Saturday, June 5, 2021

Short Story Spotlight: Elmore Leonard’s “The Tonto Woman”

 


A time would come, within a few years, when Ruben Vega would go to the Church in Benson, kneel in the confessional, and say to the priest, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been thirty-seven years since my last confession…Since then I have fornicated with many women, maybe eight hundred. No, not that many, considering my work. Maybe six hundred only.” And the priest would say, “Do you mean bad women or good women?” And Ruben Vega would say, “They are all good Father.”

Boom! That is how Dutch opens this tale.

Immediately we have a handle on the swagger, the charm, the character of this Ruben Vega.

Not everything Mr. Leonard wrote is gold, but all that is gold, is 24-karat.

His keen eye tells with gestures, observed movement what a man or women is in briefly limned seemingly nothing actions.

His observations on laconic ease could serve as a primer for How-To-Be or How-Not-To-Be comfortable in one’s own skin and not merely a muddled poseur.

She said, “John, look at me…won’t you please sit with us?”

Now it was if the man had to make a moral decision, first consult his conscience, then consider the manner in which he would pull the chair out—the center of attention. When finally, he was seated, upright on the chair and somewhat away from the table, Ruben Vega thought, All that to sit down. He felt sorry for the man now, because the man was not the kind who could say what he felt.

It takes a considered eye to see and weigh such things in day-to-day life. A man of ever-present experience.

It takes a craftsman, no, make that artist, to make us see through those eyes.

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Short Story Spotlight: Elmore Leonard’s “The Tonto Woman”

  A time would come, within a few years, when Ruben Vega would go to the Church in Benson, kneel in the confessional, and say to the priest,...