Things Miles Notices
by K. Stonham
released 27th October 2007
Sam had called from the car dealership, almost vibrating through the phone with excitement as he asked if Miles had wanted to go with him to a party at the lake. More amused than anything, Miles agreed. And as his best-friend-since-first-grade pulled up in front of Miles' house, Miles noticed a few things.
--Sam's new car was old, beat up, and yellow.
--In fact, it was obnoxiously yellow.
He couldn't help commenting on it.
--But despite its age, Sam's new ride drove like a dream.
And when they got to the lake, Sam's goal was obvious. Completely unconcerned with Sam's interest in girls and this one in particular, Miles just climbed a tree, providing a distraction for his about-to-be-beat-up-for-making-moves-on-Trent-DeMarco's-almost-girlfriend best friend.
--Sam, no matter how much he wanted it, had no chance with Mikaela. None.
--Sam's car's radio was busted up and tuned itself to random stations all over the dial.
--And Sam was DITCHING him to chase after a girl he had no shot at.
It was a long walk home, but at least the weather was nice and there was a pizza parlor on the way.
Despite the whole best friends thing, not to mention the whole ditching him at the lake thing, Miles didn't get a call from Sam until the next afternoon while he was giving Mason a bath. And then Sam wasn't apologizing or even going off in raptures about how giving Mikaela a ride home had been the pinnacle of his existence. No, instead he was rambling on about his car getting stolen and then coming back and stalking him.
--If he hadn't known that Sam was clean, Miles would've thought that his friend was partaking of some of the same interesting chemical concoctions that everyone knew Jim Sado and his friends did.
Then, after a frightened squawk about Satan's Camaro, whatever that meant, Sam hung up. Miles just shook his head and went back to scrubbing Mason clean.
--Sometimes Sam was a little too strange even for him.
He called Sam to see if he wanted to maybe hang out, but Sam didn't answer and never called back.
--Sam wasn't in school.
Miles called his house that evening to see if he needed notes from class, but no one answered.
--Sam wasn't in
--Neither was Mikaela.
He amused himself during lunch wondering if maybe they actually had hooked up and run off to Vegas or something to get married. Was that even legal in Nevada, he wondered, to get married at seventeen? Probably not. Most likely the jock concubine had had the flu or something and passed it on to Sam.
--Sam still wasn't in school, and still hadn't called him back.
Maybe worried, Miles went over to the Witwickys' after class and found four days of newspapers on the lawn and the mailbox starting to overflow with gardening catalogs. When he tried the front door it opened, not locked.
Papers and mail deposited on the kitchen table, Miles went through the house calling for Sam and his parents. Not even Mojo was there. Sam's backpack was still in the kitchen and... holy shit!
Miles stared out the window at the mess that was the backyard. Sam's parents were going to be pissed.
Maybe they were already pissed. Maybe they thought Sam had done this and killed him and gone to bury his body somewhere up in the mountains where no one would ever find it?
dad's car was parked by the garage. And so was his mom's.
--Sam's room was a mess, even more than usual.
Miles couldn't help thinking of mobs or drug runners tearing up the place looking for something, what he didn't know, then kidnapping the whole family plus dog and taking them out on a boat, shooting them somewhere between here and Catalina Island, throwing the bodies overboard...
He pulled out his cellphone again and desperately dialed Sam's number.
Nothing but rings and then the message service.
--Still no Sam in class, and no Mikaela either
Miles was sure that wasn't a coincidence. He didn't know what to think, so he ended up in the counselor's office, worrying his guts out to a man who had to be a grandfather already, trying to decide if he should go to the cops or not to file a missing persons report.
Mr. Ellis looked concerned, ducked out for a few minutes, then came back with a relieved set to his shoulders. "I wouldn't worry about it, Miles," he said. "We got a call from his parents Monday afternoon. Apparently they went on a trip to Las Vegas and Mission City over the weekend and got caught up in that mess there. They're all fine," he rushed to reassure Miles. "Perfectly fine. The government just needs them to hang around for some questions, and Sam apparently got banged up a little. He should be back in school on Monday."
Sam hadn't said jack about a weekend trip to Mission City, Miles wanted to retort but didn't. "Oh. I guess he lost his cellphone there and that's why he's not answering."
Mr. Ellis nodded. "It's good of you to be such a good friend to him," he said. "It's good that you're so concerned, Miles. It's a fine trait in a young man like yourself."
Miles left the office with more questions than answers. There was no way Sam's parents would have left the house unlocked. And if they had gone on a weekend trip, why were both of their cars still in the driveway? Not to mention the thrashed backyard.
--No Sam, and Miles was sure he'd failed the history pop quiz.
He had a thought, though, and ducked his head into the school office, confirming that Mikaela Banes' absence was covered by the same excuse as Sam's, though she'd had to have her grandmother call in too later to confirm it.
--He was just going to have to wait, it looked like, and get his answers from Sam.
Miles sighed, going over to Sam's house to take in the mail and paper.
--Still no sign of Sam.
Miles spent the day trying to lose himself in a bad movie marathon on cable. And failing.
He wished Sam would just find a payphone and give him a call. What were bros for?
One more paper to take in, adding to the nearly half a foot tall stack on the kitchen table, and still no Witwickys in the house. Miles schooled himself to patience. Sam was going to be back in school tomorrow, he could get answers out of him then.
Miles stared as Sam got out of the Camaro... and then scooted around to the passenger door, opening it, and Mikaela Banes stepped out, smiling at him.
--Obviously a week
of being sequestered together by the government after nearly getting
blown up in a terrorist attack made Sam irresistible to the jock
--Sam's old beat-up Camaro had somehow been replaced by a shiny brand-new one.
--The shiny new Camaro had the exact same paintjob as the old one.
"Bro!" Miles said. Sam turned around. "Where have you been? You didn't even call me."
Mikaela smiled. "I'll see you in class," she told Sam, and went to catch up with some of her friends, fingers sliding along the car's side paneling.
"Hey, Miles," Sam said, fishing in the back seat for his backpack. "Sorry. Things got totally crazy and then I did some hospital time and then there was questioning and debriefing and classified this and that... it kind of slipped my mind," he admitted sheepishly, closing the car door.
"What's with the new ride?" Miles asked, looking at the car. "What happened to your old set of wheels?"
Sam's expression went shuttered. "Got thrown into a building by a missile impact in Mission City," he said. "Lucky me, though--my dad had just won this one in one of those games in Vegas."
"Dude, you're sure about that?" Miles asked.
It didn't escape him the way Sam's hand pressed against the car, as if for support. "Miles, trust me," he said quietly, "that's what happened."
--Sam, for whatever reason, was lying to Miles.
It was obvious that Sam and Mikaela were stuck together like glue, though how long that would last was the topic of class speculation.
--Sam and Mikaela
both really, really liked Sam's new car.
--They spent lunch period in it, talking.
When Mr. Hosney called Sam and Mikaela up to the front of History class, asking them to talk about what they'd seen in Mission City, the event already being called "the new 9/11" by the media, they looked at each other for a minute before starting to talk.
"Well, we didn't see much, really," Sam started. "We were just there looking around because my parents went to Vegas over the weekend and there's not too much to do in Vegas except gamble..."
"Buildings came down," Mikaela said flatly. "A whole lot of people died."
"My car got blown into a building in the first missile strike," Sam said quietly, and Miles sat up a little straighter, noticing the hesitation between "my" and "car." "Lucky for us, we weren't in it at the time." He breathed what might almost have been a laugh. "And when an Army captain tells you to run, you run," he said, like it was a piece of holy wisdom.
"There was this captain named Lennox who kept telling us to get out of there," Mikaela agreed. "We did what we could to help the injured." Her eyes met Sam's. "Scariest thing I've ever done," she admitted. Sam quirked a smile in response. "But, really, that was all there was to it."
Mikaela ended up going off with some of her girlfriends after school, and Sam asked Miles if he wanted to come over.
--Sam's new car had
the same radio problem as the old one.
--Sam talked to the car like it could understand him.
--The car was named Bumblebee.
"You named your car what?" Miles demanded.
Sam rolled his eyes. "Miles, look at the paint job," he directed, and Miles had to admit the name suited. "Besides, I didn't name him. He named himself."
"Miles!" Sam's dad called as they went inside. His eyes flickered behind the two of them for a minute, landing on the car. "You were the one bringing in the mail and papers last week? Thanks."
"Yeah," Miles replied. "You forgot to lock the front door when you left."
"Ah." A blatantly fake smile plastered itself across Mr. Witwicky's face. "Judy always swears we forget to do something. Well, better the front door than leaving the stove on, I suppose."
--Whatever had happened, Sam's parents were in on it too.
--Sam talked to his car.
Miles watched him for a few minutes, sitting in the school parking lot, animatedly chatting and gesturing to no one inside the yellow vehicle, before going in to class alone.
"Holy shit, bro!"
Sam's head jerked up at Miles' shocked exclamation, and half the aisle in the changing room turned to look.
--Sam's body was half purpled with bruises and the rest were already in the ugly green and yellow stage.
Miles reached out to touch, and Sam moved away, pulling on his gym shirt with a fast, angry move. "Look, I fell off a building in Mission City, fine?" he snapped, glaring up and down the aisle. "It's nothing."
Miles waited until everyone had moved away or shifted their attention elsewhere before stepping in closer. "That's not nothing, dude," he said so just Sam would hear.
Sam shut his locker and leaned slightly forward, looking at it. "I can't tell you about it, Miles," he said, voice as quiet as Miles' own. He looked up, and his eyes were pleading. "Just trust me, okay?"
--Whatever Sam was mixed up with, regarding the government or Mission City, it was big, and bad, and hurt his bro, and Sam still felt that it was important enough to want to keep it secret.
Miles was in the back seat when Sam's car jerked to a stop just before a car ran a red light and would have t-boned them. Sam and Mikaela went pale, then the engine started up again and the car moved forward. Sam's right thumb stroked the steering wheel grip and Mikaela petted the leather of her seat. "Thanks, Bumblebee," Sam murmured almost too low for Miles to hear, a sentiment which was echoed by Mikaela a few minutes later as they arrived at the pizza parlor and piled out of the car.
Camaro didn't have a car alarm.
--Sam never even bothered locking it, always just walked away trustingly, like he wasn't worried about it getting stolen.
--The jock concubine actually wasn't bad when she was away from the football team.
That evening Sam's parents were on the news, denying any knowledge of aliens or alien invasions, and watching their deer-in-headlights expressions, Miles felt something click into place.
Sam picked him up first, since he lived closer than Mikaela, and on the way over to her place, Miles figured there really was no good way to broach the subject.
"So, bro," he said, "you have an alien car named 'Bumblebee'?"
The Camaro screeched to a wheels-smoking stop in the middle of the road and Sam stared at Miles, a shocked, guilty how-do-I-bullshit-my-way-out-of-this-one look on his face.
--Miles had apparently hit the mark.
He smirked, sitting back in his seat. "Y'know, if it's a Martian, that's cool." He looked up at Sam, who was still trying to formulate a response. "The government let you keep it?"
There was a horn honk behind them, and the car started up again, moving forward without Sam shifting gears or even having his hands on the steering wheel. Miles watched the car steer itself with interest. "Miles," Sam said, "you can't tell anyone."
"Dude, who am I going to tell?" Miles asked.
"Ever," Sam emphasized.
Miles shrugged in acquiescence. "Sure."
Sam nodded, then was silent for a minute. "Fine. Miles, Bumblebee. Bumblebee, Miles," he introduced. "And he's a he, not an 'it'," he told Miles.
"So, like, does everyone have weird names on your planet?" Miles asked the car.
Bumblebee's response was the quiet static of laughter.
Miles is an interesting character who, despite being Sam's best friend, disappears out of the film as soon as Sam figures out that there's something up with his new Camaro. And, in most fanfiction, he similarly disappears, completely dumped as Sam's best friend in favor of the alien robot car. That... doesn't seem fair, somehow. Especially as Miles is also notably more astute than Sam... in the novelization of the movie he ends up very edgy around Sam's car, and even in the version that made it to the big screen, he's the one commenting on Bumblebee's radio malfunction. So this took that through a somewhat natural progression... though I think this entire story actually started from a though on the other end of the spectrum, that Sam (for some strange, inexplicable reason...) doesn't worry (anymore) about his new car getting stolen...