Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ever see the television series Justified?

It's really very good. It's about the US Marshall Service in Harlan County, Kentucky fighting organized crime, both the local homespun variety and the larger syndicates. 

In Season 6, Episode 4, this Mafia group is moving through Harlan County bent on buying up all the country spreads and offering top dollar for them- in cash. It's unclear why they want all these properties. Some owners accept right away because the offers are damn good. But, some don't accept, either because they just don't want to move, or they just don't want to sell, or they just don't want to do business with these shady people. 

For instance, Jonell and Betty Hutchins were made an excellent offer for their place, but they refused outright. Betty was the English teacher at the high school, and they had strong ties to the community. They made it clear that they were not interested in selling- at any price.

So, US Marshall Raylan Givens (star of the show) and his partner Officer Tim Gutterson are questioning this realtor named Jake Calhoun, who has been helping the bad guys but without realizing the true nature of their dealings. 

Calhoun: Look, fellas, I've been helpful, right? Can we wrap this up? I have a speech to write, and it's twisting my stomach in knots.

Officer Givens: Are you running for Mayor again?

Calhoun: No. I've had a rough day. I have to eulogize a friend tonight.

Officer Givens: Sorry to hear it.

Calhoun: Pillar of the community. She and her husband Jonell died in the damn strangest accident.

Officer Gutterson: What kind of accident?

Calhoun: Furnace took a shit. Carbon monoxide. Killed them both in their sleep.

Officer Givens: Who are we talking about?

Calhoun: Betty and Jonell Hutchins.

Officer Givens: The English teacher?

Officer Gutterson: Hutchins was a name on the list. 

Officer Givens: Circled and x-ed out. 

Calhoun: That means more than one offer was made; both refused.

Alright, so I think you see where this is going, right? So, what do we have here? Is this a case of art imitating life or life imitating art?

 "By 1995, both Altgens and his wife were in declining health; their nephew, Dallas attorney Ron Grant, told the Houston Chronicle that his Aunt Clara "had been very ill for some time with heart trouble and many other problems. Both of them had had the flu for some time." On December 12, Ike and Clara Altgens were found dead in separate rooms in their home in Dallas. In addition to their failing health, police believed carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty furnace played a role in their deaths."

Which script do you like better? I find the one from Justified to be more credible, myself, because they didn't bluster about the couple being in poor health anyway, having heart problems, many other problems, plus the flu, such that a 76 year old and a 73 year old would be expected to die spontaneously at the same time..That was overkill. It was overreaching. They were trying too hard. They didn't have the good sense to leave well enough alone. And it goes to show: not everyone's a writer. It's a gift.  


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