Saturday, March 26, 2011
-- by Gary
Writing about several characters this question of who any one of them might have a crush on gives me a bit of pause. Of course for the main male ones that’s easier for me to answer than it is for my female protagonists. In two books and a short story, I wrote about the goings on of Martha Chainey, a six-foot, buffed ex-showgirl who is a cold cash courier for the buttoned-down mob in modern Vegas. I purposely eschewed having her involved with a man though there were a few hints and innocent flirtations here and there in her tales. But being under the gun as it were to answer, I imagine Martha would go against type and dig a self-possessed cat but not necessarily some ruggedly built dude.
That stated, and understanding she’s something of an outlaw, I’d say she would have a crush on Nelson Mandela. Here was a man who stood on principal, fought for justice, paid the price, and came through it on the other side. It would be the best kind of crush, not mired in physicality – though in his younger days Mandela was a boxer – but the power of his intellect and his “beingness” is what would attract her. I could see her spending hours talking to him, discussing and maybe even arguing with him as to the nature of humanity and the long road of struggle we’re still on as a species to either advance or blow ourselves up in the process. Even outlaws take time to reflect.
I also have this graphic novel coming out and I know some reading this think them funny books like Batman and Spider-Man don’t exactly have a lot of depth of character, but folks might be surprised to know how much work goes into making this disposable entertainment. Anyway, the graphic novel is a mystery called Cowboys. It’s about a tough, take-no-prisoners womanizing black undercover cop, his marriage on the skids, Deke Kotto (the panel here from the pages by the talented Brian Hurtt), who goes submarine on one end of a case. Meanwhile unbeknownst to each other or their bosses, a white FBI agent, Tim Brady, mister suburbs, two kids, bowling on Sundays, goes under on the other end of the same case. Both men are changed the more they submerge themselves while events are inevitably pushing them together on a collision course.
But I bet if you were to ask Kotto and Brady separately, men from different backgrounds and different approaches to doing their job, flawed men, they’d quietly tell you they had a man crush, a bromance on those old movie cowboys. That in particular Sam Peckinpah’s second film, Ride the High County with western icons Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea made an impression on them as teenagers. I seem to remember, and I might have the scene wrong, but I looked up the lines, the two aging gun hands are in this ditch, the gold they’re transporting of course being sought by the bad guys who are shooting at them.
Randolph Scott as Gil Westrum asks Joel McCrea’s Steven Judd, ““The clothes of pride -- is that all you want?”
Judd replies with a paraphrase from the Book of Luke: “All I want is to enter my house justified.”
Despite what Kotto and Brady do that is shall we say questionable, when all’s said and done, they seek what Judd was talking about -- to close the door on a turbulent world, hoping they did what they could do to make their way in it.