Part One of a Longer Black Hills Story
The rotund Gordy Hamilton began sweating the moment he shut off the engine and stepped out of his air-conditioned Honda CRV into the Badlands sun. In minutes rivulets of perspiration were flowing off his face, dampening his shirt.
He and Doris had just finished that painfully boring drive across the prairie from Sioux Falls to Wall Drug on their way to a vacation in the Black Hills. They initially found all those billboards amusing: “201 Miles Wall Drug” and “25 Minutes Wall Drug”and “Cowboy Up.” As they drew near the only thing on their minds was finding a restroom.
After a meal Gordy took out his camera for a few photos. They were standing on a small platform in front of the wax museum. He forced Doris to stand next to a rustic-looking doorway while he framed up a shot. Squinting, he made adjustments, then stepped back a half foot — a bad mistake because his heel had no support so that he lost his balance.
Though only a small drop, it’s a hard fall when a 340-pound mass keels backwards head first onto asphalt. By the time Doris reached him his eyes had rolled back into his skull, his white sausage-like arms quivering, a gutteral k-k-sk-ka-ska-k-k clucking from his throat. She screamed.
It took five men to lift him into the ambulance. At the hospital he was placed in intensive care, unresponsive and semi-comatose.
A Step Back In Time
In the spring semester of his freshman year in college Gordon Hamilton had taken a class titled Philosophy of Mind. The first essay students had been assigned dealt with the problem of identity. Imagine waking up one day to find that your brain was in the body of a woman in England and her brain was in your body. Which one would be you? What would your experience be?
Gordon had no idea that one day he would experience this problem in real life.
He didn’t know when or where he was, but when he opened his eyes he felt as if he had been in an elaborate dream. He had no recollection of his having fallen and cracked his skull. He did, however, remember his former life growing up in Chicago, then moving to Minneapolis and settling in Mankato. He suffered from…