Desperate Times by Nicholas Antinozzi
Imagine waking up to the horrific news of an economic cataclysm. Around the globe, investors have panicked and the markets are on the verge of collapse. The unthinkable has happened. There is a run on the banks and the dollar is in a free-fall. With time running out, you rush out the door and try to prepare for the worst-case scenario; only to learn that hyperinflation has arrived and prices have already begun to skyrocket. This is the sad beginning of Desperate Times.
The tale is told through the eyes of an average Joe, Jimmy Logan. Jimmy’s employer, Ken Dahlgren, is waiting for him at the time-clock as he arrives for work. Jimmy is blissfully unaware of what is happening in the outside world, but Ken orders him into his office and gives him the bone-chilling news. Ken and his wife, Patty, own a lake home in northern Minnesota. For years, Ken and Patty have secretly prepared their northern retreat for this looming crisis. Ken invites Jimmy and his live-in girlfriend, Paula, to join a select group of close friends to ride out the storm. After quickly explaining his plan to Jimmy, Ken hands him an envelope filled with cash and the keys to the company truck. He then orders Jimmy to head into Saint Cloud and buy whatever he can lay his hands on. He allows Jimmy enough time to make a quick pit-stop at his trailer home, to explain the situation to Paula and for the two of them to pack their clothes, just as fast as they can.
Jimmy decides to give Paula the news in person, before driving to Saint Cloud, but his plan quickly unravels and Jimmy is forced to make some hard decisions. Ultimately, when he arrives to join the caravan that has assembled at Ken’s, Paula isn’t sitting next to him. But that doesn’t mean that Jimmy has arrived alone. Jimmy’s unemployed neighbor from the trailer court, Bill Huggins, and Bill’s daughter, Cindy, are ill-prepared for the future and Jimmy doesn’t have the heart to leave them behind. Ken and Patty are devoted Christians, knowing this, Jimmy gambles that they won’t turn them away. When they arrive, Jimmy sees that Bill and Cindy aren’t the only people seeking refuge from the storm. He soon learns that Patty has quietly spent the day on the telephone, extending invitations, which infuriates her husband. There is an argument, but Patty stands her ground.
Reluctantly, Ken is forced to accept the fact that plans have changed. The departing caravan is many times larger than he had envisioned, but conditions are rapidly deteriorating and not everyone will survive the trip.
Bordering Ken’s lake property is a resort which has been dormant for many years. Sally, the old woman who owns the resort, still lives there and she has invited up a group of her own. Sally’s people continue to pour in and soon outnumber them. While Ken strictly rations supplies and immediately puts his people to work, Sally’s group acts as if they’re on an extended vacation. The party next door never seems to stop, and it isn’t long before some of those inside Ken’s camp begin to question his authority.
Crisply rewritten in December of 2012, Desperate Times introduces a diverse cast of characters to one of civilization’s worst nightmares. This powerful story is both thought-provoking and hauntingly realistic. Initially, the issues raised are seemingly black and white; but friendship and loyalty, moral convictions and survival, slowly become gray areas as the story unfolds.