No Greater Love Hath Man Than This: Gus & Call
Regardless of the negative things I have said about both of these men, their friendship is the heart of the book. You don’t have Gus without Call and you don’t have Call without Gus. They’re Frodo and Samwise. They’re David and Jonathan.
There are not enough stories in this world about friendship, especially friendship between men. Too often, it gets sexualized, like the term “bromance,” which doesn’t mean two men in a romantic relationship; it means two guys who care about each other but can’t express it. But friendship is its own kind of love.
The problem is that too often, women don’t recognize male friendship for what it is. It may not be warm and fuzzy. It might include a lot of arguments. So, change your criteria. Here’s what a friend is — a friend is someone you can count on to haul your corpse back to Texas.
“To Texas?” [Call] repeated.
“Yes, that’s my favor to you,” Augustus said. “It’s the kind of job you was made for, that nobody else could do or even try.”
Nobody else would do such a thing. Most people would have paid the undertaker in Miles City to bury Gus. A few would have hauled him to Clara’s in Ogallala. But no one other than Captain Call would drag his friend back to Texas. And no one but Gus would ask such a crazy thing. If you try to make sense of it, you can’t. But the fact that Call honors Gus’s request, well, that’s the whole point.
“Before he reached Kansas, word had filtered ahead of him that a man was carrying a body home to Texas. The plain was filled with herds, for it was full summer. Cowboys spread the word, soldiers spread it. Several times he met trappers, coming east from the Rockies, or buffalo hunters who were finding no buffalo. The Indians heard — Pawnee and Arapahoe and Ogallala Sioux. Sometimes he would ride past parties of braves, their horses fat on spring grass, come to watch his journey. Some were curious enough to approach him, even to question him. Why did he not bury the compañero? Was he a holy man whose spirit must have a special place?
No, Call answered. Not a holy man. Beyond that he couldn’t explain.
No one can explain friendship. But you know it when you see it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it better than in Lonesome Dove.
“This would make a story if there was anybody to tell it,” Call said.
Thank goodness Larry McMurtry did.