Friday, June 23, 2017


The Reel Infatuation Blogathon is an event devoted to favorite movie characters, hosted by Silver Screenings and Font and Frock. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the links at either site.

from my VHS collection

Larry wasn't born with the brains God gave a duck but he was my brother and he shouldna oughta died like that: shot, left in the snow in the middle o' the night. I told him to stay on 71 when he called me: "Stay on 71," I says, "that'll take ya to I-94 and I-94'll take ya to Minneapolis." Don't know how he ended up in Brainerd, but that's Larry for ya - and all on account o' him and his girlfriend needin' to go to that damfool Three Stooges film festival.

I went to Brainerd to... you know, identify the bodies and all. Long drive from Billings.

I got there and went to the police station and that's where I met Sheriff Marge Gunderson.

Now let me say right here, I got nothin' against a woman doin' a man's job in principle, but I do believe there are some jobs men are simply better suited for: dangerous jobs, life-threatenin' jobs, like police. After all, it's a man's duty to protect a woman, keep her safe. It's what I was taught, what I think is right. Other men may say they protect their women and then do things like smack them around for livin', but not Earl Grady. No sir.

So seein' a lady cop caught me off guard at first, but I figure, small town like Brainerd, she probably doesn't have much to do. But then she got up from behind her desk.

As God is my witness, this lady cop was... with child.

I'd seen enough. I demanded someone else look for Larry's killer. Ain't right for a woman to put herself in danger when she's in a family way. Let the state troopers deal with this, I says, especially since one of their own got killed too. Maybe I came on a little too strong with the sheriff, but I couldn't help it, on account of my brother and all. The wife, she always tells me I should be more careful.

Well sir, Sheriff Gunderson looked me square in the eye, all calm-like, and said I wouldn't find one statie who knows the area better than her - and anyway, she already checked out the scene o' the crime with her deputy and she got a lead on the car the killer drove in.

That made me think for a minute, but then I said, "Well, that's all well and good, ma'am, but what if you start havin' yer baby right when ya find the sumbitch?" She said she wasn't due for another two months or so and long before that happens she'd catch the bastard (only she called him a "mal-fea-sant"). Hell, she said that the way other folks'd say the sky is blue - and all the time she's smilin', talkin' in that funny way folks from Minnesota do, you know, "yah" and "you betcha." I tell ya, most people see me steamed, they run for cover, but not her; I'll give her credit for that. She sounded like she knew what she was doin'.

I checked into a motel, went to the morgue, claimed Larry, made arrangements to have him shipped back to Billings. (His girlfriend's parents hadn't arrived to identify her yet.) The sheriff continued her investigation. Lou, her deputy, told me she traced the car to a dealership in Minneapolis. Spoke to a guy there who told her no cars were missing.

Maybe I watch too many o' them big-city cop shows, like Hill Street Blues and all, but by now I'm thinkin' everyone she talked to was hidin' somethin' and she was too damn nice to notice. I called back Lou, told him I changed my mind and was gonna go to the staties - how many murders did she have to deal with in gee-dee Brainerd anyway, fifty miles from everything else? - but he told me to wait till he heard back from her. Said she can find the sumbitch. Said she ain't no pushover.

Fella's loyal. I admire that.

I stuck with the sheriff.

Wouldn't ya know it, she did find the killer - killers. It was two guys, workin' for the car dealership fella, runnin' some kinda scam: arrangin' to kidnap his own wife and hold up her father for a ransom. The hired goons killed the statie who pulled them over, while the wife was stashed in the trunk. Larry and his girl happened to see it and the goons killed them too.

And Sheriff Gunderson - the same sheriff I thought was too soft-hearted to get the job done, not to mention the one haulin' a baby around - she shot one o' the goons when he tried to escape! Hot damn, I wish I'da seen that! (Probably gave him a stern lecture afterwards, I'll bet.)

When the sheriff came back to Brainerd and told me alla this, I shook her hand and apologized for underestimatin' her. She just laughed and said it was all part o' her job. Just like she nabs killers and kidnappers every damn day.

The wife, she's knittin' a sweater for the sheriff's baby. Me, I'm buyin' him a BB rifle. Young'un needs an early start if he's gonna grow up to be like his momma.

Other favorite movie characters (an abbreviated list):
Sheriff Bart
Holden McNeil
Muriel Heslop
Mr. Miyagi
Sam Dodsworth
Professor Harold Hill


  1. I don't know that I wouldn't be taken aback upon first meeting Sheriff Gunderson as well, Earl. She certainly won you over, and not because she was trying, just doing her job. Sounds like one of those Reader's Digest Most Unforgettable Character articles.

    Marge certainly joins a choice selection of favourites. She also joins the collection of My Fave Posts.

  2. One thing about Marge that I probably didn't make as clear in this piece, but which I admire greatly about her, is how she's tough without sacrificing her femininity. Her pregnancy is the obvious sign, but beyond that, she's warm, compassionate and empathetic while being good at her job as a cop - and credit, of course, must go to Frances McDormand for such a well-rounded performance.

  3. I love EVERYTHING about this, especially how you ended it with the baby growing up to be like his Momma. And what a Momma she is! Smart, capable, yet there's something maternal about her personality (aside from her pregnancy, I mean).

    I adore Frances McDormand in this film. She's crucial – not only to the plot, but to the essence of the film. She's the heart, and this grim story desperately needs one.

    Also, I loved your "voice" in this piece. Like Paddy said (above) I think this is my new fave, you betcha!

  4. Thanks. Funny you should mention "voice" - I've been reading about voice in fiction writing lately, trying to better understand how to use it to maximum effect. When I revise my novel, I'm gonna make a greater effort to employ it in my narrative. I kinda have, in places, but I wanna go further with it. This piece was meant as a practice run.

  5. I Enjoyed your narrative post on Fargo. It's creative, colorful and refreshing. Thank you🙂


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