I miss Daniel Plainview.
It’s been ten years since he came and went so quickly.
I think of him still.
For a full two years I walked and talked like Daniel Plainview.
In a flash, I could scream out, “You’re a bastard in a basket; you’re a bastard in a basket.”
Or … “I have abandoned my child. I have abandoned my child.”
In my quieter moments, I would softly say, “No hitting,” or “I will pay you quail prices for that.”
I died to be placed in situations where I could reply as Daniel would: “I’ll bet you feel like a fool,” or “That’s a deal; what’s next?”
What is it about Daniel that endeared him to me? I say is not was because Daniel is still alive in my heart.
What is it about Daniel that inspired so many people to copy him, to walk like him? Yes, I practiced walking like him.
He was so loveably weird.
He only laughed once, but I copied that laugh.
For me Daniel was the weirdest guy since Nixon; and then one day it occurred to me that Daniel was Nixon.
Daniel like Nixon represented in extremes the best and the worst of us.
There atop the prairie, Daniel crouched, alone, pure ambition, shivering, the wind blowing fiercely in his face, screaming in his ears: “You don’t have the right stuff, Plainview.”
When Daniel falls into the shaft, we fall with him; we drag ourselves to the assayer with broken leg to redeem our silver.
We’re ruthless; we’re committed and we’re paranoid.
Daniel is the story of America, our story, for better or for worse, in all its comic beauty and ugliness.
It was Richard Nixon’s story also.
There he stood by himself, Nixon, the underdog, in that first campaign, by himself, alone, when no one knew his name, fiercely fighting the monied elites from the East only to become the tragic victim of his own blind ambition.
The winds raged against Nixon, the boy from the other side of the tracks.
“You’ll never make it, Nixon,” the winds howled.
I miss Nixon. I miss Daniel.
They are me, and I am them.
I want to embrace them both and say to them: “Let me tell you something, boys. I’m going to go up there to Little Boston, and if I find out that what you are telling me isn’t so, I’m going to come back here and find you, and I’m going to take back more than just my money. Is that okay with you?”
Copyright 2018 Archer Crosley All Rights Reserved.