Beamo’s Gold part 10
Beamo and the outlaws debate ancient history.
After Bonehead finished his musical tributes he told stories of Retry’s life and adventures. The deceased biker had been the last of the original Lick’s Gang that had been led by Philindra Lick, Bonehead’s Grama. He then ordered a tall platform to be raised so that Retry could be buried in the sky in accordance with his wishes.
Chuckles finally showed up that afternoon. He stumbled into the main camp and found his tent. He had been wandering the dangerous mountainside all night and half the day. I was relieved he hadn’t been ninjing around trying to snipe at me.
Still no Tee. The guileful bastard knew what he was doing, was making the right chess moves to confound me. Instead of getting to confront him face-to-face about being with his sister Little Bit in front of the entire gang like I planned, he kept back. His tactic was clear: Keep me as well as his gang off balance not knowing when he would show up. That way I wouldn’t be ready when he chose the time and place to come at me.
After Retry’s funeral, Little Bit pulled me aside. She had a bar of homemade soap scented with rose hips. It was now the hottest part of the day and we sneaked off to a secluded part of the beaver pond, stripped, and skinny-dipped for an hour in the cold water. We lathered each other up, washed our clothes then hung them on willow branches to dry in the sun.
After some sixty-nine fun in the warm grass, we collected our clothes and went back to the main camp. She put her little tent back up close to the others. I carried out my bedroll from my cycle, the beautiful striped hide of the big cat I killed in the Wasteland country five years before.
Little Bit spent time caressing the white-with-black-stripes fur of the tiger then had me lay down on it. She gently rubbed the gouges on my back with her poultice of honey mixed with spider webs and pulverized wild lettuce.
We dozed for a while in each other’s arms. When the sunlight slipped down behind the mountains we got up. It had turned cold. Little Bit gave me another pint bottle of good whiskey. She wrapped up in a blanket and then we joined the outlaws at the dual campfires.
Hopper and Joro had sneaked up on a herd of bighorn sheep a mile up the mountain from the main camp. The bighorns were so docile, having never seen people before, that they were able to knock two half grown ewes down with rocks then run up and finish them with their knives.
We sat around the dual campfires and ate the braised lamb. Major Kaim and his three goons had returned but Tee was still not back. Wolves howling close by replaced coyote yipping and yapping. The big wolf pack caught the scent of the butchered meat and surrounded us. Everybody sat around with rifles cocked, ready to rock-roll.
“Beamo, how ‘bout yous tell us some mo ‘bout what all is in hem books yous dug up?” Hopper asked between stuffing his mouth with greasy meat.
“Naw, Bonehead would get irritable and that would be bad for his digestion.” I smiled.
“Go ‘head an’ spout yous nonsense, Roamer,” Bonehead snapped back. “Go ‘head, maybe yous lips movin ‘il entertain these hard riders.”
I looked up at Retry’s grave platform silhouetted against the last of the glowing light. He was there wrapped up in a white linen sheet. I gave in.
“Well, there’s all kinds of books. It’s true, most of them I found in those old library vaults and gun safes ain’t worth anything but the ones that are great I wouldn’t do without. They break down into three types: First is make-believe, what they call fiction. Then you have non-fiction that is supposed to be true. The third type of book is called poetry. My favorite fiction is the adventure stories like by Er-nest Hem-ing-way and Jack Lon-don. When I read to my work crews at the campfires they liked the funny books by Mark Twain. They also like the Char-les John-son book called Middle Passage about a freed thrall who stowaways on a thrall ship to escape getting married.
“My favorite non-fiction is the science books and the history books. It is amazing how much of our evolution they had worked out by the end. They pretty much charted out an outline of our ancestry, what animals we are descended from.”
“Thas malraky,” Bonehead said. “We didn’t come from no raccoons.”
“No, but we have a common ancestor with raccoons,” I said. “Where did we come from if not from the lower animals?”
“Every mama’s son knows peoples are just fleas that jumped off of giant a-ilians that came down from outtaspace,” Bonehead proudly gave his pronouncement. He continued his dissertation for our enlightenment: “All hem ruins a giant buildings and bridges that used to go over the mile-wide rivers; those a way too big to be built by little peoples like us. Hem giant a-ilians built all hem things. When the people fleas gots too thick, then the a-ilians moved out to ‘nother planet. Just like we move out of a cabin when the fleas and bed bugs get too bad. That’s where the Mericans came from and why there was so many of ‘em thowsans yers ago. When the a-ilians left, hem Merican fleas bred too much and polluted everthin’ then died off.”
“I get tired of dudes saying everything that they can’t explain must be ‘cause of a-ilians.” I shook my head. “Anyway, people are descended from apes, not raccoons.”
“Wat-er apes?” Roofy asked.
“They’re big animals that look like the little monkeys they have at the circus only they don’t have a tail. They kind of look like people only they’re covered with fur and they walk on their knuckles cause their arms are real long from swinging on trees. We are directly descended from monkeys then apes.”
“Ious calling yous out on that bullshi, Roamer,” Bonehead said. “Ious nevers gots to go to the circus and Ious don’t know wat’s yous talking ‘bout. If our great-great granddaddies are monkeys then why are the monkeys still around at the circus?”
“Yeah,” Chuckles snarled.
“I’ll tell you why, outlaw. If some of the citizens from Ha-Ha County moved down from the Zark Mountains to start Crans County on the banks of the Missysip, and two hundred years later you have Crans County citizens, that doesn’t mean you can’t have Ha-Ha County citizens still living too.”
“Sounds like yous talking ‘bout hem boggymos, the wholly-bullies,” Hopper Leap said with an anxious face. “Hems look like eight-foot-tall people only covered in hair.”
“I know,” I said. “Those creatures are mystery. Even the ancient Mericans couldn’t catch one despite all the tech they had and the fact there was almost nowhere left for the boggymos to hide.” I finished my bottle, stood, and threw it out into the rocks where I thought the wolves were. Little Bit passed me another. I popped the cork out then sat back down.
“Hem boggymos creep me out,” Packit said. “On our farm sometimes all the birds stop singin’ and yous knows hems around. Wese hear hem hollering at night, making all kinds a racket. Moma wouldn’t let us yellow-haired kids go out and pick blackberries ‘cause of hem boggymos.”
“Hem wild-childs never bothered me,” Bonehead said. “Ious gots yellow-red hair. Sometimes when Ious was on-the-run bivouacking when Ious was a kid, hem wild-childs came around and tickle my feet. Thas the worst hems ever did to me. In fact, five year ago Ious was starving afta the sky didn’t give much light the last time the sea caught on fire. An old, grey-white, nine-foot-tall wild-child led me to some deer stuck in a snow bank. Afta Ious kilt a buck and a doe, Ious shared the feast wit the old wild-child too.”
“Maybe you are related to ‘em,” I said. I pointed to the boney ridge that ran over his eyes that he always tried to hide with his bangs.
“Maybe Ious am. And Ious proud of it too.” Bonehead acted like he didn’t give a phuuk but the truth was he let his bangs grow until the end.
“I guess evolution can go in reverse,” I said smiling. Little Bit took her arm out from around my arm. It was subtle but she scooted away from me too.
“Ha, ha, ha, ha, Roamer,” Bonehead mock laughed.
I took a big swig from the second whiskey bottle and my smile got bigger. I handed the bottle out to Bonehead. He didn’t take it. My smile went down to a frown but I kept holding it out to him.
“Come on, Bonehead,” I pleaded. “It don’t matter to me your daddy was a wild man lurking out in the woods. Drink with me.”
“Yous somethin’ else, Roamer.” Bonehead finally snatched the bottle out of my hand and took a long sip. “Somtime Ious thinks yous some kinda a-ilian, the shi yous come up with.” He shook his head and passed me back the bottle.
“Hey, Ious wants to know somethin,” Hopper said. “Did the Mutant Angels e-volve from the Nils Brigands that burnt down everthin’ at the end of Merican times?”
“No,” I answered. “The Nils Brigands were rich college kids. Back then, privileged kids went to schools called colleges until they turned twenty-two, a lot of times even went until they were a lot older.”
“Ious would ratha go to jail than stay in school that long!” Kholo Rise said. Everybody laughed at that except Major Kaim and his goons.
I took another long swig of whiskey and continued: “At first, the Nils Brigs were just a tiny percentage of the population. A lot of times they dressed up in clown costumes. They would jump out of the dark to scare people, chase them if they ran. Then they started randomly assaulting citizens and vandalizing property. People didn’t take them as nothing but a joke at first but the truth was they were serious as a cocked doublebarrel pointing at your face. They didn’t believe there was anything worthwhile in the civilization their parents handed down so they set out to do it in. ‘By Any Means Nasty’, they wrote on walls after they’d do what they called a flash mob.
“They finally thought up to burn down buildings across the countryside the week before a special day in the fall they called ‘Hallo-ween’. For some reason getting away with doing worse and worse stuff to other people only made their numbers grow. By the time the Slow Pox Plague came through and took out over half the population, there were hundreds of thousands of Nils Brigs. They jumped at their chance to end it all. Every great metro down to thousands of tiny hamlets across the world got hit with major firebug attacks again and again, didn’t matter what week it was. They even burnt down warehouses to keep starving people from getting food and medicine. The Merican head-shrinks wrote it was an ‘epidemic of youth dis-ass-ociation’.”
All of a sudden Major Kaim stood up. A black-coated wolf with bright gold eyeshine charged into edge of the dual firelight. The wolves out here were half again bigger than the wolves back in the Zarks. Major Kaim’s suppressor-tipped sub-machinegun burped fire. The two-hundred-pound wolf whimpered but the beast dragged itself off behind some boulders. The other wolves howled and growled but moved back.
“Please continue your simplistic discourse of late United States history,” Major Kaim said with a sneer. “You really are amusing, Roamer.”
“With your permission, Major Fender Kaim,” I said and saluted. I was pretty drunk, disliking myself for hoping that Tee would get eaten out there. Also working around inside my whiskey-soaked brain was the fact that Little Bit was pissed off at me for something I said.
“What ‘bout the Mutant Angels?” Chuckles spoke out. “So where’d they come from?”
“Okay, right,” I said. “I made a study of the last published prison guard magazines I discovered in a gun safe we dug up. In my opinion the Mutant Angels were originally a prison gang. At the end Merica had fifty-one states. The state with the biggest prison population eleven hundred years ago was called Tex-as. We now know that country as Xice, the home ground of the Mutant Angels and all their dustrial centers. They have a half a million castrated thralls working down there day and night in clouds of smoky poison. Inside those petro-powered factories, manufacturing those ugly-ass choppers and ordance to kill us with, must be some kind of nightmare life.” I tipped the bottle to finish off the whiskey.
No one was making a sound around the dual campfires, let alone talking. I even had Bonehead’s undivided attention.
“They had all kinds of prison gangs in the Tex-as back then,” I continued. “The government sent so many people to prison it was like a bunch of feuding nations crammed together. You could only join a prison gang if you had their skin color. The more vicious the gang you got to join the more power you got over the other inmates and the guards. The most vicious of all according to those prison guard magazines was a gang that tattooed their faces to look like skulls. They called themselves the Mutants. There was another prison gang called the Demon-Angels who were also a biker gang outside the prisons.” I stood up and threw my second whiskey bottle high into the darkness then finished up: “A fatal disease they couldn’t cure combined with all that arson from brainsick, spoiled kids sunk the entire world down into mayhem. Combine that mayhem with the hatred compacted into that giant prison system and you get the womb the Mutant Angels was born from.”
“Yous sayin that me an my brother couldn’t be in the same gang ‘cause of our different paint jobs?” Joro asked.
“That’s right.” I shook my head. “That’s the way it was.”
“Hem Mericans wer phuuk-heads!” Khoro spit in the dirt.
“It was a complete disaster for the world to lose the United States,” Major Kaim countered. “The most advanced nation that ever existed, over three hundred seventy million highly educated citizens reduced to less than a million illiterate peasants within a generation. It was the greatest catastrophe in history!”
“Sounds to me hems had it comin’,” Bonehead said.
“Roamer did not cipher the history correctly.” Major Kaim stood back up, the gaunt but fit man had to talk loud to reach our fire circle. “The U.S. prisons were all humane. By that time the United States was the most progressive nation on Earth. There were no longer riots or racist gang problems inside those institutions. And the colleges produced mostly civic-minded, hard working young people. The Nils Brigands are just a legend; mainly based on a few young people who got addicted to playing violent video games, constantly interacting with make-believe that was projected on a screen. For those lowiq, mentally ill youth who played video games for hours and hours on end, arson was an escape from their reality of failure. The Mutant Angels were started by a cult who worshipped misunderstandings about the ancient Vikings and Mongols. Again, it had nothing to do with the prisons. The U.S. was a light to the world. Because of the peace that the superb U.S. military enforced, globalist capitalism flourished. Hundreds of millions around the world were brought up out of poverty.”
“I stand by my studies, Major.” I picked up a stick and started whittling it with my famous Bowie knife. “Every third building I’ve dug up was burnt down. The global capitalism caused billions to starve when it crashed. Over a hundred nations were tricked into not producing anywhere near enough food to feed their populations anymore, like Japan and Mexico. That layer of ash doesn’t lie.”
“It’s a warped view,” Kaim insisted. “A giant volcano located eight hundred miles west of here erupted about that time and probably produced the ash layer you keep talking about. People accidently starting fires when the power went off account for the charred buildings.”
“I guess we will have to agree to disagree about history.” I was soused, ready to go pass out in Little Bit’s tent.
“You haven’t told them about poetry books, Beamo.” Little Bit was looking away from me out into the darkness. Her deceased mother, the school teacher Kenzey Sal, had taken every poetry book I could find. I never knew Little Bit cared about them until now.
“Poetry is concentrated language. It’s hard to understand, has different forms. Kind of like song lyrics. It…”
“That’s not what poetry is,” Little Bit cut me off. “When the Mysterious Stranger came to all the Zark counties almost three hundred years ago to give us back written language, they caught him in Ha-Ha County. During his trial for sorcery they gagged his mouth because they were afraid the beauty of his words would bewitch them. What he would have said to them is what poetry is.” Then she recited this:
Back to the mother breast
In another place—
Not for milk, not for rest,
But the embrace
Can give alone
“That’s only part of it,” Little Bit said. “The lady poet’s name was Laura Riding.”
Nobody spoke. I dropped my stick and sheathed my Bowie knife. The midnight air was now freezing. Little Bit helped me to my feet. Wolves were howling in the distance again. Little Bit drew one of her .40 cal pistols from inside her leather jacket. She cocked it, ready for them, and I let her lead me away from the dual campfires. Everyone else was heading for his or her tent too.
Loved the history lesson. This is absorbing and immersive writing, CW.
Thanks Bhi. The great part about Sci-Fi is getting to write your own future history.