Beamo’s Gold part 11
Beamo upsets Little Bit with trash talk about Bonehead and then Tee comes back.
“You always looking for the weak spot, huh, Beamo?” Little Bit said when we got in front of her tent.
“Phuuk Bonehead,” I said back as I crawled inside. “First time I saw that scrawny little psycho he was about seven years old. The Crans County Board just granted his family amnesty the year after they took out Mand Sal and ended the Bloody Rebellion. He was wading around the river shallows catching spawning carp so he could stick firecrackers in ‘em and blow ‘em up. Had a sick imp smile on his face the whole time. No wonder they put him in the kookoo house for kids when he was thirteen after they caught him purse-snatching old ladies.”
“His family was desperate poor,” Little Bit said.
“My dad Vauk Roamer never carried any water for the rich Big Men.” I lay down on my back on my tiger hide, stretched out then continued: “He didn’t make no excuses for the poor either. He said, ‘Poor people have poor ways and that’s why they’re poor.’”
“How could you say that?” Little Bit entered the tent and knelt over me. She crossed her arms over her breast.
“Well I didn’t say it. My dad did. But maybe he had a point. All a family has to do is send out one person to chop firewood one day a week, haul it to the swap meet and sell it for one year then they can buy food preserves to feed a family for a year. Nobody has to starve when the sea burns.”
“Maybe they can’t because they’re sick or they have something hard going on in their family life. It’s not that simple, Beamo. Do you blame my mom and us for having to live next to a garbage dump in Second Metro?”
“No, what happened to your family was an outrage. It was an unjust outrage. The Big Men were out to keep punishing Tee’s dad who was already dead by coming down on his family. But backwoods people like Bonehead always got poormouthing excuses. You talk about targeting weak spots, how about your gang snatching a seventeen-year-old girl? I don’t care if her dad’s a bastard Big Man, that’s what I call cruel. How many times did Tee rape her before he got her to hook up with him?”
“He didn’t rape her.”
“Oh please, Lytle, I watched him drag off that young girl Roofy just last night.”
“I didn’t say he doesn’t rape girls. I just said he didn’t rape Soosey. I convinced him not to, to keep it professional. It was my plan to take her hostage, show the Big Men what it’s like to have their precious ones snatched. I’m the commander who executed the operation to trick her into coming out from inside the wall with only one goon. It was a legit revolutionary act.”
“Is that right?” I said. I was starting to rethink my new girlfriend. “So you’re saying she came on to him?”
“She came on strong to Tee,” Little Bit said. She sat down cross-legged next to me inside the tent. “Any man has it in him to be a rapist, including you, Beamo.”
I raised my voice and gave her a hard look: “I never raped any girl ever and never wanted to.”
“I didn’t say you did or would. I just meant that it’s latent in you like it is all men. Tee thinks he has to do it to project power. If you had been born into the Mutant Angels are you saying you wouldn’t be a rapist?”
“That kind of make-believe question doesn’t mean anything to me.” I rubbed my eyes, just wanted to pass out. “You wanted to know why we despise each other now. I’ll tell you why. The only books Tee was ever interested in were those psych-ops military books and the biographies about all those Twentieth Century revolutionary scum mass murderers. All over the world they kept trying to rule over people with that same game plan and every time it led to millions dead and the ones left alive had no freedom and were poorer than they were before. Anybody who thinks Bonehead would be a more humane Crans County security chief than even dangerous goofball Major Kaim is brainsick.”
“People need hope,” Little Bit said. I could tell I got to her by her soft voice.
“The only hope is work. People need to halt all this black-flagging shi and go to work.” After saying that I passed out.
I’m in the sky looking down from roiling maroon clouds, horns blaring over the dead world, summer trees with no leaves, all the black branches bleeding blood. Major Kaim and Bonehead and me all boil-covered, starving, leading a dozen rag-covered skeletons into a maze, walls a hundred feet high, built of gold bars. Starved versions of Tee and Little Bit, Soosey Journ, Fank Journ, and Chairwoman Illay Lina too. A hundred more then a thousand more scarecrows then tens and hundreds of thousands more behind them marching into the Gold Maze. The horns keep blaring, combine with the wails of all the starvlings, each one like the banshee who comes on your dearest’s death night. Then I somehow saw all the people left on Earth, sixty-five million walking skeletons, lost in the fatal maze of Merican gold.
I woke up from my evil whiskey dream breathing fast and the brain inside my skull throbbed like I had been hit with a club. It was dawn and the tent was gone along with Little Bit and all her stuff.
“Source, I promise I won’t ever drink whiskey again!” I pleaded out loud as I held my head in my hands.
Came a jagged voice behind me, “Liar!” It was just Chuckles. He walked away with a satisfied laugh.
I slowly stood up. Tee was back. All the outlaws were busy breaking camp. None of them looked at me. There he was, the tall, lean man himself, wearing his black beret, ordering people around. Bonehead and Little Bit wearing their midnight blue berets stood right beside him. She wouldn’t look at me either. It was like yesterday never happened.