Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

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Thomas Daulton
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Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by Thomas Daulton » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:51 pm

The putrid corpse hefted Miss Daisy away from the flaming barn, setting her gently on the desert plain, next to the preacher. A few embers still smoked among its charred headdress feathers. Hollow eye sockets passed over both their faces. Then, seemingly satisfied, it shambled off.

"That the same one who rescued your aunt from that terrible stagecoach robbery, ma'am?"

"Why I'm certain, reverend. Black Bart shot him six times through the chest and it didn't even slow him down!"

"Then ah reckon it's true what they say," spat the preacher, reluctantly. "The only good injun is an un-dead injun."

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.

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"All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost." --J.R.R. TOLKIEN

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Thomas Daulton
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Re: Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by Thomas Daulton » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:53 pm

[[ ... cue the William Tell Overture... ]] :wink:
"All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost." --J.R.R. TOLKIEN

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Re: Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by Flintknapper » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:27 pm

He is like some sort of undead superhero. Love the word play in this one.

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Re: Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by Varda » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:23 pm

This was awesome. What a way to turn that phrase on its head. :D
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Re: Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by Scattercat » Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:33 pm

Varda wrote:This was awesome. What a way to turn that phrase on its head. :D
I dunno. It's still a pretty racist phrase...

I do like the image of the dead man charging around, silently doing superheroic feats for inexplicable reasons. I may have to steal the idea at some point.

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Re: Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by Thomas Daulton » Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:03 pm

Thanks for "getting" the story, y'all!! You're exactly right, with the concept. [Steal away, Scattercat!! Maybe we can get a series going!!]

I conceived of this drabble months and months ago, never had time to write it up, long before the movies came out. But IMHO, watching two hours of an unstoppable, unkillable, decaying Native American wander the West, silently and mysteriously fighting for Truth and Justice, would have been far more interesting than the recent "Superman" and "Lone Ranger" movies combined...

If this were to continue with more stories, I'd say that attacking racism was inherent in my idea of flipping the "only good Indian" phrase around. I would totally want the white settlers to question their racism due to this silent, implacable example of a "good Indian". They'd speculate and pray and curse and some would call it blasphemy, but the Indian would just go on saving their lives, without a word of explanation, and nobody would be able to hinder him. Drive 'em bonkers!!
"All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost." --J.R.R. TOLKIEN

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Re: Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by Scattercat » Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:10 pm

The problem is that his uniqueness pushes him into "Magical Negro" territory, where it's okay to have heroic or wise minorities, but only insofar as they are benevolent toward the majority. They get to be exceptional, but they can't be normal; they're still locked into their "other" category.

Not saying it couldn't be done, but it would require a very delicate touch that would be difficult to maintain with the gonzo high adventure tone.

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Re: Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by Thomas Daulton » Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:31 pm

Yeah it would take some subtlety, and I'm the first to admit, I'm still working on mastering that subtlety thang... Hence I'm happy if somebody wants to steal the idea and run with it. I would envision something along the lines of some old radio shows like "The Whistler" or some of the episodes of "The Shadow": depending who was writing it, sometimes The Shadow would get in there and mix it up with the bad guys hand to hand, but other times The Shadow was merely an offstage presence for most of the story -- a supernatural terror that the bad guys would be afraid of, and make decisions reacting to that fear, but his actual appearances would be used judiciously. Sometimes The Shadow's gang of agents and hirelings would end up doing most of the crime-fighting legwork in the story, and maybe if this dead-Indian concept continued, the mythos would get divided into bad guys vs. "normal" characters, who after an encounter with the undead-Indian, start to question what they've been taught about Indians and stick up for what's right on their own.

But when you said you were interested in stealing the idea, you didn't actually specify that you would continue with the same character and setting. I'd love to see you use the concept with different dead characters and other settings.

One time there was an alternate-universe version of "The Green Lantern" in a comic book, who was more like a mysterious witch or fairy woman, and when she shone her "green lantern" upon a gravestone, the dead person would come back to life for 24 hours to right one specific wrong that the dead person felt was still not settled. I always thought that was an interesting concept, because the dead person would often be confronted with a choice: revenge, _or_ justice, _or_ protection of somebody still living that they cared about, and it would turn out that revenge was not the highest priority on their list...
"All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost." --J.R.R. TOLKIEN

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Re: Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by the-hest-of-hale » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:18 pm

You pull off a bit of the ol' Goldilocks with the accents: not too much, not too little. It flavors things really nice.
Thomas Daulton wrote:Hollow eye sockets passed over both their faces. Then, seemingly satisfied, it shambled off.
This may be just me and my reading but when I hear "Hollow eye sockets" I assume there is nothing going on upstairs. So, even "seeming satisfied" jolts me into think well "Is he brain dead or not?" One way to get around this might be to use an action which suggests satisfaction (e.g. a nod, a last look, etc.). The contrast goes unstated and implied.

As for the racism of the statement, you do a great job of flipping thing the statement through your storytelling. However, the interpretation of the story depends on the mind of your audience. I could very well believe that "The old good Indian is a dead Indian" and have your story make still make sense. In order for you to disrupt that thought, you have to show him doing good deeds before and after his death. As it stands now, his death could be the cause of "cleansing" the bad from him and so the only good Indian is a dead indian. The story as it stands could be told by a racist to other racists to get a chuckle or a person who believes we are all equal to like a like minded audience to confirm how much wiser we all are.

I think you identify with your hero and this allows you to feel the righteous feeling your story also affords "Even in death, I am more moral than you." I know you don't want to tip your hand to preserve the surprise of your tale. However, if we have to guess what is going on in your mind, we might not be inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. Since our minds as your audience are the play thing of your story, you must account for our assumptions and lead us to your beautiful thought.

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Re: Drabble: "The Only Good Indian Is"

Post by Varda » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:38 pm

For me at least, having the punchline spoken by a character in-story created enough distance for the normally racist saying to be flipped and funny. After reading Scattercat's and Hest's thoughts, I can see the potential for a racist reading as well.

One problem is that everyone is given a name except for the undead hero himself, which makes it less his story and more the white characters' story. Perhaps you could re-humanize him a bit by giving him a name? "The corpse of Corpsename hefted Miss Daisy..." Then change "it" to "his" (or "her" if the hero is female), thus establishing him as a person (albeit a zombie one) and not a thing. You might even create some irony if you refer to him as "him" in the narrative, but have the other characters view him as "it", depending what direction you want to take it.

Just some suggestions. I do stand by loving this Drabble! :D
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