The curtain effectively lowered on my sojourn in Leadville late one November night when, after weeks of increasing tension not uncommon among sexually-frustrated young men (perhaps somewhat similar to today’s “involuntary celibates,” although without the misogyny) condemned to live together in that rugged town of few single women, I was on the receiving end of an airborne frozen pizza as I tried to sleep. A fistfight with my psycho-drunk housemate―a friend of 15 years, no less―ensued. I managed to land a few blows as my friend lurched about, but then fled our rental house in my Fruit-of-the-Looms when he grabbed a carving knife awarded to him for his attendance record at the mine. Fifteen minutes later, a third housemate and neutral body politic kindly brought me car keys and sufficient clothing as I huddled in my Mustang in front of our dump on Seventh Street. Then I drove through the night to Denver and my sister’s rental house, where I made a temporary nest in its basement. For the next two weeks I commuted the 90 minutes between Denver and Climax.
Meanwhile, I ran into my housemate/nemesis at the dry. I was anticipating a snub, perhaps a threatening look. However, bearing a black-and-blue crescent under each eye (which I found deeply gratifying), he instead grinned and good-naturedly said, “Is the moon in the sky a big pizza pie?” Stunned by his lack of hard feelings─puzzled, too, as I was at the time unaware of Dean Martin’s signature song─I sighed and grudgingly smiled. But this gesture didn’t sway me. I could no longer live in Leadville, nor could I any longer stand the absurd commute between Denver and Fremont Pass. I abandoned the mountains for a second time and called Denver my home for the next 13 years.