M.a.i.n.e. Frame PC II
by Sam Lakes
Copyright © 2006 All Rights Reserved
The three left for the lodge in a car. “You two in the front.” He said waving the forty-five at them. When they got to the cabin he handcuffed Colt’s hands behind him to a heavy wooden table leg, and then holstered the gun.
“Now, kid, where’s the computer?”
“It was destroyed,” answered Colt.
With all his power Larry backhanded Aaron across the face. His body flew backward and smashed into the door of the cabin. A look of horror was on Colt’s face.
Larry grabbed Aaron by the hair and yanked him over in front of Colt.
“Pardon me. Where’s the computer?” he asked again.
“Don’t hit him, please!” cried Colt.
“Then tell me where the computer is,” said Larry.
“It was destroyed! It was in the helicopter and was destroyed! Please, don’t hurt him!” Colt begged.
Larry’s fist smashed into Aaron’s face again and again as Colt continued to beg him to stop.
“Hit me! Hit me! Please don’t hit Aaron!” Colt screamed as Larry pursued his task. Colt fought with all his might to break free, but it was hopeless.
Aaron’s body laid on the floor his face swollen, cut and bleeding. Aaron was still alive, but only by the thinnest of threads. Aaron forced his eyes open. He saw Colt’s face. Colt looked so angelic, he was so beautiful, Aaron knew the life in his body was over and wanted Colt to know that he really loved him.
In almost a whisper Aaron said, “Colt, I love you.” Aaron managed a faint smile closed his eyes. And looked down on his dead body and saw Colt scream out, “No! Aaron! Don’t die! Don’t leave me!”
He saw Larry kicking his dead body in anger that he had died so easily. Aaron felt sadness at dying and he knew he would miss Colt.
Colt sat there looking at Aaron’s lifeless body and the sorrow he felt was almost too much.
“You should have told me where the computer is. I may have stopped. Then, again I may not have. I’m just waiting for orders to beat you to a pulp. And then I’m gonna fuck your ass!” laughed Larry.
“You’ll be dead by morning” Colt said without any emotion.
“Yeah, right, kid. Welcome to reality where the bad guys win.” Larry picked up Aaron’s body and carried it out the door. Colt heard the door lock and the car drive off.
Through tear filled eyes Colt spotted his cellphone on the floor under the table. Aaron had borrowed it earlier and it must have fallen out of Aaron’s coat pocket at some point.
He twisted his body around and after several attempts managed to speed-dial his dad’s number.
“Colt. Where are you?” asked Paul.
“He killed Aaron, Dad,” cried Colt.
“Colt, do you know where you are?” asked Paul again.
Colt answered the question. Described the cabin he was in.
At five a.m. Colt looked over at Larry who was sitting in a recliner with the forty-five in his hand almost asleep.
Paul kicked the door open and fired three silenced shots into Larry’s chest.
Larry dropped his gun to the floor and looked at Colt. The last thing he saw and heard was Colt saying in a monotone voice, “Bang. Bang. Bang. You’re dead.”
Paul rushed over to Colt. “Arb, search that guy's pockets for a key.”
A second later Arb tossed him a key and Colt’s arms were free.
“Come on son, we got to leave.” Paul ushered Colt to the car. Ruthie was in the back with him and Arbor was in the front with Paul as they sped off.
Ruth looked at Colt. She lay her hand on his “Are you okay?” she whispered.
He looked at her with pitiful eyes and slowly shook his head no.
She pulled his head over to rest her bosom and held him close. He cried until he fell asleep.
“Paul,” she said quietly “He’s asleep. What happened to the boy?”
“The guy I shot must have beaten him to death with his fists. His fists were swollen and there was some blood on his shirt and on the floor in front of where he had Colt sitting. He must have beaten him to death in front of Colt. It was a gruesome way to die. Colt let me know exactly where he was and where the guy would be sitting.”
“As the guy was dying I saw Colt’s face and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much hate in his eyes ever. The guy looked at Colt and Colt said to him ‘Bang. Bang. Bang. You’re dead’ then he smiled in a vindictive way as the guy died.”
“I’ve seen people shot and killed before and I’ve shot a few bad guys too. I’ve seen persons who have been beaten to death. But I’ve never done it or been forced to watch someone beaten to death. They were looking for the computer and he told them all he knew, that it had been destroyed. Now, I wish it had.”
They arrived in Los Angeles around eleven. Colt was awake, but he said nothing. He only watched the traffic.
“Colt, are you hungry?” asked Ruthie. He shook his head no. “Do you want to talk?” she asked.
“Where’s ‘Mother’?” he asked quietly hoping the answer would be it was destroyed.
“It’s safe, Colt” answered Arb “You made it look like a Power Book. Paul picked it up the day after you got shot. We didn’t know you were going into a coma, but I can’t get it to recognize me and go into ‘Mother’ mode.
“It’s safe. Good, I’m so glad to hear it’s safe. My friend is beaten to death in front of me. He’s dead now. And the goddamn, mother-fucking computer is safe. Why didn’t anybody tell me?”
“You never asked,” said Arb.
“You should have told me! You should have told me! Aaron didn’t have to die. If I’d known, I could have saved him!”
“Son, you didn’t want to know. You told me you didn’t want to know.”
“You should have told me! You let me believe it crashed and burned. I could have saved him! I hate you! I hate all of you!” Colt didn’t cry. He went silent, but in that second he decided what he was going to do.
“Colt, I didn’t know you switched the pc’s – no one knew! Arbor suspected it but he wasn't certain. He didn't know it’s rigged to self-destruct if you open the case wrong and Arb didn’t want to risk it. He tried a backdoor and you had blocked it – something only you would have known how to do.”
“The psychologists said you’d eventually remember so we decided not to push it.”
Colt said nothing.
“Now they will know it exists we need to go to ground. We will need you to cover our tracks.”
“You mean you want me to cover our tracks?” said Colt.
“Son it’s the only way. We can’t let them get their hands on it or you again.”
“Yes, that’s all good, but what if I can’t remember how to get it into ‘Mother’ mode?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay, well, I’m tired – I’ll get some sleep and see what I can do,” said Colt.
Paul checked them into a motel and he left with Arbor.
Ruth was tired and Colt was asleep on a bed. She lay down in the next bed and quickly dozed off. As soon as he was certain she was asleep Colt took his bike, his backpack and quietly left. He rode to I-5 and then hitched a ride in a pickup to Sacramento.
A boy was riding alone on a country road listening to radio and singing along with the song playing. He was bouncing and dancing his bike around in time to the beat. If you’d seen a video of him you would swear that they electronically edited the tape to get his actions in sync with the music. He’d been practicing all winter his goal Moab and Slick Rock.
His body had changed in the six months. He’d been working long hours on the farm. He’d had a growth spurt, added a good four inches to his height and had become considerably more muscular. Having worked out side most of the time his body was golden tan and his hair now shoulder length was shades lighter, but Colt’s blue eyes were still his most striking feature.
Al Manning drove up slowly as he watched the boy. He was going to miss the kid, but Colt had told him from the beginning that he would be leaving in June and may or may not return.
Over the months he helped him run the whole farm and pointed out so many things to improve the production and running of the farm. He was honest and was liked by everyone. He was always helping someone plus doing his own workload. And yet Al Manning knew nothing about the boy’s past and the boy never referred to anything from his past.
He’d once tried to get Colt to talk and Colt said, “I have no past, or family. I arrived on the planet the day before you gave me a ride. Just before you picked me up and gave me this job a man gave me this wonderful bike and told me I could keep it as long as I do Moab next June.”
From the way he handled the bike Al thought maybe the kid was right, maybe he did come from another planet. It was if he was dancing and the bike was his dance partner. The music changed to a slow beat and Colt’s pace slowed staying in perfect sync.
You could tell when he really liked a song because he’d really sing it at the top of his voice. Luckily, he had a damn good voice and he wasn’t shy about others hearing him sing.
As Al stopped the truck and got out Colt rode over to him still singing and smiling his irresistible smile, which one could not help but return.
“Hi, totally awesome Al!” greeted Colt.
“Hi, cool dude from outer space! Are you still going to desert me?”
“Yep, I’m going to miss you, but my book is so full its seams are bustin’,” said Colt while he did a trackstand and appeared to float on the bike.
“Book?” questioned Al raising his bushy eyebrows.
“Yup! I collect fond memories and good times and there’s not been a day gone by since I met you that I haven’t had to save at least five or six. Like the time when I helped you deliver Blaze’s colt. I call it Colt delivering colt! And then I’ve got the days that the colt and I spent romping around the corral. And the time Big Mac chased me; I don’t think I ever heard anybody laugh so hard in my life as you did! Very funny! ‘Hey Colt, take this bucket and go milk that cow!”
Al couldn’t help going into hysterics again at the memory of seeing the young city boy going off to milk his prize bull.
Colt jumped off his bike and put it in the back of the pickup where his backpack was containing all of his possessions: two pair of underwear, two pair of socks, his toothpaste and toothbrush, a bar of soap, a comb and brush, two T-shirts and a pair of jeans and his laptop.
“Got my ticket?” asked Colt.
“One bus ticket to Crescent Junction, Utah” Al said taking the ticket out of his back pocket and handing it to Colt. Then he added reluctantly “One-way. And …” Al handed Colt an envelope “Six months pay and a bonus.”
Colt opened the envelope, which contained his $500 pay and a $500 bonus.
“Shut up, Colt. Don’t argue. You deserve ten times that much if not more.” Colt started to object and Al “I said shhush and I mean it!” No more was said as Al drove to the local Greyhound station.
“Now, you know Tommy is going to be upset,” said Al quietly.
“Yeah, I’m going to miss him. Don’t let a day go by that you don’t let him know how much you and Mary love him. He’s a great kid. I don’t like tearful good-byes and I’d hate to ruin his image of me by him seeing me crying like a baby. Tell him that and that I will always treasure my memories of him and the farm and the time he talked me into skinny dippin’!” Colt laughed and so did Al. The two boys ended up staying in the water for hours because a bunch off girl scouts turned up, took their clothes, and wouldn’t give them back.
The bus pulled in and the door opened.
“I’ve got my bike I need to store where it won’t get damaged” Colt said to the driver.
The driver got out and stored the bike and it was time for them to say their final good-byes. Colt hugged Al and said, “Thanks for being my friend. I promise I’ll write.” They shook hands and Colt got on the bus.
As the bus drove off Al got into his truck. He had to sit there for a while though because something must have got in his eyes because they were watering.
That night as he got ready to go to bed, he reached in his back pocket to take out his wallet and found five crisp one hundred dollar bills. He started laughing, but it was a laugh mixed with tears. He said to his wife Mary, “That little bastard slipped the five hundred dollar bonus into my back pocket. I thought he was giving me a city boy hug.”
It was the crack of dawn when he started out. This was it. Slick Rock. It had taken him a day to ride from Crescent Junction to Moab and then he’d spent two days resting and goofing off and ‘dancing’ with his bike much to the amusement of the locals and other mountain biker’s. A number of people asked him if he was a Pro and he said “Nope. I’m just havin’ fun! I’m here to do Slick Rock for a friend.”
“How old a friend?” called a voice from behind him that he instantly recognized.
“Kev!” he cried out as he turned and saw Kevin straddling a new Trek Dura-Ace. Colt jumped off his bike as did Kevin. They hugged.
“My God, Colt, I almost didn’t recognize you. Man, have you grown! Jesus!” exclaimed Kev. “It’s been almost a year, but it seems like longer.”
“Yeah, I have filled out a bit” Colt smiled “Hard work on a farm and working out on the bike. Whoa, a Trek Dura-Ace! Sweet! So, how are you?”
“Arb, said I’d find you here” Kev said deliberately as he watched for a reaction.
Colt’s eyes went cold as did his voice, “Really. Well, good for him.”
“Colt, he wants to know if you’ll see him just for five minutes.”
“Sorry, Kev, but I don’t think so” Colt said coldly “And nice seeing you, but I’ve got things to do. Later, Dude.” Colt mounted his bike.
“You really are a self-centered, little shit - a real wimp ass. What’s the matter can’t confront the fact that you caused someone’s death! Then you turn your back on those who really do love you and you blame them! Well, go on, fuck off out of here. Who the fuck needs a fair weather only friend” Kev said deliberately and he mounted his bike and rode off.
“Fuck you too!” yelled Colt.
Colt tried to flush his mind clear of the memories, but to no avail. What Kev said had brought it all back. Was he in fact responsible? He kept asking himself. Kevin had done enough to stir things up and through out the night his memories of ‘Mother’ and the center and Belkirk had returned slowly at first. It was hard to admit that it was him that had pulled the switch to save his precious computer.
As he started his accent of Slick Rock he slowly went over the events leading to Aaron’s death. He knew that deep down that ‘Mother’ was never destroyed and it was his own efforts to make himself right and others, his family, his Dad, Arb, Ruth and Kevin wrong and to in his own mind shift the blame for Aaron’s death to them.
He had chosen to forget. No one forced him.
He knew that Paul and Arb had only wanted to help. And with all his revelations came all the anger, hate, grief and apathy he’d suppressed since before Keith’s death. It all came down to him, but now he was alone.
Colt got to the top, got off his bike, laid it on the ground, and sat down on the ground looking at the descent. He felt he couldn’t go on any further and started sobbing.
“You know you can sit and cry all day and it’s not going to make the descent any easier” the voice said.
“Aaron?” Colt said.
“Hi, Colt. You know you can’t go on blaming yourself for my death. Sure, if you’d confronted things better you might have remembered, but you didn’t cause my death. You caused those things that happen to you. I’d done a lot of things - bad things and I actually betrayed you. So, I sort of had to pull in something. Karma. We’re all basically good. Remember that? You were the one who told me that. You’ve created a great computer. The way to be happy is to use it to do good. It’s your choice, but you owe it to those you love and mostly to yourself to do good for others. Then you will be happy, truly happy.”
“But I feel so fucked up!”
“Hey, a person causes his own feelings and emotions. I met a kid once, a lot like you, his name was Philip something or other, he told me that and it’s true. If you stop feeling sorry for yourself you won’t feel sorry for yourself. I remember him telling me to wax enthusiasm, I did and soon I was! So, kid, wax enthusiasm!”
Colt thought for a while. What Aaron said made sense. He had been wrong about a lot of things. He could change things for the better. He looked at the descent. “It’s awesome and I can do it!” he yelled.
“Go for it! Enjoy! See you again sometime, Colt,” Aaron said and he vanished.
Colt jumped up mounted his bike and took off down Slick Rock for the most awesome ride of his life.
Paul watched as Colt came peddling up the road towards the motel. Colt saw his dad standing next to a Cannondale. He poured on the speed as he shouted “Totally awesome, Dad!”
Paul smiled “God, you’ve grown!”
Colt dismounted and parked his bike. Then ran back to his dad and hugged him tight.
“Can you ever forgive me?” he said quietly to his father.
“Forgiven” said Paul as he returned the hug.
“Cool bike, Dad.”
“Wanna try it?” smiled Paul.
“Maybe later. So where are the others?”
“Salt Lake. They’ll be down here later. Kev thought that…”
“That I was an ass wipe!” Colt said smiling “Talk about a reality adjustment! I was a rotten shit to him yesterday, but what he had to say finally made it through my skull, duh! When I got to the top I was feeling pretty shitty and sorry for myself about everything then the strangest thing happened…Aaron was there.” Colt paused to see if there would be any reaction from Paul before continuing, “Maybe it was just an overactive imagination, but he was there and we talked, he talked. He didn’t blame me for his death. He said that he did it to himself and some guy he met said that you create your own feelings and said I should wax enthusiasm. All this may sound nuts to you, but it worked! I waxed enthusiasm and I had the best ride of my life. I needed to confront what things I had done and I realized Kev was right and that I’d turned my back on my family and the people who really loved me! For a guy who’s supposed to be smart, I’ve acted so stupid!”
“Well, I think we all acted pretty stupid. So, let’s hit a trail and talk. Kev said you sure have improved and described you dancing.”
“Oh, just some tricks and a lot of practice.”
The two mounted their bikes and started off down the road.
“Arb’s not going to believe how tall you’ve grown and you’ve developed some decent muscles too!”
“Lots of hard work farming in Sacramento Valley.”
“Yeah, I know, Miguel Alverez, kept me pretty well informed. Colt, I’m sorry for what happened to Aaron. Arb felt bad and we felt we had to do something about it so we took them out, Maney and his cohorts.”
“Took them out?”
“Well, it was mostly legal, we just put them out of business. Maney disappeared. I think someone considered him a security risk. He’s probably in some unmarked grave.”
“I tracked you down within forty-eight hours, so I sent Miguel in to observe and protect if necessary.” Colt made a funny face. “Hey you’re my kid! Race to you to the top youngster!”
“I’ll win! Cuz you’re on old man!” laughed Colt as he took off after Paul.