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On the High Plains of Wyoming

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Administrator's Note: Altimexus is correct to publish the spoiler warning below, on this post of his.

I am taking the unusual action of alerting members and visitors to read Cole Parker's story first, before contemplating reading this post.

Cole is concerned that his story, which took a lot of time and effort should not be revealed by reading this post before his story, and while we encourage discussion on stories, I tend to agree that this review does indeed spoil the story for those who have not yet read it. Cole's story can be found here

Poster's Addendum:

I attempted to remove this post at Cole's request and replace it with one saying my formal comments would be forthcoming in about a week, but it somehow reappeared with the above administrator's note. In rereading the story, I still feel I have a legitimate point and have explained my reasoning to Cole separately. As authors who post our stories in public fora, it is inevitable that there will occasionally be public criticism - hopefully most of it constructive. I for one wish I received more such criticism rather than just messages of praise. It's easy to laud someone, but much more difficult to tell them that they could have done better. This is still a terrific story, and Cole remains my favorite Net author.

Now that the post has been resurrected, I'm not going to take it down again, but I'll try to hide it using the 'spoiler' tag. If anyone goes to the trouble of reading the post withought first reading the story, they deserve any loss of enjoyment they may get.

****** WARNING: Major Spoilers Below ******

Cole has a wonderful new short story out called On the High Plains of Wyoming. It's a highly emotional story about a boy who's developed an inner strength from being shunned by his peers, ever since confessing to his best friend at the age of ten that he thought he might like boys. That was more than five years in the past. It's also the story of a very self-sufficient, but terribly lonely boy.

As always, the story is exceptionally well-written and beautiful as only Cole's stories are. The one thing that bothers me, however, is the premise that Mason's desire to avoid killing someone would be so strong that he'd allow his former best friend to be raped. Yes, I know we're talking about a kid, but one who was amazingly mature for one just turning sixteen, and who seemed to reason everything else out so well. If I was skillful enough to shoot the rapist's rifle from a quarter mile away, I think I would have gone for a head shot, and I think Mason would have, too. Cole went out of his way to present the logic of Mason's decision to shoot the rifle instead, and he seemed to add dialogue to the story to justify the primary character's actions. I think it came out a little contrived, but that's my opinion, and I still loved the story overall.

The decision to take a life is I'm sure not an easy one and, thankfully, not one I've ever had to make. I have, however, witnessed death many times, and never felt so humbled as when I sat with a quadriplegic man while he was taken off his ventilator at his request. I know what it is like to make life and death decisions and to not intervene when everything in your core being is screaming at you to do otherwise. I can sympathize with Mason's decision, but I find it a bit out of character and illogical.

Rape is a violent act and once it was evident that the perpetrator intended to rape Elam, Elam's life was in danger. The death penalty might seem a bit harsh for the crime of rape, but as discussed in the story, the rapist almost surely intended to kill Elam when he finished. Taking out the perp was certainly justifiable homicide. The problem with Mason going for the perp's rifle was that Elam had to endure being raped while Mason took the time to set up the shot. There was no guarantee that the rapist was going to use the rifle to kill Elam. For all we knew, the rapist got off on choking his victims while raping them. Taking the time to set up the rifle shot might well have cost Elam his life. Indeed, the injuries sustained in the rape nearly were fatal. Additionally, as noted in the story, the perp could well have been HIV-positive. Allowing the rape to proceed was putting Elam at risk - a risk that was unacceptable.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that Mason would have gone for the head shot. I just don't think he would have taken the risk of something bad happening to his ex-best friend to avoid taking on the guilt of killing someone - something he ultimately had to do anyway.

Other than that, it's a wonderful story. :hehe:

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