Two Aces & Two Eights

Crazy Horse Mileage:1,403.67

The day before yesterday, we viewed Crazy Horse carved out of a mountain initially by a crazy man, Korczak Ziółkowski, who worked alone and refused federal funds. The mountain resembled very little until ten years after his death. Most of his ten children and his second wife carry on the legacy, most of the work accomplished in the last twenty years. Finally, a stone face, colossal enough to carry the four faces of Rushmore, glares out glumly from the mountain side and draws in over a million visitors a year and their money. The original model, designed by Ziolkowski, owns a slightly different visage, which communicates an unconquered spirit. His chin tilts more upward, and his mouth is a firmer line.

I cannot help but think this change occurred because the original designer wasn’t around to oversee the project. The perfectionist designer of Rushmore blew off an entire face of his mountainside and started over—although he possessed funding and crews of workers. Still, Crazy Horse dazzles the imagination. Apposite stone glitters amber–quite different from the white-granite hue of Rushmore. I would like to revisit the work in ten years and see if the face of Crazy Horse’s stallion flares his nostrils.

We pushed on to Deadwood. Knocked out by the heat, we spent the greater portion of the day in our hotel room, the historic Bullock Hotel. We enjoyed a fine guitar player sing songs and tell stories about the history of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, the next day we’d visit their graves, where there was an elegant bust of Bill.

The guitarist brought Molly up to the front for no apparent reason other than the fact that she is a pretty college girl. After five we ambled through the streets of the scenic mountain town, where Wild Bill Hickok got shot in back while playing poker, holding a hand of two aces and two eights, “Dead Man’s Hand.”

That night I prepared to lose twenty-five dollars in the casinos. If I won twenty-five dollars I thought I would walk away. Trouble began when I was winning. Instead of walking away with eighty dollars and playing again the next morning, I got greedy. Imagined winning two hundred dollars. Instead, I lost thirty. Walked away then, but the lost money clouded over my winnings. I recognized this train of thinking engenders the roots of gambling fever. The next morning, I played at the Gold Dust. I planned only to gamble with five dollars so I could clear with $50, but I purchased twenty-five chips. I walked away this time with a two day winnings of $101. That’s the hard part, walking away. Last night when we pulled into our KOA camp and it cost $60 for the night, I wished I would walk down the block of Deadwood in the morning to Black Jack. Good thing I am a state away from South Dakota, otherwise I might be going the path of Wild Bill.

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