From: Kent Ballard
To: Lyle Davis
I too am a close friend of Mr. Ballard. Although you have been friends for over twenty years, I've known the man all his life and live much closer to him. I visit him frequently. You could almost say we share the same mind at times, given our closeness.
Interestingly, Mr. Ballard does not consider himself a survivalist. He merely considers himself prepared as possible for serious emergencies. Like you, however, I think it's more than that, because often what he does or stockpiles seems indistinguishable to me between a well-prepared man and a survivalist.
In fact, I am visiting Mr. Ballard today. He opened the door and showed me in, then explained he wanted to read one last message on his email before visiting. He made me a cup of coffee, gave me his latest "National Geographic" and excused himself for a moment. Shortly he returned to the table, chuckling. When I asked what he found humorous, he said he'd gotten an email from an old friend who had dreamed "he was in an emergency with a rifle then realized he didn't have any ammo for it." Kent continued to grin widely while pouring himself a diet cola, then sat down to talk. We chatted for just a few moments before his telephone rang. It was yet another major Hollywood studio making him an offer for the movie rights to one of the fine stories he's had printed in your wonderful publication, "The Paper."
"Got business, " he whispered to me. "These Californians pester me all the time. Excuse me for a moment. This guy sounds like Chico Marx on speed." Kent then walked into another room. Once I was alone, I wandered over to his computer to read your message, which was still onscreen, and felt I should clarify a few things about him for you.
The rumors of mad gunfire coming from his estate at all hours, tales of massive explosions on his property, and his mysterious comings and goings have all been greatly exaggerated and stem mostly from his dreadful fear of snakes. Why any man who hates snakes as much as he does would buy a home in the middle of a forest remains a mystery to everyone, but in fact that's what he did. Kent is a gregarious man, quick to make friends, and a wonderful host. He simply treasures his privacy at times. It's incredibly hard to find his property while driving the insane mud trails his county calls "roads," and once you do I suggest not attempting to merely walk up to his house in the night without making a cell phone call from your car at the locked gate first. If your cell phone will work at all. There's not much coverage out here. Kent once tried to explain the concept of "defense in depth" to me, but I fear my understanding of military matters is somewhat limited. It's a third of a mile between his gate and his home, the drive traveling through a mixture of flat, open land and twisting curves surrounded on both sides by dense forest. I've never seen a single camouflaged anti-tank gun hidden with it's barrel pointing out towards his drive, so allow me to lay that rumor to rest too. Not that a few couldn't appear suddenly, mind you. Kent is a master machinist. But I repeat, I've never seen one.
Nor do I subscribe to the rumor he owns more firearms than the Connecticut National Guard. I believe he simply rents them. I don't believe his house is large enough to hold the arsenal he's said to have. But I can assure you, he is never concerned about running out of ammunition. Mr. Ballard even has boxes of ammunition for weapons he does not own. When asked about this, he grows uncharacteristically quiet. Perhaps simple shopping mistakes? Or another idea that came to him? I don't know and don't bring up the subject.
Kent is prepared, indeed. But prepared for what isn't exactly clear. My best guess is anything from a nuclear strike to the power grid falling for months, to simple burglars, to the occasional VW bus full of groupies who love him for his writing. (The letters he receives from them would make an anvil blush!)
It's interesting you should mention his innocent but unusual ways. Kent was recently musing to me about a future article for The Paper which would teach folks the basics of being prepared for almost any emergency--and how to prepare for it on a shoe string budget. I'll give the man this much--he knows more tricks than a card shark and is craftier than a professional magician. Given our wild and dangerous Midwest storms which can spawn anything from 90 mph straight line winds to floods to tornadoes to white-out blizzards, I know he's had to practice his "preparedness" under many different circumstances, at temperatures ranging from arctic to equatorial, with and without the electrical grid, and seemingly enjoy himself immensely while doing so. It has been at times like these his friends have realized he's not as quirky as they thought. In fact, he's merely practical in ways most of us never thought to be. This has allowed him on many occasions to lend a badly needed hand to his friends and neighbors who have found themselves in dire straits due to inclement weather or local disruptions of different kinds.
Your article may have misled some into thinking Kent is a Mormon. He is not. However, he admires some of their characteristics.
He will be off the phone soon, so in order to send this before he returns I'll simply say that when the rest of us are hungry and freezing in the dark, I fully expect Kent to be propped up on his couch, eating hot popcorn and watching movies in a warm home. And most likely with several dreadfully lethal firearms within easy reach. I'm glad to be his friend.
I would not want to be his enemy.
Yr. Obdt. Svt,
Mr. Hector Askew
On 3/9/2011 10:42 AM, Lyle Davis wrote:
> Strange, where dreams take us.
> Had a dream this morning where a national emergency was declared and sirens sounded; all radio, tv, and computers were filled with messages that when the sirens sounded next, we were to take cover. We had about 15 minutes to gather up what we needed and then head to a gathering point, or a bunker, I don't remember which.
> I was alone. No family, loved ones, or friends around. Not even my puppy, Trixie. I grabbed a rifle (I don't own a rifle!) and that was all I could think of to grab. I don't believe I even had ammunition for the rifle. The fifteen minutes flew by and the siren sounded. I had a rifle. No ammunition, no food, no water, no money, no extra clothing, no medication, no family, no loved ones, no friends. Not even my puppy, Trixie.
> And we were gathered together . . . a bunch of lost souls, some better prepared and supplied than others.
> Somewhere around this time I awakened.
> This time I'm gonna dream about relaxing on a sandy beach, with warm tropical breezes caressing my Adonis like body (hey! It's a dream! I can be anybody I want!) I may even dream up a Mai Tai or Margarita, or two. Or more.
> This afternoon I'll go shopping and buy some bullets for that rifle I don't have.