Beamo’s Gold part 27
Beamo finds out what Little Bit wants to do with her share of the gold.
Bathed in warm, late morning sunlight and still wrapped in the cords of chimes, we woke up in each other’s arms. The daylight displayed a different world. The stick domes were there but the parrot people were gone. The big fire pit was still warm. I stood up and looked around. We were right on the edge and high up, just outside the shade of the overhang above us. I looked down on stationary white clouds and up at forest-furred mountains sporting veins of bright white quartz and green minerals towards the hoary peaks, all surrounded by the blazing blue sky. The fifty-mile–wide panorama made you hold your breath.
The five big ravens were dead, still impaled on the stakes by the long-handled pikes, every feather plucked out of their skins. It was a warning to us. The parrot people sacrificed this place and moved their young but they wouldn’t tolerate any danger from us.
Little Bit discovered a wooden bowl of roasted pinon nuts inside one of the dome huts. We devoured them then set out down the mountain slope. Right before we left the parrot people village, I scooped up some of their feathers to give to the Highsters.
We threw off our caribou rawhide ponchos. The morning sun poured over our naked bodies. By the time we got down to our clothes and guns it was hot. Our clothes smelled clean and fragrant hanging on the shrubbery. My new blue, heavy-duty work shirt displayed new rips from my tumble down the mountain.
“I didn’t quit,” Little Bit said. Squatting, she slid down to the bottom of the gulch. She looked a little haggard but still lovely as she washed her face and body in the melt-water rivulet.
“Good thing you didn’t.” I said back after a minute. She looked up at me with an oh-yeah smirk. When she climbed back up she gave me a nice long kiss.
“You did good last night.” Her happy-to-be-alive smile made my heart pump joy blood. “That was the wildest party any man ever took me to.”
“It was my pleasure.” I held her tight. Too bad we didn’t have time. We got dressed and back to work.
Little Bit looked fairly impressed when I located our cycles. I predicted they would be deposited on the other side of the first bend down in the gulch. There they were, half buried under branches and gravel.
It took an hour for the two of us to dig them out. No major damage to either cycle but they would have to be dried out. Took out my hand winch. Used this fishing line-thin but extreme-strong cable I busted out of a nano-tech factory vault my crew discovered last year. We hand-winched both of the machines up the steep slope and onto the gouged trail without any headaches.
With her help I worked on the bikes for another hour. Removed the spark plugs to dry then emptied the tailpipes of water and gravel. Little Bit knew her bike mechanics almost as well as her medico, showed me to spray oil through the intake and to leave the fuel petcock off until the carb dried. Turns out the Sawbird Gang hid their cycles neath the Illnoise swamp mud to fool the Crans County Militia I scouted for last year.
I siphoned half of her scant go juice into my fuel tank and then we started walking the bikes down the rough trail.
She stayed quiet for a while, her eyes lost in deep concentration. She looked up at the peaks and then over at me. “Tee doesn’t care how other people feel. I don’t understand my brother. Why he treats people the way he does, like tools he can wear out then throw away.”
“He loves you, Lytle. He just loves himself more. That’s always been the way with
“He loves and respects you, Beamo, like nobody else.” She gave a side-glance that almost looked jealous.
“Any more of his affection for me is liable to be fatal.” I felt the need to confess to her. “Back at the Yella River he offered to let me join the Sawbird Gang. I turned him down.”
She looked away from me. “I asked him to.”
I paused for a minute then said, “What is his conspiracy with New Sing about anyway? He knows how they feel about us. Zarkies is what they call us when we aren’t around and it’s not a nice word.”
“Tee teaches that the Revolution can only be successful in a capitalist economy that is at the most advanced stage of development. He says that’s why you’re correct about it never being successful before in history. New Sing has the most developed economy in the world right now.”
“So, he is offering up the Lost Fort Knox gold so he can buy his way into New Sing, where no zarkie has ever been allowed to even visit. Get his shoulder through the door soas to get his rampaging and killing going in a fresh locale, all for his sky-pie losophy. They say New Sing now has railroad trains and steamships. They are working on telephones so people can waste their lives gossiping with each other over long distances. Photographs of stage actors and actresses for citizens to drool over in their zines and newspapers, and even flying machines.” I waved my hand through the air. “All the ancient tech marvels coming to life again. The problem is that human beings are still the same. No matter how much an economy develops, human nature doesn’t change.”
“People need people,” Little Bit said back.
We made it to a steep downhill run where the trail looked better. Mounted up on our cycles then coasted around the rocks. As we pushed the cycles the next uphill stretch, Little Bit stayed quiet. We wound downhill again. The two of us pushing and coasting and by midday we descended out of the mountains. We rolled into a different, high desert country.
No dangers presented themselves. The air we breathed felt heavy compared to mountain air. In these drier tablelands, the underbrush and trees grew sparsely around the bare boulders lacking the greenish-grey lichen splotching the mountainsides. Too bright to enjoy the change in scenery anyway, I pulled my flapcap down to keep the sun out of my eyes.
By the mid-afternoon I thought the cycles might be dried out enough to start. We halted at a place that showed tailings and other signs of recent mining. As I tilted my canteen up to quench my thirst, I noticed Little Bit’s face growing dark. I slowly put my canteen down and waited for her to vent.
“People need people,” she angrily stated again. When I didn’t take the bait she went on. “Funny how no one in my life, not my brother, not my comrades, and not even my man, bother to find out what I want out of this jaunt.”
“What is it that you want, Lytle?” I had no choice but to ask. She did have a point.
“I’m going to end early death and suffering in Zarkaria. I need coin and I need a partner who will be there and back me up to do what I need to do. After we find the gold, I’m going to use my share to purchase amnesty from all the counties we robbed and then I’ll buy my way into Ha-Ha County. I’m going to build a hospital.” The commitment in her big green eyes shone brighter than a lightning flash. Little Bit’s barely twenty years couldn’t hide her strength of spirit any more.
“A hospital.” My response didn’t have a question mark but she acted like it did.
“You know what it is!” She almost shouted, slapped her hand hard on her cycle seat. “Mine’ll be a place where anybody will be able to come in for treatment for whatever ailment. Won’t matter what county nation they’re from or even if they’re extreme poor and don’t belong to any county nation. Young girls in trouble won’t have to run away and join an outlaw gang so they can end being in trouble. They can come to my hospital and get it done in a safe, clean place.” She leaned forward, like the figurehead of a heroic-looking woman carved onto the prow of a sailship out on the Great Lakes.
“Ha-Ha Metro and County have the largest population in the Zarks, up to nearly ninety thousand presently. That’s a good place to build your hospital. Only thing is people still carry a lot of superstition concerning that word. Old people won’t even go near a place they think one had been. And another thing, my experience with the Big Men in Heights Bluff tells me building it would be a hard trail to navigate, maybe harder than our jaunt out West to find the treasure trove.”
“I will bribe or have killed anybody I need to to get it done.” She changed gears to come at me straight on at full speed. “When I watched you as that mammoth beast walked away with Roofy’s body, I thought I saw some feeling in you for people that others can’t see. But I was wrong. Yeah, you felt bad about her because she made you think about your little sister who’s resting in her grave. But you are a man who doesn’t love me or himself or anybody else as much as he loves his freedom. There is no way you will ever stop exploring the wildlands and the ruins. Escaping people is how you live. It makes you no good to my mission and it’s the essence of you, Beamo Roamer.”
“Just because we have different goals, doesn’t mean we can’t make a life together.” I heard my voice sounding nowhere near strong enough. “I could make a priority out of finding medico books and tech for your project.”
“I already have a library of medico books and devices hidden back in a Zark cave. Like I told you before, Beamo, you’re not the only scavenge man. When this pedition is finished then you and me are not going to be together any more.”
Instead of arguing I just nodded my head. I set about installing the spark plugs back into our cycles. I felt her eyes on me as I worked. She was looking for me to get hotheaded. I hoped she would take me for being cold and harsh after all. How could we have stayed together past my upcoming showdown with her brother? It was all an empty wish. Almost comical that I had fooled myself into thinking there was a way out.
“Beamo, I…I want these days that we have to be special for us.” After stomping my hope for happiness for the two of us into the dirt, she turned on a coin and sounded concerned. My reaction wasn’t what she expected. Her big green eyes desired pushback from me. I loved her more than any other woman but was weary of being her yo-yo.
I stood up and nodded my head again. “So they will be.” I got her cycle started and then after a few trys, my engine roared back to life.
We mounted up and rode on. It felt good to be rolling again, the powerful engine at my command, something you could depend on. Winding through the trail turns and obstacles kept my mind occupied and almost happy. Maybe I did belong out here away from people.