Our family was traveling on foot,
With our meager possessions in our packs.
We were traveling in a suburb of some city in California,
Walking down the paved streets
That checkered through the housing subdivision.
There was nothing special about this housing subdivision;
We had traveled through many of them before.
They could have been from any suburban subdivision in the United States.
The houses were mostly without inhabitant,
Though there were a few here and there that had people living in them.
Yards for the most part were dry and barren, as most vegetation had dried up long ago and had not yet returned.
The houses were usually watched by cams from the street lights,
so that if anyone was trying to break in the windows or doors of the vacant house, they would be easily identified and end up getting caught by the authorities. For this reason, most homes still had all their windows and doors intact.
One always traveled with some kind of gun or weapon,
For you never knew when one would try to rob you of whatever you had left.
Those still in their houses, were well fortified with ammunition, and did not fear the casual small group of wanderers.
But they still watched us closely as we traveled past their homes.
We came to one home dweller, who was outside in front of his garage, doing some kind of maintenance to his portable garden box.
These portable garden boxes were usually about the size of a window ledge flower box, and within them were planted the special greens and herbs that were favored by those who tended them. These herb boxes were so common, that it seemed as if everyone had them, no matter if you were a traveler or if you still stayed in a home.
This man, the one who still lived in his home, was out letting his box of herbs get some sunshine. He had a cat, who was trying to eat some of the herbs from the man’s box, but the cat was having a hard time trying to chew on the thick leafed plant.
The man seen us walking by, and gave us a brief nod of greeting. So we commented to him, that it looked as if his cat was having a hard time trying to chew on the leaves he had given it, and that cats sometimes liked to chew on grass instead.
When the man said that he had no grass for it to chew on, we showed him our box, and told him we would be willing to trade some of our grass, (we had a small clump of wheatgrass,) for some needed items, if he had them and was interested.
He was, but what we needed, and what we had to trade, was not even in value, so we pulled out our handkerchief, and looked to see how much money we had left, to see if we could somehow still make the trade.
We spread out our handkerchief, and I could see small flecks and chunks of silver. There were a few very short pieces of silver wire, a tiny link from a bracelet, and some short strands from a silver necklace, but for the most part, the silver pieces consisted of odd pie-shaped coin clippings, that once made up and had formed our old 1964 and earlier silver dimes and silver quarters.
We offered him a few of the larger silver pieces, (the ones that had been clipped from an old silver quarter,) and two of the smaller clippings from a silver dime, but he wanted something more as well, something that was not silver.
“Do you have any keys?” he asked.
We looked at each other in some puzzlement, as this seemed like an odd request.
We shrugged our shoulders. “No,” we responded to him, “Not really. Just an old house key from when we used to live in Austin, Texas. But that’s not made of silver or even brass, and it was from many years ago. I’m sure they’ve changed the locks on the house it used to belong to by now.”
But as soon as we said that we had such a key, the man’s face lit up and he said that if we threw that in the pot, then it would be a done deal.
So we gave him the old house key and the few chunks of silver, and as we were loading up our purchased provisions, we asked him what he was going to do with the old house key. (This man lived in the state of California, and the only method of travel was by foot or by horse. So traveling to Texas somehow seemed out of the question for one who already lived in a house.)
It turns out that in the area we were passing through, there was a new fad, that could make or break a trade deal, and it was the addition of some kind of key. It really didn’t matter what kind of key it was, or if it was even known what it was the key to. What mattered was that it was a key to something that had once been kept under lock and key, meaning something of value.
House keys were worth the most, but car keys and other keys were also worth quite a bit. Once the key was in one’s possession, it was like the equivalent of buying a lottery ticket. One could go from vacant house to vacant house, (or from car to car, or lock to lock,) in the hopes that the key might just be similar enough to the original key of that house (or whatever item,) to actually open up the lock. If you were able to open up the house (or car or whatever,) you would be able to claim ownership of that house, at the very least for many, many days, and maybe even be able to gain permanent ownership of it. (The authorities figured if you had the key to the house, then the house was really yours.) It was like winning a hotel stay at a luxury vacation home, that had the possibility of becoming permanent.
If the key did not open up any of the homes (or whatever) in your area, you could always trade it to someone else from another area, and to them it would be just like a new lottery ticket, where they could start the whole process over again in the hopes that they might be holding the one magic key to open up an unused home. If none opened up in their area, they could still trade it to another, and pass it on that way.
To us, it didn’t seem right somehow, It seemed more like a scam. But we could see why it held a certain appeal. Now a days being able to acquire a home legally, was nearly impossible.
But the Lord had told our family to move, and He had not yet told us to stop. So we said goodbye to the man, and continued on in our journey, thankful that we now had the provisions we needed.
I then woke up from the dream.
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