Beamo’s Gold part 23
Beamo ruminates on Tee’s and Little Bit’s brother-sister relationship.
Tee took off in the lead. He didn’t make much progress so Bonehead took over riding point. Tension tightened like a noose on the neck. Plain to see the entire gang felt it as they scanned around to slowly navigate the boulders and built-up scree blocking the trail. No jokes or banter as their bugged-out eyes measured the prospect of violence breaking out. Tee never turned to look at me or anyone else the rest of the day.
At one particular bad stretch in the late afternoon, we dismounted to push our cycles over and around combination rock piles and wind-downed pines. I glanced over to Little Bit from time to time. She gave me nothing but encouragement in her smiles back. I entered the safe-base zone a man gets early on in the bonding, that place where I could do no wrong, but experience taught me it wouldn’t last.
Clouds moved in fast from the west. Back on the Great Plains it seemed we would never get to the great Shining Mountains. They somehow stayed in the distance like coy damsels retreating at our advances. Once in their midst they now seemed menacing: one over to the north sported an ogre face under its pointed peak, one flat-top bare rock giant to the southwest loomed higher with an even more sinister personality. The other tree-furred granite monstrosities stood shoulder to shoulder like cruel thugs surrounding us, the kind you run into around an alley corner on a dark night, only these thugs made you strain your neck gazing up to see their scraggy, snow-capped heads.
As I push-steered my cycle up and over the obstacles, I allowed myself to think about Tee’s relationship with his half sister. What gremlin vandalized his mind when it came to his younger female sibling? Whatever it was, it was serious. Way more than the usual big-brother over-protectiveness. His control freakness way out of control, way past any healthy concern for her wellbeing. Daum it all, if he carried any regard for her safety she wouldn’t be anywhere near this doom trail or these desperate cutthroats he was leading to their early graves.
Had Tee poked around out in the bush too long and caught a backwoods boff-your-own-half-sister brainsickness? When it comes to the double-backed beast no one can really say what titillates a man’s mind without being clairvoyant or catching him in the act, but I didn’t want to believe it.
The first man Tee killed was to protect his half sister. Ori Vinnit, one of the dozen dudes who used to pay-visit their mother Kensey Sal at their rough-hewed shack, propositioned Little Bit. It happened not even three days after their mother passed from the brain cancer. Already in rags and hungry, Little Bit only just turned eight years old that month. I made fifteen years seven months before then, getting ready to start my militia duty in a few days, and Tee rounded to fifteen years old two months after.
Tee came up with the attack plan. We both wore black hoods with holes cut out for our eyes. In the middle of a moonless, muggy summer night, I threw a lit bottle bomb filled with wood alcohol through the curtain covering the front window of pervo Vinnit’s cabin. I heard his wife and four kids run out the back door. From behind the big oak tree in the front yard, I shot into the front door with the back-up .380 pistol I filched from the pocket of my dad’s packed-away winter coat. A few seconds later as the front room started to catch, I prowled over to the side of the house. Only a narrow space separated these tiny tract cabins. Vinnit made decent money as a work crew foreman for a bricklayer company but spent most all of it on bawdy girls and kept his family living in the slums.
Tee already moved up on the opposite end from the back yard. Just then Vinnit stradled out the side window. The balding, shirtless man flashed his teeth in a snarl and raised his pistol. Tee moved fast and squeezed off one round of twelve-gauge buckshot into the pervo’s chest. Fourteen-year-old Tee strode right up on him, put the sawed-off doublebarrel point blank into begging Ori Vinnit’s face. He pulled the trigger a second time on the man hanging half out of the window and that was it.
Neighborhood dogs and Vinnit’s wife howled at us as we stumble-ran away. The densely packed neighborhood now lit up by the burning cabin. Suddenly in windows appeared floating guns in front of disembodied faces all around us as we dodged through the alleys.
I have no idea how we escaped. The chief constable delt with crime like a lazy slouch in Second Metro. Maybe he heard other complaints about the dude and didn’t care about the hit. After that my mother started secretly slipping Tee and Little Bit silver coin to pay the taxes and rent for a flat back in Payday Metro.
Yeah, Tee never got over his mother’s fall from the paradise of Heights Bluff and then her long, drawn-out agonizing death in a shack next to a garbage dump. The fact that she prostituted herself wormed into his brain along with his father’s death in the Bloody Rebellion. That family history stood behind a lot of his hostility to Zark society. But there was something else driving him about his little sister. He idealized her and that meant he needed to perfect her. Kind of like a rich man with a mistress will pay for singing leasons for her so he can gloat about romancing a songbird. Like a father with no son will insist on giving his daughter shooting lessons so he can brag about her aim when she would rather spend her time doing a little of this and a little of that like most girls. The majority of time it’s the male who obsesses about perfecting something to the point he slacks off on basic hygiene.
Tee didn’t accept his half sister as a fully rounded woman with all that entails. He kept this vision of her being a great revolutionary woman of virtue who would make up for having a mother who had to whore to put food on his plate.
A misty cloud like an immense white-grey hand slid its fingers over the western peaks then down onto our party. Left us soaking wet. We just cleared the tail end of the rough road when hail beat down on us all at once. The house-wren-egg-sized ice pellets stung like dozens of pebbles fired from a slingshots. Especially the hands, even though I was wearing high-end leather gloves.
Now in the lead, Little Bit riding second behind me. The sixteen other riders of the Sawbird Gang along with Major Kaim and his two surviving goons followed. I pushed on up the trail in the miserable cold. Hard to describe how bone chilled you get riding a cycle in that kind of weather. Everyone put on goggles, helmet, and raingear, kept their heads down. Then it got worse.
I changed our destination to the highest mountain pass of the journey. A blizzard hit and wouldn’t allow for any further travel. We barely made the hundred miles up the crooked trail to that bleak mountain pass that day.