Enter into the Valley - strange things are happening, at least as far as the local population was concerned.
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Six young people came to the conclusion that the whole world was heading for disaster. The government was no longer anything vaguely resembling the picture most people had of it. The bureaucratic empire-¬builders, the special interest groups, the politicians themselves, for the most part, cared little about those people they supposedly represented and this was slowly becoming something entirely different, a kind of government of itself, by itself, for itself, self-protecting and self-perpetuating, but huge cracks were forming in its foundations.
Overpopulation was rapidly proving old man Malthus to be correct in his doctrine that a finite object like the earth could not feed an infinite population. Instead of living, breeding, and dying in their mud huts and tin shacks without once ever questioning the way things were, they were shown all the marvels and wonders of flush toilets, the pleasure of a full belly, the power of a dollar, and, quite reasonably, they wanted it for themselves and their children.
Excerpt - From Chapter Four
"Should have cooked that cabbage longer last night," Verlie said by way of explaining his flatulence. Lord, he thought, as Tooley snickered again, am I really sitting here trying to explain a fart to a half-senile old man who was never too bright anyway? Fortunately, his train of thought was re-routed before it reached the place where he would have to, in all honesty, admit that he was a year older than Tooley, and face the uncomfortable idea that he might not still be so sharp himself.
"Look, Verlie, here comes another one," Tooley said, jerking his thumb toward the restaurant parking lot. "No," he amended, "it's the same one as before."
For the second time that morning, a dark blue diesel truck pulling a long low-boy trailer eased into the parking lot and stopped with a short hiss of air brakes. A large orange bulldozer was firmly chained to the trailer, and after he hopped down from the cab, the driver made a complete circuit of the rig, carefully bumping tires and checking tie downs before he entered the restaurant.
"No, it isn't the same one," Verlie stated firmly. "It's another one."
"Now how in hell can you be so sure of that?" Tooley exploded. "It's the same color, same make, same load, and damned if it don't look like the exact same driver wearin' the same dark blue coveralls." Tooley's voice rose querulously. "You always did think you was so damned smart about everything. Well, you're wrong this time." He smacked his hand against his stringy thigh to emphasize the last words. "It is the same one!"
"Ah, calm down Jackson and look for yourself, if you can still see that far. I'm beginning to think the DMV was right in not letting you have another driver's license." Verlie pointed to the truck. "See that circle on the door, the one with the white lines in it?"
"Yeah, I see it," Tooley said, squinting in the direction of the truck. He wasn't about to admit that the circle just looked like a blob of white to him.
"Well look right under it. See the number? It's an eight. The other one had a seven in the same place." Verlie paused, glanced at Tooley out of the corner of his eye, then continued. "You don't really think he pulled out of here toward Leland, stopped, repainted the number, and then turned around and came back to Havelock for another cup of coffee, do you?"
"No," Tooley answered grudgingly. He had really been wrong on this one, but he wouldn't give Verlie the satisfaction of admitting it. "Besides, the coffee isn't that good anyway. Why I can remember when a nickel cup of coffee only cost a nickel and refills were free." Tooley was drifting a little. "When Marylou was alive, she had the coffee pot on all the time. I can almost smell the..."
"Jackson." Verlie interrupted before Tooley could free-associate clear back to the story of his childhood. "What do you suppose is going on? They only use that kind of equipment for road work or heavy clearing." He thought a moment. "If it's coming through here, it's got to be something between here and Leland because if it was beyond Leland, they'd have come in on the Interstate." He scratched his chin thoughtfully. "It isn't between here and Cookville either, that's for sure."