I arrived in Pierre, South Dakota via US-83 N which means I drove through the middle of the Fort Pierre National Grassland, a place where no one ever wonders what's on the other side of the next hill because it's pretty much the same thing you're looking at on your side of the hill. When I crested the final rise I saw Fort Pierre and wondered just what the hell I'd gotten myself into this time. Then I crossed the river into Pierre, the capital of South Dakota and started learning about a whole new civilization.
Fortunately for me, the Teton River Traders Gun Shop was right across the street from my office, and the place just kind of pulled me in. I met the proprietor Cody Williams, the poor but honest gun trader of South Dakota, and he turned out to be real hospitable, which is generally true of all the people out there in South Dakota with the exception of one drunk bartender I met.
One of the first things on my agenda was to head out to see Mount Rushmore and stop at Wall Drug to send the folks back home a few souvenirs. Wall Drug is kind of touristy for my taste, but I bought the usual tee shirts, commemorative 30-30 Winchester lever action carbine and the ubiquitous jackalope post cards, which I promptly sent to Main Lady, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. I included several cards that featured the extremely rare flying jackalope.
|The Elusive Jackalope|
|The Extremely Rare Flying Jackalope|
"Hi Jackie-Sweetie! I miss you!"
"I miss you too, my dear. How are things at home?"
"Well, I was hoping you could tell us a little about the jackalope."
"Ah, sure... what about it?"
"Well, we all - that is, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and I, we wanted you to know we liked the post cards you sent us, but we wanted to know what the jackalopes eat?"
"What they eat?"
"Yes! Do you know what they eat?"
"Oh, well, they're herbivores, so they eat prairie grass and plants like that."
"Well, that's what I thought. We asked Cottontail and she didn't know."
At this juncture I was forced to clap a hand tightly over my mouth and stifle myself. You see, Cottontail had just graduated from Veterinary college (at or near the head of her class, I may add) and was working at a veterinarian's office in a very exclusive suburb of Columbus - Dublin. The people in Dublin have money, and I mean big money. The men are Republicans and the women are anti-gun liberal vegetarian animal rights activists.
I took a deep breath and got hold of myself.
"She didn't? Well, you know, the jackalope is very rare, so I'm not too surprised."
"Yes... they don't really fly, do they?"
"Well, they're not what you'd call a strong flyer - "
"I didn't think so! They just kind of glide along, right?"
"Yes, that's right. They sort of hop and glide along, kind of like a flying squirrel or something."
I don't really remember what I said just then - my tears were blinding me.
"Cottontail couldn't find them in her veterinary book."
"Ah, well. She couldn't, huh? Well, you know, they're rare. Tell her to ask around the office."
Wait until they hear about this one at the gun store.
"She did, and no one else can find anything either. Even the encyclopedia doesn't have anything."
"Ah. Ah ha. Ah - yes. She asked everyone?"
"Yes! Even the owner doesn't know."
"Well, I'll tell you what. I'll look around here and see what I can find. Okay?"
"Thanks Jack! You're such a sweetie!"
"Yeah, ain't I just."
I went over to the gun shop and explained what happened to the guys loafing and hanging around the store. They didn't know what the jackalope ate either.