The gears of their well-worn Chinese-made Schwinns were grinding as Dante and his kid sister Uma rounded a steep curve on a wilderness trail in the Black Hills. A gap in the forest foliage gave them a direct view of the mountain known as Rushmore, and they squeezed their handbrakes and came to an abrupt stop, as if the awesome sight before them was the visual equivalent of a roadblock.
"Wow," said Uma.
"Told ya," said Dante.
"I thought the Big Heads on the mountain was just a legend."
"Told ya. There they are."
Uma gazed silently up at the mountain for at least a minute, and Dante gazed at Uma. He'd never seen her so quiet for so long.
Finally, Uma broke the golden silence: "Who the heck are they? Important guys, I suppose. Big heads of big shots."
"The old guys I work with at the distillery told me all about the heads. They know lots of history because they're old. Gideon, the mash-master, is, like, 59!"
"Wow, I've never met anyone that old. Our parents aren't even that old."
"Gideon told me they're the heads of past Presidents of what used to be called the United States of America."
"The one to the left looks familiar."
"Yeah, did you ever see an old paper dollar bill?"
"Well, he's on the dollar. And that's him on the old quarter coins. You've seen them?"
"Yeah, Brianna has a necklace made of one; but I thought that was a woman on the coin."
"No, it's George Washington wearing a wig - both on the coin and on the mountain."
"Washington? As in the infamous Washington D.C., source of all evil?"
"Yeah, I think George was the first mayor or something."
"So is he responsible for all the trouble caused by Washington, D.C.?"
"No, that came much later. Can't blame that on George."
"Who's the second big head?"
"Not sure, but I think I've seen him on an old coin too."
"Looks like another woman to me."
"It's the wig again."
"What's with all the wigs? Did you have to be a transvestite to be President?"
"Don't be silly, Uma."
"Who's the third big head?"
"How about the fourth, then?"
"Yeah, that's Abraham Lincoln. Some people say he freed the slaves, but…"
"No way. Ah, like, I don't know squat about history, but even I know that President Martin Luther Kennedy and the Demo-rats freed the slaves."
"Yeah, I don't know how that Lincoln rumor got started; everybody knows the Demo-rats under Martin Luther Kennedy freed the slaves."
"So why isn't MLK up there, carved in stone?"
"Racism, I guess."
"And that weird-looking fifth head that is slightly higher than the rest? Who's that?"
"That's President Barack Obama."
"Okay, so what's his claim to fame?"
"Well, some of the old guys blame him for the whole Washington, D.C. mess -- the economic meltdown, the mega-depression, the collapse of the power grid, secession of the states, the famines, the riots, the raids, and even the epidemics. Other old guys blame someone named Bush or Brush or something shrubby like that. Oh, and I've also heard guys say that Obama was the first black President of the United States."
"Well, MLK was the first black President. Even I know that. He was a martyr. He was assassinated by a crazy white racist named Lee Harvey, while he was driving through Dallas in a convertible."
"What was Harvey doing driving through Dallas in a convertible?"
Uma slapped her brother on the shoulder. "Other way around, wise guy!"
Dante laughed at his own tease, and then returned his thoughts to the fame issue:
"Yeah, well, since MLK was the first black President, that would make Obama the second black President, which isn't that big of a deal, so he must have done something else to get up there on the mountain, must have some other claim to fame."
The two siblings stared up at the mountain, as if the big heads might somehow open their big mouths and speak to them, or at least send them a telepathic message in answer to their musings about the past.
"Hey, the Obama head is different from the rest, isn't it?" said Uma. "And it's not just that he's not wearing a wig. The Obama head is the same color, size and style as the others, but it doesn't look like it's carved into the mountain so much as sitting on top of the mountain."
"Yeah, it is sitting on top. It's not made of stone. Gideon told me that it's made of composite plastic, millions of ground-up plastic bottles and glue. You ever see a plastic bottle?"
"Yeah, Brianna's dad has one on their mantle. He thinks it's some sort of treasure or something.
"Well, they're rare now, but apparently, they were more common years ago. Enough around to make into a giant head, anyway."
"Hey, I thought I saw the Obama head move," said Uma. "Is it swaying or am I dreaming?"
"No, it does move a bit. Gideon said that it's mounted on springs for some reason, maybe to protect it from earthquakes or so it will move with the wind. He doesn't know exactly why."
"Well, it's an impressive work of art, but the way it shifts around is kind of creepy. I keep thinking it's going to bounce down off its perch and spring down here and open its giant mouth and eat us."
"Don't be childish, Uma."
"That big plastic head must have cost a fortune to make."
"They say the Demo-rats spent the last billion dollars in the U. S. Treasury to finance the Obama head. It broke the bank, so to speak."
"Wow, big waste of money. Nobody even knows who he is anymore. Or cares."
"Well, it's a monument."
"To what -- waste and stupidity?"
Dante just shrugged.
"Well, it's pretty obvious what President Obama's real claim to fame is, if you think about it."
"How's that, Uma?"
"Well, just look at the evidence before your eyes," she said, as she gazed up at the colossal plastic head on the mountain. "He wasn't the first black President; he was the first bobblehead President."