When I was first asked to write Mitch, I started to think about the essence of the man. Who is he on a fundamental level and how could I build on what Vince had already so carefully constructed? My mind went immediately to one of the greatest pieces of action dialogue ever written. In The Outlaw Josey Wales, Clint Eastwood is in a saloon when a man walks in to challenge him:
Bounty Hunter: “I’m looking for Josey Wales.”
Wales: “That’d be me.”
Bounty Hunter: “You’re wanted, Wales.”
Wales: “I reckon I’m right popular. You a bounty hunter?”
Bounty Hunter: “Man’s got to do something for a living these days.”
Wales: “Dying ain’t much of a living, boy. You know, this isn’t necessary. You can just ride on.”
The man reconsiders his situation and leaves the saloon. Moments later he comes back in, clearly unable to live with being a coward.
Bounty Hunter: “I had to come back.”
Wales: “I know.”
The bounty hunter goes for his gun and, predictably, it doesn’t work out well for him.
Josey Wales became a killer in reaction to the brutality around him, but he’s not blood-thirsty. He doesn’t feel the need to impose his power or will on others. And, in this case, he has no desire to kill this man. If it’s necessary, though, he’ll do it without a second thought. With a few words of dialogue, this brief scene tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the character.
Rapp Is A Modern-Day Josey Wales
In my mind, Mitch is a man who doesn’t brag or swagger. His actions and reputation both precede and define him. No one needs to be reminded of who he is and what he’s capable of. In Wyoming we have a saying about people who talk a big game but can’t back up those words: All hat, no cattle. Rapp is the opposite: All cattle, no hat.
Mitch doesn’t work for adulation or for money. And he certainly doesn’t do it because it will provide him with a long or easy life. He does what he does for love of country and to protect those who need protection. More and more, that kind of motivation seems to be going out of style. Not only do people not do things for others, they don’t even do things for themselves. Anonymous approval and glory on social media is the ultimate reward.
Rapp Follows His Own Path
One of the reasons I like writing Mitch is he doesn’t let anything or anyone push him off course. In a way, he’s the lone marshal riding across the prairie in search of a fugitive. If he succeeds, he brings the man to justice and gets nothing in return but a meager payday. If he loses, he dies in the middle of nowhere and gets picked clean by vultures. But it’s his duty and he’s going to do it—not for fame or money—but because he swore to.
Fortunately, those people still exist and they’re out there keeping us and the world safe. Hopefully, that will never change no matter how many ‘likes’ are up for grabs.