveling at high speed, firing as soon as they came into range. Mike took care of two of them straight away with the Barrett. Expecting trouble, Leonard and the crew’s had prepared for it before they left the refinery. Mike and the Barrett was one part of the preps. All four of the HK-91’s were in up in other turrets with the best shots handling them.

Everyone else not driving had a rifle or carbine at a firing port. And one of the most effective weapons in Leonard’s arsenal was turned on the rest of the attackers. That was the rigs themselves.

Leonard had instructed that if attacked, they weren’t to run. The drivers were to head directly toward the attackers, stationary or mobile. With two of the attackers’ vehicles already down, dozens of rounds pouring into them, and the three big rigs bearing down on them, side by side, at high speed, the other three pickups swerved off track and took off across country.

There were cheers in all three rigs. Hopefully, when they came back for another load of fuel the word would have gone around that Leonard’s convoy wasn’t something to mess with.

With only the single multipurpose trailer, the convoy was able to travel at high speed when they were on good roads. Leonard was curious about how the prime movers would do in the mountains. He found out quickly when they got into New Mexico and turned north to go through Raton Pass into Colorado.

He was smiling broadly when all three units topped the pass going full bore, the big Cat 1,200 horsepower engines growling softly through the huge muffler stacks as the fourteen tires on each unit stuck to the pavement like glue.

Unlike KC and OKC, Denver was essentially open. Only people that really wanted to stay were there, most having left the first winter with no heat. Leonard still approached the city cautiously, making radio contact with the people the fuel was going to and getting an escort from just outside of town to the service station in the middle of town that was to receive the fuel.

As soon as the trailers were off loaded, Leonard headed the convoy back to the refinery in Oklahoma. With what he’d made so far, Leonard surprised George by buying outright the identical load they’d delivered to Denver.

The stock trailers were hooked up and the convoy headed home to drop them off, unload the fuel, and make another deal with Arley for six tank trailers. Thinking about it on the way home, Leonard decided to go after more than just the six tank trailers.

It took four of the beeves, two-thousand gallons of the diesel, and a thousand gallons of gasoline to do it, but Leonard basically had Arley’s entire fleet of trucks and trailers at his disposal for ten years.

It was actually less than Leonard was prepared to pay and he was happy with the deal. Alex had tank space so the rest of the fuels were off-loaded in his tanks, to be sold a little at a time to people Alex trusted and wanted to help out. Alex would get half the proceeds and Leonard the rest.

Leonard and the crews didn’t loose any time. After loading plenty of food and other consumables, they picked up the six best fuel trailers and high-tailed it back to the refinery. Though they weren’t using them, Leonard decided to keep the pickup and H1 on the flatbeds, just in case. If push came to shove and they needed the deck space, they would either tow them pup fashion, or drive them.

When they were at the refinery, waiting to be loaded, Mike took Leonard aside and said, “I was watching the skyline as we came in. We’re going to be attacked again when we leave. And unless I miss my guess, there are going to be more of them, better armed, and more determined than before.”

“What do we do?” Leonard asked. “You don’t think we can bull or way through like we did before?”

“Possibly. No one was hurt before, but the limited armor the units have won’t protect us against the lucky shot during a long running battle. And they might just try to light off the tanks this time if they don’t think they can take them.

“I’m inclined to do a little recon and see what is up. See if we can’t stop the attack before it starts. I’ve talked to Suzie. She’s game to go with me to check things out.”

Leonard thought about it for a few minutes, but then gave Mike the go-ahead. Their departure was delayed a day, the units parked close to the compound with the refinery guards around them while most of Leonard’s crew got some extra sleep.

It took him a long time to fall asleep, thinking about Mike and Suzie off on their recon, but he finally did fall asleep. He came awake quickly when he was called to the living area of Rig #1. Mike and Suzie were waiting for him. Leonard breathed a sigh of relief when neither of them seemed the worse for wear.

“What did you find out?” Leonard asked.

“Enough to know we can’t take them on the run the way we did the other time,” Mike said. “We’re going to have to go in and clean them out before they can take up positions. We drop the trains and go full bore with the prime movers shooting everything that moves and running over anything that doesn’t. Kind of an elephant herd attack. But we need to hurry. They’re still sacked out, with just a couple of guards. As soon as we start moving, they’ll know something is up.”

Leonard nodded. Petey and Duncan had been listening, as had Patrick. They went to tell the others and start unhooking the multipurpose trailers from the prime movers in the light from the again operating refinery.

Leonard went to let Andrew know what they were going to do. He would tell George. Leonard didn’t wait. If it was going to work, it needed to be done immediately. He planned on doing it whether or not George liked the idea.

Leonard went from unit to unit and checked to make sure everyone was ready. When he returned to #3 rig, he took up a carbine and lowered the passenger side window of the cab. “Punch it,” he told Petey.

The big Cat growled and smoke poured from the exhaust stacks. The other rigs were right with them as they pulled away from the refinery, gaining speed with every second that passed. They were traveling side by side, with Leonard’s rig slightly ahead. When Leonard reached down and flicked on the powerful auxiliary lights. The world in front of them became like daylight.

A couple of muzzle flash appeared, but Petey, and the other drivers never wavered, as they approached the crest of the small hillock behind which the camp was set up. It was very much like a wild elephant herd attack. The heavy rigs knocked vehicles and people around equally destructively.

Leonard firing at everything that moved in his slice of the world outside. When they had driven through the camp all three drivers turned around and went through again, wrecking every vehicle that wasn’t destroyed in the first pass.

Leonard heard a yell behind him, but had to keep his concentration on the fight outside. It was only when they went back to the refinery that he had time to find out what the yell had been about.

Duncan had a bullet burn on his cheek. A fraction of an inch to the left and he’d be dead. Patrick was already tending to the wound and Leonard left the rig to check on the others. Mike had been right. Their armor was limited. Suzie, working one of the top turrets of #3 rig had taken a round in her arm. But she said she’d received worse and sat calmly as Eleanor wrapped a compression bandage on the entrance wound and another on the exit wound.

Everyone else was uninjured, thankfully. As the sun came up, and the prime movers were once again attached to their train of trailers, Leonard told George they were heading out and it was up to him and his men to mop up on the other side of the ridge. George shrugged. “No problem.”

Five of the six seven-thousand gallon trailers were full of diesel, and the other with gasoline. They were the payload for Washington. Again Leonard had filled the multipurpose trailer tanks with a split load of diesel and gasoline for his own use. The convoy left the refinery soon after Leonard had talked to George. The crew watched a group of refinery vehicles head for the battle site. Leonard had a feeling there would be few, if any, survivors in the camp when George’s men were through. They’d been living under the gun for a long time.

Leonard set a fast pace, wanting to get to Washington and back home before the worst of the winter hit them. He’d been in contact with Alex by Amateur radio, and the harvest had gone well, which reassured Leonard. He’d been worried about not being there to help.

They kept the prime movers’ tanks topped off with fuel from the multipurpose tank in #3 rig, but sold a little diesel and gasoline here and there where people both wanted it and had the means to pay for it, mostly with gold and silver coins, which were becoming the common currency.

And, despite their total lack of inherent value, dollar coins began circulating for small purchases. Leonard had helped get it started, by accepting the coins as payment and guaranteeing to cash twenty of them in for a tenth-ounce gold Eagle if someone wanted. The practice spread, after many people did get the promised gold from Leonard and began to follow the practice themselves.

Leonard and the others were happy to get away from Washington, D. C. after they arrived. It was not a friendly place, and everyone was extremely careful while they were there. There was supposed to be a gun ban in the city, but Leonard refused to make the delivery if they had to disarm. One of the powers that be that were in charge had enough sense to make an exception and the delivery of thirty-five thousand gallons of diesel and seven thousand gallons of gasoline was completed.

There was a tense moment when the convoy was ready to leave. Leonard was told that they were required to pay a tax to do business in the city. Another thousand gallons worth of gasoline would just cover it.

Leonard said nothing. He simply walked to Rig #2 and had Duncan drive away, the other two rigs following close behind. Everyone was ready when they reached the roadblock they had to pass to leave the city. But though a whole line of people were lined up, with an awful lot of guns for a gun free city, no one fired a shot and the convoy left the city without further trouble.

They wasted no time getting home for the winter. When he arrived, Alex met him with a grin. “You’re becoming a legend,” he said. “Getting radio contacts for more loads, all over the country. Those with surpluses need a way to get them to whatever markets there are.”

That winter Leonard made a couple of runs locally with a single rig, using two of the multipurpose trailers, with a crew of five. After many discussions, Leonard had agreed with Gary that pulling the set of conventional trailers behind the multipurpose trailers wasn’t the best solution. What the business needed were more, oversize, purpose built trailers that could handle what two conventional trailers could. With no real DOT in existence, the trailers could be as big as it was practical to build, and that the prime movers could handle. Gary, Petey, and Duncan set about getting that done.

It would be a long process, but with the income Leonard was making, he was able to buy the necessary components and get them to the ranch. A new building was put up and all of Gary’s equipment was moved to it so the work could be done there, under the protection of the ranch security teams.

Things were getting very violent in the US, and Leonard was one of the few people willing to leave a safe haven to move goods from those that had them, to people that needed them.

With a couple of additional drivers trained, as well as fabricators to help Gary, Leonard set off after the spring planting was done, while Gary stayed behind to supervise the construction of more trailers, and take care of Leonard’s business. They had picked up numerous items on side deals on the earlier trips and Gary was selling them and the fuel alongside Alex’s food products.

Two of the new trailers were finished and ready to go when Leonard left. A sixty-foot long, 15,000 gallon, multi-compartment fuel trailer, and a sixty-foot long, twelve-foot wide reefer/box trailer. The reefer, used as a box trailer when the refrigeration unit wasn’t running, had a tailboard lift and carried a battery powered pallet handler. The batteries charged while the rig was on the road.

To make things easier to handle, the A-train dollies were discarded after the multipurpose trailers were converted to B-train style where a fifth-wheel was part of the rear of the trailer. As Gary had done on the prime movers, the fifth-wheel was cantilevered off the rear of the frame and designed to be stored between the frame rails when not in use.

With the changes, and the incorporation of the B-train fifth-wheel on all the new trailers, the trailers could be used in any combination without dollies, and the trailers could be dropped and the prime mover used to maneuver the individual trailers wherever needed.

With the new trailers behind Rig #1 and Rig #3, and two of the stock trailers behind Rig #2, the convoy headed for the first set of loads for that summer. There had been some discussion about splitting up and running the rigs individually, as Leonard had done locally. Leonard nixed the idea as too dangerous. There was security in numbers, and all efforts were taken to have loads and destinations close to one another so there would be the minimum of fuel and time wasted when one of the rigs had to deadhead when the others were loaded.


There was little trouble at first. But with the information exchange between the convoy and the ranch, people were beginning to figure out about where the convoy would be at any given time. That was the makings of an ambush. Or two.

The first one came halfway between Springfield, Missouri, and St. Louis, Missouri on I-44. The convoy was packing nearly full loads, all destined for a suburb of St. Louis that was holding on tenaciously.

Six-thousand gallons of diesel and nine-thousand gallons of gasoline from the Oklahoma refinery were in the big tank trailer.

The stock trailers carried one load of live cattle and one load of live hogs, from the ranch near Tulsa.

The big reefer, being used as box trailer, was partially filled with all the home canned goods the ranch could spare.

The reefer on Rig #1 multi-purpose trailer filled with fresh foods, milk, and eggs from the ranch under refrigeration. The reefer on Rig #2 held frozen meat from Alex’s ranch, including beef quarters, hog quarters, and whole chickens.

All three of the multi-purpose trailers were again filled with split loads of diesel and gasoline, bought for resale by Leonard.

The convoy was rolling smoothly northeast on the Interstate southwest of Rolla. There was no warning this time. They came up on the roadblock around a sweeping turn. It was too late to stop, and the roadblock spanned the entire width of the Interstate property, fence to fence.

Twenty guns opened up on Rig #2, in the lead as usual. Petey was driving, and at Leonard’s shouted order as he scrambled to get his rifle, Petey floored the accelerator and kept going. The bumpers had been beefed up even more than the original design over the winter, the experience with earlier roadblocks taken to heart.

#2 barely slowed down with the impact. #3 widened the opening slightly as the twelve foot wide reefer pushed through, like #2, increasing speed rather than reducing. By the time #1 got to the barricade everyone had weapons and was returning fire.

Leonard was on the radio with Duncan in #1.They’d taken a lot of rounds, but were still going. Leonard had Petey keep up the pace. Everyone in #2 was okay. After another mile, Leonard had Petey stop. The others followed suit and Leonard hurried out to check on everyone.

Mike immediately had the Barrett out, set up, and was prone behind it, covering their rear in case the attackers were following.

They’d been lucky and knew it. No one had more than a scratch, despite the numerous holes in the sheet metal of the rigs. Duncan and his crew were checking over the big tank trailer for damage. The crews from the other rigs were checking their units.

Finally, with the adrenaline rush fading, Leonard gathered everyone close to where Mike was so he could hear. “We got lucky, people. We’re going back to using a lead scout vehicle, as soon as we find a place we can unload the H1. And at least one person will be on alert, armed with a rifle, in each rig to provide immediate response in case of more ambushes.”

It was a somber group, well aware of their encounter with the ambushers had gone totally in their favor. A situation that was not likely to happen again.

It didn’t take long to find an embankment that could be used as a loading ramp for the H1. With it in the lead, manned with three people, the convoy got on the way again, more alert and ready than before.

The rest of the trip to St. Louis was uneventful. The loads were turned over to the new owners, in exchange for gold and some manufactured goods.

The convoy headed back to Oklahoma to pick up another, nearly identical load, bound for Indianapolis, Indiana, another strong hold of the times. Leonard, when he wasn’t on alert, kept thinking about ways to improve the operation, and make it safer.

This time the ambush came near Sullivan, Missouri, again at an overpass on I-44. Mike was able to give the rest of the convoy plenty of warning. The prospective ambushers, though there seemed to be more of them than in the last attack, didn’t know how to set up an effective ambush.

It was in plain sight from a distance, and Mike stopped, used the radio, and stood ready to return fire if the ambushers started anything. Leonard, stopped well back from Mike, went over the trucker’s atlas and found a way around the roadblock.

Not until the rigs were headed back the way they’d come, did Mike and Patrick fire up the H1 again and go after the convoy. They were back in the lead when the convoy left the Interstate to take side roads around the ambush site. It added a few miles to the trip, but Leonard and the others all agreed it was more than worth it.

Taking special care approaching the ambush site outside of Rolla, the convoy eased on through, without trouble this time. The signs of the ambush were still there, but that was all.

They stopped at the ranch for a couple of days to rest and recuperate and take on more food, and unload the farm equipment that Leonard had bought at St. Louis. Leonard’s pickup was also unloaded, to make room on the multi-purpose trailer for flat bed loads.

Gary and his work crew had finished the oversize stock trailer so the two conventional stock trailers were switched for the oversize trailer. That would make the entire convoy much more capable in rough ground, such as they might encounter avoiding an ambush.

Work was started on another oversize tank trailer, and an oversize flat bed trailer.

Leonard said nothing and paid off two of the people that had gone on the last run. They didn’t have the stomach for the gun work. With the money the crews were making, there was no shortage of people willing to go with Leonard now.

Leonard worked with Alex and Prissy on a communications code to try to help prevent the possibility of ambushers being able to pin down the movements of the convoy.

From the ranch, they went southwest to the refinery for fuel, and then to Tom Ingles Ranch to pick up the livestock, and by home on the way northeast to get fresh and frozen foods from Alex’s ever growing operation. With the H1 in the lead, the convoy headed for Indianapolis, by way of St. Louis.

As another way to avoid the possibility of ambushes, doable now that all the trailers were wide stance and stable off the road, that is what Leonard did. He took the convoy off the Interstate and took back roads around suspected trouble spots, even to the point of literally going off any road and cutting across vacant fields to pick up a different road, in case they were seen taking a specific road.

It added miles to the trip, but they had no trouble on the way to Indianapolis. Actually, to a compound in Eagle Creek Park, built on the shores of Eagle Creek Reservoir. They weren’t planning on going into the city proper. Their contact in Eagle Creek Compound warned Leonard against it.

The reason the Compound had developed over the last two years was the breakdown of authority in the city, and loss of services early on. Gangs had run wild and killed or driven out just about every honest, peaceful person there at the time of the President’s Peak Oil announcement.

“We’re careful here,” Justine, the Mayor of the Compound, said. “We keep our defenses up all the time. We trade a little with individuals still living in the city. Mostly things we can’t make ourselves. Those in the city just go from business to business, looking for anything they think might be of value to us.”

“I see. Thank you for the warning,” Leonard said.

As they were loading up to leave, Mike came up to him and asked for a private talk. “Sure,” Leonard said, leading Mike a little ways away from the others.

“I heard a chance remark by one of the guys unloading the trailers. Something I think we should check out.”

“What?” Leonard asked.

“Well, it seems that the Boone County Special Response Team has a Cadillac-Gage V-150 armored car in Zionsville. No military armament, but I think it could still be useful. Be safer checking things out than the H1. I’d like to check it out. See if it’s available.”

“I’m not sure exactly what one looks like, but if you think it would help us with ambushes, I’m all for it. You know how to get there?”

Mike nodded.

“Okay,” Leonard said. “You take us there and we’ll see what we can find out.”

It was late in the day when they got to Zionsville. The place was abandoned for the most part. The V-150 was easy to spot. It was stopped out in the middle of the main street, just sitting there. It was covered with graffiti.

Cautiously, Mike approached the vehicle and then looked inside. Everything looked intact, if dirty, from setting out in the weather with the doors and hatch wide open. When Mike tried the starter there was no response.

A set of batteries that would work were quickly swapped for the dead ones and Mike tried again. The engine turned over, but a quick look at the fuel gauge, working now with electrical power from the batteries, showed a possible reason the armored car wouldn’t start. The needle of the fuel gauge didn’t even come up off the peg.

Another few minutes and five gallons of fuel was added to the vehicle’s fuel tank and Mike, after priming the injector pump of the diesel engine, tried again. This time the engine fired, coughed, and then caught, rumbling quietly amid the cheers at Mike’s success.

“Let’s find the police station and see if they have some spares. And maybe a manual.”

It took a little while to find a telephone book to look up the address for the police station. Fortunately the telephone book had a map of the small town. The police station wasn’t far and the convoy, now plus one, went that way.

To Mike’s delight, he found most of what he wanted in the police garage. An extra set of run flat tires, an engine manual, and a basic operating manual for the V-150. There was a set of tools for it that had originally been carried on-board. They were loaded up inside with the manuals. The tires were handled with the pallet handler and manpower onto Rig #3 multipurpose trailer flat bed.

They didn’t see anyone the entire time. They were about ready to leave, when Mike was satisfied the engine and transmission of the V-150 were up to road travel. But he took Leonard aside again and said, “You know, Leonard, there might be some useful stuff in the police station. It’s abandoned, after all. What could it hurt if we took a look and salvaged whatever we could.”

Leonard had thought about trying to do some salvage, but it didn’t set very well with him. But Mike was right. The place was obviously abandoned. “Let’s do it,” Leonard told Mike.

The decision made, no time was lost going through the police station. Leonard was glad they did. Someone had beaten them to some things, obviously, from the way the inside was trashed. But one room had defeated the salvagers or looters, depending on how you looked at the situation. The evidence room had been broken into and, Leonard suspected, all the drugs and weapons being held taken for use by whoever had broken in the first time.

But the heavy steel door and cross bars of the other room were no match to the portable welding unit that was part of the prime movers’ basic equipment. Mike whistled loud and long at the treasure trove contained in the police station armaments room. Racks of weapons, case after case of ammunition, riot gear, soft body armor, everything a modern police force uses was there, in one quantity or another.

Leonard took it all, surprised the individual officers hadn’t cleaned the place out when things went sour. But he would put it to good use. Most of it was useable by his own people, particularly the body armor and the heavier weapons.

Among the items most coveted was a Barrett M82A1 almost identical to the one Mike already had. He and one of the men that was a mechanic were discussing rigging a mount for the V-150.

It was getting dark and Leonard didn’t want to hang around. They took up their positions in the vehicles, and Mike led off again, this time in the V-150 with two additional men, the H1 bringing up the rear with three men.

They didn’t go far. Mike found a large open area, and for the first time Leonard had the drivers of the vehicles actually pull around into a circle for protection. Guards were posted and everyone took a turn looking over the V-150 before eating supper and turning in.

The salvaging of the police equipment opened a door. Not that the operation was a democracy, it wasn’t, but Leonard preferred to have a consensus agreeable to what he wanted to do. He was reluctant to start salvaging on a regular basis, but could see the advantages for himself, his employees, and the places where the goods would eventually wind up when they were traded off, which most of the items would be.

So, despite the dangers Justine had warned him about, the convoy went into Indianapolis to see what they could find that might turn a profit in trade. Which was what Leonard and most of the group did. Oh, if they found something of personal appeal, it was taken and kept, with only a couple of the people only looking for themselves. Using the area telephone book they had hit likely spots and loaded up.

When they left the next evening, Leonard had to admit that they’d made a good haul, and only been shot at once. Leonard was taking Alex some equipment that would be useful on the ranch, and plenty of goods that those in rural areas would welcome in trade. Leonard had found that antique stores had many things that were useful in a limited fuel, limited electricity lifestyle.

With that in mind, and the goods to trade, Leonard had the convoy stopping in places, mostly small towns, where there appeared to be a peaceful group of people trying to stay alive and eek out a living. The trading and bartering became a standard, even on the trips with loads to specific destinations.

Word quickly spread, much as it had about the point to point hauls that Leonard was doing, about the trading stops. Prissy radioed Leonard a list of the towns near the route they were traveling that wanted him to stop.

A side benefit was that the localities that profited by Leonard’s business were much less likely to assist in any ambush plans, and very likely to actively try and prevent them. At the least, Leonard was warned more than once by locals of potential sites to avoid in their area.

With the trading going on, Leonard was asked, and agreed to, carry mail to and from the locations the convoys were going. That task stayed small, for the convoys were only traveling around the middle of the country.

The last trip that summer was to Marietta, Georgia, a suburb just north of Atlanta proper. Leonard noted Mike’s eagerness to get there with the load of fuel the town was asking for, in return for full loads of food stuffs going back north.

Leonard was situated now where he could buy loads he wanted for delivery where he wanted. He was able to make slightly more profit that way, and had more flexibility. Instead of much of the commerce going directly from buyer to seller, with Leonard just the transport, people and communities started contacting Leonard, through the ranch, to buy and sell goods that he would move where needed.

With the deal done in Marietta, again with no problems, Leonard sprung the news on Leonard. “I’ve been talking to some of the locals. Kennesaw is just north of here. From some of the documents I found in Zionsville, Kennesaw has a couple of the V-150’s that the government had sold or given to police units here and there.

“Kennesaw isn’t abandoned, according to my source, but I’m hoping you’ll be willing to try to do a deal for at least one of the V-150’s.

Leonard nodded. He was as sure as he could be that the presence of the armored vehicle, and the word of it getting around, was helping their security. The convoy took the short trip to Kennesaw to look for the V-150’s.

Leonard and Mike found them, all right. Mike’s eagerness to find them had been transmitted to those that had the two rigs under their control. Leonard saw the smiles on the peoples faces when the convoy came to a stop at the edge of the town. There was a whole crowd standing around the two V-150’s.

“I think I screwed up, Leonard,” Mike said sadly.

“Yeah. So be it. Might as well hear what they’re asking.”

Leonard and Mike went to talk with the man that appeared to be in charge. He was. Introduced himself as Mayor and owner of the two armored vehicles. Leonard saw the disgruntled looks some of the group gave the Mayor at his implied ownership of the V-150’s. It gave him an idea on how to handle the situation. Leonard had doubts about the Mayor really being the mayor.

He sure wasn’t going to do the trade that the Mayor wanted, which, when voiced, stirred a few more of his fellow citizens.

“We want a full delivery, like you took to some of the other cities, of food, fuel, and other things.” The ‘other things’ weren’t specified. “And a thousand ounces of gold.”

There were gasps all about, except from the Mayor and a couple of those standing close to him.

Mike gulp and muttered another apology to Leonard. “I see,” Leonard said, speaking more to the crowd than to the Mayor. “No deal. And we won’t be back. You’re blackballed.”

“What?” the Mayor yelled, amidst all the other yells, which unlike the Mayor’s, which was directed at Leonard, were directed at the Mayor. “Wait a minute!” the Mayor yelled, stepping forward. “You can’t do that!”

“Sure I can,” Leonard said. “It’s my prerogative where I do business. I’m not about to aid and abet this kind of activity. People think they can gouge me and everyone will try. I’ll give you fair value for the two rigs, and all the tires, spare parts, and whatnot that goes with them. Say, four-thousand gallons of diesel, two-thousand gallons of gasoline, and a hundred ounces of gold. And we keep doing business on a fair and equitable basis.”

The Mayor blustered and threatened and cajoled himself right out of his position as Mayor. An impromptu election was held right there in the road, and the new Mayor stepped up and shook Leonard’s hand. “You have a deal.”

Now there were cheers all around, with the new Mayor and Leonard surrounded and pounded on the back for making such a good deal now and for deals in the future. The ex-Mayor and his cronies left hurriedly when a few people began looking at them with fire in their eyes, possibly planning some harm for them.

The deal done, the convoy entered the town, picked up all the items related to the V-150’s, including a few things that Leonard wouldn’t have asked for, but took anyway since the town decided it was part of the deal.

The fuel was off-loaded, and the rest of the day was taken up by those in the town bartering with those in the convoy with goods to trade.

Unlike the V-150 picked up in Zionsville, these two units were pristine, though their fuel tanks were empty. On orders of the ex-mayor, unless Leonard missed his guess. Nothing was said about that and Leonard had them refueled with some of the diesel in Rig #3’s multipurpose trailer.

Feeling relatively safe, Leonard kept the convoy in Kennesaw that night. They headed out the next morning, with one of the V-150’s on a multipurpose trailer and the H1 and second of the Kennesaw V-150’s pulling tail-end Charlie duty.

Leonard, planning to lay over the rest of the winter at the Ranch, got word from Prissy that Rapid City, South Dakota was in dire need of food. Leonard asked the group and all were eager to help.

The convoy picked up everything they could at the ranch and dropped off the H1 and one of the Kennesaw V-150s. Next they went to the refinery and took on full loads of fuel. Stopping at Tom’s ranch, they took on all the stock that he had for sale, and then headed North as fast as they could safely go.

It was already late fall, and a hard one at that. Winter came whistling down from the Arctic, catching the convoy in the middle of Nebraska. Snow was coming down almost too fast to see to drive.

But all the drivers were experienced, and the convoy kept rolling. They normally stopped at night, because of the danger of attacks. The chance of an attack was slim in the middle of a blizzard, so they kept going in the snow. The V-150’s had no trouble making it, and neither did the prime movers, even with the heavy loads of their oversize trailers.

Leonard felt bad about the stock. There was nothing he could do. They all froze to death in the trailer. It was important to keep going during the cold weather so they could get them to their destination without them thawing. There wasn’t room for them in the reefers, even if they could figure a way to do it.

The blizzard kept going south and the convoy kept going north in the bitter cold. They pulled into Rapid City in the middle of the night and just parked where they were. The V-150 crews took to the rigs to get some sleep while two people stood guard until daylight.

It was some surprised residents the next morning when they ventured out and found the convoy sitting there. Leonard was up, drinking tea, when he saw the approach. In his heavy Carhartt Arctic parka and bibs, shoepacks on his feet, he went outside to talk to them.

He could immediately see that they were desperate for the food. All five of them looked gaunt in their heavy clothes. Arrangements were made to get the cargos unloaded. With numerous apologies, Leonard was paid three-quarters of the agreed upon price for the cargo and delivery. “Some of our people just couldn’t come up with much. We’re barely holding on here.”

Leonard nodded. “You can owe me for a while. Why do you stay here, in weather like this?”

“Our homes and lives are here,” said one of the men.


But another piped up. “But now… there is very little of either left. We’ve been discussing a mass move south, but it’s so dangerous out there. You are the only people willing to travel, seems like.”

“There is no way to do it,” said another. She looked around. “We’ll probably all die out here in just a matter of a couple more years, going the way we are.”

“Now, if we could hire you to move us…” said the fourth person, with a smile, obviously not meaning it.

“Well, why not?” Leonard said. “If you radio the details of what is needed to the ranch, we might just be able to do it next summer. That is, if you have a place to go.”

“You’re serious?” asked the fifth person.

Leonard nodded. “Need a few conventional trucks in addition to ours for the goods, and some busses for the people. Actual travel time would only be a few days, barring problems. Say, five ounces of gold per person, or the equivalent, and the rights to salvage what we want in the city, I’m sure we can do it.”

The five looked around at each other.

“Everyone in the area is going to have to be told about this and make their own decision,” said the woman.

“Of course,” Leonard replied. “You just radio your decision and the particulars sometime before mid-spring. If it’s a go, we’ll need to do it late summer, early fall, to avoid the worst of the weather.”

It took four days of cold, hard, nasty work to get the dead stock out of the trailer. But it was done before things started to warm up a little and they lost none of the meat to spoilage, though there was some loss in the moving process.

Leonard and the others were glad to be headed back south when everything was unloaded and cleaned up.

Leonard’s plan again was to lay over at the ranch, but when they arrived, Prissy had several messages waiting for him. People all over the country had things they wanted to trade for the things they needed. Leonard talked to his crews, and all but one was willing to keep going. The one dissenter was easy to replace. There was a standing list of people that wanted to be a part of Leonard’s operation.

So Leonard and crew set out again, in the midst of winter, At least they were going south. To Galveston, TX, to pick up three big reefers of frozen fish for distribution to points north. Leonard was buying it with beef and fresh foods, and would sell it in turn, where people would take it for what they had to sell.

Leonard Dobbs - Peak Oil Entrepreneur – Epilog

While he was in the Houston and Galveston area, he made a concerted effort to find the second turnkey, skid mounted refinery like the one operating in Oklahoma. There was a certain exploratory oil well in southeast Missouri that would produce useable amounts of fuel, if he could get his hands on both the refinery and power plant for it. The well had been capped after test pumping, as it wasn’t productive enough, at the time, to be put into production. But any oil is more oil than no oil.

Leonard went off on his own, on foot, checking the names of the ships for a likely one. He found it, finally. There were even some people aboard. The Captain and half a dozen of the crew. It was like taking candy from a baby. The group was living on fish. For a mixed load of food and fuel, so the ship could head to South America, the cargo was his. But it would need to be quick. The first chance they had of getting fuel and they were gone.

Taking them at their word, Leonard expedited the trip they were on, and headed for Oklahoma for the fuel and back to the ranch for the food. As soon as he found the rig, Leonard had contacted Prissy. She was putting out the word that Leonard wanted drivers for a special run.

He would have liked to have made the move all in one run, but there just weren’t enough drivers willing to take the chance, even with Leonard’s assurance that there would be an armed escort the entire way.

So they took three runs to move the refinery to southeast Missouri. The oil well was out in the middle of nowhere, fenced off, the pump still installed, but without a motor. Which didn’t matter much since they had no way of powering the refinery anyway.

Leonard put out the word, through Prissy and the Amateur radio network that he was looking for a Caterpillar multi-unit shipment on the highways of the US, somewhere. He knew it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but it couldn’t hurt any to try, he decided.

But with enough shaking of the haystack, the needle will drop out. It never occurred to Leonard that the power plant would be at one of the Caterpillar plants. He thought it was on the road, somewhere. It took only two trips to get the power plant from Peoria to the refinery in Southeast Missouri.

Now he had it, Leonard realized, but who was going to run it. It took some time, but Leonard found enough people with refinery experience, willing to move to the refinery site, to get it up and running the following year.

Leonard wasn’t there when the power plant first produced electricity, or when the refinery produced its first gallon of fuel. He was in the process of moving everyone from Rapid City, South Dakota, that wanted to head south for greener pastures. He was able to round up more drivers and trucks than he had to get the refinery. Word was getting around Leonard’s was the outfit to work for.

It was a convoy matched only by a military mobilization. Besides the three Kenworth prime mover rigs, there were eleven automobile haulers, twenty-three buses, and fifty-one semi trucks pulling double flatbeds or box trailers.

It took several days to get to Lubbock, with whom the Rapid City residents had arranged to take them in. To avoid wasting fuel, most of the trucks and busses were left where they would be safe, and the drivers that didn’t opt to stay in Lubbock were bussed back to their homes.

With the Missouri refinery working, Leonard was able to sell fuel for less than he had to when getting it from Oklahoma. George saw the handwriting on the wall and eased up his pricing, too. The full production of both refineries was being consumed as quickly as it was produced, but Leonard refused to gouge in order to get more for the fuel. It was too important for the recovery of the country.

There were small cottage industries starting up all over the country. The few cities that continued to exist somewhat as before were the only sources of technical items, other than mining them in abandoned cities. Scavenging and salvaging could be a very dangerous occupation, and often as not, the specific item wanted wasn’t found, anyway.

Mostly what was wanted by most of the rural areas of the country were medium tech things, or electrically powered items that could be converted to manual power. There was also a market for conversion units, where gasoline or kerosene was available. Gasoline motors to drive formerly electrical units, and kerosene for heating, lighting, and absorption refrigeration units.

Manual and gasoline powered washing machines. Manual sewing machines. Non electrical water well pumps. Small biodiesel plants and stills for making alcohol fuel were needed and wanted. Wood gas generators to convert light and medium trucks were marketable.

Those in the cities wanted food. Fresh vegetables and fruits. Meats. And preserved food of all types. Coastal towns provided fish. The fishing became better and better as the seas recovered from the heavy over fishing pre-Peak Oil. Those with oar or sail boats did well. Those with diesel powered fishing boats, when they could get the diesel fuel, did tremendously well.

Though firewood became a major commodity, the forests began to re-grow faster than they were consumed.

Some thought that the re-commissioning of several coal fired steam locomotives from railroad museums would compete with Leonard’s almost monopoly of transport. Though it took a few markets away, where the tracks went through towns, Leonard got even more business than before taking things to and from rail heads.

Things returned to a 1890’ – 1920’s technical capability fairly quickly, with some specific higher technical processes and goods available in some areas, mostly cities.

One thing in particular was more similar to the fifteen hundreds operations. That was the acquisition of spices from where they were grown, brought to the US and distributed. Modern transportation, where available, was used, almost exclusively in the US, but the adventurous souls that took up the trade at great risk, reaped great profits. The same was true for tea and coffee. Both were nitch markets, but very profitable, and very dangerous.

Though it was many years before the open areas of the US were as crime free as before Peak Oil, Leonard began sending out convoys composed of conventional trucks and trailers, accompanied by a well manned and armed V-150 and an equally well armed and manned prime mover with two or three of the oversize trailers.

Gary had completed several different versions of the oversized trailers that the prime movers could use so effectively. Years later, when Leonard’s efforts in the time immediately after the Peak Oil announcement were recognized, the prime movers and the trailers were a big part of the monument.

Copyright 2008
Jerry D Young