Thursday, April 21, 2005


Mountain Men, Black Powder, and Sucker Bets

Don't even think about betting with this guy.

I just added a link today to a new phriend: Graumagus. Graumagus left a cool comment on yesterday's SWAT monkey post, so I slipped on over to his site and found it to my liking. Not that I have discriminating tastes or anything. Take a minute to visit him, and you won't be disappointed. Graumagus is off right now at a rendezvous. No, I'm not talking about the third-rate romance type of rendezvous that, by the way, The Amazing Rhythm Aces performed a whole helluva lot better than Sammy Kershaw. I'm talking about a real-life mountain-man, dress in buckskins, sleep on the ground, cook over a fire and shit in the woods rendezvous.

And that got me to thinking.

One of my best phriends is "Mountain Man Jim," and Big Jim is way into the rendezvous and black-powder scene. When he puts on all that mountain man shit, he looks like he just stepped out of a time warp. He's aimin' to skin a griz', pilgrim.

A few years back, Jim and another phriend, Rex, introduced me and a couple of other ignorant pilgrims to the art of black powder shooting. Now, I'm an ex-cop who was raised with guns, so I was no novice to firing weaponry. But this shit is something else. I'll never forget the reaction of one of our guys, DCBLues Danny. He takes careful aim, pauses, squeezes the trigger, and


It sounds like somebody just torched an entire freakin' armory. Danny's top half disappears into this huge cloud of smoke for about five seconds. He finally reappears, lowers the rifle, and announces: "I think I just got an erection."

Oh, yeah, black powder is a man-pleaser.

Of course, when I tried my first shot with a real-life .50 caliber flintlock, I got a different result. With the rifle, I mean, not that other thing. I did everything right: Good sight picture, steady hand, squeezed the trigger ever so gently, and


That's it. I was expecting the big bang I just witnessed from Danny. I announced my disappointment, "Hey, Jim! What the



Turns out there's a history behind that little metaphor, "a flash in the pan," and I'd just seen it firsthand. I guess I'm lucky I didn't turn the damn thing around and look down the barrel to see just what the hell the hold-up was.

So there we are, shooting up the place with chunks of lead about the size of baseballs, when Big Jim starts to brag a little. That liar had the nerve to tell me he could split a playing card sideways with a black powder rifle. Now I got him.

"Bullshit!" I tell him.

"Wanna bet?" asks Big Jim.

Now the wheels are turning. See, I don't wanna get into one of those dipshit barroom bets like "I bet I can push my head through my wedding ring." There's gotta be a catch to this "splitting a playing card" thing. Nobody can do that.

I look around at Rex. Surely he'll tip me off if this is a gag. Yeah, right. What was I thinking? That pain-in-the-ass relishes reminding me about every time I've ever fallen on my ass. Believe me, I've given him plenty to yammer about. But of course, this one's a no-brainer. I can't lose

Confidently, I throw out the tried and true schoolyard bet: "I'll bet a million billion trillion gazillion dollars you can't split a playing card sideways."

So I go over to a mesquite and hang up a deuce of clubs. I figure it's a little thinner than a face card. Why give him any more than a snowball's chance in Phoenix to get lucky? I walk back and stand by Big Jim. I can't even see the fucking thing. It's sideways, for crying out loud. Big Jim stares at the spot where it looks like it should be for a long second, raises his rifle, and


All I see through the smoke is the bottom half of that goddamn deuce of clubs fluttering to the ground.


"It's a mountain man thing. If I told you, I'd have to kill you. Where's my money?"

Now I'm screwed. "Double or nothing? Best two out of three? Rock, scissors, paper?"


So, I guess I'll be paying like a hundred million a month to Big Jim until my debt is cleared. But you know what? That's not even the worst part. The real worst part is that Rex won't shut the fuck up about it.

How the hell did he DO that?


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