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• Chapter Eight Melon, Just Melon Saturday, August 2, 1969 Kadoka sat right of the edge of the rez, too, but it was on the east side and a far different town than Scenic or Interior, because, unlike the ­other two, Kadoka was on the main tourist highway to the Black Hills. The town survived from the trade of local ranchers and farmers, but the ­gravy came from tourists passing through in their station wagons and campers from May to September, dropping money in the gas stations, local restaurants, and hotels. Most of the tourists had never seen an Indian in their life, but when they did, they wanted their picture taken with him. Or her. Ellis Old Bear and a couple of his cousins picked up some good cash standing alongside the highway dressed in pow wow costumes. The clientele that patronized the Rattlesnake Lounge in Kadoka were not there to drink away their troubles, just ordinary White people on their annual two-week vacation from the auto factory in Detroit or mid-level city workers from Cleveland or Des Moines. They arrived tired and hot and crabby in their two-year-old station wagon with the luggage rack on top, three kids fighting in the backseat, with nothing of note in scenery for three hundred miles except for the consecutive Burma Shave signs alongside the road. Businesses were strung out along both sides of the highway like the contents of an upturned trash can, a trail of brightly colored boxy buildings , some brick, some painted in bright colors and all with signs to attract tourists: Rattlesnake Display! World’s Biggest Jack Rabbit! Get your cold drinks HERE! Hot Coffee 5 Cents No Limit Refills! Ice Cream Cones! Petrified Wood! Air Conditioned! Gas stations sat on the very ends of the string because each ­ owner believed that tourists stopped at the first station going either east or west, so they hopscotched each other until gas stations stretched out on either end of town for two miles in each direction. Several small motels sat alongside the highway, but the Holiday Inn, that middle-class, 82 Chapter Eight middle-priced bastion of respectable accommodation, was on the northeast corner of the highway, on the only paved street that led off the highway to the residential section of town with the public school, the civic buildings, and the public park—places where tourists ventured only if they were lost or one of their kids had to pee and they couldn’t find anything open. Sonny called Sissy on Saturday morning to say he was riding up and back with Clayton, so she had to go with Melvin. “How come?” she asked. “You looking forward to being browbeaten for two hours up there and two hours back?” “You mean, when he starts out, ‘For a guy who’s been to the seminary , you sure blah blah blah’?” “Yeah. I know how much you hate that. So what are you up to? And why couldn’t you ride up with Melvin?” “Melvin had some things to do so he won’t be leaving until later.” “Okay. So, again, what are you up to?” Silence on the other end, then he said, “More like what I’m getting away from. Fast.” She thought silently a minute longer than he had. “Oh. Speedy crowding you?” “Something like that.” “Oh, but she’s so cute when she puts her tongue in her cheek like that!” “She’s cuter when she puts her tongue someplace else, but lately she’s been pushing me about putting her shoes under my bed permanently.” “I thought you were smart enough to know that. So, you aren’t okay with a wife?” “That’s one thing I did learn in the seminary. No wives.” “I thought you were supposed to be celibate too.” “So I only learned half of it. Look, are you gonna trade with me or not?” “What’ll you pay me?” “Sissy, come on. Don’t do me that way.” “What way? I’m just looking out for the interest of women.” “Speedy ain’t no woman. She’s a vine with a mouth and claws, and she’s choking me to death.” “I’ll tell her how much you appreciate her. I could offer her a ride up to the gig with me and Melvin.” He groaned. “Sissy, please help me out on this one. Be a decent little cousin for a change.” “All right, all right. But you...


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