Beamo’s Gold part 12
Hungover Beamo gets sent on a deadly mission up a dry creek bed used as a toilet by the Mutant Angels.
Most dudes get despondent when the girl they really care about treats him that way but not me. I get mean, hotheaded, irate, nasty. Combine that with my hangover and I was not going to be decent company any time soon.
A great winged shadow appeared on the ground. Overhead the pitch-black sawbird, wingspan thirty feet across, flew over the camp. The giant condor landed on the grave platform of Retry Ewls. It perched there for a minute, looking at the gang of outlaws with its greedy beady stare, great wings spread out. Before anyone could shoot it, the sawbird lifted off with Retry’s white shrouded body. The enormous wings made their own wind as it struggled to fly off. Finally, the feathered monster got altitude and soared away.
The outlaws let it go. Most of them took it as a powerful omen because that creature was their mascot. They now believed that they were riding to their doom but it would be a glorious ride they could not pass up. Stern-faced, the Sawbird Gang packed their meager belongings. I did the same.
We ride!” Tee shouted. Twenty-one cycle engines roared.
The waterfall shimmered in the cold bright morning sunlight. I led them back down the mountainside. We rode at an easy pace over several narrow game trails. After winding around the pine covered mountains and valleys for three hours, I brought them out at the western edge of the Blills. There in front of us was the Demon Butte, one of the most sacred sites to the Mutant Angels. Eerie looking, five thousand feet tall, appearing in the late morning light like a humongous tree stump, the Demon Butte was infamous for what the MA claimed were giant claw marks up and down its sides. The Mutant Angels believed their giant boss demon had come up out of the molten core of the earth and ripped into the butte to give them a sign.
Across the small, unnamed river was a Mutant Angel fueling station. Down the road from the barracks was a work gang of thralls smashing rocks for the macadam highway the MA was constructing to get up into the Tana country.
We barely made it, were running on fumes, our bulky tanks in our cycles dry. I gave a hand signal and Tee halted us. Quick and quiet as mink, we pushed our cycles down into the little river valley. After a quick lunch and a brief rest amongst the cottonwood trees, Tee waved me over. He was standing there with Bonehead who was holding his high-powered, scoped .22 air rifle.
“Hiya Tee; hiya Bonehead,” I said with my hangover scowl.
“You go with Bonehead,” Tee ordered. “There are three MA guarding their fueling station. Do what Bonehead tells you to do.”
“You get me killed you’ll never see that gold,” I said back with a shrug.
Tee moved in close to my face, “I looked at that map and copied it. Every tiny spec and I ciphered it just as good as you. I don’t need you and I’m sick of you sitting on your ass. Get to work, scavenge man.”
“Hems say yous a goo man wit a knife,” Bonehead said after we turned to make our way downhill through the brush.
After wading through the shallow river, we climbed uphill through a deep, wide dry wash then halted at the edge of a rocky clearing. Bonehead handed me two jars of camo makeup. I smeared my face, neck, and arms with the slate grey and greenish brown. I handed them back to Bonehead but he didn’t use either. Instead, he slipped on a webbed Ghillie suit poncho with a hood. He remained alert as he twisted off leafy branches to fit into the tight webbing. When he finished, he reached down to the puddle that had leaked off of his boots. He proceeded to smear his face and neck with two handfuls of grey mud.
“Knife’s more honest than a gun,” I whispered and unsheathed my famous Bowie knife. I held the wide, fourteen-inch dark grey blade in front of him in a not-friendly way. “Got this when I was twelve. Took it out of the safe with the best knife collection we ever found. The blade’s titanium steel was forged in It-al-ee, an ancient country in Europe, eleven hundred years ago. They had amazing dustries back then, crafted tools that we could never copy. This’s the knife what I used on Hessy Rham the month after I got back from my year out West.”
“Oh yeah, yous offed a lardass drunk in a cantina fight.” Bonehead smiled.
“He pointed his pistol at my face that night at the Alibi Cantina. The fool said in front of everybody that I was a foreigner now and accused me of not paying my county taxes for the year I went west to the Wasteland. He hollered at me: ‘Get out of Crans County scavenge boy! Go-on, getcha gone, foreign scum!’ then put his pistol down, started laughing with his buds.” I paused for effect then went on: “I told him to point it at me again. He did with this sneer on his fat face. I grabbed the barrel, pointed it away with my left hand and at the same time had my It-al-ee Bowie out. Blade so sharp on this thing I had his heart cut out of his chest before the sneer came off his face.”
“Yous ain’t scary, Roamer.” Bonehead shook his head, his mouth scrunched into a quizzical knot. “Heard hems wrote yous up fo that one.”
“No, the constable took me in for questions. The bastard trying to say I ‘used cessive force during a dispute’ but he backed off.”
“Up ‘head’s yous chance to do some more knife work. Three MA watchin’ the go juice. Yous follow this dry wash on up. That’s where hems takes their shi. Ious can get two with my pellet gun but not three. When one goes to drop his skins to shi, yous gots to be there at the shi-hole when Ious start shootin’. If yous ain’t quiet enough an hems catchus yous maybe yous can bore ‘em to death with It-lee history or yous cantina fightin’ stories.”
I put my pointing finger up to my lips and said, “Shuuuuush,” giving my loco look that I’ve been told is impressive.
“Yous ain’t scary, Roamer,” Bonehead whispered back. He spit on the ground then ordered, “Leave yous rifle here and ‘getcha gone’.”
I didn’t do what he said right away, each of us eyeballing the other for a minute. Finally, I went ahead and hid my rifle under a bush. Bonehead got down on all fours. He crawled carefully, stopping and going like a six-feet-long camouflaged lizard, out of the brush with his air rifle cradled in his arms. I started up the dry wash privy. Directly above four black ravens circled low in the azure sky.