Monday, June 29, 2015
Lawman Versus Gunman
While "Appaloosa" shared sets and locales with films like "3:10 To Yuma" and "Cowboys And Aliens," author Robert B Parker and director Ed Harris was more concerned with exploring the type of people who would try to settle an untamed land. Central to the story are the lawmen who keep the peace. Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch don't talk much. To Ed Harris, they're the type of men who could ride side-by-side all day, never say a word to each other, and be perfectly content with the nature of their camaraderie. In fact, Cole seems a stranger to words, a man who uses them when necessary, but sparingly, knowing they can inflict as much harm as the guns he wields. Cole frequently looks to Hitch to help him find the appropriate words in a given situation. But what he lacks in education, he makes up with determination, by reading noteworthy authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson, and attempting to embody the ideals he finds in their books.
"Everett, listen to this," Cole says one day, looking up briefly from his leather-bound volume of Emerson. "What I must do is all that concerns me," Cole reads slowly and haltingly, "not what the people think."
Everett Hitch regards his friend somberly, and nods in reply.
Later, when enforcing the law proves tricky in Appaloosa, sidekick Everitt Hitch suggests that they are gunmen first, then lawmen. If they know what's right, maybe it's okay to bend the law in this one instance, for the sake of the greater good. Virgil Cole's answer is straight-forward and immediate. He simply wouldn't know how to look at himself, if he saw himself as anything other than a lawman first.
As SF authors such as Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and Allen Steele have suggested, it'll take strong, forceful characters to establish self-sufficient colonies on other worlds. People like Gerald Skibbow, Father Horst Elwes, and Quinn Dexter in Peter F Hamilton's novel The Reality Dysfunction will all attempt this in their own ways. But when the people of such a colony are looking for someone to establish the law and maintain the Peace, they could do much worse than employ someone Virgil Cole, and his loyal friend Everett Hitch.